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Catching Up on my Comic Books!

September 7th, 2010
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Although my life is as hectic as usual, I did have a little time off after the summer that allowed me to catch up on a whole host of great comic books that had been sitting unread on my shelf!  Here’s some of what I’ve been reading lately:

Batman #700 – “Time and the Batman.”  Loved this one. It’s a great mind-bender of a story, set in three different eras.  This issue had all the Grant Morrison weirdness that I love, but contained in a one-shot story that had a strong resolution. Great art, too, by Tony Daniel, Frank Quitely, Andy Kubert, and David Finch.

Streets of Gotham – I am continuing to love this series. Fun mystery/adventure stories by Paul Dini and great art by Dustin Nguyen equals a winner for me.

The Marvels Project — I caught up with this whole miniseries by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, depicting the early (WWII-era) days of the Marvel Universe.  Brubaker and Epting are enormous talents, and great collaborators, but I wasn’t bowled over by this series.  It felt like pretty familiar ground (covered pretty thoroughly by Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek’s seminal series Marvels), and while the story was engaging and entertaining I didn’t feel like I learned any dramatic revelations about the origins of the Marvel Universe.

Nemesis — Another hyper-violent series from Mark Millar, but I’m loving every juvenile minute so far.  Glorious art by Steve McNiven.  I’m really eager to see where this goes.

Powers — Boy, after singing the praises of this long-running (over a decade!) series in the spring, I’m sad to say I’ve been disappointed by the first five issues of volume 3.  The issues all seem rushed — the usually stupendous art feels scratchy and unfinished, and the story feels half-baked.  (We’ve seen that Walker has been a good guy ever since the dawn of time — yet suddenly we learn he was a prick back in the ’50s?  Doesn’t really work for me.)  I hope things pick up soon.

Avengers and New Avengers — I know he has his critics (and I just said I’m not loving Powers these days), but I get enormous enjoyment out of the vast majority of Brian Michael Bendis’ writing, and I love how things have kicked off with his re-launches of these two series.  In Avengers, he and the phenomenally talented John Romita Junior are telling a big, huge, cosmic time-travel storyline that is rollicking along, while in New Avengers he and the equally phenomenally talented Stuart Immonen are crafting a slightly more down-to-earth tale that nevertheless involves an upheaval in the magical aspects of the Marvel Universe and the possible destruction of the Earth.  This looks like a job for The Avengers!  Nice to see that big super-hero epics can still be fun.

Ultimate Spider-Man — More great work from Mr. Bendis.  It has been years and years since I’ve read any Spider-Man comic other than this one, because this one can’t be beat.  (My only criticism with the past few issues: I hate hate hate mistaken identity story-lines, in which a villain usurps a hero’s identity and does bad things in his/her name.  I think it’s tired, too-easy story-telling.  I hope this latest story goes somewhere interesting — from Mr. Bendis’ track-record on this title, I’m pretty confident that it will.)

RASL — Jeff Smith (Bone)’s mind-bending sci-fi tale continues to be awesome.  I just wish this series came out more often!!  But for greatness, I can wait.

Superman/Batman Annual #4 – One of the best comics I’ve read in months! The annual featured a story set in the future-world of the animated Batman: Beyond series.  Specifically, it picks up on some of the intriguing story-threads left hanging by the two-part-episode “The Call.”  This felt like the Batman Beyond DVD movie I’ve always wanted to see.  Renato Guedes’ artwork was extraordinarily beautiful.  This was a home run.

Batman Beyond #1 – Not quite as good as the annual (Ryan Benjamin’s art is great, but I don’t think his scratchy style fits as well with the slick future-world of the story), but still very enjoyable. The last page is a winner, and gives me high hopes for the rest of the series.  Heh heh.  Hush Beyond.  Clever.

The Brave & The Bold #33 – Thanks to my friend Liz for sending this to me, because it’s not something I would have picked up on its own.  This one-shot story tells what seems like a fun-filled “girls’ night out” evening for Diana (Wonder Woman), Zatanna, and Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), though as the story progresses one sees that there’s a much more somber story being told.  I sort of loved this issue, though also found it really odd and unsettling.  it is weird whenever The Killing Joke is referred to in mainstream continuity in such a way. It’s sort of hard to square the horrible (sexual) events of The Killing Joke with the innocent “cartoon” characters seen in this story. That incongruity gives this particular story an edge that made it potent – but it’s still sort of weird. Still, props to J. Michael Straczynski for “daring” to incorporate elements from Alan Moore’s story into this issue.

Superman #700 & 701 — This, though, was a less successful effort (in my opinion) by Mr. Straczynski.  I picked this issue up to see Mr. Straczynski’s take on Superman, and he’s chosen an interesting story to tell.  Straczynski is tackling the Superman IV question – which is an interesting one – of why Superman doesn’t solve people’s average every-day problems.  It’s interesting intellectually, but I can’t say I was that taken with the story so far. (I preferred Paul Dini and Alex Ross’ take in Peace on Earth.) I won’t be continuing with this series.

Cover Run: The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes — This over-sized hardcover contains gorgeous reproductions of a huge swath of Mr. Hughes’ DC Comics work.  Each image is accompanied with several paragraphs of commentary by Mr. Hughes, which really sets this collection apart from a lot of other The Art Of… books that I own.  It’s fascinating to read Mr. Hughes’ comments about his work, and the images, of course, are magnificent.  The man can draw a sexy lady.  (My only complaint: I was sad that none of his amazing work from the Star Trek: Debt of Honor graphic novel — written by Chris Claremont back in 1992 — was included!)

Hellboy: The Storm and BPRD: Hell on Earth — So good.  Comics just don’t get any better than these series.  (Click here for more of my rambling thoughts on the greatness that is Hellboy and the BPRD.)

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