Shield 2 by Jonathan Hickman & Michael Angelo
I was very headwrong when reading SHIELD 2 and my memory of the first issue had been totally erased. I thought it was great, the height of pointless shouting and cosmo-drama in the Mighty Marvel Manner. It made no sense whatsoever to me but the scope of the action and the renaissance era Kirby design, all worked very well to leave me thrilled and confused. It was well mental though. A more sober reread last night made the whole thing seem a bit boring and studied. The NY kid was no longer a translucent standin for the universal recipient freak radioactive accident that used to empower us so, but a Parker clone (not literally) whose dad did something awful and amazing once. I remembered that the MIBs were Tony Stark and Reed Richards’ dads, which is crap (whatever happened to the Mighty Marvel Meritocracy? Why am I reading about aristocratic lineages? It’s un-American, da mit!)
Nemesis 2 by Millar & McNiven
I take back my recent sniffiness on this one. The action scenes were basically perfect, the straightforward stacks of widescreen panels hiding an octopoidal magpie at the heart of the story, reaching out from the panel borders into movies and manga to snag and squeeze their best bits dry. I still think the seam of ‘politico/economic consequences of the president’s kidnap’ would be a good thing to work into it – ‘Nemesis brings world to its knees’ kinda thing… A few screaming headlines or talky-head TV screens would ground it all a bit more, though in turn they might distract from the guilty, gleeful joy that this comic runs on – the bits with the main characters going ’Aha, I fooled you!/’No, I fooled you/’No, I foooooo’ etc., the tacit acknowledgement and disregard for the manufactured falseness of these narratalogical shifts, were priceless. I am already thinking of an excuse to drag the wife to watch Nemesis at the movies, and am already thinking about what I will say when the credits roll. ‘The action was a lot tighter in the comic…’
Pnshrmx 9 by Aaron & Dillon
Panmox was good – no fight, no big fight anyway, but it does have a nice dramatic pace nevertheless, and the plotting is so freaky and over-the-top that the pages almost seem to turn themselves. Good, tense scenes of Frank going too far, the Kingpin battling his deadliest enemy, and a never-better Bullseye messing with the freaky violence mojo (it looks likes like he’s kind of inviting the Punisher-spirit from Born to take up residence, which is probably not a smart move on his part.) The feeling is beginning to seep in that Aaron’s wilder, splattery grindhouse sensibility could amount to a Bold New Way to do the Punisher, somewhere free of the Ennis ghost, different to his successful comedic and ultrablack incarnations, but equally legitimate. The NY rooftops and shrill tone keep making me think of Larry Cohen, with the Kingpin, Bulls and my man Frank all battling to be the winged serpent…
Irredeemable 14 by Waid & Someone
The sense of menace, of bad decisions being made and of the consequences piling up in the future like a dozen car crashes, really sustains this comic. Even if they win, they lose, and they’re probably not even going to win. You can see bits of the past start to leak in – the Angel character has cut his own wings off, and you can see everyone thinking ‘Some razor sharp metal ones would probably help with this awful new age we seem to be stuck in’. The tarnish is all but come off the silver age shine, and the characters are consciously registering the shifts in their lives. It’s strangely touching, seeing these poor, small fictions, their made-up memories and selfless selves, visibly buckle under the stress of the sharp and nasty story Waid has plugged them into. These are our heroes, and they are dying off. Despite its costy pedigree and often deceptive packaging (Krause’s stiff but fitting art now slowly morphing in other guy’s hands into some steroidal, Liefeldian nightmare) Irredeemable is a bleak and bitter book, and every few issues a page or two snikts at you and cuts you on the eyelid to remind you of the pain it’s in.