As good as Beechen's work can be on Robin, there's not much he could do in this placeholder issue of Teen Titans. It looks like it might be time for DC to start throwing somebody, anybody to try and make the book readable again--considering it's meager cast of characters and near indecipherable purpose, that's going to be a bit difficult. It's never been quite clear what to do with a Titans comic book, not since the series glory days in the eighties and early nineties. What is clear is that producing an issue with hideous art and focusing on a subplot involving internment camps that makes Marvel's Civil War look Proustian in comparison isn't going to win any new fans to this series. It wouldn't be very far off base to assume that if you took Teen Titans 48 home this week, you're probably not very excited for Teen Titans 49. Which, considering these things don't come with lottery numbers, doesn't seem like a very good sign for this series. Recommendation? Start lacing this comic with PCP, so readers can experience a foreign sensation: excitement.
What's the point of the Ultimate line if they're just going to re-invent the same story? That's the kind of question people probably asked before the whole thing started--and it was well-answered by the excellent work that was originally put into the core titles. As it succeeded, it brought about expansion--to the point where now the Ultimate line is heading towards the same cluster of confusion that the regular Marvel line lays in. Ultimate Fantastic Four has led the charge--it's almost completely like the regular Fantastic Four, except now the characters look like teenagers. Teenagers that behave like their mid-30's counterparts. Now, for some terrible reason, the worst of the Ultimate bunch has decided to deliver the "reinvention" treatment to the Silver Surfer character. Which they, inexplicably, already did a little over a year ago in the Ultimate Galactus min-series. Of course, if the magical "new reader" that Marvel is having wet dreams about actually exists, then this is the comic they're looking for after watching the poorly reviewed Fantastic Four movie last week. While that doesn't make this well-constructed and totally uninteresting comic any better, it certainly goes a long way to explain it's existence. If anything, it's the most mercenary comic currently on the shelf--to go any further than this, you'd have to put out something called "buy this so we can make money and get you to buy more."
The Ultimate X-Men title has fallen on hard times in the last few years--gone are the limited amounts of characters, the early stages of relationships--much like the complaints leveled at the Ultimate Fantastic Four, the X-Men title has become too much like, well, the regular X-Men titles. That's too bad. After all, the original X-Men ran for a decent amount of time before people started to actually complain about the fact that these "mutants," who complained of being "second-class citizens" actually seemed to have a pretty thriving community. After the initial highs of seeing all these characters enlivened with reconstituted stories and the reliving of classic stories, this title has suffered from bad art, clumsy storytelling, and an ugly willingness to add new characters with every story arc. While 83 isn't a sign of that changing, it's still better than most of what's come before it, and it seems like Robert Kirkman might have finally settled in and started his own experiments. Still, considering the compulsive readability of his Walking Dead title, one wonders if Kirkman is holding his best work back for a book that actually belongs to him, and filling in on this just because it keeps his name fresh.
It's okay if you want to revamp the Legion. If any ridiculously overstuffed comic book needs it, the Legion takes the cake, which is probably why it gets restarted every five years or so. But the genius of the Legion has always rested in the fact that they had a character named Matter-Eater Lad, whose only ability was the ability to eat anything, hence his gorgeously accurate name. So when Matter-Eater Lad shows up for the first time in years, any decent human being should get the chance to see him eat something. And that, to put it simply, is why this issue of the Legion will suck cock in hell.
Wolverine continues his path towards proving himself to be the Chevy Chase of comic characters. Sure, it was cool that one time he made that one snappy comeback after he killed somebody, but that time is a ways back. Now you just wonder what gambling debts it is he's trying to pay off. Why is Steve Dillon drawing this thing again? Does Daniel Way have pictures of him clubbing dolphins?
There's probably a more cynical comic out there, but there aren't that many in the mainstream comic shops. Hickman has a ways to go as a writer--few of his characters have much of an individual voice, and considering his modernist take on art, it's been difficult over the past six issues to discern who is doing what, and what side they are on. Anything that is this grossly aggressive is certain to smack of a bit of naivete at times, and the News hasn't been shy about it's nihilistic attitude towards the media. Still, reading six issues of watching television news personalities get shot in the face with high powered rifles could've gotten a lot more boring than it did. Hickman is too early in his career to be judged that harshly--hopefully he'll improve from here.
The Immortal Iron Fist 6
Written by Matt Fraction & Ed Brubaker
Art by David Aja & Russ Heath
There's no Marvel or DC comic coming out right now that is as much balls-out-fun as The Immortal Iron Fist--which should only be referred to by it's full title. Insanely over the top fight scenes, filthy over-testeroned dialog and a lead character who wears a puke green bodysuit: The Immortal Iron Fist remains the best argument for never, ever taking this stuff seriously. It's like a Japanese steak knife tree: no, you don't need it. Nobody needs it. But holy shit, it's fucking awesome.
Hellboy: Darkness Calls 3
Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Duncan Fegardo
The only argument for buying Hellboy by the issue is that you get a chance to read letters that people wrote regarding a year old mini-series. That and the oft-recited "just supporting Dark Horse" claim. Considering Hellboy has another movie coming out, helmed by the Academy-loved Guillermo Del Toro, Hellboy probably doesn't need the support. And that's why there's no good reason to watch Mignola's stories unfold over the course of months: what makes for a great afternoon read isn't really that entertaining when the rhythm is broken up into 20-odd page segments.
Daredevil & Wolverine seem to have the same horrific sexually transmitted disease: sleeping with them seems to guarantee death. (This little fact, unfortunately, was actually talked about, as if it were a serious issue, in this weeks copy of Wolverine Origins.) The surprise of this issue is that Daredevil's current wife, a totally undeveloped character who was little more than a deus ex machina holdover from Daredevil's Bendis period, doesn't actually die. Of course, she gets dragged across town on rooftops by a mentally deranged supervillain who wears circular sawblades on his arms, so it doesn't really make much logical sense that she escapes relatively unscathed. Still, she does, so here's hoping that her upcoming demise is being saved for the sure-to-be-overpriced Daredevil 100. Ed Brubaker is one of the better writers in the current mainstream superhero books, but unless he starts calling this comic Daredevil and The Blind Woman He Married Because He Was Sort Of Depressed, it's time for Milla to join the ranks of women who thought it was a good idea to sleep with a superhero that a lot of murderous freaks seem to hate. This doesn't look like the year that Marvel is going to realize that making a character blind is a shortcut for making a character interesting. You have to wrap them in leather for that trick to work.
-Tucker Stone Will Tell You On Friday About Two Comics Worth Buying, 2007