Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chronic Reviews: A Pocket Full of Posies!

I'm currently riding the worst of my cold right now, and I don't have the patience or the faculties to write a proper full-scale review on anything. This will not stop me from writing small smattering of plague-infected nonsense about a variety of stuff I picked up today. Enjoy.

Daredevil # 511
Marvel Comics
Andy Diggle/Roberto De La Torre

We've seen enough now to say definitively what we always suspected - Shadowland and its various sundry parts are rubbish. Absolute rubbish.

This is a shining example of paint-by-numbers Eventitis. I see no redeeming qualities. The drama-killing "Devil made me do it" motive. Yuck. The complete lack of menace from the Hand, easily dispatched by any 1980s detective. Unimpressive. I realize that "death" just doesn't matter any more, but Bullseye came back before you could cook a Hot Pocket. I could stomach some of this when I had some Checchetto artwork to look at, but that's gone now, too.

I haven't completely lost faith in Andy Diggle. When you sign on with the Big Firm, sometimes they make you do horrible corporate-type things. With any luck, they'll actually let the character lie fallow for a good long while to let the taste of this wash out of our mouths.

This is what Marvel was so excited about that they incentivized retailers to make triple orders? Wow. Worst call since DeFalco spouted that bit about how Sleepwalker was Sandman "done right." Yikes. Next!

Batman & Robin # 15
DC Comics

Grant Morrison/Frazier Irving

Across town, DC has its own event sized storyline with a city losing its marbles. So this much like Shadowland, except good.

Yes, this is part of the "Return of Bruce Wayne" bit, but you'll notice that it requires no banner on the cover. This isn't an event because DC said so, it's an event because Grant Morrison is complete badass.

Professor Pyg, Black Glove, and The Joker are actually villainous and potent, unlike the paper mache garbage floating around Shadowland. They've set up machinations that actually create drama. Everybody's crazy. Damian gets captured, Dick gets shot in the head, and the entire city of Gotham is drug crazed and rioting.

Some of it is Morrisonian and dense. You have to read it carefully and have the past in mind to understand the present. Morrison even has fun with this when he has Robin say to the Joker:

"What are you talking about? Why can't you just make sense?"

That's in there for you, too. And it's fun. The whole thing is fun, and the big reveal at the end has an emotional payoff to it, and books like this are why comics are still worth reading.

Deadpool # 28
Marvel Comics
Daniel Way/Carlo Barberi

This just in: Danny Way has completely mastered the Deadpool cocktail. It's pretty much equal parts goofy/vulnerable/dangerous/unstable. If it seems like that's a cliched and easy thing to get right, well, there's where you're wrong. It's easy to make him an idiot cypher that you can't relate to in any meaningful way.

Danny Way makes you hurt for him every issue, even as he blunders into max collateral damage and punishes everyone around him. He's really like the jerkwad nerd at school who desperately wants to fit in, but he just doesn't have the social skills to even recognize how poor he is at social conventions. In the moment, you want to punch the stupid bastard, but in those quiet moments you just say a prayer that you aren't him, because he must be incredibly lonely and in continuous emotional pain.

The whole opening sequence where 'Pool engages a group of clone Secret Avengers belongs in the Hall of Fame. Way also takes the completely insipid Dr. Bong concept and makes him instantly legit by providing cutting shorthand analysis of the characters in the book, and lowering the BONG at the end.

Is Deadpool an over saturated parody of himself at this point? Maybe everywhere else. Danny Way's Deadpool is good shit.

Morning Glories # 3
Image Comics
Nick Spencer/Joe Eisma

The plot thickens, the conspiracy expands. We now have evidence that the Glories agenda (whatever that actually entails) extends back to the 1490s and Torquemada, and includes a subject that looks eerily similar to present day Zoe.

What most impressed me about this issue is the balancing act that Spencer is playing with the Academy threat. They're exceptionally dangerous. They have a lot of strings to pull, and Jade doesn't look like she'll survive the next issue. They have a long history and a lot of resources.

But they are not infallible. After all this time, they still haven't perfected the selection process, and can't really tell the difference between subjects they're actually interested in (we still have no solid clue about what these special cases can do or what the end game for them is) and subjects who simply share a birthday with the "real" Glories. And as powerful as the Academy is, sometimes a little bald girl can kick a lot their asses and write a message on the wall with the blood of some guards.

It's a genius balance. If the Big Bad is a straw figure, there's no drama. If the conspiracy is too powerful, it's just depressing. This is perfect. And that's not even getting to the character work, continues to be top notch. If you weren't in love with Ike or Casey before, you should be now.

The bottom line is that this might be the best comic currently being published. I'll give Gail Simone the benefit of the doubt because she's been producing legendary material on Secret Six every month for over two years. This might be the best, though.

X-Factor # 210
Marvel Comics
Peter David/Valentine De Landro

The book has sauntered away from the "pedal to the metal" approach that started with # 39, and that's fine. You know what this comic is about? It's about a guy and his ex-girlfriend sorting through his coming out. They do so with humor and humanity, and it feels like life, and it feels like something that really wouldn't happen anywhere else.

It's about Guido continuing to try and press for an unlikely relationship with Monet in the most adorable and annoying way possible, while Monet remembers the book's noir roots. She also fixes somebody that maybe ought to have stayed broken. Nothing is ever black and white in the b/w noir world of X-Factor.

I think that once again a segment of the population will complain that half the team was untouched in this issue and that "nothing happened", which is complete poppycock. David introduced a potential threat down the road in an enjoyable way, and Rahne and Rictor spar over his feelings for Shatterstar, we find out there might be something up with her baby. Plenty of stuff happened in this issue, and as usual it happened with wit, humor, and grace. I wish that more nothing like this happened in more comic books.

- Ryan


Anonymous said...

You haven't seen January's Preview. They have a new mini, Devil Reborn One More Day, or some shit like that.


Chronic Insomnia said...

Yeah, I should have known better. How refreshing.