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.

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.