Month: February 2011

100 Days, 100 Comics #100: ‘Captain America’ #641

Posted by – February 2, 2011

I’m happy that #100 gets to be a Captain America book. Yes, maybe I should have selected something riskier to end this review series, but issue #614 by Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice allows me to bow out of “100 Days, 100 Comics” with a pleasant taste in my mouth. From Dr. Faustus’ courtroom escapades to Sin’s hostage exchange demands and Steve Rogers’ performance this month, this is the kind of comic book that keeps me interested in mainstream superhero stories. Guice’s character expressions and physical acting are ridiculously subtle and effective, and Brubaker doesn’t waste a scene or a line in the whole script.

It’s got silly moments, tense moments and some extremely well-paced action. I actually really hate leaving a review without some negative prodding to balance things out, but Captain America is basically my ideal hero book incarnate, and the “Trial of Captain America” arc playing out at the moment is absurdly good. Thus, I have nothing else to add beyond saying you should be caught up and reading this stuff.

And with that, I am ready to start dropping “100 Days, 100 Comics” from the headlines on this blog. I am slightly embarrassed that I started these write-ups on August 24, 2009, and am just now concluding, but 2010 was a busy and amazing year filled with lots of paid work, and I met all of those deadlines, so I can’t be too cranky. In the meantime, I’ll keep reviewing and posting, so stick around, and if you’ve been reading since the beginning, thanks! I’ll buy you a beer or non-alcoholic beverage of your choosing sometime.

100 Days, 100 Comics #99: ‘T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents’ #1

Posted by – February 2, 2011

Nick Spencer has really skyrocketed up my list of writers to follow the last few months. Existence 2.0 never did it for me back in 2009, but Morning Glories made me a believer, and the owner of Evil Squirrel Comics up in Rogers Park recommended that I pick up his first issue of this new T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents series. There are a number of baseline expectations that issue #1 meets, but Spencer and his artist Cafu pull the whole mysterious super-team with seedy military-industrial roots thing off with finesse, and they’ve made this old Tower Comics property work in a modern context.

You can pretty much guess from the first pages that this book is going to address questionable motivations in the corporate/command hierarchy that’s running everything. The heroes are noble, and the people behind the scenes pulling the strings are ostensibly not. It’s a story we’ve seen a thousand times before, but the ending (don’t worry, no spoilers here) pivots off of a compelling final note. Until the characters start getting more fleshed out, it’s tough to say where all of this is going, but as far as first issues go, Spencer’s got my $3.99 for another installment or two.

100 Days, 100 Comics #98: ‘Wolverine and Jubilee’ #1

Posted by – February 2, 2011

At their worst, X-Men stories completely glaze over their characters’ uniqueness and let the mutant class issues that Uncanny X-Men was built on dissolve into bland, sanitized adventures that stare down “God Loves, Man Kills” from an opposite corner of the storytelling spectrum. When writers really understand what they’re doing, as Kathryn Immonen and Phil Noto do in Wolverine and Jubilee #1, X-Men comics drill a little bit deeper into the spheres of society that exist in the Marvel world. The first issue of this four-issue miniseries picks up as the team is deciding what to do with Jubes, who’s been bitten by a vampire and is taking doses of Wolverine’s blood to keep her humanity (or de-powered mutantdom, or whatever you want to call it).

Things get complicated as she discusses her new plight with Emma Frost and gets approached by a mysterious stranger with something else to offer her. I loved every page turn in this book, and it’s one of the best surprises I’ve encountered in a Marvel title this year. I’m definitely in for all four issues, and the shipping container plot twist at the end right down to Wolverine’s vow really seared some angst into things.

It’s all wonderfully drawn, and though you may feel a little disoriented if you haven’t been following recent vampire-related Marvel Universe goings on, you should be able to get up to speed with what’s provided herein. It’s a fine read.

100 Days, 100 Comics #97: ‘Fantastic Four’ #587

Posted by – February 2, 2011

SPOILERS IN HERE, FAIR WARNING: Well, marketing-wise this issue did everything Marvel wanted it to for me. The 11th-hour pre-release hype about the death of the Human Torch made me want to know how Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting were going to dispose of him, and I stained my fingers black stretching and wrestling with the cheap bag that Fantastic Four #587 was distributed in to find out. In that respect, it was a success. The scripting and art quality were grade-A, and there was definitely a sufficient amount drama. What it all added up to in the end overall, however, turned out to be a letdown.

First of all, there’s no actual verifiable death that actually takes place. In fact, it would be very easy for issue #588 to pick up and excuse Johnny Storm’s survival in any number of ways. The climax leading up to the final page is the highlight of the book, but when all is said and done the story’s double bar is a head-scratcher of reassurance that the status quo probably won’t be tampered with.

The Sue Storm punching Namor moment also provided a great memory to take away, though her scene didn’t do too much to advance her plot thread to a significant degree. In the end, that’s where FF #587 left me—it delivered a handful of scenes and sequences that made the read worthwhile, but when everything settled at the end, I’m not sure how prominently the story itself is going to stand out. Perhaps the next twelve issues between now and #600 will make it more meaningful, though. I hope so, at least.