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What I bought – 6 June 2012

“That’s what I came to tell you, that I can’t free our people from the rule of the Romans.”

“Why not?”

“Because that’s not true freedom. Any freedom that can be given can be taken away. Moses didn’t need to ask Pharaoh to release our people, our people didn’t need to be released from the Babylonians, and they don’t need to be released from the Romans. I can’t give them freedom. Freedom is in their hearts, they merely have to find it.” (Christopher Moore, from Lamb)

Why does Hazmat have Parkinson's? I like big butts and I cannot lie Well, it's not a hook hand, but it's close enough! So much barf I don't get the title of this issue Three chicks on the open highway! Everyone loves Cairo! Does he live on the Moth Moon?

Avengers Academy #31 (“Protective Services Part 3″) by Christos Gage (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Cory Hamscher (inker), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Gage continues to take swipes at AvX (see below), as the two groups of kids are the most even-handed bunch about this idiotic event (I really hope that Tony Stark didn’t call his attempt to kill Hope “amazing” and that he was only talking about the energy force that is the Phoenix, but that still came off as … disturbing). Whenever I think Gage is going to have two groups of heroes start bashing each other, he manages to figure out a way to pull the plug very quickly and make the two groups sit down and talk about it. It might not make for really exciting comics, but it makes for very interesting ones, and Avengers Academy is certainly that. Gage is writing a superhero book from a major publisher that is just not that concerned with superheroics, which might mean the book won’t sell very well (the latest solicitation in Previews has me worried about the future of the comic) but means that Gage is trying to figure out what makes superheroes tick, more than most people. Even the endless glut of “what if superheroes existed in the real world” don’t delve into this too much before the punching starts, but Gage is, weirdly enough, writing the anti-superhero text of current comics. Both fights in this issue are derailed, one because the kids realize they shouldn’t be fighting, and the other because it’s fake. The fact that Tigra would stage a fight to “fool” Captain America and Iron Man and their machismo-driven pissing contest is brilliant, and while you can fault Gage’s science (as a certain commenter has done for the past two issues), you can’t fault his dead-on take of the ridiculousness of many superhero comics. I have to give a caveat: I do miss the fact that the kids don’t fight bad guys more often – the fight with Titania and the Absorbing Man remains a high point of this series – but not enough to want Gage to stop writing issues that destroy other superhero comics on a regular basis. His characters are so brazen about how idiotic the big events are, and it’s refreshing. The lattice-work of superhero comics is gossamer-thin at the best of times, and while I don’t think I’d like every book to be this honest about the world of Marvel (and DC, to be fair), it’s kind of neat that Gage keeps getting away with it. We know that editors don’t read the comics before they’re printed, so I guess that’s it.

This is also a pretty damned funny issue, too. That’s also appreciated. It makes the honest, emotional moments all the more powerful, because they seem more organic. Superhero books can be fun, right?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Gage is not a fan of big, dumb events, apparently

Morning Glories #19 by Nick Spencer (writer), Joe Eisma (artist), Alex Sollazzo (colorist), and Johnny Lowe (letterer). $2.99, 30 pgs, FC, Image.

I’m not sure how long Spencer plans to write Morning Glories (I hope it’s not as long as Kirkman plans to write Invincible and The Walking Dead and as long as Willingham plans to write Fables, which is until you pry the keyboard from their cold, dead fingers), but this issue is a pretty big game-changer, and it’s pretty cool (well, not the event, which is horrific, but the way Spencer leads up to it). I always like when a writer puts his characters in peril and we think not all of them can come out alive and then one of them actually doesn’t come out alive, because with corporate comics, it’s far too easy to throw a deus ex machina at the situation and save everyone. Spencer actually does throw a deus ex machina at us in this issue, but that doesn’t mean it saves everyone. It’s a very tense issue, because a lot of it is a chase scene, but Spencer also throws in some backstory that helps us understand one of the characters a bit better (yes, I’m being vague on purpose; sorry!). The biggest problem I had with this story arc is that Spencer tried to focus on separate threads in each issue, so it’s been a while since we’ve seen Zoe and what she was doing the last time we saw her, which wasn’t pleasant. As with almost every modern comic, it will probably read better in trade (or, for me, when I sit down and read all the issues), but as a serialized drama, it’s a bit frustrating. But Spencer still has gotten more and more control over his comic, and as a consequence, the book becomes more and more intriguing. As we’ve seen some of the odd stuff pay off in very good ways, Spencer can throw other odd stuff at us and we can trust that it, too, will pay off. So that’s nice.

I’ve been praising Eisma a lot recently, so I won’t do it too much today, except to say – man, that double-page spread at the end. It’s good pacing by Spencer, but Eisma nails it. I was just staring at it in disbelief for a while. Really well done by Eisma.

As I’ve mentioned before, I doubt if now is the time to jump on board Morning Glories, but it’s become a consistently excellent comic. I’m glad I stuck with it when it was being so weird early on.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

It's a good scene, but man do people not talk like that

Secret #2 (“Never Get Caught”) by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Ryan Bodenheim (artist), Michael Garland (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $3.50, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

Here’s the key to enjoying a Jonathan Hickman comic, especially if it’s an ongoing: Accept that the pace will make Brian Michael Bendis tap his fingers with impatience, and just go along for the ride. I swear – Hickman must have read a lot of BMB in the past 15 years and thought to himself, “Man, this dude gets to the point waaaaay too fucking fast!” With Secret #2, he takes the pace of Secret #1 (which at least featured a massacre) and kicks it … down a notch. We get a flashback to the main character’s childhood, and then we get pages and pages of characters talking to each other, but with such minimalistic dialogue that you might be forgiven in thinking they’re saying random words to the ether. Witness: A three-panel sequence of the main character … pulling a tarp off of his car! Behold: A page of the main character … looking at his mail! Gaze upon: Two pages of a man … getting off a plane and getting into a limousine! Yes, I’m making fun, but that doesn’t mean I hate this comic. Hickman usually pays off it quite well, and I’m only going to bail on this if it goes on too long, and two issues isn’t too long for a slow burn (I’m looking at you, Fantastic Four, which everyone agrees is superb but was so boring early in the run that I couldn’t stay with it). Bodenheim is a decent artist, but Garland makes this a visual treat with his odd coloring choices that have to make some kind of sense, don’t they?

