Sunday, 6 January 2013

Issue #26: A late look at the third wave.

There hasn’t been much time for blogging or reading comics lately.  With my retail management job’s responsibilities ramping up to phenomenal levels pre-Christmas and selling my house, then moving all my stuff by the carload every night for three weeks, and then setting up my new place, well, I’m fucked, but things have settled down considerably this week and the huuuuge amount of comics my dear store has been hanging on to for me were a welcome indulgence to purchase all in one hit, a reward to myself for hanging in there.  I’ve been smashing through a fair bit of that monolithic pile of paper in the last week, which has included about three months worth of Amazing Spider-Man,  seven issues of Incredible Hulk, the start of the Superbook crossover event H’el On Earth, and a very awesomely fucked up return of The Joker in still-pick-of-the-52-bunch Batman.

I’m not going to review all of the months-old comics I’ve read for the most part though.  Tonight I make an exception for the last four DC 52 issue ones, I guess just to maintain continuity.  This blog was born out of DC’s reshuffle, and I feel it’s only right and just.

Firstly though, my dear Mum bought me a couple of comic related books for Christmas that I thought were well worth mentioning.  Firstly, a collection of strips from Art Spiegelman called Breakdowns, whose work I was unfamiliar with and admittedly had to wiki to educate myself (oh, he did Maus!), but the sense of humour is deliciously dark and it all seems quite personal and autobiographical so far.  The influence of Mad Magazine on the artist is openly admitted and present, and as a child who also grew up on Mad I can appreciate this pathway into the work.  The whole thing is presented in a large format hardcover.  Very nice.

The Leather Nun And Other Incredibly Strange Comics compiles a collection of wonderfully weird comic book covers each accompanied by a page of text providing background on content and history.  These vary from political propaganda, failed foreign takes on western characters, and product placement to good old fetish pornography.  You wouldn’t need to be a fan of comics or even need much of an understanding of comics at all to enjoy this book, and the format works for a cover to cover read or a quick glance.  Well worth tracking down.

Spider-Man The Icon is also big hardcover beast, and uses every one of it’s 316 pages to lovingly present Spider-Man through the decades not simply as a character, but as a cultural phenomenon.  Presented here is the webslinger not just in comics (although Spidey in print does feature prominently), but also in animation, toys, movies and everything in between.  The recent Amazing Spider-Man film is newer than this book so is obviously absent, but you would struggle to find a stone unturned in this massive volume, and the photos of all those old toys are particularly interesting.  There’s this great Spider-Man and Hulk tool set consisting of some crappy plastic molded tools, and er, that’s it.  The only thing that makes it Spidey and Hulk related is the packaging.  Luckily, my Mum has better sense when it comes to Christmas presents, and I loved all of these.  Thanks Mum.

Talon #1   Scott Snyder’s Court Of Owls arc in Batman was arguably the best story in DC’s new 52 launch, and was a critical and commercial (as far as comics go) success.  To create new bad guys for Batman and do it in a way that was believable and interesting is no small achievement, and if you haven’t read it already you might want to stop reading this and download Batman #1 to #11 right now.  Given the calibre of the material it’s no surprise that DC have decided to run with it a little more with and offer up Talon as part of it’s third wave.  Also penned by Snyder, Talon unfortunately does little to excite or compel me to read on.  See, my initial thought was that this book would be about Thomas Wayne Jnr, but instead it tells the story of Calvin (name drawn from hat), a defector of the Court roped into taking revenge against his former captors by a (wait for it….. waaaaaaaiiit……. just revving up the cliché-o-matic 6000…… ok it’s ready!) mysterious old man who seems to know everything.  To it’s credit, this does provide some interesting side notes for those that liked the original arc, like the fact that only two thirds of the Court’s members were arrested, but it’s not enough to get me invested.  I might have been, if there were some kind of hint that what happens here is important to Batman’s next date with the owls, but there isn’t, and since Calvin’s whole deal is to wipe them all out, he’ll either succeed, and one of Batman’s best bunch of foes in years are gone forever, or he’ll fail, and who wants to fucking read that?  I figure though, that Talon will meander around the initial setup, and they’ll try and keep it half interesting by chucking Deathstroke in one issue, and team him up with Superboy for no reason, etc, until the book is cancelled some time over the next eighteen months.  And Calvin’s appearance is an odd choice.  Look at him on that cover.  He looks like he’s raging while playing League Of Legends or some shit.

Sword Of Sorcery #1   My first impressions on this were that I would hate it, and that it was probably not worth my time.  Guess What?  Boring shit.

Team Seven #1   Here’s another one I thought would suck, despite the fact it features Deathstroke (unmasked for this whole issue), which has been a guilty pleasure of mine up until Liefeld took over and started drawing him like a roided-up Spider-Man with no neck.  Unlike previous team books in the 52, there’s none of that groan worthy dialogue where everyone calls each other by name with the author’s expectation that that’s how you’ll learn who the characters are.  In it’s place is a rather effective team assessment by an unseen assumed assembler of the group which I find much more accessible and enjoyable to read.  The team is sent on a blind first mission to infiltrate an airborne prison for super powered criminals that has gone off the grid, only to discover blood smeared walls and a nasty surprise.  Team Seven works because of the friction between the team members and the fact that even among a bunch of gun-toting badasses there can be a couple of different personalities.  I’ll check out the next few issues.

The Phantom Stranger #1   Dan Didio must like the same kind of yesteryear comics that I like.  When he was writing OMAC I enjoyed the echoes of 1960s Hulk that shined through, and with The Phantom Stranger I can’t help but feel a Doctor Strange vibe from the same era.  Not too much happens in this first issue, but how much can a writer give away about a character they want to cloak in mystery?  Still, it works well enough, and the book’s last panel is a shot of Pandora, so it looks like this title will provide answers on that side of the universe (and probably many more questions too).  It’s not bad.  I’ll probably have a look at a couple more.

Still a lot more to read this month, so expect less of a wait between now and next blog.  Thanks for reading, kids.

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