Wednesday, Comics #20
I’m getting this one out, dammit! My New Year’s resolution is consistency. (But New Year’s is still a few months off.)
WHAT I BOUGHT
Invincible Iron Man #29
Steve Rogers: Super Soldier #2
BOOK OF THE WEEK
It was a dead heat this week between Steve Rogers: Super Soldier and DMZ. Both offer outstanding issues, but Brubaker’s solo Steve Rogers book gets the edge because it hasn’t been featured before.
Ed Brubaker writes Steve Rogers well—definitively, even—but since Bucky has become the star of the Captain America book, Rogers has shifted into a supporting capacity. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially considering that Brubaker earns the shift, but allowing Steve his own stage again has made for a fantastic pair of initial issues.
Super Soldier is a four issue limited series, a tricky thing for anybody to write effectively. The industry has a glut of unnecessary limited series for readers to choose from, and most of them are a waste of money. Brubaker’s series sets itself apart by making the stakes high and personal for Rogers. Upon finding that someone is misusing the same serum that made him Captain America, Rogers investigates only to find nothing is as it seems and his history is repeating itself before him. (Kind of a cop-out reiteration of the plot, but it’s awesome enough to leave unspoiled for any potential readers.) The end of the first issue will have readers hooked and the end of the second, released this week, will have readers clamoring for more.
Brubaker is teamed with artist Dale Eaglesham for series, and it’s a great fit. Eaglesham’s art is astounding. While his figures sometimes feel over-muscled, his eye for composition and the panel-to-panel storytelling is better than almost anybody else featured on the stands. Eaglesham is one of the artistic elite and I can’t wait to see more from him. I almost wish that there were more than four issues of excitement to be had from this creative team.
Brubaker and Eaglesham push the series above and beyond many of the other superfluous limited series on the market. Superfluous shouldn’t be viewed as a derogatory term in this context, though, because the series technically doesn’t need to be read for the sake of character continuity. That said, it should be read because of how fantastic it is on its own. It exists in a separate realm of greatness—there are no bones to pick with the story, Brubaker and Eaglesham are spinning an amazing yarn.
This is an absolutely fantastic issue, one of the best one-shots of the series. It helps that the enigmatic warlord Wilson is at the center of it, but that doesn’t make or break it. I love the structure present here; the extended flashback nicely complements the bookend scenes. It’s simple, but the moments that writer Brian Wood chooses to highlight are fantastic in and of themselves. We don’t necessarily find out much about Wilson, but the snatches of his past presented are tantalizing glimpses to the past of the DMZ itself. This is just a great issue, a reminder of why DMZ is one of the best ongoing books on the stands.
Invincible Iron Man #29
It’s business as usual, but intriguing, seeing as this arc seems to be coming to a head. I’m excited for the obviously forthcoming Iron-Man/Detroit Steel smackdown, so excited that the pages devoted to Stark’s new business model seem to drag a little bit. This is also the least consistent Salvador Larocca’s art has been in a while. The inking seems sloppy and the occasional blown-up, reused image suffers from pixilation, which muddles the overall reading experience. Fraction’s writing has always carried the book, and definitely does here, but even at its best, it sometimes can’t overcome the artistic hiccups that present themselves.
After an uneven opening issue, the second part of “Grounded” doesn’t do much to up the arc’s ante. Superman walks to Michigan on his cross-country journey and winds up saving its dead industry with the help of a group of aliens living in hiding amongst the population. Superman pontificates about morality, and Eddy Barrows wastes his talents as an artist illustrating talky, boring exchanges. What little action there is also leaves a lot to be desired—the most dynamic moment is Superman challenging kids to a pickup basketball game.
The thematic elements JMS is working with are there, and so is the character, but it’s just too unevenly and uninterestingly presented, hidden beneath a coat of pretention and stuffiness. The most troubling thing is the inherent flaw with Superman’s plan—by walking across the country and still using his superhuman powers, he unintentionally mocks those who don’t have them. The problems define this arc more than its small successes.
BACK UP MATERIAL
Batman has a new costume, which is a nice variation on the classic design.
This is a great editorial about why the “Destroy-his-life” precedent that has been set for Daredevil needs to change coming out of Shadowland.
IGN’s Dan Phillips has written a wonderful article about Warren Ellis’ landmark series Planetary, explaining why he considers it “one of the greatest comic book series of the 20th Century.”