All I’m saying is that this comic moves really slowly. If you trust Hickman (and I generally do), then you’ll probably like it. If you don’t trust him, this is not the comic that’s going to change your mind. I have no idea what’s going on with Secret yet, but I do want to find out, so I’ll give him some rope!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

This panel contains, no lie, the only action in this comic book

“Dark Avengers” #175 (“Earth’s Mightiest …”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Declan Shalvey (artist), Frank Martin, Jr. (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I refuse to call this book Dark Avengers in anything other than the most ironic fashion, so it shall be quote marks (or inverted commas, if you’re a stuffy Brit) from now on when I’m referring to it, and it shall reside alphabetically under “T.” I still haven’t even made up my mind if I’m sticking around, but this first issue shows that Parker is still writing a good comic, so I might have to. But a group of idiots like Clor and some six-armed Spider-Man? Blech. I dig Jane Covington, however, although I’m a bit puzzled how she seems to have offensive powers these days. I’m sure it’s explained somewhere!

Parker does give the readers a good in-story reason for dragging the Avengers Noir into this book – the actual Thunderbolts were lost in time for a while, and I assume they’ll be back, but the big bosses can’t count on that, obviously. The biggest problem with this issue is that, unlike Gage, Parker doesn’t avoid the “heroes fighting heroes” scene – Luke Cage, who has some issues with the Dunkel Avengers, sees them and attacks, which lasts seven pointless pages (sorry, Parker – it’s true). Now, the set-up of the issue, which takes place in North Africa, is pretty keen, and the fact that Hank Pym and Luke have sort-of figured out how to find the time-tossed T-bolts is decent, and I like how Luke gets Skaar on the team and ends up on the mission anyway, but man! seven pages in a 20-page issue is long, man.

But whatevs. If changing the name to Avengers Escuro means it moves a few more units and doesn’t get axed, so be it. It’s depressing that people are sheep, but that’s the way it is. I mean, my retailer expected to sell far more copies of Earth 2 than normal because people still think “important” issues will skyrocket in value. Jeebus.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Just another afternoon in Arizona!

Wasteland #38 (“The Truth Famine”) by Antony Johnston (writer), Justin Greenwood (artist), Matthew Razzano (toner), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, BW, Oni Press.

This is Greenwood’s last issue on the book, which oddly depresses me. I say “oddly” because I’ve never loved his artwork, but I still want the book to have a consistent look, which it had for so long with Mitten drawing it, and although I wasn’t that jazzed by Greenwood’s artwork, he was getting better, and I think he could have done good things had he stayed. I also always worry on small books that are so defined by the creators when one of them leaves – it’s why I was anxious when Mitten left the comic, and I hope Johnston can manage to finish this epic without again getting bogged down in artistic problems. Issue #39 is coming out on time, apparently, which is great, but I don’t know if Johnston has a new regular artist. I hope he can find someone to finish the book with him, because that would be cool.

Much like Morning Glories above and unlike many mainstream superhero comics is that Johnston is free to do whatever the hell he wants, and both this issue and Morning Glories put their characters in peril that might not be possible at companies that refer to characters as “properties.” In this issue, Gerr finally tells his story, and while it’s a decent enough story, when we reach the end, if this were some kind of corporate comic, it would certainly not have ended the way it did. Johnston gives us a powerful ending that is perfectly sensible given the characters involved while also showing how far one character has come since the beginning of the book. If this were a standard superhero comic, I’d not only think that this ending wouldn’t have happened, but if it actually did, it would have seemed forced and also, possibly, have no repercussions whatsoever. Perhaps the ending won’t have any repercussions in this book, but it seems unlikely.

Johnston occasionally stops by here. Maybe he’ll reassure me about the art situation. Because, you know, I’M THAT IMPORTANT!!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I hope his dry cleaner is good

X-Factor #237 (“Road to Redemption”) by Peter David (writer), Neil Edwards (penciler), Karl Kesel (inker), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Peter David eventually gets around to this in this issue, but while I was reading it, I was wondering if he would: Rahne, as a good Presbyterian, had to know what John Maddox tells her at the end of this issue; that is, everyone is forgiven, no one is beyond the grace of God, and no one has done anything so terrible that God can’t forgive them for it. I get that Rahne was raised by evil, small-minded Presbyterians rather than the wacky liberal Presbyterians around whom I was raised, but it’s been a while since she’s been a small girl cowed by a crazy, fire-and-brimstone kind of preacher, and I’m surprised it took John Maddox to bring up the idea of redemption to her when Theresa is a fine Catholic lass who ought to know this as well. Self-pity can be a very strong feeling, I know, and so John Maddox’s extreme solution to Rahne’s problem is probably necessary, but I always find it interesting when Christians don’t understand some of the basic tenets of their religion. I mean, I haven’t gone to church in 20 years and I know this shit.

I do like this issue, though, because I always like it when superheroes go off and do non-superhero things that are still tied to their superhero stuff. I mean, Rahne is feeling guilty because she rejected the child that she vomited up out of her abdomen and then watched kill someone in the next moment, so it’s not like she’s like a normal mother – her feelings are directly tied to her superhero life, yet David generalizes them so that the story is still powerful. He’s quite good at this, and I always enjoy when writers have their characters actually think about the weird shit that happens to them and try to process it rather than just dealing with it in one panel where Wolverine tells them to suck it up. Not helping, Logan!

Oh, and at this stage of career, I imagine David sits around and thinks of the worst puns he can think of, then rubs his hands together and says out loud, “This will make Joe Rice pull his hair out!” and then puts them in his scripts. He has to know that people go batshit over the puns, right? If I were that deft at coming up with puns, I would totally put them in scripts just because I knew it annoyed people. But then, I’m kind of evil.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah, but if go along, Monet, they won't have to turn on their headlights, amirite, fellas? Up top! (Holds hand up for high five, doesn't get one back)

Metro: A Story of Cairo by Magdy El Shafee (writer/artist) and Chip Rossetti (translator). $20.00, 95 pgs, BW, Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

A Cairene decides to rob a bank when he can’t pay back a loan shark, and gets involved in all kinds of political corruption. It looks really nice, too, with frenetic black-and-white art. And yes, “Cairene” is totally correct. Deal with it.

The Moon Moth by Jack Vance (original short story writer), Humayoun Ibrahim (adapter), and Hilary Sycamore (colorist). $17.99, 114 pgs, FC, First Second Books.

There’s a murder mystery on a planet where everyone wears masks to indicate social status. It sounds keen and looks great. And no, I’ve never read anything by Jack Vance. Yes, I suck. I was too cool in high school singing in choir and acting in plays to read nerdy science fiction, bitches!

I didn’t buy the first Before Watchmen book, because I have absolutely no interest in it or what it represents, but I did flip through it out of morbid curiosity. You know how people say they would buy a comic of Darwyn Cooke (or another artist they love) drawing the phone book? Well, I was impressed that DC actually allowed Cooke to draw 26 pages of Dan DiDio taking a shit on Alan Moore’s head and then rubbing it into his luxurious beard. I mean, that took some balls by all concerned, right?

