"Hold on... did that really just happen?"
This is a statement I mutter to myself all too often while reading comics (I'm a broken record like that). This phrase can be used if I really loved something... or if I really loathed something. Every week I make my checking account cry as I spend an unhealthy amount of money on new comics. I'm investing so much of my money into this medium because, just like you, I love the fictional worlds and characters these publishers continue to develop every Wednesday. While a lot of the titles skate by on a mediocre level, every now and then titles have moments that make them rise to greatness or plummet to new lows.
Every week I'll pick two moments that made me cheer (raves) and two that made me sad on the inside (rants). If the week is extra special, I'll have a bonus rant or rave. Keep in mind, a title having a rant doesn't necessarily mean the entire issue is garbage. After all, UNCANNY X-FORCE #34 has a rant this week and I thought the issue was phenomenal.
I don't have the money or the attention span to read every new comic, so please feel free to speak up if you feel there was a rant or rave worthy moment not included!
Warning! Thar be spoilers here!
Jason Todd has some major issues, but one thing's for sure, he's not an idiot. He's proven time and time again to have a sound tactical mind (see 'Under the Red Hood' for numerous examples), so I was shocked to see him attack Superman. After all, Todd spends the first few pages of this issue saying how much Superman frightens him. He knows there's nothing he could do to best the Man of Steel. Meanwhile, all it takes from Kal-El is an evil stare to turn him into a pile of ash. I get how he and his allies think they're in trouble and the powerhouse hero is looking to take them down, but Superman, a man not exactly known for blatantly lying, flat-out says he wants to say his piece before leaving. Todd, you heard that, right? He wants to say something then leave. My boy Todd knows he has about a 0.00005% chance of beating the Justice League member, but despite this, he and the Outlaws think the best way to respond is by attacking first. Why? I have no idea. I get they're aggressive, but they're not stupid.
Sure, Todd says they have a chance if they piss him off and find an opening, but what opening? Is kryptonite going to fall out of the sky? There's literally nothing at their disposal that could make them even harm Kal-El, and that's definitely showcased in this fight. Annoying him isn't going to make a means for victory suddenly appear, if anything, it's going to make your defeat swifter and far more painful. It's clear the team stood no chance and thankfully someone with some damn common sense (Isabel) stops the fight before Superman had the chance to. At the end of the day, this is simply a fight that happened because -- despite the bad reasoning -- it was a lot of fun to observe. I enjoyed it a good deal, but was it really that hard for the Outlaws to let Superman explain himself before going on a futile offensive?
Rave: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN'S Freaky Friday
Love or hate this twist, there's no denying it has a solid grip on your attention and you're absolutely going to read #699 and #700 to see how it all plays out. While it certainly isn't the most original twist around, I commend writer Dan Slott for the move. Seeing a huge change (one that isn't ruined by previews and solicitations months in advance) feels incredibly rare in the big two and it goes without saying that this change is massive.
Will Doctor Octopus remain in Pete's body and that's why he's darker in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN? If so, what will Otto do with this brand new life at his disposal? Will he still be a bitter old man lashing out at the world... or will it inspire him? After reading #698, there's an overwhelming sense of certainty that it'll be Oc in Pete's body for the long haul (that makes "Pete" kissing MJ reaaaaaally awkward), but a preview for #700 has been released and it has delivered a powerful punch to my brain. Pete's... coming back? But how? Will he still be in Ock's decaying body? Will Peter find a way to return to his body and if so, what makes him darker and need modifications to his costume? Will he go into a new body... and if so, whose? Or what if he manages to kick Ock's soul out of his body and throw another one in there... if so, who'd take the spot? And what about that alleged leak on Twitter about a certain alternate universe Spider-Man? Was that just a ruse? Argh! Curse you, Slott, the suspense is killing me!
No matter what happens, there's no reason to believe this move is "destroying" Spider-Man or your childhood. At NYCC, Slott even confirmed that, while this will be the status quo for awhile, seeing Parker's eventual return is probable. Maybe it'll conveniently happen around the same time as The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Rant: The puddle of DOOM!
