a KC COLUMN by KC Carlson
I read another bunch of comics over a couple of days — almost a hundred! This time it was all Marvel Comics. My main motivation for reading them was that I was sick of seeing piles of them all over the TV room and wanted to put them away. Obviously, not the best motivation for enjoying adventure stories, but sometimes the impetus for getting going in the first place requires a bit of real world “nudge-nudge”. (Know what I mean, Squire?) Once I start reading (and assuming I choose well for the “first reads”), I generally get in a groove until something jolts me out of my bliss. More on that later.
I started getting caught up on the Inhuman-related books by reading the long-ago-published Karnak #5 by writer Warren Ellis and artist Gerardo Zaffi, thinking it was the last issue of what I thought was a miniseries. I was way wrong about most everything because, as it turns out, it wasn’t the last issue. (#6 had been solicited a while ago, I had forgotten.) Actually, it’s been so long since Karnak #5 was published, there’s been in the meantime a completely different three-issue miniseries (Civil War II: Ulysses #1-3) that co-starred Karnak and the focus character of Civil War II, the new Inhuman Ulysses.
Written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Jefte Palo, Civil War II: Ulysses is a mostly fun read, paring the young and impressionable Ulysses with/against the incredibly irascible Inhuman Karnak. (I would be grumpy also if I was having a new adventure without the old one wrapping up first. That’s just not good super-hero-ing… not that Karnak would actually care about such things. He might still be dealing with the fact that he was dead for a while and then wasn’t. Jeez… comic books…) Anyway… Amazon amusingly thinks that a TPB of Karnak #1-6 will be available in March. I suppose anything’s possible…
Seriously, it’s been reported the original delay of the Karnak miniseries was related to artist Gerardo Zaffino being ill. Zaffino illustrated the first two issues of the miniseries, with artist Roland Boschi coming in to Illustrate issues #3-5. Zaffino was solicited as the artist of #6, and I don’t recall Marvel saying anything to the contrary. Hoping that we’ll see a happy ending for all these stories (both fictional and real world) soon.
Meanwhile, back in the Inhumans publishing world, one of the two ongoing Inhumans regular series (All-New Inhumans) was recently cancelled with issue #11. I wasn’t too surprised about this, as the title seemed to be satisfied not being the better of the two Inhumans books. I also suspect that maybe many fans are rebelling at how Marvel seems to be downplaying their own mutant titles and “pushing” the Inhumans instead. Or maybe that’s just my reading my own frustration onto other people’s behavior. I remain annoyed at how Marvel keeps shoving the Inhumans down our throats (just like how the WWE keeps “pushing” Roman Reigns to the point of nobody caring about him at all), so I don’t miss this book at all.
DEATH OF… SOMETHING…
The Inhumans also starred in what I thought was one of Marvel’s worst executed miniseries in a long time (or at least since about half of last year’s Secret Wars “crossovers”). Death of X was just unpleasant to read, and that’s not even taking into account the characters that died here. I expected more of a story from Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire, since so much else of their work is miles ahead of this soulless time-waster. Do important things happen here? Yes they do. Did I care about them happening? Not a whit.
Death of X is also a prequel to the hopefully better thought out IvX (Inhumans vs. X-Men) six-parter that begins later this month. But calling a miniseries Death of Anything isn’t appealing to me. There are now so many variations of every character that it no longer matters when any of them die. Why is it a big deal if Roger-Man dies in this issue when there’s at least a dozen different Roger-Men still running around in the universe (and perhaps even a Roger-Woman or two, as well…)?
I read the big “shock” ending to Death of X #4, and the very next Marvel comic I read (set in the same continuity) features a younger time-displaced version of the same character still running around. So much for drama. I’ve renamed this miniseries Death of My Interest in my head. Feel free to borrow it if you agree.
I also wasn’t a fan of the Death of X artwork. More specifically, the combination of the artwork and the coloring. Aaron Kuder is the artist, and Morry Hollowell is the colorist, but it’s interesting to note that by the end of the miniseries, there seem to be many other people helping them — indicating deadline and/or lateness issues. (Marvel certainly did not want to ship this late, as that possibly would have meant shipping the big-gun IvX later than planned.)
