Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin's weekly single issue review roundup.
Not everything gets covered in Singles, so here are the comics that got reviewed separately:
- Jamil, Sean and Shawn tackle Age of Ultron #5, where they disagree on robots, and the tie-ins Avengers Assemble #14AU and Ultron #1AU, which were better than the main series.
- Tyler Gross did not like the one-shot Transmeet from 215 Ink, but the art was pretty great.
- The latest Tiny Pages Made of Ashes had a bunch of small-press singles in it: Secret Voice #1 by Zack Soto, Box Brown's Memorexia and Spandex #7 from Martin Eden.
(Matt Fraction, David Aja, Matt Hollingsworth; Marvel)
I could tell you how good Hawkeye #8 is, oh, I could. I could tell you how excellently detailed yet minimalist, David Aja's art is. I could tell you how his pages are not only supremely drawn, but also supremely designed to create storytelling that is, well, supreme. I could tell you how eye-catching Matt Hollingsworth's colors are, how they truly pop. I could tell you how images of Grand Central Station will make you smell the New York pizza being cooked on the lower level, how it will make you wonder where all the passersby are headed, just like you're there. I could tell you how the story jumps and shifts perspective, how Fraction's script gives the artwork the perfect space to breathe. I could even tell you that the letters section includes a playlist of songs that fit each issue. I could tell you how hipster this book is, even more hipster than that time you went to a breakfast place and only ordered a side of applesauce. I could tell you about the giddy smile that crawls across my face as I read and reread every single issue.
I could even tell you how this isn't a superhero comic. No sir, this is just a tale of guy who doesn't treat the ladies he loves all that well and wishes he could do better, not much different from the rest of us.
I could do all of that, but I don't want to. I'd rather insult you on a personal level for not reading this book. You think you have something better to do? You don't. You showered yesterday, you won't smell that bad tomorrow. You've got time. She isn't going to text you back; stop waiting, she doesn't like you. I don't give a shit about your excuses. You like books with more action? Someone gets kicked in the face. The face! And someone else gets shot in the head. The head! So that's bullshit too. You don't even have to get off your couch! Buy it online! Just shut up already! Stop rereading issues of Onslaught and get into the best book on the stands. Read Hawkeye because your parents don't love you, so stop trying to earn their affection, just go read the damn book.
Aside: if you're already reading Hawkeye, I am deeply apologetic about this unprofessional review. Go about your business.
– Tyler Gross
Thor: God of Thunder #7
(Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Ive Svorcina; Marvel)
Hahahaha, I love the way writers are handling Thor these days. It's like they're trying to combat any perceived stuffiness regarding the Shakespearian dialogue and fantasy tropes by having Thor get drunk a lot and hit things — and that happens twice this week.
This latest issue of Thor: God of Thunder has Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic bringing two of the book's three timelines together as modern Thor meets the aging, heavy-crowned Thor of the future, a team-up that involves the pair bringing huge casks of legendary ale onto a flying boat before zooming into space, and something called "Omnipotence City, Nexus of All Gods."
And then lines of dialogue like the above happen and it's pretty apparent that Jason Aaron is having a load of fun with this series.
– Danny Djeljosevic
Secret Avengers #3
(Nick Spencer, Luke Ross, Matthew Wilson; Marvel)
I never expected to like this comic as much as I do. I snagged the first issue skeptical that Nick Spencer could top Rick Remender's decent run on the previous volume and I'm starting to realize I greatly underestimated the creative team.
Blame it on a brilliant visual design but we can't seem to get rid of the Iron Patriot. The armor debuted when our friend Norman Osborn created and used the persona to pacify the world into thinking he was a hero. It made some random appearances after Dark Reign, but the most absurd was when someone starting walking the Iron Man 3 set in full star-spangled battlesuit. Seasoned comic fans knew it was only a matter of time before we saw the return of the armor on the printed page.
Due to the nature of our industry, and hell, most visual media, things get revealed way before the release date. We've known Iron Patriot is a part of this comic for months. The only thing we didn't know was the pilot. It's a no brainer. It's Rhodey. He's hasn't had a major role since Iron Man 2.0 (also written by Spencer) and, oh yeah, he's in that movie I mentioned.
Newsflash. It's not Jim Rhodes. It's no one. The Iron Patriot is controlled by an AI program, which would probably work, except the new-look A.I.M swoops in and confiscates it. I love when science gets gangster.
The visuals of the series are sharp, shadowy and forceful. There are consistency issues: sometimes the characters look a little stiff, and other times the acting is so natural like looking at a photo, but Luke Ross promotes a strong visual statement which helps tie the comic into that movie tone it's trying to achieve. Colorist Matthew Wilson sets a atmosphere of cold steel facilities, high technology, and wacky people in tight clothing.
