Weirdworld #1

WEIRDWORLD #1

Capsule Review

Weirdworld was an unexpected part of Marvel’s most recent Secret Wars, and the setting gets its shot as an ongoing here. It doesn’t quite work. Part of the problem is that the book is named after a setting. Would you pick up a book titled, “Manhattan?” Or, “Moon” or “Gotham?” (Ok, that last one, probably.) Your first experience with Weirdworld can’t help but be a little rootless, but it might be rescued by the right characters and conflict, and that is the case with this book … almost. We have a time-lost teen cast ashore in Weirdworld’s trackless weirdness, brought together with a broad-shouldered warrior woman who takes special delight in carving up wizards. S’okay, but too-easily disposable, and doesn’t sufficiently anchor us inside Weirdworld, which suffers for being a setting where seemingly anything can occur at all. On the one hand, this offers unlimited possibilities, but the downside is the reader has no clue what to expect, and it is all too easy to slip into Weirdworld as a generic trial, a series of one damn (weird) thing after another. (I didn’t much like Weirdworld as the setting for Black Knight’s book, either). Writer Sam Humphries gives me a reason to care about the main character with an end-of-issue reveal, and artist Mike Del Mundo’s painterly style is interesting to look at, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts. It is books like this that drive home how often we overlook the value of the mainstream Marvel Universe as a safety net for comics that might not quite work on their own. World-building is hard, and this bit of (Weird)world building falls short.

Approachability For New Readers

It’s weird (what would you expect?), but it works.

Read #2?

I don’t think so.

Sales Rank

#85 December

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Weirdworld #1

Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! #1

PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT #1

Capsule Review

I liked this book, once I accepted this wasn’t my Hellcat. She isn’t the nutcase that extorted the Beast into making her a member of the superhero club; she isn’t the soft-centered hardcase from the recent Jessica Jones TV series; and she isn’t the crazy girl who won my heart by blowing up coffee pots after she joined the Defenders, either. This time, the girl in the catsuit is an out-of-work second-string superhero trying to make ends meet as a “Super Temp” — a kind of on-call, fill-in hero-for-hire. It is a cracked premise, but one that makes perfect sense to Patsy, the kind of hero who will spend a dozen pages getting to know the “supervillain” that she just foiled, incidentally talking him out of a life of crime (and gaining a roomate!) along the way. As in other recent incarnations of this character, Patsy’s publication past as a Golden Age comics character is part of her backstory, in the form of embarrassing romance comics written by her mother. Hijinks result. The letters column admits this is an “all-ages” book, and it has more to do with teenish drama about friends and jobs than leaping around in a super-suit, but I still liked it, most of the time. On that same letters page, writer Kate Leth promises to transcend that all-ages stigma, and walks the walk when Patsy stumbles onto a copy of “Butts Volume IX” in an LGBT bookstore. Yes, this happens. In fact, you might be best off reading the letters page before you begin the issue — it will help you understand what the creators are trying to do, and why artist Brittney L. Williams sometimes draws Patsy to look like a twelve-year-old girl. (It’s called “chibi” style — who knew?)

Approachability For New Readers

Very good. The tongue-in-cheek flashback summary of the character on page two was a treat.

Read #2?

Sure!

Sales Rank

#49 December

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Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat #1

Starbrand And Nightmask #1

STARBRAND AND NIGHTMASK #1

Capsule Review

One of the fascinating things about this latest Marvel re-launch has been watching the various storytelling lines take shape. You have the X-Men off in their usual niche, and the Inhumans trying to establish their own franchise, and a couple Avengers books covering the establishment side of the tracks, and a whack of assorted oddities set in Hel or the old west or Weirdworld that seem destined for early cancellation. You know — the usual! What feels fresh is the emergence of an unofficial Marvel “Tweener-verse,” comprised of books like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, Devil Dinosaur, Nova, and Hellcat, all of which occupy a kind of second-tier-hero space — not because the heroes are second-tier so much as because they are young. In ages past we would have called them sidekicks, or the Teen Titans, but these characters are clearly something different — more deliberately diverse, with a whiff of “all-ages” suitability, and a mission to reach “new” readers (anyone other than older white guys, basically). I like most of these books, but Starbrand and Nightmask … not so much. It checks most of the boxes — young heroes, a school setting, even a cameo from Squirrel Girl — but where those other books have mostly felt the organic product of newish voices, this title feels manufactured, like it exists only for the purpose of filling out this new emerging line, without really having anything to say for itself. For me, the biggest failing was in the characters. I came into the book vaguely aware of Starbrand as something at the center of a childish vendetta against Jim Shooter, and Nightmask as something you wear to combat sleep apnea, and I left knowing not much more. Apologies in advance if these guys are your favorite characters, but here they are wet noodles, whistled up out of Young Adult Central Casting to act awkward and out-of-place on the first day of school, but doing precious little to get me onboard aside from some perfunctory superheroics and a throw-away reference to one of the adultish-looking characters actually being only three earth-years old. Even an appearance by my old-fave Nitro (virtually unrecognizable as drawn by Domo Stanton) couldn’t rescue writer Greg Weisman’s tale. Dunno. Maybe I’m just too old.

