Wolverine #72

you want some a THIS? Wolverine #72

Mark Millar Steve McNiven

Some kind of delay, or publishing schedule over-lap or something like that, has caused this to be the last chapter of this story which will appear in the regular Wolverine title. I think they are shuffling it off to a double sized special edition in order to get this book back in line with main continuity. This issue sees Old Man Logan coming to the end of his long, messed up journey. And, of course, things are still getting worse and worse. What worked. The art. Normally I am a big "story first" kind of reader, but McNiven's pages are just so beautiful. You could look at these panels in any order and they would be breathtaking. And when they tell a good story (and they do!) it is even better. If you pulled a Bruce Banner and separated McNiven into two different artists, one who could do his dramatic framing, pacing, and acting, and one who could do his amazing detail and shading....they would BOTH be top-notch artists. Mark Millar is also at the top of his game here. This whole arc has been like a big, relaxing, sigh of relief after the continuity twisting, mega-cross-over, Civil War. It is like after undertaking such a huge event, they just wanted to cut loose and play around. And they really, really, do. This story has been an awesome romp across a twisted-up nightmare America. The whole thing has been a running back-and-forth between what-is-the-craziest-shit-we-can-think-of and what-is -the-worst-thing-that-could-happen. While showing us Logan and Clint's journey across the messed-up US, this arc has also given us glimpses (via flashback) into how the world got that way and just what led Logan to swearing off violence. So now all of those journeys come to their conclusion. We have seen what pushed Logan to that point, and now we get to see what pushes him PAST that point. Whatever DOES happen next issue, as a result of this issue's gruesome conclusion, it'll be big. The big violent conclusion to a long, hard, crazy, journey.

What did not work. I don't know. you are asking the wrong guy, here. I think this was basically flawless. Even a two-page spread near the end with nothing but one huge sound effect managed to work.

Avengers Free Comic Book Day

Some assembly required The Avengers Free Comic Book Day

Brian Bendis Jim Cheung

This past Saturday , coinciding with the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, was Free Comic Book Day 2009. One of Marvel's offerings was Avengers. This year it is a completely original comic, without any of the usual re-printed or re-purposed materials we have seen in previous years. The comic is simply titled "The Avengers" without specifying which adjective-designated team will actually star in the story.

What worked: The opening shot of Spidey leaping through a blizzard-swept New York street is just plain exciting. Jimmy Cheung caught something great with it. In some way that artists know, the composition of that pael tells me something awesome is going to happen. Or, maybe I am just retro-excited about it when I look back because i know that something awesome DID happen. The story hook lands hard onb the very next page and it charges straight through to the end, only pausing briefly for impressive group shots if the two featured Avengers teams. The story was a quick, plausible, actions story which brough fan-favorite Thor back to the Avengers for a few pages. The conflict between the New Avengers and the Dark Avengers was not foced, and more importantly neither was the resolution. This was an exciting little story that bolsters current continuity without making itself indispensable. The art is beautifully expressive and he story is just a lot of fun. The shot of the silent face off between Cap and Osborn, and the Luke Cage/Wolverine "fastball special" were worth the Saturday morning walk to the comics store all by themselves. What did not work. For the scale of the struggle we are seeing in this comic book, the action leading up to the final resolution could have been a bit more problematic. But, considering the size constraints of this comic, I am glad it was the slug-fest which was pared down rather than the character and mood building elements,

The New Avengers #52

Eye spy. The New Avengers #52

Brian Bendis Billy Tan Chris Bachalo

Marvel's Dark Reign flows into this "Sorcerer Quest"* story line. The characters are all still clearly under the influence of Dark Reign's new status quo, but the world is moving on. Regardless of what conditions restrain them, there will always be work for Earth's Mightiest Heroes. In this case, it is an unbalance in Marvel's often overlooked magical sub-verse. The dimension needs a new Sorcerer Supreme and all the major magic players are out to get their hooks into whomever that will be.

What worked: This book really feels like part of a larger universe. Doctor Strange is not an Avenger, but he is the Avengers circle. He was a member recently, and he knows these people. So, he is more than a guest star, but less than a cast member. He really feels like a friend who came by because he was in a moment of need. It makes sense with the logic of this book's universe. These people know eachother and can count on eachother. The "call to action" in this story comes about unlike you will find in any other super-hero comic. There is no alarm bell, or shouting of orders. Rather, a bunch of friends sit around a (rather large) table and talk about the problem. It less about the immediate peril, and more about pride, humility, and loyalty. If you just count the number of pages and panels where nothing seems to be happening, you would say this was a fairly boring comic book. But, when you read what is actually going on in those scenes, the story is never slow or dull. Those scenes have meaning because you care about the characters. But they are also, strangely, exactly what makes you care about them in the first place. Luke Cage and Peter Parker explaining simple morality and team ethics to the high-and-mighty Dr. Strange makes for a really nice scene. Billy Tan is really stepping up for the art on these issues. And though i love Chris Bachalo's work, his action can just get confusing. Which brings us to...

What did not work: All of the action in this issue was in the demonic/mystical sections, which were done by the amazingly talented Mr. Bachalo. And though I really do love his work for its energy and beauty...he forces it. He will push a shot in too close, or exploe an effect too far and a panel or two will simply be lost. Though I do trust this arc to pick up the pace in the next issue or two, it is off to a rather slow start.

*My name for it.

Uncanny X-Men #508

ex-women Uncanny X-Men #508 Matt Fraction Greg Land

The Fraction/Brubaker run on Marvel's flagship X-title continues. Messiah Complex and Manifest Destiny have left the X-Men with a strange new status-quo, but strange has always been the status quo for them.

What worked: Fraction's fast paced story telling is wonderful. Even in very talky moments, the story just clips along. He introduces each character with a quick intro caption that tell sthe name, the powers, and gives and adjective or two to describe them. No, I don't know every character from the X-Men's checkered history who shows up in the book, but thanks to these captions I know enough to get what is going on in the scene. Sure, I still have some questions, but I trust that anything I NEED to know will be told when the time comes for me to know it. In the past, Greg Land's artwork has looked a little too static, too posed. Simply, the drawings looked a little too much like the photos they were referencing. I don't know what changed, but that quality is gone. Now all we have a lush, elegant, detailed renderings that look as vibrant as any comic on the stands today.

What did not work: Though there were some great reveals in this chapter of the story, it feels like it might be moving just a tad too slowly. Or, maybe it is just that I don't quite know enough about what is going on to sink the hook in. Also, there is a scene where a seemingly shocking revelation is made to s certain character, but the next time we see him, he has not reacted to it at all, and seems to be busy on an unrelated errand. Nothing terribly unrealistic, but it does take some of the weight from the conflict when even the characters it is affecting don't really let it interrupt their schedules.