Thursday, July 31, 2014

Comics Reviews (July 30th, 2014)

No pick of the week this week, as I can't honestly recommend anything point blank on its own merits.

Avengers #33

I gather other people found the "Captain America hurtles further and further into the future" arc rather more aggravating than I have been - for me, the done-in-one style of it has at least partially covered for Hickman's tendency to dramatically over-estimate how much of his overly elaborate mythos the reader will remember from issue to issue. But here we run aground - a hugely decompressed issue that consists almost entirely of Hickman's "big ideas," which, far from being his strong point, are, for me at least, rapidly being revealed as a kind of sad and pointless exercise that tarnish his books. D

Cyclops #3

Really sad to hear Rucka is off this imminently, as he was the selling point, and more to the point, as this is quite good, and I suspect it won't be as good when Rucka is replaced. Nice character work. A bit of an exposition dump in the middle, but the start and finish are lovely, and I'm terribly excited for next issue. B+

Guardians of the Galaxy #17

Well, it ends at point B, having started at point A, and I suppose that's about what you can say here. I've talked before about how Bendis periodically has issues that do not particularly recommend his approach to structure. Case in point. C

Hawkeye #19

It's strange to watch the book that, as Tom Ewing has pointed out, clearly became the model for how Marvel was going to work, i.e. throw weird takes at the wall and see what sticks, and has become such utter, high profile awards bait also abandon all sense of a release schedule and to clearly be marked for conclusion as Fraction apparently walks off to creator owned books after the trainwreck that was Inhumanity.

In any case, this is a fascinating issue, although very much one that's actively difficult to follow (to some real extent by design, and by interesting design, in that huge amounts of it are based on sign language. I'm not sure I enjoyed it particularly, but I respected it tremendously. No grade, as I can't bring myself to criticize it, but I didn't actually like t much either.

The Manhattan Projects #22

I looked at this issue and realized I have no idea what this book is about, cannot remember the plot, and that this, like every Hickman book I have ever invested in, has completely disappeared up its own asshole in a massive festival of pseudo-intellectual wankery. And then I dropped the book. F

The Massive #25

So here's an abstract question - do you take points off for a book only actually getting around to paying off its premise over two years in? Because I feel like I'm finally reading the book I wanted to be reading when I started on The Massive, but I'm kind of bitter about it being issue #25. Still, this is good stuff. It should probably have been issue #13 or so, or maybe #16, because the previous arc was pretty important, but fine. On the merits of this issue, a B+.

New Avengers #21

This one kinda works, if only for the sort of giddy entertainment of watching all the heroes finally wimp out on their big world-destroying scheme only to have Namor helpfully remind the readers that he is in no way a superhero in the normal sense. Another classic example of "Hickman is better at characters than he is at big ideas, and should play to his strengths." B+

Sandman Overture #3

I wonder what other people expected from this series. Certainly, for me at least, the answer was manifestly not "a massive, heaping pile of continuity porn." It's strange, from a writer who so memorably proclaimed that "it's the mystery that endures, not the explanation," that this series should be so packed with revelations that feel so much less interesting than the half-told stories they replace. We get the explanation of the skerry in A Game of You, and fair enough, but over a handful of pages it hardly has much emotional impact. And explanations for things like where Dream got his helm and the raw materials for the gates to Dream are...

Does anyone, at all, find this series to be adding to Sandman? C

Uncanny X-Men #24

You know what I love? When the character on the cover of a book appears in two panels of it and gets all of four words of dialogue. Other than that, this works reasonably well, although it's your absolute classic example of decompression, with two issues being used to basically get us to what the solicits and Bendis in interviews/Tumblr told us the book was about. But this one's a reasonable advertisement for "the journey matters as much as the destination," and is full of character moments I was quite fond of. (Emma's reaction to the revelation of Xavier's wife is magnificent, for instance.) So yeah. Pretty good, and at least what I buy X-Men books for. B+

Veil #4

Man, I've been really disappointed by this. It's just felt like the pace is totally off, and I'm not sure I'm entirely sold by Rucka doing magic/occult stuff - I didn't think it suited him particularly with the "Crime Bible" stuff either, for instance. Liked some scenes here, particularly anything involving Dante, but this just hasn't come together for me. B-

8 comments:

  1. "You know what I love? When the character on the cover of a book appears in two panels of it and gets all of four words of dialogue."

    Last week's Supergirl. The cover has a "Look! It's Gen-13!" floating head parade down the side - the epilogue (or rather, the prologue to the next story) is "And then Gen-13 got involved."

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  2. I gather other people found the "Captain America hurtles further and further into the future" arc rather more aggravating than I have been

    Actually, Phil, I haven't found you aggravating at all!

    (Darn, where's the "evil grin" smiley when you need it?)

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  3. The explanation can be better than leaving the mystery be, but only when the explanation is better than leaving the mystery be. I haven't read the issue yet, but it sounds like not only are the explanations not better, the things they're explaining weren't even properly mysteries at all, just...things.

    Bummer. The art is gorgeous, but the long wait between issues is just building up expectations for something that might actually be interesting and properly revelatory. Unfortunately the story really was complete when it ended the first time, and stuff like Dream Hunters and Endless Nights seemed nice but pretty inessential to me.

    That said, of course I'm buying this and the rest of them. It's as if I've already handed over my money when they put "Sandman" on the cover. :-/

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    1. Picked it up last night, read it, was not all that disappointed. It may be superfluous in terms of the overall saga, but I don't think it's poorly done. If we'd gotten some of the continuity as part of the original run I don't think it would have bothered anyone. Twenty issues of this kind of thing...hmm, maybe not, but I'm happy to get six.

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  4. So no pick of the week? Eh, makes sense. 5th weeks of the month tend to suck.

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  5. At this point, any week without Wic/Div, Sex Criminals or Ms. Marvel is disappointing.

    Avengers has just lost me entirely with Original Sin. I think it's the stupidest event Marvel has done in a while. Certainly in the last several years. I can't wait for this to be over in the books I'm reading. I'm keeping it in my file to see what the relaunch looks like afterwards...but otherwise I'd chop up right now.

    New Avengers has my favourite characters and is one of those books that seems to be written to tickle my exact fancies. I know it's not for everyone but I look forward to it every month.

    I sort of want to hunt down a translation for Hawkeye so I can read the parts in ASL. Kind of makes me feel guilty, but having read it through twice now, I want to fill in the puzzle.

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  6. I have to disagree about Hickman's 'Avengers' comics, which I've been enjoying from the start (except for 'Infinity,' which really didn't work). What I like about them, among other things, is how odd they are tonally. Story-lines keep escalating into crisis after crisis, only for each one to...dissipate, I suppose, as the characters realize there's another way. They're oddly pacifistic superhero comics, and strangely like Doctor Who in this respect.

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    1. I love Hickman's approach to the Avengers, but I freely admit a lot of it comes from my sheer disdain for the way Bendis handled the characters for 10 years. The lowlight of the era-and I'm not even particularly sure Bendis wrote it, but it happened during his tenure when his tone was established as How To Write The Avengers-was when a group of Avengers was unable to figure out how to survive a crashing airplane while Dr. Strange whined about how "my powers don't work under these conditions!" Give me Hickman's stories about building machines to save worlds and contrasting the approach of Captain America and the Illuminati's respective machines any day over that.

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