Saturday 21 January 2017

First late comics reviews of the year

Thank you, Post Office, let's get this done.

All-New X-Men #17
Inhumans vs. X-Men tie-in

I want to care, I really do, but I don't. Oh, the stuff with Iceman going on cute dates with his pretty boy Inhuman boyfriend are all sorts of sweet and I would eat up an issue of just that but it all sort of tumbles down into one of those issues that's just context for a big fight scene in the main series.

I am, frankly, losing my patience with this sort of thing. I like a nice, big crossover as much as the next man but Civil War II just finished, IvX is ongoing and Monsters Unleashed literally started this week. I guess I just want normal issues more often because, really, this relationship needed more time. Bobby and Romeo met a couple issues ago and we get literally their entire relationship up to this point related in flashback between big fight scene splash pages I'm willing to guess I will see again when I eventually get around to reading IvX #2.

Monsters Unleashed #1

For all my moaning, superheroes versus kaiju was just a pitch too good for me to pass up. Plus, two of the big central character of this series seem to be Moon Girl and Elsa Bloodstone, two ladies I have a lot of time for.

For all the things I liked about this issue there is a lot about it that a bit... how to put this? “Standard crossover first issue”? We get a bunch of individual fights between big space monsters and various superhero teams: the Avengers here, the X-Men there, the Champions somewhere else. Actually plot important stuff happens off to the sides with a lot of foreshadowing and not a lot of actual explaining. There's the very consciously foregrounded new character and then the big sting on the final page.

I'm not saying this is bad, per se, its all quite entertaining but these events are running so frequently now that the formula is getting a bit obvious.

U.S.Avengers #2
$kullocracy part two

This issue gives us the big debut of the only character who didn't get a big set piece moment last issue: Danielle Cage, Captain America from the future and yet another character custom-designed to annoy the neo-Nazi alt-right wingdings. They hated a black Captain America? Here's a black woman Captain America! Even if Al Ewing's Avengers series weren't consistently one of the best thing Marvel have been putting out in recent years it'd all be worth it for the sheer right wing triggering character choices Ewing has populated his team with. Ewing gets an even better “deal with it” moment with Danielle than he did with Toni Ho last issue.

Anyway, we get some nice exposition here and I really mean that. I know big info-dumps are commonly considered the Devil but between Ewing's charming dialogue and Paco Medina's fantastically cameo-laden images of Danielle's future it was very, very entertaining.

And I'm not just saying that because Faiza Hussain turns up. I love that character and she absolutely needs to be used in a series again but I'm not that easily bought, Ewing!

But give me Faiza Hussain and a big panel of an entire Avengers team in tuxedos and you got me.

Batman #15
Rooftops part 2

More like this, please. If I Am Suicide didn't convince me that Tom King writes one of the best versions of Batman ever then this little two-parter certainly sold the deal. From the flashbacks where Bruce and Selina reminisce about how they first met, splicing the 1940s version with the Frank Miller version, to the absolutely wonderful conclusion of the story's mystery this was a very well-constructed little character piece.

And if DC ever gets around to commissioning another Catwoman series, King should be at the head of the line for writing duties. He writes the hell out of her relationship with Bruce, her relationship with one of her longstanding supporting cast and of Selina's own view of herself. He really does get her and this should be one of those times, like Gail Simone after she did that Wonder Woman appearance in Birds of Prey, where fans clamour for the writer to give the character more extensive treatment.

I just wish I loved the main I Am... storylines of this series as much as this.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #3

This series is fast becoming a comfort food sort of thing to me. Three issues in and I can feel guaranteed that I'll love Aphra's no-nonsense attitude, the murder droids will be enormous fun, there'll be some sort of heist action and the individual issue will satisfying in and of itself because Keiron Gillen is really good at writing for the monthly reader. Frankly, there's a damn good reason Aphra was the first Marvel-original Star Wars character to get a series.

And this issue has it all! The relationship between Aphra and her emotionally clueless father sings, Triple-Zero gets some fantastic one-liners and the whole plot revolves around the crew trying to sneak into the old Rebel base on Yavin 4 under the noses of the Imperial occupying forces. There's even a rather nice nod to Rogue One that reads less as “we have to advertise the new movie” and more as “of course Aphra would know about that, its her job”.

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