Let me start off by apologizing for the unusually cranky Comics Load this week. Don’t worry. We’re not turning into one of those snarky sites that hates everything they read. Despite my growing weariness with the Night of a Thousand Talons, there’s some good stuff in the Load this week. Judd Winick takes on Lady Gaga. Wonder Woman defends traditional marriage. Wolverine kills an endangered species. Wait, those are all horrible things. Okay, there is a lot of eye candy this week, including a shot of Superman’s superglutes that makes even Clayface drool (well, more than usual). So, enjoy!
And be sure to let us know what you’re reading in the comments section below. Now, on with the Load!
Avengers Academy #30
Written by: Christos N. Gage
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Cory Hamscher
In this month’s issue, X-23 relearns all the important lessons she previously learned in her solo title, except now she’s wearing a bikini top. Take that, Marjorie Liu. Yes, our contraction-challenged clone is reviewing the situation: can a fellow be a villain all his life? If you’re a clone, the answer is no. If you’re Sebastian Shaw, the answer is yes. So, while X and the other kids grapple with what it means to have free will and make your own horrible decisions, Mr. Shaw is beating up their teachers and rampaging towards the students. So, you know, just another day at Avengers Academy. Ultimately, X makes a good point about being able to choose your own path, but will they survive Shaw long enough to take sides in the Hope battle?
Avengers VS. X-Men #4
Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils: John Romita, Jr.
Inks: Scott Hanna
I’m not a straight man, nor do I know any. However, I have to assume this issue was written with them in mind. “Wolverine kills a polar bear! Wolverine drinks beer! Now, he’s gonna kill that Hope b*tch! F**k yeah!” Well, let me just rain on that parade, kids. First of all, polar bears are endangered, so that’s not cool. Hope’s trail of frozen beer cans says more about Logan’s intelligence than his machismo. And as for killing Hope, well, she makes it through another issue alive, so take that. However, she does promise Logan he can kill her if she gets too powerful or independent. Ugh. This whole series is just gross.
Written by: W. Haden Blackman, J.H. Williams III
Art by: Trevor McCarthy
Colored by: Guy Major
I don’t usually criticize this title or its creators…do you sense a “but” coming here? But as someone with an IQ only slightly higher than Wolverine’s, this timeline is giving me whiplash. Starting with issue #8, we go from now to a month ago to a week ago to six nights ago to two weeks ago, then back to now, then one week ago, then two weeks ago, then three nights ago, then four days ago, then back to three nights ago, then, mercifully, back to now. I’m all for making the reader work a little to fully engage with the story, but when I have to buy and install a white board, then hire a team of chronologists and go-go boys to help me sort out a timeline, it might be a bit too much. Save yourself the expense and take my advice: read #8 and #9 at least twice, take note of what everyone is wearing and what time of day it is, then go back and read again. It all comes together. I’m still going to hire the go-go boys, though. Just ‘cause.
Written by: Judd Winick
Art by: Guillem March
I feel like I know you, my readers, fairly well. And even if you’ve never seen nor read Paul Rudnick’s play, I Hate Hamlet, I trust that you know who Paul (Addams Family Values) Rudnick is, so I can cut to the chase here. In the play, an actress playing one of Ophelia’s ladies in waiting is told that when Ophelia dies, she shouldn’t scream, faint or try to kill herself with Hamlet’s sword. After all, it isn’t “the tragedy of Ophelia’s best friend.” So, in my vocabulary, “The Tragedy of Ophelia’s Best Friend” has become shorthand for whenever secondary (or lesser) characters get a surprising amount of backstory and/or monologues in proportion to their actual appearance. (Bear with me; I have a point.) In Blackest Night, all the returning dead characters were of significance to the reader, the living characters and the story to warrant pages of monologues, written in gooey font, to make a point about their death and the point of their return. Cut to: Night of the Owls. A lot of Talons are resurrected to go kill everyone of interest in Gotham. That’s really all we need to know. Yet…each of these jerks is getting not only pages of flashbacks and backstory, but endless monologues. I feel like taking Geoff Johns aside and saying, “Honey, this isn’t The Tragedy of Ophelia’s Best Friend.”
Catwoman is just one of several titles over the past couple of weeks that seeks to humanize the Talons and make us care about them. It’s like Oprah took over DC and is shouting, “You get a backstory! And YOU get a backstory!” I can only imagine that all the Talons are here to stay and will be joining the DCU as regulars, since we know so much about each of them now.
P.S. Buried in the “tragedy of Ophelia’s best friend,” writer Judd Winick also finds time to take a swipe at Lady Gaga. Selina says, “The trick with monsters is to remember that they probably weren’t born monsters. I wasn’t born this way. All us monsters deserve a little mercy.” Well, take that, Gaga.
