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Comics I Bought 4 December

Secret Invasion #8
And so we reach the end of latest Marvel crossover, years in the planning and months in the execution. And the result? It turns out to be the set up for another crossover – sorry, ‘story’. This is annoying; in post-crossover interviews, Bendis has talked about the influence of Stan Lee and how this is Marvel so the stories must keeping going. Excuse me, Mr Bendis, but that’s bollocks – a mini-series should tell a complete story: beginning, middle and end, with the end being most important. It’s not a trailer for your next thing; if it was an ongoing series, this would not be a problem, but this is supposed to be a mini-series with a purpose.

The Secret Invasion crossover has been excellent in its build-up: all the way from the start of New Avengers, it is has been a strong idea that has been developed well, explained well in the ongoing series, and the organisation of the crossover with all the other comics that have tied in with it has been impeccable. Also, the series has kept a schedule and the same artist, something DC could learn a thing or two from – Leinil Yu has provided consistently excellent art throughout, including this issue. And the concept behind the story itself was a great one, which worked well within in the Marvel universe with the Skrulls. And the majority of the mini-series itself has been very enjoyable, with a solid mix of character work and superhero action.

With the final issue, however, we get a story told in flashback (which reduces the impact of the climax of the story, even with the big moments that occur), an improbable turning of Norman Osborn into a hero because he was the one who shot the Queen Skrull, and a last page that is the first page in a new series. I’m still intrigued by what Bendis has in store, because he I believe he writes good stories, but I feel a little cheated by the way he did this. I read his Ultimate Origins series in the comic shop and it did a similar thing with the story not finishing in the comic book; rather it was a lead in to Ultimatum. With the price of comic books going up, Bendis shouldn’t be providing us with reasons to stop buying them.

New Avengers #47
Recent issues of New Avengers and Mighty Avengers have been back story for Secret Invasion; this issue goes even further back still, being a flashback to the days of Alias – the excellent series by Bendis and Michael Gaydos which introduced us (in a Max style) to Jessica Jones – and a story of Jessica and Luke Cage. It’s great seeing Gaydos on art duties again – it’s a contrast to Billy Tan’s hyper-realised artwork, harking back to the 1990s in some places – and it’s nice to see the old Alias magic back again. It’s another contrast in the two Cages – the current version doesn’t seem as genuine as the older version, the new guy being scared of baby poo and angsting. Maybe that’s character development but it seems a little … off somehow. The story then ends with essentially the same scene that was in Secret Invasion #8 (a technique Bendis uses a lot) – the new story has to continue.

Criminal 2 #7
From a continuing story, to the final part of a story that actually finishes. This is fourth part of Bad Night and the story of the cartoonist Jacob, and it gets as bad as you expect. Brubaker and Phillips break our hearts with further information on the cop and how Jacob ended up a widower and what happens to him and his relationship with the nurse. Usually I need some redemption in my noir to help with all the bleakness but not with Criminal – it is simply too damn good. The excellence of the writing and the art makes this a book worth all the heartache; it’s a shame that it will be on hiatus but at least Brubaker and Phillips will be giving us monthly instalments of some supervillain noir, in the form of Incognito. I look forward to it and to more Criminal.

The Boys #25
After the first few pages of corporate politeness and skulduggery, Ennis starts ripping into the X-Men with ‘Critter’, who has hammers instead of hands and seems to be on the verge of going mental. Sounds familiar … Even though this is a very unsubtle parody, Ennis still writes a good story, with interesting character moments and comedy moments (like Hughie walking in on the wannabe G-Men jerking each other off to straight porn), and it all plays into the overall story concerning Vought-American, the conglomerate responsible for all the superheroes in this world. Robertson does his usual top-notch job on art – he can do superhero art and the humour/realism necessary for this book.

Finally, I just wanted to congratulate Mike Sterling on five years of daily blogging about comic books – an inspiration and an continuously entertaining read. Thanks for all the blogging, Mike.

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