Welcome back to “Worst to First,” wherein I give short capsule reviews of each of the past week’s comics that I ended up buying, starting with the week’s worst issue and building up to what I consider to be the week’s best.
If it’s not on the list, it’s because I don’t read it. If you think something’s missing from these reviews, by all means, point it out, and I’ll maybe start picking it up (unless you have terrible taste and recommend I start reading… I dunno, something like Deadpool or something).
X-Men #2, by Brian Wood & Olivier Coipel
I mentioned recently that I’ve been catching up on all the comics I’ve missed out on these past few months, so it should go without saying that I’ve been reading a LOT of comics, including multiple series starring the X-Men.
I read the first issue of this, truly for no good reason, and, by the time I got around to reading this issue, only a couple of days later, I had completely forgotten what happened in that first issue.
Now, about two days after reading issue number two here, I can honestly say that I don’t remember what happened in this issue, either.
Before you start thinking that I must just have a terrible memory, I assure you that’s not the case. There’s something in this about Jubilee adopting a baby (or finding it, or giving birth to it, I really can’t say). And I’m pretty sure there’s a scene on a train.
It’s just entirely forgettable and uninspired. If a series can’t engage me after two issues, I generally give up on it. So, good-bye, X-Men! I’m done with ya!
Larfleeze #1, by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis & Scott Kolins
Finally, the series that nobody was asking for!
In this debut issue, the title character recounts his origins to his butler, who incessantly interrupts him after every single panel, it seems, while Larfleeze’s power ring slowly runs out of juice, which could spell the end for both of them. Quick side note: Killing off the main character in the first issue would probably be a pointless exercise. Basing the entire narrative tension off the possibility of that death is equally pointless.
The problem with this issue is that it’s supposed to be funny. The only thing is, comic book writers generally just aren’t that funny. And in this case, I think that’s a fair criticism. These guys are trying to take a serious, albeit quirky and weird, character and transplant him into an absurd comedy. It doesn’t work, sadly.
Swing and a miss. I can’t imagine this one will be around for very long.
Oh, and remember how I said a minute ago that I generally give a series two issues to engage me? I lied.
Justice League of America #5, by Geoff Johns & Brett Booth
So, in the last issue, things ended rather gruesomely, when Catwoman was shot with a bullet through the head. We all know that they’re not going to kill off Catwoman in such meaningless fashion (she was shot by three “villains” whose names even THEY can’t remember), so the main question at the start of this issue is focused more on how they’re going to weasel their way out of last issue’s conclusion.
And that’s where this issue falters. It’s a really bad trick, actually, where it’s just revealed that Martian Manhunter was disguised as Catwoman (even though there wasn’t a point in the previous issue where the two could have traded places). After the big reveal, there’s a caption that reads, “HOW? See this issue’s back-up!”
Considering that this twist comes in during the first three pages, if you’re the kind of person who actually has to think about the things you’re reading, you have to resign yourself to the fact that there won’t be a satisfying explanation to this event until the issue is over. You’re looking at a good 20 pages of noodle-scratching.
And, then, sure enough, when you get to the back-up, it just shows Martian Manhunter transforming into Catwoman, explaining that he’s going to switch places with her. It doesn’t mention where the switch takes place. It doesn’t mention how they sneak it past the “villains,” and they certainly don’t mention where Catwoman escaped to after the switcheroo.
So the original caption at the bottom of the revealing page at the issue’s start should have probably instead read, “HOW? WHO CARES!”
Lazy writing doesn’t impress me. And this is the lead-in to the… Trinity War? Seriously? That’s what they’re calling it? Dear god.
Verdict: Keep, but reluctantly.
Nova #5, by Jeph Loeb & Ed McGuinness
This issue is the conclusion of the first story arc of the new Nova series, in which Sam, the new Nova, battles one of his dad’s old allies. I’m not sure if the Chitauri has made any appearances in the 616 before, but they’re all over this series, which is kind of cool.
I’m just not buying this new Nova yet. Sorry. It reminds me too much of the Blue Beetle series a few years ago, when a Latino teenager living in the American southwest is chosen by some alien technology to become a reluctant hero that doesn’t quite understand how to use his new powers. The only difference here is that Sam’s only half Latino. And the alien tech is a helmet instead of a scarab, if you really want to pick nits.
Verdict: 50/50, I might give them one more issue.
Aquaman #21, by Geoff Johns & Paul Pelletier
It’s not terrible, by any means, but I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to give Aquaman his own ongoing series indefinitely. It was entertaining and exciting for awhile, sure, but, as is the case with any Aquaman series, regardless of who’s writing it, it eventually runs out of things to do.
