Tale From the Longbox: Comics I’ve Been Reading!
Here are some of the comics I’ve been reading lately:
Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis — It took such a long time for Warren Ellis and Kaare Andrew’s five-issue mini-series to come out, I decided to wait for all five issues to be published before reading it all in one go. I’m not quite sure why this was a miniseries, as opposed to just being published as part of the regular Astonishing X-Men series, but whatever. A decently entertaining story really rose in my interest mid-way through with a surprising twist that connected the narrative to a long-forgotten Captain Britain story-line: the Jaspers Warp. I adore those old Captain Britain stories, and getting to see Warpies and the Fury again really tickled my fancy. I do wish this story had lasted a few more issues — after a slow-burn build-up, everything got wrapped up surprisingly quickly.
Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #1 — The first Witchfinder mini-series, about paranormal investigator Sir Edward Grey’s adventures in London in 1879, was phenomenal, so I was very excited to read the first issue of the follow-up. The switch in art-styles and setting (this adventure is set in the Old West!) threw me for a bit of a loop, but by the end of the issue I was hooked on this new tale. John Serverin is a comic-book master illustrator, and seeing him work in Mike Mignola’s world is a thrill.
Powers #7 — After a weird detour during the first few issues of this third volume (that Rat Pack stuff just did NOT do it for me), with this issue I felt we were finally back with the Powers series that I knew and loved. I’m not sure where all of this Golden Ones stuff is going, but Christian Walker is back investigating the grisly death of a super-hero, and I couldn’t be happier. Plus, this issue sported a gorgeous cover by Michael Avon Oeming. I wish this book came out more frequently, but I’ll happily take what I can get. (And if the Powers TV series actually gets made, I will be super-excited!!)
Secret Warriors #25 — Puzzle pieces are falling into place fast and furiously as Jonathan Hickman’s series rushes to its conclusion. This issue was fun on every page as we learned a lot of key pieces of information about the linked histories of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra, and Leviathan, and the story finally connected with Mr. Hickman’s superlative millennia-spanning S.H.I.E.L.D. series. I have no idea where any of this is going, but I’m enjoying the hell out of the ride and I’ll be sorry to see it end.
John Byrne’s Next Men #4 — I found the first three issues of this long-awaited re-launch to be pretty choppy and somewhat directionless (with so many jumps from era to era, with no clear sense as to what was real and what was imaginary, I didn’t find myself connecting with any individual character or story-line), but here with the fourth issue I felt at last that the confident, twisty storytelling that Mr. Byrne exhibited in his original series from the ’90s (which still remains one of my favorite comic book series of all time) finally returned. I still have no idea what the heck is going on, or what exactly sort of story this new Next Men series is going to be telling over the (hopefully!) long-term, but this issue was exciting and dramatic and finally gave us a glimpse of the Next Men that I knew and remembered. It was fun seeing Jack, Bethany and Tony in action together again, even though it looks like terrible things have happened to our heroes since the previous series ended. I hope future issues maintain this level of quality.
X-Factor #216 — Jamie Madrox’s investigative agency’s latest client is J. Jonah Jameson. This is going to be fun. Another fantastically entertaining yarn from Peter David. (And as always, one of the biggest laughs of the issue was in the clever “Previously…” summery on pg. one.)
The New Avengers #9 — The present-day stuff was fun (Mr. Bendis writes great banter among the heroes — “Guess what time it is?”), but I was so happy (and surprised!) to see an extended flashback sequence of Nick Fury in 1959, illustrated by the great Howard Chaykin. More, please!
Captain America #614 — I’ve absolutely loved Ed Brubaker’s lengthy run on Captain America, but I felt the series lost it’s way for a while last year, when all the really interesting Captain America-related stuff seemed to be happening in other titles (such as The Return mini-series and the various Avengers books). But the current “Trial of Captain America” arc has reinvigorated my interest. (And it’s so great to see Bernie Rosenthal back!) The only downside: artist Butch Guice’s repeated use of a very famous photo of Gert Frobe as Auric Goldfinger from Goldfinger as his reference for Doctor Faustus. It was annoying in issue #613, and even more annoying when it happened again in this issue.