Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Christian's Week in Comics 11/14/12: Saga, Thor, Bloodshot and more!

OK.  Holy hell did I ever buy a bloody lot of comics today.  Right.  So instead of doing three or four mini-reviews in my "Week of Comics" thingy, I'm going to try and keep my thoughts on each book to a minimum, and assign a little number rating out of five (people apparently like numbers- I am allergic to mathematics).  Alright, enough with the preamble!

Batman #14
"Funny Bones"
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo

I'm just going to say it right now, this is the best Joker story in years.  Snyder and Capullo have stepped out of the shadow of Heath Ledger and a delivered a chilling new version of the Man Who Laughs that has more in common with Freddy Krueger than any former incarnation of the Clown Prince of Crime.

This isn't an issue you want spoiled, so go to Comixology or your local comic shop and read it for yourself, or else the Joker is going to keep hitting Alfred Pennyworth with his hammer, and God only knows what he's done to Alfred's eyes.   Story: 5 Art: 5

X-Men Legacy #1
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Tan Eng Huat

People (if they can be so generously described as "people") like to complain a lot about how the Big Two never take risks, and then proceed to not support the books that Marvel and DC publish that challenge this preconception.  I hope I am wrong, because X-Men Legacy is one of the riskiest damn books Marvel could have decided to publish as part of its Marvel NOW event.

For starters, it's a book by a relatively unknown writer from the UK, Si Spurrier, drawn by another unknown artist, Tan Eng Huat, and stars David Haller, a mentally ill mutant with a serious case of disassociative identity disorder otherwise known as Legion.  It's also as mad as Spider Jerusalem's acid flashbacks.  Although careful readers will be able to make sense of what's going on inside and outside of Legion's crazed head, Spurrier and Huat seem determined to blur the lines between reality and the Qortex Complex, the brain-jail where Haller has locked up all the deviant psycho-personalities lurking in his skull.

This is a great book for new readers to get into, and if you find yourself pining away for the days when crazed men from across the pond like Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison used to scribe for Marvel, this is the X-book for you. Story: 4 Art: 3.5

Saga #7
"Chapter Seven"
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Fiona Staples

Ah, can you feel that? It's the collective sigh of relief from thousands of readers who can finally breathe easy because the greatest comic being published right now is back from its three-month hiatus. Yes, Saga is back, and despite the break, this book hasn't missed a step.  Picking right up from where issue #6 left off, Marko's parents have arrived and are not very pleased with his choice of life partner.  After a masterful look into the war-torn past of Marko's father, which really serves the anti-war metaphor that underlies the entire book, Vaughn and Staples split the parents up with the newlyweds, leading to some great moments between characters.

I'll admit I was little worried when Saga first went on hiatus, but now that it's back, I realize I had nothing to fear. If you haven't read the first 6 issues of Saga yet, you'll need to pick up the first trade before jumping on with this arc.

Also: giant swollen alien testicles.    Story: 5 Art: 5

Bloodshot #5
"The Rise and Fall Part 1"
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artists: Manuel Garcia Arturo Lozzi

Bloodshot is not everyone's cup of tea.  I get that.  It's full of blood and nastiness and mixes its hard military SF with real sociopolitical overtones that can be hard to swallow.  But me, I like my tea bitter (which is kind of apt, since if Bloodshot were a tea, he'd be Earl bloody Grey). This issue finds Bloodshot storming the secret base of Project Rising Spirit, but finds more than he bargained for in the special ops nightmare that is Chainsaw: an early project of PRS' that also attempted to fuse human beings with sharp cybernetic objects.

I love Wolverine and The Punisher, but it seems absolutely redundant reading those books in a world where Bloodshot exists.  Here, you get the best of both worlds.  Bloodshot is basically an indestructible cybernetic Punisher with a head full of secrets that would make Julian Assagne blush.  If brutal, bloody action and modern day military SF sounds like your thing, read this book. Even though this is #5, the helpful back matter on the first page of the book will fill you in on everything you need to know about the series going into this new arc.  Valiant has been doing a great job of making each issue friendly to new readers, and Bloodshot #5 is no exception to that. Story: 4 Art: 3

Thor: God of Thunder #1
The God Butcher, Part One of Five, "A World Without Gods"
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic

Thor is a character who I've always liked as an Avenger, but haven't been interested in reading in his own book.  This changed when I saw preview pages of Esad Ribic's interiors for this new series.  The painterly quality of Ribic's art seems like it was transported out of the pages of some forgotten issue of Heavy Metal and into my Marvel comic, and I absolutely love it.  Sometimes art drawn in this fashion doesn't work as well sequentially, but Ribic's strength as a visual storyteller shines here. He and Aaron make an excellent pair, as Ribic's visuals compliment Aaron's story of Thor across three time periods.  The mood of this story is foreboding, and often eerie. Thor's anger and confusion when he arrives at the atheist planet is palpable, and his dismay when he finds the butchered corpses of the Sky Lords fills the comic with a overwhelming sense of dread and despair.  Epic is a word that gets tossed around quite loosely in geek culture, but in the case of this story, it thoroughly applies.  If I had to pick a favorite moment, it was when the old God-King Thor (heretofore known as O.G. Thor) asks for someone to bring him his metal arm, only to remember that all his servants are dead. Story: 4.5 Art: 5

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