Now that my financial situation is a bit more secure I can get back to reading comics on some sort of regular basis. I've dipped my toes in here and there thanks to the generosity of friends but this week was the first time in a long time I got to unwrap a package of comics of my very own in a long, long time. So, on with the motley...
Loki: Agent of Asgard #3
I wasn't going to follow this. I loved what Keiron Gillen did with Loki in Journey Into Mystery and Young Avengers and part of me wanted to leave it there. The aforementioned friend lent me the first two issues and whilst the first was fun it was the second one (where Loki went speed dating, helped knock over a casino and met a nice girl with wicked ink) that absolutely bowled me over. Between inheriting Loki from Gillen and Luke Cage from Brian Michael Bendis this Al Ewing fellow is proving to be a very safe pair of hands.
Anyway, after those two done-in-one capers this issue shifted gear and we get the original Loki (or perhaps another fail safe) plotting and scheming and indulging in time travel. It's very different from what came before and other writers might be tempted to stretch out those caper stories for five or six issues before changing gear.
Being old-fashioned Loki shenanigans this was all set-up for future pay-off (whereas new-fangled Loki tends to provide his own pay-offs in short order) and ominous words were spoken concerning Loki's sword and the nature of Verity Willis (she of the wicked ink). I'm very much looking forward to seeing where this goes, though I do hope we get a few more new-Loki capers along the way.
My God, this was a beautiful comic. Not that I was surprised by that since Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato's Flash run clued me in on how bloody pretty they can make a comic. They just keep throwing those wonder two-page spreads at you filled with slanted panels and kinetic movement drawing your eye effortlessly across the page no matter how complicated the layout might be.
There is a danger in it being more of the same. After all, Batman and the Flash share a few qualities: they're both essentially procedural detective series with colourful criminals for antagonists rather than “supervillains” per se. Where Manapul and Buccellato get something new to play with is in the colour palette. In the nighttime world of Batman they splash out on the blacks, purples and blues where in Flash they used that character's iconic reds and yellows. It has to be said they draw a damn mean Batman, as well.
I have to wonder though if I'm missing something with the villain: is the Squid intended as a brand new villain, a reinvention of some obscure old character or the most obscure Batman: The Animated Series reference ever?
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #200
This comic was just all kinds of awww. It's a necessary little pause between Cataclysm and the next phase of the Ultimate Universe, a little get together of characters from both incarnations of Ultimate Spider-Man on the second anniversary of Peter Parker's death.
(Aunt May gathers them by e-mail, her e-mail account is registered to “silverhippy”. Have I mentioned how much I loved Bendis' reinvention of Aunt May as a rowdy Sixties liberal?).
That's all: no threats, no villains, just a moment out from it all to consider who these characters are as people and where they're at emotionally. There were a few big two-page spreads by various artists who have worked on the series as the characters imagined what Peter would have been like had he lived which were fun but I loved the smaller moments the issue provided. There's an unbelievably sweet moment involving Gwen (I won't spoil it) that just goes to show that Bendis' version of the character a) cannot ever be predicted and b) is ten times more complex than the “good girl” originally conceived in the 1960s.
This, of course, is not the end because Miles Morales' story is continuing in a new Ultimate Spider-Man and in All-New Ultimates but this is as good an epilogue as the series could ever hope for. It's always these “inbetween times” issues I think of when I'm extolling on how special Ultimate Spider-Man is: the issue that's just Peter telling MJ he's Spider-Man; the one that follows Aunt May through a therapy session; or Peter cussing out Nick Fury after taking on Venom.
I certainly hope we see more of these issues in Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man if only because they've been rather rarer in Miles' run than they were in Peter's and they really give Bendis' writing style time to shine separate from all the superhero action-adventure.
Moon Knight #2
This was another fantastic done-in-one and I'm beginning to think they're making a comeback. On paper its a very simple story: there's a sniper killing bankers in New York, Moon Knight tracks him down and beats him up, The End. That sells it short, though.
The opening section is amazing: eight-panel pages following a different victim in each panel until they're killed and the panel goes blank. One by one the panels disappear, its visually distinct and makes great use of the panel format.
Moon Knight himself barely appears in this issue and, despite some misdirection in one second, we get nothing of the story from his point of view. As a consequence, and since I missed the first issue, I know nothing about the larger story Ellis is telling, what he's doing to Marc Spector as a character and what his new status quo is. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, I like a slow reveal and the story more than stands up on its own. I'm more than willing to buy issue three in the hopes of finding out what's going on with the series.