Phil's Reviews — Stuff I Read and Put Back #17

Midnighter #7 — Writer: Brian K. Vaughan; Penciller: Darick Robertson; Inker: Karl Story
Less than it seems — it looks like an experiment in storytelling, trying to duplicate Midnighter’s ability to see possible futures, but all is does is run the pages backwards, so that we read the “last” page of the story first, and then the next-to-last page, and so on. So, Midnighter sees the future in five-minute chunks, from a situation’s outcome back to the start, exactly like, um, a comic book read backwards? Wow, lucky break for the writer, huh? Readers should do themselves a favor and spend their money on, say, a copy of Fantastic Four #352 instead, where they can watch Walter Simonson demonstrate how a time-travel battle ought to be constructed.

Iron Man #17 — Writers: Daniel and Charles Knauf; Penciler: Roberto de la Torre; Inkers: Jonathan Sibal, Karl Kesel and Cam Smith
Some advancement on the bring-back-the-Mandarin plot, without any actual Mandarin yet, and then there’s a bunch of pages of Tony Stark, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., talking to Dum Dum Dugan and the hippie general guy, and then everybody says “extremis” a lot, and then there’s an autopsy scene that turns into an Alien reference, and that’s it. Having three inkers suggests a rush job, and the book looks it, although the last two pages and one of the hippie general scenes look pretty good. You know, we all got used to not having a monthly Iron Man book, back during and just after the Ellis run, and the creative teams since have yet to make a compelling argument for us to want one back.

Superman #662 — Writer: Kurt Busiek; Penciller: Carlos Pacheco; Inker: Jesus Merino
I liked the fill-ins better; they were tightly plotted, and delivered small satisfying stories. Here, we’ve got the main plot starting up again, but there are so many different scenes, and small sideplots percolating, that no individual arc or point ever gels. Yeah, it’ll make more sense as a transitional chapter in the eventual trade, but as a single comic it just doesn’t seem worth it. When the only thing that stands out is a one-panel shout-out to “Hibbard Fox” and the Three Dimwits, maybe it’s time to wait for the trade.

Avengers: The Initiative #2 — Writer: Dan Slott; Artist: Stefano Caselli
First, the title is still a misrepresentation — no Avengers actually appear in this title, except that Wonder Man hangs out in the background for a few panels, and Yellowjacket appears conflicted and semi-crazy. All of the adults, in fact, act stupidly and unattractively — there’s no one there to root for until the last page, when the Beast shows up and the mood immediately lightens, because here’s someone who’s actually a good guy (his needling of Henry Gyrich is the only bright spot in the whole book). The main story is a “New Mutants”/basic training riff, with a bunch of mostly new young characters we don’t know much about, and it comes off as cold and mean. Maybe that’s intentional, showing these kids caught up in the dark, bureaucratic mess that the Marvel United States has become, but if it’s political commentary it’s too buried to be effective, or even noticeable, and this comic is just not very involving or fun. Blech.

Welcome to Tranquility #6 — Writer: Gail Simone; Pencillers: Neil Googe and Billy Dallas Patton; Inker: Neil Googe
End of the first story, and there’s no indication in the comic itself of whether there’s going to be another issue. It ended OK; the story was professional and well-crafted, although these create-an-entire-superhero-world-and-history-from-scratch books seldom seem to be worth the trouble (who wants to have to remember yet another large cast with relationships going back generations?). The heroine, a non-powered policewoman, is decent and smart, but there’s just never seemed to be much of a rooting interest for the rest of the cast, or for the book itself, throughout this series.

Omega Flight #2 — Writer: Michael Avon Oeming; Artist: Scott Kolins
The Wrecking Crew beat up on a captive Sasquatch and assorted random Canadians, while Spider-Woman (the one who was the new one before the current new one), U.S. Agent, and Talisman’s daughter get recruited for the team. Probably less exciting in execution than it sounds here, and Kolin’s art has a semi-painted tone that adds another layer of distance between us and the events; there just doesn’t seem to be anything engaging enough about this story so far to attract much of an audience.

Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1 — Writer: Matt Fraction; Artist: Salvador Larroca
A Mary-Jane on the run current plot, wrapped around a retrospective of Mary Jane’s and Peter’s (and Gwen Stacy’s and Harry Osborn’s) relationships from the John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru years. Almost all of the individual scenes work OK, and Mary Jane is appropriately courageous and steely under pressure, but when you get right down to it nothing actually happens. Wasn’t that why they stopped making annuals in the first place?

All-New Atom # 11 — Writer: Gail Simone; Penciller: Eddy Barrows; Inker: Trevor Scott
The end of a three-part story involving ghosts in Hong Kong. The revenge-of-the-undead plot hasn’t seemed like much of a fit for a scientifically-based hero like the Atom, quantum physics and uncertainty principles or not, and in this issue there’s barely any use of actual powers at all. It’s meant as a way of deepening our understanding of the main character, but maybe it’s just too early in the book’s current incarnation for that kind of thing — I suspect the only thing that’s going to draw readers in at this point is a bunch of snappy, flashy self-contained one and two-issue superhero romps, and these ain’t them.

Phil Mateer

About Phil

With 40 years of experience in comic reading, collecting and reviewing, English Professor Phil Mateer has an encyclopedic mind for comics. Feel free to ask Phil about storylines, characters, artists or for that matter, any comic book trivia. He will post your questions and answers on the AABC blog. His knowledge is unparalleled! He is also our warehouse manager, so if you are looking for that hard to find comic book, ask Phil!
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