REVIEW: "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is a Lot of Fun, a Little Flawed, and Whedon All the Way
Comic Books, Film
Welcome to What Are You Reading! Our special guest this week is Kirk Warren, the brains behind the great blog known as The Weekly Crisis and all-around nice guy.
Remember, we want to know what you’ve been reading this week as well, so feel free to let us know what comics, strips, graphic novels and other assorted sequential art you’ve been perusing in the comments section.
To find out what Kirk and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are currently reading, meanwhile, click on the link below:
Michael May: Miss Don’t Touch Me. After Britten and Brulightly last week I guess I’m on a European mystery kick. Not that the two are remotely similar. B&B was all dark and moody, focusing mainly on how the detective feels about his case/job/life. Miss Don’t Touch Me is a much more exciting story.
It’s about a young virgin named Blanche whose search for her sister’s killer leads her to take a job in a brothel. While there she not only manages to hold on to her sexual status (as far as I’ve read, anyway), but turns out to be surprisingly adept at pleasing a certain, “specialized” clientele. It’s sexy, scary, and irresistibly intriguing. Not just because of the central mystery of the murder, but also because I’m dying to learn more about Blanche’s best friend at the brothel – the enigmatic, angelic Annette – and what service she performs that’s so horrible she won’t tell anyone what it is.
Tom Bondurant: For some reason I had an urge to re-read Fantastic Four: Big Town, a 4-issue “What If”-style miniseries from 2001 written by Steve Englehart and penciled by Mike McKone. Its premise is essentially that Reed and Tony Stark transformed New York into a technological wonderland after the FF’s rocket flight. Familiar characters show up in unfamiliar roles (Flash Thompson is a superhero, there’s a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants), Sue is childless, and the plot centers around Johnny’s wedding. It’s executed well enough, but ultimately I wasn’t sure what the point was. It’s not like the old “why didn’t Peter Parker get rich off the web-fluid patent” question, because Reed and family did just that. Maybe the message was that Johnny must never marry, in any reality….
As for this week’s comics, some of you may remember I wasn’t all that thrilled by Flash: Rebirth #1. Well, #2 is better, because it jump right into the Black Flash plot, and that plays to Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver’s strengths. I still have some quibbles — I wouldn’t be allowed on the Internets otherwise — but on the whole, it’s an improvement.
(MINOR SPOILER: I did like the “origin” of Barry’s bow ties, but really: how can he be too cool for bow ties and still choose that crewcut?)
I continue to like Superman: World Of New Krypton, written by James Robinson and Greg Rucka and drawn by Pete Woods. It’s shaping up to be an inventive Superman story which should show off both his powers and his ethics. Really looking forward to the Green Lantern appearances next issue.
Finally, I’ve started Volume 3 of Showcase Presents Legion Of Super-Heroes, which is full of Jim Shooter/Curt Swan magic from the mid-’60s. However, by the end of the book it’ll be 1968, and DC will have discovered a new house style, so that transition should be an interesting experience.
John Parkin: Previously in What Are You Reading, I mentioned I’ve been making my way through Marvel’s recent cosmic books. This week I finished up the last two Nova trades, which brought Nova back to Earth during the Secret Invasion and saw the rebirth of the Nova Corps. I also picked up both Annihilation: Conquest trades and made my way through them, so now I think I just have the first Annihilation books on my “must buy and read” pile before I’ll be all caught up with the cosmic stuff. It’s all been a hell of a lot of fun, and I like the fact that Marvel has this corner of the universe where the writers can pretty much just go wild and seemingly ignore what’s going on in the rest of the line (Secret Invasion notwithstanding, but even those issues didn’t feel like they were forced).
Tim O’Shea: After being reminded of the book’s release by Chris Mautner’s review earlier this week, I tracked down Luke on the Loose — the new Toon Book by Harry Bliss. What I most appreciate about Bliss storytelling are the little moments — the side characters that have funny reactions or touches such as loose Luke running across a map of New York City’s five boroughs on the book’s back interior cover.
And speaking of little moments and stolen glances, I’m not sure how I missed Scott Gray and Roger Langridge on 2005’s Marvel Monsters: Fin Fang Four (particularly given that I have a hardback collection of those Monsters stories, signed by Jeff Parker), but I’m gonna pull it off the shelf and read it. Why? Because this week, my best read was Gary and Langridge’s one-shot Fin Fang Four Return. I’m not sure which I love the most:
–Fin Fang Foom as a cook;
–Gorgilla in a twisted Curious George takeoff (the appreciation and use of Abe Lincoln is both bewildering and hilarious);
–Googam’s attempt to be adopted by a celebrity collector of children (aka Madonna/Jolie/Pitt, etc) which includes his successful marketing ploy of swaddling himself in a diaper
–Elektro’s experience in the slammer after being misidentified as Electro.