Approachability For New Readers

Fine.

Read #2?

Nope!

Sales Rank

#94 December

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Starbrand And Nightmask #1

All-New Inhumans #1

ALL-NEW INHUMANS #1

Capsule Review

I don’t think anyone asked for two (or three?) Inhumans books, but with Marvel set on grooming the line to replace the X-Men (lost for the time-being to Fox), we’re going to get the Inhumans whether we like it or not. Resistance is futile! All-New Inhumans lays down more of the X-Men-Meets-Game-of-Thrones storytelling DNA that is supposed to characterize this bold new franchise initiative, and the results are muddled, though superior to the thrown-together-feeling Uncanny Inhumans. Here we follow the attempt to deal with the sudden explosion of Inhuman population by the fractured Inhuman royal family. A Terrigen mist cloud is wandering the earth, spawning new superhumans in its wake, and leaving a trail of chaos as those heroes come into their powers (and run up against the kind of mutants-go-home fear and intolerance that’s been a staple of X-Men books for decades). James Asmus and Charles Soule’s script runs to the wordy side, and there is a confusing line-up of new characters and situations to absorb, but the central story of a familiar character in Crystal finding herself thrust forward as Inhumans ambassador to the whole planet holds things together (mostly). Stefano Caselli’s art is sketchier than I like, but he draws expressions well enough, and the storytelling is pretty solid — no mean feat for a script with this many moving parts. Reading the book at times felt like work, but if the Inhumans are moving in and you’re a regular Marvel guy, it’s work you should probably do.

Approachability For New Readers

Hard going. They’re trying real hard to get across needed exposition without being expository, and it is going to take several issues to play out. But this does have the sense of the New Normal for Marvel, and I doubt it is going to get any easier to jump on later (though reading these books in collected form might be the best approach).

Read #2?

Borderline … but yes. Eventually. When I can binge through a pile.

Sales Rank

#27 December

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All-New Inhumans #1

All-New X-Men #1

ALL-NEW X-MEN #1

Capsule Review

The X-Men books have been among the most reliable titles in this whole Marvel re-launch, and All-New X-Men is right there with the rest, passing muster with a book that doesn’t change your religion, but delivers a couple dozen pages of entertaining mutant funnybook action. The All-New X-Men in this book are the old guys — or the new/old guys — that Brian Michael Bendis brought into Marvel continuity a couple years ago … the original X-Men, from back in the 60s, zapped forward into our time by the Beast because, well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. This lead to multiple versions of Iceman and Cyclops and the rest of the guys running around at the same time, and it was only natural to assume the originals would be returned to their own time when the gimmick expired, but they didn’t and it hasn’t and so we have the new/old gang together again, starring in their second series (by my count), and they’re just as confusing as ever. You either go with these things, or you don’t. Normally I’m a fuddy-duddy about deep-continuity comics but I read the preceding Bendis run last year, and I almost kinda-sorta knew what was going on here … which is basically the continuing adventures of our time-lost heroes settling into the new timestream, if only because going back would seem to doom them to becoming murders/pariahs/purveyors of interstellar genocide. And when you think about it, that makes sense … given the chance to avoid becoming their parents, what kid wouldn’t do it? All of which says precious little about this particular issue, which only peripherally touches on those issues, concentrating instead on establishing the chemistry of the new cast, with the crew on the lookout for a MIA Cyclops who is taking the matter of a criminal Cyclops cargo cult into his own hands. Artist Mark Bagley is good at drawing attractive, youngish-looking heroes, and Dennis Hopeless keeps the dialogue snappier than you’d expect for a book from the doom-and-gloom X-Men line, although I was a bit confused by the way he juxtaposed his voice-over captions. Overall, it works.

Approachability For New Readers

Basically impossible. You have the young/old X-Men teamed with lady Wolverine treating the as-yet unpublished finale of Marvel’s latest Secret Wars like some kind of third rail, so good luck figuring out what the heck is going on. But there are some familiar characters and X-Men books are always a bit of a jumble, so it’s not so different than jumping into the middle of a series from decades past. Of course, a #1 issue might reasonably be held to a higher standard of clarity … but I’m just pissing in the wind complaining about this stuff at this point.

Read #2?

Sure, sooner or later.

Sales Rank

#14 December

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Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.

All-New X-Men #1

 

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