Thursday, May 20, 2010


Funnybooks! I gotcher day-old funnybooks! Right here!

Joe the Barbarian #5 (of 8)
by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy

More of the same great stuff in this issue as in the previous four. Joe's hallucinations continue to mimic his situation in the real world (or is that the other way around?), as he finally makes it to the bottom of the stairs just in time to run into the vicious neighborhood dog that's wandered in the front door (which Joe left open after school because he's a careless teenage moron). This is mirrored by a fantasy world confrontation with a creature called the Night Dog, which is the subject of a pretty spectacular two-page spread that I'm feeling too lazy to scan in for your enjoyment right now. It's great stuff, though, a piece of art and a story moment that's worthy of the real estate it's given.

I continue to be struck by how straightforward Morrison's script is here, and by how much he's getting out of Murphy's way to let the art tell the story. Not that Morrison's not known for giving his artists work to do; he sometimes trusts them to get points across that they fail to convey, in fact. But Murphy's work here is just brilliant, and really well-suited to both the fantasy elements and the very grounded reality of Joe's house.

This series has been great fun to read, and will probably read even better in the inevitable collected edition.

Grade: A

Avengers #1
by Brian Michael Bendis, John Romita Jr, and Klaus Janson

I wasn't going to buy this. Really. I'd planned to flip through it, see how it looked, and wait for the trade. But then I saw all that gorgeous Romita artwork, and caught snippets of the snappy dialogue, and saw Kang the Conqueror was in it, and... I couldn't resist. I just broke down and bought it. I rationalized it by figuring that it would be cheaper to spend four bucks to see if it was worth a read than to buy the whole trade if it wasn't. But really, I just wanted to see how the relaunch went.

And it went pretty well, actually. I like the set-up, and I like the way the characters play off each other. Steve Rogers has been made the world's top cop, and instead of a HAMMER or a SHIELD, Rogers thinks that what the world needs are Avengers. So he recruits a huge line-up of heroes to do the job. If this sounds an awful lot like what Tony Stark was doing... You're right! And Luke Cage calls him on it, with a response of "Then what was the @#$@$% point?" A sentiment I can only echo, but I was in the "Tony is Right" camp in Civil War, so... Of course I would.

That said, my favorite response comes from Wonder Man, who turns Cap down for his offer of membership. His reason? The Avengers are a bad idea. They always seem like a good idea, but they inevitably just fuck things up. This was a major (if unspoken) theme of Bendis' first run on the book, so I'll be curious to see how that plays out here.

But my curiosity will wait for the trades. This wasn't good enough for me to shell out four dollars a month on it. The trades will be cheaper, and I can donate them to the library when I'm done with them.

Unless, of course, I find out that they won't be collecting the "Oral History of the Avengers" feature that's running in the back. It's a prose section (without a writing credit attached) telling the story of the Avengers via interview segments with the characters involved. It's pretty good so far, and will continue in New Avengers. That might be worth the extra buck to me, but we'll have to see.

Grade: B+

Iron Man #26
by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca

"Stark Resiliant" continues. The Hammer girls continue their scheme to ruin Our Hero before he can even get his new company off the ground, while Stark gets his first investor in repulsor energy. Fraction also continues his fascinating exploration of Tony Stark. He's writing him, essentially, as a man who's so genuinely superior to those around him that he has a hard time not being an asshole. He's also a good man in spite of that, and a man who's obsessed with improving himself. But it's easy to see how he might make enemies. It's a triumph of long-form character writing, honestly, something that's doubly amazing considering the nature of franchise writing. I applaud Fraction for pulling it off so well.

Grade: A-

Ex Machina #49
by Brian K Vaughn and Tony Harris

We get a big revelation about the source of Mitchell Hundred's powers this issue, and I must admit that I'm a little disappointed in it (highlight the following to see the SPOILER): Looks like they come from Hell. I'm not sure that makes sense, or even that I'm interpreting the scene correctly, so I hope that we get some clarification before the series wraps up.

Otherwise, it was as enjoyable an issue of Ex Machina as you could ask for. Chock-full of plot movement and character development, and with a nice nod to classic super hero romance. Tony Harris' new scratchier art style continues to please, as well. His work on this issue was as stunning as anything he's ever done. So, for the most part, this was a great issue. It's just that one thing...

Grade: B+

Battlefields #6: The Firefly and His Majesty, Part 3 (of 3)
by Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra

The sequel to "Tankies" wraps up in fine style, as the Sarge and his crew finally catch up to the Tiger tank they've been chasing. The final confrontation, a running battle through a bombed-out German town, is absolutely thrilling, as taut a piece of action writing as you're ever apt to see.

Grade: B+


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