June 6, 2012
You guys out there who follow comics know what this week’s Big Deal is. You should know, then, that I’m not gonna be reviewing any of it–or, hell, reading any of it. I know, I know, it’s such a let-down, especially because you know and care who I am and what I have to say about these things. I think we’ll be okay, though. Certainly that tunnel can’t get any darker.
Dark Avengers #175
Marvel Comics. Written by Jeff Parker. Illustrated by Declan Shalvey. Colored by Frank Martin Jr.
For purposes of brand synergy or whatever, the Thunderbolts have progressed from their semi-regular conceptual shake-up to a full-on rebranding. Picking up characters from Brian Bendis’s recent ‘Dark Avengers 2: Dark Harder‘ plot and hitching them to mainstay series lead Luke Cage, Parker and Shalvey hit all the perfunctory beats. There’s subplot set-up, there’s a fight, there’s a twist ending. The sad thing is that it does feel totally perfunctory at times — like these two guys are running down their checklist to make sure that the comic could be picked up and understood by the most freshly-spanked comic-cult initiate. There’s a weird balance that’s been lost since days that probably never happened to begin with: exposition, excitement, and exotica in weird but complementary proportions. The irony remains: an instantly comprehensible Marvel book is one of the most soaked in Marvel continuity, while the company’s tentpole mega-event is borderline glossolalia.
Green Arrow #10
DC Comics. Written by Ann Nocenti. Penciled by Steve Kurth. Inked by Wayne Faucher. Colored by Richard and Tanya Horie.
The old Ann Nocenti — the one we missed! In 20 pages, she and an unfortunately rushed-looking Steve Kurth kick through a weird story that brushes all the weird spots mainstreamers usually shy away from. Green Arrow, divorced from subplots, investigates a shady “servbot” enterprise after a cyborg tries to self-terminate in front of him. The dialogue is theatrical, and the situations just as contrived as an SVU rerun. But like her best stories, Nocenti clearly has something on her mind, and rather than using the comic as a heavy-handed, thinly-gloved screed, she lets those interests and questions seep and ooze around the edges. She’s let down by Kurth and inker Wayne Faucher, who turn out page after page of unfocused, uninspired staging and follow-through. It feels like this issue got a lethal case of necrotic deadline-itis, but it’s still got a great beat, and you can’t dance to it.
Winter Soldier #6
Marvel Comics. Written by Ed Brubaker. Penciled by Michael Lark. Inked by Stefano Gaudiano and Brian Thies. Colored by Bettie Breitweiser.
Ed Brubaker welcomes back old co-conspirator Michael Lark for a story of the Winter Soldier hunting down his lethal, unpredictable protege. The stakes in this first installment are strictly cat and mouse, but with a grimness that Lark does better than anyone Marvel’s got. The callbacks to Brubaker’s own first Winter Soldier arc light up like neon — sometimes too much so: the fate of Jim Davis, replacement Bucky to a replacement Cap, doesn’t really shock or awe. Brubaker feels like he’s still playing with the switches to make this title unique, trying to flesh out the titular hero’s dial-a-past continuity to make him engaging, without truly utilizing the great characters (Nick Fury, Black Widow) who are right there in the supporting cast. Watching him figure it out is still good fun, and Lark’s art is so elegantly tough that you’ll be too busy gawking to worry about anything else.
Love etc, LTZ