I Read Comics
Don't ever call 'em graphic novels, unless that's how they're published, okay? Simple primer: self-contained story that's longer than a single issue of a regular comic, published for the first time in hardback or softcover trade paperback format? That's a graphic novel. Multiple issues of a regular comic book compiled into a single bound volume? That's a trade paperback. Examples of graphic novels: DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL, EMPEROR DOOM, BLANKETS, DAVID BORING, that shitty computer-generated IRON MAN book with the boobies, etc. Examples of trade paperbacks: WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, THE INVISIBLES, THE AVENGERS: THE KREE-SKRULL WAR, etc. Don't get it twisted, young friend.
SINGLE ISSUES:ANNIHILATION NOVA #1
: I'm new to the idea of interlocking miniseries. They're doing it pretty well with Annihilation, as four issues in we're still dealing with the immediate shock and ramifications of the "Annihilation Day" event. If you like the cosmic side of Marvel, and/or ponderously large armadas of bug-shaped aliens, you might like Annihilation. I'm mostly ignorant of the characters involved, and I'm still enjoying it thus far.CAPTAIN AMERICA #17
: Generally the word "realistic", when used in relation to a superhero comic, is a synonym for "shitty". Ed Brubaker's CAP has been anything but awful, though. Cap and Sharon Carter head to Iowa to see if Bucky if responsible for some building getting destroyed, and run into a hidden AIM enclave, an AIM splinter group, and the old Red Skull henchman / psychotic nihilist Crossbones, who just recently finished deprogramming the Skull's even more psychotically nihilist daughter Sinthia. Everybody fights. Not a highlight of the run thus far, but a necessary progression of the Crossbones subplot. The main interest remains the return of Bucky; I'm glad that Bucky's return, which is of truly fundamental importance to the central character of Captain America, has been allowed to unfold gradually over a matter years and not rushed through in a four or six issue story arc.NEW AVENGERS #18
: I wanted to hate this book so much. One reason I loved the Avengers as a kid was because it was different from the X-Men and Spider-Man; despite its relative lack of fame or success, it represented the mainstream of the Marvel universe more than any other single book. Tearing the team apart, and rebuilding them with guys like Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Daredevil, remains nothing more than a blatant stab at cash and attention. Still, I wanted to at least give the book a shot, so I picked up the first trade a couple months back. I surprisingly liked it. Wolverine is still entirely out of place, as Daredevil would be had he become a regular, but the rest of the newcomers don't bother me. Luke Cage and Spider-Woman are exactly the type of third-string characters who'd back up the major Avengers for a year or so, and thus fit in fine. And even though Spider-Man has never fit in a group setting, and has repeatedly refused core Avengers membership, it's hard to argue with his presence in those first six issues. I haven't read the second trade yet, or any of the issues between that and number 17, which was where I jumped on as a monthly reader. 17 was an okay stand-alone story, and I like the idea of each member getting time to basically lead the team. 18, though, is a boring, aimless mess. Basically it's one long fight, with a supposedly shocking reveal at the end that means little to those who don't really care about the mutant books. And Wolverine is still entirely out of place. Seriously, get him the hell away from the Avengers, bring back Thor and some form of Hank Pym, and have Spidey become a reserve / occasional member, and this book would be moving in the right direction. NEXTWAVE AGENTS OF HATE #4
: Slightly funny superhero goof from Warren Ellis. Been reading about how awesome Ellis is for a decade now, but this is the first thing I've read from him. The first two issues were intermittently hilarious, but it's levelled off since then. Still, a nice assortment of fifth-rate heroes and also-rans. X-MEN #185
: Peter Milligan's probably my third favorite writer; SHADE THE CHANGING MAN was my sentimental favorite as a 16-year-old, and X-STATIX single-handedly got me back into comics for five months back in 2003. His X-Men is awful, though. The first couple issues of this Apocalypse story-line had some nice moments, like the origin of Gazer and the back-up story with Sunfire. All momentum consistently dies, though, as soon as the story turns to the X-Men. First off, I hate how they've turned Mystique and Emma Frost into heroes (I'm starting Morrison's New X-Men this week; I hear that should make me accept and appreciate Frost, so we'll see). I don't give a shit about Pulse, or Rogue and Gambit's romance, or the eternal discontent of Havoc and Polaris. The whole power-loss issue, while handled well in X-FACTOR, is really fuckin' annoying with Polaris. And who are the hell are the 198? I simply have no idea what's going on with the X-Men right now, outside of ASTONISHING, and even Milligan can't make me care or understand. X-STATIX PRESENTS DEAD GIRL #4 (of 5)
: Okay, a return to form, for both Milligan and DEAD GIRL. I loved the first two issues, and although 3 was pretty good, there were at least two depressingly bad jokes that hampered my good mood. The Piano Player's still around, but the character itself is fine as a joke as long as it's not being blatantly spelled out, as it was in 3. There's a really nice moment between Guy and Edie, and the burgeoning love between Dead Girl and Dr. Strange is making me really happy. Too bad there's only one issue left, as this mini is only too painfully reminding me of why X-STATIX is probably the most purely enjoyable superhero comic since the old Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League.
TRADE PAPERBACKS:OWLY: JUST A LITTLE BLUE
: Unbearably cute and wordless, OWLY is going to make a great gift for my nieces. We gets to enjoy it first, thankfully. Owly is a small owl that wishes to make a nice birdhouse to help make up for the loss of trees. His little worm and butterfly friends help out. In the process Owly learns about self-sacrifice and cries about 18 times. Made by a dude from Lilburn
and published by a company from our home-town of Marietta
, OWLY's like the fourth best thing to ever come from the suburbs of Atlanta.WE3
: I'm blitzing through Grant Morrison's work, making up for lost time. He was my favorite writer when I was a teenager, due to his work on Doom Patrol
, and since I got back into comics in January I've been reading as much of his stuff as possible. I've made it through the first three Invisibles
trades and Seaguy
, all of which are awesome (to varying degrees). This weekend it was time for We3
, the odd little miniseries he did with Frank Quitely about three housepets turned into cybernetic war machines by the US government. It's kinda heart-breaking in spots, and the layouts are frequently inventive, but at the end I'm left slightly confused by what Morrison's trying to say. Obviously it brings to mind animal testing, and obviously in a negative light, but having the animals slaughter countless humans, even if in self-defense, kinda muddles the pro-animal rights message. Still, a beautiful and fascinating comic.