Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin's weekly single issue review roundup.
Indestructible Hulk #1
(Mark Waid, Leinil Francis Yu, Sunny Gho; Marvel)
We all love Hulk. Well, at least I do. The big green guy is just a likeble character and, considering I like my comics big and smashy, the dude in the purple shorts should, for all purposes, be my kind of guy.
Truth is, I've never bought a Hulk ongoing in my life. For awhile I tried to understand why I never could get into a continued adventures of the strongest there is, and recently I came to the obvious conclusion: Banner sucks.
I'm not wrong, Bruce Banner is hard to read. He's mopey, pessimistic and through his obsession to rid the world of his other half he's squandered a giant brain, not to mention the talents of the Hulk. Often, most times unintentionally, Hulk comes out looking more heroic and poised than his alter ego (which is why the premise behind Jason Aaron's Incredible Hulk run made a lot sense to me).
With that in mind I'm ALL about Mark Waid's new angle on the character. Along with fellow comics pro Leinil Francis Yu the guy who took Daredevil back to his roots repositions Bruce Banner for a new era and just about every page of the debut issues passes the logic test. Waid points out that the self-hating superhero character mold was a big deal back in the Silver Age but now that is a trodden mindset that every major hero has transitioned through. It's about time to update the Hulk status quo.
So much about Indestructible Hulk #1 makes sense it's hard not to love it. The comic takes a little bit of time to set up it's premise, but it's simple and full of new territory. The opening issue shares a duality between brain and brawn that represents the main character, and lays foundation for another great Hulk run. Hopefully, it can keep my fickle, child-like attention.
– Jamil Scalese
(Ed Brisson, Michael Walsh, Jordie Bellaire; Image)
Here's a novel new take on time travel — CRIME TRAVEL!! — criminals using time travel not to kill people or do illegal things in other eras, but to save clients' loved ones from untimely deaths in exchange for huge amounts of money. Comeback will get some comparisons to the film Looper but the two projects are a distinctly different approaches to the same idea of "what if organized crime got its hands on time travel technology?"
Ed Brisson of Murder Book writes a straight-faced crime comic a beautifully shocking moment in this first issue and a sci-fi twist that doesn't overwhelm the dominant genre of this story — the perfect kind of comic book to give to someone who's into the non-superhero work of Ed Brubaker and Brian Bendis. Appropriately Michael Walsh offers a Sean Phillips-ish flavor, creating moody images of people talking and doing illegal things that end up beautifully colored as Jordie Bellaire — who it seems colored half the single issues we're covering this week — keeps the proceedings from being a boring series of grays and browns with nice swathes of blues, reds and oranges.
Real solid stuff, and I have an interview with Ed Brisson due soon, so check that out when it's up on Comics Bulletin.
– Danny Djeljosevic
The Unwritten #43
(Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Chris Chuckry, Todd Klein; Vertigo/DC)
At this point, you're probably either reading this or you're not, and if you're not, I really have to wonder what it is you dislike about fun. The Unwritten is easily one of the best long-form Vertigo titles of recent memory, playing around with the idea of story that Morrison adores while presenting it in a way that doesn't have readers complaining.
Shit continues to go crazy in Australia while Tom jumps into the land of fiction to track down Lizzie, discovering quite a few folks he ran into in the belly of a whale much earlier in the series as well as a vicious army of rabbits.
Carey yet again teaches us not to get too attached to any characters that aren't Tom, Savoy, and Lizzie as more secondary characters bite the dust and Tom's quest to discover who he is and why he exists carries on.
Also, I would expect the return of Mr. Bun (Pauly Bruckner) rather soon, which is reason enough to jump in midstream, whether you've been reading all 40+ issues or not.
– David Fairbanks
Journey Into Mystery #646
(Kathryn Immonen, Valerio Schitti, Jordie Bellaire; Marvel)
It was tempting to jump ship from Journey Into Mystery along with Kieron Gillen and Kid Loki, but I'm a fan of Kathryn Immonen (go read Avenging Spider-Man #7 and you'll be too) and it'd be mad hypocritical to write countless cries for female-fronted superhero comics and not give one a chance — especially a title I was already reading.
The retooled Journey Into Mystery #646 offers a promising start to a new era of Thor-related fantasy adventure comics, with Valerio Schitti drawing beautiful images of monsters Sif hitting things, Immonen writing jokes and offering a very promising set-up to the current story arc. Looks like the warrior goddess is getting a bit bloodthirsty. Loving Sif's new costume, too.
