a KC COLUMN by KC Carlson
I did a stupid thing last week. I read more than 100 recent comics over four days. That burned out my mental capacities temporarily, until I took a couple of days to recover… and least enough time more my brain be able to type again. Hoorat!
The first batch was a whole bunch of DC Comics. They pile up really fast! So many of them are now published twice monthly. I suppose if I was normal and actually read the comics I bought the same day (or week), the reading pile wouldn’t be so big, but I buy too many for that to work, since I do take time away from comics to read other things (like books about comics). Just kidding (a little)… Right now, the priority is spending some time outside the house before the snow starts flying, because I probably won’t want to go out in that too much until next Spring!
Three particular titles stood out to me, one from DC and two Marvel (keep reading).
Suicide Squad is obviously popular because of the movie (which I still haven’t seen). I loved the John Ostrander/Kim Yale/Luke McDonnell series in the 90s, but I haven’t cared much for the various relaunches and miniseries over the years. (Actually, the ‘90s series spun out of the 1987 Legends miniseries, as well as the incredibly detailed Secret Origins #14 that accompanied it.) I especially bailed on the New 52 version of the team because it incorporated a lot of the changes made to the core concept stemming from the various TV and film versions. I particularly disliked the physical changes made to Amanda Waller; they made her seem like a completely different character to the one so carefully developed in the comics.
Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1 from earlier this year was a tremendous and happy surprise. That first “origin” issue brought back almost everything I originally loved about the original Squad — especially the original Amanda Waller: tough as nails and taking no cr*p! As mentioned by me previously, this Rebirth issue recalls the best of the original Suicide Squad origin from that long-ago Secret Origins issue.
This new regular Suicide Squad series is usually a two-story affair, a structure that allows the ever-busy Jim Lee the opportunity to pencil the shorter lead story without making the title months late. (The back-up tales are generally solo adventures starring the primary members.) One of the Squad predictably gets snuffed in issue #2, but the character who gets offed is hardly predictable! It’s actually quite shocking, true to the Squad, and darkly humorous as well. Writer Rob Williams has had a long career writing things I’ve mostly not read, but with each issue of Suicide Squad growing on me, it looks like I need to be discovering some of his other work soon. Finding out that he’s a Brit explains a lot of the twisted humor I’m loving in SS.
Also, speaking of John Ostrander, he’s returned to the SS in the recent Suicide Squad Special: War Crimes one-shot, which is also worth seeking out, especially if you miss the old-school SS.
I’m still enjoying the DC Series I previously mentioned a few weeks back. I haven’t gotten the chance to start reading some of the newer DC titles (like Blue Beetle) because I screwed up and forgot to buy the second #1 issue. I know why DC is issuing back-to-back #1 issues of all these series (um… greed?), but it’s annoying having to remember to buy two different #1 issues!
Frankly, the latest wave of new DC launches — including Deathstroke, Cyborg, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Nightwing, Trinity, and others — I’m just not interested in at all. (You can’t buy or read everything anyway, right?)
MARCHING WITH MARVEL… (IS THIS ACTUALLY LAMER THAN “WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS. . . ?”)
Are you annoyed by the lateness of the Civil War II core series, and even more annoyed that Marvel is still going ahead and issuing the not-delayed tie-ins to the series and spoiling some things themselves? I am! (Not that they actually care about such things anymore… See last year’s Secret Wars long-delayed wrap-up, which ended AFTER All-New All-Different Marvel actually began.) I was still buying the issues and setting them aside until CWII actually ends (assuming that it actually does). Or at least I was, until, in a fit of minor rage last weekend, I actually grabbed all of these books that I’ve been waiting to read and tore through them prepared to hate them. Darn if one of them wasn’t one of the best and funniest comics I’ve read all year!
Champions #2 is a can’t-miss issue, especially if you love both team books and teen books! Originally, The Champions was an old Marvel trademark for a book that had a line-up even stranger than The Defenders. Five characters who had little in common with each other — Hercules, Black Widow, Angel, Iceman, and Ghost Rider — became the Champions. The book’s biggest claim to fame probably was that John Byrne drew five issues and Chris Claremont wrote one (but not together). It originally ran for 17 issues, mostly bi-monthly, from 1975 to 1978. It seems to be fondly remembered by some, but it actually wasn’t very good on the whole.