**********

I happened to see this post about Jean-Claude van Damme’s hot daughter, and what caught my eye is not Bianca Bree van Varenberg’s hotness (she’s attractive, sure, and yes, that is her full name), but the fact that JCvD has been married to women named Gladys Portugues and Darcy LaPier. Now THOSE are some names!

So Ray Bradbury died at 91. I know this is more heresy, but I am not the hugest fan of Bradbury, not because I don’t like his writing, but because in my big science-fiction phase of reading (the ages of 12-16 or so), I read Arthur C. Clarke, Frank Herbert (not Dune, though, which I cannot get into, much less through), Roger Zelazny, and Orson Scott Card. I don’t know why, but Bradbury just wasn’t on my radar. Years later I read Fahrenheit 451 and liked it, and who doesn’t like that short story that starred Edward Burns? Yessiree, that was pretty keen. But I know he’s a legend, so raise a glass to him tonight!

In case you’re interested with the behind-the-scenes crap here at the blog (and, to be honest, why the hell wouldn’t you be?), the format of our “dashboard” changed again. We no longer see the last few comments left on the blog on the dashboard, which is kind of annoying. The “Edit Post” page, where real men type their posts instead of typing them in Word and saving them and then copying and pasting them like some people do (the ones we real men call scaredy cats), is atrocious – the font has been changed, so it looks like I’m typing on a Commodore-64 in 1983. I mean, the zeroes have diagonal lines through them. Really, WordPress? Sheesh. Obviously, you can see that everything still looks the same on the published version – including the continual and distressing lack of tags – but backstage, it’s like we had a budget cut and we can only afford the most basic, shitty font out there. I don’t even know what this font is called. Did Richard Starkings finally take over the entire font world and denied WordPress the use of everything else? (Raises fists and looks the sky) STARKINGS!!!!!!!

I think my iPod will be back soon, but this week, let’s check out my Top Ten Favorite Wars. Obviously, all wars suck, but as a historian, some wars are more interesting to study than others. These are those, with one thrown in that I just love because it’s the most ridiculous war in history. These are in chronological order, by the way.

1. The Hundred Years’ War, 1337-1453. Hey, that’s not 100 years! And hey, there were several times throughout these years when England and France weren’t actually fighting! But who cares – this is still a great conflict to study. Edward III decided he wanted to be king of France as well as England, hearkening back to the good old days of Henry II’s Angevin Empire of the twelfth century, so he went across the Channel to bitch-slap the actual French king, Philip VI. This war, which was fought in stages, was momentous in the development of Western history. It led to the first expressions of French and English nationalism and the creation of standing armies. At the battle of Crécy in 1346, the English longbowmen annihilated the French knights in one of the most stunning “upsets” in history; the age of the knights ended that day, as long-range weaponry forced generals to come up with new tactics (something the French didn’t learn, as in 1356 Edward’s son the Black Prince used the same tactics at Poitiers and captured the French king, John II). Years later, of course, Henry V won the day at Agincourt, inspiring one of Shakespeare’s great speeches. Henry couldn’t press his advantage, and with the inspirational leadership of Joan of Arc in the late 1420s, France finally gained the advantage. The war officially ended in 1453, although the English held Calais for another 100 years. By then it was clear the Henry VI, Kenneth Branagh’s son, was not a terribly good leader, and England was about to be riven by another of my favorite wars!

2. The Wars of the Roses, 1455-1485. The second “civil war” of England came about because, well, nobody liked the king. Henry VI was a crappy king, and since the family of York, led by Richard, the city’s duke, was descended from Edward III just like Henry was, they decided they should rule. It didn’t help that Henry was often off his rocker and that his French wife was wildly unpopular. The war was also fought in fits and spurts, like many medieval wars, with years of peace and short bursts of violence. Henry was replaced for a while by Edward IV (r. 1461-1470), came back for a while, then died. Edward returned, but his wife was as unpopular as Henry’s had been (for different reasons; she wasn’t royal, so the marriage brought no advantages internationally to England), and after Edward died, his brother Richard (the famous Third) took over instead of allowing her family to dominate Edward’s two young sons. Those kids conveniently disappeared into the Tower of London (where Richard had then killed) and Richard took over. However, some mangy Welsh claimant defeated Richard at Bosworth in 1485, killed him, and married Edward’s daughter to unite the houses. Richard, however, provided Ian McKellen with a great role 500 years later, so that’s something!

3. The Thirty Years’ War, 1618-1648. Like all long wars, this was a series of armed conflicts that all centered around Germany, but lurched back and forth over three decades. This is probably the most horrific of the religious wars that wracked Europe for a century or so, as Protestants and Catholics killed each other in the name of that peaceful Jesus dude you may have heard of. This is another interesting war to read about, because of the way it was fought. It’s occasionally considered the first “total war” in that civilians were often slaughtered along with soldiers. Civilians had suffered in wars before, but usually as collateral damage, not because the soldiers went out of their way to kill them. This is also the war in which Sweden (yes, Sweden!) was a major player, as the country reached the height of its power under Gustavus Adolphus, who died on the battlefield in 1632. It can also be seen as the first full-scale European war, a tradition which led to the Seven Years’ War, the Napoleonic Wars, and those two in the 20th century you may have heard about. As usual with wars, this inspired a great piece of fiction, Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children. It’s a brilliant play, and if you get a chance to see it, check it out!

4. The First and Second Opium Wars, 1839-1842; 1856-1860. I know only a little about the two Opium Wars, but these were early attempts by the West to impose their economic will on China, and led to some really horrible things, such as the Taiping Rebellion, which almost destroyed the country. I just love how the British (and, in the second one, joined by the French), forced the Chinese to allow opium imports, after the Chinese tried to make it illegal. Remember when countries wanted to traffic in drugs? Ah, the good old days!

5. The Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1871. I’m a fan of Otto von Bismarck (as a historian, of course; as a person, he seems like a complete bastard), and this was his crowning achievement. After wars with Denmark and Austria, Bismarck was ready to unite Germany under Prussia and he needed a big-time war to do it. So he whipped up some antagonism between the Germans and the Second Empire (under one of the lamer rulers of the 19th century, Napoleon III), and managed to get France to declare war on Prussia. The Prussians, who were far superior to the French in every regard, beat the crap out of Napoleon for six weeks before capturing him at Sedan, and then beat the French armies under the Third Republic for another few months before capturing Paris in early 1871. In the aftermath of the war, Paris became a Socialist stronghold for a few months, which led to lots of bloodshed. Bismarck, meanwhile, wrangled a new crown for his king, Wilhelm I – that of the German Empire, which was declared in May 1871 at Versailles. This upset the balance of power in Europe that had been established at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and led somewhat directly to the great world wars of the 20th century. Bismarck stayed in power until 1890, when Wilhelm II, the second emperor, fired him. That might have not been a mistake, but Wilhelm’s thirst for overseas glory, which Bismarck warned against, certainly was.

