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The Master

Every comic you've read in 2017

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America 1: I was gonna be responsible and wait on this. But between just about everyone I know in the comics industry and the people who really blossomed her (Gillen and McKelvie) recommending it, and after a long week, I gave in. Couldn't be happier, especially at that final panel. You've got me, Rivera and Quinones.

Single Issues: 97
Trades/Graphic Novels: 19
Omnibuses: 1

 

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Deathblow #1-2: Basically, this is Jim Lee aping Frank Miller's Sin City style but setting it in a military comic. It's not for me.

Comics: 131

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Copra Compendium vol 1 and 2: I tried really hard to like this. I like the art, I like the weirdness. None of it really gels for me though.

Cyberforce Artifacts #0: out of the three (four?) stories in this anthology comic, only one features an actual member of Cyber Force. Dumb.

Dead Inside #1: a murder mystery set inside a prison? Ok.

Deathstroke #9: this was alright.

Demonic #5: pretty good.

Comics: 219
Trades: 12

Graphic Novels: 8

Omnibuses: 3

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America #1: This was a little too fast-paced for me. Instead of taking its time with any one scene, it bounces around until the funny-as-hell climax. For instance, before America heads off to college, she:

  • Wraps up a fight (five pages).
  • Is debriefed by The Ultimates (one page).
  • Has an argument with her girlfriend (two pages).
  • Meets with Hawkeye (one page).

Once she arrives on campus, she:

  • Crosses a local sorority (one page).
  • Bickers with a teacher (three-ish pages).
  • Co-invents time travel (one page).
  • Then the book wraps up (two pages).

It never slows down enough for us to get to know America. Don't get me wrong, I truly enjoyed the book artistically and the brief scenes were well-written, but to better understand who America is, we need to spend some time with her either in one place or with one person. Otherwise it's telling us, not showing us.

Hopefully the next issue takes its time, as I want to love this book. Right now, I like it.

Comics: 132

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America #1: Hannah and I talked about this on the podcast. There's a lot of growing pains (Ms. Rivera uses too many word balloons and occasionally narrates action on panel [page five, panel two is particularly egregious]), and its aesthetic is Not For Me. That's good, not every comic should be aimed in my direction, but I didn't care for the end result.

Case in point: Ms. America's girlfriend flies a gay pride flag out of her apartment, visible from the street. In the foreground, Joe Quinones draws the two lovers flirting and moving closer to each other. In the background of a panel where the two almost kiss, the background is the gay pride flag. They don't need to have the gay pride flag in the background when the foreground is the two women kissing, have some faith in your readers, team.

Maybe I'm missing something.

I get the impression the team (Rivera, Quinones, Joe and Paolo Rivera and Villarrubia) designed this for readers new to comics generally. Good lookin' out for commissioning what looks like an all latinx creative team on this, and one with so many Eisners too.

I enjoyed the hyper compression. No scene felt too short. I wish it luck. The direct market is unreliable at the best of times and outright cruel at the worst.

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Star Wars: Infinities - Return of the Jedi #1-4: 

Plain and simple, I did not like this one. This is early Image artwork but in 2004, with thick, inky lines in some places and thin, scratchy lines elsewhere. It's wholly inconsistent, ugly, and very rushed. This is honestly a page from the second issue:

star-wars-rubbish.jpg

What the hell is up with R2, and what did they do to Yoda's face?

That page reminds me a bit of what I didn't like in Larroca's art in the Vader series, but much worse. 

 

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I just read America #1 too.

My favorite thing was the art. From Quinones' pencils, to the inks by the Riveras to Villarrubia's colors, this is a beauty to look at.

At the high risk of speaking from the wrong station (and please call me out if I am), I thought that this book was drowning in on-the-nose storytelling. Every single scene is about how awesome America is as a character, but like Mike said it's mostly telling and not showing. It's like, it's so cool that she can fight, and isn't it cool that she has friends, and isn't it cool that her team respects her as a leader?...the presentation was a bit too glorified IMO. Her minority status also felt like it was being displayed on a billboard throughout every page the comic. It didn't feel personal or ingratiating, it felt like it was saying "Look at this!"

Like the scene with Lisa, one page everything's going good, the next page America yells at her and dumps her. It reads like a dictation of events rather than a pair of personal moments for the main character. Even the page outside her apartment was drawn like outsiders looking in, rather than a shot/reverse shot of the two lovers faces in a close up. And why is their kiss in silhouette? This is ridiculously nit-picky, I know, but I honestly feel that if the book/character is meant to authenticate a minority segment of readers by way of their representation through her character, keeping the majorly personal scenes of the book at a visual distance does the creators' intentions and book's potential a disservice. 

