I couldn’t wait for Wednesday, so I went and picked up last week’s comics last night. I walked in on the gang processing thousands of comics they’d just bought. I told them I expected the store to be spotless when I came back on Wednesday. Good thing they like me, ’cause they outnumbered me.
- All-Star Superman #8, by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely (DC)
- Countdown #43 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Manuel Garcia, David Lopez, & Don Hillsman (DC)
- Welcome to Tranquility #8, by Gail Simone, Neil Googe, Jason Pearson, Chriscross, & Georges Jeanty (DC/Wildstorm)
- Ms. Marvel #17, by Brian Reed, Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan (Marvel)
- Thor #1, by J. Michael Straczynski Oliver Coipel & Mark Morales (Marvel)
Both Greg Burgas and Chris Sims were disappointed in this month’s All-Star Superman, and I’m with them: Devoid of the madcap zaniness of the classic Bizarro stories, saddled by the bleak imagery of Quitely’s artwork, and with nothing particularly deep or insightful to say about the Bizarro world, the whole issue just feels like a pointless aside to the already rather loosely-assembled story which comprises the series. All-Star Superman has certainly had its high points, but this is its nadir.
Ms. Marvel #17 actually has enough stuff in it to get me interested again: A.I.M. undergoes a transformation, Ms. Marvel turns blue and speaks with a different voice and then wakes up normal and has no idea what happened, her S.H.I.E.L.D. team is decimated and she faces a crisis of confidence, her would-be boyfriend is up to something, and a couple of A.I.M. wackos concoct an odd-looking scheme which is surely not going to end well.
If only the first 16 issues had had this much story. I just hope all this goes somewhere over the next few months.
J. Michael Straczynski’s comic books drive me crazy.
There’s always the germs of some really excellent stuff in there: The metaphysical underpinnings of Spider-Man’s powers. The spot-on handling of Peter Parker’s wit. The complex world of Rising Stars. The characterization of the Thing.
But Jesus, his stories take so-fricking-long to develop. It took years for the relatively-simple story of Spidey’s powers to play out, and while that stuff was really good, the stuff in between wasn’t. Fantastic Four never really went anywhere (but arguably got shanghaied by Civil War). And along the way he often hits as many wrong notes as true ones: The inevitable-yet-tedious battle for domination in Rising Stars, or the stilted and cringeworthy characterization of Mr. Fantastic. Really, only Midnight Nation – probably his most personal book – worked all the way through.
Thor brings the god-turned-hero back to the Marvel Universe after an absence due to, well, I really neither know nor care what happened to him, but apparently the other Norse gods are gone, and Thor is back to being bonded with Donald Blake. Straczynski provides some interesting theoretical backbone to Thor’s return and the nature of godhood, and some nice grounding to Blake’s humanity. And then, the questions lurking in the background are just as interesting: What will Thor think about the Civil War that occurred in his absence, and the role his closest human friend – Iron Man – played in it? How will Donald Blake pick up the pieces of his life after years of absence?
But the book noodles all over the place, starting with someone (Blake?) picking up Thor’s hammer in the middle of the desert (a scene set up in Straczynski’s Fantastic Four run), followed by a lengthy encounter between Blake and Thor in the limbo they’ve been lingering in for the last few years, followed by their return to Earth. But it’s all set-up: There’s hardly any actual story here. Straczynski’s Supreme Power played out excruciatingly slowly (I gave up after two depressing years), and I worry that that’s what’s going to happen here.
Still, it’s a first issue, and it’s got some promise. And Coipel’s art gets prettier with each new project: Remember how quirky and grim his style seemed back in Legion Lost, with those severe, undifferentiated faces? Oh yeah, he’s come a long way, that never would have worked on Thor. But as with most comics these days, I just hope that Straczynski’s got a plan, and that Thor is going to go somewhere. Because this sort of meandering will get boring by about issue #3. I also hope he lightens up on the gravitas a little (and boy is it unusual for me to be wishing a book were a little lighter), because it often feels like his books should have a funeral dirge as their soundtrack.
Greg Burgas seems to agree, but says so in fewer words than I do. So, there you go.