6. The War of the Cricket Match, 1896. This is the shortest war in history, clocking in at 37 minutes 23 seconds. The Sultan of Zanzibar was peeved because the English admiral, Sir Henry Rawson, brought all his warships close to shore so his men could disembark and watch a cricket match. The Sultan declared war and sent his only battleship into action. The British sank that and bombarded the Sultan’s palace. He escaped into German territory, and the war ended. Good times!

7. The Boer War, 1899-1902. This is technically the Second Boer War, but it’s the one every remembers. I read a book about this years ago, and it’s really a fascinating war, because it might be considered the first modern war, in that correspondents were “embedded” with the British troops (Winston Churchill was one of them!), it turned quickly into a guerrilla war, which allowed the Boers to fight the British for two years after the South African government capitulated, and the British set up concentration camps! Yay, concentration camps! This war reminds us that the Dutch had set up two independent republics in South Africa back in the day, which is kind of weird to think about today. South Africa became a part of the British Empire after this war, and Churchill got a taste for blood that wasn’t sated even after World War I!

8. The Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905. I’ve always been interested in Japan and China, even though my first love is European history. The Meiji Restoration of the 19th century, in which the Emperor regained power from the shoguns, is a fascinating time in history, and the speed with which Japan embraced Western technology is one of the shocks of the past 200 years. They showed off their new prowess by absolutely destroying the Russian navy at Port Arthur in 1904 and bringing the czar’s army to its knees, leading indirectly to the 1905 Revolution that was a precursor to the Bolshevik takeover 12 years later. Teddy Roosevelt got a Nobel Peace Prize for bringing the two sides together, Japan earned the respect of the West by showing they could kill vast numbers of people as easily as white people, and it embarked on a path that led to Pearl Harbor.

9. The Balkan Wars, 1912-1913. Another region that fascinates me is the Balkans, and although I need to read more about this particular war, anything about the area and the Ottomans’ dominance of it is keen. These wars also crack me up a bit, because in the first one, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Montenegro allied with each other to fight the Turks, even though they fought pretty much separately because they didn’t like each other that much. After defeating the Turks (ending the “first” war), they pretty much immediately turned on each other, especially the Greeks and Bulgarians. Their fighting allowed Romania and Turkey to enter the second war, and the Ottomans regained a great deal of territory that they had lost a few months earlier in the first war! I like this war because it shows how difficult it is for an outside power, like the United States and the United Nations in the 1990s, to go into the region and try to talk peace. The people hate each other there with a centuries-old passion, and as the Turks learned, the only thing they hate more than each other are Great Powers coming in and telling them not to kill each other!

10. The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. I find this war fascinating, because of the somewhat confused sides, the involvement of several different nationalities, the fact that the Nazis viewed it as a “preseason” war in which they could field-test new weapons, and the involvement of the Basques, which threw a weird spanner in the works. It was a horrific war by all accounts, too, and probably should have alerted the world to what was coming. That it didn’t remains a tragedy of history. Of course, it did give us a terrific mural, so I guess all the deaths were totally worth it.

There are, of course, plenty of other wars that I’m interested in. I didn’t count crusades, which I love to study, or even general military actions from medieval times, when “wars” didn’t really exist. I mean, Charlemagne was always campaigning against someone, but that’s just what he did. So although I like medieval history the best, it’s hard to define a “war” for a lot of that time. That’s why these more modern conflicts are my favorites. War definitely sucks, but it’s perversely fascinating to study. Maybe I’m just bloodthirsty.

So that’s another week of comic bookery. I hope everyone has a nice weekend, and I should let you know that this column is going to be a little bit late next week. I’m on a plane on Thursday and in Pennsylvania on Friday and Saturday and back on a plane on Sunday, so I might not get this posted until Monday the 18th. Can’t be helped, folk – Marillion is touring North America for the first time in over a decade, and since they won’t come to Phoenix, I have to go to Philadelphia! My hands are totally tied!

46 Comments

Steven R. Stahl

June 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Re AVENGERS ACADEMY #31:

The kids should stay out of the AvX conflict, actually. To the extent that the battle, or any battle, is centered on ethical issues, they don’t have the life experience, knowledge, and training needed to resolve things. Kids are just in the way. If the adults involved are acting stupidly, then having the kids involved point out the solution that the adults are missing turns the story into a lecture by the writer.

The AvX event isn’t a battle over ethics, unfortunately. It’s just creative failures enshrined in print for people to laugh at, or to cry over. If a fan fiction writer had come up with the sequence in which Stark shoots the Phoenix Force, “causing” it to possess several mutants, he might have been told to stop writing fan fiction. But Fraction wrote AvX #5, so readers are stuck with it.

I wouldn’t fault people for not buying AVENGERS ACADEMY, in part because the stories are about teenagers, and in part because the reason that they’re at the academy is that they’re not ready to fight villains. Readers might never know what Gage might come up with material if he could select the plot material himself, instead of having to do so many event tie-ins.

SRS

I got 4 of these (Academy, Secret, Dark Av, and X-Factor), haven’t read them yet, but it’d good to see they rate high.

But I kind of expected them to anyway considering how consistent they are.

I guess I’m just weird but I’ve never once had a problem with the pacing of Hickmans F4/F4 run. Though I suppose that’s due to me having started with FF#1 then going back and reading the rest as one big chunk so I didn’t have to wait months and months for answers/payoff. Hickman does read better in trade when he’s doing an ongoing though. That’s the main reason I’m doing both Manhattan Projects/Secret in trades instead of monthlies…also I gotta make budget cuts.

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Mr. Burgas: I think I read it in a blog column here on CBR (or perhaps Newsrama), that Morning Glories might be 100 issues long. JUST WHAT WE NEED!!!!! Another 100 issue mini-series.

Or you could give him parts of your pinkie to Hickman.

Of all those wars, you forgot the Marvel CIVIL WAR a few years back.

Sorry, just been one of those work days where everything that could go wrong and weird, did.

Just had to vent. ;-)

Are we back to being sure Richard III killed the boys again? For a long while, it was supposed that the story was just that the Tudors had a better pr guy in Shakespeare, and you usually avoid such blunt historical assertions.

Steven: I’m perfectly happy that the kids are staying out of AvX. I’m glad that Marvel didn’t force Gage to put them into it, and I’m glad Gage didn’t think it was a good idea.

Jonesy: I should probably start getting Hickman’s FF in trades, because I have heard such good things about it. I was buying it monthly, and thought the pace was terrible, even though it had a few decent ideas in it. I just couldn’t justify waiting around for him to get to the point!

Tom: Well, that’s strange. I can’t even conceive of how Spencer will make it that long. Such is life!

