While I mostly review single issues for The Outhouse I am a trade-waiter by nature. I put in a regular order through Discount Comic Book Service and get a monthly shipment consisting mostly of HC’s TPB’s and OGN’s. I’m also a stay-at-home dad who enjoys books and movies. As a result my “to be read” pile has gotten a little high, so for the month of November I’m going to read a trade a day and then post short capsule reviews every 5 books or so.
Welcome to Stack Month.
Which turned out to be a lot more time consuming than I had thought.
Why am I doing this again?
Wolverine & the X-Men Vol. 5
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Nick Bradshaw & Various
Wolverine & the X-Men continue to be brightly colored comic book fun. This volumes main story deals with Frankenstein’s Monsters’ Circus coming to Salem and telepathically enslaving all the teachers. Nick Bradshaw produces full, detailed panels while Laura Martin’s palette is vivid and exciting. Other issues deal with Kitty hiring a new teacher, Angel recruiting a mutant, and, in the end, the characters various new relationships. The circus story gives the Jean Grey School students a nice spotlight as they fight their mind-controlled teachers; the new teacher story has a bunch of short gags of bad candidates and Angel’s issue features a horn-dog Silver Samurai. Month in month out Wolverine & the X-Men remains the fun and funniest book I read.
Young Avengers Vol. 1 Style > Substance
Written by Kieron Gillen
Illustrated by Jamie McKelvie with Mike Norton
Young Avengers is another book, like Uncanny Avengers, that I want to like more than I do. I generally enjoy the work of Kieron Gillen (especially Uber), I’m a big fan of Jamie McKelvie, but I could really care less about these characters. I wasn’t even a big fan of the original Allen Heinberg Young Avengers concept. In this one Kid (or not) Loki attempts to assemble a group of Avengers while dealing with the ramifications of Wiccan pulling an alternate dimension version of his boyfriend’s dead mother into this dimension. She turns out to be evil. There’s good banter here, interesting layouts and experimentation, Matthew Wilson’s colors are vibrant… it’s all good stuff. But for some reason it leaves me cold.
Lazarus Vol. 1
Written by Greg Rucka
Illustrated by Michael Lark
I reviewed issue 4 of Lazarus, the final issue in this first volume, here. That review talks a little about what I love about Lazarus; the concept of a dystopian future with economically ruling families, the depth of the world building Rucka has achieved in a scant 4 issues, the incomparable design and action choreography of Michael Lark. At $9.99 for the first arc and a 4 page teaser that ran in Diamond’s Previews Catalog I can highly recommend Lazarus Vol. 1 with a lone caveat. The trade doesn’t collect the fictional timeline that has been running in the book since issue 2 or the “Behind the Scenes” material from issue 1. The timeline especially is well written and frightening in its plausibility. While it’s still a great buy I do wish Image had devoted a few pages to that backmatter.
Fury Vol. 2 – My War Gone By
Written by Garth Ennis
Penciled by Goran Parlov
This maxi-series is probably the best thing I’ve read all year. Garth Ennis’ Punisher MAX is one of my Top 5 runs so when I heard he was taking another crack at Fury for the MAX imprint I was cautiously excited (his original Fury MAX mini was tonally different and his last Punisher work, The Resurrection of Ma Gnucci was underwhelming). Turns out I didn’t need to worry. These 13 issues of aged Nick Fury telling the story of his life and the wars he has fought, both for his country and himself, are… stunning. Ennis is able to write the definitive versions of Fury, Frank Castle (who shows up in this volume) and his own creation, Barracuda. Every character here; the slimy Senator, his bombshell wife, a Viet Cong officer, Fury’s right hand man, they all age and grow with Fury and the story. And not in hack-y or clichéd ways. What I’m trying to articulate here is that this book is both incredibly entertaining and emotionally affecting. And it’s amazing to watch artist Goran Parlov draw these characters through the years. So many artists can’t draw older characters, can’t show disgust or horror or any emotion aside from teeth clenching determination, can’t draw ethnicity aside from skin color. Parlov does it all here and puts on a master class in cartooning. This is going to be one of those books I read once every year.
Batman Vol. 3 Death of The Family
Written by Scott Snyder
Penciled by Greg Capullo & Jock
I think I’m almost done with Scott Snyder’s Batman. I’m interested in what Zero Year has to say but I’m so disappointed with Death of The Family that it’s going to be a struggle to shell out the cash for it. And this bums me out because I loved the hell out of Snyder’s pre-Nu52 Detective run with Dick Grayson Batman. I was underwhelmed by the first Nu52 Batman volume, but my interest spiked with City of the Owls because it at least felt new, Snyder was building lore, creating something that fit the mythos but was a breath of fresh air (much like Geoff Johns once did with the other Lantern Corps. in GL). But this just seemed boring to me. Joker’s back and he’s hunting the Bat-family, but I was never surprised, never felt the tension. Joker killed people in the ways that Joker kills people, Batman hid stuff from his allies in the way that he does, some scene on a bridge where Batman is tied up by rope and joke teeth? And constant droning monologues from the Joker about his “relationship” with Batman, a lot of “No”’s and “What have you done”’s from Batman. I suppose if you never read a certain type of Joker story before (Killing Joke, Dark Knight Returns, Azzarello’s Joker OGN) then it might seem bold or new but to me it just felt like a retread of tales better told. Capullo continues to impress with action and gore but take everyone’s masks off and they all look pretty similar. Part of this could be me though, I could be Batman-ed out in much the same way I was done with The Avengers after Bendis’ run. Maybe I’ll take a break and check back in a few years.