Wednesday is New Comics Day, so each week 8th Dimension’s Jeremy Bulloch reads every new comic that comes out and recommends some of the best titles for you to check out. Here are this week’s picks!
Spider-Men #2 (Marvel Comics)
Peter Parker has stumbled through a dimensional rift made by Mysterio and entered the Ultimate Universe. It seems that there is only one Mysterio between both worlds, and he has been switching back and forth between the two different earths causing havoc and such. Brian Michael Bendis’ quick-flowing dialog is pitch-perfect, nailing the different voices of each earth’s Spider-Man. The book goes from fun to awesome when Miles Morales introduces Peter Parker to a much cooler version of Nick Fury. As usual, it’s impossible to not hear him speaking in the voice of Samuel L. Jackson. The first issue of Spider-Men was largely set-up, but it begins to pay off immediately with Issue #2. Sara Pichelli draws fantastic action scenes, effortless choreographing the initial and inevitable skirmish between the two Spider-Men. Her use of body language and facial expressions makes me think of artists like Kevin Maguire and George Perez, but she is equally skilled at large panoramic shots. I expect to see her on a higher-profile book very soon.
Justice League Dark #10 (DC Comics)
Welcome to the House of Mystery, John Constantine’s secluded little getaway spot. He won it in a poker game from its previous owner. Like its twin, the House of Secrets, it wanders around Limbo, its floor plan and layout as changing and mercurial as Constantine himself. With help from the rest of his reluctant team of mystics, Constantine has defeated Felix Faust and stolen the artifact that he held. Its contents are deemed too powerful to trust to the government, so the Justice League Dark has run off with it. Jeff Lemire name-drops established DCU arcana including the Demons Three, the Books of Magic, Mordru, and Merlin, all the while adding his own personal touches. This is what the New 52 is all about – updating and reinventing the past, while at the same time doing something new and original with it. This is the best team book that DC is publishing, and maybe the best one on the stands period.
Justice League #10 (DC Comics)
As has been the case for the last several months, I like Justice League, but I LOVE the SHAZAM backup. What works best for me in the lead feature is the group dynamic. The members of the Justice League are co-workers, but not necessarily super friends. Superman and Batman know and trust each other enough to team up regularly outside of the League, but Flash didn’t even tell Green Lantern that he was seeing a woman at his day-job. David Graves, the mysterious new villain who blames the Justice League for the death of his family, knows the team better than they know themselves. That’s going to make it pretty hard to beat him. Well that, and his crazy super necromancy powers. In the SHAZAM story, the characters of Billy and Freddy begin to bond a little, and Dr. Sivana continues to explore the tomb of Teth-Adam. This issue introduces a staple of old Captain Marvel comics, Tawny the Tiger. No longer a goofy cartoon character, Tawny is an actual tiger that Billy Batson visits at the zoo. Billy’s earliest memories revolve around Tawny, and he can open up to him much more than he can to any human being. I hope when this story is done, they put it out in a hardcover. I will buy it the day it comes out.
Incredible Hulk #10 (Marvel Comics)
When Hulk calms down, the mad scientist Bruce Banner takes over his life and body. He’s using and manipulating the Hulk for an undetermined endgame, and Hulk is not happy about it. This issue opens with our hero hulking out in outer space, ripping his space suit like it was a pair of purple slacks. He punches his way onto a Russian space station, and then fights cyborg bears (cybeargs?) in a carnivorous metal forest with a young boy named Anatoli. I will really miss Jason Aaron when he leaves Incredible Hulk after this arc. This comic is like freebasing pure crazy.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Vol III): Century #3 - 2009 (Top Shelf Productions)
Did you know that 24 was in the same universe as The West Wing, Burn Notice, 30 Rock, and Extras? I’m not “havin’ a laugh,” but Alan Moore is. He likes his laughs mean-spirited whenever possible, like his weird mad-on for anything related to James Bond. In his mash-up universe, Bond is 90-something years old and in constant agony from cirrhosis, emphysema, and syphilis. “M” keeps him alive out of spite, just to make the man suffer. A shell-shocked Orlando has come to MI5 to enlist her help in finding Mina Harker, missing since the events of the 1969 League one-shot where she was almost date-raped by a pre-Voldemort Tom Riddle at a concert at Hyde Park. Prospero has told him/her that the Anti-Christ has been born, and Orlando needs help to stop the apocalypse. After locating Mina in an asylum and a once again strung-out Allan Quartermain living on the streets, the League is back together again. Then…well…imagine if the Columbine massacre happened at Hogwarts. Harry Potter is the Anti-Christ, and he shoots lightning bolts out of his wang. The Where’s Waldo of pop-culture continues on just about every page of this comic. You can see Hiro from Heroes, most of the Doctors from Doctor Who, Mary Poppins, and references to tons of British stuff that most of us won’t understand. It seems weird that fresh off of the non-controversy of DC’s Before Watchmen miniseries, Alan Moore has released yet another book that is nothing but him taking other people’s characters and using them in ways that their creators never intended. I find myself entertained by the craft of LXG 2009, but not by the actual story. While I love looking for literary Easter eggs in every panel and enjoy the concept of this mash-up style of storytelling, I find the comic to be both ugly and trite. It’s always easier to tear something down or mock it than to create something. Moore used to know that, but he is bitter and crazy. The point that Moore seems to be making is that the real world and the worlds that only exist in stories are inexorably linked together. It’s impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins, since they both exert influence on each other. Mina Harker has missed the last 40 years while locked in a mental institution. Everywhere she looks, the world seems to be a ruined mockery of the optimism she saw in the 1960s. To Orlando and Allan, the world is just a cesspool, and Mina is lucky to have missed the utter collapse of society. That cynicism apparently is how Alan Moore sees the world. According to him, nobody has created anything worth mentioning for decades. If you’re an Alan Moore fan, and I really am a fan of his work by and large, there is good stuff here that is worth your time. You’ll just have to sift through a lot of dross to find the gold.
