So here we are again, with a whole big pile of funnybooks to discuss, and not much time to do it in. Last week, I handled that with just a couple of full-length reviews. This week, though, I think it’s time for the opposite approach. Which means, of course, that CAPSULEREVIEWSAREGO!!
by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Huddleston
Sometimes, I think I don’t really understand what’s going on in this book. That usually happens a few pages into any sequence involving the Church and the Mothers, and their on-going war over (as I understand it) the resurrection of the Mothers’ god. Since this issue is given over entirely to that conflict, I felt just slightly lost for much of its length. But by the end of the issue (as is also typical), I feel like I DO understand it, had actually understood it all along, and have come away with new information I didn’t have before.
That’s a damn neat trick.
It’s also the kind of reading experience I tend to like best: difficult, but rewarding, and entertaining along the way.
Doesn’t hurt that it’s also (this issue, in particular) just so damned pretty.
So there you go: difficult, beautiful, and entertaining. I can’t ask for much more.
But maybe just a bit. Because something’s keeping me from putting it over the top to my highest rating…
Gideon Falls 23 & 24
by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino
One of this book’s strengths, I suppose, is that its exploration of alternate realities allows it to explore a multitude of different genres while still telling a single cohesive story.
Unfortunately, that’s also its biggest weakness, for me. I really loved the small town weird horror stuff of its earliest issues, with touches of urban blight tossed in for flavor. Now that it’s ranging out into Dystopian Cyberpunk and Zombie Western, I’m not as enthralled.
Is that a personal problem, or is the book really not as good now? It’s hard for me to say. Certainly, issue 24’s running gunfight through an Old West town overrun by servants of the Black Barn is fast-paced and exciting in a way that the slower, creepier early issues could not match. So I suspect it’s just as good as it always was. It’s just less to my taste.
But to hell with it. It’s my column, so I’m gonna stick with my tastes.
The Green Lantern Season Two 5 & 6
by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp
The first four issues of this second season of Morrison and Sharp’s Green Lantern were real hit and miss affairs for me. I mean, I kind of appreciated what they were doing, playing with funnybook genre, with Sharp trying out different art styles to match the stories as they went. It was fun enough, and (being a Morrison comic) I knew it was all leading somewhere. But it’s really only with these two most recent issues that the book really clicked for me.
Issue 5 sees Hal Jordan facing off with an outer space version of the Superman Family, but one that embraces all the negative emotions inherent in the Superman premise instead of the positive ones the real Superman is built upon. The thing that makes it work for me, though, is that these characters really embrace the whole premise, respectable secret identities and all. So they’re not raving psychopaths. They’re more like the asshole yuppie neighbors who secretly spend their weekends torturing puppies and having sleazy affairs on the bad side of town. Except it’s Superman.
Anyway. Even though he wins, that fight doesn’t go so well for Hal, and he’s taken to Sector General space hospital in issue 6. And that, of course, is when the anti-matter universe Qua-Men finally launch the attack we saw them starting at the end of the Blackstars mini-series. And it’s a great tense action issue, with Green Lanterns getting taken out by anti-matter snipers, a hospital full of innocents who have to be taken to safety, and a critically-injured Hal facing off against his anti-matter duplicate. This fight doesn’t go much better for him than the one in the previous issue, and it all ends with Morrison revisiting a moment of Green Lantern history that NObody was clamoring for:
It’s all great fun, and the stories come together better than the previous four did, as well. So I’m back on track with this book now, and can’t wait to see where the back half of it takes us.
Sex Criminals 30
by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
When I started reading this comic, I thought it was the final issue. And, you know, I can see why. They even did a fancy homage to the cover of issue one:
So I also thought it was really clever that they were ending the book on issue XXX. But much to my surprise, there’s one more to go! And what they’re doing for that is REALLY clever: the story really does more or less wrap up here, but for the final issue epilogue, they’re skipping ahead exactly enough months to make their final issue #69!
It’s a really lovely conclusion, though. A story all about life and love and the things worth holding onto. Which is what the series has really been about all along. As well as, you know… fucking and crime.
Strange Adventures 3 & 4
by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Doc Shaner
I enjoyed the setup in the first two issues of this book, but I feel like these two really get us into the meat of things. Ultimately, this is not a story about good and evil. It’s a story about fairness and privilege. About assumptions people of money and power sometimes make about the world, and the things it drives them to do. And if it goes the way I think it might, it won’t tarnish the heroism of Adam Strange. It will just make the world he operates in more complicated.
And I’d love to say more, but I’m running out of time. I like this book more with each passing issue, though, and can’t wait to see where it goes next.
Immortal Hulk 35 & 36
by Al Ewing, Mike Hawthorne, and Joe Bennett
In the wake of the bizarre Mandela Effect PR blitz of the previous story, the Hulk finds himself a beloved cultural hero. So of course it doesn’t last long. And that’s largely due to the machinations of The Leader, currently residing in the body of Rick Jones. It’s cool being in on the joke now, but I can’t help but think this wasn’t foreshadowed as well as I’d like. Now that we have access to what’s going on inside Rick’s head, I’m finding it hard to believe he’s been in there all this time. I mean, maybe he was just waiting for the opportune moment to strike. We do see that the Devil Hulk (the protective “father” persona) is chained up inside Banner’s head for reasons even he doesn’t understand. So maybe that’s what the Leader was waiting for.
I dunno. I just wish we’d gotten a little more of… something… earlier in the run. Something I could think back on now, and have something else click into place. But, no. Other than the time he’d been spending with Betty (who won’t be anything but the Harpy when Bruce is around), I don’t think there’s much to grab onto.
(I DO like how Alex Ross snuck him in on that cover up there, though. That’s nice work.)
It IS fun watching him go now, though. Traditional “Hulk Smash” Hulk is the dominant Hulk right now, and he’s pretty easy to manipulate. So when things go bad, they go REALLY bad…