Infinity Gauntlet #1
Possible marketing line: “This ain’t your dad’s Infinity Gauntlet!” And it’s not. It’s a genre mixup, with bits from The Walking Dead, Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, and The Last Starfighter mixed in. Ron Lim is nowhere to be found, and Jim Starlin isn’t walking through that door anytime soon. He’s too busy working on his Thanos novel…
I enjoyed the story here, expertly crafted by Gerry Duggan and Dustin Weaver. But I am curious about the two gems found.
Are these real Infinite gems? We haven’t seen those since they were destroyed in an incursion during New Avengers. Has Doom found a way to hide them in Battleworld? Did he do this on purpose? Does he know they’re there? This has to be resolved for the overall story to succeed.
Verdict: THUMBS UP.
Inhumans: Attilan Rising #1
“John Timms speaking.”
“John, this is Charles Soule-7. I wanted to talk with you about this Inhumans book we’re doing.”
“Yeah, I cloned myself. Got a deal with some second-rate mad scientist in the Bronx. I’m writing a lot of books right now. But anyway, listen. This book we’re doing for Secret Wars?”
“I need you to draw me a thirties version of the Ghost Rider, looking and talking like James Cagney, driving a Studebaker or something classy like that. Think you can handle that?”
“Good. Can we get the rest done by Friday?”
And that’s why I love comics.
Verdict: THUMBS UP.
M.O.D.O.K. Assassin #1
This book has a skeeviness to it. The main character is a MODOK unit. How do you make a MODOK, you ask? You do unspeakable things to someone’s body until the head is superbig, and the other limbs are basically useless. Slap that biological nightmare in a combat suit, and ewwww yuck.
The primary color scheme of the book, pink and banana yellow, made me subliminally ill. And the ending, where our protagonist finds himself slobbering over a fallen Angela like an eleven-year-old who just found his dad’s Playboy. The book evokes strong emotions, but not pleasurable ones. I need a shower.
Verdict: THUMBS DOWN
Master of Kung Fu #2
I’m still in love with this book. This might be the best of the Secret Wars books coming out. It has fantastic, stylish art by Dalibor Talajic and Goran Sudzuka, the sort of art that takes you back to Master of Kung Fu‘s artistic heyday of Paul Gulacy and Gene Day. And Haden Blackman is accomplishing the impossible, taking this cursed, dated concept and making it fresh and compelling.
This issue has a bit less humor but much more gravitas, and it’s needed. Shang-Chi might be a barely functioning alcoholic, but he’s a damn good fighter, and he has to be if he’s going to free his land from the oppressive reign of his father. To do that, he’s going to have to use all that he’s learned not only do win a tournament (The Thirteen Chambers! ), but become a mentor to his ragtag band of students that have dragged him into this mess.
Take a good look at that panel. Look at the hands, nearly Ditko-like in design. The swirling blacks for the magic. The curl of the dragon. That’s great storytelling.
It’s compelling, it’s gorgeous, and it’s wonderful.
Verdict: THUMBS UP.
Old Man Logan #1
Up front: Didn’t like the book.
But this is now the second Bendis book that I’ve given a thumbs down to in the Secret Wars pile, and I don’t feel good about that. Bendis is a great writer, a fantastic constructor of dialogue, and a real evangelist for comics. I’ve been frustrated by some of his stories before, namely his Avengers stuff and some of Powers, but I always appreciated that he got a reaction out of me. And at his best, Bendis can hit homers like Barry Bonds on roids.
I read an interview with Bendis about Old Man Logan, and it was clear that he loved the source material, the Mark Millar story with Steve McNiven on art. That was a fantastic Wolverine story, one of the best ever. I can understand why Bendis loved it and wanted to fold the concept into Secret Wars. But he can’t, and he never had a chance.
I mentioned in a post about Letterman’s last show how much I love the movie The Late Shift, which chronicled the whole Letterman-Leno fight of the early 90s. At one point, just before Letterman jumps to CBS, NBC offers Letterman the Tonight Show…sort of. Letterman always lusted to follow in Johnny’s steps, and was heartbroken that the gig went to Leno. When Leno’s numbers dipped early on and Letterman’s intention to defect to CBS was known, NBC tried to keep everyone happy by offering Letterman the Tonight Show, but with stringent conditions (it wouldn’t happen for 18 months, the ownership of the show would stay with NBC, etc). A friend tells Letterman, “They are not offering you the Johnny Carson ‘Tonight Show’. It’s gone forever. They’re offering you damaged goods. They’re offering you the Jay Leno show…it’s leftovers, it’s shoddy”.
And this is Bendis’s fate with Old Man Logan. That book was fresh because Millar presented the audience with a Wolverine who wouldn’t pop his claws or go into berserker mode. He had a family he wanted to protect, and he had the memories of the X-Men that he was fooled into slaughtering. Millar also gave us a fantastic sidekick, an aged Hawkeye who needles Logan about his refusal to fight, and who gets all the good jokes. But (and there be spoilers here) by the end of the story, Hawkeye’s dead, Logan’s family is dead, the claws have been popped, and Logan’s back to being, well, Wolverine.
And that’s the Logan Bendis is stuck with here. He might be older than the Wolverine we remember (and he might talk with this weird Clint Eastwoodian dialect that he didn’t have in the original book), but he’s basically plain old Wolverine, popping claws and killing fools. At one point, he kills a man for wearing Daredevil’s old costume. That’s a total turnaround from Millar’s approach, and it’s not the Old Man Logan that Bendis remembers. It’s a stale approach to Wolverine, and despite the fantastic art by Andrea Sorrentino and amazing color work by Marcelo Maiolo, it never rises to the level of the source material.
By the way, I am very much aware that my favorite book in Secret Wars is the Master of Kung Fu book, and my least favorite book are the two books I was really interested in going into the event (OML and Ultimate End). Elevated expectations can really make reading comics no fun sometimes.
Verdict: THUMBS DOWN.
Five more books in the backlog (Secret Wars 2099 #1, Secret Wars Journal #1, Where Monsters Dwell #1, X-Tinction Agenda #1, and Years of Future Past #1), and then we get to this week’s new books. Friday will be a Rock and Roll Friday, and we’ll finish the backlog Saturday. And next week, we’ll be on time again! Woot!