What I’m Reading From Marvel as 2006 Ends

What am I reading from Marvel these days, just in case you cared?

Nextwave #11 cover
Nextwave #11

Well… I love X-Factor. I also love Nextwave, but #11 is the next-to-last issue, and it’s a lot of double-page fight scenes. Which are cool and all, since Stuart Immonen draws like a god, but not exactly what I’m looking for from the book. It’s especially annoying with Marvel’s current policy of overselling ads, because the result was “double-page comic spread / double-page ad / double-page comic / double-page ad” and so on.

Update: It’s been pointed out to me that there’s a lot to the art detail. I didn’t notice things like the MODOK Elvises, which are a hoot. Mea culpa. I was moving through the comics too fast and should have paid more attention. Time for a revisit. And yes, the plaid cover in faux-Civil War dress is terrific.

I like Marvel Adventures: The Avengers, but only when Jeff Parker writes it. He’s good. I like Doctor Strange: The Oath, mostly because of the way Brian K. Vaughan writes Night Nurse.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #13 cover
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #13

Oh, and I shouldn’t forget Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. That series is really finding its footing in balancing teen emotion and high school soap opera.

Wonder Man might have potential, but … with so many graphic novels and manga to read, with most series, especially miniseries, I find myself asking “why bother?” Unless it’s exceptionally good or very funny or highly thought-provoking, the merely ok lose out.

Take, for instance, Beyond. Some very nice character bits woven into a story that depended on a lot of very old continuity, with little of it fully explained for the new reader. And the end result was making me care for the first time about a character that wound up dead. Yes, that’s a nice demonstration of the writer’s skill, that I cared so much, but it feels pointless on my end.

The writer means a lot to me, though — if I can overcome my apathy towards the character, I might give Iron Fist a try, just because Matt Fraction has really been impressing me.

She-Hulk #14 cover
She-Hulk #14

With the latest issue of She-Hulk, #14, I think I can stop getting that series. Awesome Andy is written out, heartbroken, and She-Hulk is going off to be a SHIELD agent. At least Andy got a most-of-issue spotlight before he went, but it was sad, which seems wrong for a good-humored character who overcame a villainous past to be so helpful.

Update 2: I jumped to conclusions. According to the writer, Andy will be back. I hope he brings more lightheartedness with him, like the shrunken supervillain escape. The latest storyline, with its date rape implications, hasn’t been all that fun.

I’ve given up on Astonishing X-Men, because the plots don’t interest me (currently, they’re fighting some kind of space empire), and the book doesn’t come out often enough for me to remember the twists and keep track of who the characters are. The occasional good bits (like scaredy-cat Wolverine) don’t make up for the rest, and even though they’re enjoyable, the ideas stink of fanfic.

I find many many of the Marvels too dull or depressing or continuity-laden for me to enjoy. (Some of it’s downright disgusting.) I want fun and enjoyment from my superheroes, and I don’t want to have to study or work hard (in terms of recalling years-past stories or getting past poor craft). Oh, and I want a story, not two or three scenes overladen with dialogue.

I know, I’m demanding. But see previous comment about so much competition out there for my dollar, and more, for my precious time. I’m not really looking to start following new books, so they have to work hard and stand out to get my attention. And I deserve the best. We all do.

28 Responses to “What I’m Reading From Marvel as 2006 Ends”

  1. Dan Says:

    It’s sad to see Nextwave go, but it’s okay because Ellis is re-starting the New Universe. (and gettin’ a BIG payday I’m thinkin’)

    I’m still digging X-Factor, but lately I’ve been thinking I’m only liking it because everything else that comes out from Marvel is so utterly bad, and I have nothing good to compare it to. Hopefully PAD won’t get tired of it any time soon because when he leaves, I’m gone.

    Do try Iron Fist. Matt has taken one of the stupidest characters on the planet and turned him into an interesting and quite good read. Ironic that he did something similar with Rex Mantooth, but he was working with monkeys, and everything is better with monkeys.

