Ambidextrous - Show You How

All-Star Superman 11

Spent almost sixty bucks at the shop last Thursday, which even for me is a bit excessive…

However, it presents something of a unique opportunity, given that one of my most popular pieces on Newsarama era was this one about the books that always end up on the bottom of my weekly stack. I’m a firm believer that you save the best for last, which naturally begs the question…how do you even get there? Sequencing has always been a huge deal to me in regards to music (one of my other obsessions) and I try to graft that thinking onto my weekly stash. You can’t just tear open the bag and read the stuff with no game plan. Think of an album you consider perfectly sequenced, that alternates sounds and themes, yet smoothly transitions from one track to the next. Something that starts good and gets better the longer it’s played. That’s the type of vibe I try to replicate each and every week, and I thought it’d be interesting to use the seventeen books I bought on Thursday as an example of how I do this.

Yes, this is quite a bit nuts, but I believe the word we creative types prefer is eccentric.

I encourage all others to contribute their own thoughts on how they read their comics in the conveniently located talkback section. Let’s get it going, lot of work to do…

Action Comics #865 (Geoff Johns/Jesus Merino)

“I don’t trust anyone over seventeen.”

Good place to start, as Geoff has a documented knack for finding interesting takes on even the lamest of lame ass villains. See also: Flash. Very clever contrast between “Batman people” and “Superman people.” I smell a Toyman arc in the near future and for some reason, have a feeling it might actually be good…

X-Force #4 (Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost/Clayton Crain)

“Something is happening.”

Trying to drop this one because I’m just buying too many X-books, but it’s harder every month. On the surface, it looks like an excuse to cover the characters in blood (because it looks so damn cool) but this is a book obviously written by and for hardcore X-fans. Who else would remember that Bastion ever existed…other than me, I mean…

King-Size Hulk #1 (Jeph Loeb/Arthur Adams/Frank Cho/Herb Trimpe)

“Nobody does what he did to me.”

Like the regular title, the art makes it worth buying…though probably not for five bucks, unless you enjoy reprints significantly more than I do…

New Warriors #12 (Kevin Grevioux/Paco Medina/Juan Vlasco)

Not my favorite issue, but I still love the initial premise of this book and hope that with Tony showing up it’ll get back to its anarchist roots. That is what really distinguishes it from everything else…

The Sword #8 (The Luna Brothers)

“This is what he looks like.”

Really loving this series thus far, just like I loved Ultra. Any decent revenge tale has to have a very likable character to fully justify their murderous impulses and this one has it. Reminds me of Kill Bill without all the kung-fu and the obscure movie references…

Green Lantern #31 (Geoff Johns/Ivan Reis/Oclair Albert)

“I am asking you to break that edict---for your mentor and friend.”

Every stack has its turning point, and this title marks the area reserved for only my favorite books and creators each week. Johns has turned Lantern into a major, major franchise for DC and I’m a sucker for “training stories.” Didn’t know Hal’s exact history beforehand, so it’s cool to see, as are the not-so subtle illusions to the Blackest Night…

Daredevil #107 (Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka/Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano)

“I want to be your lawyer, Ben…I want to save your life.”

So glad to see this band back together. Gotham Central is one of the best comics launched in the last few years and I really hope that Rucka sticks around for more than this arc. There is just a certain bounce and rhythm to their collabos that is unmistakable. This feels like an arc from Central in every way imaginable, so why stop a good thing?

1985 #1 (Mark Millar/Tommy Lee Edwards)

“You saw the Red Skull hiding in the haunted house?”

The art is beyond gorgeous, and the story is off to a charming start. Much in the same way I left Speed Racer with a little juvenile buzz, 1985 strikes a similar chord. The idea behind it is just very fun and pleasant, proof that Mark can do more than the violence and “controversy” he seems to be known for…

Uncanny X-Men #498 (Ed Brubaker/Mike Choi)

“I assure you, Comrade Rasputin…I am not going to run out of electricity.”

Guess we know why this arc was partially set in San Francisco, huh? Finally removing the X-Men from New York might be the best move for the franchise since getting Morrison on board, and I’m naturally expecting big things from Matt Fraction. Now, the book is bidding time, but Choi’s art is improving every month…

Ultimate Spider-Man #122 (Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Wade von Grawbadger)

“I truly suck at being a criminal. My shocking Shockers are not all that shocking.”

Spider-Man’s girlfriends (current and former) team-up to save him from The Shocker, who has him captured and unmasked, in no position to halt an irritable rant about the inherent evil of major corporations. Another fantastic showing, as Immonen infuses everything with an all-new (yet fitting) vibe. Probably the cover of the week too…

Thor #9 (J. Michael Straczynski/Olivier Coipel/M. Morales, D. Miki, & J. Dell)

“Loki, even when you thought you were a man, you were not the man you thought you were.”

