Comic Picks By The Glick

Single issues that are… worth buying?

August 13, 2013

I went in to Comic-Con (yes, I’m still talking about it -- expect it to keep happening for quite some time) with an agenda for buying certain single issues.  These were the ones that either weren’t collected in the edition I bought the rest of their parent series in, or were going to be collected with stuff I had no interest in reading.  I didn’t get everything I wanted -- it looks like it’ll take some time on Amazon to get the issues of “Hellblazer” I’m missing -- but I got most of it and then some.  So how’d they turn out?

Wolverine & The X-Men #17 was originally supposed to be a transitional issue from the “Avengers vs. X-Men” tie-ins back to the title’s regularly scheduled nuttiness.  It didn’t work out that way and while it got collected in vol. 4 of the series, this issue was left out of the omnibus collection I got.  It’s not hard to see why as this issue has nothing to do with the crossover, and it also puts most of the tie-in issues to shame.  This is Jason Aaron and Mike Allred working at the top of their game in showing us just exactly what Doop does around the Jean Grey School.

Doop was a green, floating, warty, pickle-shaped thing who was created by Peter Milligan and Allred for their revamped “X-Force” and he was equal parts creepy and funny there.  Here, it’s all about the comedy as we find out that he was recruited to be Wolverine’s secret weapon against some of the more esoteric threats facing the school.  Like the League of Nazi Bowlers and the neanderthal robots from Dimension ZZZ he faces alongside Howard the Duck.  It’s all inspired nuttiness that presents the title at its best.  This was absolutely worth tracking down.

As for Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #’s 11-12, they contain a relatively major plot point that was mentioned in the issues that immediately followed them in the “Ultimate Comics Divided We Fall/United We Stand” event.  In fact, it’s so major that I’m surprised that Bendis did it when he did as opposed to putting it off until after the crossover when he’d have more time to deal with its ramifications.  Essentially, these issues deal with Miles Morales’ “partnership” with his Uncle Aaron as they team up to take down the Scorpion.  It seems like the start of a great working relationship until the former realizes the latter is just using him as an enforcer for his own ends.

I can see how Bendis wanted to end this title’s first year on a big surprise, and I can imagine it would’ve worked for me had I read these issues in the order they were intended.  It was surprising enough to read about it after the fact, to be sure.  Still, it happened and the follow-up has been underwhelming to say the least.  Maybe we’ll see more of it in the next volume.  There is lots of good action in these two issues, though, as David Marquez shows that he has the skills to follow in the footsteps of the best artists on this title.

When we last left the cast of “Demon Knights,” Etrigan had betrayed them all and gotten everyone consigned to Hell.  In Demon Knights #’s 13-15 we find out that it wasn’t a hoax, nor an imaginary story and that the cast of the book -- save Etrigan of course -- is being tortured for Lucifer’s amusement by being presented with their worst fears.  Or at least, what the demons of Hell think are their worst fears as Paul Cornell is too smart a writer to play that stock plot entirely straight.  Suffice to say, I don’t think I’ve cracked as many smiles, or laughed as much at people being tormented in Hell, but seeing Vandal Savage’s blithe reaction to coming face to face with the many children he has fathered over the years, or Lucifer apologizing for the banality of Exoristos’ nightmare is comedy gold.

That only takes up about half of these issues as the other half concerns itself with the team’s arrival in Avalon and the conflagration that erupts between the forces of Lucifer and the Questing Queen who follow shortly thereafter.  You’d think that such an event would feel rushed in the time alotted to it, but Cornell makes it work as both are defeated through some clever lateral thinking.  It’s not as much of an issue as it seems since both forces were large enough that the only way they could be beaten would be through a clever enough Deus Ex Machina.  Fortunately, the solution presented here is such.

We’re then treated to a quick wrap up which informs us that yes, this is meant to be the medieval version of “Stormwatch” and who knows how that might’ve turned out had Cornell stuck around longer on that title and here.  He does leave the door open a little for incoming writer Robert Venditti, but the last issue here feels like a proper ending.  Art is from Bernard Chang who does a good job of drawing all of the monstrous forces on display, even if there’s a lack of atmosphere or gravitas to the proceedings.

Last but not least is The Invincible Haggard Wst #101:  The Death Of Haggard West and if you’re wondering why I’m bothering with the last issue of a series I’ve never mentioned before, stop.  This is really just a teaser for Paul Pope’s long-gestating “Battling Boy” that I got as a freebie from the First Second booth when I stopped by their both on the Wednesday of Con.  I don’t usually go in for comic previews, but I’m glad I got this as it has caused me to adjust my expectations for the final product accordingly.

After years of corporate superhero work and other miscellany, “Battling Boy” represents Pope’s first new creator-owned project in some years.  It’s essentially superheroes done his way as Haggard West is the protector of a city from creepy masked monsters who steal kids for reasons not disclosed here.  The man has been doing this for quite some time and while it’s implied that he’s quite good at his job, well... there’s a reason this issue is called “The Death of Haggard West.”

There’s not anything particularly new on display here as far as takes on superheroes go.  That’s disappointing, to be sure, but Pope is one of the best sequential artists alive right now and he makes the book compelling based on the action alone.  The highlight for me was a sequence where Haggard throws a smoke grenade at one of the monsters and as they try to run away, the last panel on the page is of one looking towards something off-panel, eyes wide with horror.  It leads to a double-page spread of Haggard bursting through the smoke to take on the group.  It’s fantastic stuff.

Though all the other issues here represent holes in my collection being filled, “Haggard West” is pure potential.  It may sound weird to say this, but by not being utterly fantastic this preview makes it easier for me to judge the final product on its own terms instead of against my experiences with his other titles.  Which is what would’ve happened had I gone in without reading this first.

“Battling Boy” arrives on 10/8/13.

Jason Glick

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App