Additionally, the "For Princess Leia's sake!" line stuck out at me, but I'm unfamiliar with America so I figure she's just being a dork. But is "Holy Menstruation!" really something anyone says? 

I may well be just be allowing negative feelings to preemptively infect my reading of the comic. We're never always as liberal as we like to think we are. But I was genuinely taken out of the book several times because of the scenes and moments I listed. It really might just come down to Gabby Rivera's writing. Marvel has minority-led comics all over, and they range in success-rate when it comes to authentic portrayal, but I'd say stuff like Totally Awesome Hulk and Ms. Marvel succeed far more often then they fail, if they ever. But maybe the second issue will be better.

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TFW everyone is reading America #1 and you've never seen an example of why the character is worth reading a single issue of even when you read the first issue of almost everything.

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I would also keep in mind that Rivera has only written a YA novel that's focused around a queer Latina prior to this (which I think counts for a lot of the telegraphing going on.) A lot of this I'm willing to put down to being the initial transition between the forms. 

(Side note; Wil Moss is the commissioning editor on this, and man, between this, Ta-Nehisi, Leth, and Roxane Gay, he is really going for minority prose writers.)

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Karnak #1-6: What happens when you pitch a two- or three-issue story that is stretched into six issues? You get entire issues with nearly zero dialogue and needless fight scenes.

Comics: 138

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Limbo: Hella meta intrigue set in voodoo New Orleans. Great work, another Image gem. (Also, maybe the first time I've seen EyeHateGod get a nod in a comic.)

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Quantum Teens are Go #1: A teenage couple raid high-tech facilities in an effort to build a time machine. All the while, they run afoul of science street gangs. Despite a little too much exposition and not being sure where it's headed, this was fun. The pencils and inks give this book its flavor, and do a great job flowing from the action-heavy scenes to the quieter moments, such as waking up battered and bruised the morning after a fight. The bright-but-not-too-bright colors work wonders for the book, too. I've preordered the first four issues, and I'm pleased with that decision.

The Deep #1-2 (of 6): If Fantastic Four focused on deep-sea missions rather than space and other dimensions, The Deep would be that book. And it's so much fun!

Fissure #1: An ominous, gas-spewing fissure splits a racially divided Texas town down the middle. Stuck on opposite sides of the crack are a young, pregnant Mexican woman and an equally young American man. This is mostly setup, and it does a good job at that. We see the dynamics of the two families, get hints of how the town is already split in two, and are shown signs of what's to come. Like Quantum Teens are Go, I'm happily in for at least four preordered issues.

Comics: 142

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Detective Comics #947: solid end to this arc.

Divinity III: Stalinverse #1: pretty cool. Not sure how I feel about the "this isn't the real reality" angle as I basically prefer my alt realities to be on their own, but I really liked this otherwise.

Divinity III: Kamandar Bloodshot #1: Solid.

Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #2, 3: pretty good,. I prefer teenage Wiccan to adult Wiccan, but whatever.

Ether #2: Don't think I'll read any more of this.

Frostbite #4: I think I'm done here.

Moebius Library - World of Edena: hard to believe this 300+ pages of graphic novels all stemmed from a four page Citroen car ad. Loved it. Rambly and weird, but beautiful and profound.

Comics: 226
Trades: 12

Graphic Novels: 8

Omnibuses: 4

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Scarlet Witch 5: Except for a few pages of dialogue at the beginning and end, Robinson trusts Pulido to carry the story wordlessly, and it's a damn good choice.

Black Monday Murders 4: Continues to be a good, pretty, dense as fuck read. Especially love the stuff we got uncovered here re: one of the character's past. 

Wonder Woman Year One (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14): This was apparently the price for Rucka coming back to DC. Nicola has several shiver up the spine moments, and Rucka weaves several small lovely touches in. Also neat to see Everly on the fill in issue (8), as she's due to take Nicola's place on the alternate issues. 

Single Issues: 106
Trades/Graphic Novels: 19
Omnibuses: 1

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Wolverine: The End - Seemed like a reasonable thing to read before Logan.  But, no.  This is not good.  Not good at all.  I don't think any of these End books have been. 

Gotham Central - Now this, this was excellent.  Only small complaint is the art got a little bit rough in the third trade.  Other than that, I loved this.

