Friday, April 3, 2009

Still Enjoying the Ride

At the end of last year, I made the decision to drop Mighty Avengers with issue #20 and New Avengers with issue #50. I was frustrated with the ending of Secret Invasion and comic prices were set to jump to the four dollar mark. I picked up New Avengers issues #49 and #50, but let them sit on my growing backlogged monthly comic reading pile. Eventually, though, I sat down and read the two issues back-to-back and realized there was no way I was going to drop this book!

Issue #49 was good, wrapping up the Baby Cage storyline that began in the waning pages of Secret Invasion, but it was issue #50 that really got me to change my mind about dropping this title. Double-sized, full of action, and just the right cliffhanger tone at the end to take me back to what it was like to be willfully strung along from month-to-month by the four-color beauty of the medium, the book had everything I needed to buy back into the book and overlook the cover price hike.

So then I told the local comic shop to put New Avengers back on my pull list and jumped right into issue #51 the week it came out. Bendis' dialogue is as good as ever. The banter between Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Peter Parker is fantastic. I love the conversational tone Bendis is able to strike in the writing. And Wolverine’s comment that effectively closes the scene is pitch-perfect! Not to mention the journey Doctor Strange has embarked on and the peril he is encountering... again, I can’t help but stay on for the ride.

When I got back into reading comics, I picked up Brubaker's Captain America with issue #25 and Bendis' New Avengers with issue #26. I am venturing beyond the Marvel borders these days, particularly with Vertigo and IDW, but these two titles are my mainstays. Solid writing, generally consistent art, and pure entertainment. Bring on the next 50 issues!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Marvel Unbound – The New Mutants Classic, Volume 1 and Volume 2

With the fourth volume of the New Mutants Classic trade paperback series coming out in April, and the recent news out of the New York Comic-Con that the New Mutants title is being restarted in May, I decided to head back to the bookshelf and read some classic Chris Claremont. I read New Mutants Classic, Volumes 1 and 2 and had a blast with them.

Volume 1 kicks off with the original graphic novel written by Claremont and penciled by Bob McLeod before heading into the New Mutants ongoing series. The first three issues of the ongoing series are penciled by McLeod, then after a Claremont-written and Paul Smith-penciled interlude from issue #167 of Uncanny X-Men, Sal Buscema takes over penciling duties from issue #4 on.

I crushed hard on Dani Moonstar back in the day, and rereading these stories now reminded me why: Buscema. His work here is simply gorgeous. Love how he draws her in this series and across these two volumes. On top of that, his Kitty Pryde is really great, and he knows how to draw a restrained Emma Frost.

Claremont did a great job integrating the New Mutants into the Marvel Universe almost immediately and then across that first year and a half of the ongoing series. In Volume 1, alo
ng with the Uncanny X-Men issue, you get a nice dose of Team America and Professor Xavier. Volume 2 crosses over with the 1983 Marvel Team-Up Annual and the Magik four-issue limited series. It includes appearances by Cloak and Dagger, the aforementioned Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost, and even an Assistant Editors’ Month offering.

I couldn’t help digging out those crossover titles out of the Original Collection to read alongside the trade paperbacks! I also grabbed the first couple issues of Marvel’s new Astonishing Tales anthology relaunch, which features a Bobby and Sam story. Jonathan Hickman’s art on the first four pages are really cool and stylized, but his story fell quickly and unfortunately off the rails and wasn’t helped by Nick Pitarra’s art once the story setting shifts to Mojoworld. But I have hope for the new ongoing series a couple of months from now and in the meantime I have my New Mutants Classic, Volume 3 waiting for me to pull it down off the shelf and Volume 4 on the horizon.