Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin's weekly single issue review roundup.
(John Layman, Rob Guillory; Image Comics)
"Space Cakes" wraps up here at issue #30, and Layman and Guillory step it up in a big way. This isn’t an issue for new readers to jump in on at all (Layman even said so on Twitter) — they deliver a twist in this issue that is so neck-snappingly shocking it’ll leave your heart dismembered. Chew has been a bit fluffy these last couple of issues — well fluffy compared to shoving dead baseball players down Tony’s gullet — but they make up for it tenfold in this issue. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but if you want to jump on the Chew train try and go back to the start of "Space Cake"s with issue #25 — or better yet, go buy Volume One and enjoy the whole ride. This just isn’t an issue to jump onto and I’m not sure #31 will be a great jumping-on point, either.
Speaking of, they’re halfway through Chew-ing with this issue. For those not in the know, Chew ends with issue #60, and I expect the pace to really pick up from here on out. Layman has been laying out a lot of story threads in the first 30 issues that I’m looking forward to seeing wrapped up over the next 30.
As for Rob Guillory, the dude is still amazing. Every issue is like playing eye finder with all the little jokes and images he sneaks into the background. You’d be doing yourself a great disservice if you didn’t go back through the issue and catch some of the jokes in the background. Guillory gets that you can sneak a lot subtle humor in the background and I think it is one of the more underappreciated things about Chew in general.
A brief list of some things I found:
- A copy of the painting Saturn Devouring His Son
- Patrick Bateman from American Psycho
- Larry Drake in Dr. Giggles
That list excludes all the silly joke signs littered throughout.
All in all, a great issue for Chew. It does a great job of peeling back the silly side of the comic in general and exposing just how dark it is under the surface. Layman may also have a thing for cannibalism, but it makes for a great comic so more power to him.
– Dylan Tano
(Scott Lobdell, Kenneth Rocafort, Sunny Gho, Rob Leigh; DC)
I… think I… kind of… really like this book?
Don't get me wrong, it's superhero schlock of the highest degree — a comic where a strange new character shows up and, once the getting-to-know-you phase is up, punches get thrown while exposition gets exposed. It's the kind of stuff we thought we were above in the mid-2000s when a 12-page sequence of Captain America putting his pants on was deemed "cinematic" but it turns out we're not above because this is actually a blast.
Here's the plot of Superman #14: Lois Lane visits Clark Kent to talk him out of quitting The Daily Planet only for him to try to talk her out of moving in with her boyfriend, in a scene that manages to work better than the equivalent stuff in Superman Earth One. Supergirl interrupts to take Superman away in order to introduce him to H'el, yet another lost Kryptonian who quickly turns out to be the bad guy when he starts beating up members of the Superman Family for various reasons as part of his plan to "resurrect Krypton," whatever that means. All of that happens in 20 pages, and it never feels slight, rushed or even overly condensed.
Superman is certainly a book written in detention at the Chris Claremont School of Writing — loads of third-person caption boxes, thought bubbles, three footnotes on a single page (!) and relationship drama that sets up who these characters are before people stop punching. It's superhero comic books as superhero comic books, written as if the Jim Shooter era never ended. It's decidedly a comic written by someone who wants to write a comic book — not one by a failed screenwriter or someone who wishes he was writing a creator-owned series that the market refuses to support.
Part of that success it that his Red Hood collaborator Kenneth Rocafort is a superb artist for this kind of thing, drawing weirdo vaguely 3D techno-panels that approximate what we thought those comics in those DC One Million specials would look like — "Man of Tomorrow," indeed. But what makes the comic work is that the art seems to drive the book, like Lobdell's scripting exists not to overcompensate for a potentially poor artist by stating too much, but to service Rocafort's weird transcriptions of the future. I guess I'm saying that it reads like it was done Marvel-style, with Lobdell changing up his d
ialogue on the fly upon seeing Rocafort's art.
Reader expectations dictate that I should say something negative: Supergirl's costume makes absolutely no sense to me and I think the S-shield on her crotch is the funniest costume design choice anyone's ever made:
Multiple Warheads: From Alphabet to Infinity #2
(Brandon Graham; Image)
Nikolai and Sexica drive Lenin up a mountain, through the sea, and to the Whaling Wall, and Graham gives us multiple beautiful double page spreads of backed up traffic and mountains and cities, playing around with word balloons in some interesting ways as well.
Like a good road trip, Multiple Warheads meanders, though it never feels like it is wandering. Graham knows where he's going, but he is taking his time getting there. And while that is the kind of thing I have leveraged as a complaint against books like Ultimate Spider-Man, it feels like it is done here to explore more of this very, very strange world and the characters in it.
