This Week’s Comics Haul: Pausing D-Day

I’ve been reading Antony Beevor’s heavy-duty and fascinating D-Day, which started out as a somewhat masochistic attempt to fully understand World War II, piece by piece.  But it’s so good and I’m completely obsessed with it. Regardless, time to put that aside ’cause its’  New Comic Book Day!! What are you getting this week? Slim pickings this week for me, but all titles I’m really looking forward to.  I would rather have a half-dozen excellent books than a dozen so-so titles.

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This Week’s Comics Haul: Just Hook it to my Veins!

Click covers to embiggen! L to R: Before Watchmen – Rorschach 01, Wonder Woman 12, Pigs 08 (so good and so underrated), Saga 06, The Walking Dead 101, AvX 10 (just please be over already!), Amazing Spider-Man 691, Daredevil 17 (welcome aboard Mike Allred!), The Dark Tower – The Man in Black 03, Harbinger 02 and Bloodshot 02 (possible tie for best covers of the week). What are you planning on picking up?

Haul Thoughts: Ozymandias, Gambit, Defenders and Archer & Armstrong

Before Watchmen – Ozymandias 02 – At what looks like the 25% mark for this entire Before Watchmen event, Ozymandias seems to be the best book of the bunch. The gorgeous artwork from Jae Lee certainly doesn’t hurt; check out the scene below for the proof. Time fer some action
As Ozy’s backstory continues to be explained, the issue ends with Adrian’s first encounter with The Comedian. The Comedian, who to this day bothers me. I know he’s supposed to represent a real world, grim n’ gritty war hero and that’s fine. But the unexplainable costume (no consistency as to when he’s in it and when he’s not) and the gigantic plot hole regarding his identity (why do some people seem to know who he is, whether in or out of costume while others have no idea?). Also, he’s just machine-gunning criminals? If this is supposed to be “super heroes in the real world” I would think the authorities would have problems with that. And quicker than you can say “glowing blue dong” yes, I know, Dr. Manhattan etc etc. I didn’t see it WAS the real world, just more real-world-esque than say a DC or Marvel. SO. Back to where we were…at this juncture I’d say, in order of “is it worth reading or not” I’d say that it goes Ozymandias, Silk Spectre, The Comedian, The Minutemen, Nite-Owl.

Gambit 01 – Even more embarrassing than buying this book is admitting that I liked it. It’s less super-hero-y (or as Gambit himself says, less “tights & fights”) and more chaotic-good, criminal/thief oriented. Which I’m all for; if I want spandex and face punching I’ll read AvX. I can see this having an fairly solid initial run of 6-8 issues before it falls off the rails completely & then it’s just playing cards, trench coats & mon ami’s from then on out. But I’ll read a few issues of Gambit breaking into the Long Island homes of super-villain artifact hoarders, like so: What do you see

Archer & Armstrong 01 -BOOM Valiant nails it again. Where are they getting these people from? These books are so good. This might actually be the best book of the four released during the “Summer of Valiant” ramp-up. There was a sly call-out to Gilead, The Eternal Warrior (one of Armstrong’s equally-immortal brothers); who was the third? I can’t remember; was his name the Eternal Enemy or something? After opening with some biblical-annihilation shenanigans, the book picks up at the creation museum (?!) where Archer was raised, which features Darwin the Chimp, star of the “Junk Science Follies”. It turns out that Archer is a brain-washed religious extremist & martial artist of the highest caliber. Good combination. Moving ahead, Archer is NYC bound, where he nails what Manhattan is all about: DEFINITELY true Then like any young man who finds himself in NYC for the first time, he ends up at Hogs & Heifers in the Meatpacking District (first bar I went to in NYC too) where he quickly meets Armstrong, the poet-bouncer. Archer thinks that Armstrong is the Anti-Christ and promises to kill him but in short order finds both of them taken prisoner. The mystical device Archer used to find Armstrong is taken and the book ends on an interesting twist. I’m definitely down for a martial arts buddy comic and you should be too.

Defenders 09 – Right, so this came out last week and while I was writing this post I just saw that Defenders just got cancelled. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO(deep breath)OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. So upsetting; they better finish this arc off. It’s a bit of a moot point now, but you should really go seek out this book & it’s back issues. It’s funny, clever, weird, the arts great, the writing is super strong, what more could you want? The Silver Surfer has Aspberger’s, She-Hulk has a big ass sword, Namor is a dick, Iron Fist is Iron Fist…and the most intriguing thing about this book is the little phrases and slugs that accompany almost every page. Sometime it’s a blurb for another book, other times it’s oddly dire prophecy like “The Universe Will Break” or “Everyone You Love, Dies”. By itself, whatever. But knowing, somehow, all of these weird phrases and tid-bits are going to (hopefully) tie-in and then pay-off is awesome. I would say I can’t wait for that to happen but I doubt it will now and if it does, it’ll probably be rushed. Drag. Defend@!

