- Posted by Johanna on January 7, 2007 at 9:30 pm
- Category: Superhero Reviews
I’m trying to do a better job keeping up with the “pamphlets” — the issues can be such ephemeral things that there’s no point in leaving them to hang around.
Take, for instance, my comic of the week, Winter Soldier: Winter Kills. This was one of KC’s picks, and he recommended it to me. (Always nice to have a personalized source who knows your tastes well.) It was very good, although the reading experience was marred a bit by it being a Christmas comic. Being late wasn’t all my fault, though — Marvel shipped it on December 29.
I disagree with bringing Bucky back (just as I disagreed with bringing back Barry Allen or Uncle Ben or Jason Todd or any of the other “never say never” deadies who used to be sacrosanct). But now that he’s back, he seems to be a very interesting character … at least, as he’s portrayed here by Ed Brubaker and the variety of artists: Lee Weeks, Stefano Gaudiano, and Rick Hoberg.
He’s timelost in a way Captain America should be, but Cap is too prominent a hero for any writer to explore the cultural differences in depth. The flashbacks between Bucky’s Christmas in 1944, when he’s part of a group of heroes, taking time out from war to celebrate the holiday, and his more jaded solo Christmas now are poignant, and it makes his encounter with the Young Avengers (the real reason KC pointed this at me) all the more significant. Even if it’s only Patriot, Vision, and Hawkeye (as she’s apparently been officially named).
Between the war flashbacks and Bucky’s roguish charm, this issue reminded me in good ways of the introduction of Captain Jack to the new Doctor Who series, and that’s high praise. I’d like to see more of Bucky, especially in combination with the younger heroes.
Also good from Marvel this week was Spider-Man and Power Pack #3 (by Marc Sumerak and Gurihiru). I’m a sucker for kids who act like kids.
The team goes to Fashion Week, where Mary Jane is modeling. I was impressed that they managed to use Venom in a way that was scary, but not too gross or intense for an all ages comic. The story is satisfying, but there’s a last-panel hint of next month’s issue, which implies Venom returns and puts one of the kids in danger. I’ll look for it.
Oh, and there’s a mini-Marvels take on Civil War, where little Spidey is trying to take the even mini-er Power Pack to play in Tony Stark’s playground. Sadly, setting up the conflict takes up two of the four pages (illustrating one of the problems with the premise), but the baby pack is cute, and I love the solution. “What’s a moo-tent?” Opting out of the whole thing seems sensible.
Update: You can read the short backup online.
On the other side of the traditional divide, DC put out two excellent Superman books this week.
Superman Confidential #3 (Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale) makes me happy because they finally show why Lois is such a terrific character that she’d last through the decades. This woman is accomplished, honest, talented, beautiful — you can see why a Superman would fall in love with her. She’s not willing to settle, and she does the right thing even at personal cost. She sees what he can’t (or won’t admit to) and expresses it powerfully.
The art (with coloring by Dave Stewart) is gorgeous, packed with emotion that shines through simplicity. The action and suspense are well-done, too. Finally, DC’s premier hero gets the kind of comic he deserves: one that makes him a fascinating three-dimensional character with challenges suited to him, one that avoids dumbing him down or ignoring him to concentrate on easier-to-write supporting cast or wallowing in nostalgia.
But if you’re looking for that nostalgia, All-Star Superman #6 is happy to provide it. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely start off with the joy between a boy and his dog… assuming they can romp in space.
The meat of the issue, though, involves time travel and alternate Supermen of the future and all those wacky high concepts that drove the title during the 50s and 60s. It’s leavened with one of the most significant elements of the Superman legend, the idea that with all his abilities, Superman can’t beat death and can’t save everyone. That’s the concept that humanizes the superhuman.
From Image, I wanted to briefly note a superhero comic from last month. Meltdown #1, with story by David Schwartz and art by Sean Wang, is one of those modern takes on the concept in which superheroes are treated as a business and a “realistic” approach to powers means angst and despair. In this case, the fire powers of Caliente (Cal for short) are going to burn him up, and as he faces death, he looks back at what brought him to this point. It’s part one of two, and I think it would have been more satisfying as a single graphic novel instead of a couple of over-sized $6 comics.
Anyway, even though I dislike this subgenre in general, I was interested enough to keep reading all the way through the preview galley. There’s a lot more skill here than I usually see in indy superhero attempts, and I admire Schwartz’s ambition in reaching for complicated themes and structure.
I was even more impressed by the art, and I wondered why Wang’s name sounded familiar. Turns out he self-published Runners, a science fiction series I’m still meaning to read. That experience clearly taught him a lot, because his work here is better than some of what DC and Marvel are publishing. He’s talented, able to draw action, cute characters, idealized figures, and emotion, and I hope he gets the career he deserves. See what I mean at the artist’s website.