The Comics Corner - Week of 02/22/2011
|Welcome to the Comics Corner! After last week’s lack-luster issues I’m proud to say that this week there are almost too many quality comics to choose from. Too many? Never! This week Image delivers a barrage of all things weird and different with Chew, Morning Glories and the new series, Mondo. Marvel breaks out some big-time super-heroics with Ultimate Spider-Man and Fantastic Four and BOOM! Studio’s takes us to the beginning of the end with Incorruptible! With all this excitement let’s cut the chatter and jump right into the Comics Corner as we prepare for the payoff that is the Top of the Stack!|
Fantastic Four #603
“Look there and see that Galactus stands against you.”
Recently Marvel returned the banner of ‘The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine’ to the covers of Fantastic Four. And while the tagline is more about tradition than accuracy this issue is a wonderful declaration of what Fantastic Four can and should be. Big, over the top, sci-fi elements clashing with the world of superheroes and adventure like no other comic can. In the skilled hands of writer Jonathan Hickman, Fantastic Four has flourished by returning to these basic concepts and core principals. Beyond the embracing of traditional Fantastic Four elements, Hickman reminds readers that nothing he has laid out this point has been filler, with so many of Hickman’s story points, as well as story points from previous creators, having a dramatic impact on the events of this issue. Hickman doesn’t cash in all his chips, just enough to remind us that he’s still working on a story large enough to be worthy of the Fantastic Four.
Many readers, including myself, spend our hard-earned money every week on comic books with the hope that the potential benefits will finally pay off. I’ve been known to buy issue after issue of a series that appears to have lost its way either out of habit or for the interest of a certain character or creator. Sometimes the gamble pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. Unfortunately even when it does pay off its not because all the pieces came together but rather that a new creative team was introduced or the character and story where taken into an entirely different direction. However Fantastic Four has remained interesting to me throughout creating an incredible climax when so many story elements collided inside this issue. Including more than a few literal collisions as Galactus takes on three of the god-like Celestials. The Kree and the Inhumans have taken their battle elsewhere leaving the Fantastic Four, and the recently returned Johnny Storm’s Annihilation wave, to battle the winner of the epic smackdown between Galactus and the Celestials.
The issue is a tremendous payoff for readers of Hickman’s entire run without ever feeling like the end is near. Even if that end is near, the sensation that there is more to come is almost overwhelming. And for anyone that bailed, or doubted that all the pieces fit, this issue will silence many of those detractors.
Just as the words: ‘The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine’ have returned to the cover so too has Fantastic Four returned to their rightful place in comics by telling stories filled with compelling, likable characters in epic, sci-fi fueled action adventure stories. It is once again, ‘Clobberin’ Time’!
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“And the sword is fully functional.”
What an absolute pleasure it is to read this series every month.
Chew succeeds on a variety of levels while most comic series have a difficult enough time succeeding in only one. Every month Chew tells a wholly original and captivating story while continuously making me burst out loud with laughter.
Sometimes the laughter is derived from one of the many imaginative and complex characters or their current predicaments but more often than not I’m laughing because of the countless jokes and gags hidden in the artwork. I don’t know if the credit goes to the writer John Layman or the artist Rob Guillory, or hopefully a combination of the two, but I never get tired of seeking out any and all jokes that I can find in the pages of Chew each month. This month most of the jokes revolve around butter and its many uses and admirers as well as an intense romantic obsession with superstar comic creator Robert Kirkman.
However Chew isn’t just about the comedic Easter eggs. Layman and Guillory put even more effort into their story than they do for the jokes. For twenty four issues Chew has delivered a complex, multi-faceted tale featuring the most unique storytelling in comics. And actually there have been twenty five issues as issue 27 was released some time ago, out of order. How’s that for unique and original?
“I’ve finally cracked the case.”
Issues like this make me sad it’s all coming to an end.
In case you hadn’t heard (sorry to break the bad news) it was recently announced that both Incorruptible and Irredeemable are coming to an end. It may not have been the most unexpected of announcements but that didn’t make me feel any better about it and after reading this issue, I like the announcement even less.
