Its been a while, hasn't it? I fell out of reading for a bit and its taken me a while to catch up given that, at least on the Marvel side, at any moment my reading please could be ambushed by sudden Nazis. Anyway, I'm caught up now and there was even a hot new series that a couple of people insisted I should check out. So, without further ado...
Mech Cadet Yu #1
I bought this because of the names on the cover. Greg Pak wrote one of my favourite comics ever, Incredible Hercules, and with artist Takeshi Miyazawa he co-created Amadeus Cho, one of my favourite characters. Seeing the two working together again was an instant sell.
Did I like it? Well, yes, but with reservations. The story is set in a world where giant alien robots turn up every couple of years and bond with human pilots. Its been going on so long that the military has institutionalised it: there's an academy where the graduations are timed to match the arrival of new suits. Our protagonist, Stanford, is a kid who works with his mother on the academy's janitorial staff and dreams of being a mech pilot. One of the cadets, who has been chosen for the next round of mech suits, gives him shit for being working class, his mother thinks the cadets are idiots and doesn't want her son anywhere near the suits, and the day of the mechs are meant to arrive Stanford hangs around the landing site in a sulk.
You can pretty much guess how it goes from there. Its not bad, by any means, and I've never stood by “predictable” as a criticism but for the moment its all a bit standard. Given the pedigree of the writing I have high hopes but anyone expecting to have their minds blown by the first issue would be disappointed. Still, the art is great with Miyazawa drawing big panels with plenty of space for facial expressions and wide shows of Arizonan wastelands.
So far, the characters aren't grabbing me but the situation is fascinating and I really want to know more about the world Pak and Miyazawa are setting up. Mention is made that the first mech pilot, Skip Tanaka, has been off planet for many years so not only do things from space come to Earth but humans have gone out there, at least the ones in robot suits. Yes, I'm very much looking forward to seeing where this is going.
You know what my favourite thing about Bendis' old Ultimate Spider-Man run was? Those single issue stories he'd do between big arcs that honed in on a single character's state of mind at that moment: Aunt May in therapy, Peter cussing out Nick Fury in an alleyway, Gwen processing her grief and confusion over finding out Peter is Spider-Man...
Anyway, this is a return to that. In an issue almost completely free of the ongoing superhero plot (aside from a quickie scene with Hammerhead) the focus here is on Ganke and Miles having a long talk about whether Miles really wants to be Spider-Man, whether he wants to be part of another man's legacy. I mean, as timeless questions for a teenager to ask that's definitely one of the big ones, right? Its a superhero version of whether a kid wants to take over the family business just because they carry the name that hangs above the door.
Also, I don't think I've mentioned how much I enjoy Rio Morales being alive in the mainstream Marvel Universe. Right now, Bendis is hitting it out of the park on the journey he's taking Rio on as she learns all the secrets her husband and son were keeping from her. I do hope she and Jefferson get back together, though, as much as his slightly cold and too logical explanation of his actions makes me start to root against him.
Speaking of relationships I like, I'm very glad to see that the end her relationship with Dick Grayson hasn't seen Shawn Tsang bow out of this series. She's an interesting character and now that Pigeon's returned we get to see her in the relationship we got told a lot about but never actually got to see (presuming she and Pigeon were new characters created for this series, my knowledge of lower end Batman rogues isn't exactly perfect).
Then there's Helena Bertinelli, teaming up with Dick once again to hunt down a mafia hitman in Sicily. Its great to see their dynamic at work again, especially with Dick's narration switching between the face he wants Helena to see and the inner turmoil he's feeling after Giz's death at the end of the last issue. Tim Seeley has always had a nice line in reminding the reader why Dick is unique amongst the Bats: its all in his relationships. You can't imagine many of his brothers beating himself up in the shower after the funeral of someone who was, really, not a particularly close acquaintance, this is the sort of self-doubt the others would reserve for a teammate, a comrade in arms.
Its an interesting emotional note to have the character on as the issue dives towards solving one of the big mysteries of the present storyline.
Star Wars: Darth Vader #4
Fight scene issue. Its a good fight scene with Guiseppe Camuncoli and Cam Smith providing fantastic visuals but after the last three issues of solid, interesting character work it feels a but light. Definitely this is the sort of comic that will work better a chapter in the trade instead than it does as a single issue.
Generations: Totally Awesome Hulk/Banner Hulk one-shot
Okay, so an even going on in the middle of the run of another event (Secret Empire). Yeah, that's not saturating your own market. Idiots.
Anyway, my ongoing bitterness aside, this Generations thing, based on this issue alone, seems to a) be more interested in doing small single issue stories related to specific series and b) completely Nazi free, which is an unexpected bonus. In this case, we have Amadeus Cho travelling back in time through mysterious means to meet Bruce Banner back in the early days of running around the midwest homeless and dodging his future father-in-law General Ross at every turn.
Best of all, this issue isn't a throwaway, it has definite consequences for the ongoing story in Totally Awesome Hulk and dives into the ongoing debate Amadeus and various characters have been having about whether the Hulk is necessarily a curse.
You know, so long as this doesn't turn out to all be an excuse to drive the entire publishing line back to fandom friendly nostalgia, I think I might end up liking this project.