Man, comic books. Okay, I tried to do this all nice, but it’s round-up time:
- Reginald Hudlin’s Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther?, Black Panther: Bad Mutha, and The Bride in conjunction with Reginald Hudlin and Peter Milligan’s X-Men/Black Panther: Wild Kingdom and Eric Jerome Dickey’s Storm combine to tell the story of the Black Panther’s search for a bride (who, it probably won’t surprise you to learn, is Storm), as well as filling in some backstory. The Storm volume is pretty disposable, but the Black Panther stuff is very solid. Not up to Priest’s superb arc, but very decent above-average superhero stuff that takes the Panther seriously as both a superhero and a black man.
- Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, vol. 3: Torn is twistily plotted, well written, and just generally highly enjoyable. As with his previous work on the X-Men, Whedon isn’t transcending the genre, but (along with fellow TV-exile Straczynski) he’s turning out some of the best superhero stuff out there right now.
- Zeb Wells’ Young Avengers and Runaways: Civil War is both an unnecessary entry in the Civil War canon and a not-very-good Runaways story. I found it extremely confusing, and kept getting characters mixed-up. Not terribly bad, but definitely not worth buying for critical readers.
- Brian Bendis, Warren Ellis, Paul Jenkins, and Dan Slott’s Civil War: Marvel Universe is sort of a miscellaneous collection of odds ‘n’ ends from the Civil War timeframe. Decent enough, but since a major part of the book is the She-Hulk story, I felt a little irritated when I picked up Dan Slott’s She-Hulk, vol. 4: Laws of Attraction and found out that a) the story was included in there too, and b) it was in the middle of the volume, so I’d initially read the story out of context. Buy the She-Hulk, skip the Marvel Universe.
- Brian K. Vaughan’s Doctor Strange: The Oath takes the mystical Sorceror Supreme and puts him into a this-worldly mystery story. It’s nothing that’ll blow you away, but it’s solid enough.
- That’s also the sort of non-committal comment I’ll make about Brian Reed’s Ms. Marvel: Best of the Best , in which second-tier hero Ms. Marvel (tip to comic novices: female versions of male heroes are pretty much second-tier by default) decides that she should be totally fucking awesome and quit piggling around. Clever conceit, but wasted on standard comic book plots.
- J. Michael Stracynzki’s Bullet Points may as well have been called What If... Steve Rogers Didn’t Receive The Super-Soldier Serum?, and it’s a very traditional What If...? story, tracing a chain of events that occur from one small shift in the Marvel Universe and which end up creating a world that’s totally different from the “real” one. I’m a sucker for well-done Marvel Universe alt-history, and this was well done.
- Ed Brubaker’s Coward is a non-superhero crime story. I don’t really love crime stories, but this one ends up being almost a caper story, and I ended up liking it quite a bit. If you like this kind of thing, you’ll love this thing; if not, you may still like it.
And that clears up that backlog...