Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin's weekly single issue review roundup.
Captain Marvel #5
(Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, Jordie Bellaire; Marvel)
Anyone who complained about the dearth of female creators working for DC under the New 52 — not to mention the weird, often horrible treatment of its female characters — should be reading Captain Marvel, the comic book magazine that actually shows a respect for its characters, creators and, just as importantly, its readers.
Carol Danvers is still being flung through time and hanging out with awesome women who fly things, and in this issue she gets to team up with her aviation idol Helen Cobb, after which hijinx ensue and people start flying around. There's a lot of hanging around to be done, but none of it feels like it's done to pad out the story or "write for the trade" — you get a sense that DeConnick wants to explore how Danvers and Cobb interact, and then she does that while still moving the plot forward.
Regular artist Dexter Soy takes a backseat so once-and-future DeConnick collaborator Emma Rios can jump in and draw some very lovely pictures that end up getting colored with gusto by Jordie Bellaire. So yeah, this is a great looking, solid comic with a predominantly female creative team that doesn't even make a big deal about that even though it should be shouted to the heavens because it makes me happy.
(Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, Javier Rodriguez; Marvel)
At this point, in order to come up with new ways to talk about how great a job Mark Waid is doing on Daredevil, you'd have to be as good a writer as Mark Waid himself. Suffice it to say, I'm not that good a writer, despite the exorbitant amounts my editors at Comics Bulletin have promised to pay me for this review. At least, I'm pretty sure that was the agreement — right, guys? Check's in the mail? Okay.
Anyway, it's good to see that Waid and an ever-improving (if you can believe he even had room to improve) Chris Samnee are keeping it up now that this rather non-conventional post-Miller take on DD is in the middle of spinning its version of the one conventional post-Miller DD story everyone tells. A super-villain is plotting to drive Matt Murdock insane and his personal life is unraveling around him, yada, yada, yada. But as tired as that plot should seem in Q4 2012, it remains undeniably refreshing in the care of the creative team editor Steve Wacker has put together here.
Maybe that's because Waid has found an extremely innovative use for a D-list character he first teased us with back in issue #1. It might also have something to do with how Samnee renders Daredevil's radar sense in the style introduced by the great Paolo Rivera in that same issue. But when it comes down to it, the kicker probably comes when you realize that this book is bold enough to take something like the cover image metaphor of Matt Murdock "losing his head" and then make it happen in the story completely non-metaphorically.
Oh yeah, spoiler warning there. But you probably think it's too crazy to believe, anyway.
(Joe Keatinge, Ross Campbell, Owen Gieni, Charis Solis; Image)
It feels like forever since Joe and Ross came out with an issue of Glory — oh Jesus, the last issue came out in July — and it has been missed. Issue #29, "Bloodshadow, Part 1: In Revolt" is a relatively quiet issue after the ultraviolent prior issue, cutting between Glory and pals chilling/having ominous discussions and the origin of Glory's sister, Nanaja, who seems intent on growing out of her sister's shadow by coming to Earth and, in her words, fucking some shit up.
Owen Gieni and Charis Solis seem to have taken over as the colorists and give Glory a more textured, European look than Ms,Shatia Hamilton's more animated approach in the early issues. I've seen some mainstream-colorists-who-shall-remain-nameless fuck up art by adding little Photoshop flourishes that make minor details like noses look like bad
CG effects, but Gieni and Solis seem to understand the material they're working with.
Also, is it just me or has Glory gotten even more huge since this relaunch began? She's always been a dense, bulky lady, but she seems almost comically huge. Actually, I should chalk it up to the fairly casual, mundane situations of this issue that make Glory seem incongruous compared to her more death-susceptible buddies. It's almost a commentary on how the busily designed, constantly posing characters of the '90s would look completely fucking ridiculous doing basic things like sitting at a table. The incongruity is certainly on purpose because Ross Campbell draws Glory wearing a sweater with a kitty on it:
And Nanaja with a koala:
We also get to see Glory naked in this issue, and it ain't even no thing. One of my favorite things about Glory is Keatinge and Campbell's approach to female bodies. Not only does Glory herself have this massive warrior physique, but Campbell draws a variety of body types for his female characters — and his male characters, for that matter. But Glory having casual sex with another character is a pretty great moment — it's not particularly lurid or titillating, but it adds a layer to the character that most mainstream-friendly comics are puritanically afraid of.
There's a lesson here: you can draw other body types and not make it look like a joke, and you can write a female character who wants to have sex and not be a male gaze thing. Nice work, guys.
– Danny Djeljosevic
Uncanny X-Men #20
(Kieron Gillen, Carlos Pacheco, Roger Bonet, Guru eFX; Marvel)
Like the good self-deprecating Brit that he is, Kieron Gillen (who once helmed the S.W.O.R.D. ongoing series that lasted fewer issues than most minis) has often cited Uncanny X-Men as proof that there's no comic he can't get cancelled. After all, this is the second "final issue" of the stalwart Marvel series to be published under his tenure, and even in the world of meaningless cancellation that is Marvel Comics, that's a bit of an oddity. Of course, even though we all know that comics about the X-Men are no more ending than those starring Batman or Spider-Man, Gillen gets a nice moment of finality here.
As a sort of season finale to the Gillen era of Marvel's mutant chronicle, Uncanny X-Men #20 does the job admirably. It essentially wraps up all the plot threads dangling since Gillen first took over the series in a Point One special, including Cyclops's feud with Mister Sinister, superhuman P.R. agent Kate Kildare, and Colossus's role as Cyttorak's Juggernaut (albeit, in a way that still probably won't salve the wounds of the Kitty-Piotr shippers). Only the schemes of the evil android Unit feel like their particular resolution is a tad abrupt. It's all in all a pretty good hit percentage for the ending to a solid run that was often beholden to crossovers and mandated status quo changes not of Gillen's design.
