Jun 24 2012

Graphic Bits: Before Watchmen Comedian, Astonishing X-Men, Saga and More!

Don’t have time for full reviews of comics? Then check out out Graphic Bits: bite sized chunks of comic book goodness designed to get behind the panels and into your hearts.

This week, we look at the hot mess that is Before Watchmen: Comedian #1, the wonders of Wonder Woman #10 and the unflappable Daredevil #14. Then we hit up Astonishing X-Men #51 (aka The Wedding Issue) and finally, it’s off to the strange world of Saga #4.

Before Watchmen: Comedian #1Before Watchmen: Comedian #1 [DC Comics, Brian Azzarello (writer), J.G. Jones (art) – Bits Rating: ★★½]: You can say what you like about the prequels to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal Watchmen, but the one thing they have done is remind us what a terrific writer Moore was in the 1980s. Following the excessive exposition of Darwyn Cooke’s Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 and the teen angst of Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #1, Brian Azzarello’s take on the hard-hitting Comedian filled us with the potential for hope. Sadly, despite some lovely art from J.G. Jones, Azzarello falls into the same traps that the rest of the series has so far, in explaining that which never needed an explanation. Worse yet, Comedian’s right-wing leanings seem somewhat subverted by his almost brotherly relationship with John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert. It will take some scrambling for this series to salvage any currency. The back-up story, The Curse of the Crimson Corsair: The Devil in the Deep Part 3, by Len Wein and John Higgins, continues to miss the point of the original Tales of the Black Freighter comic-within-a-comic.

Wonder Woman #10Wonder Woman #10 [DC Comics, Brian Azzarello (writer), Kano, Tony Akins and Dan Green (art) – Bits Rating: ★★]: On the flip side, Azzarello’s work on Wonder Woman continues to impress, and the tenth issue in the rebooted series continues to impress. Azzarello’s ret-cons had us a little worried at first, but the focus on the Greek mythology aspects of Wonder Woman’s origin has given some amazing scope for epic stories, including this one that literally takes us into the Underworld. There’s also a lovely reveal about the true form of Diana’s nature Although there are three artists on this issue, always a worry, it looks consistent throughout, even if Hephaestus looks a little too much like Mike Mignola’s Hellboy at times. If you were put off by the early issues, now is the time to jump back on.

Daredevil #14 (Marvel, 2012)Daredevil #14 [DC Comics, Mark Waid (writer), Chris Samnee (art) – Bits Rating: ★★]: Along with Scott Snyder’s Batman, the analogous Mark Waid run on Daredevil has been unsurpassed this year. Taking “The Omega Effect” storyline beyond the recent Spider-man/Punisher crossover, the story heads all the way to Dr. Doom’s Latveria, as the cover of this month’s issue would imply. Samnee’s art continues to impress, with some of the best depictions of what it is like to “be” Daredevil we have seen in years. As Waid’s story points out, the problems with not being able to see what you are doing and relying on your super-senses may get you into trouble, especially when you are trying to recreate The Great Escape. For no other reason, we get to see Daredevil on a horse. What more could we ask for?

Daredevil #14 - Daredevil on a horse

 Astonishing X-Men #51 - The Wedding IssueAstonishing X-Men #51 [Marvel, Marjorie Liu (writer), Mike Perkins, Andrew Hennessy (art) – Bits Rating: ★]Undoubtedly one of the most talked-about issues of the year, the lead-up to the “gay wedding issue” of Northstar and his long-term partner will probably result in a but of an anti-climax. Receiving mainstream media coverage was probably great for Marvel, but more importantly it comes on a wave of comic books exploring sexuality in a frank and open way. Over in Earth 2 #2 (DC Comics), Green Lantern Alan Scott proposes to his boyfriend, while Archie’s Kevin Keller sold out his nuptials earlier this year. Even in the midst of all the chaos that surrounds the X-Men and Avengers titles right now, this serves as a nice break from the action and a way to reconnect with character. Cleverly weaving the continuation of last month’s issue into flashbacks of the current action, Liu paves the way for a largely unfettered wedding. There are the standard wedding jokes, jibes about superhero weddings being interrupted by alien invasions and at least one character questioning the validity of the vows. At the end of the day, it’s a sweet issue, and one that ends with a vicious attack on one of the X-Men, perhaps undermining just how special this issue is. It doesn’t break any new ground, but it certainly stands proud as an example of the diverse nature of the Marvel Universe, and the spirit of the original X-Men. The key going forward will be making this more than a token gesture.

Saga #4 CoverSaga #4 [Image, Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Fiona Staples (art) – Bits Rating: ★★★★½]: Two pairs of fishnet-stockinged legs hold aloft otherwise freestanding heads and exclaim “Welcome to Sextillion”. That’s just page one. Four issues into Vaughn’s latest creation and this book continues to keep us readers on our toes. The brothel planet of Sextillion is filled with things that you can’t unsee, and if Fox News ever got hold of this one, we can only imagine how many times they would invoke Archie and Veronica. We are given more depth to The Will’s character, especially given his actions on Sextillion, and he is slowly becoming the anti-hero of the book. As Marko reveals more about a previous wife named Gwendolyn, it still puts his relationship with Alana at the heart of the story, and we still love that this is being told Wonder Years style from the perspective of a character who is still an infant at this stage. Staples art is also one of the main reasons to pick up this book, and the addition of Izabel last issue proves just how versatile she is. Indeed, Vaughn keeps Staples on her toes this issue, with impossible sexual positions, simple dialogue scenes and some good old-fashioned ultra-violence. The world of Saga is an intriguing one, and Vaughn and Staples aren’t simply creating a comic book each month, but an entire world. We hope this one sticks around for a while.

Saga #4 - Welcome to Sextillion - Fiona Staples