PHIL’S PICKS: Heroes has been doing the weekly picks for a good couple of years now, with Andy, Justin, Karla, Rico and Seth filling you in on what is cool, new or exciting in next week’s releases. There are a few reasons I don’t contribute, here sorted from shortest to longest:
1) I hate me some typing.
2) You would quickly tire of me saying buy Uncanny X-Men Annual 11 and Waid and Samnee’s Daredevil.
3) I’m six months behind on my comics reading (to wit, Remender’s Captain America has been great, but I just finished reading #8) .
4) I don’t have anything to add to the computed cacophony of comic thought and opinion; in fact, the more I avoid online comics news and views, the better I feel about myself, life, and you, the loyal Heroes customer. So really, everybody wins, and how often does that happen?
5) I think most of the comics that come out are ponderous, joyless, over-priced, ponderous, ugly, cynical, ponderous garbage that would be better served as bath tissue except that the glossy stock is not at all absorbent. None of you would want to hear the barely coherent rantings of an old man, who, his glory days behind him, regales you of stories of how things used to be better, cooler— Creators used to scale buildings, or punch out Bob Powell, or ski down mountains and shoot Nazis. Now they have “twitter feuds”, whatever the heck that means (see what I mean about incoherent ranting—and don’t even get me started on the rain gauge at the airport. Why doesn’t it ever rain at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, but it totally rains a poop-ton at my house?).
Christmas arrives early this week, however, with my current favorite creators releasing new works: John Byrne’s Star Trek Annual 2013, Darwyn Cooke’s newest volume in his series of Parker adaptions, and Al Ewing’s Mighty Avengers #4.
John Byrne has crafted a “lost episode” of the real Star Trek, featuring the return of their first adversary. Byrne’s Trek comics have been my favorite of his recent works, with Star Trek: Crew a particular stand out. The Star Trek 2013 Annual is something we haven’t seen before: Not fumetti, but a “photo-novel”, using original scenes and stills to synthesize an all new tale, albeit one that still has that Byrne staging and design. Plus all the characters look and act right, which is not something I can say for this past summer’s Trek outing.
Andy already wrote about Darwyn Cooke’s Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground. It’s the fourth of ultimately five Cooke adaptions, with each bringing something new and different to the party. Seriously, if you invited Darwyn Cooke to your Christmas Party, he would never show up empty handed; he’d bring a deli-tray, or a bottle of Rye or that bag of ice that you needed just right then. He would be a literal “Ice-Man”, except, because he would not be made of ice, he would be a figurative ice man. Anyway, I haven’t read Slayground yet, but I know it’s gonna be good. Also: Darwyn Cooke and Marsha, my Christmas party is on December 21st. There will be a literal tree of cold cuts, breads and cheeses this year.
Lastly—Man alive, Al Ewing is on fire. He cut his writing chops at 2000 AD, culminating in the genius Zombo with Flint Henry. You have to pick up Zombo—a funny, farcical, violent story made with skill and craft. Volume 2, “You Smell Of Crime And I’m The Deodorant”, was the best book I read in 2013. It features the epic struggle between Zombo and reverse-Zombo, Omboz. Holy Jeez, its swell– 2000 AD is where it’s at. Ewing has written a few American books, including the best from the Age of Ultron crossover.
Thus far, Mighty Avengers has been my favorite of the Infinity-involved books. As of issue 4, Mighty dips into the Inhumanity crossover, taking Cage (or is Power Man? Luke Cage?), Captain Marvel (or Photon? Pulsar? Spectrum? Oh, its Spectrum. Jeez, that is, well, um, can’t she be Captain Marvel again? No? OK.), Power Man (there’s a new Power Man?), Ronin (wait, isn’t that Hawkeye? No, it’s a lady who dresses like a dude? No, it’s someone who Wikipedia spoils so don’t read the Wikipedia page unless you want to get spoiled), White Tiger (en Espanol, Tigre Blanca) Spider-Man (Doctor Octopus?) and Adam the Blue Marvel (formerly Adam the Blue Marvel) into the post-Infinity world.
Despite showing how Marvel has trouble creating and maintaining characters of color, and that it’s a potential slog of continuity laden clap-trap, and has been involved in back to back crossovers, this book remains great. Subtle characterizations, deft use of humor, high stakes with threats and danger abounding combine into a comics soufflé par excellence. Ewing has such a strong, intuitive grasp of what made Marvel Comics so Marvel in their first 30 years, so separate and unique from the other books of their time, and it has been on glorious display all through the previous three issues. In this issue, they do something with the Inhumans, I suppose. Anyway, it’s great, please buy it.