Friday, August 7, 2009

What I'm Reading

So I've been unwell, and that has cut into some of my reading/writing time for this week, so instead of a real review, I'm gonna tell you guys what comics I've been reading lately and why. I mostly read Marvel books, but there are a few Vertigo titles that I pick up as well.

Definitely Read

Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning—
A talking raccoon, a tree that beats people up, an interdimensional wizard trying to patch up holes in the fabric of the galaxy, AND a telepathic Russian space dog? This is Marvel's premier cosmic book right now, tying into all of the wacky shenanigans those alien races get themselves mixed up in, but without bogging itself down too much with "stuff you should know." It's currently on issue #16—the first 12 issues are already available in collected editions—but it's a terrific book to read if you want to jump into ridiculous outer space antics.

The Immortal Iron Fist by Duane Swierczynski—
Danny Rand, the Immortal Iron Fist, is a kung fu master and ex-billionaire CEO trying to figure out the best way to use his powers and considerable fortune for good. The series, now on issue #27, was started by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction with the idea of learning more about the history of the Iron Fist, and when Swierczynski picked up the title with issue #17 he didn't miss a beat. There's never been a better time to jump into the world of one of Marvel's more recent B-list-heroes-gone-A-list, as the series JUST went on a hiatus while they tell the stories of 6 other kung fu masters, the Immortal Weapons. The first 20 issues are already in collected editions, and I highly recommend picking them up.

Secret Warriors by Jonathan Hickman and Brian Michael Bendis—
This series is amazing. There's only one book out there right now that I think is better than this, and this one is catching up real fast. When Nick Fury discovers that the terrorist group HYDRA has been running several government organizations as well as other terrorist groups for decades, he sets out to break up their global monopoly on crime. It's a spy / mystery / action / superhero / thriller series; this book literally has everything. And Stefano Caselli's art is beautiful (again, second only to one other book right now). The series is only on issue #6, so there's no reason not to get in on the ground floor here.

X-Force by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost—
In my opinion, there is nothing on the shelves better than X-Force right now. Every single issue is exciting. Wolverine, X-23, Warpath, Archangel and some of the most badass mutants in Marvel just tear things up again and again. Mike Choi's art is perhaps the best in the business right now, and putting him on a book that's so consistently well-written makes for a real powerhouse combination. Kyle and Yost are probably my favorite writing team in comics, because they know how to make a story move dramatically without bogging it down with too much exposition. They write complex situations where characters have to make difficult decisions very quickly, and then have to deal with the outcome. It's a great time. The series is up to issue #17 right now, and the writing is good enough that you could easily just jump right in, but the collected editions are worth going back to read anyway. I absolutely recommend this to everyone.

The Unwritten by Mike Carey—
Imagine if J.K. Rowling had a son that looked just like Harry Potter, and then she mysteriously disappeared. Then imagine it's twenty years later, and people start to believe that her son really IS Harry Potter. That's pretty much the idea behind The Unwritten. Tom Taylor, the adult son of a beloved children's book author who mysteriously disappeared decades ago, becomes the subject of intense speculation as the literary world and the "real" world subtly mix together. It's an incredibly intelligent book, and so far has been quite intriguing. It's only at issue #3 right now, so of all the books I've mentioned, this is probably going to be the easiest to dive into. Also, it's a Vertigo book, and Vertigo is known for it's incredibly quirky—but immensely popular—titles. This fits right in with books such as Fables, Y: The Last Man and 100 Bullets.

Check It Out

Runaways by Kathryn Immonen—
Originally created by Brian K. Vaughan—of Y: The Last Man and Lost fame—this series used to be one of the best on the shelves. In the last couple years, however, there have been several different writers/artists working on the book, each with their own focuses and agendas. Kathryn Immonen only just started writing the series two issues ago (there are several volumes, the current volume is on issue #11), so it's hard to tell where it's gonna go from here. I absolutely recommend picking up the hardcover volumes of Vaughan's time on the book, and if you're still interested after that, maybe think about the current run.

Astonishing X-Men by Warren Ellis—
If you like the X-Men, this is a decent book. It's not really world-breaking, and Simone Bianchi's art is sometimes a little cluttered, but it's solid writing. Ellis picked up the series on issue #25 after Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's epic run, which is definitely a tough act to follow. It's currently on issue #30, but it's been coming out slowly, so who knows when the next issue will be. Again, if you like X-Men, check it out, otherwise you'll probably live if you don't read it.

Don't Bother

Hulk by Jeph Loeb—
In the very first issue, Jeph Loeb introduced a new Red Hulk, bigger, meaner, and stronger than the original green guy. Now it's issue 13, and we still don't even know who "Rulk" is, let alone why we should still care. Bruce Banner recently lost the ability to turn into the Hulk, but I have yet to see how that makes for compelling storytelling. I'm giving it one more issue before I stop buying.

Invinvible Iron Man by Matt Fraction—
I recently dropped this book, because for some reason I just stopped caring what happened to Tony Stark. I enjoyed reading about Iron Man while he was in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D., making difficult decisions everyday that affected millions of people around the world. Now he's just a guy on the run, stealing parts and trying to make ends meet while the new top cop, Norman Osborn, chases him around the globe. I always thought Bruce Banner was boring when he just drifted around all the time, and he could at least turn into the Hulk. Don't read this.

Uncanny X-Men by Matt Fraction—
I don't know what it is about Matt Fraction lately, but I can't get into his writing. I used to love his work (Casanova, Immortal Iron Fist, The Order) but it seems like his recent stuff is just stuck in the mud. I dropped this X-title a few weeks ago, too. I just wasn't connecting with any of the characters. That and the art is kinda eh. Greg Land just isn't doing it for me. All of his females look like porn stars, no matter their age, personality, body type, etc. It's just not an exceptional book right now.

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