    Have you noticed that even John Cassaday’s art on Astonishing has been really stiff lately? Or is it just me. I’m going to stick around if for no other reason than to find out how much fan fic smell I can tolerate without a rebreather.

    God Marvel Sucks!

  2. Barry Says:

    While Astonishing hasn’t reached the hights it hit during it’s first arc, it’s the only comic I’m reading right now. I probably read more about comics via blogs like this than the comics themselves, so it’s infrequency works in my favor.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Dan, I can’t get into newuniversal, because it doesn’t have the humor that works so well for me in making superhero stories seem fresh and interesting. And yeah, I’d likely drop X-Factor without Peter David. I was hoping to enjoy his Spider-Man title as well, but it got so convoluted with that terrible crossover/writing-go-round launch stunt that I could never get into it.

    Barry, that’s making lemonade!

  4. Dan Slott Says:

    Quick note: Awesome Andy hasn’t been written out of the book. If anything, an important new chapter in his life is starting. When he comes back to the book we’ll have some shocking/interesting/awesome stuff going on for him. You’ll see. Trust me. :)

  5. Johanna Says:

    Yay! If Awesome Andy’s there, so am I.

  6. Jer Says:

    Johanna –

    I agree – Jeff Parker’s Marvel Adventures: The Avengers is a great book. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I have, given the cast that they picked and that the book is a “kids” book, but Parker knows how to write a good story that doesn’t talk down to kids while still being exciting – kind of like the Harry Potter books – and that makes it a good read for adults too. It reminds me a lot of the early Stan Lee stuff – you could tell that the stuff was written for kids, but it didn’t dumb itself down like adults THINK that kids books should be dumbed down, and that made it suitable for teenagers and adults to read too.

    I’ve only read the most recent two issues of Bedard’s arc, but it doesn’t seem like he has a handle on the “not talking down to kids” part – his issues are too simple and the dialogue isn’t done nearly as cleverly as Parker’s work. Parker’s also done some work on the MA: Spider-man and MA: Fantastic Four titles that has been good as well.

  7. Justin Says:

    I picked up a (goodness, I don’t know what to call them) magazine style collection of Marvel Adventures Avengers at Target, I can’t wait to dig into it. I keep hearing nothing but good things. I read the first issue but since I preordered I didn’t feel confident enough to get two and three unseen. I still chuckle at my favorite line in issue 1.

    Bruce Banner: You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

    Wolverine: I don’t like you much now, Banner.

    My only qualm with the magazine collection is that they did not go ahead and tack on issue 5, which I believe finishes Jeff Parker’s initial contribution?

  8. Justin Says:

    Oh, and as an aside. Johanna have you read the Gravity mini by McKeever? I can’t recommend it enough, if you haven’t. I believe it got collected in digest.

  9. Melchior Says:

    Oh, and I shouldn’t forget Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. That series is really finding its footing in balancing teen emotion and high school soap opera.

    Yeah, I totally agree. The second S-MLMJ digest was definitely the high point of my comics-reading week. (I was also pleased to see that Marvel has advertised a HC mega-collection in the recent Previews.)

  10. Tom Beland Says:

    I love Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. Great work. I haven’t tried the Marvel Adventures: Avengers yet… I’ll check them out.

    Hope ’07 is great for everyone!

  11. James Schee Says:

    OK, that cover made me laugh so much that I HAVE to give the trade of Next Wave a try.

    I need to catch up on X-Factor, probably through trades.

    spider-man loves MJ is fun, I’m curious to see how David (Private Beach) Hahn does on it when he takes over the art chores.

    Oh and I love Awesome Andy too, I might have to give the She-Hulk series another try with that issue. (providing I can find it in a book store, as I don’t have time or much interest to go to shops anymore)

  12. Johanna Says:

    Justin: I’m not sure which issues Jeff wrote — he’s got a checklist at his website, but it appears woefully out of date.