Becca: I don’t think I’ve ever read a serious history book that doesn’t think Richard killed the kids or had them killed. I don’t think he’s a monster like Shakespeare and the Tudor PR machine portrayed him, but I’ve read some very good historical detective work that comes to no other conclusion but that he killed the kids. What’s fascinating about Richard is that he seemed like a fairly decent king, and he certainly wasn’t alone in killing children who could threaten him (Edward IV himself did it), but because of who succeeded him, he bears the onus alone. That’s where I would avoid “blunt historical assertions,” as you aptly put it (because I do think that’s a dangerous game), but I don’t think we can ignore the fact that it’s about 99% certain that he killed the princes.

Travis Pelkie

June 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I got a shit ton of comics this week, because I haven’t been to the LCS in a couple weeks. Wow, got some good stuff and some mediocre stuff, but luckily nothing awful. Oh, wait, I did get Youngblood 71. Because I hate myself.

Anyway, MG 19 was freakin’ cool. I just recently caught up with the series, so I remember a little better where everyone was, but damn, that was quite the conclusion to the issue (not really “ending” to the arc, since even with an “extra” issue, nothing’s really concluded yet). Very cool stuff. I am impressed that there hasn’t been anything as blunt as a snake eating it’s own tail yet, though. :)

Secret was decent, I actually liked 2 better than 1 because it seemed easier to me to distinguish who’s who, and we got a better sense of character relationships. Plus, I reread 1, so I got a little bit more what was going on there. But slow burn is definitely the right term. Although it was fun to flip through and look at the art to see how “that” was depicted (trying to be vague and spoiler free, but cover spoiler!) Your BMB comment made me giggle. Side note, you mention the coloring, but refer in the review to Rosenberg as the colorist, but in the credits you list it’s Garland. I forget who actually did it, so which was it?

I thought about getting Dark Avengers, but figured it’d be better not to pay full price on it (out of some weird moralistic concern) and wait either for a trade or for the issues in a cheapo bin down the road.

What else was really good? Batman Inc, of course. Resident Alien is wonderful, but I can see where someone would be annoyed about the 0 issue thing. Can’t remember anything else that was fantastic, but I haven’t read Spider 2 yet (saving it to savor it).

Didn’t get BW, but did take a free “New Frontiersman” “paper”. Besides the fact that was pointed out that Seymour wouldn’t have been writing for the paper in ’77, the punk group is the “Damned”, not the “Dammed”!

Unless that’s Watchmen continuity? Rat Scabies was instead concerned about beavers blocking rivers, I suppose?

Oh boy, I hope financing goes through and I get the car I’ve got my eye on.

And Sunday, Mad Men season finale. Damn, that’s been good!

The font looks the same to me on the dashboard. Methinks you just are not strong in The Font.

I’ve been meaning to read Lamb for ages.

Travis: Whoops. Garland did the coloring. I don’t know why I had Rosenberg on the brain. I mean, she colored X-Factor, but I wrote the review for Secret before I wrote the one for X-Factor, so I have no idea why I was thinking of her. I’ll go fix it!

I’m looking forward to the Mad Men season finale, mainly because then I can start watching this season. I do that with shows that work better as whole texts – I just started watching this season of Game of Thrones, for instance – and I’ve been looking forward to five or six consecutive nights of Mad Men, just as this week is five or six consecutive nights of GoT!

Bill: I’m talking about when you’re actually typing a post. The font of the other stuff looks the same, sure, but when you’re actually typing a post, it’s awful. If you posted more, you’d know that! :)

Lamb is very funny. I need to read more Moore, in fact, just based on that book.

Oh, I see what you mean now. But that’s only in the “HTML” tab. In the “Visual” one it looks more or less the same.

Thanks for the clarification, Greg; it’s been a few years since I took English Lit classes in Shakespeare, and I always wondered if the professor was selling some of his theories a little too much.

At least he knew enough of the history to ignore the Edward DeVere nonsense, which puts him one step ahead of Roland Emmerich and company.

My daughter has been asking about Avengers Academy (she’s 13), and I think it’s a rare Marvel book that I could recommend to her — unlike say, X Factor — seriously, Monet? that’s just freaking ridiculous.

Finally read Thunderbolts.

…holy Hulk nipples

Everyone should read more Christopher Moore!

Greg, was it during the the Hundred Year War that people first started giving “the finger” ? I remember hearing that somewhere. It had to do with the French cutting off the middle finger of captured English bowman so they couldn’t pluck the longbow. Am I imagining this?

pluck the longbow… that sounds kinda perverted, but it wasn’t meant that way. :)

I think you should have snuck the Kree/Skrull war in at #9 or something, just to see if we’re paying attention.

And, not gonna lie, I was really hoping you’d buy Before Watchmen and Harbinger, because I wanted to see your reviews. Damnit Burgas, don’t you know people depend on you? Your wallet and time should be sacrificed so my choices can be better informed. Sometimes, that’s just the way it is.

There are a ton of bizarre small “wars” that are fun to read about.
Speaking of Greece and Bulgaria:

“The War of the Stray Dog”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_the_Stray_Dog

And two between the U.S. and Canada:

“The Pork and Beans War”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aroostook_War

“The Pig and Potato War”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig_War

–Mike

Becca: When I took Shakespeare, my professor was also a bit enthusiastic about Shakespeare as historian. He’s a good historian for HIS time period, but not any other!

Richard seems like no better or worse than most medieval monarchs. He was king for only a few years, so it’s hard to judge his reign, but he seems to have a fairly good idea about ruling and what was good for the country, and he certainly wasn’t ineffectual (like Henry III) or possibly insane (like Henry VI). Again, it’s hard to judge, but I have a feeling he would have been at least a decent king had he not died at Bosworth.

kcviking: The legend is certainly that “the finger” originated in the Hundred Years’ War (at Crecy, specifically), but I don’t know how historically valid that is. Warren Ellis believes it! I don’t think anyone really knows.

Third Man: I wouldn’t touch Before Watchmen with a ten-foot pole, not because I’m completely on Moore’s side, but because it’s so obviously a cash grab that it makes me angry. I mean, I know everything that DC and Marvel publish is a cash grab, but this is so blatantly obvious (you can get the superior original for 20 bucks or less but if you want all this shit you have to spend 140 dollars?) that I can’t support it. As for the Valiant stuff … I’m just waiting for trades on the ones I think are interesting. I think Dysart is a pretty good writer, but I didn’t love Evans’ work on the first issue, even though he’s a good artist. We’ll see how I feel when the trade gets solicited!

