Oh man, I don't want to come off all negative or anything, but this week's comics pile nearly defeated me. There just seemed to be an excess of unpleasantness in the May 12 releases, many of which were filled with sadly ironic ads for linewide themes like Brightest Day and The Heroic Age. I saved the best for the bottom of the pile, but I'll get to that in a bit. In the meantime...
Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #1: Even though the previous Warren Ellis arc on Astonishing X-Men (with artist Phil Jimenez) still hasn't wrapped, Marvel has decided to relaunch this series as part of its new Astonishing line (along with last week's Spider-man/Wolverine, which was considerably more fun). Now teaming with Canadian artist Kaare Andrews, this new title sees the mutant supergroup investigating a volatile series of mutant births in Africa. Ellis hammers the reader with all the research he's done, dropping all kinds of helpful trivia about various African nations in place of, oh, I don't know, plot movement or action, and has Beast admonish Cyclops for referring to African towns; "Africa is a continent, not a country", Beast snarks at him. True, but it's not wrong to say "African towns", right? You can refer to European towns, and you wouldn't be wrong--it's a bit broad, but there are towns in Europe, are there not? None of this matters, though, since this comic is really all about how many shots of Emma Frost's enormous cans Kaare Andrews can fit onto every page:
What do you think of that, Boob Guy From Dazzler: The Movie?
Yup. Incidentally, the full script for issue one is included in the back, perhaps to prove that Ellis didn't insist on all of those crazy boob shots, or maybe just to help justify the $3.99 price tag.
Titans: Villains For Hire Special #1: I don't wanna spoil anything for anybody, but this relaunch of the Titans brand (the name now belongs to a group of assassins brought together by Deathstroke to hunt heroes, I guess?), is essentially a drawn-out hunting and killing of a character that DC put a lot of support behind just a few short years ago, a character that was carrying on a superhero name while bringing some ethnic diversity to the DCU. Well, the previous owner of that superhero name is back in action, so clearly, the only thing left is to give the poor guy who kept it warm for him an exceedingly gory death scene. Great. Now we have to deal with the inevitable weepy funeral and ensuing hunt to bring the killers to justice. I don't know about you guys, but I'm getting pretty sick of those.
Justice League: Generation Lost #1: Speaking of things I'm getting sick of, how many damn times do I have to see the scene, repeated in this very issue, where Captain Atom absorbs a bunch of dangerous radiation and flies into space to explode? Well, at least once more, apparently. I like these characters, I like Aaron Lopresti's art, but this looks like it's also going down the "hunt for justice" route as well, as the old Giffen JL gang bands together to track down Maxwell Lord and get some satisfaction for Blue Beetle's murder. By the way, there's a preview in the back of a lot of the DC books this week for the new Green Arrow series (what is this, his third relaunch this decade now?), that is a repeat of that tired old standby--the sexy young lady being pursued by a bunch of would-be rapists/murderers, stopped in the nick of time by the gritty vigilante. One of the rapists says something gross like "don't wear yourself out, you've still got a lot of work to do tonight!'. The Dark Knight Returns was almost 25 years ago now, and people are still ripping off that "chicken legs" scene!
Siege #4: Here's what I learned from this delayed series finale (whose plot points were somewhat spoiled by some of the more timely tie-ins): when you're Loki and you're being killed/crushed/eaten or something by the Sentry or Void or whatever, the noise you make is "HHAASRRGH!". Also, when you're Norman Osborn and you've just bonked Captain America on the head and you're running away like a spaz, the noise you make is "NIH Nguh!". And finally, when you're the Sentry and you're supposed to be totally unstoppable and indestructible and powered by a million exploding suns, all it takes is Thor hitting you with his hammer to completely destroy you and turn you into a crispy skeleton. Too little plot spread over too many tie-ins was the big problem here. How many plot points actually mattered here? Maybe five or six, across like 35 tie-ins? Nice art, though.
Amazing Spider-Man #631: Something potentially awful and distressing, especially for longtime Spidey fans, may have happened at the end of this issue. Something that potentially ruins two (maybe even three) of Webhead's supporting cast pretty much forever. Something that, if it DID happen, will make me really, really mad. However, this is one of those Chris Bachalo issues where the art is extremely weird and confusing, so I'm not actually sure if it happened or not. We'll see, but it's not looking good.
Batman: The Return Of Bruce Wayne #1: Okay, so it seemed like most of the comics I read this week were filled with rape, murder, destruction, and giant squashy boobs, but thankfully I saved this one for last. It teams up two of my favourite creators--Grant Morrison and Chris Sprouse--to tell the story of what exactly happened to Bruce Wayne after he was banished to the dawn of time by Darkseid's Omega Effect in Final Crisis. It features a timelost Bruce fashioning a Batman suit out of the hide of a giant prehistoric bat, finding himself a stone-age Robin, and facing down an earlier incarnation of immortal villain Vandal Savage. And man, was it ever just what the doctor ordered. This thing worked on multiple levels; as a satisfying continuation of Morrison's epic take on the Batman series, as a sequel to Final Crisis, and the latest in the kind of story where Batman just plain takes charge and kicks all the right asses in whatever era or setting he finds himself in, no matter how the odds are stacked against him. I'll have to re-read Final Crisis to learn exactly where that crazy rocket with all the DCU artifacts fits in, and I do kind of wish that this story was taking place in the pages of the monthly Batman title, but these are pretty minor complaints. This comic was ridiculous and awesome and I can't wait for the next one. Comics need to be more crazy and fun like this and less about a bunch of heroes crying at a funeral before going off to avenge Sue Dibny/Ted Kord/J'onn J'onzz/whoever.