- Posted by Johanna on April 29, 2013 at 7:26 am
- Category: Superhero Reviews
When I realized how much I disliked the new 52 DC books, I thought I might have to give up superhero comics. Thankfully, Marvel is putting out plenty of fun, entertaining titles. It surprises me how quickly I’ve switched allegiance, but all that matters is that I’m enjoying what I’m reading. I guess Marvel Now! is really working for me. Here are some quick thoughts on recent issues that I liked. Note that I’m not mentioning Daredevil and Hawkeye because everyone else does, since they’re both amazingly good. Seriously, the two are the best superhero comics coming out these days, in my opinion.
“Iron Man + Beast” by Zeb Wells, Dale Keown, and Norman Lee
“Thor + Iceman” by Christopher Yost and Orphans Cheeps
The entire premise of this title is simple, short-story teamups, so it’s a great read without having to follow storylines or crossovers. Particularly when the author uses the kind of humor that keeps exaggerated heroic characters grounded. Sure, there’s usually one big fight, but it’s the conversation around it that I enjoy more.
For instance, when Beast and Iron Man get together, they try to stop a rogue virus infecting anti-Hulk armor built by the Beast, which gives Tony an excuse to be all egotistical and show-offy. There are several gags that make me want to repeat them, but I don’t want to spoil them, plus a surprise ending that made me smile.
The second story pits Iceman against Thor’s enemy, a Frost Giant, in a tale about it being ok to joke and be light-hearted so long as you can perform when the going gets tough. If you’d like to see another great story from this series, look for issue #6, where Captain Marvel and Wolverine play poker and debate a question from the Angel TV show in a piece written by Peter David.
by Matt Fraction and Joe Quinones
I don’t follow the lead Fantastic Four title because I’ve never really warmed to those characters, and sending the family off in a self-contained bubble doesn’t appeal to me. But this companion, featuring substitute heroes trying to take care of a gang of super-intelligent kids, I like a lot. Particularly the women, Darla Deering (the celebrity wearing the Thing suit) and She-Hulk.
So many characters means more opportunities for amusing bits. Dragon Man, who gets tagged with babysitting duty a lot, just wants to read his economic news (wearing cute little pince-nez) in peace. The visual gags really rock, as we go from one of those old-fashioned cutaways showing us all the nifty rooms in the superhero headquarters to seeing that Scott Lang wears Fantastic Four pajama bottoms. I’m sure I’m missing a ton of references, since I barely get the Yancy Street Gang, but it’s all done with good humor and there’s plenty more coming along to distract me if I do miss something.
It’s not just jokes, though. The characters actually have substantial moments of realization, whether it’s trying to live up to a reputation or get through the day in spite of grief. A lovely blend of emotion, humor, and adventure — superhero comics the way they should be.
Young Avengers #4
by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Mike Norton
I’ve always loved teen hero books, and this is one of the best, because Gillen’s characters feel the right age. They’re heroes, sure, but they’re also still teenagers, and that makes their choices all the more powerful and difficult.
This particular storyline — where Wiccan wanted his boyfriend Hulkling to be happy, so he tried to magic up his mother, only to get an evil parasite instead — is specifically fraught with the challenges of that age group, where you love your parents but you’re trying to make your own decisions, sometimes in spite of them. A doppleganger parent is immensely symbolic, particularly one that can brainwash adults, setting up a real us vs. them generation gap.
The classic structure has also allowed for a slow introduction of the various team members, since the two boys start getting help from one at a time, only for them to fail and another to show up (to get some of their own screen time). That’s been a help in getting a good feel for how Gillen is portraying such characters as Young Loki and a new Miss America (who in a nice touch appears Latina). This issue, Hawkeye (the young Kate Bishop one) and Marvel Boy show up (after a brief but promising-future-drama scene in issue #1).
McKelvie and Norton are doing astounding work, too. From the realistic attitudes of the cast to fancy layout schematics that pack a lot of storytelling into a double-page spread, the look of the book is as fresh and modern as its pacing. No matter what they do, there’s a joy and an energy that only adolescents can possess, and it comes through every page.
Savage Wolverine #4
by Frank Cho
Here’s the surprise of the column — although it’s Cho drawing busty, scantily clad women in loinclothes, I actually like this book. Probably because it’s got Amadeus Cho, one of my favorite modern Marvel characters. And an excuse for the barely dressed: they’re in the Savage Land, which plays well with Wolverine’s conflicts over going berserk and being an animal and all that guff. Here, he’s hanging out with people who’ve gone even more native.
(Although I didn’t like the recent Wolverine and the X-Men storyline set there as much. Probably because it was too weird seeing Wolverine in that setting twice in such different modes. Also, I don’t ever want to read anything again that references the stupid Wolverine Origin series. But otherwise, I really like WatXM for keeping the core concept of mutants training together in a school for heroes.)
Teaming Wolverine up with Shanna the She-Devil is fun, since they both annoy each other, although Cho decided to temporarily kill her off with a penetrating spear. That’s another level on which this comic amuses me — seeing just how blatant he can be with the jungle-girl conventions. I gotta wonder, when you dip a woman wearing nothing but a leopard-skin bikini and a leather belt into a rejuvenating pool (look! she’s wet!), why does she come back to life but the big cat doesn’t? Just being silly. It’s that kind of “turn off the brain” book. Ironic, since Cho’s power is being super-smart.
Anyway, there are also gorillas in this issue, and Wolverine gets his shirt ripped off so there are some hairy torso shots to balance the boobies. Also, it’s a shame the covers of this series all look alike. Makes it hard to keep up with.