Kuder is largely influenced by European-style comics, which is certainly not a problem, but that style seems like an unusual choice for such a mainstream crossover project. Hollowell has colored a lot of amazing projects, including the original Civil War, Wolverine (and Wolverine and the X-Men, a personal fave), and other major projects. You’d think these two would be gold together, but the miniseries is littered with faces that are over-shadowed. It gives the distracting impression that everybody’s face is more beaten-up than they actually are. I don’t know why… printing problems, not-true color values, perhaps it’s Kuder not trusting Hollowell more and including too many fiddley lines on people’s faces — making them look like they have black eyes and crushed noses. (Or perhaps it’s the inkers over-inking the delicate lines/areas, making them overly dark.) Sorry for the detailed critique here — just my long-dormant inner-editor trying to “correct” something that’s really distracting (at least to me).
The much bigger problem with Death of X is that I just don’t care about anything that’s happening here. It’s something that was contrived a while ago, and it plays around with people’s expectations about knowing (or thinking they know) behind-the scenes information that really shouldn’t be subtext in the actual comics. I think the trigger should have been pulled on this death a long time ago. I know the Bendis era of the mutant titles was somewhat controversial (what isn’t by him?), but I enjoyed it a lot, except it just seemed to peter out at the end. (Maybe I need to go re-read Uncanny X-Men #600 again. Oh, it’s showing up in hardcover in my pull box this week! What timing!) Post-Bendis mutant books since have been marking time. For this? (IvX?) I hope it’s good, but I’m also thinking: better luck next time, Marvel. Glad this era is almost over soon.
It is, right…?
SO WHAT DO I LIKE?! MARVEL TODAY (NOT NOW!)
Amazing Spider-Man (and related titles) are usually among my first-reads lately. Sure, clones have been done in the Spidey books before (and not always to the best ends). But I’m trusting Dan Slott and all of the Spidey artists to keep these books (including The Clone Conspiracy) riding high and almost always surprising!
I’m still really enjoying Doctor Strange, and, so far, I like the new title, Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme because of its cast of new or underutilized magic people. I hope this “franchise” stays relatively small, at least for now. I’m SO tired of Marvel overproducing great concepts interestingly done and forgetting about what made them special in the first place. (Killed the outlying Avengers franchise much, lately?)
It’s driving me crazy reading both Infamous Iron Man (starring what was left of Doctor Doom after last year’s — also very late — Secret Wars conclusion) and Invincible Iron Man (featuring Marvel’s latest, soon-to-be Young Avenger Riri Williams). Since Civil War II is running so late, we have no idea what happens to Tony Stark there, since he doesn’t appear at all in these two new Iron Man spin-off titles. They’re both starting off strong, but I give the edge to Invincible’s Riri Williams, a 15-year-old genius (and MIT student) whom Tony was trying to mentor (in his copious free time) because she had invented her own suit of armor — from scratch! I can’t wait for her to be an Avenger and constantly arguing with Cap!
I recently mentioned how much I’m enjoying The Champions. So here are some other new Marvels I think folks should check out: The Great Lakes Avengers (support the hometown folks!) . . . Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur — a much-talked about book at Westfield East among the fans there and I heartily concur! One of the weirdest team-ups in comics, and a riot to read! . . . Thunderbolts #10 (out in February) is the concept’s (one of Marvel’s best!) 20th Anniversary. Big shout-out to co-creator and former Westfield subscriber Kurt Busiek! . . . I am much-ly looking forward to the Kate Bishop Hawkeye series — out soon!
KC CARLSON thinks there are a lot more interesting Marvel books to be reading — he just hasn’t had time to read them all yet. Things I need to get to soon include both Thors, The Mighty and The Unworthy. Both of these are written by Jason Aaron (whose work I obviously enjoy on Doctor Strange). One of these nights I need to get (several) pints of ale and a roaring fire, and just dig in. Perhaps myths scarred me as a child. Also hoping the upcoming Monsters Unleashed mini-event is the appropriate amount of weird. I could use me some Fin Fang Foom in a robe with pipe and slippers telling REALLY SCARY stories, KEEDS! Woah, now my brain is media-hopping! Not good… Time to go…
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. Like there was just one…