Marvel: Order 7, X-Men First Class 8, Patriot 1, Twelve 1, She-Hulk 25, more

I have never figured out why, when there’s only a few comics I enjoy from a particular publisher, they all come out on the same week. I’d rather spread out my entertainment (and costs) over a longer period (and I would think retailers would like me coming into their store more often, with the chance of buying more on different trips). Ah, well, just one of those comic industry vagaries, I guess. And what I think of as good comics aren’t necessarily agreed upon by others. Anyway, here’s what I enjoyed reading this week.

The Order #7

The Order #7 cover

Namor is threatening to drown San Francisco with a wall of water, so he and Anthem (leader of the team) sit down to negotiate. This is the best superhero team book out today, so of course it’s ending with issue #10. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the blend of characterization, stunning art, and action. Heck, just in density (the amount of what happens and what we learn), it’s tops of the pack.

The two men go back over Namor’s history while the team on the ground tries to deal with rising panic and riots. I like the way parts of Namor’s speech can be interpreted on multiple levels. “You think you’ll last? Come back to me in forty–in four–years and tell me I’m wrong.” It’s an immortal monarch talking to the new kid on the block… and the established character pointing out how the new ones can’t get the foothold they need to last. Under the superheroics, this issue is a sophisticated exploration of how you draw the line between what’s good and bad, what’s useful and what’s expedient and what’s effective. How “terrorism” is defined by perspective and the nature of superheroes in today’s world. Kudos to Matt Fraction, Barry Kitson, and Jon Sibal.

X-Men First Class #8 cover

X-Men First Class #8

The team fights Man-Thing after investigating a swamp time warp that leads to alternate realities, which allows for clever references to well-known other versions of some of the characters. Eric Nguyen’s sketchy art (reproed from pencils?) works well for the more horror-influenced tale that explores the nature of fear. I so admire writer Jeff Parker for doing single-issue stories that have meaning to them.

Young Avengers Presents Patriot #1

Young Avengers Presents Patriot #1 cover

Eli Bradley, Patriot, struggles with what patriotism means while adventuring with Hawkeye Kate and following the Winter Soldier (Bucky). A thought-provoking book — the series has yet to really start, but Ed Brubaker sets up the history and motivation of the character in preparation, and it’s inspiring to see heroes acknowledge America’s problems while still trying to live up to the ideal.

The Twelve #1

Surprisingly good! And even more interesting, put in conjunction with the previous, since they both explore the nature of loyalty to one’s country in a time of war. J. Michael Straczynski postulates a group of costumed heroes frozen at the end of World War II as a last-ditch Nazi scheme and awoken today. There’s a strong guy, the token female, and a lot of mystery men with only masks, trenchcoats, and snappy monikers.

The Twelve #1 cover

Chris Weston and Garry Leach do a great job of building modern, detailed pages with an old-fashioned approach to figures and story-telling. It’s not faux-old comics, but it has an antique feel, especially in body shape (an important factor for authenticity of an earlier period).

I hope the book, in future issues, explores culture clash in depth. My favorite page of this issue was the one where the defrosted reporter (there’s always a reporter secret ID) is figuring out he’s not still in the 40s from the little things he observes. I love that kind of stuff!

Then there were some not so enjoyable ones this week.

Iron Fist #12

I don’t care about the never-ending mystical tournament, and there’s too much macho “what it means to be a man and a fighter” in between. Dropped.

She-Hulk #25

Astonishing X-Men #24 cover

Boring. Jen and Skrull Girl argue about identity and what it means to be a hero. Not funny, not exciting. Still dropped. There are also a couple of backups to make this oversized and justify the extra dollar on the price. I was mildly amused by the one where Jen attacks the Marvel offices. It’s a cliched story, especially for this character, but the style fits better, in my opinion, than the lead moroseness. Even if it’s another example of writer Peter David responding to other writers’ stories by fiat. (This one deals with the question of whether did she/didn’t she with the Juggernaut.)