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #1 (DC Comics)
J. Michael Straczynski, Andy and Joe Kubert turn in a solidly entertaining start to their prequel miniseries. Dan Dreiberg and Hollis Mason’s early introduction to each other is reminiscent of Tim Drake’s discovery of Batman’s secret identity. Dan is the biggest Nite Owl fan, and he dreams of becoming his partner in crime-fighting. Unknown to Dan though, Hollis is training him to be not his partner, but his replacement. Issue #1 depicts Dan’s earliest days in the cape and cowl, including his initial team-ups with Rorschach and the ill-fated inaugural meeting of the Crime Busters. This is a classic, meat-and-potatoes superhero origin story, well told and illustrated. It may not have the depth of some of the previous issues, but the character of Nite Owl isn’t a very complex one. He wanted to do good, so he did his best.
Batman, Incorporated #2 (DC Comics)
You know who was a bad father? Ra’s al Ghul. He set his daughter Talia up to meet and fall into a one-sided love affair with Batman, not because he cared for her, but to produce the perfect child. Ra’s didn’t want an heir, but a spare body to transfer his mind into once the Lazarus pits have failed. In this issue, Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham fill in all the gaps left in the Son of the Demon graphic novel and the previous volume of Batman, Inc. Damien has been struck down by an assassin’s bullet in Gotham City. Now Talia moves towards her endgame. Ra’s al Ghul raised his daughter to be more ruthless and cunning than even he was. Now the entire world is going to pay for his bad parenting.
The Flash #10 (DC Comics)
Sadly, Francis Manapul has a fill-in for the art chores this month, but he still writes a solid issue of Flash. Penciler Marcus To follows the visual layouts that Manapul has established as the “look” of the Flash, so there remains strong visual continuity. In this issue, the classic Flash rogues gallery continues to be reinterpreted for the New 52 universe with an updated Weather Wizard. Marco Mardoon is a Mafioso with a wand that controls the weather, but every time he uses his powers, they exact a heavy emotional cost. Meanwhile, now that Barry is free from the Speed Force and his brief imprisonment in Gorilla City, all he wants is to run home to Patty Spivot and tell her that he loves her, and that he is the Flash. However, in the months that he has been gone from Central City, a lot of craziness has happened. She blames the Flash for the death of Barry Allen, and that kinda complicates his plans for romance. Another complication is the fact that she has been kidnapped by gangsters in the middle of a turf war.
Fatale #6 (Image Comics)
You’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you. Nicholas Lash learned that the hard way. It’s been a year since the funeral of his godfather. A year since he met Jo. A year since he lost his leg. Obsessed with Josephine, he has been digging into Dominic Raines’ past, trying to find any side of the mysterious woman who broke his life. Then: smash cut to the summer of 1978. Jo lives as a recluse. She’s an old woman watching the late show who doesn’t look old at all. Miles is a washed up B-movie actor looking for a break that’s never coming. There’s a party at Nicholson’s house, but Miles can’t get in without some coke. His friend Suzy could hook him up, but she’s in over her head with a death cult. Somehow these individual storylines will get tangled together. Nobody makes comics like Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. If you’re curious what the best book of the week is, then look no further.
Aquaman #10 (DC Comics)
Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who #2 (IDW)
Green Lantern: The New Guardians #10 (DC Comics)
The Manhattan Projects #4 (Image Comics)
The New Deadwardians #4 (DC Vertigo)
X-Men Legacy #269 (AVX tie-in) (Marvel Comics)
Wolverine & The X-Men #12 (AVX tie-in) (Marvel Comics)
Superman Family Adventures #2 (DC Comics)
Amazing Spider-Man #688 (Marvel Comics)
Angel & Faith #11 (Dark Horse Comics)