- Posted by Johanna on July 14, 2010 at 8:24 am
- Category: Superhero Reviews
The Heroic Age
I’m stunned to say this, but as I look over the last few weeks of comics, I don’t think I’ve read a Heroic Age book that I didn’t like. There’s some really solid superhero storytelling going on, whether it’s Pepper deciding to be Rescue again in Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man #27 or the touching Nomad backup by Sean McKeever and David Baldeon in Captain America, or the awesome Impossible Man story in Fantastic Four #580 by Jonathan Hickman and Neil Edwards. That one foregrounds the kids, which I enjoyed. Franklin and Leech (is he a cast member now? I always liked him) take Johnny to the toy store run by Arcade (uh oh!) while super-smart Valeria (yay!) is attending genius school with other exotic Marvel universe youngsters. About the only complaint I had was that I didn’t know what Franklin’s powers were, and I wasn’t told, either. (Although I did remember when he was younger and a part of Power Pack for a little bit. That was cute.)
Anyway, the Heroic Age is a big success with me, to the point of seeking out the bannered covers and giving them a flip-through. These are the kind of superhero books I want to read, ones where interesting characters with nifty abilities fight for justice in the modern world. I’m still coming to terms with Bendis’ wordy quirks with writing the Avengers, especially when characters flat-out tell us their personalities, who they are, and what they do, but Immonen art on New Avengers makes up for a lot.
Thunderbolts, Jeff Parker’s take on Suicide Squad, is better for me because I love the idea of a mis-matched group that includes some of the old team members with weird new choices, most obviously Man-Thing. If you want to do anti-heroes, I’d much prefer you do something like this, prisoners with the potential to reform, with varying levels of sincerity, than darken the heroes. Kev Walker’s art can be a bit lacking, especially with backgrounds and sometimes panel flow, but I’m glad to see Luke Cage get a leadership role.
The younger team books are even more my speed. Avengers Academy reads a lot like early X-Men, with a group of kids with immense power banding together because they’re considered unstable and a risk. If they can keep the angst and action in balance, I’ll keep reading.
I started Young Allies feeling like I needed a tour guide, what with all the good team characters and the Bastards of Evil. Thankfully, there are some bios at the back with short histories and where else to find the cast’s adventures — a very nice touch. Unfortunately, Arana’s doesn’t answer a key question about her, when and how she lost her powers, instead trying to get us to buy four issues of Spider-Man to find out.
Now if I could only get the same thing for the bad guys. Lots of action so far in this series; I look forward to things slowing down a little so I can get a sense of the characters’ personalities and individual motivations. The setup — one of the villains kills himself in a nuclear explosion and takes a bunch of people with him — allows for lots of chatter about big-picture concepts like “how should heroes react?” but I prefer the smaller-scale everyday stuff. Still, it’s a power-packed launch that should find lots of fans.
Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artists: Tonci Zonjic and James Harren
$2.99 US each
I love seeing “gals together” stories, and this bunch — Emma Frost, She-Hulk, Monica Rambeau, Valkyrie, Hellcat — have a wide range of stories and personalities to play off each other well. The story’s a bit of a mess, though, and slight for the total price. I don’t think one of the key characters, a green-haired woman who runs SWORD, is even introduced in the first issue, even though she has to be there to get the plot going. You’ll also enjoy it much more if you already know who Nova (Frankie Raye) is, since the whole series refers to previous stories with her and fixing her status quo. So I ignored the superhero fighty bits and just enjoyed the female interaction and occasional sparkling bits of dialogue that had nothing to do with the battle. Especially Valkyrie’s funny bits of acting like the ancient Norse warrior she is.
In just one scene in this book, Emma celebrating her birthday with Scott in Paris, Immonen tells me more about the character than last month’s entire spotlight issue. And I didn’t have to see her butt hanging out of her costume, either.