Travis Pelkie

June 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Harbinger was decent, Third Man. Dunno if it was 4 bucks decent, but it was pretty good. X-O is pretty good also. If you’re not sure about either or weren’t a Valiant fan, they’re probably both trade worthy, not single issue worthy.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 8, 2012 at 12:54 am

If you trust Hickman (and I generally do), then you’ll probably like it. If you don’t trust him, this is not the comic that’s going to change your mind. I have no idea what’s going on with Secret yet, but I do want to find out, so I’ll give him some rope!

I couldn’t keep the faith – unlike say Red wIng or Manhattan Projects, there just weren’t any crazy ideas or much hint of a concept, and I think Hickman occasionally gets caught up in his maps and plans of series and forgets to make issues interesting in and of themselves – so I dropped out after number one.
I’ll be using your reviews to see if I’ll get it in trade.

Well, I was impressed that DC actually allowed Cooke to draw 26 pages of Dan DiDio taking a shit on Alan Moore’s head and then rubbing it into his luxurious beard. I mean, that took some balls by all concerned, right?

Ha! That’s right up there with last weeks John Byrne joke in terms of cracking me up. Speaking of Byrne, did you try Trio? I can’t remember reading a review, and I’d like to hear your take on it.

the font has been changed, so it looks like I’m typing on a Commodore-64 in 1983. I mean, the zeroes have diagonal lines through them.

Sounds to me like the perfect excuse for pretending you’re a character William Gibson cyberpunk novel, living off the grid, blogging against the system!

Get hold of a copy of the film of Fahrenheit 451, it’s fab.

You don’t like Dune? What’s wrong with you, Greg?

I do like and trust Hickman, but I actually think that his Fantastic Four work is his most enjoyable, and the one with the least pacing problems (as compared to something like SHIELD or Secret Warriors).

The Spanish Civil War also gave us Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, so yeah, it was totally worth it.

Pete Woodhouse

June 8, 2012 at 4:14 am

Re: English bowmen and the “V” sign – I think it’s an urban myth (historical urban myth?).
There’s a series over here in the UK called QI, fronted by Stephen Fry, and it specialises in “everything you know is wrong” moments. I’m pretty sure they debunked the whole “cutting off fingers gave birth to the V sign” angle as the insult predated this.

No Valiant?! WTF is wrong with you?! The Harbinger and X-O Manowar are great so far!!!!

Thelonious_Nick

June 8, 2012 at 5:26 am

Not sure I’ve ever commented on one of your posts before, Greg, but I read your reviews every week. Anyway, today’s was really excellent, and I wanted to address a couple of the things you’ve said.

First, I’ve always thought the Winter War, i.e. the Finno-Russian War of 1939-40 was pretty awesome. Although technically a loss for Finland, the fact that they held their own against the far, far more numerous Soviets and didn’t lose their sovereignty made this something of a win for them–and may have convinced Hitler that the Soviets would be a pushover when he attacked them the following year.

Also, I was impressed by your mentioning Roger Zelazny. I read a huge amount of SF and fantasy when I was a teen-ager, and Zelazny was the first guy who I realized could write fantasy in a stylish, literary way. I’ve been meaning to go back and re-read his Amber series for years….

FGJ: Trio just doesn’t sound that interesting. I like old-school superheroes as much as the next guy, but from what I’ve read and when I looked at the first two issues, it seems like he’s so old school that he’s straight up recycling stuff from old FF comics.

I can’t blog against the system – I don’t have the energy to be that angry! :)

Pedro: I really tried to read Dune. I got about 100 pages into it and I had no idea what was going on and whether it would ever go anywhere. I don’t know, some things just don’t click for me. It’s weird, because I like a lot of Herbert’s other work – The White Plague is a great book, and I enjoyed The Jesus Incident even though I still haven’t read the first book in that series. I don’t know why Dune just didn’t do it for me.

Wally: I’ll be checking out the issues when they come out, and giving the trades some thought when they’re offered!

Fair enough, I read all of the Dune books and at the end thought, “maybe I should have just stuck with the first one”. The sequels were disappointing and I was just as lost as you. Also, I haven’t read any other Herbert book, so it’s not like I have any moral high ground to criticize you :-)

When you reviewed Ellis’ Crecy I was going to ask you about the “middle finger” legend. I actually thought that was the origin of the whole thing. Now I’m curious about where that really originated.

Matthew Johnson

June 8, 2012 at 7:40 am

“The finger” dates back at least to ancient Rome: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1279/whats-the-origin-of-the-finger

@Matthew Johnson: Thanks! I can finally sleep well at night knowing where that came from. :-)

Is Avengers Academy really selling that badly? What is wrong with people? It’s definitely the best book Marvel has nowadays.

I lost all interest in the new Thunderbolts as soon as I learned it was going to star that boring team from the recent New Avengers story. I don’t see anything remotely interesting about those characters.

Mary: I really don’t know how well AA is selling. The solicitation in this month’s Previews doesn’t say anything definite, but the vibe I get from it isn’t good. Of course, it might just be Gage shaking up the status quo again, so we’ll have to wait and see.

I was turned off to Hickman’s Fantastic Four entirely early on because it seemed like all world-building with no patience for follow-through. I’d check the trades out from the library, and I thought the stuff he was playing with was really cool, but it really did just seem to be meandering. It wasn’t until the first volume of FF (as opposed to Fantastic Four) that I really started to feel like, “Holy shit, it’s all coming together in a potentially awesome way.” Of course, that’s fully five trades into the run, or six if you count the Dark Reign: Fantastic Four series (which I do). The crazy realization was, Hickman’s not “writing for the trade” like so many writers do nowadays–he’s writing for the omnibus.

With that in mind, I’ve started going back through Hickman’s FFs volume by volume and writing them up on my blog every Friday (so far it’s just http://theidiolect.com/comics/its-compendiuming-time/ and http://theidiolect.com/comics/army-of-me/), and it’s really helped me just appreciate what he’s setting up in the early volumes, even if it’s frustrating that so much of it is setup. It’s still hard for me to really recommend any given trade of his run, though, because it really does feel like buying single issues of a lot of other runs in the age of decompression–but man, when it comes time to put out that omnibus, it’s going to be mighty tempting.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 9, 2012 at 7:21 am

Trio just doesn’t sound that interesting. I like old-school superheroes as much as the next guy, but from what I’ve read and when I looked at the first two issues, it seems like he’s so old school that he’s straight up recycling stuff from old FF comics.

I’ve not read much of his FF run, but to me it reads as though he’s laying in that ball park, but other than a superhero team and a big rocky guy, it’s doing it’s own thing. Lot’s of people are saying it’s just like his FF, at first I thought it was just people being lazy but there may well be truth to it. I’m getting a kick out of it, but I couldn’t honestly recommend it to anyone without a lot of caveats.