Single Issues: 0
Trades/Graphic Novels: 20 (154)

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Black Widow (1999) #1-3: This is too brief for its own good, in that it does very little to develop Natasha's plight, and even less to properly introduce Yelena as a would-be replacement for Natasha. The younger Widow briefly takes up Natasha's mission, but we're never told why. Then she returns to her Natasha-hating ways. In truth, I think it all comes down to the format; three issues is not enough space to tell an international spy story, at least not one featuring an ex-lover, hints of a dead husband, and a youthful replacement. That level of baggage -- on top of the actual threat moving the plot forward -- requires at least one additional issue. So I can't place all of the blame on Devin Grayson; she was actively hindered by the format, as it feels like entire pages are missing near the end.

All that said, despite this being 18 years old, JG Jones' art is fucking amazing and holds up like you would not believe.

Comics: 145

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Midnight Massacre (Nightstalkers #10, Ghost Rider #40, Darkhold #11, Morbius: The Living Vampire #12, Spirits of Vengeance #13): After reading a page from The Darkhold, Blade takes it upon himself to murder every mystical character in the Marvel Universe. In the process, he gains their powers, becoming nigh-unstoppable. This starts out rocky by weaving in a lot of soap opera-like backstory with the magical elements of the MU, evens out a little around the third and fourth parts, then ends without much resolution. Blade suffers no retribution for killing two Ghost Riders, Morbius, and others; the reset button is pushed; and everyone literally walks away in the end. While I'm sure threads will be picked up in the individual books, not giving readers a real resolution was a major misstep.

Also, Frank Drake is such a moron.

Like Franken-Castle, if you enjoy the darker, mystical side of Marvel, you may get something out of this one. For me, it was rough and inaccessible. 

Comics: 150

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Also, Frank Drake is such a moron.

One might say he's worthy of someone with a Tomb of Dracula podcast stealing a death related bit from BOTI because he hates that dipshit so much. 

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Conan: Queen of the Black Coast: Becky Cloonan, then James Harren do some rip roarin' fantasy violence. Also, titties. A good fun read.

Batman 1: Pretty solid first issue (this is the start of the King run); not anything particularly amazing to me, but it has my interest. I'd pick more up for $1 each.

Single Issues: 107
Trades/Graphic Novels: 20
Omnibuses: 1

Edited by Venneh

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Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior v1 (Risen): This is real, real good. I'm pretty sure @Dread wrote about this for a long minute last year, so mea culpa, dude.

EDIT: THIS IS JAMES ON HANNAH'S ACCOUNT ON JAMES' COMPUTER (Hannah on her account on James computer taking the computer back from him: yeah this happens occasionally okay back to account inception also what he said hot damn this is amazing)

Single Issues: 107
Trades/Graphic Novels: 21
Omnibuses: 1

Edited by Venneh
THIS IS JAMES ON HANNAH'S ACCOUNT ON JAMES' COMPUTER WHOOPS

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Zero Girl: Full Circe: Written and Illustrated by Sam Keith. Read this on a whim. Haven't read the main Zero Girl miniseries that preceded it, but I didn't feel too lost.

I loved this.i t was published in 2003 but it reads totally like an Avant-garde, early 90s devil-may-care comic. Themes of identity and loss and sexuality mixed with truly bizarre imagery.  I've appreciated Sam Keith's style for years, and it's great to see he can write incisively too. Gonna check out the original Zero Girls next.

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Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior v1 (Risen): This is real, real good. I'm pretty sure @Dread wrote about this for a long minute last year, so mea culpa, dude.

EDIT: THIS IS JAMES ON HANNAH'S ACCOUNT ON JAMES' COMPUTER (Hannah on her account on James computer taking the computer back from him: yeah this happens occasionally okay back to account inception also what he said hot damn this is amazing)

Single Issues: 107
Trades/Graphic Novels: 21
Omnibuses: 1

Volume 2 is better by a huge margin, too, @jim or @Venneh or whoever the hell I'm talking to now. 

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Oh yeah, we got to that a few months ago. We worked backwards with the second humble bundle.

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Green River Killer - A graphic novel Dark Horse put out about six years ago.  Was well done.  With no action and basically two hundred pages of talking heads this was a surprisingly quick read.  Art was on point as well.  Like I said, well done.  However, it does come off as an episode of, say, Criminal Minds.  Makes sense with the 'based on true event' thing and all.

Single Issues: 0
Graphic Novels: 1
Trades:
20 (154)

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