The Comic Book Roundup 31/10/12
It’s a short week for DC, mostly consisting of annuals and miniseries. Fortunately, DC annuals are chances to throw in some pretty epic team-ups. The absolute best among these is, of course, Batgirl Annual #1. Not only does Admira Wijaya supply some absolutely sensational art, but Gail Simone writes such a beautiful Batgirl/Catwoman team-up that it makes me want to write letters to DC demanding she write the Catwoman comic. Batgirl is her usual do-gooder self, and Catwoman is written with an abrasive personality and bawdy humour, but with bravery, a hidden heroic streak, and a surprisingly big heart that marks the first time since the reboot I’ve seen a glimpse of my old favourite character.
The other annuals this week are no slouches in the team-up department either: Action Comics Annual #1 gives us Superman fighting kryptonite-irradiated wife-beating villain K-Man (fun fact: the K stands for Kryptonite!) with some help from good-hearted cyborg Steel. This issue also runs with the subtle theme DC likes to bring up occasionally about how one can be a hero and do good by offering aid to poorer countries, and investing in more ecologically responsible technology. It’s a good message, and one that DC does like to mention a fair bit, but it always impresses me how they never make it sound preachy.
Meanwhile, in Justice League Dark Annual #1, a mega team-up of all the mystical beings in the DCU is in progress. It’s like the Ocean’s Thirteen of magic: Constantine, Black Orchid and Deadman crash their house in the desert and happen to bump into Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (who for some reason I can never just refer to as Frankenstein) and Madame Xanadu, who is dragging with her the reluctant boy wizard Timothy Hunter. But six magicians aren’t enough for Constantine, so he summons Amethyst of the new Sword and Sorcery series and Andrew Bennett from I, Vampire. Then, naturally, they all burst in on the bad guy to rescue Zatanna and pick up the Books of Magic. As for what exactly the Books of Magic do… well, let’s just say Arthur C Clarke would be proud and leave it at that.
Swamp Thing Annual #1, sadly, doesn’t quite live up to the expectations set by the others. Sure, it has a few truly creepy moments that we’ve come to expect of the quasi-Vertigo title, but the love story between Alec and Abby, whilst sweet, is so by-the-book Hollywood that it feels ridiculous. If it turns out some bizarre magic was afoot, I will be happy, because that is pretty much the only way this makes sense. There’s a team-up of sorts, with Poison Ivy and other allies of the Green, but mostly they just stand around looking respectful while the representatives of the Green talk. Not the most stunning team-up ever.
In the c-c-c-combo breaker of this weeks annuals and minis theme, Aquaman #13 reminds us why Aquaman is amazing, despite what that moronic teenager in the comic shop said last Saturday. Arthur hangs up the Aquaman costume -spending most of the issue covered in water and shirtless (eep!)- but then his buxom red-haired wife drapes herself over his arm and reminds him he’s amazing so he goes “Fuck that, I’m Aquaman” and stabs that dumbass helmet right off of Manta’s stupid head. AQUAMAN!
As for the miniseries, Phantom Lady and Doll Man #3 gives us, just in time for Halloween, an undead villainess with the power to turn innocent bystanders into zombies. Doll Man, a lot cooler than his name and previous incarnations would have us believe, immediately launches into scientific explanations, battle, and musings on whether or not Romero rules apply- in that order. Once this mini-series is over, I’m sure John Constantine will let them join the JLD. It’s not like he’s ever turned anyone down.
But the prize for most terrifying read of the year has got to go to Lot 13 #1, a new miniseries covering the mysterious haunting of an average suburban family. Following a horrific prologue, a typical family prepares to move house in a scene which could work as a sitcom pilot. The hauntings, in accordance with the first rule of good horror, don’t go for the full scare straight away; all the weirdness is easily explained, and the reader is the only one freaking out. And boy, will you freak out.
Following in the footsteps of AvX Versus comes A+X #1, which is exactly like AvX Versus but with team-ups instead of in-fighting, but at least the opening Q&A page has humour enough to recognise this. This first issue shows a 40s-camp Cap and Bucky beating Nazi sentinels with the help of indeterminate-apocalyptic-future-most-definitely-not-camp-at-all Cable. Cable doesn’t really get to do much, but it’s just funny to see these two surprisingly similar super-soldiers in the same place. The second feature also mucks about with time and space, with Wolverine and Hulk putting aside their debate over who gets the last slice of cake to fight… future Wolverine and Hulk? So that would make it, I guess, A+XvA+X? My head hurts.
Anyways, in AvX Consequences #4, the long-standing tradition of having a different cast member each issue telling Cyclops how much he sucks, stopping just short of throwing the burly guy in the cell across the way a tub of vaseline and a packet of Viagra, this issue instead has various characters offering help, sympathy and inspirational pep talks. So you know something awful is gonna happen to poor old Cyke. Sadly, even I couldn’t find it in myself to feel glee at this.
X-Men Legacy #275 and New Mutants #50 are final issues in preparation for Marvel NOW! Legacy is due to reboot next month, but New Mutants is not. All I’ll say with regards to that is that if Cypher and Warlock don’t get moved to another X-title pretty soon, I am gonna be one mad panda. Anyway, Legacy ends with Rogue and Mimic fighting a rebellion at a superpowered prison, in a plot which can best be described as “Steal ALL THE POWERS!” New Mutants ends in a house party with X-Men, Avengers and Mephisto (he brings flowers) beer, BBQ and Cypher saving Warlock’s friend from being taken over by his evil parent unit. Standard. Meanwhile, in not-being-cancelled-thank-the-Phoenix Wolverine and the X-Men #19, Broo fights for his life after being attacked by the Hellfire Kids Club, whose tactics have gotten disturbing, even for them. On a lighter note, Kitty interviews potential teachers, resulting in a familiar face rejoining the regular cast. Sadly, it’s not Deadpool.
Where DC’s annuals were all about the team-ups, Avenging Spider-Man Annual #1 goes in a different direction. A piece of alien tech heightens everyone’s aggression in New York City, leading to Spidey facing off against the Future Foundation. It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as Spidey shares a smooch with another popular Marvel character (SPOILER ALERT: It’s the Thing) The Mighty Thor #22 presents courtroom drama, Asgardia-style, with Amora the Enchantress prosecuting Thor for bringing conflict upon the Asgardian people. Seriously, who lets this psychotic bitch into any position where she can influence others? Oh, right, it was Odin. Go to Hel, Odin. In other news, Captain Marvel #6 resolves Carol’s wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey shenanigans to (I hope) get on with some non-timefuck storylines; and Winter Soldier #12 plunges on with its tale of how Black Widow’s been brainwashed into working for Russia again and only Bucky Barnes can save her- possibly the biggest step backwards for feminism in Marvel since Jessica Jones.
In Ultimate Spider-Man #16.1, a pain-in-the-ass journalist who will stop at nothing to get a sparse collection of dubious facts she finds interesting published on the front page gets brutally murdered by Venom. I’d spoiler-alert that, but the only reason anyone would read this comic is purely to see this bitch die, and I’d hate for you to miss that. Elsewhere in the Ultimate Universe, Kitty Pryde negotiates with President Captain America over rights for mutants in Ultimate X-Men #18. It’s not thrilling, but you do get to see Kitty with a massive gun and more of Rogue and Quire making out, so if you’re into that…