– Chris Kiser
Godzilla: The Half-Century War #3 (of 4)
(James Stokoe, Heather Breckel; IDW)
Normally, I'd start off a review of a licensed property like Godzilla with something like "I never would've thought I'd enjoy a Godzilla comic, but…" You're not going to get that here, because James Stokoe's crooked claw put pen to paper for The Half-Century War. At this point, if you're not picking up everything that man does for the art alone, I have to wonder just how much you really enjoy comics.
The Half-Century War has taken a bit of time to hit its stride for me, with the previous two issues serving mostly as some beautiful showcases for Stokoe's artwork, but I think this third issue is about everything I was expecting.
Not only do we get Stokoe going hyper-detailed on some awesome battles featuring fan-favorite monsters like Rodan, Mothra, Hedorah, and more, but there's ridiculous super-science and a pretty epic car/monster chase that really displays Stokoe's ability to completely obliterate anything he sets his mind to.
Like many of the installments in the Godzilla franchise, The Half-Century War is not anything particularly revolutionary when it comes to its story, although its decision to focus on the personal relationship one man has with Godzilla over the course of his lifetime is an interesting one, one that can probably be extrapolated to how many people who loved Godz
illa as a child grew up and began seeing him in a different light.
But in the end, I'm here to see monsters battle and dish out devastation like candy while people try to make sense of it all and survive. And we get that in spades.
(Matt Fraction, David Aja, Matt Hollingsworth; Marvel)
A self-contained issue that combines a car chase with the Tracksuit Draculas, an exploration of Hawkeye's trick arrows and some nice buddy cop repartee with Kate Bishop the Other Hawkeye, not to mention a quick appearance from Pizza Dog (with pizza!). So yeah, Hawkeye #3 is mad entertaining.
Fraction's GOT JOKES and Aja's GOT DRAWINGS and together we get amazing things like one of the better car chases put to panel in recent years, not to mention this Panel of the Year moment of unbridled comic book glory:
It's funny, action-packed and full of character while Aja's art is so on-point it's ridiculous. Easily the best looking, uncompromising book Marvel's putting out right now, and this is the same company that publishes Waid and Samnee's Daredevil too.
Wonder Woman #13
(Brian Azzarello, Tony Akins, Dan Green, Matthew Wilson; DC)
Of the New 52 books that you're even still getting, how many can you honestly say you look forward to reading on a consistent month-to-month basis? All-Star Western, perhaps, and I suppose you might count Batman Incorporated, though the latter is really just the continuation of a long-form serial that didn't wrap up before the relaunch began. Easily topping that ever-dwindling list for me is Wonder Woman, a book so smart, so engaging and so beautiful — whether drawn by starter Cliff Chiang or Tony Akins coming off the bench — that you have to wonder if the DC brass is even aware the company is publishing such a book. Seriously, I worry that one day Diane Nelson is going to wake up, realize what's going on and nip this thing in the bud before it accidentally wins an Eisner.
This week's issue is no different, as Diana sets out to assemble her fellow Zeusian bastard siblings on a quest to rescue the kidnapped child she has been looking after since issue #1. An ongoing saga of secrets, lies and broken families has been steadily unfolding since then, but each individual installment has held up as a cohesive unit throughout the journey, never spinning its wheels or turning stale, even as the chapter count mounts past thirteen. It doesn't hurt that the final page feels like something lifted straight out of Adventure Time. For reals, this book is so math.
– Chris Kiser
Justice League #13
(Geoff Johns, Tony S. Daniel, Richard Friend, Batt, Tomeu Morey, Jeff Lemire, Brad Walker; DC)
Geoff Johns scripts the first of a two-part story where Wonder Woman fights with Cheetah, men with the powers of gods stand around and explain why Wonder Woman's fighting with Cheetah before fighting Cheetah some more. Then it hits a cliffhanger that begs a way more Silver Agey cover than the one above. I can't tell if this is awesome or really stupid:
Either way, that moment is the first time I've almost had fun reading this book, and there's a conversation where the Flash confirms Cyborg's humanity that marks the first time I almost cared about this particular iteration of these characters. Meanwhile Tony S. Daniel continues to surprise me on those rare occasions that I look at a comic drawn by Tony S. Daniel.
The Shazam-free backup story has Johns and Jeff Lemire co-writing with Brad Walker art in order to quickly set up the upcoming Justice League of America series. It's a pretty low-impact story about Steve Trevor and Green Arrow chilling in a bar, with Walker's art having a tendency to verge on oral body horror because every grin looks like that time Bart Simpson stole Grandpa's dentures. Otherwise, I guess it looks okay.
Seems like a lot of this series involves Steve Trevor getting screwed over. If he doesn't become a villain, I'll be very surprised.
Raised on a steady diet of Super Powers action figures and Adam West Batman reruns, Chris Kiser now writes for Comics Bulletin. He once reviewed every tie-in to a major DC Comics summer event and survived to tell the tale. Ask him about it on Twitter, where he can be found at @Chris_Kiser!
David Fairbanks doesn't get many things right the first time. He studied physics in college, loves science, music, comics, poetry, movies, books and education pertaining to all of the above. He will talk your ear off about Grant Morrison and Ben Folds, has an indie bookshelf larger than his Marvel, DC and Vertigo ones combined and if he ever actually grows up, more than anything else, he wants to still be happy as an “adult,” whatever that is.
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions) and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter at @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his comic with Mike Prezzato, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics and check out his other comics at his Tumblr, Sequential Fuckery. His webcomic The Ghost Engine, with artist Eric Zawadzki, updates twice a week.