– Danny Djeljosevic
Captain America #1
(Rick Remender, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, Dean White; Marvel)
Much like Indestructible Hulk, the new series starring Captain America is all about throwing out everything that worked and starting anew. Rick Remender tells you as much in a last-page letter to fans. I've read a lot of Remender in the last couple years, and his track record of high-quality comics built enough credit with me to venture into a Captain America solo book, something I haven't done since the '90s.
The story jumps into high gear early and throws brilliant story elements at the reader almost before you're ready. The lone flashback to pre-Super Solider Steve works so well it's almost irresponsible no one has broached this territory before. The dimension hopping motif of Remender 's work returns and plays a huge role in Captain America as the leader of the Avengers, the guy with the best network of superheroes in all of the Marvel, is marooned in the dilapidated Dimension Z.
John Romita Jr. does his very best to keep up with the trademark Remender absurdities. From fertilizer guns (straight out of Fear Agent) to Zolandian Mutates there is a horde of crazy shit for JRJR to draw. He mostly nails it; the effort is there, but as is his pattern there are knockout pages, then there are ones that leave you dumbfounded. Any time you grab a JRJR comic you know what you're getting, and the new Captain America has a certain look, undoubtedly. In fact, Marvel seems to be going for that, putting former Uncanny X-Force colorist Dean White on the creative team.
The writer of this book has a pattern of planting seeds for larger plot points in the early issues of long runs, and there are plenty of fun thought-nuggets in the 20 pages I read on Wednesday. Whether a dedicated fan of Steve Rogers or not it's a comic worth checking.
– Jamil Scalese
Justice League #14
(Geoff Johns, Tony S. Daniel, Gary Frank, Batt, Sandu Florea, Tomeu Morey, Brad Anderson; DC)
Concluding the two-issue arc where the Justice League fights The Cheetah in the jungle. Not much is made out of last issue's cliffhanger of Superman being turned into a Cheetah person except that Batman asks a village elder, "Save him. He's my friend," which took me by surprise but only because I read Justice League #1-13.
After a generally rotten year of Justice League comics, Johns seems to show desires of actually wanting to write comic books about the Justice League, and so we get the entire team deployed in different ways to beat this rampaging cat lady and another scene of Superman and Wonder Woman dating. It seemed like a cheap stunt when they made out in #12, but having them spend a few pages getting to know one another is actually kind of satisfying on a story level. At this point, the slightest grasp at storytelling in Justice League will give me minor pleasure.
That said, this entire arc could have been condensed into one issue and it probably would have been fine. Spending two months on an extended fight scene with the payoff of "Oh snap! Cheetah wanted to get captured as part of a bigger plan!" smacks of running the clock down.
Tony S. Daniel continues to illustrate.
Meanwhile, the Shazam! back-up feature remains completely wrongheaded and actually kind of boring. I just can't abide a gritty, adult Captain Marvel comic when we've already got a gritty, adult Justice League preceding it. The reason Captain Marvel never quite works in the DCU is because there's already a guy who looks like him who can punch stuff good. Captain Marvel should be presented as a counterpoint to the rest of the DCU — the fun cartoon adventure comic about a boy who turns into a superhero. The superhero who still has his innocence amidst all the post-Watchmenisms of the rest of the DC Comics line.
– Danny Djeljosevic
(Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, Javier Rodriguez; Marvel)
I haven't had a chance to read Waid's take on the Hulk yet, but if it's anything like his Daredevil run, I am in for a treat.
We are 20 issues deep into Daredevil, and although I've not been too keen on the rotating cadre of artists, each one has brought something special to the series. The way Samnee manages to fuse a style of old-school comics with new-school art is impressive in a way that I think few other artists could manage.
Last we saw Matt Murdock, he and his partner, Foggy, both thought he was going insane. Turns out that he isn't (shocker), but there's something foul in the city of New York and The Spot has gone from a somewhat light-hearted prankster reminiscent of silver age shenanigans into a kind of terrifying supervillain.
As with my review of The Unwritten, I really believe that if you enjoy comics, especially if you enjoy superhero ones, and you aren't reading Daredevil, you ought to reexamine your reading list.
This is yet another in a string of great issues; easily one of the best books Marvel is putting on the stands.