In a nutshell, this issue showcases how far creator Mark Waid’s world has developed. There is almost no Max Damage, the story’s principle character, and only a passing mention of the Plutonian, the catalyst and focus of the entire concept, at yet this issue is as enthralling as any other. Commissioner Armandale and a handful of either new or minor characters guide the reader through a day in the life, if you can call it that, for the city of Coalville. Corruption and public panic are the norm following the Plutonian’s attacks on, well, the world and Armandale concedes that a few random acts of violence might be a fair price to pay to keep the city from descending into total and complete anarchy.
Waid may have spent the issue showcasing the potential this series has to continue indefinitely but by issue’s end he delivers a powerful reminder that this is absolutely the beginning of the end and there’s nothing we can do about it.
It’s always good to try new things.
And when those new things have a big #1 on the cover, you start running out of excuses.
Mondo is the new series from creator Ted McKeever, featuring the less than desirable life of perpetual sad-sack Catfish Mandu and his thankless job in the bowels of a corporate chicken factory. But after a freak accident and a visit from an enigmatic chicken Catfish is transformed into…something. The meek, human qualities of Catfish disappear into a giant, raging monster.
Mondo immediately delivers its strange and awkward premise without concern for the reader. It’s like a good heist movie, you’re either in or you’re out. And if you’re in, you’ll quickly discover that beneath the bizarre there is a palpable layer of humanity to Catfish, but certainly not to anything that surrounds him in his daily life. That contrast creates an immediate sympathy for the character.
Mondo is an over-sized, black and white comic that unapologetically captures than perfect ‘indie’ feel. Mondo instantly calls to mind classic independent comics such as The Crow and Cerebus. The price tag of $4.99 might appear a bit daunting but this is an over sized comic with a higher page count than your average comic book and is uninterrupted by advertisements. While that alone might justify the increase in cover price, you should know that for sheer originality and a chance to experience something new, you need look no further.
Morning Glories #16
“I’ve got all the time in the world.”
Morning Glories is not a trip down the rabbit hole. Morning Glories is a complete and total terminal velocity plummet into the rabbit hole.
The mind-bending adventure that is the Morning Glory Academy continues full-force this month with a substantial amount of time travel. Well, some of it’s time travel and some of it is merely a storytelling device that jumps forwards and backwards in time. Typically such radical movement up and down the timeline is accompanied by caption box anchor points, or similar devices, to firmly establish when in the story the reader is however this issue features no such device. You’re on your own.
However I don’t think this was done with malice intent. Those reference points are not gone to deliberately confuse anyone. In fact, without them all of your attention is directed into the story as you feast on every scrap of information and line of dialogue that might give the situation the context you desire. And by the end of the issue you come out of experience better for it and little wiser as to how things operate in this bizarre world – just like Casey, the focus of this month’s issue.
Like this week’s issue of Fantastic Four this issue reminds its faithful readers that a larger plan is in motion, even if you can’t see it, and everything that is being done is being done for a reason. However unlike Fantastic Four, I have absolutely no idea where, or when, we’re headed.
Ultimate Spider-Man #7
“What’s wrong with there being a new Spider-Man?”
Peter Parker, traditional or ultimate, learned what do and how to behave from his Uncle.
Miles Morales is about to learn what not to do from his Uncle.
The maturation of Miles Morales continues as he tries to develop his abilities and test their limits, but only if he’s able to overcome his fear of heights! An unexpected twist provided by writer Brian Michael Bendis that adds a great deal of charm to the character of Miles and provides another clever reminded that this is not Peter Parker. No matter what Omega Red thinks.
Yes, the seldom seen (ultimate or otherwise) Omega Red mysteriously and inexplicably returns only to once again be taken down by Spider-Man. But it’s a quip used by Miles that makes Omega red think that Spider-Man didn’t really die because in his first encounter with Spider-Man, Peter used the same line. Confusing for Omega Red, hilarious for everyone else.
Meanwhile, Miles’ Uncle Aaron, AKA the Prowler, has stumbled upon Miles’ secret and the connection between the spider-abilities and Aaron’s illegal activities. The contrast in the relationship between Peter and Uncle Ben and Miles and Uncle Aaron is an intriguing story telling device. It appears all but certain that Miles and his Uncle are headed for a confrontation. Also interesting, at least to me, is that Miles’ first major battle will be against the individual responsible for him acquiring these powers in the first place, just as Peter had to battle Norma Osborn. Bendis has combined two defining aspects of Ultimate Peter Parker into one for Miles to create a new, yet ultimately familiar, dynamic for this young aspiring superhero.
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