Sorry, guys. Aquaman’s just not that good of a character. He can’t sustain his own monthly. They gave us an epic storyline involving Black Mantis, and they followed it with a giant crossover where Atlantis waged war on the surface. Where do you go from there?
Nowhere, I guess. Issue after issue of some ghost king growing ever nearer to the heroes, with people talking about how Aquaman’s not that good of a leader, because his loyalties might not lie where they should? Yeah, okay.
Verdict: 50/50. If it falls on another heavy week, it’s gone.
Batman Superman #1, by Greg Pak, Jae Lee & Ben Oliver
First of all, I thought this was already a series. Second of all, I have no idea what happens in this issue.
It’s rare that a comic forces me to scan over a couple of pages to figure out where the hell the next bit of text is supposed to start, but this one pulled that feat off within the first couple of pages.
Still, though, the beginning of the story seemed kind of interesting. Seeing the contrast between Batman and Superman is always nice, especially an early scene that shows the Blue Boyscout sizing up Matches Malone and seeing through his disguise with ease. I like it quite a bit.
But then, things get really weird, and everything stops making sense, and they switch artists for seemingly no reason. I dunno. It’s just unsettling and jarring. That’s all.
Verdict: 50/50, depends on what the next cover looks like, honestly. I’m a sucker for cool covers.
Fatale #15, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
This series has spent the past four or five issues telling the story of Josephine in several different time periods.
There was one set in the Old West, one in World War II, and I can’t remember the others, but they were pretty sweet.
Now, finally, after all that time, the story has caught up to the present-day again, so we’re rejoining Nick and Jo in what will hopefully be another great storyline. Too early to tell where it’s going, but I’m onboard.
I love this series. It combines so many different story elements and genres and feels that it’s an all-around unique experience every month, and I just love that.
I look forward to the day when I can sit down and read through the entire series, start to finish, as the only thing I can say negatively about it is that each issue is so dense, I sometimes forget what happened in the previous chapters. It’ll be nice to go through them all at once.
All New X-Men #13, by Brian Michael Bendis & Stuart Immonen
I already talked about this in my last blog post, saying how I think it’d be cool if they could just keep the First Class in the present day, but, after the events of Age of Ultron, I’m guessing that probably won’t happen.
This issue sees the beginning of what could potentially be the Phoenix Force rising up in Young Jean Grey, which is usually kind of cool, but, man, surely I can’t be the only person who’s sick and damn tired of the Phoenix Force in the Marvel Universe. Let that idea cool off for a little bit, okay? Avengers vs. X-Men wasn’t that long ago.
Lazarus #1, by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark
This is an interesting one. The premise is that, sometime in the future, Families rule over all the citizens of the world, because these small bodies of people own all of the wealth.
Each Family has a “Lazarus,” a member of the Family that seemingly can’t die and who is in prime physical condition, which they pour all of their wealth and resources into. In the opening few pages, we see one of these Lazarus characters in action, and it’s really damn cool and bizarre, and it starts the series out in great style.
To be frank, the issue itself didn’t do much of anything for me beyond those opening pages, but I kind of got hooked in reading Greg Rucka’s summary of how this series came to be (which appears in the issue’s final pages). The idea of combining notions of wealth disparity with cutting edge stem cell research, and, well, he just sounds really passionate about this series, and it’s hard not to feel it with him.
Give it a chance. I’m excited for where it’s going.
Justice League #21, by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank
Finally, after back-ups in so many issues of Justice League, the supporting story about Shazam and the Marvel Family gets to be the focus of an entire issue, blowing off that storyline, at least for the time being, and reestablishing some of the magical elements that have been missing from the New 52.
The story goes from cutesy to badass nearly every other page, but its inconsistency doesn’t bother me that much, considering the characters we’re dealing with here. But the thing that makes this issue so enjoyable for me is that I just love Gary Frank’s art. Their run together on Action Comics was great, and I’d love to see Johns and Frank get together on something else some day soon. Maybe an ongoing Marvel Family book?
I’d buy it.
That makes one of us, right?
Daredevil #27, by Mark Waid & Chris Samnee
I was slow to the party when it comes to this series, as I bought the trades and got caught up a little less than a year ago. I think my first issue I bought “live” was #20.
But, man alive. They seriously slowly built a story for two years, in such a brilliant, subtle way, that completely reestablished Daredevil as a top-tier superhero, that it seemed like they barely put in any effort.
The way it all just comes together and fits into place makes it look like it was the simplest thing anybody’s ever done.
And this is their climax. Everything these guys had been building toward paid off in this issue, and, my god, is it great.
It’s such a deeply satisfying conclusion that I don’t really feel like saying much about it. I’d rather you just find a way to read it, to see for yourself. If you haven’t read any of the past 26 issues, that’s fine. Just go buy them all and get caught up.