Capsule Reviews for June 30th

Heralds #5 (Immonen, Zonjic, Harren, Fairbairn, Fabela)

Now that it’s done, I think it’s safe to say that Heralds will probably be best read as a trade. Marvel certainly made the right choice in releasing it weekly; the plot and action careen so wildly from place to place that most readers would’ve been completely lost with a month between issues. It makes for an interesting (and not negative) contrast with Kieron Gillen’s five issues of S.W.O.R.D., with his similar frenetic pace but neatly pinned down plot. The full run of Heralds reminds me most of the scene in Apollo 13 where our intrepid astronauts have to use the engine on the LEM to make a course correction. They light the engine and their ship corkscrews crazily through space, bouncing everyone and everything inside around. But when the burn is done, the Earth’s where it ought to be in the window and everything is fixed, if a little frayed around the edges.

Still not sure why Agent Brand was involved at all, but, hey, a party’s a party.

Atomic Robo and the Revenge of the Vampire Dimension #4 (Clevinger, Wegener, Pattison, Powell)

It’s a testament to Brian Clevinger’s worldbuilding that it’s taken a full four volumes and almost three years before he’s needed to bring Tesla’s perennial foe Thomas Edison into the Atomic Robo universe. So deep is the well of random, hilarious things Robo could encounter that Team Robo didn’t even need to go here for us to feel like we were getting a solid story. History has given us the perfect Tesladyne foil, however, and so it just feels right that Edison takes his place as the Big Bad. The callback to concepts introduced in The Shadow from Beyond Time is a nice touch, too.

The best part of this episode? The fact that the entire team- including Robo- felt it was necessary to don Ghostbuster jumpsuits at the appropriate time, but the entire gag passed without editoral comment from any of them. Brilliant.

Thor #611 (Gillen, Elson, Troy, Sabino)

Did you like New Mutants #11 Siege tie-in? Did you love the Siege: Loki one-shot? Do you wish the story threads from those books would be tied together into the arc of a relevant major ongoing series? Well, friend, your wait is over! Kieron Gillen, having towed the line through JMS’s outstanding arc plot and a major crossover event, has come back around to reap the seeds he’s sown along the way. And boy howdy, am I looking forward to this. Come for the wonderful scene between Mephisto and Brün of the Disir, stay for… everything else. Kieron’s ending his time on Thor with an absolute bang.

Short Week, Short Reviews

New comics on Thursday night plus a lot of stuff going on at home and in the office equals one wiped-out Department operative. I’m going to run down a few things I read this week in no great detail and beg your forbearance as a result.

Cover for Avengers Prime #1 by Alan Davis.

AUGH IRON MAN ARMOR WITH TEEETH

Avengers Prime #1 (of 5) (Bendis, Davis, Farmer, Rodriguez): Alan Davis has been a favorite of mine since Excalibur, and this book has some nice work in it. He’s a little overshadowed by heavy inking and dark atmospherics, sadly, but I think that’ll ease up as the story progresses. This issue is all setup; the newly-reunited Avengers suddenly lose Cap, Tony, and Thor to a transporter accident that dumps them in three of the Nine Worlds.

Cap’s plot arc starts off fast and lively with a bar fight in Svartalfheim. Thor and Tony have worse luck, landing in vastly less hospitable parts of the World Tree. I notice that Avengers Tony is a lot terser and more brusque than IIM Tony, too– does he have some kind of inferiority complex when he’s up against Cap? I think most people would, but the more abrasive Iron Man annoys me a little. Looks like this will be fun, though.

Heralds #1 cover by Jelena Djurdjevic.

Oooh, hey, a Jelena Djurdjevic cover. Dig that Abigail Brand!

Heralds #1 (of 5) (Immonen, Zonjic, Fairbairn): This is a weekly book, a short sci-fi summer team-up for Emma Frost, Jen Walters, Patsy Walker, Valkyrie, Abigail Brand, and Monica Rambeau. While I am one hundred percent behind the Women of Marvel project, I’m a little dubious about this book. The team’s rationale for existing seems forced and, in the specific mutual-disdain case of Frost and Brand, entirely out of character. Brand’s mostly there so there can be a giant-monster-and-escaped-clones incident at an Earthside SWORD facility, which doesn’t make much sense to me either– isn’t SWORD the near-Earth response team, based at the Peak and keeping all their troublemakers there? Did I miss something? Why the hell would Abigail Brand even want to go to a Scott Summers-arranged surprise party for Emma Frost, anyhow, knowing how badly Scott’s treated Hank of late and how shitty Emma is to her? It doesn’t add up, and I’m worried that that basic inconsistency will only get worse as the book goes on.

Also, I’ve seen a couple previews of this book where the major MacGuffin character is touted as being new to the Marvel Universe. I’m fairly sure that’s not so, and that she’s an extant former herald of Galactus who’s just been handed a Pixie-style retcon. That makes me nervous. Pixie Strikes Back was fun, but when I tried to review it, a cursory check of Wikipedia to see if I’d actually gotten the basics of the plot down resulted in an acute bout of “wait, even for Wikipedia comics summaries, this is way not what I just read.” Immonen’s avant-garde approach to narrative can get pretty tangled at times, and I hope this character doesn’t suffer for it.

Cover to Serenity: Float Out by Patric Reynolds.

A square-jawed cover for a square-jawed pilot.

Serenity: Float Out (Oswalt; Reynolds; Stewart; Heisler; Whedon): Patton Oswalt’s first comic-book endeavor is a by-the-numbers elegy for Wash, the fallen pilot of Joss Whedon’s Firefly series. That’s far from a bad thing, though. The framing is simple: Wash’s old colleagues from his pre-Browncoat days get together and reminisce as they christen a new ship. As a narrative form, it’s the five-paragraph essay of comics, and Oswalt handles it deftly. I was particularly impressed with Oswalt’s grasp of Firefly‘s hyperkinetic Chinese/ Wild West/ SF patois– every caption and line of dialogue added to my sense of immersion in the setting. Patric Reynolds provides craggy, expressive linework, and, well, you’ve never seen a bad Dave Stewart coloring job, have you?

Float Out isn’t cutting-edge visual storytelling, and it doesn’t need to be. Oswalt sets out to prove that he can create a solid, short narrative and tell it well, and he does that. I understand that’s a skill a lot of novice scripters could stand to learn, and reading this book should prove instructive for anyone wondering how a first published comic should read.