Welcome back to Comic Wolf’s Pull Box! This week is Marvel heavy again, since I’m currently looking for new indie books to start into and my only DC series is Doomsday Clock. However, we do have a special book this week: The Surgeon, an indie book from a local creative team and friends of the store I work at. Their previous self published work, Super, was pretty cool, so I was excited to check this one out.
Old Man Logan #33
Old Man Logan is a bit of a weird book. On the one hand, I don’t love them dredging up an alternate universe Logan to fill in for proper Logan while he’s dead/missing/gallivanting about with an Infinity Stone. I also don’t love the sheer amount of Wolverine books and Wolverine characters floating around at this point. However, this book is actually really good. It has a good mix of connections to Mark Millar’s actual Old Man Logan original story, connections to classic X-Men/Wolverine stories, and connections to the new canon. It also manages to be the more grounded version of Wolverine, since All-New Wolverine ft. X-23 seems to go to space a lot more often which is a pet peeve of mine. Anyway, the current story arc is one of those “connections to classic stories” bits. The Scarlet Samurai is back, and it’s Logan’s dead lover Mariko from the old Chris Claremont and Frank Miller series. This issue is a sort of mid-point in the arc as far as I can tell, and it’s a decently satisfying one. The beauty of Old Man Logan, I think, is the opportunity to put Wolverine in more complex situations than just stabbing stuff with his claws since the original series is about Logan living as a pacifist. He’s well past that now, but an older, weaker, more broken Logan is occasionally pretty refreshing and this is one of those issues. Would the younger, angrier, normal Logan team up with a morally bankrupt enemy when their goals align? I don’t know because he’s busy trying to make a cowboy hat part of his look. So although Old Man Logan doesn’t ever quite live up to the original, this story arc and this issue in particular are pretty strong. Additionally, the art on the series has been a little hit-or-miss for me and this arc/issue definitely land in the “hit” section, finding a medium between the original style and its own.
Phoenix Resurrection #3
This series being weekly certainly has its advantages; it’s nice having each issue end with a huge ridiculous “what the fuck?” moment that pays off quickly enough to have an effect. I love Batman, but some of the shock of the kind of Sherlock-style detective moments gets lost when an issue starts with the reveal and I have to go dig up the last issue to figure out what the cliffhanger was because it came out a month ago. This issue has far less “reveals” with no payoff–I swear every single issue has a moment where you’re supposed to go “oh my God it’s really Jean!” but they forgot that she stars in half the comic so it isn’t actually surprising. They did manage to fit in a few more pieces of the puzzle while causing even more confusion in the process. I’m really interested to see all of this come together in the next two weeks. Overall my favorite issue of the series so far, it seems like this is the point where things ramp up. Art was about the same as past issues, but I enjoyed it a bit more this time for whatever reason. Not that I disliked it, just didn’t find it remarkable. Maybe this issue just had a few more exciting panels. Regardless, glad I hopped on this train.
The Surgeon #1
As mentioned above, The Surgeon is an indie book and the pencil art is done by someone from my area, a regular of my store. After getting successfully funded on Kickstarter, it’s up on Comixology and retail shelves this week! I decided to pick up the first issue to give it a shot, since post-apocalyptic Westerns are cool. The first issue is a lot of exposition, mainly. Seems pretty standard. Something nuclear happened, rich people are underground safe, everyone else is up top fighting for survival. I enjoy the art, although there are a few panels where facial expressions look pretty off. Unfortunately due to the set-up nature of most first issues there isn’t much to say, other than the premise seems like it could go in an interesting direction. Tough to say whether I’ll keep up with it, but at the very least it’s always refreshing to see a truly independent self-published book come through the store.
That’s all for this week! Tune in next week for more Phoenix and probably something else, I don’t keep up with release dates they all blur together.
Comic Wolf Post-Credit
So it’s another light week, apparently everything I read comes out at once because the week before I started this I had like six fucking comics. Anyway, this week I’m going to do something a little different and discuss my thoughts on the current state of comics, specifically Marvel. Adding an additional disclaimer that these are just my views not anyone else’s, and I only work part-time at a comic shop so I’m not high enough level to have any kind of special insider insight. All of my opinions are more based on someone who has been regularly pulling comics for several years.
