Every Wednesday I pop into Whatever Store on Castro Street in San Francisco to pick up my haul of new comics. I read them. I share some thoughts.
Book of the Week
This Week’s Whatever Store Recommendation
Mark Waid writing Archie. I couldn’t resist, but then I’ll try almost anything Waid is trying his hand at. Waid imbues Archie with a lot of humanity and no small amount of naiveté; he has a strong grasp on the teenager-ness of all his characters. Staples’ art brings everyone to life; each character feels vibrant, whether they’re the focus of a panel or background. I love that Archie completely ignores the fourth wall, constantly talking to the reader in dialogue bubbles rather than narration boxes. This issue’s story, Archie’s quest for a job to pay for getting his car fixed, is a tale so ordinary that almost anyone can relate to it. This is a low-key book with its heart on its sleeve. Kind of real, but not so much that it isn’t fun.
Green Lantern The Lost Army #3
I’m afraid I’m moved to complete indifference with this book. The Green Lanterns are lost in the past in another universe. They know this because of their run in with Relic, a character from a universe that was destroyed sometime far in the past and who (we know from Green Lantern) is hanging out in the present DC universe we all know. So immediately I have a sense of lost jeopardy since the implication is that Relic’s universe is still going to go BOOM regardless of what the Lanterns do. Stewart, through flashbacks to his time in the military and his narration relating those experiences to his present gets the only meaningful character development, and this is the brightest spot of a book that other ways just lays there. As for everyone else: Guy Gardner feels like more of a cipher than usual, and I have no idea who any of the rest of these characters are supposed to be.
The first issue benefitted from a kind of indulgence; how could it not given its size? This second issue feels like a race to the end. Where the first issue made use of quiet space, here we have dialogue bubbles filling panels while a lot of moments that may or may not be strongly plot related are juggled around. The best moment is in the beginning when the book follows up on a vampire-related conflict in the first issue; it’s the first time I’m come across a perpetually menstruating vampire, and the idea is so bizarre that I’m glad Kot took the time for it. It’s ironic that in an era where it feels a lot of stories are padded for trades, I’m complaining of too much store being shoved into a book. I hope future issues carve out more quiet space akin to that first issue—reflective, thoughtful moments where the noir influence can shine a bit more.
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #4 lends a feeling of being snagged on ocean debris. We have yet another bridging issue that makes a whole meal (when a snack probably would have sufficed) of getting Annie into a costume and setting up the climactic battle. The last two issues could probably have been whittled down to one without any trouble.
Astro City #26 tries to recall so much of that very first issue twenty years ago and is largely successful—a great love letter for everyone who remembers the beginning. I didn’t feel the same impact, probably because of greater familiarity with Astro City as an idea and Samaritan as a character, but that familiarity doesn’t diminish an otherwise solid read.
I’m not sure what to make of Damian inspiring Nobody to choose a more positive path in Robin Son of Batman #3. It’s a clever note within this story of Damian working toward his own redemption, but Damian himself is still so rough around the edges that I’m not entirely sold on the moment. The idea of him still having baby teeth, though, was totally laugh worthy.
The X-Men come off like jerks in X-Tinction Agenda #3 when, even after seeing the devastation being wrought by a 100% fatal mutant plague, they still kick the crap out of Genosha in an effort to recover Triage, a mutant healer who’s making a dent in the problem. No time is wasted on that kind of observation, though, when Cameron Hodge comes back to give them a common foe to fight.
Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows #4
Dan Slott: writer
Adam Kubert & Scott Hanna: art
Justin Ponsor: colorist
VC’s Joe Caramagna: letterer
Adam Kubert and Morry Hollowell: cover artists
Mark Waid: story
Fiona Staples: art
Andre Szymanowicz with Jen Vaughn: coloring
Jack Morelli: lettering
Astro City #26
Kurt Busiek: writer
Brent Anderson: artist
Alex Ross: cover
John Russel & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft: lettering & design
Green Lantern The Lost Army #3
Cullen Bunn: writer
Jesus Saiz and Cliff Richards: artists
Jesus Saiz and Michael Atiyeh: colorists
Dave Sharpe: letterer
Andy Kubert and Brad Anderson: covere
Robin Son of Batman #3
Patrick Gleason: script & pencils
Mick Gray: inks
John Kalisz: colors
Tom Napolitano: letters
Patrick Gleason & John Kalisz: cover
Ales Kot: writer
Matt Taylor: artist
Lee Loughridge: colorist
Clayton Cowles: letterer
X-Tinction Agenda #3
Marc Guggenheim: writer
Carmine di Giandomenico: artist
Nolan Woodard: colorist
VC’s Cory Petit: letterer
David Nakayama: cover artist