Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin's weekly single issue review roundup.
Not everything gets covered in Singles, so here are the comics of the past week that got reviewed separately:
(Jonathan Hickman, Jerome Opeña, Dean White; Marvel)
The Marvel NOW! reboot of Avengers is decidedly a Jonathan Hickman comic, complete with all those graphic design-y title pages — how does Hickman convince Marvel to let him do that by the way? You'd think they'd be devoting more page space to advertisements for microwave pizza, packaged ham or motorcycles.
Avengers #1 is solid modern superhero comics. Hickman's premise — "Hey, let's expand the roster to 24 superheroes and make this shit cosmic — isn't exactly high concept, so an opening issue where the people from the movie fight some mysterious new foes only to get captured and initiate the assembly of the new team doesn't feel like a glorified cold open or anything. That's because it satisfies the needs of a superhero comic — fighting. There's no conclusion, but there's also no cliffhanger, because Hickman rarely engages in that comic interruptus.
Jerome Opeña draws pretty comics, too. I dunno man, I'm sick and this installment is really late. Avengers seems the kind of superhero comic I want to read, as someone who worships balls-to-the-wall stuff like Morrison-era JLA and Fraction's recently cancelled Defenders. Anything that reminds me of that stuff will probably be exciting to me. I'm not hard to please.
– Danny Djeljosevic
(Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Cliff Rathburn, John Rauch; Image/Skybound)
The previous issue read like Kirkman wasn't in the mood to make comics that month and wanted to take it out on the readers, but Invincible #98 is closer to what we might venture to call "good," probably because things are happening, and things should always happen in Invincible because there's nothing stopping them from happening. It also helps that the things that happen in this comic are interesting and make sense. I think?
Obviously, lots of things will happen when we get to issue #100 because, um, it's a big number and we have to celebrate? Either way part one of "The Death of Everyone" has a suitable amount of ramping up as we get a taste of some Infinity Gauntlet levels of superhero event comics. By which I mean mass floods.
– Danny Djeljosevic
Iron Man #3
(Kieron Gillen, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Guru eFX; Marvel)
As this series goes on, it becomes clearer that Kieron Gillen is getting more comfortable with his new gig. At this point I've also realized every issue of the new Iron Man thus far has been self-contained with each issue building on a larger overarching story. It's an old school, downright TV approach to Iron Man, which is maybe the best way to do a comic that costs a cent less than $4 — by offering a complete experience each issue.
Appropriate to something tying into the character-redefining "Extremis" story arc, this issue is very Warren Ellis, reading like an issue of his Secret Avengers complete with the deadpan ending. If Gillen keeps going at this rate, the people who stuck around past the disappointing first issue are going to be very pleased.
– Danny Djeljosevic
Action Comics #15
(Grant Morrison, Brad Walker, Rags Morales, Sholly Fisch, Chris Sprouse; DC)
Now we're getting somewhere. Morrison's Action has been a weird, inconsistent run which may be due to the infamous New 52 editorial micromanagement or Moz just not having as much to say about the character after All-Star Superman Either way, overall it feels like Morrison wants to sing but his throat is hoarse. Nothing's coming out quite right
Action #15 is closer to what we expect from a Grant Morrison comic, with the chronology of Superman under fire in different eras, the reveal of fifth-dimensional imps, champions of alternate universes and what feel like meta-jabs at the New 52 reboot itself. There's a goddamn turtle in a cape and suddenly Morrison is teasing what he could have done if he were allowed to write a Grant Morrison comic instead of the lumpy brown mass that the run has generally felt like.
– Danny Djeljosevic
All-New X-Men #3
(Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger; Marvel)
I've made my feelings on All-New X-Men pretty clear: I like it and — while I have some issues with pacing and where issues begin and end — think it will read pretty great in a trade. This issue was an improvement, in some ways. If nothing else, I didn't get to the end and think "That's it?" Chalk it up to the series being able to execute its premise after setting it up for two issues. I also really love how Stuart Immonen draws Cyclops' faltering eye-blasts. I wish they always looked like this:
That said, All-New X-Men #3 is also the comic that made me look down deep inside and evaluate out what's important in life.
You see, for those of you who are new to the world of comics, Brian Michael Bendis is a writer best know for his dialogue — snappy, ping-pong chatter influenced by David Mamet and prolly some other guys who write next to a metronome. He's got a clear voice, but one that doesn't exactly account for the voices of the decades-old characters he's writing for Marvel Comics. And the X-Men franchise is one with the hardest-to-please fans — people who are so attached to these characters that, to them, a writer can't do anything but screw them up.
Not to go all Steve Morris on this thing, but boy, Bendis' Emma Frost is way off from pretty much every prior iteration of her. Of all the characters in this franchise, Frost has a very specific way of speaking — haughty and sarcastic, armed with piercing wit. It's a much bigger challenge than writing, say, Rogue, where you can throw in a "y'all" here and there and you'll be in the ballpark. We got a taste of the writer's approach to Frost in AvX, and it continues here, where Emma's lines are written like Some Lady.
On one hand, fuck fans, right? Do your thing, write how you write, live how you live. But on the other, it seems like corporate cape comics — especially stuff like All-New X-Men which are about adding to the ongoing mythology rather than rocking the boat — must be distinct enough to show off the writer's skills while fulfilling their reason for existence, which is to be a superhero comic that caters to fans of said superhero. This is getting a bit too "creation over creator" for my tastes, but I dunno — should I be miffed that Bendis is writing a character different from the way Morrison, Whedon, Fraction, Ellis, etc. wrote her? They're all very different writers, the lot of them, but aside from All-New generally Frost has been written in a way that makes her feel consistent from iteration to iteration.
This mini-essay has turned into a Lost type thing — no conclusions, only more questions. Is this a legitimate criticism or just a spell of nitpicking? How much should a writer bend to the characters he or she is writing? How much does any of this even matter? Like the writers of Lost in the later seasons, I have no idea what I'm even doing anymore.
– Danny Djeljosevic
AND THE REST
Dial H #7
(China Miéville, David Lapham, Tanya & Richard Horie; DC)
(Matt Fraction, Javier Pulido, Matt Hollingsworth; Marvel)
Animal Man #15
(Jeff Lemire, Steve Pugh, Timothy Green II, Joseph Silver, Lovern Kindzierski; DC)
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.