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Comics Haul 10/4/2014

Once again there’s a title I bought this week – Captain Marvel #2 – that is part of an ongoing series; it’s also the first of a new policy, that I won’t review ongoing series because I don’t want to give spoilers, unless something *changes* significantly in their quality (in this case, nope. Captain Marvel is as awesome as ever). As for the rest, the normal standard alphabetical order (excluding prefixes) applies, so without further ado…

Batman: Eternal #1 (Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley, Jason Fabok)
When you’re told by a comics company that they’re putting out a spectacular event that will take every week of the month to tell, nowadays, it elicits a sort of yawn. Batman: Eternal looks set to make that yawn into a gasp of shock. Snyder & Tynion have cooked up a first issue that really punches all the great buttons of a Batman comic, whilst also making it into a good, human-level piece; from the corruption of GCPD, through Batman’s variety of suits (without 1960s camp in sight), to the straight rookie cop arriving only to be confronted with the crooked old guard (Lt Jason Bard is a fantastic addition to the cast), to the terrible assaults on Batman and all he holds dear, this is a fantastic issue; and the final page just drips with power and brilliance. If you only want one Batman title – if you only want one DC title – this is it.

All-New Doop #1 (Peter Milligan, David Lafuente, Laura Allred)
Now, Doop is a ridiculous character, a piece of silliness. That is its purpose. That has always been its role. So All-New Doop‘s choice to insert him into the central narratives of some of the most fraught X-Men stories of recent times, albeit largely marginally, and to use him to mess with some of the most treasured relationships within the team, already seems a strange decision. That’s without reading the actual execution, which proves… mildly horrifying. Between a failed attempt at a “kooky” art style, 1960s-style narration, and a complete lack of clarity about what the comic is trying to be, what we’ve ended up with is nothing shy of simply a *mess*. So very much not worth your time, dear reader.

Dredd: Underbelly (Arthur Wyatt, Henry Flint)
This is the sequel to Dredd, the brilliant scifi film starring Karl Urban (not the terrible one starring Sly Stallone). It has call-outs to the film (graffitti about Ma-Ma, for instance) and is stylistically very close to it, whilst also – for instance with the use of narration – hewing close to the standard comics style. Wyatt has done a brilliant job in creating a double-homage and it functions fantastically; this is an incredibly readable, incredibly simple story, following on from and developing the characters of the film, helped by Flint’s art, which merges realism with old 2000AD Judge Dredd artwork styles to create a sort of pseudorealism that is perfect for the comic. In the end this is a great follow on from the film, although the pacing is a little rough and the use of narration to cover narrative jumps is a little patchy.

Flash Gordon #1 (Jeff Parker, Evan Shaner, Jordie Bellaire)
Honestly, the resurrection of the old hero with his own Queen song, albeit as the theme for a terrible film, didn’t fill this reader with enthusiasm, for a few reasons – largely, the datedness of many of the concepts of Flash Gordon (racism, imperialism, white saviourism, “chivalric” misogyny…). Parker, however, has managed to actually avoid these pitfalls, jumping straight into the middle of our story, with a briefly told-slash-implied (pre-)origin piece that is fleshed out as the comic continues, and an aversion of the chauvinism of the older versions of the hero. Indeed, what we have here, at least so far, is a fun 1960s-style piece of space adventure without the problems that suggests; I hope this trend continues, and will be watching to see if it does!

Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1 (Kaare Kyle Andrews)
Honestly there’s very little to say about this one. Danny Rand is a hero it’s hard to get right; between awful stereotypes of the mystical East and the “powers” of kung fu, it’s hard nowadays to write him without either self-parody or self-conciousness. Andrews appears to avoid these traps by turning him into a nothing; just another in the line of identikit antiheroes, emotionless husks who do what they do for no seeming reason, bad Wolverine or Punisher knock-offs, that have plagued comics since the 1990s. The origin story that starts the comic has some slight novelty to it but the introspective narration is just dull and overdone, actively using cliches galore; really, this comic should not exist, because it already exists in too many places.

Lumberjanes #1 (Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke Allen)
At first glance, Lumberjanes looks awful. At second glance, it looks brilliantly silly and feminist. And at third glance… it just looks silly, and not in the fun way. Girl scouts at a camp with impressive martial arts powers and having encounters with strange creatures which the camp co-ordinator, but not the counsellors, knows about is an interesting concept, but between an artistic style that I find deeply offputting (it looks like a novice artist, not sure what style they’re meant to be pursuing, especially as said style shifts all over the place as the comic continues) and a writing style that feels like a self-concious parody of Beano-style banter and interjections (“what in the Joan Jett are you doing?”), it doesn’t quite come together. Honourable intentions don’t count for much with uninteresting executions.

Nightcrawler #1 (Chris Claremont, Todd Nauck)
Claremont has written some of the most renowned X-Men storylines there are, including character-specific runs on titles like Wolverine and work in the extensive Dark Phoenix mythos. So to see him take on Kurt Wagner is, perhaps, a little surprising. However, Claremont handles it like a pro; this is a fantastic start to what looks like a fun ongoing story, mixing as it does the deathly serious, the gently amusing, the adorably cute (ohmygod those bamfs!), the philosophical and the simply intriguing. The characterwork here is really strong, establishing Kurt’s personality and relationships fast and effectively, and the plot is simple but intriguing; I’m looking forward to seeing where Claremont plans to take Kurt next!

Shutter #1 (Joe Keatinge, Leila Del Duca, Owen Gieni, Ed Brisson)
Comics have certain bad habits they’re prone to. One is trying to do too much; another is trying to be too many things all at once because they can. Shutter, in its opening episode, falls prey to both these problems. In trying to be a sort of Boy’s Own-style adventure comic, it lets its futurist tendencies down; in trying to be a science fiction comic, it clashes with its sillier elements; in trying to cram an extreme amount of plot including dark secrets and revelations (long-lost siblings!) into this tiny space, it compresses everything to the point of absurdity. Now, absurdity definitely has its place, and a fun, well-written comic would hardly go amiss, but this isn’t that; instead, it just feels messy, and really, that’s just sad, in the end, especially since it’s a waste of a great female protagonist.

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