Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Quick Hits: Ten New Comics for Wednesday, March 27

Young Avengers 3 is by Kieron Gillen and Jaime McKelvie and good grief is this a fun comic. Weird interdimensional baddies are pretending to be the team's mommies and daddies and fisticuffs ensue. Meh concept, A-plus-plus doublegood execution, and McKelvie makes my heart flutter. We get some Billy & Hulkling & Kid Loki then Miss America Chavez shows up and you yell BOOWAH THAT WAS AWESOME because trust me homies, it's the best entrance in comics this week/month/maybe-year. Part of the nu-nu-nu-Marvel new wave of quality supercomic in the league of Hawkeye and Daredevil and Fraction FF (the Allred/Allred one). Worth the trip home by the issue and then the trade because you can never have too much of such a Good Thing and this is a Good Thing.

Journey Into Mystery 650 is the conclusion to a so-so-Sif story but Valerio Schitti on art is the reason for the buy. Schitti's stuff ain't shitty (sorry, couldn't not do it), far from it. Kathryn Immonen wrote this but Schitti's stuff is Stuart Immonen-ish in its energy and style and underrated nature because Immonen was the most underrated penciler on the planet til he blew up Fear Itself and All New X-Men (though he was honestly the coolest kid on the block since Nextwave). Bold, fun art from someone who oughtta be on the marquis and if he continues pulling out art this good he will be.

Garth Ennis had four great comics this week, all of them war comics in some fashion, and there is no-one in the world better at war comics than Ennis.

Fury Max 10 with Goran Parlov continued his tale of America's forays into murky international conflicts. This time Fury finds himself enmeshed in the Contra/Sandinista clusterfuckety in Nicaragua in the 1980s. American Special Forces are training rebels for dubious gains and Fury has been sent in to check up on the outfit, run by none other than Ennis & Parlov's best creation from their Punisher Max run, Barracuda. There is much discussion by the principals on what America is doing here and why, as well as Barracuda's own decidedly shady financial motivations in the region. Like with so many Ennissian dramas, complex seas of grey are what the characters find themselves in, and the path forward is expectedly labyrinthine and murky (and if anyone loves moral murk it's Ennis).

Ennis is still the best writer to utilize the playground he created in Crossed in this week's Crossed Badlands 26. The moral quandaries of a completely screwed post-apocalyptic world in his always entertaining and thoughtful parable about man's inhumanity to man get equal play to the true horror of the situation and the visceral thrill of some really, really twisted imagery. The first double page splash had me frankly guffawing Barracuda style, the horror that followed left me quiet like an awkward silence in a crowded elevator. What's left of an English military unit have decided to bombard populated areas with biological weapons, because logically this would wipe out the Crossed. It would take out any uninfected humans, too, but that's the cost of war. The characters do not come to this plan lightly, and the arguments and counterarguments - more moral murkiness - are presented equally. We know how the characters feel, at this point in his creative career we have a pretty good inkling of what Ennis feels, but he never tells the reader what to feel and the answers are never easy. (And the art by whomever Avatar keeps locked in their basement is quite crappy but if it ain't Jacen Burrows on your Avatar comics this week you're playing Russian Roulette with your eyes.)

Red Team 2 revels in uneasy answers, though counterarguments are less as the characters are more sure of their righteousness if not the really the legality of their actions - and we know damn well where Ennis comes down here. A group of elite NYPD have taken it upon themselves to, in essence, be team Punisher. But unlike the Punisher they are more concise with the vengeance the mete out, and work out in great detail where and how they will do what they do. There is a cold, immutable logic to what they are doing. We're not troubled by their actions because their targets have it coming, but when we put ourselves in their shoes could we do the same?

And then there's Battlefields 5, pure war comic and desert-island-worthy like all his pure war comics. Here we get The Fall and Rise Of Anna Kharkova Part 2, his latest in the epic of one Russian fighter pilot and her battles both against the enemy and against her own culture. Ennis excels at taking forgotten aspects of wars gone by (to borrow Fury's subtitle) and shining a light on them that is eye-opening, told with respect and humor and bracing reality and is easily is the best historical fiction you can find in comics. Anna Kharkova, returning in her second arc, had a rough end to World War 2, crashed, captured, then imprisoned by her own people, paranoid officious shitbags. She makes it out and into north Korea a few years later training pilots to fight Americans, but her desire to fly Migs and her insubordinate nature may do her in. Amazing stuff with nice art from frequent collaborator Russ Braun,

Elsewhere, Guardians of the Galaxy 1 was just alright, BPRD: Vampire 1 had Moon & Ba being creepy wonderful moody MOON AND BA (muito bom!), and Age of Ultron 3 made me think of Are You My Mother and how I just wanted the comet from Asterios Polyp to show up and put both out of my misery. At least we'll always have Alias and Fun Home to remind us of what great comics can be.

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