8.31.11 Reviews

Before I dive into this week's reviews, I thought I'd try to quickly catch up from last week. While most stores ordered up on Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1, of course Sea Donkey sold out, so here's what I picked up...

Secret Avengers #16 (Marvel): There’s a certain amount of… let’s call it “genre condescension” in this that I really like. You see, Warren Ellis actually thinks that superheroes are a pretty lame idea. He’s proven in works like Black Summer and No Hero what a flawed paradigm the genre is. He did it in a way that was much more visceral and direct than the classic Watchmen, or even more subtle works like Brian Wood’s DV8. The way that plays out is that he seems to take the characters to their satirical extreme. Steve Rogers isn’t so much a leader here as he is the ultimate delegator. Beast is so erudite that he’s annoying. Black Widow is largely smart-ass femme fatale window dressing. Moon Knight is the crazy one, the borderline psychotic. There’s the inclusion of uber-Bond tech weapons like the flechette guns or the Atomic Cadillac. Ellis doesn’t even use his typical pseudo-science, but straight kid logic - Von Doom Radiation. Why can’t Von Doom Radiation be stopped? Because nothing can stop Von Doom Radiation! It’s interesting that with these characters, he’s sort of captured the most basic archetypes for this type of team. There’s the leader, the muscle, the brain, and the female. Part of me wishes that he would have established this story in Cleveland rather than Cincinnati, since he’s subverting the genre, you might as well start in the city that was essentially the birthplace of the superhero. But, oh well. This issue is an adrenaline shot of grand action choreography, it’s crisp and clean, done on a big scale, and you almost don’t notice that the time platform is basically only a MacGuffin to propel the action forward. If this is the book that finally catapults Jamie McKelvie to the stardom he so deserves, then so be it. Ellis has used this story format before. I recently picked up the entire run of Global Frequency out of a quarter bin and he used the done-in-one format extremely well for this type of espionage/adventure book. And let’s not forget Fell, even though that format is used in a different genre, it's still the done-in-one variety. I don't think anybody uses it better. Ellis’ tagline for the book is “Run The Mission. Don’t Get Seen. Save The World.” But, I think he could just as easily have called it “Read The Book. Don’t Think. Enjoy Comics.” Grade A.

Uncanny X-Force #14 (Marvel): This is what I’m talking about! If the book was this good every time, I would never question my continued financial support of the title. It’s like a weird consumer trap, where 2 issues are off, then there’s one good one, then 2 issues are off, then Jerome Opena comes back for a good one. Good lord, just have Jerome Opena be the artist on every issue and you’ll have the best X-book currently being published. It's not that hard to figure out. I enjoyed the ascension of Archangel with Dark Beast and the Horsemen in tow. He’s such a different leader than Apocalypse was. Opena’s art is so moody, so slick, so sharp, so visceral, it seems like he was absolutely born to do this specific book. It’s exactly the type of vibe a covert kill team should be operating with. It’s really got everything, high octane adventure, action that has a sense of consequence to it, individual character moments, the return of Deadpool’s humor, coherent story threads, Betsy acting as a back-up leader when Logan is out of commission, a love plotline, etc. It’s classic X-Men material with a modern sensibility for a desensitized reading audience. Grade A.


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