As I write this, Comic-Con International in San Diego has already come and gone, Movie and comic projects sufficiently hyped, fans and creators alike drained of their life forces. It’s always exciting when SDCC comes around, but recently I’ve looked forward more to what the film and tv studios have in store than the comic companies. The biggest announcements and presentations were made by the film companies, as projects like Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, and Godzilla were all previewed to huge crowds. Marvel Studios made some buzzworthy news too with the reveals of their next movie titles. Meanwhile, The Big Two were fairly quiet in San Diego once again,, having blown their big news weeks before. That isn’t to say no comic companies did anything big: Image Comics continued to show they’re not #%€+ing around anymore by trumpeting a number of new series with high profile creators from The Big Two. New creator owned books by Greg Rucka, Matt Fraction and James Robinson can only be good. But SDCC isn’t as exciting as it used to be, partially because there’s hardly any huge news that comes out anymore, Image notwithstanding. All the big news is revealed between conventions now and unless you’re actually there it’s not that great.
Swamp Thing #11
Oh Swamp Thing, how I missed you last week. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing you on the first week of every month, but when i didn’t see your beautiful face alongside Animal Man, Action Comics and the other books last week I felt a little lost. But now you’re hear and that’s all that matters. Not that I was a little disappointed when I read you. The return of Anton Arcane was seemingly a big deal and all you could muster was a decent two part storyline where he left as soon as he appeared. It was less of an event and more of a prelude to the next big storyline, Rotworld, and I felt a little underwhelmed as a result. Marco Rudy’s art was pretty great so at least you had that going for you! His issues are always good. I know you’re all about The Green Swamp Thing, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a little more meat on your bones.
Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. # 11
Written by Matt Kindt, Penciled by Alberto Ponticelli, Inked by Wayne Faucher, Colored by Jose Villarrubia, Lettered by Pat Brosseau, Edited by Kate Stewart and Joey Cavalieri, Cover by Ponticelli, Faucher and Villarrubia
After ascending to the surreal heavens of The Untropolis last issue, Frankenstein and Nina plummeted to the depths of Leviathan in order to discover the truth behind The Satan’s Ring. I love the scope of Kindt’s run so far; it has an epic feel to it story wise, and emotion wise. As Frank and his team went deeper and deeper into this conspiracy, so did he into his own psychological issues until the truth of his nature stood revealed. Up until recently, Frank has been a likeable gruff in the vein of a Harrison Ford, but Kindt has set out to remind us that he’s really a @&#^ing MONSTER that wants to kill at all times. That was explored in an especially effective scene with exceptional art by Alberto Ponticelli and Wayne Faucher, where they relied heavily on shadows to convey an unsettling mood. If this issue was a movie, the score would have risen slowly until you believed that Frank was going to throttle Nina with his bare hands. They did great work throughout the book, the slow reveal of Leviathan early in the story being another highlight. Issue Eleven was a moody, contemplative piece of work that still managed to feel epic and all encompassing. After going to the heavens and the underworld, where will Frankenstein go next?
Written by Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco, Penciled by R.B. Silva, Inked by Rob Lean, Colored by Tanya and Richard Hories, Lettered by Wes Abbot, Edited by Chris Conroy, Cover by Scott Clark, Dave Beaty and Blond
Now that Superboy is finally a free man after escaping the custody of Harvest and NOWHERE, he is trying to learn what it means to be an independent being. Emphasis on trying. Lucky for him he has his Teen Titans teammate Bunker to show him the ropes of society, even if that mostly entails looking for any situation where they can put on their tights and fight bad guys. Their misadventures made for a humorous story by Scott Lobdell, Tom DeFalco and R.B. Silva that saw Superboy struggling with concepts like morality and money. It was pretty funny to see how he tried to live among humans, and how Bunker reacted dumbfounded throughout. It’s all about trial and error I guess. the comic never got weighed down by angst unlike a lot of previous issues, instead DeFalco and Lobdell kept things light. Bunker and Superboy made a good team: their conflicting personalities bounce off each other pretty well, and now that he doesn’t have the NOWHERE supporting cast anymore The Boy of Steel is gonna need more friends to round out his book.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Nine # 11
Written by Andrew Chambliss, Penciled by Georges Jeanty, Inked by Nathan Massengill, Colored by Michelle Madsen, Lettered by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt, Cover by Phil Noto, Designed by Justin Couch, Edited by Freddye Lins, Scott Allie and Sierra Hahn
I had a lot of problems with the last storyline, (A)part of Me, but I didn’t hate it enough to stop following the series entirely because of it. I was really curious to see how the creative team would pick up from the events of that arc, so there I was, buying Buffy again. In some ways, “Guarded” reminded me of the early days of Season Six, when Buffy was attempting to adjust to not only being alive again, but to being an adult with a mortgage to pay and a little sister to support. It was all about trying to be a grownup, and juggling all of the responsibilities that status entails. This arc, and this season, is kind of exploring the same territory, except this time around Buffy’s trying to adjust to having LESS responsibility. She’s separated not only from her makeshift family, but from her responsibilities as The Chosen One. Buffy doesn’t have to bear the weight of the world on her shoulders anymore because everyone is kind of doing okay on their own. The Slayers have found a new purpose. Xander and Dawn have a life, while Willow is on a mission of her own. The police have learned to slay. Everyone’s okay, except for one person: Buffy. She just has to learn to live with herself, and “Guarded” was a step in the right direction. I was just happy they scaled back the crazy, by just focusing on Buffy’s attempt to join Kennedy’s Private Slayer Bodyguard Firm. Most of the issue played out pretty predictably, with Buffy struggling to adjust to all of the changes in humorous/dramatic fashion. That is, until the very end when Chambliss threw a plot twist in that should lead to a confrontation that I don’t think has been executed before. The overall issue was Functional for me, but that ending gets an Optimal Rating. For the first time since…I guess the end of Season Eight I’m really excited for an upcoming issue of Buffy.