My only real complaint is that, although they are fun, I generally find myself less interested in Nura's adventures than those of Nik and Sex. The interludes are not bad by any stretch of the imagination, though, I just don't think they are for me right now. That said, I do feel like the Nura story is amping up and going to go somewhere interesting.
– David Fairbanks
Batman Incorporated #5
(Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, Natahn Fairbairn, Dave Shapre; DC)
Way back during Grant Morrison's first run on Batman, #666 was a one-shot that came out of nowhere to make everyone's heads asplode. Completely bringing the ongoing narrative at the time to a halt, that issue took us to a Gotham City several years into the future with an all-grown-up Damian as Batman squaring off against a theretofore unseen rogues' gallery that felt as fully realized and original as the classic one. In other words, it was pretty much the best Batman comic ever. So yeah, I was pretty excited that Morrison and Chris Burnham were going to take us back to that world for Batman Incorporated #5.
Now that these glimpses of Gotham's bleak, apocalyptic future are being given some context, though, they have started to lose a bit of their luster. Sure, the story about a rampaging Joker virus and the US government's final nuclear option is as casually gleeful as a Morrison book ever is, but some of the air starts to come out of the balloon once it all starts to get a (rather weak) explanation. On their own, these random, unexpected look-ins to the adventures of Damian-Bats are still pretty fun, but tied down to the larger context of Morrison's comprehensive Bat-narrative, they don't feel quite so special.
– Chris Kiser
Uncanny Avengers #2
(Rick Remender, John Cassaday, Laura Martin, Chris Eliopoulos; Marvel)
The Uncanny Avengers are nowhere near being assembled — we're still in "Should Havok lead a team of superheroes mode? I guess, yeah, he should" mode — but Remender and Cassaday spend most of the issue focused on the captured Rogue/Scarlet Witch combo and revealing just why the Red Skull cares about mutants so much. I'm sure there's some continuity-based reason but I don't care about that stuff — whatever the scary skull man says in this issue works for me.
Cassaday, by the way, draws a really great, scary Red Skull — scary and inhuman and showing no emotional except deviousness because he's, y'know, a scary crimson skeleton head. The weakest bit of this issue is the opening page where Laura Martin's red lighting obscures the big red piece of graffiti that ends up being centerpiece of the page and Cassaday cannot convincingly draw wind blowing off a man's hat. But after that confusing misstep the rest of the thing is fine — nicely drawn and properly colored.
I quite liked the first issue, but I definitely needed the second — with its clever use of superpowers, snappy dialogue and widespread mutant murders — to
really keep me reading.
– Danny Djeljosevic
(Brandon Graham, Giannis Milonogiannis, Simon Roy, Joseph Bergin III, Ed Brisson; Image)
I'm not going to lie here, while I've been adoring this series, Prophet got a little weird for me when it started to focus on Old Man Prophet and brought in characters like Diehard. It's still great, strange, and exciting, but somehow it managed to actually get stranger, which I did not see happening.
The latest issue gives us a fair bit more insight into the war between Old Man Prophet's army and the Earth Empire, keeping me excited for when (if?) that comes to fruition, and Milonogiannis keeps killing it on art. He has a unique style that wouldn't fit in on many books, but it feels right at home here.
One other thing I am really enjoying is seeing Roy and Milonogiannis credited for story as well. There's a clear collaboration going on here, and I think that is easily one of the reasons why we're getting such consistently good crazy space adventure comics out of Prophet.
The backup story, by Cecile Brun and Oliver Pichard, is beautiful as well. While I don't always enjoy the backups, they give a feeling of Heavy Metal to the series, showcasing new talents that might not otherwise be seen.
– David Fairbanks
All-New X-Men #2
(Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, Marte Gracia, Cory Petit; Marvel)
Because I have a genetic defect where I'm predisposed to liking most X-Men stories (especially if they're crossovers), I've really been digging All-New X-Men. Not that I feel I shouldn't like it, but I'm impressed at how much I'm enjoying a comic where I expected Brian Bendis' voice to overtake everything around it as it often does — no offense, but he's got a very distinct voice in his comics. In this series, he seems pretty engaged in writing characters that feel like the characters he's supposed to be writing.
And the first issue was quite compelling despite being one of those comics where the premise is already well known but we still have to get through the first issue to get through a cliffhanger that hints at the premise. Even in this issue the original five X-Men don't time travel to the present day until halfway through the issue — albeit in an amazing reveal. We've already seen the Jean Grey School already in like 20 issues of Wolverine and the X-Men, but Bendis and Stuart Immonen create a surprising sense of wonder as the "Strangest Teens of All" are shown their school in a future that looks alien and sci-fi even to us, the reader. Now imagine if that happened in the first issue.