Writer Rick Remender deserves tons of praise for Daken's death. The scene was shockingly emotional and gave me the chills. It really was tough to read and overwhelmingly powerful. That said, a puddle? I get he can logically drown in it, but the character that has gone toe-to-toe with Skaar, Thing and Cyber. To meet his end face down in a tiny puddle is... well, embarrassing and humiliating, especially at the hands of his own father. Even after killing Omega Red, Logan felt the diabolical villain deserved a better end. I can only imagine how he'd feel about this one, forcing his son to choke on water and dirt. Yes, it was from a broken fire hydrant, but it still feels really lackluster and, for a lack of better words, tough to swallow, especially after Wolverine was trapped in a tank for what seemed to be a much longer period of time.
I get that Remender is implying that suffocation -- be it an ocean or a mere puddle -- is enough to take down someone with a healing factor, but I'm finding it very hard to believe this will really be the last we see of Daken. Remender's other deaths have been far more definitive. Blob: eaten from the inside. Fantomex: heart cut out. Daken: face down in a puddle, fool! If a writer really wants to do something with a character I'm very confident they'll be able to bring him back from this. Again, amazingly powerful scene, but a rather lame means of death compared to the rest and given the character's history.
Rave: Best team-up EVER
Have I told you how fantastic X-O MANOWAR is? Because it really is. As Mat stated in his latest review, you need to drop something from your pull list to make room for this one. Simply put: X-O is the ultimate science fiction adventure book. Conflict with interesting aliens: check. Super cool futuristic technology: check. As if that wasn't stellar enough, Valiant's title has now thrown in the most badass ninja ever, Ninjak.
Seeing the two duke it out is fun and all, but you know what's even more fun? Seeing them tear it up side by side! The insanely anticipated 'Planet Death' is quickly approaching and pretty soon we're going to see this duo devastate the Vine in drastically different methods. Witnessing the two put aside their differences and join forces only adds to the excitement over what's to come. Let's just pray writer Duane Swierczynski doesn't kill off Ninjak. If anyone deserves their own series, it's that dude.
Usually I include a bonus rant or rave, but this was such a good week that I'm going to have a bonus for both!
Bonus Rave: Creed finally shows an ounce of intellect
Hold the phone... Victor Creed did something that requires intelligence? If someone told me Sabretooth was able to manipulate both Daken and Wolverine, I'd say nonsense and need to read it for myself to believe it. In my opinion, this is long overdue for the villain. Creed had tons of training over the course of his life and has quite a disturbing mind, yet 90% of the time he's written as a rabid and mindless fool. It's nice to see the character given more respect even though I'm fairly certain this won't change much for him in the long run.
Jeph Loeb's run claims Creed recently spent a good deal of time trying to improve his tactics and talents, but in the end, his brilliant plan over in that book was "use a bomb if all else fails!" So, this was a very pleasant change of pace for the character. Creed, I'm sure the time we meet you'll be drooling and slashing like a moron. Oh well.
Bonus Rant: David Aja rotating on HAWKEYE
Artist David Aja's work definitely isn't for everyone, but it grew on me and his absence from the latest issue of HAWKEYE was absolutely noticed by me. Immediately concerned by this, I checked out solicitations and realized he's still going to work on the title, but it's unclear how frequently. I see he's on another issue, but then it hops back to Javier Pulido, the man currently illustrating the book.
Javier's work does have a lot of similarities to Aja's and keeping Matt Hollingsworth as the colorist does give the book a fairly smooth switch, yet the change is still easy to spot. Javier's work certainly isn't bad, but his faces can be incredibly jarring at times (see the homepage picture of a constipated Kingpin for an example). Hopefully the two will rotate because it would be sad to see Aja go.
Gregg Katzman is a freelance writer for Comic Vine & IGN Entertainment. If he could add another bonus rave, it would be Remender's fourth wall joke.