The Amazing Spider-Man #571 (Marvel Comics) You know what I like? When John Romita Jr. draws superheroes fighting. So I kinda liked this issue, in which Norman Osborn and his purse full of pumpkin bombs take on the fauxblin whose actual name is apparently “The Menace of Manhattan” (?!), Spider-Man fights Songbird, Anti-Venom fights Radioactive Man, and Aunt May fights Harry Osborn. Er, wait, that last match-up didn’t actually occur; May and Harry just kinda talked about things that didn’t involve fighting with other supporting characters. Feh.
You know what I don’t like? When garish, computer-generated coloring effects are forcibly married to traditional pencil and pen comics art, drawing attention to themselves and pointing out, “Hey, look! Mixed media! Sweet, huh?” That’s how Songbird’s solid sound constructs are depicted, canceling out my enthusiasm for seeing JRJR drawing Spidey jumping around fighting people.
As for the story, there’s pretty much nothing to it, aside from writer Dan Slott addressing something about Spider-Man’s taking-pictures-of-himself scheme my entire adult life: Just how does Spidey manage to make sure he’s in the shots if the camera’s webbed in place and set on automatic?
Batman Confidential #21 (DC Comics) Fabian Nicieza and Kevin Maguire bring their five-part Batgirl/Catwoman story to a close, with battle-damaged Batgirl having to fight her way through an Arkham Asylum under the control of The Riddler. Not only do we see Arkham regulars like Joker, Two-Face and Scarecrow, but also Clayface II (was he ever even in Arkham?), Blockbuster I (whatever happened to that guy, anyway? Did Neron transform him into the guy who fought Nightwing?), Catman, Signal Man and even The Cavalier!
The story’s a decent light-hearted action piece, like the rest of this arc, but the chief pleasure here is seeing Maguire get to draw so many characters. His Two-Face is pretty great, and his Cavalier is just superb. If anyone ever decides to write another Cavalier story, I do hope Maguire gets the art assignment.
Booster Gold #12 (DC) Wow, that’s what Barbara Gordon wears to work? Really? At a library? Not only is her neckline plunging to a point below her breasts, there’s no hint of a bra between them. Er wait, that panel is after she gets in a fight with the Carter kids…maybe she just popped a few buttons in the battle. But still, no bra! You just know Babs is going to get called in to HR one of these days if this keeps up…
So what else happened aside from artists Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund’s questionable depiction of naughty librarian Barbara Gordon’s work clothes?
Well, Skeets fought Alfred, the Carters wore some funny costumes and stole the Batmobile, and the time travel mess that was the excuse for having Booster Gold running around Silver Age Batman continuity for two issues was somehow resolved in a way I didn’t quite follow. (“I try not to think that hard about it,” Booster says, so I guess I’ll follow his lead).
Thus concludes Chuck Dixon’s two-issue fill-in arc as writer, which will be followed next month by another fill-in arc, which seems like a good time to jump off this series for a while.
Green Lantern Corps #28 (DC) Last issue, Kyle and Guy opened their new restaurant/bar, and some Sinestro Corps bad guys went around killing the families of GLC recruits and dropping their eyeballs off at Oa. This issue, the GLC captures the bad guys. And that’s pretty much it, beyond a reminder that Guy will go on a date with Ice someday and that this book will be important during the next big Geoff Johns Lantern story.
Apparently writer Peter J. Tomasi used some form of Mad Lib to construct this story. Pretty decent art by fill-in artists Luke Ross and Fabio Laguna, and I find it weird that GLC consistently has better artists working on it than top-tier DC books like JLoA, Batman, Titans and Teen Titans.
Patsy Walker: Hellcat #3 (Marvel) If only this comic made some small amount of sense, it would be perfect.
Secret Invasion #6 (Marvel) The most over-priced Avengers story of the year reaches its third-to-last issue! Skrull Hank Pym, knowing that this is a change election in the U.S., has also co-opted Barack Obama’s buzzword in attempting to coax the people of earth into not fighting back! Thor and the new Captain America compare their new, more metallic costumes! Bendis reveals who the “He” of “He loves you” really is, even though everyone who read Incredible Hercules a few weeks back already knew! Nick Fury reveals that he himself is a godless pagan who worships a superhero (“My god has a hammer!” he says)! Iron Man, Thor and (a) Captain America are all in the same panel for the first time since Marvel gave the Avengers to Bendis and said “Yeah, do whatever you want, we don’t care!” And, in the third of the three double-page splashes Leinil Francis Yu and Mark Morales provide, everybody fights everybody! 22 pages! $3.99! Secret Invasion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Secret Invasion: Runaways & Young Avengers #3 (Marvel) I like the way Takeshi Miyazawa draws super-teenagers.