The new Champions title is also a team book, but all of its members are teens. The membership consists of . . . SPOILER ALERT . . . ex-ANAD Avengers Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, and Nova. Introduced in #2 are the Totally Awesome Hulk (aka Amadeus Cho) and Viv Vision, the “daughter” of the Vision from the very weird, recently completed The Vision series. The first three have split from the ANAD Avengers because of events in Civil War II and decide to start their own team.
Issue #2 finds all of the characters on retreat, camping out in the middle of a dense forest for a getting-to-know-each-other-better exercise in an attempt to convince the two new recruits to sign up for membership. That gives each member a chance to both explain and demonstrate their super power, which cleverly supplies some action to what is essentially a locked-room story. Since they’re all annoyingly (and humorously) teenagers, they’re not only one-upping each other, teen hormones are also raging with Viv Vision being one of the most unlikely objects of desire ever.
While showing off their powers, TAHulk is asked how high he can jump, and he jumps so high he virtually disappears from the issue for a lengthy bit. This amused me greatly, and not for the obvious reason.
In-jokes abound, most helping to develop Viv Vision’s character: Her surprising login password. Viv failing the catching part of the “Trust Fall” exercise (guess why!). Everybody thinks Ms. Marvel should be the leader, “like Captain America”, and Viv blithely concludes that if there’s already two simultaneously existing Caps, why not three? There’s also a tense moment when Viv attempts to self-reference the suggestion of telling ghost stories, and her conclusions make everybody uncomfortable for a little bit.
Just then, an eavesdropping time-displaced Teen Cyclops (from All-New X-Men) is discovered near the campsite, leading to the (thankfully brief) “misunderstanding” battle — which actually foreshadows possible inter-team conflicts for the future.
The best part of the story is decidedly not funny. Following the conclusion of the “conflict” with Cyclops, with the kids are deciding whether to include Cyclops in the team, throwing out comments about him like “teenage Hitler”, Viv shuts them all down with a simple observation proving she may be the most “human” of any of them.
If you’ve been following everything very closely, the last page is the most awesome of all.
Waid and Ramos have worked together before, most notably on the DC series Impulse in 1995, and they form an awesome team here. Waid loves writing teens (see current Archie series), and Ramos is remarkably adept at drawing them (which is actually harder than you think). Champions should be the sleeper hit of the year for Marvel, unless you help spread the word (which is what I’m trying to do here) to make it a full-blown blockbuster, which it readily deserves.
ALL-NEW, NOT SO GOOD
In contrast, I wish I had liked the new Avengers #1 more than I did. I know artist Mike del Mundo has a lot of fans, but I’m not one of them. I generally don’t like painted comics much (covers, yes… stories, not so much), because I feel like many painterly artists spend too much time trying to wow with each individual image of a story. The actual work of visual storytelling (i.e. the narrative) is lost in a slide show of seemingly unconnected images. It also appears that del Mundo doesn’t seem to have much of a feel for knowing where to leave space for word balloons and captions, as there are way too many artificially crowded pages in this issue.
The cover really confused me. Are all the characters flying out of Spider-Man? That’s what it seems like, since Spidey is the only one with actual legs in the shot. I also found the color choices (primarily red and green) pretty garish for a first issue cover, unless they were going for a “Christmassy” look. (Probably not.) The composition is very wonky, with the bottom third of the cover virtually empty (save for Spidey’s arm and legs), and everybody else all squished up in the middle, under the logo. I didn’t even notice The Wasp at all until the third or fourth time I looked at the cover, so skillfully she blended into the background of the uncomfortable composition. Hope everyone was just having an “off” issue, and things will be better next time, as I’m already primed to love (or at least respect) most every Avengers story.
KC CARLSON READS: “The Legion (of Super-Heroes) is probably the most rebooted Super Hero team of all time…” — The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the DC Universe (2016 Edition). Sorry. My bad. Mea culpa. (But I did not act alone…) Obviously, I need to read more of this book… and soon.
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. Yeah!