Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Last week's funnybooks, today! For your active lifestyle!


New Avengers #1
by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen

The last of the big Avengers launches (at least, the last of them I was interested in). We get to see Luke Cage's full reaction to Cap's Avengers offer, and it's pure gold. As is Luke pulling his team together, including the Thing, Iron Fist, and Victoria Hand.

Unfortunately, the rest of the issue deals with Brother Voodoo and some kind of demon invasion, and I'm not the biggest fan of Bendis writing the Marvel magic characters. I kind of like his narrative quoting of the esoteric names of all the spells, but it seems like a better idea than it works out to be in actual practice. The names feel fairly authentic, but they lack pizazz, and that annoys me to no end. I mean, "The Longorian Spell for the Battle of an Astral Incursion Into the Corporeal World" has got NOTHING on "The Crimson Bands of Cyttorak!"

Stuart Immonen turns in his usual good work here. It's not enough to make me buy the series (especially not at four bucks a pop), but it is very nice.

We also get the second part of Bendis' "Oral History of the Avengers," and it's once again good stuff. (And it's definitely Bendis, by the way; he confirmed it in a Word Balloon Podcast interview) I don't think it's enough to make me buy his Avengers titles monthly, but if I ever find out that they're not going to collect these pieces I'm gonna wind up kicking myself.

Grade: B+

The Boys #43
by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson

Now, here's a book I'm happy to pay four bucks for. Which is good, because that's what the price has gone up to. In the conclusion of "The Innocents," Hughie confronts Malchemical, Mother's Milk confronts the Man From Vought AND Billy Butcher, and Butcher confronts his own rat-bastard suspicions of poor Hughie. And Ennis stretches out the inevitable painful revelation of all the secrets. The sadist. Sadism is a good quality in a dramatic author, however, so it's all good.

What's not all good is publisher Dynamite forcing Boys co-creator (and co-owner I believe) Darick Robertson off his own book by demanding a monthly publication schedule. Robertson can't meet that schedule and turn in his best work (especially considering the work he still has to do to satisfy his DC contract), but Dynamite won't budge. So rather than turn in sub-par artwork on a book he cares about, or see it further damaged by an increasing number of fill-in artists, he's stepping aside. He's still doing the Butcher mini due out next year, but this will be his final issue of the main series for the foreseeable future, and that's a damn shame. This book is never quite as good as when it's in Robertson's hands, and his departure will lessen it.

This was a good issue, though, so...

Grade: A

Fables #96
by Bill Willingham and Steve Leialoha

The story of Snow White and Rose Red continues this month, and we finally find out why Snow White won't talk about her time with the Seven Dwarves. And, wow. WOW. Ugly. [SPOILER] They don't go into details, thank god, but the dwarves make her a slave, and refer to her as their "comfort girl." *shiver* [/SPOILER]

All in all, another fine issue. And only four issues left til Fables 100!

Grade: A

Forgetless #5 (of 5)
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Scott Forbes, Marley Zarcone, and Jorge Coelho

Nice. I've not really enjoyed the other Nick Spencer comics I've read (Shuddertown and Existence 2.0), but I dug this one. It's a broad farce, a social satire whose nastier edges don't cut quite so deeply because it maintains its sense of fun. And refreshingly, nobody learns any lessons in the end. Actually, nobody learns a single damn thing. In fact, one of them winds up finding happiness in the very things that make her so fucked up to begin with. It's unapologetically perverse, and even maybe a little naively hopeful about that perversion.

All the series' artists came back to draw the characters they were primarily responsible for along the way, and the jam works in a weird kind of way. Maybe even moreso because of the connected-but-entirely-separate back-up strip (which ends on a great high note that puts me in mind of Phonogram's happier moments, if only because it's about DJs).

At any rate. Forgetless (much like the giant rave dance party it takes its name from) is not a comic that'll change the world. But I dug it the most.

Grade: A-

Black Widow #3
Written by Marjorie Liu
Art by Daniel Acuna

I really can't believe I'm still reading this book, three issues in. It's ragingly silly, taking itself far too seriously, and playing out with a sort of po-faced Euro-Trash spy sensibility. But the same could be said of Danger: Diabolik!, and I love that shit, too, and ultimately for the same reason: it's just. So. Fucking. Cool.

Black Widow is a really fantastic character, a literal super-spy who Liu is wisely surrounding with other literal super-spies. We meet a team of KGB-trained ballerina assassins this issue, for instance, and there's a fight with Elektra where she cuts a freaking bullet in half! Like I said: ragingly silly. But holy crap! The story makes much of trust and lies, and how the spy game twists those things up together in dangerous ways. Again, ragingly silly. But then Elektra cuts a bullet in half, and I just go along with it.

And did I mention that Elektra cuts a bullet? In half?

Now, the reason all this silliness plays out so well, and at least (at least!) half the reason I keep picking each new issue up as it comes out, is the art of Daniel Acuna. His frankly gorgeous work (full-process, with colors and the whole nine yards) sells every ridiculous moment by making it look good. His storytelling and layout are top-notch, as well, making Black Widow a really nice artistic package. Bottom line: the Widow's world, as seen through Acuna's lens, is (again) so. Fucking. Cool. That I'm willing to accept things that, in a comic illustrated with a less perfect touch, I'd laugh all the way into the dollar bin.

I'm not sure if this is a mini, or an on-going, or what, but it's a fun, overlooked, little gem of a comic. And at only (only?!) three bucks a pop, I'm happy to waste my disposable income on it.

Grade: B+


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