It’s hard to even express how good I’m feelin’ right now.
This time last week, I was putting the finishing touches on the first issue of Fantastic Four Tales, which begins in February, by introducing the Marvel Age to the inherent coolness that is the Black Panther. My appreciation for that character has been well documented, and given the opportunity to “remix” his original meeting with the Fantastic Four is pretty unbelievable, considering the emotional point I was at, when summer was coming to a close. I was talking about quitting altogether, and a few weeks later, I’m scribbling the panel descriptions for this into my notebook. Cannot wait for the pages to start coming back, which is going to be a whole other type of euphoria, but enough about me and my good mood. We’ll talk a little more about that next week, but right now, I want to talk about this past Wednesday, and some of the heat that was dropped into your local comic shop. Because while good comics can always brighten up a bad week…they make a great one even better.
Thoughts on the well-hyped return of Hal Jordan, The Authority regaining some of their swagger, Millar’s Wolverine, and my vote for the “sleeper hit” of the fall are below. Enjoy.
Green Lantern: Rebirth #1 (Geoff Johns/Ethan Van Sciver)
I could care less about Hal Jordan, personally. Blasphemous as that statement may be, Kyle Rayner is the Green Lantern that most closely corresponds to my entry into comics. Just like Tim Drake will always feel like Robin to me, Rayner is all that’s left of the Corps, and Hal Jordan is the old school pilot who went crazy when Mongul atomized his hometown. So, you know, this whole “restore Hal Jordan to his rightful place within the DC hierarchy” seems a little too much like sprinting backwards, to appease a perceived fan wound that hasn’t yet healed in several years time. That said, only Johns and DC truly knows how this entire Rebirth thing will play out, and it’s entirely possible that the creators will find a way for both characters to co-exist. But in the same way that Gwen Stacy’s little encounter with Norman Osborn doesn’t really affect me, or Bendis steam rolling over Avengers Mansion isn’t bugging me, Hal Jordan holds no special emotional place.
However, I can appreciate that there’s a segment of fandom that feels very strongly about certain things, and this can only serve as proof that little in company owned comics will ever really change, and that somehow, some way, the past will be welcomed back with open arms. From an execution standpoint, there are certainly worse ways to hit the revision button, as Johns really succeeds in throwing you headfirst into this story, keeping you there with strong characterization and a sense of mystery and suspense that’s lacing nearly every scene. Terrible things are happening all over the globe, and Hal Jordan is connected to all of it, as Johns weaves the story in and out of Jordan’s history, his friendships, and chiefly, his mistakes. With Johns’ deserved rep for writing incredibly solid superhero tales that pay respect to past continuity, while bringing modern sensibilities to the forefront, he’s the perfect guy to tackle the return of Hal Jordan, and Van Sciver also hits every mark Johns sets for him. It might be a stretch to call this a “career-defining” turn, but due to the hype surrounding this event, it’s safe to say that there will be a lot of eyes on his work, and they’ll come away very impressed.
Don’t particularly like the mandate here, but it’s hard to dismiss the series after such a strong, and engaging start. Hitting the reset button isn’t supposed to look nearly
Wolverine #21 (Mark Millar/John Romita Jr.)
There’s something about Mark’s Spider-Man series that I’m not quite feelin’. I absolutely loved the first three issues, seeing it as a more “mature” take on the life of Peter Parker, without abandoning that classic flavor, but in recent months, as the tone becomes darker, and the villains more intense, I’ve lost some excitement about it. I’m really afraid of being that dude that suggests that the story is a little too “grimy” for him, but honestly, that’s what it probably is, because there’s nothing else that isn’t doing it for me. The one two visual punch of Terry Dodson and Frank Cho, combined with Millar’s choreography, makes for incredibly exciting action scenes, as displayed during issue three’s rumble between Spidey and Electro, and most likely, issue eight’s one on one with the new Venom. But it feels like too much dirt, and too much of an emphasis on the villains, for a Spider-Man book. The tone is skewed for me, but despite that, I was pretty confident that I would have no similar qualms about Wolverine.
