What I Read This Week – 12/21/11

If you know me, it goes without saying that there’s gonna be spoilers sprinkled in these. I just don’t believe it’s really possible to have a critical discussion without SPOILERS. Especially where Stephanie Brown‘s involved.



I was really enjoying the whole Leviathan arc. It was kind of a slow burner at first, but once it got going it was every bit as nice and weird as I want from a Grant Morrison Batman book, all Borgesian and spiraling in on itself. Did it lose that mental momentum by not putting out an issue in months? A little bit. But we’re at the center of the spiral now, and it circles around faster and faster the closer it gets to the end.  The evil schoolgirls issue up front is fun too, but rather hurried. That’s Morrison’s superhero stuff though, just spitting out ideas at lightning speed with no time to get into them.


Daredevil’s been excellent and all, but this is just a somewhat inconsequential one-off. Children in danger notwithstanding, there’s not much drama there. Stuff happens, then it’s resolved in a moderately heartwarming way. Oh, and Matt Murdock is all smooth with the ladies. Aww yeah.


I remember thinking the last issue wasn’t up to the usual standard of extreme hilarity (which is I suppose kind of a tough standard) but this one’s back up on top, featuring bathtubs, shouting, and a sequel to Reservoir Dogs.


I’ve always wanted to enjoy this series, but mostly it just doesn’t do it for me somehow. I loved the Fear Itself arc, which was impressive since Fear Itself itself was 95% dullness, so I promised I’d stay on board as long as the drunken swearing dwarf was around, and he’s still here. Looks like things are ramping up for some ultimate evil plan, but aren’t they always in comics really? I’d be enjoying this book more if it was about Stark Resilient trying to build a utopian society around superhero tech than if it was about guys in hi-tech suits punching each other in the air.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #4

Well this is certainly building towards something, isn’t it? I guess? You tell me. So far it’s epic in scope but shallow in character. Also this issue has the same three pages repeated three times which is a nice multiple-timelines trick but a waste of writing space when you could’ve done it in one or two pages instead of six. I still enjoy it, don’t get me wrong.


Venom’s unexpectedly my favorite Marvel comic. It’s like Breaking Bad, you know it’s gonna all end in horrible tragedy, you get that bad, bad feeling in your gut. And this is maybe the most gut-wrenching issue yet. Most supervillains these days are all over-the-top violence and psychosis and while Remender’s Jack-O’-Lantern is definitely that, he’s just done so well. So charismatic that when the nastiness comes out – and this issue is top-grade nastiness – it just makes you feel icky for kind of liking the guy. That is some real sociopathy on display there. Though maybe I’m just a softie when it comes to violence against cats.


It’s just not the same without Kyle Baker on visuals. It’s the usual maximum bad taste grossness, but without the Baker pizazz. Still good dirty fun though. I must say I wasn’t expecting the morbidly obese hooker to be given so much respect, but I suppose Lapham knows the difference between being in bad taste and being a bad person. This is sort of the South Park of superhero comics isn’t it?


The Hellboy books are the one superhero comic that actually feels like it’s building to an end and it’s gonna stick with it. But with one issue to go I doubt Johann is permanently dead, plus, you know, he’s already dead so what more can happen? There’s the requisite amount of gross creepiness in here because Hellboy/BPRD are dependably good. Not always great but definitely good.


At this point in the series we’ve pretty much settled in to the formula: new member shows up each issue, shows off their talents in some badass way. I don’t ordinarily like Geoff Johns but he’s running a pretty tight show here, now that he’s just working with the basics and can’t get distracted by all that continuity crap. Justice League is just a generic superhero story, with the most generic version of Darkseid ever, but it’s a tightly-polished generic superhero story. If they ever make a Justice League movie, you hope it’d be like this. Well maybe you could hope it’d be better than this, but they’re never going to make a mainstream superhero movie as good as you want it to be.


So far this is solid Batman but it hasn’t really become great for me. The continued presence of creepy owl masks might help with that though. Also maybe if the artist learns to draw more than one face. Sometimes I have a hard time telling Bruce apart from, well, any other adult white male in the book.


I just wish they’d make a Wonder Woman series that doesn’t bother with all the Paradise Island family drama. I mean, I suppose all that is out of the way now and we can get back to the mytho-horror. And those gods are proper bastards aren’t they? I hope Azzarello gets to take his time with the plot, because obviously he can do great things with convoluted power plays. Diana still doesn’t have much of a personality but at least the supporting cast’s likable.


Also turns out there was an issue of Amazing Spider-Man which I forgot to buy and am considering just not buying to pick up one of the new X-series instead. Even though I’ve said multiple times that I was “done with X-Men.”


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