Back to the BIFF!-ing and the BAM!-ing
As I may or may not have mentioned at some point, I've started to tread back into the seductive waters of superhero comics again after a three-year absence. I used to read comics regularly, and while I wasn't a heavy user, I'd show up regularly at the comic shop every week and leave with, on average, three or four comics in hand. I stopped, not out of any deep-seated dissatisfaction with comics, but rather for more mundane and practical reasons--I no longer had a comic book store within easy reach. I flirted with ordering on-line for a while, but found the whole process to cumbersome and expensive to maintain. Well, I now have a pusher within easy reach once again and have been settling into old habits once more. So, here's a quick look at the titles I'm currently reading, and what I think of them:
This is the one book I probably regret losing track of most. I got the Vol. 2 trade collection and have managed to get caught up via back issues with all but one issue, so I mostly have my bearings again. I have to confess to simply loving the large-scale, epic feel of this series. I was a big fan of The Authority when it was big, and I never would have thought that so much of that series tone, ethos, and approach would translate so well to a modern Avengers book. And yet it does. I have a sinking feeling it'll be a long haul until issue 12 comes out, but it's nonetheless the single issue I'm most anticipating.
I jumped back on for the current follow-up to the Winter Soldier storyline, and so far, so good (but not so great). The somber, espionage-y, Clancy-esque style isn't my favorite Cap approach, but it's fun enough to keep it going for a while.
So far I've been not-too successful at not picking up all the ancillary titles as well as the actual mini-series itself. My overall impression of the whole shebang is very good - I love the concept itself, like how they've drawn up the sides so far, and appreciate the levels of characterization that have been given attention. Captain America in opposition to the Federal government is actually a recurring theme of the book, and I've always loved the notion of Captain America and Iron Man as the opposite poles that balanced The Avengers and made them work. Spider-Man's unmasking I'm a bit shakier on, motivation-wise, but as a plot turn and a new area for the character to explore, I'm all for it. I like Millar, but he is showing some tiredness already in the main series already, which is perhaps not the best of signs. (The bit in the last issue with Captain America basically tricking Iron Man with the old "psyche!" fake handshake gag was in all honesty pretty lame. And that Cap's rebels are being outfitted with tech is a kind of a cheat, isn't it? wouldn't it be more interesting to see what Cap and his team would do if they were really "underground," and not hiding in a Nick Fury super-hideout?) Still, I'm hooked on the larger story and will be in for the long haul.
Through the pure magic that is the inter-library loan system, I just read the last year and a half or so Stracyzinski Spider-Man stories, including the infamous Gwen's kids storyline. I liked them OK, I guess, but was far from in love. What I'm still trying to suss out is how this Peter Parker-Tony Stark relationship came about. Right now it feels a bit strained and forced, although I like the notion of it conceptually, and I'm trying to determine if that's because I'm missing an important piece of the puzzle that set it up in the first place.
I love me some Bendis, but some of this has felt really stale. The whole storyline with the mutant absorbing the energies of all the dead mutants felt very, very bad early-90s to me, although the gift for dialogue was, as always, spot-on. Still, the first Civil War tie-in, focusing on Cap, was excellent, so I'll be sticking around for a while.
I'm just loving Whedon's take on the X-Men, pure and simple. He gets these characters completely, and the story so far has me hooked almost as much as the dialogue and characterization do.
This is the only title I managed to keep completely current on during my sojourn in the wilderness. I went to the trades while I was away from comics, and have now gone back into the monthlies. What I find so impressive about how much I love this series is how fond of it I am despite the fact that I really don't care at all for Mark Bagley as an artist. I didn't like him on his 90s Amazing Spider-Man run, and I'm not really fond of his work here. But Bendis' mastery of this character, and his compelling and energetic retelling of the Spider-Man saga has me hooked. All that being said, the just-started "Clone" storyline does have alarm bells ringing. We shall see.
Those are pretty much the titles I'm reading regularly. I'll try the odd issue of something if it looks intriguing or if I read good things (like Busiek's first Superman issue - nothing special there, so I won't be adding that to the "regulars" list), but these are the ones I'm committing to.
(Oh, and, yes, I am pretty much a Marvel Zombie - why do you ask?)