    And I haven’t read Gravity. I’d like to … I wish my library carried things like that. (google google) Hey, wait, they do! And they say it’s in stock! I think I’ll stop by on my way home. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Melchior: A SMLMJ hardcover… hmmm… I wonder how the perception of that format would change the reading experience, especially having a whole chunk of issues at once?

    Tom: A good wish for us all!

  13. Melchior Says:

    A SMLMJ hardcover… hmmm… I wonder how the perception of that format would change the reading experience, especially having a whole chunk of issues at once?

    It would certainly be pretty different. I actually love the digest format, and I can’t imagine that my nieces would ever enjoy wading into (or wrestling with) a big old HC tome.

    But, I’ve got to admit that the historian/bookfiend in me does love the idea of having the series collected in several HC volumes, on nice paper, and in the larger format that HC allows for.

  14. Rob Barrett Says:

    Parker wrote the first four issues of MA: Avengers, and he’ll be back for issues 9-12. I’m not sure if he’s sticking with the title after that . . .

    SMLMJ is definitely one of my fave books right now.

  15. Lyle Says:

    Just wanted to second that recommendation for Gravity. That’s the kind of story I enjoy getting from Marvel — the connections to the Marvel U enriches the story instead of making me feel left out and it’s more about a character’s progression than big plot points.

  16. Justin Says:

    Thanks for the info, Rob. Much Appreciated!

  17. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Looking back at DC this year, I realize I’ve become a Marvel reader. Who knew? I think it’s because they have a lot more superhero titles that don’t leave me feeling queasy after I read them. […]

  18. Johanna Says:

    I just finished the first Gravity digest, thanks to my library, and it was about what I expected: a typical story of kid coming to the big city to make his fortune (or in this case, his superhero rep). He fails hard but gains the will to try harder in future.

    You’re right about the Marvel universe setting providing necessary background — that way the writer didn’t have to set up a whole bunch of established heroes and names himself. So I’ve read Gravity’s first story and his most recent (in Beyond)… where else has he made significant appearances? Anywhere?

  19. david brothers Says:

    Marvel Holiday Special 2005, though he was kind of played for laughs (like the rest of the book).

  20. Dan Coyle Says:

    Gravity was a major player in Marvel Team-Up Vol. 3: League of Losers.

  21. Johanna Says:

    Oooh, yeah, I remember liking that holiday special. And I’m not willing to read anything by Kirkman, so I guess I will never see Gravity really heroing. Unless he comes back.

  22. david brothers Says:

    For what it’s worth, it seems like Dwayne McDuffie is going to be following up on Beyond! in his run on FF, which starts up next month. You may have to wait until all the Civil War fallout is done, though.

  23. Johanna Says:

    I hope so. That’s one of the reasons I’m phrasing coyly in reference to that character; the other is to avoid spoilers. Plus, I’m curious to see how McDuffie handles the particular FF members he’s got.

  24. Patrick Says:

    Yeah, I love all these books too. Are you still reading Young Avengers, Johanna? I finished the second HC the other day and really enjoyed it. The individual issues come out way too infrequently but if you read them in a nice six-issue chunk it’s still an excellent read.

  25. Johanna Says:

    I finished the Young Avengers series, but the Runaways crossover miniseries had no interest for me because of the creative change. I hope we see those characters again in the Marvel universe, but who works with them will matter a lot.

  26. Journalista » Blog Archive » Jan. 1, 2007: Batman’s gonna get shot in the face Says:

    […] Johanna Draper Carlson runs down the comic books from Marvel Comics and DC Comics that she actually reads for enjoyment, as opposed to for review purposes. […]

  27. Daly Says:

    It’s kind of heartbreaking to me that i’m about to give up on marvel comics. I can tell you whats going on with the characters because of blogs, websites, and the actual store- but I haven’t given my money for months. My addiction is slowing, and I wish I could crave these characters and stories like I used too. I’ll probably return, but I don’t think i’m going to buy comics or support the marvel website anytime soon.

  28. Chickity China » Astonishing X-Men # 19 - Review Says:

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