I’m going to try a different format this week and see how I (and you) like it.
- Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #48 (DC)
- 52 #37 of 52 (DC)
This issue reveals one of the ongoing mysteries of the series, and it’s not really a huge surprise to anyone, I guess. It was fun to read, though! Also, in this week’s text page in DC books, there’s a coded message regarding the “big” mystery of 52, so if you don’t mind getting spoiled, Comics Should Be Good reveals the secret.
Yeah, not really a big surprise. It’s not like it’s something DC ever does anything with even when they do acknowledge it, anyway.
- Sandman Mystery Theatre: Sleep of Reason #2 of 5 (DC/Vertigo)
- Red Menace #3 of 6 (DC/Wildstorm)
- Avengers Assemble vol. 4 HC (Marvel)
A few years ago, Marvel Comics published maybe the best run of the Avengers ever. Written by Kurt Busiek with art by George Perez (maybe his best work ever, too), it managed to combine good heroic adventure with a respect for characters and continuity and some of the best artwork in comics. It was fun, lavish, exciting, and thoughtful.
This volume is part of that run, but unfortunately it’s the ugly stepchild of the set. See, Perez left the book after an impressive three-year run, and was followed by an awkward half-year of crossovers and fill-in artists.
This volume includes the three-issue crossover mini-series Maximum Security, written by Busiek and drawn by Jerry Ordway. It’s not a very good story, and although I’m a long-time Ordway fan, this is not his most inspired work. (For better Ordway material, try Red Menace, above.) The premise is amusing: The alien community in the galaxy gets so tired of humans meddling in their affairs that they quarantine Earth and start using it as a penal colony. Unfortunately it’s got the tired old “It’s all a scheme by some old enemies” kicker and doesn’t rise above the level of workmanlike.
Steve Epting is a very competent artist who followed Perez (following a one-issue Security tie-in by John Romita Jr.), but I don’t think his style fit the Avengers very well, being very dark and realistic. He’s followed by Alan Davis, who became the regular artist for a while. I like Davis’ work a lot too, and although he’s no Perez, he was a fine substitute. Unfortunately, his first story involved a town in Greece being transformed into a town of Hulks, which mostly leads to a lot of fighting and the amusement of seeing the words “Hulk smash!” in Greek (at least, that’s what I assume “Hoolk Dialysei” means).
The volume ends with a pair of forgettable specials, one featuring the Hellcat, the other featuring the return of Ultron (again?).
So, not a great collection. However, volume 5 should feature the end of Busiek’s run, with his epic “Kang Dynasty” story, and that is worth the price of admission. So my completist little heart doesn’t mind picking up this one.
- Castle Waiting #4 (Fantagraphics)
- Liberty Meadows: Cold, Cold Heart vol. 4 TPB (Image)
Frank Cho first came to my attention when his university strip University Squared was collected some years ago. Well-drawn, irreeverent – if more than a little sophomoric – it was a nifty little package. Cho’s wacky humor and clean linework led to a daily newspaper strip, Liberty Meadows.
Although it had a crushingly weak premise (wimpy Frank works at an animal sanctuary, pines after the sexy Brandy, and deals with the hijinks of the sanctuary’s residents), Cho’s twisted sense of humor and broad knowledge of pop culture was pretty amusing – for a while. But by the time this volume came around, things had gone horribly wrong: Cho was chafing at frequently being censored by his syndicate (and without the sense of humor about such things that, say, Scott Adams has), the wacky hijinks were becoming strained, and the strip was focusing on the romantic tensions among the humans. I think by this point Cho had ended the newspaper strip and was publishing new strips only in the comic book series (but I could be wrong). Spending more pages here on Brandy’s somewhat evil roommate Jen was sort of like Berke Breathed introducing Bill the Cat in Bloom County: It was when the strip jumped the shark.
Cho has moved on to doing comics at Marvel, but it always seems to me like he’s mainly interested in drawing buxom babes. Now, this is virtually a tradition in superhero comics at this point, but I find it terribly difficult to take Cho’s art seriously at this point. Most of his female characters seem to have the same faces with different hairstyles, and as for drawing men, well, there’s this.
Cho’s a hugely talented artist, and I guess I shouldn’t hold it against him that what he values in his career is not at all what I value in what I read. But it seems like a tremendous waste to me.
Anyway. If you’re a big Cho fan, here you go. If you’re not, well, I’d suggest starting with the first volume and see what you think.