Trinity #15 (DC) In the latest issue of JLA/The Brave and the Bold featuring Hawkman and Gangbuster, the Trinity suss out the location of the Anti-Trinity, and lead all of the DCU’s major super-teams against them, while Hakwman and G.B. to look for Tarot. In the back half, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens draw pretty much the whole DC universe. I kinda wish they published these flip-book style; I haven’t read a flip-book comic in a while.
Ultimate Origins #4 (Marvel) You know, maybe Ultimate Bruce Banner wouldn’t have so much pent-up anger if people would stop kicking him in the face! This issue of Bendis and Butch Guice’s hopscotch through the previously only hinted at history of the Ultimate Marvel Universe focuses heavily on Fury’s super-soldier program, the one that lead to Giant-Man and The Hulk in The Ultimates, and reveals that Ultimate Nick Fury fought in WWII and is still very fit and fighting for his country in his nineties, just like normal Nick Fury, and that the first Captain America was actually a black man, just like in the (retconned) regular Marvel Universe. And also, this one time The Hulk fought Peter Parker’s mom when Peter was just a baby. Unlikely coincidence…or is everything connected?! Everything is connected. Through unlikely coincidences. That Brian Michael Bendis writes.
Wolverine: Saudade #1 (Marvel) I generally try to avoid Wolverine solo comics because if you’ve read any two of them, you’ve read them all, but this one is actually something pretty special. It’s written by Jean-David Morvan and illustrated by Phillipe Bouchet, two European comics superstars who take Marvel’s most popular mutant and tell a fairly standard story arc for the character, only doing it so amazingly competently that it reminds one why Wolverine is at likeable anyway.
Back during the brief period when X-Men comics were actually really good (The Morrison years), Wolverine and his motorcycle took a vacation to Brazil. No sooner does he get there, then Professor Xavier calls to tell him about a powerful mutant who needs looking into and some street kids steal his bike. Thus Wolvie has to fight the kids, rough up some other people, get really roughed up himself, nearly kill a guy and then totally kill a guy.
Theirs is your standard Wolverine. A mysterious, tough, hairy little goblin that women are somehow attracted to, little boys think are the coolest, and who speaks in a mixture of cool bad-ass dialogue and goofy laugh lines like “The ol’ Canuckle-Head…is down to pop a sixpack of kick-ass!” while wading through insurmountable odds.
And yet Morvan writes him with a great deal of heart, giving several scenes over to Logan simply enjoying Brazil and palling around with the kids he befriends (After first fighting them, in true Marvel friend-making tradition.
He even adds a bit of suspense to Wolvie’s battle against the villain, which is usually a foregone conclusion not only because it’s not like Wolverine’s ever actually going to get killed, but the nature of his powers allows him to soak up damage in boring and predictable ways. This villain is a mutant with the power to reach inside people’s bodies and move the parts around; he uses it to heal followers, but against Wolverine, he can reach in and pull a handful of muscle fiber out and stretch across the outside of Wolvie’s body. Violating our hero’s basic biology, he thus offers a sorta convincing illusion of the ability to circumscribe his biological power.
As for the art, I can’t remember the last time I saw a Wolverine comic that looked this good. Bouchet is an all around master. From page design and panel construction to character design to storytelling to detail work to character “acting”…this book is, in all seriousness, perfect.
And I love the way he draws the claws. They look like actual knives that pop out of Wolvie’s hairy knuckles, rather than the somewhat rounded spikes you usually see in the comics; more like knives than they did even in the movies.
(You can check out Matthew J. Brady’s review here; it contains six pages of the story, including one shot of the claws)
There’s a big old “MATURE CONTENT” stamp on the cover, but all that really means is that Wolverine can get away with some PG-13 swearing instead of the “@#$% this!” style swearing Bendis is always employing, and that there’s a bit of violence. Well, actually there’s an awful lot of violence—and some children are murdered—but the gore factor is actually pretty low, despite some rather creative ways of applying a fist full of claws upon the arms of gun-toting child murderers.
The title, which never actually gets explicitly explained in the comic book, is “a feeling of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return.” Or so says Wikipedia. Obviously it applies to high-quality Wolverine adventure comics like the one you just got done reading. Wolverine: Saudade makes one instantly nostalgic for the book one just read, and immediately depressed by the fact that one knows he’ll probably never read a Wolverine comic by Morvan and Bouchet again.