Weekly Comic Round-Up, September 11, 2013 Edition

by Aaron Einhorn
Welcome back! If you’ve followed me here from Comic Hero News, or going even farther back to Underneath My Mask, than you probably remember that one of the regular features I had was a review of the comics I’m reading that week. Full disclosure: This is not everything I read, and it’s not everything that hit the stands this week. It is, however, the books I feel merit being talked about, either because they were awesome or because there was something really, really wrong with them.

So, here we go. What came home with me from The Laughing Ogre? Read on.

astrocity4_c01Astro City #4 “On the Sidelines”
There are a few things that you can safely skip mentioning when talking about comics. You hardly need to say that “The Hulk is strong,” or that “Reed Richards is smart,” or that “Bruce Wayne is rich.”

In that vein? It’s almost beside the point to say that any particular issue of Astro City is good. It’s not that the series has been perfect (as it has evolved from publisher to publisher), but overall, Busiek, Anderson and Ross have managed to create an extraordinary world of supers by focusing on the human inside the superhuman. This latest issue focuses on a middle-aged telekinetic, but she isn’t a superhero, nor is she a supervillain. She mainly works in film, providing special effects work. She’s not alone – there are any number of superpowered individuals who just aren’t wired for hero work, but who also aren’t dishonest enough to become villains. These “sideliners” have an informal network, keeping in touch with one another and helping each other out.

Of course, this wouldn’t be much of a superhero comic if all it ever dealt with was their personal lives, so sure enough, an idiotic supervillain-wannabe tries to coerced the sideliners to work for him. With predictable results.

As always, this gets my strongest endorsement. There aren’t many books out there that are more worth your purchasing dollar than Astro City.

mongul_c01Earth-2-15-2-Solomon-Grundy-0Earth 2: Solomon Grundy #15.2 and Green Lantern: Mongul #23.2
You may recall that last week, I had some kind things to say about Forever Evil, the “cornerstone” book of DC’s entire Villains Month. I stand by that statement.

That said? Don’t waste your money on the individual titles. At $3.99 (thanks to their 3-D covers), these books are already overpriced. They insult the creative teams by not including their names on the covers. And the biggest offender? They’re almost entirely pointless.

I tried Desaad and Relic last week, and in both cases, was underwhelmed but not offended. They filled in some back story elements for the characters, and it was story that for the most part, we hadn’t seen yet.

To be fair, that’s true here as well. But by the time I had finished reading them, I realized that while it may have been new, it was entirely pointless. Did I need to see Solomon Grundy’s first incarnation, complete with “let’s rape the main character’s wife and have her commit suicide to give him pathos”? No. I knew everything I needed to about the New 52 Solomon Grundy from reading Earth 2. Similarly, watching Mongul destroy a civilization and kill a hapless admiral established him and Warworld as a threat – but that had long been established in the pages of Green Lantern.

I was expecting these titles to advance the ongoing story of their parent titles. I wasn’t expecting the Villains Month books to just rehash a backstory. I’m disgusted that DC has gotten as much money out of me for these books as they have, and really don’t intend to give them any more.

mightyavengers1_c01Mighty Avengers #1
I was a big fan of the original run of Mighty Avengers, and I’ve always been a fan of Luke Cage and his team of heroes. The down-to-Earth nature of Cage, compared to the more “big picture” views of many of the other Avengers, has always been a nice contrast. So, I was really excited for this book.

Sadly, what I got was fairly disappointing. Doctor Spider-Octopus has been entertaining to read in his own book, but in a crossover title, he’s just an ass. Cage was uncharacteristically slow to respond to Spidey’s accusation about being “mercenary,” and the actions of White Tiger and Power Man were just abrupt and cold.

It was great to see Monica Rambeau/Spectrum again – I enjoyed her brief appearance in Captain Marvel, and I have long been eager to see Marvel do more with her, but I also thought she was acting out of character. And I neither know nor care who the new Ronin is, which is a major failing for the primary mystery in the first issue of a series.

Perhaps I’ll enjoy the comic more once it moves away from Infinity, but I don’t know if my desire to send Marvel the message that, yes, books with heroes who are of color can sell, can win out against my “But it’s not very good right now, why spend the money?” desire.

XMen_BattleOfTheAtom_XMen_5_CoverX-Men #5
The third chapter of “Battle of the Atom” is here, and I’m happy to report that Brian Wood and company deliver. This meshes seamlessly with the last two installments, and I am loving seeing where this story goes. Young Scott and Jean are on the run, hijacking a Blackbird and fleeing from both the future X-Men (including a very scary vision of Xavier’s grandson and an older Jean), and the current team.

The X-Men being who they are, of course there is dissent among the team about what should happen to Scott, Jean, Hank, Bobby and Warren, and we see that as Kitty and Rachel express their… displeasure with seeing how their teammates are treating the kids.

Ultimately, Jean realizes that they will need allies to protect them from their fellow mutants, and she reaches out to a rather unlikely group of mutants to assist. The final panel wasn’t completely unexpected, but it still left me eager to see what will happen next. And that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with a story that can take you down a familiar road if you’re enjoying the trip.

“Battle of the Atom” rages on next week, and I’ll be happy to pick it up. I hope that this gets collected as a single trade, instead of having the issues appear in the trades of their respective titles. Because if it does? This could sit proudly next to “Days of Future Past” or “The Phoenix Saga” as being among my favorite X-Men arcs.

Meanwhile, Avengers #19 shows us a little bit more about what is happening to Carol Danvers and company among the Builders, and also sets the alliance up for betrayal, Avengers Arena #15 has the teens take down Bloodstone, while one (possibly two) of the youngsters join the ranks of the dead, Indestructible Hulk #13 takes the time-traveling Hulk into Camelot to defeat the next chrono-thief, Infinity: The Hunt #1 ties in to Avengers Arena as the Avengers Academy, Jean Grey School, Braddock School and other schools for superpowered teens come together for a contest, while Atlantis is devastated by Thanos’ forces, and Ultimate Comics Ultimates #30 brings an end to Reed Richards, the Hulk and “Kang”’s reign of terror in a rather unsatisfying whimper that sets us up for Hunger.

Thoughts? Disagreements? Want to offer up ideas on what books you’re reading this week? Let us know in the comments!