Capsule Reviews: Week of January 25th

Hi! I’m not dead, just short-slept and working– I have one of the few VFX jobs that requires constant attention and doesn’t involve long render times, so blogging from work is pretty much out. Understanding Comics Fridays will return next week with Chapter Four.

However, I did read just about everything in this week’s pull Wednesday night. On to the capsules!

Invincible Iron Man #23 (Marvel; Fraction, Larroca, D’Armata)

The cover for Invincible Iron Man #23, by Larroca and Hughes.

Tony's outside world is as complicated as his interior life.

This is about the only book where I not only tolerate two and a half pages of Bechdel Rule violation, but welcome it as absolutely necessary to the resolution of the overall arc. Tony and Dr. Strange may be mending Tony’s internal world– although I question the wisdom of having that internal world tied inextricably to Tony being Iron Man, and not Tony being, well, Tony— but our favorite technocrat’s external universe is a long, long way from being whole.

Fraction’s saying some interesting things in this issue about how cheaply Tony values his body as opposed to his mind, and, by extension, how dearly he regards the technologies that are the physical representation of his genius. For Tony, the work of his mind outweighs the works of his body, but this isn’t necessarily how everyone else in his world reads his choices. There’s been a lot of small parts put into place across Stark: Disassembled along those lines, and I’ll be interested in seeing the payoff next arc.

Also, hey, Rhodey. I’d like more Rhodey in this book.

Thor #606 (Marvel; Gillen, Tan, Batt, Rauch)

Thor #606 cover by Billy Tan

Doom. You're crushing my head. Cut it out.

Yeah, I know. It was last week. Blame Diamond.

“The Latverian Prometheus” concludes in this issue, and it’s a corker– not for the resolution of Doom’s Asgardian experiment, but for where it puts Loki in relation to the wider Siege plotline. With an upcoming Gillen/McKelvie Siege: Loki one-shot, that can only be good news for readers, if bad news for the deific citizens of Broxton, Oklahoma.

I jumped onto Thor cold because Kieron was writing it, which meant I was in for a whole load of “what the FUCK is going ON here,” but I’m glad I’ve stuck with it. This arc is unrelentingly dark– you’re gonna need a Volstagg chaser if you pick it up late like I did– and knowing that the bright and shiny Heroic Age is coming might blunt the impact of “Doom goes all Josef Mengele on the Asgardians” a little, but I still want to see where Loki and Doom’s plans take them in the next arc.

Billy Tan’s doing some great, expressive facial work on these book, too. Balder, Loki, and Thor are put in some heavy situations in this issue, and their faces reflect their struggles. Great to see; Thor has always been a hard sell for me for some reason, but this is a book that looks as good as it reads.

Siege #2 (Marvel; Bendis, Coipel, Morales, Martin)

Siege #2 cover by Coipel, Morales, and Martin.

Sentry's got the Oddball!

First off: I love Laura Martin’s color work and always will. Please take this as read from here on out if you see me review a Martin book. Thanks.

I wasn’t too into the first issue of Siege; I thought it set things up but didn’t move the plot forward much, and I was expecting a little more of a big bang to start off the Norman Osborn endgame. Turns out Bendis was reserving that for this issue!

Yup, someone dies. Yes, it’s a floridly gratuitous two-page Avatar-title-esque death scene with flying intestines and so on, but that actually suits the subject matter just fine. Yup, Steve is back. Yup, Norman’s about to take an epic ass-beating from Steve. While the death might be a surprise to you, not much else here is surprising, and that’s fine. I want this book to do a set list of things, and do them in a straightforward, precise manner, competently. It doesn’t have to shock me every issue, it just has to get me from mega-arc to mega-arc in a manner that will cause me to say “Yes. That is what I wanted to see here.” I don’t look to the big minis to wow me with their innovation; I want them to satisfy my need for closure. It’s kind of the same approach I take to well-executed fanfic that wraps up weird loose ends from TV shows that aren’t on any more. Nothing has to be revolutionary, but everything has to be good.

When I want innovation, I’ll go to Twitter and hyperventilate about our chances of actually getting a new issue of Casanova before year’s end– and those chances look pretty good right now. Siege, on the other hand, just started to deliver the solid goods as far as popcorn comics go, and I’m much more content about it now than I was a month ago. Coipel’s art is fantastic, with attention to small detail (page four, panel four, with Norman’s tiny surprise lines, was a particular Department favorite) and sweeping moments alike.

Plus, if you like Secret Warriors, this is the issue for you, as Daisy and her teammates finally show up to the main plot. All around, just Marvel Zombie comfort food– filling without being super-flashy or experimental.

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