– David Fairbanks
Dark Avengers #183
(Jeff Parker, Neil Edwards, Terry Pallot, Sotocolor; Marvel)
Jeff Parker sweeps away the Thunderbolts that defined this title, leaving in their absence the eponymous Dark Avengers who I keep thinking are robots but really aren't — except for that Thor robot from Civil War, he's totes a robot. The new focus is good, because it seemed seemed like the re-titling of Thunderbolts to Dark Avengers was completely arbitrary and it felt like Parker had those guys around to justify the title while devoting most of his interests to his Thunderbolts.
Yeah, this is totally a transitional issue. The Dark Avengers seem like they're going to completely take the spotlight at the end of this issue, considering the quite dire cliffhanger we're left on that introduces a new story arc. The Thunderbolts were lovable bad guys, but the Dark Avengers seem like straight-up bad guys. So I'm really excited to see them get slaughtered, because that seems like a very real possibility, considering nobody likes those guys and I can't imagine this series sticking around now that we're getting a relaunch Thunderbolts title from Daniel Way and Steve Dillon, but I'm along for the ride as long as it lasts.
(Joe Keatinge, Ross Campbell, Roman Muradov; Image)
I have reached the point where I am mostly buying Glory for Campbell's art. That's not to say that Keatinge's story is poor, but I am really just not able to get into it. It feels like he's ticking off boxes on a list of
things he would have liked to see in the story.
Early on, Glory herself says she doesn't have time to waste, but the entire issue was a fight between her and her sister that we find out later was actually unnecessary.
So, great for those of us who would gladly pay Campbell to draw the hell out of a fight scene, but not so great if you're looking for much in story advancement.
Glory is still quite fun — I'll be sad to see it go when it's done — but it certainly feels like it's dragging its tail a bit.
– David Fairbanks
Iron Man #2
(Kieron Gillen, Greg Land, Jay Leisten Guru eFX; Marvel)
Okay, this is an improvement. Chris Kiser reviewed the first issue, but I also wasn't too keen on the Gillen/Land relaunch of Iron Man — it felt too much like a generic repeat of Invincible Iron Man #1 and not enough of what I like to read from Kieron Gillen comics — fun stuff that feels different from other comics.
This second issue actually offers something new — Iron Man challenged with dueling a group of Iron People with Extremis enhanciles to win a "Holy Grail" — that's mostly successful in giving me what I want, so Tony Stark battling the bad guys one by one while a mysterious narrator comments is full of lasers and punching and the odd bit of snappy dialogue. I know it's only the second issue, but it feels like this title is on its way to being something different.
Now that Gillen seems to be stretching his muscles a bit more and growing more comfortable with the new gig, artist Greg Land returns to being the weak link. I know we've gone over this a million zillion times, but his art on this title has revealed a new and exciting problem — that all his characters look completely generic, which he could get away with in Uncanny X-Men because you could identify Psylocke as the lady with the purple hair. In Iron Man, all the women wear cocktail dresses, so it's hard to tell Pepper Potts from the generic floozie that Tony's going to sleep with. To go along with that, there's a big reveal in the issue's final panel where one of the Iron People takes off her helmet, and I couldn't, for the life of me, tell who it's supposed to be.
One interesting bit — this issue features a note from Kieron Gillen about how he's approaching this series as a more improvisational work than his Journey Into Mystery, which was meticulously plotted from page one. I know the next arc has Iron Man going into space like how Fraction ended the last run, so that inspires confidence in where this title's going. Which makes me wonder if this first arc is just meant to be a (here's that word again) transitional story where fans of Invincible Iron Man are eased into the next era. Kieron's a music guy, he knows all about those kinds of records.
– Danny Djeljosevic
(Matt Fraction, Javier Pulido, Matt Hollingsworth; Marvel)
I'mma call this issue "The one where Hawkeye can't stop being kidnapped."
So yeah, I pretty much loved it.
– Danny Djeljosevic
AND THE REST
Captain Marvel #7
(Kelly Sue DeConnick, Christopher Sebela, Dexter Soy; Marvel)
Wonder Woman #14
(Brian Azzarello, Tony Akins, Dan Green; DC)
Jamil Scalese is just like you — an avid comics reader and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, devotee of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation. Check out his original, ongoing webcomic And Then There Were Zombies and follow his su
bpar tweeting at @jamilscalese.
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.
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.