Haul Thoughts: Surprises (Bad) & Surprises (Good)

Let’s do this! Don’t forget to chime in in the comments below.

AvX 08 – IMPERIOUS REX!!! Namor has shown up in Wakanda looking to tear The Avengers a collective new butthole and he very nearly succeeds.  The opening splash page is as menacing as Namor has looked in recent memory and you see that this is not something that Wakanda will be recovering from anytime soon. Iron Fist is indignant that Iron Man and The Thunderer skip out to K’un-Lun without him, meanwhile Wakandans are being devoured by Atlantean seas serpents.  Typical rich guy.  Meanwhile Cap is all “I knew Cyclops was a dick! Forget all these corpses, I was right all along!” Typical unfrozen World War II science experiment. Anyway, Cap calls the Avengers, whom Namor proceeds to go H.A.M. on, even taking full powered blows to the dome from Red Hulk, Thing, Mjolnir, Dr. Strange and The Vision.  NAMOR AIN’T CARE and he goes on to prove this by breaking the Red Hulk’s arm like it was one of my brittle, bird-like wrists. Then he decides to set the rest of the Avengers on fire. Then super Deus Ex Machina a.k.a The Scarlet Witch shows up, somehow (ed.note: With her ill-defined powers, that’s how!) defeats Namor whom the Phoenix Force decides to ditch, flowing into the other members of the Phoenix Force. Charles Xavier’s floating bald head shows up to scold Cyclops; Cyclops tells Chuck to “Cram it with walnuts, ugly”; Cap cries. Buy? Sure, if you’ve bought the earlier seven.

The Invincible Iron Man 521 – Think I mentioned this before but WHOA. The Invincible Iron Man is awesome. If you haven’t been reading this title, go back to #500 and read them all.  I never cared for Iron Man; sure the movies got me interested and I think I picked up the book at an ideal time. So, if you’re planning on following my lead and picking up the earlier 20 issues, SPOILERS HERE Tony Stark is super-boned and the super-boner (ed.note: Really?) is non other  than the Mandarin.  Some observations: apparently 6 months have passed since issue #520 and all sorts of shenanigans have gone on, chiefly that Stark is working for the Mandarin. Side note: is the Mandarin the Marvel Universe equivalent of a beholder from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons? Seriously, check it out:

Beholder powers:

BEHOLD...er

Mandarin ring powers:

Where's the duck sauce ring?

Back to the issue at hand, literally.  Resilient (formerly Stark Resilient) takes some shots at the crappiness of the cloud and introduces their solution, the swarm (which Warren Ellis introduced in Transmetropolitan a decade ago…).  That’s one of the reasons this book is so excellent; it’s not all tights, capes & punchy-punchy.  There’s corporate espionage, futurism, science, rad armor, clever banter..so good.  Just buy it. Buy? Duh. Also, if I can’t have the Infinity Gauntlet, I’d gladly take the Mandarin’s rings.

Before Watchmen – Silk Spectre 02 – I really  like Amanda Conner’s art on this book. In fact, I feel this is tied with Ozymandias  as the Before Watchmen book with the best art. Definitely an Archie vibe going on. That being said…what the hell?! The first issue was so good where this one is…not. Not as good. The spirit of the book hasn’t really changed, but something this issue seems off.  I did like the analogs of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones as well as an appearance from Kid Charlemagne himself, Owsley Stanley and what is possibly supposed to be Frank Sinatra? I don’t know, the innocence and free-spiritedness of the first issue gets muddled with some subplot about causing Haight-Ashbury hippies to embark on acid-fueled shopping trips. Also, the Silk Spectre’s costume is highly impractical. That’s not a reason to knock the book, it’s just that even fictional teenagers are idiots. Buy? Yes, as it’s not enough to derail the series (plus you’re already halfway through at this point). But don’t prepare for the high notes of last issue.

Daredevil – 15 – High hopes for Murdock this week; was he able to meet them? Welllllll….was the arc resolved? For the most part, as it’ll most likely wrap up next month. Was the premise clever? Daredevil sans senses? Sure.  Was there anything outwardly terrible about this issue? Not especially.  So…? Can’t help you dude. Then is it a Buy? It’s not the highpoint of this excellent series, but neither was the Punisher/Spider-Man crossover.   It’s not a jumping on point, that’s for sure.