The formula is working. Secret Avengers stands out as an ambitious, witty title when it easily could have been a bland melodrama. With an assault of titles in the A-word category it might get lost in the herd, but it shouldn't.
– Jamil Scalese
Uncanny Avengers #6
(Rick Remender, Daniel Acuña; Marvel)
The second of this week's "Thor getting drunk and hitting things" comics takes its cues from God of Thunder by showing us a younger, axe-wielding Thor going from an innocent bar fight to hacking away at Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen and rescuing, hilariously enough, an ancestor of Wolverine from a baby-Hitler-killing job. Which takes on a funnier element when you realize that in Age of Ultron, Wolverine himself is proposing the same exact thing.
It's a fun self-contained interlude — beautifully illustrated by Daniel Acuña, another one of those mega-talented artists that I'm shocked is drawing superhero comics — that sets the stage for some of the stuff Rick Remender's been teasing over the past couple of issues.
Hey, seems like Apocalypse has gone through a lot of horsemen over the years. Is he the Axl Rose of the Marvel Universe? Is James Mercer the new Axl Rose? How many of you just made some goof-ass connection about The Shins being a sign of the apocalypse?
– Danny Djeljosevic
(Duane Swierczynski, Eric Nguyen; Dark Horse)
So, in Dark Horse's newest release, X #0 (which collects three stories originally appearing in Dark Horse Presents) there's a masked vigilante cleaning up the streets of the town of Arcadia by spilling blood in the gutters and turning ham faced hoodlums into sausages. As far as I can tell, it is all because writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Eric Nguyen are full of hate. Serious and ugly hate. I can't think of any other reason for the existence of this book other than somebody's got a fat ax to grind.
Because all we got here is a vengeance plot. A masked guy is toting around some weapons and using them to splatter faces across the pavement. Swierczynski provides no insight into why this individual has chosen this course of action, except… you know… ham faced hoodlums are … what do you call it? Bad? And deserve to become sausage? Or something.
It's kind of hard to tell.
I swear to you that there is even a moment in this book when a "sirloin of psychopath" is mentioned. You can't expect me to take that seriously? Can you?
I'm starting to wonder, though, if Swierczynski isn't just tugging our testicles to cause us to giggle. Late in the book, one of the ham-faces asks X, "About this whole mission of vengeance… Did some member of our outfit betray you? Kill your parents maybe? Or perhaps your bride on your wedding day?" Are we expecting our comic book cliches to provide motivation for character angst now? Has it become that simple? Or is Swierczynski playing a new game of hide the ham faced sausage and pushing our expectations in the mud?
We've got a one-eyed hero with an X on his face — this shit is wrought with resonance — symbolically, culturally, comic book-y — I'm thinking that, perhaps, a zero issue like this one provides just enough leverage for a first issue fist in the face — the whetstone is primed for a blade which will slice through all these stories, hewing something unique and powerful.
Or not. I can't tell yet. Too many ham faces and not enough character development.
But Eric Nguyen makes some pretty pictures out of this mess. He certainly has his splatter patterns down and adds the necessary layer of grit and off-kilter angles to make me assume that there is more to this series than the same old, same old. Plus, he draws a nice ham face.
I just wis
h I had more of sense of where this book is going or even where these characters have been. Right now, as things stand in this zero issue, I kind feel like I've walked in halfway during an action flick and everybody tells me to shut the fuck up when I ask them what's going on. Does that make me want to buy X #1? I'm not really sure about that, either.
– Daniel Elkin
(Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki; DC)
After a whole lot of darkness, Scott Snyder brightens up Batman by not just by having a lot of it take place during daytime, but also by bringing in some less-serial-killerish supervillains, namely Clayface and Reaper — who are still a bit spooky, but they're also a transforming pile of mud and a rejected design from a tie-in comic for GWAR. Either way, it's exciting to me for reasons I'm not sure I understand — I think it's because it creates a vibe reminiscent of the classic 1990s animated series, especially as Snyder creates an intriguing hook for the opening pages as shown by the the gatefold cover reveal.
As an aside, I've actually found this "formerly known as WTF Month" initiative pretty entertaining. Not all of them have been successful, but I think it gets to the heart of what the average superhero comic cover should do — draw the reader in with an interesting scenario, possibly bolstered by a hyperbolic cover blurb. "Stuff on the cover that makes you want to read the interior" shouldn't be a fun one-off gimmick. One more random thought — the gatefold cover makes a good pitch for the way many people read digital comics, like ComiXology's guided view.
Good time for Snyder to shift gears on Batman, too, considering inker Danny Miki has stepped in for the departing Jonathan Glapion. Glapion brought a scratchy ugliness to Greg Capullo's pencils that seemed to befit their world of aviary cults and clowns stabbing cops in the dark, and if Snyder's hitting more superheroic notes maybe there should be a subtle change like Miki bringing a cleaner set of linework to Capullo's pages.
