Columns, Comics

New Comic Book Day: When the Futures End, We’ll All Be Jerks

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There are event books, and then there are books that are events. I don’t know what the distinction is, but it seemed like a thing to write.

In this week’s New Comic Book Day roundup, I have some words about (for, really) DC’s latest, sprawling octopus of an event, Futures End, and the curious thematic direction the line seems to be headed as a whole.

Also, deep thoughts about Cyclops as Uncanny X-Men #26 hits shelves this week, along with some not-so-deep thoughts about IDW’s phone book-sized collection of Transformers comics. Remender’s Deadly Class is back in session for its second arc, and the Society of Super-Heroes enters The Multiversity.

Transformers: Phase One Omnibus SC (IDW Publishing)

Not a whole lot of commentary to add to this release – it’s more a reminder that IDW has been in the Transformers game for a minute, keeping that franchise aloft with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of books about robots that are also cars (and sometimes jets and occasionally dinosaurs).

The Phase One Omnibus collects longtime writer Simon Furman’s first three arcs on the book – “Infiltration,” “Escalation,” and “Devastation.” And if I’d slipped the word “Penetration” in there, not a single one of you would have blinked.

Pervs.

Also, apropos of nothing, am I the only one that would pay good money for a coffee table-sized visual guide of the Transformers universe by UDON? Someone please get on that.

You can buy Transformers: Phase One Omnibus SC at your local book store.

Deadly Class #7 (Image Comics)

Books about killer kids – God love ’em.

The almost supernaturally busy Rick Remender and artist Wesley Craig are back with another arc of their murder comic, Deadly Class. For those not familiar, Remender’s latest effort to keep out them streets via comics concerns a school in the late 80s where students learn the act of killing. Think of it as a preemptive Battle Royale.

By the way, how do we all feel about Remender these days? I still really dig his work, but it seems like he’s said some gross and/or dismissive stuff to fans (typically a thin-skinned bunch), which has earned him a reputation, particularly for his Marvel work. I still think his Uncanny X-Force run was some great, bold, and crazy stuff and he seems bent on poking at the weird corners of the Marvel U.

To me that’s a feature, not a glitch, but your mileage may vary.

You can buy Deadly Class #7 at your local comics shop or via comiXology.

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The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes #1 (DC Comics)

The next act in Morrison’s mini-event happens this week with artist Chris Sprouse along for the ride.

It’s telling that the most culturally and racially diverse take on the DCU has to happen outside of the “real” universe. Did I say “telling?” I meant will-crushingly depressing. The author has talked in the past about being worn down by the corporate comics grind, and in a way, The Multiversity is his final, crazy pitch at the capes set before a self-imposed exile from the genre (and onto creator-owned works like last week’s Annihilator).

You can feel Morrison squeezing out every idea he’s probably pitched to DC in the last decade and change, with The Society of Super-Heroes serving up an all-female Blackhawks, a demonic Green Lantern, and the Vandal Savage of Earth-40 waging war on Earth-20. The cynical side of me sees this as a gleeful pair of middle fingers directed at the company whose own event, Futures End, toys with the same grueling “superheroes as unlikeable dicks” paradigm that the line has been pushing since the launch of the New 52.

But I’ll bitch and moan about that a little more below.

You can buy The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes #1 at your local comics shop or via comiXology.

Delinquents #2 (Valiant Entertainment)

It’s rare that I laugh out loud. And reading Valiant’s first issue of Delinquents… didn’t change that. BUT, I got a couple of light chuckles out of this Archer & Armstrong/Quantum and Woody crossover which sees the pair of mismatched duos searching for a treasure map tattooed on the leathery flesh of a hobo’s butt cheeks.

I feel like at some point, co-writers James Asmus and Fred Van Lente saw one of those documentaries about hobo society and crowning the hobo king, and thought “Let’s throw these goofballs at that with a side of zany” and it largely works (inasmuch as humor about the tragedy of systemic homelessness and joblessness is good for a couple of yuks).

It’s good stuff, and Kano’s beautiful layouts might be bumping the book up a couple of notches in my estimation.

You can buy Delinquents #2 at your local comics shop or via comiXology.

Attack on Titan: Before the Fall (Vertical Inc.)

The very definition of getting product on the shelves when your main book isn’t matching ravenous fan demands for more people being eaten by giants.

Attack on Titan is three volumes deep both here and in Japan, with creator Hajime Isayama cranking away at more stories while the anime adaptation is being developed in parallel. The series offers up something new in terms of cosplay options, plot, and fanfic outside of the usual anime trifecta of magical girls/Gundam/fan service. And if you’ve been anywhere near Tumblr in the last year and a half, you’ve seen fans eating up everything AoT-related (with publisher Kodansha being only too happy to oblige with spinoffs and digest versions of the book’s animated counterpart).

Hence Before the Fall, which looks at the wholly uninteresting subject of how the series’ Titan-fighting weapons were developed. While Isayama didn’t write or draw this volume, I’m sure it’ll serve as a fine dose of methadone to fans’ Attack on Titan addiction.

You can buy Attack on Titan: Before the Fall at your local book shop.

Uncanny X-Men #26 (Marvel Comics)

I had a friend recently help me reconsider my long-held “Cyclops is garbage” stance. The sometimes X-Men leader, current mutant menace never really struck me as boring, as many readers would complain (that honor goes to Wolverine), but always oddly misused.

Cyclops is ostensibly the heart of the Xavier’s vision for mutants, and I was always fascinated by the tension between the character’s need to be “good” and his inherent craziness (something both Morrison and Whedon explored in their X-Men runs, with recent events like Messiah Complex giving this narrative a political dimension).

The latest batch of books sees Cyclops on the run as a villain in the Marvel U, with this issue of Uncanny suggesting that there’s some buried level of crazy that’s an even worse threat for the guy. I do hope that writer Brian Michael Bendis doesn’t use this as some kind of handwave to negate some of Scott Summers’ prior bad acts – in fact, embracing the fact that the guy is kind of fucked up might be the way to keep the character interesting in the long run. He’s basically Cable without all of the continuity baggage, with an added hint of tragedy.

You can buy Uncanny X-Men #26 at your local comic shop of via comiXology.

Justice League: Futures End #1 (DC Comics)

After a couple of weeks of Futures End solicitations, it’s finally hit me what the common thread is among of all the books in DC’s latest event: in the future, all the heroes are dicks. Wonder Woman’s lost her soul, Martian Manhunter’s trying to kill everyone, Batgirl is dressing like Bane, and Batman is X-TREME Doritos up in this.

It’s at this point that I’d complain about the same-y-ness of basing your idea around one grandly cynical conceit (namely, when the shit goes down, everyone gets shitty). But think about it: how is this really any different from the “present”-day DC jams?

The New 52 has overwhelmingly been filled out with a strain of grimdark, joyless heroes (and villains kicked up to sadistic levels). So reading that Supergirl is going evil cyborg doesn’t feel like so much a shocking twist as a natural conclusion.

Rumor has it that the latest event will lead to yet another Crisis-style crossover. Maybe with the next reset, DC can find the joy, hope, and not-shittiness in its characters.*

You can buy Justice League: Futures End at your local comics shop or via comiXology.

Those are my picks for the week. What’s on your list?

*This is me not holding my breath.

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