DMZ #64 (DC/Vertigo): [DMZ Countdown Clock™: 8 Issues Remaining] While on the one hand, it feels like this is merely a continuation of conversations already in motion, on the other hand there’s actually a lot of information being relayed here on multiple fronts. Matty is reeling with the news of Wilson, trying to unravel the news of Parco, and for maybe the first time since some of the more introspective parts of the M.I.A. arc, Matty is seeing himself as he truly is. He’s being more self-aware and operating with the type of objectivity (or at least trying to) that the clarity of time brings, in the space that allows reflection on events past. The way that Wood masterfully has Matty deliver the line “...and?” after a three-beat pause certainly implies neutrality and objectivity. It seems like the boy is finally growing into a man. In those satisfying newsfeeds, we also learn about Trustwell finally being charged with UN assassination, bits about the family of PFC Stevens from the Day 204 Massacre, and even a quick snippet about everyone’s favorite man on the music scene, DJ Random Fire. One really has to wonder though, what the end game is here for the FSA. It doesn’t make sense as to why they would give up Parco, when they have proof of their position, Parco’s innocence, and the wrongdoing of the USA. I can certainly see this from the POV of the US, taking out the FSA leadership and Parco in one swoop is the proverbial “two birds with one stone,” but damn, what’s the FSA up to? The arc is entitled “Free States Rising” after all… I guess only time will tell. More than anything, this whole issue really made me smile. This sensation that I used to get in some of the recent one-shot issues is now finally occurring in the main Matty Roth narrative. It’s this – I got the sense that Brian Wood is systematically shutting down story threads and individual characters, closing up shop in that hyper-organized way that gives emotional closure to his loyal readers who have stuck with one of the longest-running Vertigo series, and one of the most socially relevant series, from any publisher, in recent memory. Grade A.
Note: If you haven’t heard about it by now, do check out the new site LIVE FROM THE DMZ, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of DMZ, with interviews, never-before-seen art, and more. We’ll be posting new content for each volume of the DMZ saga, counting all the way down until the final issue ships in December. Currently, there’s a bit of a welcome essay from me, an introductory interview, content for DMZ VOLUME 01: ON THE GROUND, and plenty of extra goodies scattered throughout. I honestly don’t believe there’s another site quite like it and it’s done with the full cooperation of Brian Wood.
Uncanny X-Force #8 (Marvel): Billy Tan is on art chores for this issue and he seems to be doing his best ape of Jerome Opena and/or Esad Ribic. This art is solid, and it doesn’t look much like his “Rise & Fall of the Sh'iar Empire” work, for which I guess(?) he is most known for. He renders all the characters well, nails the astral projection bits, does a great “Jim Lee-era” Psylocke, and the coloring is as good as always. Rick Remender’s writing is the real treat though; not only does he have a solid grasp on all of the personalities, not only do all of the characters get their moments to shine, but he isn’t afraid of simple amusement like Wolverine calling Deadpool “ding-dong” in the middle of his recon report. Fantomex is very close to stealing the show in this book, and I think Remember has come the closest to living up to the potential that inhabits this character since the moment Grant Morrison created him. The only spot it fell down a little for me was the anchor being used by Warren and Bets… the dice just seemed a little Inception-y to me. For the most part, Remender is clearly having fun writing this, and that makes us have fun too. The character banter is not only self-aware about its own convoluted X-Men continuity, but the cast also realizes that they are supposedly existing as anti-heroes, so it tickles a certain meta-button. Deathlok’s view of the world, that all timelines essentially lead to either man-made apocalypse, or the rise of big-A, Apocalypse incarnate, makes the whole premise of the series seem futile. Only then do we realize that in the face of overwhelming odds and seeming futility, the true heroes are the ones who rise up to fight anyway. Grade A.
Invincible Iron Man #503 (Marvel): This issue really feels like MIDDLE. Doc Ock is certainly a creepy and manipulative figure in it for his own ego and needs. I liked seeing Tony duped because he assumes that honesty is being used as a ground rule, but Doc Ock casually dismisses that silly notion. The Pimacher and Cababa sequence is heart-wrenching, and that’s a real testament to what Fraction has done with this title, make us care about intrinsically C-list characters so much. Something about the issue just kept feeling off to me, and of course, it’s the Fear Itself tie-in. I guess this issue shipped late(?) or the series has just gotten late in general and slipped off track(?) because events here seem to pre-date Fear Itself #1, which is already out. It doesn’t sync up at all. Last time we saw Thor, he was hauled off in chains by Odin, yet here he is all peachy sitting in a throne room or some shit and Odin isn’t anywhere to be found. That’s just kinda’ awful planning and/or execution of yet another big event. The back-up with Howard Chaykin is a clever premise about the meeting of Howard and Maria Stark, but if you try to follow it from scene to scene it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If it’s Stark’s hotel and Stark’s casino as he insists, then why would he be physically assaulted by Stane’s henchmen multiple times and not just have them thrown out by the security he mentions? I like Chaykin’s art, but there is something glossy and over-the-top about it, which risks pushing people out of the story. Grade B+.
Miscellaneous: So, I didn’t end up purchasing the LSH: Legion of the Damned book, as much as I love it, because it turns out that there was a printing error, so that the four chapters of the story are printed completely out of order. First off, that’s really a ridiculous cock-up and baffles me that nobody caught it until a couple days before it arrived in stores. I mean, the chapter breaks clearly indicate which issue is next, which part of the story it is, etc. If those visual cues weren’t enough, all you have to do is bother to read the damn story and you can obviously tell it doesn’t flow correctly. On top of that, DC specifically asked retailers to destroy them and not put them out for sale on their street date. But, what does Good Ol’ Sea Donkey do? Of course, he has copies for sale. I don’t know why this pissed me off as much as it did. It’s not that I suspect any unscrupulous business practices on Sea Donkey’s part, not like he’s trying to cash in on a “rare” printing error. I think it bugs me because it’s just more evidence of his woeful ignorance, disorganization, and ineptitude. He either didn’t read, acknowledge, or retain the instruction from DC. I guess I’d have more respect for a deliberate slimy schemer than a hapless dumb donkey, because at least cunning for a buck takes wherewithal. I also didn’t buy the DHP #1 anthology. Concrete has always been boring to me, the Xerxes preview was like two measly pages and honestly I’ve been a little out on Frank Miller ever since I saw what a drunken buffoon he was at the Eisner Awards a couple years ago, Chaykin did some passé thing with strippers, there was a generic Star Wars story with sub-par art, blah blah interviews, and a cute Carla Speed McNeil story… and I’m supposed to pay $8 for all that? Psh.