Also, you need to stop trade waiting and pick up Dial H #2! I’d say it’s somewhere between twice, and ten times as good as #1! Look at the Bolland cover and tell me it doesn’t look like the bees knees! That’s ‘Pelican Army’ and ‘Shamanticore’ on the right, and they aren’t the coolest characters in it! Maybe you can’t blog against the system, but you could be blogging about this series!
(It’s really good, and this is me of the big two, so I’m expecting it get canceled ASAP to make way for a new Bat book… Unless word gets out!)

Personally, I’m getting really irritated that Avengers Academy gets mired in all these Marvel crossovers. Being a casual superhero comic reader, AA is the only Marvel series I read regularly, and while it’s mostly really good, the crossover stuff feels just pointless to a reader like me. In the past decade I did try to keep up with these company-wide events, but because of diminishing returns (and because most of them were written by Bendis), I’ve given up on them.

The worst thing about company-wide crossovers is that they can drag down an otherwise interesting new title. That happened to Christos Cage’s previous comic, Avengers: The Initiative (to which AA is kind of a sequel): it had a lot of promise, but because the plots were constantly involved in various Marvel universe events, it never really found its own voice or niche. That didn’t seem to be case with AA at first, but I’m afraid it still might happen. Sure, the fight with Titania and Absorbing man had some great moments, but I still feel Cage shouldn’t have wasted six issues to have the Academy fight in a conflict that was only marginally related to their own storylines. Let’s just hope that AA still manages to hold on to its identity in the future, and that enough readers support it, so it doesn’t go down like A:TI did.

Okay, I get that AA has the word “Avengers” in the title, so I guess Marvel editors feel it needs to be involved in every vaguely Avengers-related event, but I would argue that at heart it’s really a standalone series. All the main teenage characters are new and don’t have many connections to the larger Marvel universe, and AFAIK Tigra, Hank Pym, Jocasta, and Quicksilver aren’t currently involved in other series either, so I just wish Marvel would leave this title alone. I guess the logic behind these constant crossovers is to try to get readers of one series to buy all the other titles involved in the event, but in practice it might have the opposite effect. A casual reader like me might give up on reading the one or two titles she’s following, because they’re constantly dragged down by crossovers she doesn’t have the time or energy to invest in.

I started reading superhero comics in the 80s, and I still long for the days when you could follow just one title (even The Uncanny X-Men) without needing to check out other series. No wonder Marvel and DC aren’t gaining many new readers: they’ve built these insular, tightly interlocked universes where a kid buying her first superhero comic would have no idea what’s going on there unless he bothers (and has the money) to buy 15 other titles. That wasn’t the case when I started reading this stuff in my youth, but if I was a kid today, I’m sure I would find better use for my meager allowance than superhero comics.

FGJ: I refuse to change my trade-waiting policy!!!!! I know it might get Dial H cancelled, but I’m really getting sick of single issues, especially from the Big Two. Even when I like the content, the incessant ads are getting more and more on my nerves, and DC, especially, seems enamored of double-page spreads, so the books are even faster to read. I just can’t see going back to single issues on DC and Marvel stuff (except for the stuff I’m already buying; I mean once those go away), because it’s so much easier to get trades.

Tuomas: I agree with you, and I think Avengers Academy has done a somewhat decent job of staying out of the crossovers. I do wish Gage and Marvel would let them out of them completely, but I don’t think, for AA, that you even need to get what’s really going on in AvX. All you really need to know is that the Avengers and the X-Men are fighting each other. Who cares why, really? What I really miss are the days when a team member would go off in a crossover and he (or she, but usually he) wouldn’t appear in the team book for a while, and other characters would say, “Oh, yeah, he’s off doing this or that.” That’s “insular, interlocked universes” for you, but done better than what they do today. Now get off my lawn! :)

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm

@ Wally Strong: Just wondering if there’s any mention of a QUANTUM & WOODY series in the advertisments of those Valiant series?

Greg, I totally understand why you choose not to buy Before Watchmen, but at the same time I kind of disappointed you didn’t. I’d be very interested to read your take on the books.

I challenge the notion that Napoleon III was a lame ruler. He certainly had deficiencies in foreign policy and in no way was the general his more famous uncle was, but he was a shrewd politician who was able to bring down the monarchy from the inside, take command of the republic and become an emperor all by popular vote! And he was also responsible for the industrialization of France and the greatest sustained economic growth period the country ever had. He also rebuilt Paris, making it the magnificent city it is now.

Even his humiliating defeat did some good in the long run. France never again had the desire to become a monarchy and never again trusted blindly its rulers, not even de Gaulle!

France would probably be much worse (if it still existed as a nation) if it had been ruled by an unbroken line of Bourbon kings since the 19th century.

Pedro: We’re going to have to agree to disagree, I guess. I actually enjoy reading about Napoleon III, because he was very fascinating, but from what I’ve read, it seems that he was fine as long as there was absolutely no crisis (this is, of course, after he proclaimed the empire, as before it, he was a shrewd politician). The instant anything went a little bit wrong, he fell apart. This is evident throughout his reign, and it only became fatal in 1870, but I just can’t call him anything but “lame.” Very interesting to study, though!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 10, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I refuse to change my trade-waiting policy!!!!! I know it might get Dial H cancelled, but I’m really getting sick of single issues, especially from the Big Two. Even when I like the content, the incessant ads are getting more and more on my nerves, and DC, especially, seems enamored of double-page spreads, so the books are even faster to read.

Having just bored everyone with a self-important post lecturing more intelligent people than I about responsible capitalism in Brian and Chad’s Watchmen review comments, it’s easy just to roll into another one!
Dial H is bucking that trend of DC comics, as China Mieville loves to cram every page with as many panels as he can to fit in all his crazy ideas (much like in his novels).
So if you want change, money talks – The more of us who buy this series, the better it does, the more likely DC are to do more books like it, and less bone-head moves such as giving Liefeld a line, or hiring Howard Mackie!
Yeah, DC’s ads are annoying, especially such big and constant ads for Watchmen, when I’d imagine it’s the monthly buying crowd who are most likely to take umbrage at the project, but it’s all worth it when the comic itself is this good!
Buy it every month Greg, it’ll make you happy, and more importantly, it’ll make me happy!
Everyone else who reads this far down in the comments buy it as well! That means YOU!

I just can’t see going back to single issues on DC and Marvel stuff (except for the stuff I’m already buying; I mean once those go away), because it’s so much easier to get trades.

I switched back recently, with Mozza’s Batman And Robin #1 (don’t check which year that was because it feels recent!), because Tim Callahan wrote a convincing piece of Mozza’s Batman reading better as a serial. I enjoyed it so much it spread.
I’ve gone back to getting singles, mixed between hard copies and digital, because it means I can drop out at will, which has served me well with the big two’s offerings. I ended up with too many trades that I read a chapter or two of, and realized they were dreadful. It’s not just that it saves money, dud trades take up just as much shelf space!

