Avengers Arena #6
Dennis Hopeless has been waging an uphill battle with this series. The premise sounds exploitative and cruel. However, he’s managed to make it work. He has handled each character with care and respect (except for poor Red Raven, whoever that was). You really care for the people in this book, whether they were already a well-loved part of the Marvel Universe (Nico and Chase) or a new introduction (Deathlocket). This issue does an excellent job of moving the story forward, pushing characters naturally toward breaking points. It’s a good book so far, but still walks a razor’s edge due to a shaky foundation.
Status: On the Bubble
I thought I had already dropped “Batgirl”. It’s not a bad book by any means, but it’s not good either. The art is okay and the story is standard. Standard is a good word for it. There’s a standard villain who’s hurting innocent people. There’s a standard hero doing whatever it takes to help people. There’s a standard arch-nemesis lurking in the shadows. There’s nothing special about this book, leaving it easily forgotten. Even Barbara’s reaction to Damian’s death, an opportunity used to great effect in other books this week, feels like it was shoe-horned in and falls flat. The cover is really nice though.
Nowhere Men #4
This is a book that may be falling under most people’s radars. It hasn’t received the same attention as other new Image titles like “The Manhattan Projects”, “Fatale”, and “Saga”. That’s too bad because it’s performing on the same level. Eric Stephenson merges the fabulous success and fame of The Beatles with the genius of innovators like Albert Einstein or Steve Jobs. It’s science as the new rock ‘n roll and it’s damn cool. Jordie Bellaire’s art is a great match, reminiscent of Nick Pitarra’s work on “The Manhattan Projects” with a more realistic tone. It fits the outlandish drawings perfectly and makes for a very pretty book.
One of the best things going on in “Nowhere Men” is the inclusion of supplementary materials. In a manner similar to that of Alan Moore’s “Watchmen”, each chapter includes some sort of non-comic material, whether it’s an interview, a book chapter or set of profiles. Each one expands the story without slowing the action or plot. In fact, most of the supplementary material is fitted amongst the book’s pages, rather than being placed as an addendum like in “Watchmen”. They’re more like close up panels of a piece of non-fiction in a fictional story. It works really well.
Thor: God of Thunder #6
This is a really enjoyable book overall, another one of Marvel’s successes with its Marvel Now relaunch. This issue is fairly weak though. As where the first five issues of the series introduced a big mystery, an antagonist worthy of a god, and the fascinating split narrative of three Thor’s, this issue adds nothing. It’s a background story for the God Butcher and feels fairly generic when compared to what the villain has done. The art and lettering aren’t knocked down by the perfunctory background story though. Both of them fit the epic-style setting and do a fine job in developing the tone of the book. Really, the lettering in this book is great.
Todd, the Ugliest Kid On Earth #3
If you like dysfunctional family humor, you’ll like this book. Everything is so wrong, but it reads so right. If it were just a book about dysfunction, then it wouldn’t be half as funny. Todd, the ever-optimistic little boy trapped under a brown paper bag, is what makes this book work. His interactions with pedophiles and murderers are amusing because he’s a shinging light in the darkness which consumes the rest of the story. He’s a lot of fun to watch, which is why his parents story lines are less amusing by comparison. The art is pretty good, fitting the more lurid elements, but most of Perker’s women end up looking the same.
Uncanny X-Men #3
Brian Michael Bendis appears to have found his niche in the third installment of this series. He plays to his strengths, including lots of dialogue-driven action dosed with a fair bit of humor. Each character has a unique voice; Hawkeye in particular feels pitch perfect amongst the guest stars. The most important thing about this issue is that it finally establishes a clear tone for the series. Cyclops is reestablished as a revolutionary figure and hero, someone whose new mask could be plastered on shirts like Che Guevara’s face. It’s obvious now that this is a book about being the little guy and fighting back, not accepting your situation.
The misuse of Chris Bachalo remains the series biggest flaw. Bachalo’s character designs are great, Cyclops and Magneto especially. They’re iconic with a flair for the gaudy. However, his work doesn’t match well with Bendis’ scripts. There’s little action and a lot of small character beats. He simply feels wasted on the last couple issues of this series. That doesn’t stop “Uncanny X-Men” from being one of Marvel’s better titles and an excellent companion piece to “All-New X-Men” though.
The Walking Dead #108
Holy crap! Finally an interesting, new character! And no, it’s not Ezekiel. He has a tiger and behaves like a king, which is briefly entertaining, but doesn’t really do a whole lot. Dwight on the other hand is fascinating. This ugly son-of-a-bitch who first appeared to be red shirt fodder for Negan has turned out to be the best thing about the book in a long time. As his motivations and history have come into focus, he’s become a tragic character and now a tragic hero. Honestly, I’m rooting for him more than any other character right now. Sure, there were some other things in this book, but Dwight’s the best part.