Thursday, December 1, 2011

Random Thoughts: November 2011

What a month November 2011 has been for comics! And due to time constraints I’m not even including the Nov 30 releases!
To begin, Scott Snyder’s Batman #3 was absolutely fantastic and continues to be the jewel in the crown of the New 52 titles I’ve stuck with. Moreover, I also have to say how impressive it is that Snyder continues to churn out two quality books – Batman and Swamp Thing – each month. I’ve been enjoying Swamp Thing (including #3) since the reboot, but Batman #3 was quite probably the best of the New 52 I've read. As I was reading I couldn’t help feel he was channelling Watchmen – the mystery, the history and the Owls – and advise you to get it immediately.

From DC's Batman #3, November 2011
Captain Atom #3 offered some good comic fun too, as did Superman #3. And while I’m not entirely convinced the guest appearance by Flash was necessary, I think J.T. Krul and Freddie Williams II are about to take the gloves off the Captain, and it will be interesting to see this nearly omnipotent character unleashed: especially now that he’s run afoul with the US government. Superman continues to establish itself as the contemporary Superman title and while #3 was more about establishing relationships I think the title will explode soon -- and that will be interesting. 

From DC's Captain Atom #3, November 2011
This should be my Facebook photo! From DC's Superman #3, November 2011
On the Marvel side of things, Wolverine and the X-Men was good and I really like the new Iceman/Bobby Drake. Chris Bachalo’s art has finally started to grow on me after a couple Regenesis issues, but unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by Alpha Flight #6 which seemed like a filler story. Of course, this could be chalked up to residual bitterness over the October cancellation announcement, and now that everyone’s favourite Headmaster has returned to Canada, I may be forgiving next month. Snikt!!!   
Bobby and Kitty in Marvel's Wolverine and the X-Men #2, November 2011
From Marvel's Alpha Flight #6/8, November 2011
And finally my most anticipated book this month: Fantastic Four #600. In it, we learn Jonathan Hickman didn’t actually kill off Johnny Storm, but kept him alive in the Negative Zone where he’s performing as a caged gladiator. I have to say, it was good seeing Johnny again and I’m curious to see how this near death experience alters the character. I’ve always believed Johnny’s more...youthful...personality has held him back, so perhaps we’ll see him return with a gravitas that would make him one of the most interesting and powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. Of course, it wouldn’t have been a momentous edition of the ‘The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine’ without Reed Richards striking up a deal with Galactus, but perhaps the most interesting part of the 100 page book was an artistic interpretation of the extraordinary powers of Franklin Richards. This actually provoked the same sort of reflection a good Arthur C. Clarke novel does. Bravo Marvel!

Hickman is taking these books (FF and Fantastic Four are splitting into two) into interesting directions, and while I know Marvel has been cancelling books and doesn’t have the market dominance it had before the New 52, it's good to see renewed vigour with the Fantastic Four. In my opinion, it's still the best comics property out there. 

Good to have you back, Johnny! From Marvel's Fantastic Four #600, November 2011

From Marvel's Fantistic Four #600, November 2011
Regarding other media, my favourite comic podcast, World Balloon with John Siuntres, released a two part interview on November 16 and 23 featuring a remarkable interview with industry stalwart Rob Liefeld. Here, Liefeld speaks candidly about the state of the industry, his work with Hawk and Dove, the New 52 and the fascinating intellectual property and licensing issues surrounding the recent Marvel films. The second podcast also features a free-wheeling conversation with Matt Fraction, which while being less about comics than popular culture, is interesting too. All in all, it was a fascinating couple hours of podcasting and I highly recommend you take a listen.

So that’s it for November 2011. I'll be back in December and am currently working on a couple feature-length pieces about ROM Spaceknight and the Laws of Warfare and  the Insanity defence and comic book villains.  Yep, a little light reading for the Christmas season! In any case, have a good  December and feel free to drop me a line with any suggestions or comments. Cheers!

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