Mostly I think the plotting's a bit muddled in these first two installments of All-New X-Men. Seems like it would have been a bit smoother if the original X-Men were quickly brought to the present, shocked, appalled and confused at this weird future — even moreso when shown those scenes from the first issue where Cyclops is shooting eye beams at things and giving security cameras the X-salute. The premise begs a book where we see the (horrifying?) modern state of the X-Men through the eyes of the original five, but instead this is a book done through the eyes of the average X-Men reader.
The current perspective is a problem. There's nothing particularly horrifying about Cyclops running around and liberating persecuted mutants, especially because he's being proactive and I don't think I've seen the X-Men do anything except cluck about what is to be done about this Scott Summers character. Right now, he's become the CM Punk of the X-Men universe — a guy the writers are desperately trying to make into a bad guy even though, objectively, he's been right all along.
Thankfully Stuart Immonen drew the shit out of this issue so my eyes are happy even though my brain won't stop whining. Immonen's an artist that is underrated forever — he's expressive and dynamic so he can draw panels upon panels of people angrily pointing and shooting lasers from various orifices, but can also perfectly execute a bit of comedy like the original X-Men standing around an unconscious Wolverine with his ass in the air. It's slick, his characters are distinct and he draws with clarity. I don't know who the kids want to draw like these days — when I was a lad it was Jim Lee and, y'know what, it probably still is — but anyone wanting to illustrate superhero comics could learn a thing or two from studying Stuart Immonen.
By the end of All-New X-Men #2 I wanted more, but not in the good way — this is an issue that ends as soon as it begins — continue to All-New X-Men #3 to actually see the X-Kids get into trouble. This will probably read great in the trade — Bendis comics often do — but how does anyone who isn't already resigned to reading comics like this expected to want to continue?
– Danny Djeljosevic
Morning Glories #23
(Nick Spencer, Joe Eisma, Alex Sollazzo, Johnny Lowe; Image)
I normally get pretty irritated by the type of review that I'm about to write here, so, uh, I'm sorry? I'm speaking of the kind that take a serialized mystery like the ones found in Lost or here in Morning Glories and complain that lingering questions are being answered too slowly. Typically I'd say that such frustrations are born chiefly from impatience and lack the proper respect for the kind of big picture storytelling that Nick Spencer and others are trying to tell. But, as with anything, there's a good and a not-so-good way to go about doing that.
Done rightly, a sprawling, impenetrable enigma like this can set up short term arcs within its larger plot, those with more immediately graspable stakes designed to keep the audience engaged while the big mysteries simmer. Without something like that, though, all you're left with is characters babbling cryptically about some unnamed "Father" and the fact that "A sacrifice is always demanded." That's pretty much where Morning Glories has been since the introduction of the Truants, who again dominate the latest issue running around the woods and temple surrounding the Academy without much context as to what they're after.
I do trust that when Spencer is finished, we'll look back on all this and it'll make perfect sense. But I wish I could be enjoying Morning Glories more right now instead of just mentally bookmarking each page for reference at some to-be-determined date.
– Chris Kiser
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #16
(Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Andy Kuhn, Ronda Pattison, Shawn Lee; IDW)
I had dropped the new TMNT title previously, mostly because I missed an issue or two and already had enough to read. Then I heard that Slash was going to show up, and remembering one of my favorite toys as a child, I figured I'd jump back in.
I feel like I may have missed some interesting character/plot developments in the 6 or so issues I missed, but the bulk of the story is easy to get involved with despite that. Eastman and Waltz have a handle on these characters that remind me of my childhood love for them, especially with Leonardo trying really hard to both be kind as well as a leader of a band of ninja vigilantes.
Kuhn's pencils give some pages an almost Mignola-esque feel to them, and I am really impressed with the series and the stories it looks like they are wanting to tell.
Looks like I'll have to go and scrounge up some back issues.
– David Fairbanks
Adventure Time #10
(Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, Brandon Lamb, Jon M. Gibson, Jim Rugg; BOOM!)
Either go read Adventure Time #10, which is an excellent choose-your-own-adventure story
Watch this video.
Either is well worth your time.
AND THE REST
Thor: God of Thunder #2
(Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic; Marvel)
(Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phil Noto; Dark Horse)
Justice League Dark #14
(Jeff Lemire, Graham Nolan, Victor Drijiniu; DC)
Dylan B. Tano is a relatively new reviewer powered by a love of bacon and constantly distracted by a kitten who would rather use his laptop as a bed. He grew up idolizing Spider-Man and can’t believe he gets to review comics all day.
You can read some of his short stories at tanoworks.tumblr.com
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.
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!