So, for a little while longer, you can go to McDonald's and the paper cup for your beverage will have these "US Olympic hopefuls," pictures on them--which are not, no they are not, people who actually made the US Olympic team. Some are, but some are people who did not make the Olympic team. Considering that some of them are in sports where age is a factor, if they didn't make it, this was it. This was their cup. They are a "hopeful," and, because it's the Olympics, no one but their friends and family will be talking about them in the near future, or the faraway future. That's what Last Will and Testament is: it's a comic about somebody that nobody probably has anything against, Geo-Force, but that nobody probably cares a lot about. It's the sort of comic that comes out and says, hey, here I am. I'm about Geo-Force, and I have some really popular artists handling me, and I'm written by a guy a lot of people claim to not like but still buy, and I've got a moral! And a happy ending! And Rocky from the old Challengers of the Unknown! It's 2008! Comic books! If you can take a comic, and insert absolutely any Z-grade character into the leading role and yet that change would not change the story in the slightest, then it doesn't really have a reason to be out there wasting Joe Kubert's time. He's a teacher! Then again, it might stop him from unleashing more bad super-hero artists on the world, so it's a tough call.
Well, that's that. The answer to the question of "Is Iron Fist only good because of Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker" is answered with a resounding "Uh huh." While Travel Foreman's art is certainly fun to look at, whatever magic that was on this series is officially gone, and Iron Fist has returned to being a character that, without some inventive cleverness and a priority on smart entertainment, is pretty much a terrible idea to base a story on. This series now has less in common with it's first 16 issues--instead, it's like the 90's Daredevil where he wore armor and was teamed up with an actual, wait for it, devil.
Although Brubaker has played out the scene before where somebody, in this case that wheelchair person, has told Matthew Murdock cum Daredevil that everything bad that happens isn't "about him," it's still a scene that is going to work every single time, until Daredevil quits being a whiny jackass. How a super-hero who seems to be rich, have constant regular sex with brilliantly attractive and intelligent women, and gets to jump out of a window and through a helicopter (which looks sort of unrealistic, who'd have thought, yet, totally pimp fantastique) and yet still behave as if he's the angstiest angst-athon in the Marvel universe is one of those things you're probably supposed to "suspend disbelief" about. Daredevil: an entertaining genre comic about the bitchiest bitch in spandex ever. You win a prize, every month. That prize will look like Batman Year One, but it will taste like every post-Disintegration Cure album.
A certain type of person, namely the person who purchases the comics that are then given to the Factual review team, is under the obligation of buying anything Keith Giffen draws, since Keith Giffen rarely draws anything anymore. That aside, Ambush Bug is still not really that fun to read, because then one has to give a shit, or at least know about, stuff that isn't worth reading in the first place. This comic just needs to be meaner, or it needs to be funnier, or it just needs to be more extreme in any direction. Satire needs bite to it--otherwise you're just doing parody, and in super-hero comics, the object itself is usually a parody already. How do you make fun of Countdown? Countdown makes fun of itself.
Here's another one of those things that DC would call "Secret Files & Origins" and Marvel chooses to call a regular comic book--did you ever want to know what clones of Reed Richards did on their vacation? Tough. That's all we got, and no matter how refreshing it is to look at drawings of Mr & Mrs Fantastic getting shot in the head, that's all you're going to get. That being said, it is pretty refreshing to see super-heroes get their heads blown off, especially when you realize that somewhere out there, somebody is going to pay a shitload of money so they can frame Billy Tan's original drawings of said shooting. We want to meet that person, and we want to see what types of books they keep in the bathroom for when they got a big one brewing!
Here's hoping that Brian Wood's desire to be gritty and interesting outweighs his personal politics and that the election of a fictional non-white political leader in a warzone turns out to be a horrible mistake. Otherwise, all future DMZ stories can be easily predictable as being straight up Democratic wish-fulfillment stories where we all read about how upper-class tax increases help bring about the end of global warming. Next storyline is going to be about an intelligent punk rock Chinese girl who fixes FEMA with an old school mash-up of Paul Oakenfeld and the original score of Murnau's Sunrise. Liberal propaganda: still as unwieldy as the conservative variety.
Ultimate Spider-Man continues it's follow up on one of the best stories in it's run, the original Venom arc that had ended on a cruel anti-climax that all but said "This will end badly." After almost 80 issues, Venom's return seems like an afterthought that might have done well to keep in the can a bit longer--despite Stuart Immonen giving the character a distinctive appearance that mixes comic-shlock with a Tex Avery cartoon, the story is one that's uncomfortably similar to the terrible Spider-Man film that had Tobey Maguire dressing like the lead singer of Interpol while Topher Grace fought against Ocean's 11 memories to eradicate any good will pointed in his direction. While Bendis probably deserves some kind of leeway since he's also handling about 50% of Marvel's current output, his Spider-Man work might have benefited from a sabbatical.
Thunderbolts seems to be turning out in the Black Panther class of Secret Invasion tie-in comics more then the New Avengers class in that what happens in it is unimportant to the larger story, and is therefore potentially more entertaining. That's a good thing, we suppose. Christos Gage is still a writer who has yet to work on a comic that's worth his time, but his career is his own, and if he wants to jack out potboiler action work for Marvel, then whatever, his call. There's not a lot to really say about something like this--it's just an opportunity for guys like Venom and Bullseye to yank a page from that Ultimates story where Hawkeye and the Black Widow exterminated the inhabitants of an office building-- action comics, done well. Bland, but not offensively so.
-Tucker Stone, 2008