Justice League #9
Written by: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Gary Frank, Jim Lee
Inks: Gary Frank, Scott Williams
Colored by: Alex Sinclair
I was thinking about what I would do if I were in Steve Trevor’s place. First, I’d go shopping with Wonder Woman, because, come on. Wonder Woman! But then I’d have to think about whether to protect my sister or the Justice League. I don’t know about Steve’s sister, but my sister voted for Sarah Palin. So, that has to factor into the decision. My niece is pretty cool, though. She dressed as Sailor Jupiter for Halloween once, even though she had no idea who Sailor Jupiter was. She did it just to make me happy. And as Graves tells Steve, “Who has a better chance against me? The Justice League…or your family?” My sister does have a gun, so she could probably hold her own. It’s a tough one. What would Wonder Woman do?
Written by: Kyle Higgins
Pencils: Eddy Barrows, Andres Guinaldo
Inks: Eber Ferreira, Mark Irwin, Ruy Jose
Colored by: Rod Reis
“The Tragedy of Ophelia’s Best Friend” continues, only this time the Talon’s backstory is kind of relevant, since he’s Dick’s grandfather. It’s weird to think that good ol’ Haly was actually a creepy old man who trained kids to become undead assassins. But I’ve never liked the circus anyway. I always cried the day the circus came to town, but that’s just me. Dick’s grandfather has a pretty lengthy monologue about Dick’s destiny, but since we’ve seen how miserable the Talons are, it’s not a very appealing offer. Grandpa tries to sweeten the deal by promising Dick he could be the “greatest bird of all.” If you wished he’d said, “biggest bird of all,” you’re not alone. That would have been hilarious. I think the only way you could possibly tempt Dick is to seduce him with the Jason Todd alternative: putting an end to criminals, once and for all. The only problem is that as much as the Court of Owls and the Talons think they’re in control, besides offing a few shady politicians over the centuries, Gotham is still a hellhole. And you can’t keep a good Dick down.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #9
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Kenneth Rocafort
Colored by: Blond
Speaking of Jason Todd, this book continues to grow on me. Lobdell keeps the Talon crap to a merciful 2-3 pages total, yet we still get a pretty clear picture of who the killer is and how he relates to Jason. See, Jason knows a thing or two about being resurrected and how hard it is to find your purpose…and a good outfit. On a related note, I miss ginger Jason. I don’t know if he’s dyeing his hair, so he looks more like the other Wayne boys, or if his red locks were written out of the relaunch. I guess since Roy and Kory are both redheads, it would have been a little too precious to make Jason one, as well. Although, Red Hood and the Redheads would have been a fun title. It sort of sounds like an Archie Comics book, doesn’t it? And how much did you love the interaction between Barbara and Jason in this issue? That’s a cool pairing I hadn’t thought of. Babs and the bad boy. Dick would freak. It might even be enough to turn him into the “biggest bird of all!”
Written by: Michael Green, Michael Johnson
Art by: Mahmud Asrar
Colored by: Dave McCaig
Thankfully, Supergirl isn’t fighting any Talons in this issue. Poor Kara. I’m trying to determine how long she’s been on Earth. I think it’s only been a few days, maybe less, since she arrived. As far as I can tell, the girl hasn’t had a moment’s rest. Has she even had lunch? Gone to the bathroom? Brushed her teeth? And where is Supes? I really think he should be trying harder to give her some orientation. Plus, Kara has known Siobhan for what, five minutes? I don’t know how willing I would be to sacrifice myself for someone I just met, but I’m not a superhero, so who knows? I know it’s petty to complain that there’s too much action in a comic book, but I’d love it if Kara could just sit down and rest for a minute. Maybe get a cup of coffee, for Rao’s sake. Meanwhile, this is my Comics Load Spoken Word Pick of the Week! What’s that, you ask? It’s the book that’s the most fun to read out loud! I love reading comics out loud, anyway, so add to that a chance to dust off my best Irish Spring commercial accent, and you’ve got a winner. Give it a try and report back.
Wonder Woman #9
Written by: Brian Azzarello
Pencils: Tony Akins
Inks: Dan Green
Colored by: Matthew Wilson
It’s been a while since I’ve been to a straight wedding, but I seem to recall it was pretty similar to what’s going on in this issue. The groom chains up his father, then sits on his lap and drinks his tears. Meanwhile, a trio of demonic dogs dress the bride in a gown made of blood, bone and severed hands. Then a bunch of underdressed guests arrive with weapons, while millions of tormented souls light the way to the wedding gallows. Yup, sounds about right. Are we sure we want the right to do this? If it’s for the gifts, I will just buy you a damn blender, I promise.
Written by: Peter David
Art by: Leonard Kirk
I don’t know a whole lot about Mojoworld. I promise I’ll do some research and get up to speed on Shatterstar’s past. Until then, I’m just going to pretend it’s where Mojo Jojo lives and rules. Peter David’s warning to real-life superhero teams concludes this week with a high body count and a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for. Of course, real-life superheroes probably won’t encounter anyone like Scattershot. Odds are they’ll encounter someone more like Mojo Jojo. And while I support the RLSH movement, I do want to caution anyone involved to please be careful. If you do encounter an all-powerful being from Mojoworld, just call it in and wait for the authorities. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. The other half is pretty bloody.