Batman #19 continues the back-up stories written by James Tynion IV, but this time it's the first of a two-part Batman/Superman team-up that combines all sorts of disparate things — Batman dealing with the supernatural, Superman drawn by Alex Maleev — for something that feels kind of fresh and different and thus kind of fun. Once again I had no idea this was Maleev at first, but this time he's paired up with Brad Anderson, a colorist that works in darker, more shadowy palettes that create an effect more reminiscent of Maleev's old Daredevil work.
– Danny Djeljosevic
Uncanny X-Men #4
(Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo, like 40 Inkers; Marvel)
I don't know how to read Uncanny X-Men in a vacuum, pretending like I'm not reading All-New X-Men, because I am totally reading All-New X-Men. And I like it. I like it a lot. Uncanny X-Men is shaping up to be an interesting companion piece to that book, but not as interesting as it could be. In many ways, it feels like the next chapter in Bendis' near-weekly X-Men saga, but in other ways, not at all.
The strange thing is, I am much more interested in Present Cyclops' mutant revolution than I am in Past Cyclops and his time-displaced companions, yet, I think All-New X-Men is the better book. A lot of this comes from the fact that Present Cyclops' status as a figurehead demands that he be viewed from a distant angle. As an idea, Present Cyclops is becoming bigger than himself. This basically means that his defenses for his past actions are just fish on dry land, floppy and worthless. What people care about and what they remember are the big X-ing arms of Cyclops on TV saying, "Don't worry my brother and sister of the atom. We are X-Men and we stand together." All-New X-Men views this revolution from the distant angle, making Present Cyclops and his revolution villainous, edgy and cool. This brings us to a vital discussion of Uncanny X-Men. This book tackles Present Cyclops and his team from a closer angle. This humanizes his larger-than-life movement, making it vulnerable, safe. For me, this is where the book loses much of its appeal.
Based on future solicits and the ending of this issue, this book could be heading in a much different direction in the future, interacting with All-New X-Men less and less. If this comes to pass, we'll see how it does for the book. Pertaining to this issue specifically, it's probably what you'd expect. In too many ways, it's a rerun. Dialogue from All-New X-Men is reused, but background scenes are depicted. It's that whole "same story, different perspective" spiel, but it's not as fun when the story being reexamined is just some dudes talking. I was a little scared that the cliffhanger from last week's All-New X-Men wouldn't be resolved in this issue, but rest easy, it is (albeit predictably so).
Brian Michael Bendis' X-Men story continues to be interesting and this book just helps him expand and focus his large cast of characters in different places, even if that focused angle makes things a little more plain.
– Tyler Gross
Suicide Squad #19
(Adam Glass, Cliff Richards, Matt Yackey, Allen Passalaqua, Pete Pantazis; DC)
Suicide Squad was a book I gave up on following a few issues in (and rightfully so), but I jumped back on recently to see how writer Adam Glass finishes it up before passing the baton to Ales Kot. The result has been… aiiiiiiiight, pretty much. I've been enjoying the dumb anti-heroics and the violence has been okay, even though I don't really care about the plot. Basically, I know what I'm getting into here and surely that's tempering my better-than-lukewarm opinion.
Seems like Glass has improved as a writer since the frankly dismal early issues, because this issue largely works where those did not. He seems to have gotten the hang of these characters and managed to at least approach an inkling of humanity, particularly with Harley Quinn, who in the early issues was just unfunny comic relief and a sticking point for many fans. Now, she struggles with the voice of her non-crazy personality in her head and she seems to have a sense of self-awareness that's kind of fun — which at least grasps at something substantial, and that alone is impressive.
Artist Cliff Richards is a worthy collaborator here, with solid linework and acting. Notably, he renders a surprisingly lucid Harley Quinn — his acting brings an odd, almost sad realism to her as we get a sense that really is a grown woman in an unfortunate clown stripper outfit. And his Amanda Waller isn't the svelte office lady of the early issues. Instead, she looks like someone who could actually go on a mission and kill somebody.
Appropriately, Adam Glass offers no finality with his run as he departs as unceremoniously as some of the Suicide Squad's own members, but not before setting up a couple of plot threads that Kot presumably will take on and offering a shocking final moment that isn't particularly shocking or convincing, but a good enough cliffhanger.
But seriously, if OMAC shows up in Ales Kot's run that thing's getting five stars on principle.
– Danny Djeljosevic
DOES THE COVER OF THE LATEST CABLE AND X-FORCE STRIKE ANYONE ELSE AS KINDA WEIRD?
Avenging Spider-Man #16
Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake #4