It has been a pretty busy week for me, so you’re getting this a bit later than I wish (but hey, good thing I changed the naming system, eh?). This week I pulled All-New X-Men #21, Uncanny X-Men #16, Batgirl #27, Velvet #3, Astro City #8, Li’l Battlestar Galactica #1, and Deadpool: The Gauntlet #1 — twice — & #2.
All-New X-Men #21
The saga of whether Bendis will break my heart (and ties to his title) continues as fears that X-23 is nothing but window dressing for the O5 are mostly confirmed. In a twist no one saw coming, the best part of this issue (for me) was the Purifiers’ use of Murder World to get at Laura, though the “resolution” of that, and the conflict with the religious zealots in general, was a lot more sudden (and thus a lot less interesting) than I’d have hoped or anticipated. What truly upset me, however, was the quite out of character moment for Laura at the end, setting up a trite, and obviously pointless, love triangle element with Young Scott at the center. Having an emotionally-compromised Laura throw herself into someone’s arms is bad enough, but to try to inject her between a relationship as inevitable as Scott & Jean is just insulting. With the crossover event Trial of Jean Grey starting next week, my temper towards these events is likely to be put on hold, but this book remains on the precipice of my “no longer pulling” list.
Uncanny X-Men #16
Somewhat out of left field, this issue leaves the titular group of young recruits to focus almost entirely on Magneto, whose unexpected tip from a certain Dazzler has him seeking out a so-called new mutant utopia. I’ve got to hand it to Bendis: I honestly did not see the end of this coming, and now I am very curious as to what it all means, both from his standpoint and from the standpoint of those he meets in Madripoor. I still don’t know what to think of this book overall, however. It has yet to be made clear what the new status quo of this team is, which students are truly part of it (e.g., are the O5 in UXM now? How about Laura?), or what the central driving force of the title will be beyond simply finding and recruiting new mutants (seeing as eventually those characters will just get lost in the background if we keep heading down that road). I guess time will tell. Meanwhile, there’s always Bachalo’s art ^_^
This year’s Gothtopia event is shaping up to be a lot better than I expected, especially considering how little attention it seems to have gotten from anyone I follow. The basic premise, if you decided (poorly, I might add) to skip last week’s anniversary Detective Comics #27, is that something weird is happening in Gotham, and everyone sees the city as a utopia, living the life of their dreams without any worries. Yet in the “real” world, something far more sinister is going on, people are committing suicide left and right, and villains are fulfilling entirely unexpected roles in society. Each of the first three issues has featured a different hero slowly breaking through the cracks and catching a glimpse of the real Gotham, and in Barbara’s case it’s hard to say whether the seen or the surreptitious is scarier. This is typical dark Simone — seemingly innocent, and suddenly nasty. I’m definitely on board for the rest of the event, and if that’s not enough to sell you, there’s always Alex Garner’s gorgeous cover.
4/5 [Liked It]
At this point, you already know my feelings about Brubaker, so little I might say about Velvet will come as a surprise. I’m loving its pacing, its depth, and its daring, and this issue was no exception. Velvet escapes those looking for her, but makes it clear she’s not on the run. No, she’s going to find out who set this up. But for someone who has been out of the field as long as she has, there are some mistakes to be made, some rust to shake off, and Brubaker does a fantastic job of making that play out. This book reads great, and looks great, and its letters section (something so few books have these days) is already beginning to feel like a community, with refreshing candor on behalf of both readers and the writer. If you haven’t already, give this multiple sold-out issues run a chance.
5/5 [Loved It]
Astro City #8
Breaking from the norm isn’t always a bad thing, and in the case of Astro City that’s proving to be the case with the volume’s first multiple-issue arc. One thing that struck me as I read was that I was being introduced to new characters and organizations that felt old. And I don’t mean dated. Just… lived-in. This is a series with a history, and that means that some of the characters have been around for many years, while others are appearing for the very first time. And I honestly cannot tell the difference, because they’re all so fully-formed from the first page. So here I am, rooting for Winged Victory to be victorious in a battle that feels so much bigger and older than any of the major DC or Marvel events I read last year — and all that gravitas is being generated by just one book.
5/5 [Loved It]
Li’l Battlestar Galactica #1
After the highlight that was last week’s Li’l Vampi, my expectations for these one-shots had been set fairly high — a hurdle that didn’t so much trip this week’s issue as clothesline it. Normally I’d blame my lack of appreciation on lack of awareness of the property, but given how much I enjoyed the Vampirella and Ernie titles I can’t use that excuse here. The “story” was just messy and all over the place, and felt more like a series of jokes about the real series than an actual adaptation that was intelligible and accessible. Even the completionist in me who would “needs” to have this to have all the Garbowska variants still feels like he wasted money on it, and that’s saying something.
1/5 [Hated It]
Deadpool: The Gauntlet #1 & #2
First things first: if you even remotely like Deadpool, or the idea of Deadpool, you may as well seek out your local shop and see if they have any more free copies of Deadpool: The Gauntlet #1. There’s literally no downside.
That said, I did not expect to enjoy this nearly so much. I’ve always appreciated Deadpool but his execution is very tricky, as he’s always tottering on the edge of asinine/juvenile, which makes him rather difficult to identify with (unlike his love of chimichangas, which is immensely relatable). The Gauntlet mostly gets it right, telling a story so ridiculous that only Wade could star in it, as Dracula is in need of a particular set of skills that only the Merc with a Mouth seems to offer.
I picked up the free print issue of this and quickly realized what should have been obvious: this is Marvel’s attempt at the Next Big Thing, not necessarily Deadpool’s story specifically, but the Infinite Comics digital format in which The Gauntlet is written. The print copy begins with a chibi Deadpool intro that makes it clear the story was designed for (and henceforth will only be available in) Infinite format. That didn’t stop me from reading it in old-fashioned form and having a few good chuckles, but when I redeemed the code and re-read it digitally, I had to admit that it really is much better experienced on a screen. I’ve been mostly unimpressed by prior Infinite comics, but this one (with its introduction) felt a lot more cinematic, which isn’t just a buzzword but an actually decent way of describing the first issue’s feel.
In fact, I appreciated it enough to immediately buy the second issue (which is the reason they released the print copy a week late, so as to incentivize that kind of impulse buy), which retained much of the first issue’s charm (though, sadly, not its glorious introduction). I don’t know whether I want to throw $3 a week down for this story, though the lead-up to the pending wedding issue is definitely a strong selling point. That said, I’ve spent more money on worse things (see: Li’l Battlestar Galactica) so you may well be hearing more from me on the subject. Meanwhile, like I said: if you can get the print copy, with the free digital code, there’s no reason not to. Just don’t make the mistake I did by reading it in print first: experiencing it digitally is definitely the best route.
5/5 [Loved It]