If Marvel’s hunting for another animation project to develop, this could be either great Adult Swim fodder or some harmless Nicktoon fare. But short of that, Marvel needs to get these two creators doing more stuff for them (as long as it does not stop Langridge’s Muppet Show work for BOOM!).
Chris Mautner: I finally finished a couple of books I had been slowly making my way through, namely Emmanuel Guilbert’s The Photographer and Why I Killed Peter by Alfred and Olivier Ka. I should have reviews of both books up on the site in the near future but I’ll spoil the suspense a bit and just tell you that I found both to be excellent and think you should try to read them as soon as possible.
Right now I’m just cracking open the new Collected Doug Wright book from D&Q. I haven’t gotten far enough into it yet to offer an opinion, but man, is that red cover shiny. When I put it on my bedside table, the light from the lamp reflects a red shine on the ceiling. That’s kind of cool.
Matt Maxwell: SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE v.7
I hate to say “another typically good entry in one of the more successful middle-long-term serials that came out of the nineties”, but this book is very much that. There’s more overt ties to the established DCU (Golden Age Starman and Gaiman’s Sandman in particular), which kinda bother me, as the book stood on its own for such a long time. Guy Davis is still underrated in his ability to draw domestic drama as much as the spooky stuff, and this was some fifteen years or so ago. Well, maybe only ten. I figure if you’re into the story this far, you’re willing to go all the way. I certainly am.
I’ll need to read this one again. Not that I didn’t get the broad strokes of the story off the bad, as I did. Well, I think I did. Neely’s cartooning is light and breezy one panel (deftly evoking a cartoon-strip nostalgic past) and utterly terrifying the next, as the Blot and the unnamed character come to terms with one another.
Finally reading this, and I’m finding it delightful as well as frustrating. There’s some work in here that’s quite good, and that just makes me want more. (AMAZING JOY BUZZARDS and the NEW BRIGHTON ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY come to mind here–Hi, Mark!) There’s also some work that’s not so good in here, and some of it drags on for several pages too long. Some snappy writing with so-so art, lots of pretty eye candy that doesn’t have much weight. Still not through it, so rendering a judgement is unfair. I will say this, since I’m writing shorts myself right now, writing strong short stories in comics is tough work, and every single creator in POPGUN deserves a bow for getting the work done and out there instead of just yapping about it. I will say, though, the Corey ‘Rey’ Lewis story in there was a lot of fun. I really could read more by him. Maybe it’s time to dig out SHARKNIFE again.
And wouldn’t you know, I’m still reading THE DEMON. I’m only hitting an issue or two at a time with this one.
Oh, yes, and I downloaded the iPhone version of PROOF and found it to be fun and creepy, with engaging characters at play in an interesting, if not somewhat familiar setup. I’ll admit that my reading of this will be colored by my earlier reading of PERHAPANAUTS, which seems to be a more ambitious book in both concept and execution. But still, for a buck? Sure, I can’t read it big, but I can read and follow it just fine on my little PDA/phone/lifeline to (in)sanity.
Kirk Warren: My reading list is always filled with the half a dozen or so new weekly comics I pick up each week, but I rarely get to talk about the other comics, graphic novels and regular books I’m reading in my spare time. So, before I get started, I wanted to thank the Robot 6 crew for giving me the opportunity to do so today.
Getting back on topic, I’m working my way through various 90’s back issues for an article I’m planning for my own blog, which was inspired by JK’s recent post where he mentioned Mark Waid’s Ka-Zar series from that time period. While I didn’t dig out my Ka-Zar run just yet (it’s on my list though!), the mention of it did spark my desire to revisit some of my favourite stories from the 90’s.
First up was Kurt Busiek’s and Mark Bagley’s opening stint on Marvel’s Thunderbolts. This was one of my favorite series from the 90’s and, unlike so many other 90’s stories, it holds up remarkably well to this day. If you missed this series when it first came out or recently started reading the Thunderbolts with Warren Ellis’s run, you owe it to yourself to track this run down to see how it all began. You won’t be disappointed.
I’ve also worked my way through a few other series from the 90s. For Marvel, this included Untold Tales of Spider-Man (another Busiek penned gem many missed out on), Peter David’s Captain Marvel and next on deck is the aforementioned Waid/Kubert Ka-Zar run.
On the DC side things, the recent Starman Omnibus releases were my motivation to root through the back issue bins for my run on James Robinson’s Starman. If you’ve been hesitant to pick them up, know that Starman is a title every comic fan owes it to themselves to read and, as such, those Starman omnibuses are worth every penny. The only other DC stuff on my “90’s list” so far are Grant Morrison’s JLA and Aztek – the Ultimate Man, but I’m open to suggestions since I missed out on a lot of DC’s better work from the 90’s.
Finally, for “real” books, I’m re-working my way through Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. If you think Grant Morrison’s works are nigh-incomprehensible, you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve read some of Pynchon’s work. If you’re up to the challenge, start with V. and work your way up through his other works to Gravity’s Rainbow.