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 has turned out to be a lot more time consuming than I had thought.
Nemo: Heart of Ice
Written by Alan Moore
Penciled by Kevin O’Neil
I don’t think I’m smart enough to read League of Extraordinary Gentleman books anymore. I spent the whole of Heart of Ice thinking “Who is that guy? Is he a literary reference I should be getting? Was that thing that guy just said a casual reference to 14th Century English folklore?” The first two League books, for me, were primarily adventure stories that just happened to star famous literary characters. Even if you didn’t know who they were there were enough context cues to understand their actions and motivations. Plus the adventures they were on were pretty linear, their adversaries and their plans well defined. Then everything got a little weird. And now, with Nemo: Heart of Ice, I’m done. Nemo’s daughter goes on a mission her father went on, some guys that I’m sure I should recognize go after her to recover some treasure she stole from somebody else I’m sure I’m supposed to recognize. Then some crazy shit happens, there are giant penguin people, a bunch of maybe significant people die and the book ends. Alan Moore can be funny as hell (see Smax), he can mess with the very conventions of what a comic can do (see Neonomicon) and he can tell crackling good superhero stories (see Supreme), Nemo is none of these. Kevin O’Neil turns in his usual beautiful pencils but I’m so far removed from the story I can barely appreciate those.
Uncanny Avengers Vol. 2: The Apocalypse Twins
Written by Rick Remender
Penciled by Daniel Acuna
You know that thing where you’re reading a book or watching a movie and trying to convince yourself that you like it? Like, say, you’re an Avengers fan, you loved Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, you think Daniel Acuna is awesome… but it’s just not clicking. I’m two trades in to Uncanny Avengers and if I were paying full retail for this stuff I’d be pretty pissed at myself, luckily I’m just $25 worth of bored. I can’t find a way into this book; I don’t care about Kang or the Apocalypse Twins, I don’t understand why Wolverine randomly keeps secrets that get his team in trouble, I still don’t get why everyone is so surprised that he ran a black ops hit squad, Rogue is whiny and annoying and I don’t care about Havok but it doesn’t matter because he’s barely in the book anyway. The book’s chock full of cool concepts; Celestial homicide, Dakken as a Horseman of the Apocalypse, pacifist Wonder Man, that just never come together for me. I’m glad other people seem to be enjoying it but I’m done.
Hawkeye Vol. 2: Little Hits
Written by Matt Fraction
Penciled by David Aja & Various
Hawkeye Volume 2 is an excellent book that suffers in comparison only to Volume 1. Collecting issues 6-11 it includes the Hurricane Sandy benefit issue (presented first though it’s issue 7), a two-parter co-starring the various women in Clint Barton’s life and the infamous “Pizza Dog” issue. My two favorite issues are the Sandy book, with art by Steve Lieber on the Clint story and Jesse Hamm on the Kate Bishop one, and issue 6, a David Aja one-shot about Clint trying to get his A/V system hooked up while simultaneously coming to terms with what it means to be a hero. It’s that type of juxtaposition where I find Hawkeye shines best, some mundane story about Clint’s inability to navigate normal life running alongside a deeper exploration of his fears and insecurities. The “Pizza Dog” issue, as told from Clint’s dog’s POV as he solves a crime, is more of an interesting experiment than an entertaining story for me. The mechanics of communicating Pizza Dog’s thought process was interesting and Aja delivered an impressive layout but I never really connected with the story. Overall Hawkeye continues to be a great book with top notch illustrators that wears its heart on its sleeve.
Uber Vol. 1
Written by Kieron Gillen
Penciled by Caanan White
I liked it so much I had to do a full review. Check it out here.
Manhattan Projects Vol. 2
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Penciled by Nick Pitarra
Trade-waiting can be difficult for Jonathan Hickman fans. The man writes dense plots and long, overarching stories. His Fantastic Four/FF run is one huge story. If you read one random Secret Warriors trade you’d probably be able to glean some enjoyment from it but there’d be a lot of “Who are these people?”, “Why is Davy Jones in this book?”. So I was a little worried that I’d need to re-read Manhattan Projects Vol. 1 before reading 2. Turns out this time Hickman just wanted to tell a kick ass story of the Los Alamos team joining forces with their Russian counterparts to wrest control of our future from crazed world leaders.
Look, either you want to read a book with robot-armed Wernher von Braun, Russian science cities, Battlin’ Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, Rambo Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer’s mental projection of himself punching a horse in the face… or you don’t. And if you do then you get Nick Pitarra’s wonderful Geoff Darrow meets Rob Guilory style and Jordie Bellaire using colors to keep all the players and locations clear and easily readable.