Greetings, and welcome to another edition of New Comics Day.
As usual, New Comics Day winds down at O’Malley’s Pub on Lincoln where the beer is cheap but the comics reviewers are cheaper.
This week, in the grand tradition of Hedda Hopper and closeted gay men like Richard Roeper, we’re grabbing our rakes and going through all the muck that’s semi-fit to print. You know, in a binary kind of way.
It’s Comics Errata Bonanza!
Mark Millar, writer of The Ultimates and several other new series no one is going to read, decided it would be a good idea to return to his slot as a columnist at comicbookresources.com. Millar took time out of his busy schedule of procrastinating to tell us all the beguiling story of Orson Welles’ famous attempt at adapting Batman to the big screen. This was to be the first Batman movie ever with Welles as the Dark Knight.
Only, of course, it was all bullshit.
Plenty of folks bought into the scam. Ain’t It Cool News, that bastion of journalistic integrity, jumped on the story like it was Jennifer Lopez passed out on a frathouse couch.
Well ha-fucking-ha, it was all a hoax, and don’t we all feel great about ourselves for not having bought into it. And wasn’t it nice of Millar to take time out of his busy schedule of not bothering to write books that never ship on time to grace us with his little scam.
I must give Millar credit. The idea of involving Orson Welles in a press hoax that passed itself off as reality is fairly clever. The old fat man himself would be proud. Orson Welles, I mean, not Joe Quesada. It was a microcosmic recreation of the great War of the Worlds hoax; nobody killed themselves over it, but I’m sure plenty of fanboys experienced their first both-hands-on-the-keyboard ejaculation.
Doesn’t it speak well of comics, by the way, that one of the alleged top-shelf writers has so much time on his hands that he can turn in a column to a fairly reliable news source four or five months late and pull a prank on the industry while his actual work is continually delayed? Funny, Mark!
What’s really funny: the script for Trouble. You know, the Marvel comic that was supposed to be a great crossover hit, the book that was going to appeal to fanboys and non-traditional readers alike, enticing all those casual readers with pictures of fourteen year-old girls wearing bathing suits from 1985. Imagine what it would be like if Millar spent all the time he used concocting the hoax actually writing believable dialogue and coming up with a teen sex comedy that appealed to someone other than forty-year-olds. Comics gold, I tell you!
Marks Waid and Weringo are back on Fantastic Four. Which is good. When they were gone, that was bad. But now they’re back. You know, everyone got all fussy, but that turns out to be kind of pointless because… yeah… they’re back now.
Uh… on to the next.
Meanwhile, J. Michael Stracyznski, one of the most notable writers outside the traditional comics pool (which is to say that he is famous among a separate geek set), is building up to Amazing Spider-Man #500. If, you know, you ignore the new numbering.
So JMS is taking Marvel’s biggest property to #500. Some news, eh? After all, Spider-Man was last year’s box office smash, and next year the sequel promises to be perhaps the biggest hit of the summer.
And what, pray tell, does he have in store for everyone? If, by some coincidence someone goes to see the movie and decides afterwards to pick up the latest Amazing Spider-Man trade, what will he or she find? Apparently the milestone issue will feature… uh… Dormamu.
Dormamu. That’s all I can say. Dormamu. Say it out loud and listen to yourself sound like a jackass. Dormamu.
Late breaking news from the House of Dirty Ideas — someone finally realized the vast and previously untapped potential for really smutty jokes involving Giant Man. In the latest issue of Avengers, now delayed a couple of weeks so that it can be relabeled as a mature readers book, we see Janet Pym / a.k.a. Wasp moaning in pleasure. Moments later, her husband, the aforementioned Giant Man, who can shrink or enlarge himself as he pleases (no giggling!), crawls up her body from under the covers. He’s about an inch and a half tall and quite obviously damp. (You can check out the pages at Newsarama.com, where they never miss an opportunity to let messageboard fanboys argue about hoo-ha’s.)
I know what you’re thinking, folks. Damnit, there goes my Epic pitch for Secret Sex Wars (or possibly The Infinity Dildo). Me, too.
Look, I know kids don’t read comics anymore on a large scale. I’m a sometimes comic book store employee. I see the customer base. But some kids, honest to god, really do read comics. More importantly, some people read comics who really aren’t (or at least who profess not to be) interested in seeing a grown man crawl into his wife’s vagina. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But the Avengers has long been silly superhero fun, far from a mature readers book. Perhaps it’s not the best idea to just switch it over for one issue. There’s something to be said for consistency. There’s a reason Mr. Rogers didn’t up and decide one day to feature a gang-bang episode. His house was too small. But that’s beside the point. Garth Ennis didn’t decide to write a few issues of Preacher in the style of Powerpuff Girls, and Marvel, and other companies, should be consistent in their ratings of a single book from month to month.
In related news, the buzz on the street is that Marvel is relaunching Avengers with a new #1 and a new title, The Avengers: Dripping Wet Pussy!
Kidding. Dripping Wet Pussy is just a miniseries. Script by Chuck Austen, art by the Kubert brothers.