Fables 119 – Even if this series had nothing else going for it, it still has the best covers in the industry.  Before I started reading, I was really hoping that this arc would wrap up this issue or next.  But then I started reading; wow. If you’re a Fables fan, you won’t be disappointed.  Things to note: a pretty shocking death, an Angry Birds cameo and my new favorite phrase, “shit fire on Pop-Tarts”! Buy? Have you read the previous 118 issues? Then you pretty much have to, don’t you?

Justice League 11- Not going to lie, I’m kind of lost with this book.  I’m not thrilled at the supernatural bent the it’s taken either; isn’t that the purview of the Justice League Dark? The high point for this issue was probably Wonder Woman calling the Green Lantern a dickless bitch, in so many words. Also, Diana’s problem solving starts and ends with decapitation. They’ve really made her one of the most compelling characters in the whole New 52. Also a nice touch: Cyborg: “I’m not partly dead, am I?” Batman:”…of course not”. What a dick! Buy? If you’re not invested in the series at this point? It’s a pass.

Saga 05 – I’m oddly compelled to keep getting this book.  It’s clearly been building up for the past four issues and there is a bit of payoff here, but not in an equivalent amount to the rising action.  The book opens with the television-headed prince who is a/the protagonist? Antagonist? All I know is that in the future/past, robots poop.  Also, the two sides in the giant war that I (and I assume other readers) are trying to puzzle out art the “horns” and the “wings”, and a clutch of winged shock troopers drop down on our narrator  and it’s parents Alana and Marko.  SPOILERS Marko breaks his vow of nonviolence and goes apeshit, slicing through all of the shock troopers and is about to really start cutting heads, forcing Alana’s hand. END SPOILERS.  Far more happens and I think this book is finally starting to pick up.  I seem to remember Vaugh’s Runaways was a bit of a slow starter as well. Buy? At this point, while it’s still early in the series, yes, but only if you pick up the other four.  Or wait a few months and pick up the first six issues in a collected format.

The Dark Tower – The Man in Black 02 – As I’ve already read all of The Dark Tower  books, it seems a bit foolish to then buy them in serialized comic format.  But it’s still a powerful series and Robin Furth & Peter David are doing extremely solid work on this and all the previous Dark Tower  series.  Buy? If you like The Dark Tower, all the trades are worth picking up.  It definitely fills in gaps that were only hinted at in the series.

Wonder Woman 11 – Sometimes I get my comics & video games confused, like with all the Olympians showing up in WW and I find myself thinking, “Didn’t Kratos kill all you?”. This issue isn’t as good as the previous two in Hades, but it seems to be setting the stage for a pretty epic confrontation with Apollo and Hera, so I’ll check in next month. Buy? Not as a starting point, but this isn’t an issue that’ll make you drop the book either.

X-O Manowar 03 – The payoff! Aric and the X-O Manowar class armor make nice (it grows Aric’s hand back, he disintegrates aliens) until an explosion sends them flying outside of the ship. Aric apparently has his Dorothy moments, as he clicks his gold-and-powder blue heels together, disappears from deep space and reappears above modern Rome, where he crashes into the Coliseum. I’m interested to see if they go back to the “unfrozen viking business magnate” schtick Valiant used the first time with X-O. Buy? No brainer. Get the other two while you’re at it and transport yourself back to ’94.

Whew!  Sound off in the comments about your thoughts on my thoughts, on what you picked up this week, on what you refrained from picking up this week or just general what-have-you’s.  Goodnight Cleveland, where ever you are!

This Week’s Comics Haul – Sweltering in the City Edition

It’s too hot to even move; best thing to do is find solace in some air conditioning with a stack of comics. What I picked up this week (And a rare show of restraint!); what did you get? Tell us in the comments!

AvX 08

Before Watchmen Silk Spectre 02

Daredevil 15

Fables 119

Invincible Iron Man 521

Justice League 11

Saga 05

The Dark Tower: The Man in Black 02

Wonder Woman 14

X-O Manowar 03

Books I’ve picked up in the past but this week I was able to show restraint and not buy:

Wolverine ($5 bucks??! C’mon) & Fantastic Four. . Granted it’s only two but it’s a start!

A strong crop of books this week; it’s difficult to pick out which one or two could be the stand-outs this week. But picking two, I’d say it’ll be X-O Manowar and… Daredevil. Daredevil ?!? Yes, DD. I like the current arc, hell, I’ve liked the entire relaunch. It’s a fun book that still feels dangerous for the characters. It’s a delicate balancing act and Mark Waid pulls it off.
Reviews and thoughts on these in the next few days, along with the kick off of the MB Interview series!