So I’ve decided to do a weekly feature on my blog where I review all the comics I get in my comic book pull and hold. I’m just going to do quick and dirty reviews, though I may do more in depth on special issues I think deserve it. I’m currently getting my comics from Excalibur Comics, and have loved the place so far. (I do still miss you, Astrokitty!) So, without further ado, let’s get started:
Jupiter’s Legacy #4
Mark Millar, Frank Quitely
FINALLY! After six months of waiting after issue 3, we finally get to see the story continue. (Seriously, six months.) The series’ art remains spectacular, though I wish some of the backgrounds were a bit more fleshed out. There was a ten year gap between issue 3 and 4, and Quitely’s art shows the characters aging extremely well. Many comics, when presented with a jump in time like that, just toss a couple gray hairs in and call it good, but you can really see it in the characters’ faces here. The writing remains good as well, though the dialogue is a little exposition-y. It does show how the world has changed, though, and Jason’s thought bubbles (squares, really) do take some of the weight of the exposition off the dialogue. I think the comics industry is finally getting comfortable with thought bubbles again, after recoiling from them years ago. They can be pretty handy if done well. This issue fails the Bechdel test, but the series as a whole does pass, at least.
New Warriors #2
Christopher Yost, Marcus To, David Curiel
I’ve got to be honest, I only started reading New Warriors because I was a huge fan of Yost’s Scarlet Spider. Since he got to drag Scarlet Spider and Hummingbird to New Warriors after Scarlet Spider got canceled, I followed along. This issue still has the same issue that the first one has: Character bloat. With so many disparate characters running around and doing their own thing, you don’t get to spend much time with any of them. It is starting to get a little better, though, as the various characters start to team up. Starting next issue, there should only be three threads to follow. Otherwise, the writing and art are great. I’m definitely keeping this title in my pull for now. Passes the Bechdel test.
Night of the Living Deadpool #4
Cullen Bunn, Ramon Rosanas
Cullen Bunn and his creative team have finally gotten the kinks out of their Deadpool projects. This is the fourth one (Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, Deadpool Killustrated, Deadpool Kills Deadpool). This one, like all the others except Deadpool Kill Deadpool, star alternate universe Deadpools. (Nihilist Deadpool is dead, we’ve got a whole new Deadpool now.) Night of the Living Deadpool finishes out the four parter with an awesome twist ending. The black and white (except for Deadpool, he’s still in color) art looks great, the little bits of humor are a great contrast to the depressing and bleak world, and I love the zombies. These zombies still have their original minds trapped in their brains, but can only control their vocal cords, shambling around in a living nightmare. Their dialogue is pretty great. (Kill me first!) And, like I said, the ending leaves the (inevitable) sequel room to do some AWESOME stuff. If you like zombies and Deadpool, pick up the trade paperback when it comes out. Bechdel test N/A, since the only characters in this issue are Deadpool and the zombies, who are only concerned with getting Deadpool to relieve their misery.
Jeff Lemire’s sci-fi time travel romance is winding everything together in preparation for the final issue. The groundbreaking panel layouts are old hat for the series now, though the first time you have to flip the book upside down is always a bit confusing. We finally get the main characters back together again, which is great, after all the crazy time-travel, alternate histories, and dickish relatives. We also get to see one of the dickish relatives actually decide to be a decent person and support Will in his search for Nika, even with the Ark ready to go. Jeff Lemire’s quirky art style is the perfect fit for this series. It would never work for a Big 2 superhero title, but it really makes this series. The issue closes on a cliffhanger, with the last refugee ship on its way revealed to only be inhabited by the Caul, the sentient virus baddie of this series. Plus, as an added bonus, he finally gives us a Rosetta Stone for the alien language, so for anyone who wants to go through and translate all their dialogue… well, let me know. I’m excited to finally see the Caul, and can’t wait to see how Jeff Lemire closes out Trillium in issue 8. Passes the Bechdel Test.
David Schulner, Aaron Ginsburg, Wade McIntyre, Juan Jose Ryp, Andy Troy
This book has always felt like a TV show, and not in a bad way. It takes all the good parts of a great show, and combines them with the best parts of comic books. This book comes out consistently, which might have the enormous team to thank. (I only list the creators listed on the title, there is also a letterer and editor, as well as many others who work on comics. Shout out to all of them!) The art is awesome, and I love the weird dot shading style the comic has. This issue closes out the third arc with a literal bang. This series is in it for the long haul. Passes the Bechdel Test.
Apocalypse Al #2
Jay Michael Straczynski, Sid Kotian, Bill Farmer
I had my doubts in issue 1, and they have become certainties. The premise is cool, the writing and art structure are great, but the devil’s in the details. This supernatural detective story, though it reads well, has a very definite problem with its female characters. Fist off, the cover manages to show Al’s butt and boobs simultaneously in a particularly back-bending action pose. This looks like a time for the Hawkeye Initiative! Second, it fails the Bechdel Test. There is another female character along with Al (her mom’s ghost), but the overwhelming majority of their conversation is about men. (I’m hunting this guy, why don’t you have a boyfriend, your father never…) To top that off, a big chunk of what is left of their conversation is her mother complaining about the lack of shopping in the Void. Third, the comic is constantly treating Al as a sex object. Constant panels focused on her breasts and ass, an interview with the devil where she’s only wearing a nightshirt, a skintight latex Tron suit for the matrix-like portions of the comic, and numerous repeats of the showing boobs and butt thing from the cover (Seriously, whenever a woman is in a sexy pose in a comic, try that pose out. Most of them are actively painful). Fourth, and most importantly, the rapey tech consultant “buddy”. He’s all creepy and staring at her tits the whole time, and at first I was thinking “Oh, she’s going to pound the shit out of him, and its going to be an awesome reversal of the women as sex objects trope!” She threatens him, sure, but that’s about it. He’s explained as having a fetish for women’s clothing, which, okay, happens, but it’s not a good excuse. At all. When Al wakes up in the electrode fitted chair he put her in so her mind could surf the digital highways to get to the land of the dead, he apparently steals her undergarments, to which she just glares at him, then is interrupted by a drive-by shooting. Seriously? How the fuck is that okay? I like Jay Michael Straczynski, but not enough to give this comic a passing grade. Dodge this four-parter.
Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting
Velvet really helped clean the nasty taste of Apocalypse Al out of my mouth. This issue technically fails the Bechdel test, but it actually isn’t the biggest deal here, since the issue is pretty dialogue light for much of it, and the series as a whole does not fail the test. Plus, since it’s a period piece, and the fact that Velvet Templeton is such a powerful character set in the fifties is great. She’s a middle-aged woman who is damn sexy, an insane badass, and is incredibly competent. Plus, how often do you see middle-aged women treated in a sex-positive manner in media? There is one scene where you see her in her undergarments, but it’s fairly classy, and she’s getting geared up for a mission, so those are mitigating factors.
On the rest of the comic: It’s spectacular. Perfect pacing, awesome action scenes, fantastic art, wonderful writing, adjective set design, where’s my thesaurus costumes, and a great cliffhanger that doesn’t rely on action to build the tension, like so many cliffhangers do. Seriously, check out this comic. It’s one of the best pieces of spy fiction I’ve ever encountered, and I love my spy thrillers.