(And while you're here, check out my reviews on the new releases Indestructible Hulk 6 and Julio's Day.)
2012's best comics - the side series continue to be better than the ongoing Adventure Time book. Which isn't to say that Adventure Time proper is bad, it's quite good. It's clever and fun and zany but it just doesn't click the same way Fionna and Marceline do. Part of the appeal of Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake is that this isn't just some all-ages perfunctory hackwork thing for Allegri, she created these characters for the Adventure Time television show, and they are clearly near and dear to her heart. The gender-swapped universe of Fionna and Cake is far more than just a Rule 63 version of the Adventure Time universe, these are fully fleshed out characters with their own unique perspective on the world of Ooo. Allegri's Fionna is a fierce, independent teenage girl who likes to punch stuff and she's pretty awesome. In this week's number 4 we get a largely stand-alone issue: the ongoing drama of what the Ice King did to the Fire Elemental gets a sliver of exposition, but the focus is on Lumpy Space Prince, just as divinely ridiculous as L.S. Princess. He steals Fionna's magic wand to make himself beautiful. The introduction to this sequence is just as stunning as the first magical pages of issue one, with the mini-series characteristic flowing script on an all black page, "To be on the cusp of impossible beauty has been my curse since the day I was born..." A remarkable sequence of simple beauty, followed by a series of wonderfully silly misadventures, cured by good ole fashioned punching. Allegri's cartooning is inspired and full of love and life. This is a wonderful comic in every aspect, delightful, whimsical, funny, elegant in story and art and lettering. Even for casual fans you can dive right into this without the other issues, and the rewards to loyal Adventure Time fans are legion. Not as deep as Gran's Marceline and the Scream Queens but just as good, this is shaping up to be one of the best series of the year.
DC's Animal Man 19 from Jeff Lemire and Steve Pugh was the first issue after the recent, long cross-over with Swamp Thing involving something called the Rot. Swamp Thing is the avatar of the Green, Animal Man Buddy Baker (actually his young daughter) is the avatar of the Red (animals, logically), and for far too many issues they fought the rot, death and the like. Whatever, I stopped reading both when that crossover began and issue 19 was the first part after that whole mess, a nice jumping-back-on point. Unfortunately, the issue was one long extended bit of hand-wringing over the death of Buddy's son in issue 18. A lot of Buddy confronting the elders of the Red demanding they bring his son back to life, his wife leaving him over the death, lots of boohoohooing. Yeah, kids' deaths suck, I get it, but when can I get the entertaining comic about Buddy Baker that the initial New 52 story arc showed was possible? Because if there is more of this slog through grief and yadda yadda, I'm just going to drop the bloody book again.
|Everyone! Buy lots of these! They'll put your kids through college, for reals!|
so unlike Marvel of late. (And also new in hardcover is Iron Man: Believe, collecting the first five issues of the Marvel NOW relaunch. Well, I can't believe how wretched Greg Land's art is. Not even the normally excellent Kieron Gillen can overcome it. Just spend fifteen bucks more and get the first nineteen issues of Matt Fraction & Salvador Larroca's superb run in one fantastic deluxe hardcover instead.)
And speaking of Fantastic Four, aw, gee wiz, this week's new number 6 was a BLAST. The Fam Four (well, six, but that's not as alliterative) goes back to the Big Bang and run into a Big Bad who's a BLAST from the past. (Once you read the issue, my puns here will be infinitely more clever to you, I swear.) The issue is packed with sci-fi adventure, humor and action. It's a damned fine superfamily superhero comic. A good stand-alone issue, too, and I love a good one-shot.