Thursday, February 07, 2013

2012 Year In Review - Part 4

I don't have a comic related opening paragraph today. Unless you're interested in hearing no penciler has hit the 100 page line more than twice in the 4 years I've been keeping track? No? No one? OK, that's cool. I understand.

I could talk about Chris Carpenter's nerve issues coming back, and possibly ending his career. It's not Carpenter's first injury issue, or even his third, but it's probably the most final. They already removed one of his ribs last season to address the problem. Not sure what more you can do. That was part of what made it thrilling to watch Carpenter. When he was healthy, he was a great pitcher, but at any moment he could blow out something in his elbow, shoulder, whatever, and you wouldn't see him for a season and a half. Then he'd come back like nothing happened, until the next time something did.

Back to comics.

Legion of Monsters #4: Morbius finally figures out he's the carrier of the disease that's driving all the citizens of the Monster Metropolis mad, which means Elsa Bloodstone doesn't have to kill everyone after all! It was his writing on this that convinced me to give Dennis Hopeless a shot on Avengers Arena, though Juan Doe's work on the art for this book certainly helped it along.

Resurrection Man #0, 5-12: This is definitely not going down as one of my favorite Abnett/Lanning joints. Mitch was somehow killed so hard he materialized across the country (with a power that had nothing to do with that). In Gotham, which meant Arkham. He made it out of there, wandered in Metropolis for an issue, then had a rapidfire series of unfortunate run-ins with Kim Rebecki, a necromancer, and the Suicide Squad, who had hired Rebecki to find him. Mitch was able to go free eventually, but not before Waller took his hand for study. Then Mitch and Kim tried to track down the "Lab", and learned that the Mitch we've been following is a tekite infused regeneration from the arm of the asshole Mitch Shelly we saw in flashbacks. Who was dying slowly, until our Mitch served him up to Heaven as the soul they wanted. This book turned into an even bigger artistic clusterfuck than Defenders, as Fernado Blanco drew issue 5, then Fernando Dagnino returned for 3 issues. Then Jesus Saiz became the nominal penciler, except someone else was usually helping. Javier Pina for #11, Andres Guinaldo for #9, Ramon Bachs did all but the last page of #0.

High Point: Mitch in Arkham wasn't a bad idea, and Mitch on the Suicide Squad wouldn't have been awful, except. . .

Low Point: . . .the Suicide Squad in question was garbage. The lack of creativity in Mitch's powers was disappointing, and I'm not clear on how many of them related to his method of death. A shotgun blast to the head gives you pyrokinesis? Mostly though, the book was slow. Especially some of the last few issues, when you think they'd need to pick up the pace to cover everything. Instead it seemed to slow down so answers weren't presented until the very end.

Rocketeer Adventures 2 #1-4: A second round of the beloved anthology mini-series! And if you think I'm mentioning every writer and artist, you are out of your mind.

High Point: Peter David and Bill Sienkiewicz' "The Ducketeer" was probably my favorite story. It didn't take itself seriously at all, and it avoided the relationship stuff that many of the other stories felt compelled to use. Walt Simonson and John Paul Leon's "the Autograph" was touching, mostly because Cliff wasn't acting to compensate for prior stupidity as he was just trying to do the right thing.

Low Point: Issue 3 didn't have any stories I particularly cared for, the writing or the art. The Eric Canete story with kids in the future learning about the Rocketeer was probably my favorite, and even it did nothing for me.

Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom #1-4: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee pit Cliff against what I'm guessing is one of Doc Savage's old foes. One who is not content to merely unleash dinosaurs upon New York City. No, he wants to steal Cliff's rocket and outfit the dinosaurs with jet packs while the destroy New York City. Quite how the dinosaurs were going to properly control them, I don't know, but I can't say the man doesn't think big.

High Point: Do I need anything more than a guy with a jet pack and a ray gun fighting dinosaurs? I do? Fine. I liked Earl, the second inspector. He had a good reason not to like Cliff at the start, but he isn't set in his perceptions, and he uses his authority constructively. Also, Cliff's response to the public asking him to save them. 'From dinosaurs? With a jet pack? How? *silent panel of civilians glaring* I mean, how would you like me to save you. . .'

Low Point: I wasn't happy with Waid's take on Betty and Cliff's relationship. Everyone made her out to be the bad guy, because she has a life that doesn't involve constantly saving Cliff from himself, and because she doesn't appreciate someone flirting with her boyfriend, even if the someone is only a 15-year old with a crush. I understand it was Peevy's niece with the crush, but I was most put out by his attitude, because he ought to know well enough how far Betty's willing to go for Cliff.

Secret Avengers #22-35: Remender and Gabriel Hardman sent the team into a city full of artificial intelligences ready to claim a place in the world. The A.I.s seem pretty sure the Avengers will destroy them, and respond in kind. This plot was interrupted for Renato Guedes to draw three issues of Avengers vs. X-Men nonsense. Then Matteo Scalera took over as artist for the remainder of the year (except for #33, drawn by Andy Kuhn). For that stretch, the Avengers narrowly averted the Abyss spreading itself across the globe. Then everything went to hell because Hawkeye ignored the Black Widow's warning that Ant-Man had been an LMD since the first run-in with the Descendants.

High Point: Gabriel Hardman's a good artist, Bagalia as a concept is kind of interesting. A nation set-up so super-villains can kick it, make up schemes, and be free from extradition. The flaw in Max' plan, which may be relevant to Father's big plans for the Descendants. Flash deciding he'll save the world solely to spite Hawkeye. I don't even like Flash Thompson or Venom, but I can appreciate that as a motivation.

Low Point: The size Scalera draws the Black Widow's chest. Maybe if he had her zip up the top once in awhile I wouldn't notice so much, but it hasn't happened so far. Remender's Hawkeye is terrible. He gets parts of the character, but flubs just enough of him that it ruins the whole thing. Still, the lowest point was the AvX tie-in, hands down. Completely pointless to that story, and I did not need or want 3 issues about how Mar-Vell was the best hero ever. The hosannas the other characters sang to him were nauseating.

Villains for Hire #2-4: Also not one of Abnett and Lanning's stronger works. At least it kept a consistent artist - Renato Arlem - throughout. I liked the idea behind it, Misty Knight using a crew of villains to counter Purple Man's schemes. The backstabbing, deceit, cover-ups, it all made sense for a villain dominated story. Still, it felt rushed, to the point where the change-ups and double-crosses came too fast for any to have impact. Also, Arlem's art is kind of lifeless. It's too photo-referenced to have much energy to it. Characters look posed, frozen in the moment, rather than in motion.

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