Monday, February 10, 2014

2013 Comics In Review - Part 1

Finally, right? If you're new, this is going to run for a week. The first four days are me going back over all the different titles, roughly a quarter of the books a day. Talk a bit about plotlines, creative teams, if there were enough issues I'll touch on high and low points. The last day will be more of an overall listing approach. Everybody good, clear on all of it? Outstanding.

Amazing Spider-Man #700.3, 700.4: And we start with some of the books that held this whole thing up for as long as it was. I just went over these on Friday, so I won't linger. Stories with Peter Parker Spider-Man, by the Joe Casey/Timothy Green, Jen van Meter/Emma Rios, Keven Chapman/Javier Rodriguez teams.

Angel & Faith #18-25: Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs wrapped up an active final third of the book. The attempt to resurrect Giles ran into some snags. First, because Eyghon had claimed possession of Giles' corpse, which required the assistance of Spike to handle. Then because Whistler, Pearl, and Nash burst in during the ceremony to pilfer all of Alasdir's magical trinkets. Giles does emerge alive, but in the body of a 12-year old. But there was little time to contend with that, because the evil trio were about to unleash their magic dispersion bomb. The day was saved with only limited magical mutation, and Faith realized being around Angel is bad for her life. She also got one last kick in the face by Giles, when he asked if he could tag along - as a way to get to Buffy. Stupid, dense Brits.

High Point: Kid Giles in issue 22 was a delight. From his description of what it was like sharing space inside Angel's head, to his horror at being a child (and his great-aunts' delight), to the readjustment he and Faith have to make. Whistler dying wasn't bad, either. I'd been waiting for that since the book started, maybe since he appeared in the TV show.

Low Point: Spike's cameo. I had high hopes he'd get to be cool and badass, but nope. Gage plays him largely as a pitiful comedy figure. His attempt to be the hero against Eyghon fails utterly, taken by Angel (again). Faith shoots him down. Seemingly everyone can tell he's still pining over Buffy, which, Christ Spike, get over her already! You two aren't good for each other in any way shape or form! Didn't Season 6 teach you anything?! Horribly disappointing. The best part of his entire time in the book was the dig he got at Angel upon arrival. It was all downhill after that.

Atomic Robo 2013 Free Comic Book Day: Robo is lured into battle against a clunky robot. Turns out the robot wasn't out of control, but actually something its creators are trying to sell to Majestic-12 to use against Robo. Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener laying the groundwork for later stories.

Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures #10: Didn't actually order this, just my comic guy trying to be conscientious, I guess. Clevinger and Owen's work didn't convince me I'd made a mistake giving it a pass. Real Science Adventures is a good idea in theory, but in practice, it hasn't worked terribly well for me.

Atomic Robo - The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #1-4: The pitfalls of sticking to strict alphabetical order. I would have liked to put this after the FCBD book, so I could follow up the bit about later stories with, 'later stories like this one!' But it doesn't work as well with another book sandwiched in between. Anyway, the clunky robots are part of Majestic's attack upon Tesladyne, now that they've sufficiently turned public opinion against him by claiming he stole nuclear weapons. Nukes which are likely really in the claws of Dr. Dinosaur, down in his hidden underground kingdom, which Robo and his action scientists stumble into. At the point issue 4 leaves off, things weren't looking good on any front.

High Point: Dr. Dinosaur's worked better as a multiple issue threat than I might have hoped. Probably because he isn't carrying the plot himself (thanks to Majestic). I usually find him funny, his odd choice of phrasing and delayed reactions to it are good stuff, plus his roundabout, Silver Age approach to science. I was just worried he might get over-exposed this way. Hasn't happened. Bernard's quick adjustment to underground civilization is also pretty funny.

Low Point: I don't know, I'm pretty worried for Robo even if he survives this thing with Dr. D. Which is a good thing, really, Clevinger and Wegener building a sense of concern and dread in the reader. I'm just saying, he's in a pinch. There's plenty of people who wouldn't mind seeing him dismantled, since they surely don't consider him a person.

Avengers Arena #3-18: Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker did most of the series. Chistos Gage wrote issue #13, about why no one's come looking for the kids, and it was drawn by Karl Moline. Alessandro Vitti drew issues 4 and 7, Riccardo Burchelli issues 10 and 11. I'm guessing all those skipped issues in the middle is what let Walker draw the last arc entirely. The kids fought and allied, and turned on each other. Some of them became better than they thought they'd be; some of them became worse. Arcade escaped, and he isn't going to let the lies the kids tell go unchallenged.

High Point: Cammi in general, how she went from trying to do it all herself, to being the one of the more compassionate characters, trying to form alliances and protect people. Cullen Bloodstone's story, and his showdown with X-23 was pretty awesome. My single favorite issue, though, was #12. Nico's Rampage through Apex and his army of mechanical puppets. Also, Chris Powell survived.

Low Point: I'm still not sure I like the idea of Arcade actually caring whether he wins or loses. Hopeless tried to justify as best he could, but in the same way I like the Shocker as a baddie uninterested in revenge, only in money, I like Arcade as the guy who just wants to have a good time. Which, he did here, to be sure. Even in retreat, he's possibly getting the last laugh, just for all the damage he inflicted on them, but I'm still not sure it's a direction I like, the guy who cares the other villains thought he was a loser. Especially since none of them really have any grounds to talk. Also, I don't like Chase, but that dates back to when I read all the BKV/Aplhona Runaways stuff 2 years ago. It sort of works here - Chase is the guy who makes bad decisions under pressure, and keeps making things worse - but every moment where I wasn't sure if Chris Powell was dead, but Chase was running around with the Darkhawk armor was kind of galling.

OK, as usual, can't get past "A" on the first day. I don't know how that always seems to happen. The titles change, but the results keep coming out the same. Tomorrow I'll at least make it part way through D.

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