Anyway, here’s what you should or should not have bought this week:
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by M.K. Perker
First of all, the art in this issue is the best I’ve seen from this great looking series so far. This time around Perker steals the show. The representations of what Willow refers to as hyperpraxis- to put it succinctly, the manipulation of reality through symbols- would never come to life if not for Perker’s outstanding visualizations (there’s a two page spread that speaks to this, which if you read the book you’ll pick up immediately.) Creative teams come and go, but let’s hope this turns into another Vaughn/Guerra scenario, because I can’t see anyone else drawing this book.
This is not to say that Wilson’s effort is nothing to write home about. On the contrary, Air #8 once again proves that Wilson is one of the better storytellers in comics, with such a unique and abstract vision for her work that with every new plot point comes a certain level of excitement as to where it’s headed. The scary part is we’re only eight issues in, so chances are her work will actually get better. If there were any justice in this world G. Willow Wilson would be a household name in comics but for now I’m content with spreading the gospel of Air to everyone I meet.
Uncanny X-Men #508
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Greg Land
I have a soft spot in my heart for the X-Men. One of the first comics stories I’d ever read was given to me by a friend in school, and much like a lot of things you borrow as a kid it did not return to it’s original owner. That story, which is tattered, torn, bent, crumpled, and worn, is still sitting on my bookshelf at home: The Dark Phoenix Saga. Sadly, they can’t all be Claremont/Byrne collaborations, and the X-universe has seen a lot of shitty storylines to go with that greatness. I stopped a bit after Claremont left, came back for Age of Apocalypse, then Onslaught, and for Claremont’s second run and while I enjoyed them in my own way these were not great comic books. Morrison’s New X-Men was fantastic, but then a new writer came on and they turned it into a book about kids, while immediately retconning Xorn in Uncanny. Enter another X-Men ice age.
Then last year I bought the Messiah Complex hardcover on a whim and I liked it. So I went back to read all of Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men and, hey! I liked that too! Maybe this X-Men thing deserves another shot! And what better way to start fresh then to come in at issue 500. A milestone issue! Milestones usually mean a whole new story’s about to begin! And it was a new story. The X-Men moved from New York to San Francisco and all of a sudden they’re not hated and feared so much as idolized and revered. Hurray, X-Men! And look! That same week Astonishing X-Men came out with a new creative team. Warren Ellis! Wow! And Simone Bianchi!… um, not so wow, because I think his art is terrible, but Warren Ellis! So I bought both books, and while I thought Uncanny #500 was a decent jump-on point I hated Astonishing with great passion, and decided to drop all things X. No more would I bother myself with these books. Enter another X-Men ice age.
If this was a wrestling match, this would be the part where the heel thinks he has the face beat and covers him, only to have him kick out right before the three count.
Because one day Forbidden Planet was having a sale. Fifty percent off all things Marvel?! What a deal! I bought the Captain America omnibus (because duh) and some Daredevil comics, and, on a whim, all those missing Uncanny books. Why the hell not, I thought. I don’t read enough Marvel. My pull list is basically DC’s catalogue, let me spice things up. Hell, Tom at Bergen Street even recommended it, and if I can’t give a comic a chance on fifty percent off day when can I? I bought issues 501 through 507.
And it was fun. A lot of fun, actually, and good team storytelling, which is hard to do (just ask every JLA writer post-Morrison.) And so this week I picked up issue 508 and that issue was good, too. Now I find myself in the not so unique situation of having Uncanny X-Men on my pull list. Yes. OK. I’ve accepted it. I read X-Men now. Thank you, Matt Fraction, and godspeed.
Captain America #49
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Luke Ross
The beautiful thing about reading a book like Captain America is that you know you’re right smack dab in the middle of one of those “classic” runs that’s going to be reprinted about seven thousand times in various formats with new material and commentary for years to come. But hey, you’re right in the thick of it. In “the shit”, while it’s happening, so once every month you get reminded why comics are so good and why you love them so much. And you decide just this one time that you’re not going to say anything mean or nasty or go on a message board and ask for anyone to be fired. You’re going to read a comic book and you’re going to love it. And it’s because Brubaker is such a strong writer, and Steve Epting’s art has such a distinct style that even when the fill-in artist is competent, as is the case here with Ross, it’s still obvious from page one. And even that doesn’t bother you, because it’s still of a quality you’ve come to expect from this book.
This issue focuses squarely on Sharon Carter; Captain America does not even appear in these pages. But hell, since when does Brubaker need the main character to be in the book to tell a good story? He just wrote an issue of Daredevil featuring only the Kingpin, and it was one of my favorite single issues of the year (you should probably read Tucker Stone’s review of this issue
; it got me to pick up the book). Dude even wrote over a year’s worth of Captain America comics between Steve Rogers’ death and Bucky Barnes’ claiming of the mantle, in which there wasn’t even a Cap in existence to focus on. So he can handle it, and he does handle it, in a way that speaks to the kind of writer he is. His character development is some of the best in the business, and he takes Sharon’s tortured soul for a joyride that we’re all in the passenger seat for, sort of like that juvenile delinquent friend you used to have who smoked cigarettes at thirteen and tried to get you to cut class. No, dude, don’t do this. Turn the car around. Oh fuck it, step on the gas. Let’s go. Please Dave, just drive. Get us as far as far can be.
Ross’ art is more than good enough to not be a jarring departure. It’s kind of Epting light, which I think is the point. They’re trying to keep this series as cohesive and coherent as possible. Sharon’s big reveal at the end is drawn in such a way that you realize exactly what she’s feeling. The shock of memory, of everything that was suppressed flooding back. First Faustus fucked with her head, then S.H.I.E.L.D., and now she’s at wits end. The next scene, of Sharon drowning in liquor, tears in her eyes, as the Falcon walks in– it all looks really nice. Still, let’s not have this break be too extended. It’s nice to have Prince Fielder backing up Albert Pujols, but keeping the best hitter in baseball on the bench seems like a waste, doesn’t it?
Listen, any way you slice it, Captain America is so leaps and bounds ahead of the competition for “best comic going” right now that it’s almost laughable, until you eventually realize that reading subpar comics isn’t funny at all, but rather an infuriating waste of time. I can not tell you enough to buy this book if you currently are not doing so. If you do not like it you are so fundamentally different than I am that I can’t imagine why you’d even bother reading my blog.