Now onto the reviews…
Ultimate Spider-Man #47
This is the Spider-Man book to read.
The latest issue is nothing new for Bendis. In a way, it’s almost mundane. Peter Parker continues to struggle with his dual identity as a typical high school kid and the notorious web-slinger.
Kingpin is back from Europe, having beaten murder charges, and he’s obsessed with destroying Spider-Man. Spider-Man thwarts another bit of the fat man’s business when he stops the Enforcers from collecting on Kingpin’s old debts. Meanwhile, Parker, proving himself to be an actual nosy parker at the Daily Bugle, finds himself in a bind when he contradicts boss J. Jonah Jameson one too many times.
Bendis turns in a typical issue of USM, which is to say a fun story with snappy dialogue and great art courtesy of Mark Bagley and Art Thibert. The USM crew have set the bar awfully high, so a good issue barely registers a mention. It’s easy to be lulled by the consistent quality. Another month, another good issue or two.
If Bendis is lacking in any area, it’s his recent portrayal of the Peter / Mary Jane relationship. Mary Jane, long a rather dull character, became a dynamic and strong-willed girlfriend in the early issues of the series. The reinvented version was strong-willed and smart, but still a believable teenage girl. Lately she hasn’t been much more than a scantily-clad ornament in Parker’s life, a truly second-rate supporting character. She’s the girlfriend who sits on the sidelines and worries about her man, the girl who may at any point be put in danger for loving a superhero. It would be nice to see Bendis bring the Parker / MJ relationship back to the forefront as he did in the early issues and make her a more well-rounded character.
Of course, whenever I complain about Bendis’ writing, he usually manages to make me look dumb in the next issue or two. Here’s hoping he does it again.
Ultimate Six #2
Now that’s more like it.
The first issue of Ultimate Six was characterized by fuck-all happening. Readers were privy to a slew of conversations that revealed everything we already knew, and twenty-two pages passed without much in the way of action or character development.
In the latest issue, the rest of the villains, imprisoned by S.H.I.E.L.D., give Fury and Pym the cold shoulder while Doc Ock appears to go along with their program. The paramilitary group wants the old Doc’s expertise, but when they allow him some freedom, he takes advantage of it with disastrous results.
So who buys the idea that the first thing S.H.I.E.L.D. would do upon letting the good doctor out of his cell is allow him access to his deadly mechanical arms? It’s pretty silly, but the scene is played well and it sets up in the inevitable prison break we were all waiting for.
The elusive sixth member of the Ultimate Six is still not revealed, frustratingly enough, but one assumes that he (or she) has to be brought onto the stage by the time the next issue concludes.
Ultimate Six got off to a preposterously slow start (see the reviews from two columns ago), but the story is finally picking up. The series would have made a better debut had the first two issues been condensed into one 22-page edition. Instead we get one dull issue and a second mildly interesting one. Chapter three promises to be much more exciting, but I can’t help but think Bendis’ decompressed storytelling watered down the first two installments of an otherwise interesting superhero book.
New X-Men #147
Now THAT was a comic.
My cheapness is well noted. I am, as I have said before, one chintzy bastard. But I’m more than happy to shell out two and a quarter for Morrison’s latest chapter of the “Planet X” saga in which Magneto returns to wreak havoc upon the X-Men.
I don’t want to say too much about his latest bit of villainy in case you’re a week or two late buying the book, but, wow, Morrison has turned Magneto into the kind of threatening antagonist everyone has made him out to be for years. His portrayal in the last, oh, hundred issues or so of X-Men hasn’t really justified his reputation as THE X-Men villain. Mark Millar almost made him seem threatening enough in the promising but ultimately (haha) disappointing “Return of the King” arc in the Ultimate X-Men series.
Here, Morrison shows us just how far Magneto is willing to go to eliminate the human race and begin the world anew with homo sapien superior as the ruling class. After 9/11, it takes a lot of guts to ruin New York City, if only on paper. Morrison does it in spectacular fashion here, and talented penciler Phil Jimenez renders the ideas in gorgeous detail. When Magneto trashes a joint, he really does a number on it. It’s hard to imagine any future writers finding a way to ignore or gloss over the magnitude of destruction in this book.
Speaking of the next poor sap to take over after Morrison leaves, whoever it is better realize that the only way they can succeed is by telling smaller, character-driven stories. Unless they have plans to sink Europe into the Atlantic Ocean, they’ll have a hard time thinking up a bigger and more devastating story than the one Morrison is crafting right now. This is big, big action, and even thought you know the X-Men will come out on top eventually, it’s clear that a victory at this point will be pyrrhic at best.
Morrison’s best work tends to come when he’s forced to work inside the parameters of a mainstream book. When he has boundaries to deal with, he seems to have a lot of fun thinking up ways to work around them and create memorable, fun stories fueled by bizarre concepts. Without restrictions or confines we get 13 issues of The Filth. Matched with a talented artist like Jimenez, he’s a nearly impossible act to follow.