Roselli: I think Greg did give his take on Before Watchmen with his comment about Dan Didio shitting on Alan Moore’s head! Heck, that sentence will be more entertaining than any of those series, you mark my words.

You make a good point, sir, but shouldn’t we want to change the way they present material? If everyone switches to trades, perhaps they’ll realize that the single issue market is dead? When do I get to be in the vanguard? Whaaaaaaa!!!!!

Tim’s way wrong, though – Morrison always reads better as a coherent whole. As single issues, there are wonderful moments, but he writes stuff with a five-year-plan in mind more than almost anyone. I mean, what about the big Xorn reveal? Or even that John Sublime shit? Final Crisis is MUCH better in trade than as single issues.

You do make me think, though. That makes Greg grumpy!!!! I’ll see if my retailer still has Dial H lying around.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 10, 2012 at 11:56 pm

You make a good point, sir, but shouldn’t we want to change the way they present material? If everyone switches to trades, perhaps they’ll realize that the single issue market is dead? When do I get to be in the vanguard? Whaaaaaaa!!!!!

Nice try Greg – but I fell for that one in 2002 when Warren Ellis said it, so you’ll not get me twice!

Tim’s way wrong, though – Morrison always reads better as a coherent whole. As single issues, there are wonderful moments, but he writes stuff with a five-year-plan in mind more than almost anyone. I mean, what about the big Xorn reveal? Or even that John Sublime shit?

No, Tim’s way right, and you blew it using New X-Men on me – that was one of the last books I collected in singles before switching to trades, and it was a blast in a way that re-reading in trades just doesn’t capture.
Ask your Dread Master – the CBR x-boards were amazing when New X-Men was coming out, people spinning theories, not knowing what was coming next, every month getting a new chapter in the mystery.
Heck, just to brag, with New X-Men I was telling people about a year before the end that John Sublime was one to watch and not just a villain in a bad arc, and with Batman And Robin, I’d figured out Oberon was Joker before the reveal, guessed that Hurt wasn’t ‘The Devil’ and then been called an idiot for doing so! (Now let’s not mention the seven hundred other theories I had that were wrong! I did enjoy tipping Brian off to a theory I read about the Joker being hidden in a B&R cover, Brian running a poll on it, and then Mozza writing about that theory in the back of the trade – there was no Joker hidden there.)

Morrison has said in interviews that although he has big plans, he free forms along the way – and at his best, New X-Men and Batman, he invites the reader to play along, planting the clues for you to find. It’s also fun not knowing what shape the story is going to take – getting Batman in trades I knew it was heading towards RIP, and that opinions were mixed on the success of that story. With B&R, it was a wild ride not knowing what was coming next!

With Sublime and Oberon you can put some pieces together, but then along comes something like the Xorn reveal, which no one saw coming – and it was even better for it! You wait for the trade, that business can get spoiled.
I’ll point out as well, that unlike other people who write for a five year plan, Morrison writes satisfying single issues. It’s very rare one isn’t a whole unto itself – he’s never spinning wheels, because he’s writing a serial!

Final Crisis is MUCH better in trade than as single issues.

I’ve only read it as one big trade. The issue with it in singles seemed to be people being confused over what books counted, which order to read them in, thinking Countdown mattered, and big delays due to the artists.
Also, it reads good in a trade, but it’s still not great.
Some of these problems do happen regularly with Mozza though, so in that sense it can be better to wait, but you do sacrifice the serial aspect in doing so.

You do make me think, though. That makes Greg grumpy!!!! I’ll see if my retailer still has Dial H lying around.

I’d be paranoid I over sold it, but I’ve seen what The Iron Snail looks like!

FGJ: Well, like Pedro above, I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I don’t go on message boards, but even the experience of reading blogs when Morrison’s stuff comes out doesn’t do it for me, so I don’t consider it part of the “reading experience.” I don’t really feel like dragging out my old issues whenever Morrison drops a bombshell on us, so I like them a lot better when I sit down and read the entire thing and can go back and forth. And I disagree that he always writes satisfying single issues – one of the frustrating things about Morrison is that as good as the final product is and as good as the spectacle of a single issue can be, often the book feels like it’s just setting stuff up. He does it better than almost everyone, true, but that doesn’t change that fact. But if you feel differently, that’s fine too. One of the reasons why Morrison is such a good writer is that his single issues, even the ones that I think are all set-up, are still a lot of fun to read and I know they’ll pay off down the line. He certainly CAN write great single issues, but I don’t think he always does.

I liked the Moon Moth. It was a weird idea and I think it plays to the visual form very well. I listened to about five minutes of an audiobook version (go here and search for “moon”) and realized what a horrible, terrible society it would be for its effect on my ears alone. So I’m doubly glad I was able to read the story in comics form.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 12, 2012 at 4:49 am

Well, like Pedro above, I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I don’t go on message boards, but even the experience of reading blogs when Morrison’s stuff comes out doesn’t do it for me, so I don’t consider it part of the “reading experience.”

I haven’t really since his B&R, and it was best with New X-Men, it’s certainly not required, but I think it’s probably what gave me the taste for playing along at home with his books.
It also plays into how I like to read comics these days for post-work relaxation, switching from book to book suits me more in the evening rather than a big chunk of a read, particularly with genre books. I like to mix it up, reading a. Issue of one style, then switching to a totally different one.

And I disagree that he always writes satisfying single issues – one of the frustrating things about Morrison is that as good as the final product is and as good as the spectacle of a single issue can be, often the book feels like it’s just setting stuff up. He does it better than almost everyone, true, but that doesn’t change that fact. But if you feel differently, that’s fine too.

I think the balance of satisfying issues is in his favour, but there has definetly been misses – I don’t know how
I would have handled the lead into RIP with Ryan Benjamin art in singles, but with New X-Men, most of Batman and Robin, and all of Batman Inc, I thought he managed it. Batman Inc had some set-up issues, but he did it with style. (That said, The Invisibles, Doom Pateol, Animal Man and JLA I all thoroughly enjoyed in trade.)
We’re definetly into the realm of personal taste and preference, but knowing me, I’ll probably switch mine again in a year or so! For right now though, I like him in singles.

I don’t entirely buy that Rahne, as someone from the Hebrides, would say to a priest “I’m presbyterian”, as opposed to “I’m Church of Scotland/Free Church of Scotland/whichever individual church she belongs to.” (And the theology spouted there is very non-Calvinist, naturally.) It’s a pretty American way of expressing that.

I’m sure Rahne has become used to calling herself Presbyterian since she’s been living in the States. If she said ‘Church of Scotland’ most Americans would have no idea what she’s talking about.

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