This week's stash: Sex Criminals #7, United States of Murder, Inc. #4, All-New X-Men #30
Growing up, my “local” comic book shop was about a 25-minute drive from my house and until I got my driver’s license, if I wanted to go there, I had to persuade my parents to give me a lift. But about 5 years ago, I managed to move into a house that is located several blocks away from the very same store. Ever since then, I’ve indulged in my boyhood fantasy of being able to take a 5 minute bike ride to this store one to three times a week and picking up whatever comics, books or games that I please.
So I thought I would take a few minutes every so often to blog a brief review of whatever comics/magazines/games I pick up on the way home from work. Please feel free to leave courteous comments if you’d like to discuss your take on these titles… or if there is something out there you think that I should be reading.
Here’s what you should expect from these reviews going forward:
1. A lot of Bendis. I read almost everything Bendis writes. If it were not for my discovering him in 2000 with Ultimate Spider-Man, I doubt that you’d be reading Epic! +1 and certainly Suburban Tribe would never have existed.
2. Lots of Marvel. A few independents.
3. No DC. I don’t do DC.
Let’s get started. I should mention the word SPOILERS if that kind of thing concerns you.
All-New X-Men #30
One of my favorite things about this title is the inclusion of X-23. Bendis addresses my major problem with the makeup of the X-Men in that so many male cast members (Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Wolverine, even Professor X…ew) were in love with Jean Grey. Question: Did Xavier have it written in his syllabus that you were only allowed to mate with other class members and could only leave campus to fight Magneto or get mobbed by racists? How hard would it have been for these guys to get into the city and find some interesting women to get their minds off Jean or even give Jean a run for her money? X-23 alleviates this problem by not only being a strong female character to add to the mix, but she’s also a version of Wolverine that upsets the Cyclops/Jean dynamic simply by being a woman. Having the O5 led by Kitty is a plus as well.
Anyway, Angel forgets about Jean as he and x-23 take an impromptu road trip and may or may not have spent the night together in one of Angel’s family vacation homes. Meanwhile, back at Cyclops’ Secret School in the abandoned Weapon X facility, Emma Frost and Jean Grey have a psychic battle of wills. Emma hits below the belt while Jean hits hard with some unspoken truths. I appreciate Jean and Emma coming to an understanding by the end of the issue – its more interesting than the two being at constant odds over a man that neither wants anything to do with anymore. But Emma’s attitude of invulnerable self-importance is so very tiresome and I’m dying for someone – either a writer or a character, I don’t care which – to make her just a little more humble.
Sex Criminals #7
This series is only 7 issues old and each one has been just great to read. It is not for readers under 18 and a healthy attitude toward sex is required to enjoy it. But if you meet those qualifications, you are missing out if you aren’t reading this book. In this issue, Suzie and Jon are dealing with their relationship exiting the honeymoon phase as Suzie tells her best friend Rachel about her and Jon’s time-stopping powers while Jon stops time to break into Kegelface’s home, where he discovers just exactly how much the Sex Police know.
This entire series is hilarious with poignant character studies of the two main leads. I can’t imagine someone not seeing some part of themselves reflected in Jon or Suzie and the art compliments the attitude and intent of the script’s jokes perfectly. This is the one Image comic I look forward to the most each month.
The United States of Murder, Inc. #4
I followed Powers for a long time after coming to it about a year after it started, and when I saw that Bendis and Oeming were starting a new crime title, I wanted to be sure I jumped on at the beginning.
There is no question that Bendis loves this concept and his work is as high quality as I have come to expect. My problem is the focus on the Mafia. There is such an abject worship of the Mafia in modern American pop culture that I have never been able to get my head around. Mainly because the characters in these tales are cold-blooded killers with low I.Q.s. Combine that with the fact that all Mafia stories end with the lead characters either dead or in prison, and its hard for me to see organized crime fiction as the great enthralling enigma that a lot of people take it for. But that is my problem, not yours. Moving on.
This series has a lot going on for it, but the art is dragging it down. Frankly, Oeming seems to be phoning it in and his very recent work on Guardians of the Galaxy only backs up my feelings about this. Oeming drew almost half of the latest issue of Guardians and packed it with more detail, attention and design than he has in the first four issues of this book. Action sequences in Murder, Inc. are difficult to follow, so much so that I can’t help but think that if Oeming were an amateur looking for a portfolio review, half of his Murder, Inc. work would be chewed up by almost any editor or pro.
As if that were not enough, the colorist seems to be working with nothing more than the 6 primary and secondary colors and they are super-saturated. There is an entire sequence in this book where three characters are having a conversation in a dark apartment and their skin is bright green. I know the colorist is trying to convey some kind of mood or atmosphere, but I look at the art and I just wonder why in the hell everyone has green skin? There seems to be no knowledge of color theory being applied and when the ham-fisted colors are combined with Oeming’s rush-job art, the book is just so damn unpleasant to look at.
Still, the concept of the Mafia owning half of the United States is compelling and the writing always has me turning the page despite my objections over the subject matter and the art. Someone must be doing something right. I’ll keep reading while hoping that Oeming decides to bring his A-game or Bendis gives Valentine and Jagger a reason to work for the feds.