Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet #1
Magnus, Robot Fighter #1 (2010)
True Story, Swear To God Vol.2 #13
Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet #1 (Marvel, 2010, $2.99)
Let me say this: the original Infinity Gauntlet was not a good story. It was a great premise: a death-obsessed demigod wiping out half of all sentient life and battling everything in heaven and earth that's left for his personal amusement. There were some fantastic moments and satisfying tie-in books, plus the art was pretty great. Unfortunately, it becomes an overlong Tex Avery cartoon crossed with a What If... of heroes rallying and getting crushed by Thanos for about four extended length comics out of six. Actually, the What If...? follow-up was solid, and anything would be an improvement on the stinky sequels.
Point being, Infinity Gauntlet is no sacred cow, and part of what makes this all-ages reinterpretation fun is the way it takes the piss out of the original. While semi-serious, this book doesn't seem to care too much about its subject matter, with constant character banter and occasional meta-commentary. However, that carefree attitude extends to the art, which is slipshod and serviceable at best. Also, I have a tough time seeing an Avengers book starring Spider-Man, Wolverine, Invisible Woman, the Hulk, Ms. Marvel and Dr. Doom. Still, it's four blessedly standard length issues, and the surprise reappearance of U.S. 1 declares this a lark, so what the hell...
Magnus, Robot Fighter #1 (Dark Horse, 2010, $3.50)
Minimum wage in this country is presently $7.25. That means a balding, middled-aged, pony-tailed McDonald's employee has to steam his long-lived zits over a deep fryer for over half an hour in order to buy the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man, which he'll read in about five minutes. This is the sound of your publishing industry dying. That's why I must heartily and most sincerely applaud Dark Horse for releasing twenty-two pages of new comic and twenty-seven pages of quality reprints on high grade glossy stock for just three-fifty. Fucking aces, guys.
I decided to read the reprint first, since it was the original 1963 debut of Magnus, and because I figured I would enjoy it more. Russ Manning created the simple story of a future where humanity's overreliance on robot labor led to a power shift where machines dictated to society. Magnus in a human who was trained by a benevolent robot from infancy to beat the hell out of other robots with his bare hands (and legs) while taking advantage of an illegal receiver in his brain to listen in on robot transmissions. Magnus uses simplistic strategies to work his way up the evil robot pecking order to beat up their leader and free humans, as well as to get into the good graces of a senator's foxy and rebellious daughter. It's a nifty done-in-one story that leaves the door open for continuation and outside licensing. I would so play a Magnus video game, if only to hear the robots go "squeeee" when you karate chop them.
The new story by Jim Shooter feels very much like reading early Valiant all over again. Shooter is still an industry pariah, and he's still working with whatever well-past-prime journeyman artists he can get. Valiant was Shooter's company, so he gave those books his all in hopes of finally showing Marvel who should have remained boss. His eyes on the commercial prize, Shooter wrote as close an approximation of what Alan Moore giving the Dell/Western characters the Watchmen treatment would read like as he could manage without alienating audiences or painting himself into a corner. At Dark Horse, Shooter is just a freelancer putting forth a much milder effort. There are incongruous dark elements, but at its heart the book is still a man in a skirt and go-go boots punching robots. However, the story began in an oft-references giveaway comic a few months back, and does not end here. A bunch of stuff established in the reprint is restated here, so nothing feels consequential, and there's no closure. If Magnus had still been published during the Bronze Age, this is almost exactly what the book would have looked like (save some robot designs, media references, and the gun-toting cyborg.) I enjoyed Shooter's edgy and irreverent return to Legion of Super-Heroes a couple years back, but I guess his efforts weren't well received, because he's strictly retrograde here.
Murderland #1 (Image, 2010, $2.99)
I don't know what the fuck this was supposed to be. It's about a mistress in disguise/assassin with existential identity issues, and her unkillable handler/boyfriend on a job. There's a ton of violence and weird Cronenbergian organic weaponry, but fuck all in the way of plot or characterization (outside the foreign rival with the Pepé Le Pew accent. Shit happens, there are tits, there is blood, but it's all nonsense.
True Story, Swear To God Vol.2 #13 (Image, 2010, $3.50)
I picked this issue up because I'd always meant to give it a try, and because I've had my own misadventures with the little blue boner pill. While I could relate to some of Tom Beland's anecdotes, he still hovered between situational comedy and drama without falling far enough in either direction to move me. Further, his problems are magically resolved between the second-to-last and final pages without explanation. I didn't laugh, I didn't cry, and I didn't really relate either, so this turned out to be a wash.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
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