Anyway, today I want to talk about Marvel. Recently most of the stuff I’ve been reading has been in trade form, so my actual comic pulls are down a bit. As a result, this article series is going to be a little Marvel heavy, since their trades are priced fucking terribly and it’s easier/cheaper to actually buy the single issues. Don’t let that fool you: I honestly don’t really like Marvel right now. I grew up watching Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons (also Batman but DC is a beast I’ll yell about another day) so Marvel has some kinda place in my heart. Right now though? They’re really fucking up. This isn’t a particularly novel or useful opinion– you can find article after article after article on why consumers and comics shops aren’t happy with the Big M in the last year. I’m not going to present facts or compelling arguments as to how they’re messing up or how they can do better, but since this is a place for me to talk about my opinions on comics I’m going to give my opinions on the things I don’t like.
- Events. Once upon a time I got excited for events. Avengers vs X-Men was the first crossover event I ever collected in its entirety and I really enjoyed it, especially the art. DC’s Court of Owls crossover is honestly one of the best Batman stories ever written. However, too much of a good thing quickly spoils it. Events are great for the publishers, because it sells books. Oh, you read one series? Well, now if you want the full story for the next three months you have to read four different books. More books is more dosh. And I get it, people like when the superheroes come together. Marvel’s current 16 week, weekly book with a full crossover suite is a bit too much for me though. It takes a good idea (collapsing the excessive number of Avengers books down into a manageable number) and turns it into a big frustrating money vacuum. These crossover events make me want to actively avoid any series touched by them, which is a big problem. Plus, as if that isn’t enough, there’s also a big Venom/Poison event going on, plus a few other leftover mini-series and crossovers. It’s far too much to keep up with, and just screams “we want you to buy five things so you can enjoy the one thing you actually want.” It also tends to force stories that require more than one hero to solve, and introduces more inconsistency to characterization as three writers all tackle the same character at different times.
- Ruining popular characters. Speaking of too much of a good thing, Marvel’s MO for the last few years has been to lean in to anything popular. On the surface that’s a good idea, but it causes quick burnout. I used to LOVE Deadpool. His earlier books and appearances in team books like Uncanny X-Force quickly made me fall for the dark but funny character. Then he became popular, and I was really excited to see him in his own major book written by Gerry Duggan with jokes by Brian Posehn sprinkled in. A decent series quickly began to overstay its welcome, and on top of that started spawning more and more miniseries and companion books. The more Deadpool there was, the less of it was good. He started taking over other books, and his schtick wore thin. A series I previously loved, Uncanny Avengers, went from being “The Avengers and X-Men team up!” to “Deadpool says ‘chimichanga’ but with Captain America in the background.” Deadpool is an easy character to pick on,due to his comedic nature and the difficulty in writing enough jokes to fill five different series. There are tons of offenders though. There are four or five Wolverine books at any given time, at least four Spider-Man books just off the top of my head, enough X-Men *Color* books to make Pokemon blush, and like I mentioned in both my reviews multiple Jean Greys running all over the damn place. Once again it discourages readers and confuses newcomers to the medium, something I see constantly in customers and friends.
- Constant confusing reboots. This is another big one. Someone realized way back in like 2012 that seeing “Captain America 498” on a comic cover was fucking scary and made people not want to jump in. Both big companies had massive relaunch campaigns, with different amounts of story resets and number resets and retcons of previous canon. I was a big fan of the idea, as someone getting heavily into comics at the time. However, it just kept happening. We got Marvel Now, All New Marvel Now, All New All Different Marvel, Marvel Legacy, over and over the names of series and the numbers associated with them changed. Legacy is the most recent Marvel relaunch, focusing on getting characters back to baseline and restoring the old numbers. I have a lot of feelings about this, especially the fact that they’re undoing a lot of growth for a lot of characters to get them to more closely mirror the versions we see in the movies. Apparently, however, it may just be a stopgap before they do yet another massive relaunch. It’s exhausting and frustrating to most consumers who just want to enjoy the characters being popularized through the many movies as well as the longtime fans who hate seeing characters they love get completely changed. I love that the movies give us different interpretations, different takes, different stories inspired by the comics; scene for scene adaptations aren’t always interesting, and, when the comics have to “match up” with the movies, characters change completely for no reason.
That’s enough griping about Marvel for now, I’ll do my best to keep this section fresh by doing slightly different things with it every week. Thanks for sticking around after the credits!