My main concern with MK Spidey is rendered moot, simply by the character’s naturally darker and more intense nature, so after the first issue, when we hit the ground running with a Wolverine brainwashed by Hydra, I got that vibe again. Chapter 2 only reinforces it, with Logan running completely berserk inside a SHIELD carrier, mixing it up with Elektra and great white sharks, as the carrier sinks into the ocean. The action is laid out perfectly, the dual narrative allows us inside Wolverine’s head for the internal struggle, and the plot is one that every true fan has imagined at some point or another…what if Wolverine went nuts? What if the world’s ultimate weapon was turned loose on the Marvel Universe like a living buzzsaw, chewing through everyone in his path? With upcoming guests like the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and the X-Men, it should be a nice ride, especially with industry great JRJR riding shotgun, and looking noticeably rejuvenated after spending a few years on the Spider-Man titles. Right now, it’s looking like the perfect combination, so hopefully, this one won’t get too “dark” for me in the coming months…
Adam Strange #2 (Andy Diggle/Pascal Ferry)
This is how you approach a successful revamp, ladies and gentlemen. When working with admittedly third-tier characters like Adam Strange, spend a minimal amount of time establishing the history and background, then hit the throttle as soon as humanly possible. By page 2 of this second issue, Strange is already in a dogfight with a giant cyborg over the streets of Gotham City, and for several pages of action filled goodness, Diggle and Ferry shows us why Adam Strange is a character worth paying attention to. The story here is a main attraction naturally, Diggle stripping the origin of the character down to its purest elements, but without Pascal Ferry and the incredible coloring effort of Dave McCaig, this book is an entirely different animal. The visual result is hard to describe, without resorting to the simplest of adjectives, but it provides a definite visual stamp that sets it apart. Not to mention that it has the swagger and attitude of true science fiction, with its alien adversaries, giant robots, and jet packs. Screw this eight issue mini-series stuff, let’s get Adam Strange monthly.
The Authority: Revolution #1 (Ed Brubaker/Dustin Nguyen)
Welcome back, guys. We’ve missed you.
I’m not going to tell you that this issue of The Authority provides the same shot of pure adrenaline that both Ellis and Millar provided in their respective first issues, but I will give you the good news…there is hope that Brubaker can return these characters to their genre bending ways. This book only works if it’s willing to go places that your ordinary super title refuses to, becoming the prime example of what these concepts are truly capable of, whenever they aren’t filled with corporate icons. The stage was already set before Brubaker’s arrival, and he’s making good use of the very obvious turn of events for this team, that they’ve been forced to overthrow a horribly inept U.S. government for the good of the world. While The Authority has proven incredibly effective facing down alien threats, becoming dictators of the free world is a different role, and one that they’re apparently very uncomfortable with. They’re being forced to take meetings, to argue with bureaucrats all day, and don’t appear to have drafted a plan for exactly how they expected to govern an entire country. So you know, “come the revolution.”
What Brubaker lacks in terms of adrenaline, he makes up for in potential, as it’s obvious that he really understands the characters and their abilities. His handling of Midnighter and Jack Hawksmoor in particular deserve special mention, and Brubaker even gives Ellis’s run a nod, in a scene that mirrors one of the scribe’s most memorable moments in his first storyline. The whole story just gives you a good feeling, and Nguyen proves that his work on Casey’s Wildcats was no fluke, he is a true artistic talent, capable of handling the big action scenes, alongside the quieter moments, with equal skill. I don’t know ya’ll…this all smells like a hit to me, as Brubaker makes yet another move to bring him the point that his name is synonymous with “sure thing.”
I’m going to try to lay off the reviews for the next couple weeks, but with new Avengers, Astonishing X-Men, and the Intimates dropping next week, it would be wise not to promise anything. But eventually, I have to stop grinning to myself and talk a little more about FF Tales, about Shatterstar, and about why I still haven’t grasped the full concept of pitching comic books quite yet.