Coipel makes his impressive return, as Loki is back to his/her old tricks, sowing discord and making things extra interesting in general. Bringing this character back in this particular form was another spot of brilliance in JMS’s relaunch, as Loki is no longer the joke of an adversary that he appeared to be in his bright green suit and funny hat…

Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1 (Joss Whedon/John Cassaday)

“You cannot imagine living in a world where murder is honor.”

Holy ____! Now, this one was worth every single penny. What Kitty Pryde does in this oversized finale will long be remembered as one of the most “astonishing” moments in X-Men history---like when Morrison destroyed Genosha a few years back. It’s the true culmination of two masterful storytellers at the height of their game, taking some of the best comic characters to their absolute limits. For months, everyone has known that something big happens to Kitty, but I’d never have imagined this. An end of an era…now, bring on the second hardcover so I can read it all over again uninterrupted…

The Immortal Iron Fist #15 (Matt Fraction/Khari Evans/Victor Olazaba)

“You have freed me from the prison of self. For this, I thank you.”

Easily the greatest story title of the week, as we once more delve into The Book of the Iron Fist. Again, it’s a testament that the book still works when it’s not even focused on Danny Rand, and Fraction’s tale of “the perfect strategy mind” includes everything that’s made this revival an undeniable creative success. Intrigue, legacy, and action blended perfectly around the incredible pencils of Khari Evans. Only one more to go and I suppose it goes without saying that I’ll miss the writers on the book…but the stories and characters are so rich they deserve to live on in their absence…

New Avengers #41 (Brian Michael Bendis/Billy Tan)

“Who chooses which one of you shape-shifts into what? I mean, who gets to be the kitty?”

Remember that really weird scene from New Avengers #6 where SHIELD tries to atomize the New Avengers for pretty much no reason? Well, the actual reason for that move is yet another thing tying Secret Invasion into the beginnings of his Avengers run, and more evidence that this is certainly the most thorough Skrull invasion we’ve ever seen…Bendis continues to make the most out of both New and Mighty Avengers titles, using them to develop the story in both past and present…

Batman #677 (Grant Morrison/Tony Daniel/Sandu Florea)

“What we are about to do will be a work of art. Nothing less than the complete and utter ruination of a noble human spirit.”

This probably shows when I discovered comics, but thus far, Batman R.I.P. reminds me a lot of Knightfall from the early nineties…only if written by one of the most inventive minds in comics and a bit more consciously abstract. We still haven’t been told exactly who or what The Black Glove is, but they manage to strip Bruce Wayne down to nothing in a matter of scenes…attacking the memory of his dead parents, his current relationships, his sense of self, and even the trusty butler. Jezebel is proving more important with every chapter, posing the questions that anyone would naturally have about Bruce and his mental state, which convinces me she’s somehow involved in all this…the secret is that it’s all connected…

All-Star Superman #11 (Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely/Jamie Grant)

“What a life!”

Little sad because it’s almost over and these are easily my favorite Superman comics of all time. Is it humanly possible to dislike this book? It’s like Morrison is giving a seminar on how to write the original superhero with style and flair and we get to attend another session whenever a new issue comes out. There is undoubtedly an Absolute edition of this in the future, and once it drops, DC will be able to hold it up as one of the most relevant and enduring takes on Superman of the modern age. Hell, possibly any age…

Final Crisis #1 (Grant Morrison/J.G. Jones)

“There was a war in Heaven, Mister Turpin, and I won. Your future belongs to

Dark Side now.”

So here we go…the biggest book in a long list of big books released this week. Most people will naturally compare this to Secret Invasion, but they seem to be two completely different projects on nearly every level. Cover price is the same, I suppose, but that’s about it. Morrison manages to condense every DC mini from the past year into this debut, in addition to building his own story of what happened “the day evil won,” which is a fairly impressive feat. There are, as always, your usual Morrison flourishes, like the Guardians treating the entire Earth as a crime scene, Turpin learning the secret of the Dark Side Club, and the JLA calling “condition amber.” It has the feel of an event piece certainly, where you just know things are going to get progressively worse for the heroes, and Morrison wrote enough of these arcs in JLA to inspire great confidence going forward. It also has gorgeous artwork from J.G. Jones, who has clearly been away from interiors for too long. A fine start, that will only get better…nice cover, too…

And that is how you properly consume over a dozen comics, ladies and gentlemen. Weeks like this are exactly why I read comics, and also why I haven’t quit my day job. Thanks for dropping by and back soon.

B

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