Astonishing X-Men #24

I gave up on this a long while back. John Cassaday’s art is as lovely as ever and I like most of Joss Whedon’s projects, but I couldn’t keep track of the space opera, and the whole thing seemed written for long-time fans with its air of “remember why they’re so great?” I mention it only because I laughed at the idea of Whedon getting a year’s worth of issues (that took longer to come out) and still not being able to make the planned schedule. The story doesn’t end here, instead needing an upcoming annual for its conclusion.

13 Responses to “Marvel: Order 7, X-Men First Class 8, Patriot 1, Twelve 1, She-Hulk 25, more”

  1. Tim O'Shea Says:

    I knew the Order was canceled with 10, so I skipped buying the latest issue. Now you have me kicking myself for not picking it up… :)

    I was intrigued to get your take on JMS’ Twelve. Some reviews have dismissed it as Watchmen revisited. I enjoyed it and was glad to read your take.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I don’t think it has much in common with Watchmen at all — I’m curious why people are saying that. I think it’s much closer to The American Way or Red Menace, in using a different era to show how visions of heroism have changed. At least, that’s what I’m guessing. It’s still early.

  3. Michael Denton Says:

    I think the Watchmen comparisons come primarily from the SPOILER ALERT! mystery death of one of the characters at the end. Combine that with characters who were published in a prior era and then largely forgotten like the Charlton heroes and the merest suggestion of a larger conspiracy and there you have it.

    It easily could go into a Watchmen riff, but it’s far to early to tell.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Oh, that. I kind of ignored it, because it seemed like a patch just to keep people interested.

    I would have hoped JMS would have learned to avoid Watchmen comparisons after Rising Stars. :)

  5. caleb Says:

    This one deals with the question of whether did she/didn’t she with the Juggernaut.

    Gasp! Really?! But…but…Slott already addressed that…in his last story…

  6. Alan Coil Says:

    “The Twelve: Watchmen Done Right!”

  7. Comic Book Noise 97: Black Women In Comics at Comic Book Noise Says:

    […] Johanna’s review of The Immortal Iron Fist 12 […]

  8. Hal Shipman Says:

    “I knew the Order was canceled with 10, so I skipped buying the latest issue.”

    People really do this? Wow. I’ve always thought if a series is good, I’ll buy it up to the end, because I’m enjoying it.

    And while I haven’t read the Twelve yet (really not a fan of JMS), the “one of us is dead” thing had really become a cliche. I just finished the novel Hero last night and, sure enough… But the “culture clash” aspect is interesting. I do always like those.

  9. Johanna Says:

    If part of the appeal of serialized entertainment for a reader is “what happens next?”, then their enjoyment might be damaged by knowing that in three months, there won’t be any more.

    Not to mention the economics — a cancelled series might be easy to pick up in dollar bins in six months instead of paying $3 off the rack.

  10. Tomorrow’s Comics Today » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] was very pleasantly surprised by The Twelve #1, reading it multiple times with enjoyment. So I’m curious to see if I like the second issue […]

  11. Jim Perreault Says:

    After reading a bunch of positive reviews here, I finally broke down and picked up an issue of “The Order.” I liked it so much the next week I went back and picked up the entire run (minus issue 1, which was sold out).

    This series is fantastic! Like Johanna, I really like the structure of interviewing one character per issue but without neglecting the rest of the team.

    And while each character could easily fall into cliche ( the teen idol, the hard as nails military vet, the unscrupulous marketing agent) he somehow sidesteps that and makings each one believable and three-dimensional.

    What else has Fraction written?

  12. Johanna Says:

    Oh, there’s nothing that warms a critic’s heart more than knowing that a recommendation was acted on, and the reader liked it! Thanks for letting me know. Sorry that you found it just as the cancellation was announced, though.

    Fraction has also written Casanova and Iron Fist.

  13. Good Comics Out February 1 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] the periodical front, The Twelve is finally returning (Marvel, $2.99)! This 12-issue miniseries launched in 2008, and I liked it, but it got bogged down in its writer, J. Michael Straczynski, doing other things. […]




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