Tuesday, October 1, 2013


By last count, I'm 30 issues in the hole; I'm also expecting another two shipments full of issues this week.  As such, I'm going to do some old-school reviews for a while so I can be a little less untimely than I currently am.

All-New X-Men #15:  I actually love what Bendis does here.  When I first saw the cover, I rolled my eyes.  After all, who wasn't in love with Jean, at this point?  But, Bendis really sells it.  Jean's response to her accidental discovery that Hank was in love with her was to realize that a path was open to her that she previously hadn't considered.  Based on her response to their kiss, she seems to like where it leads.  Bendis turns the entire history of the X-Men on its head here, imaging a future where Scott and Jean never married, where Cable and Rachel were never born, where any number of aspects of our current reality wouldn't look the way that they do.  It's the best type of time-travel story and I applaud Bendis for pulling off something that, quite honestly, he's failed to do in other titles.  Turning to the art, I wouldn't want Lopez to be on this title full-time, but his cartoonish pencils really worked for this issue, playing up the teen angst at the heart of it.  (Speaking of said angst, I loved Bobby being thrilled to discover that he finally gets some and disturbed to learn that it's with his professor.)

Detective Comics #22:  I seriously appreciate that Layman hasn't reduced this Wrath arc to the clichéd mystery over his real identity.  Whenever a new villain appears, authors tend to push our willful suspension of disbelief to the brink, spending an inordinate amount of time trying to pretend that the new supporting character to appear in the main character's life isn't also the new super-villain.  (Paging Lincoln Marsh.)  Layman hasn't gone to that much effort to conceal that Caldwell is Wrath (and drops the ruse entirely here), wisely placing his focus on the more interesting question of why Caldwell became a cop-killer.  Initially, he seemed to be doing it to beef up the sales of his body armor, but, given that he turned said body armor against the cops in this issue, he seems to be playing a much deeper game.  Also, the revelation in the back-up story that Caldwell was responsible for weaponizing the Man-Bat serum was great.  Layman really does an amazing job making connections between plots and sub-plots, even if the events related to each plot didn't happen in his book.  It's what makes reading this title such a rich experience.

Earth 2 #15:  [Sigh.]  This series used to be so damn good, but Robinson is clearly just running out the clock here.  He jumps from group to group so quickly that you hardly have time to try to remember where the character was the last time you left him/her.  Moreover, when you do remember, you're confused.  For example, last we left Kendra, she was fighting Apokorats at Sam's grave site.  Suddenly, in this issue, she's in Morocco chasing down a casino owner, Darcy Twain.  Does he have some connection to Kanto, the "Assassin of Apokolips," who Batman told her to find in her last appearance?  Who knows?  (Also, I'm increasingly convinced that Batman is Sam, though why he needs Kendra to fight his fights for him is beyond me.)  I get that events can happen off-panel, but this revelation just feel random, like I missed an issue.  If the Kendra sub-plot was the only one that left me feeling that way, I could handle it.  But, given that the whole issue did, it also left me waiting for Robinson to leave, something I never thought I'd find myself saying.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #2:  Spencer continues to display his amazing sense of dialogue here.  Beyond just the witty banter (the team's Sinister Six conversation was hilarious), he really manages to give everyone a distinct voice, something that comes from a firm grasp of their motivations.  Beetle is biding her time until she’s made enough of a name for herself that she can set up her own shop, Speed Demon just enjoys the super-villain life, Overdrive is still a bit overwhelmed, and, as we see here, Shocker is aloof after he discovers the secret behind the Superior Foes.  (Of course, Boomerang’s lawyer, Partridge, takes the cake in this category, with every word that he utters conveying his sleaziness.)  My only complaint, at this point, is that I have trouble believing that Boomerang would get paroled, particularly after violating his parole in the first place.  After all, as he acknowledges here, he is a murderer.  (At the very least, he killed Jackpot’s husband in “Amazing Spider-Man Presents:  Jackpot” #2, though a Google search implies that he might've been exonerated of that crime.)  It’s not like we’re supposed to believe that Partridge is that good of a lawyer that he could make the board forget about all that.  But, I feel like Spencer is doing here what Fraction is doing with Barney Barton in "Hawkeye," taking years of conflicting depictions of Boomerang and trying to present a more coherent portrait.  (Remember when he told Shocker that he had a responsibility to vote in “Amazing Spider-Man” #584?  Not exactly the type of guy who’d kill someone’s husband in cold blood, is it?)  As such, I’m willing to cut Spencer a break, particularly in these first few issues, as he sets about the process of establishing that portrait, particularly since it's such an enjoyable one.  Moreover, it’s a pretty small complaint, given how tightly scripted and generally fun this issue is.  After all, the fact that we're going on a "Goonies"-esque journey for the mythical head of Silvio Silvermane makes me almost giggle with glee.

Superior Spider-Man #15:  OK, Slott anticipated the complaint that we haven’t seen hide nor hair of Spidey’s supporting cast in the last few issues, given the tour of said cast that we got in this issue.  However, instead of remedying my concerns, he just made them worse.  It’s becoming obvious that Slott has written himself into the same corner that the “Clone Saga” writers did, struggling to find a way to maintain the involvement of Spidey’s strong supporting cast without stretching the readers’ willful suspension of disbelief by denying them the realization that something is amiss. Although those writers were able to keep Ben Reilly under wraps through an assumed identity and a dye job, Slott isn’t so lucky, since Peter is, in theory, still Peter.  He’s forced to insert an arbitrary distance between Spidey and his supporting cast, left only with the one character that he invented for this larger story (Anna Maria) to use to show Peter outside his costume.  Unfortunately, it also denies this title what makes Spider-Man special, namely, Peter Parker’s struggle to balance his private life with his greater responsibility.  (I’m in the process of reading issue #200-#300 of “Amazing Spider-Man” and those stories are all about Peter Parker, not Spider-Man.)  By ignoring that aspect of Peter’s life completely, Slott has turned this book into the worst aspects of “Batman.”  I’m not saying it’s not well written, but I am saying that, increasing, it’s a travesty to call it “Spider-Man.”  I guess Otto isn't so superior after all.

X-Factor #260:  Man, this issue is grim.  David keeps it light, mostly thanks to Lorna's pretty funny drunken banter.  But, when you take a moment, you realize that you're actually witnessing Lorna hitting rock bottom.  She has no idea where the other members of X-Factor are and she's indulging impulses best left to super-villains, like destroying private property and risking innocent lives.  The fact that it's Pietro, of all people, who tries to stop her from doing herself and other people harm shows just how far she's fallen.

Infinity #1:  Meh.  Under different circumstances, I could write paragraphs and paragraphs about this one.  But, at the end of the day, it was a slightly more coherent version of Hickman's usually boring and obscure stories.  Thanos gets a tribute from one planet that he previously destroyed, though we have yet to learn its significance, and wants something that Black Bolt currently possesses.  Hickman seems to be setting up some big revelation about the secret history of the Inhumans, but I can't say that I care all that much.

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