Wednesday’s New Books

This was supposed to be published days ago. Been havin’ some WordPress issues recently…

Because I haven’t been reading comics for, oh, I don’t know…ten years?–barring stop-offs for trades, collections, and occasional cliff’s notes, anyway–I have an interesting dilemma on my hands when it comes to new books.

A bit of time spent with, ah, digital copies (ahem) means I’ve been reading most things from the beginning, as it’s a luxury that method afforded me readily. So when, say, Daredevil #6 came out this past Wednesday, I had a choice. I knew I had a slew of Bendis/Maleev (Volume 2 authors for ~26-81) and Brubaker (~82-119) in boxes or on their way but unread. I had a good chunk of the last volume, but not a complete run. Skipping Bendis and Brubaker for now seemed reasonable, but the fact that Mark Waid wrote it (and Samnee even illustrated much of it!) made it feel “wrong” to skip over those 37 (including a “.1”) issues. But, I felt like it was kind of a crap day (for similar reasons I’ll address in a moment) if I could read only one of my new books. So, I started the new volume, crossing my fingers and hoping that the re-numbering wasn’t pure nonsense, and it would function as an entry point. Having “0.1” and 1.5 was beneficial in this: .1 served to introduce me to the Waid/Samnee approach to Daredevil.

I was hooked almost immediately. Waid focuses on clarifying how Matt Murdock experiences the world, and Samnee brings his own talents to even further elucidating the unique way that he experiences things. It’s somewhere between the “He’s a super hero” banality of earlier Daredevil (which I just can’t get myself through, much like early Silver Age Green Lantern) and the grit and “street” of the Miller and Bendis runs. It works exceptionally well–there’s the gravitas of the latter, but clean, clear and imaginative art that keeps it from being unfortunately dark. Number six is, as is the habit (I know from more cliff’s notes-type reading…) with Marvel now (Marvel Now!, i guess, in fact), tied in to Original Sin, which has had numerous secrets revealed to characters and readers about major heroes.

What Matt learns is…well, it’s a big change from what we’ve seen, but doesn’t come across as a violation of what we know. It’s a kind of shift that could go either way: appreciating the multi-dimensional reality, or criticizing the familiarity of the end result. I think the former is appropriate because of how Waid handles it, though some of my other recent reading would lend itself to the latter.

Still, that’s not a fair knock on the book itself, which, after 6+2 (.1, 1.5) issues, I’m really into.

Also picked up was Archer & Armstrong #22. I have a disturbingly huge pile of both first run and current Valiant books. I’ve read roughly none of them (barring the first two Solar trades, which doesn’t help anything, since the character reverted to Gold Key and isn’t being published by Valiant in this day and age anyway). I’m trapped with these because of how “reasonable” acquiring back issues was, and also currently seems. I’ve got a lot of them– A&A is actually one I could read most of (I’ve got a five issue gap before this issue, though), but I just haven’t gotten to it.

It is joined by Armor Hunters: Bloodshot #1, the first of a three-issue miniseries that I now understand will function as a stop-gap between runs of Bloodshot proper. Yeah. This is going to sit for a while, sadly. I’ve heard amazingly good things about these books, but I just feel like a max of 25-ish issues for ever title is so reasonable to collect before reading…

Lastly, we have the book I was actually capable of picking up and reading, because I’d already read all three of the preceding issues: All-New Doop #4. I didn’t read the last part of the first volume of X-Force when Milligan and Allred took over from the Liefeldian inanities it started as¹ and X-Statix baffled and confused me when I saw it. It looked all “wrong” for an X-book–not a “this looks boring and I don’t want to read it” like X-Factor² the X-Force that preceded theirs, but just…wrong. My love for the Allred-pencilled (and later co-written) FF made me reconsider when I saw those series-ending issues, and snapped them up (except 3-4) for $1 each. I picked up the Wolverine|Doop 2-issue miniseries, and the entirety of this current series, too. It was all just intriguing.

The book is weird. Super-weird. It’s functioning outside expectations for an X-Men book entirely, but everyone’s familiarity with Doop, and his interactions with Kitty especially, make it work despite this–that, and the fact that his “marginal” existence means it’s supposed to be metafiction anyway (of a kind), so it all works out perfectly well, somehow being both utterly wrong and completely acceptable at the same time. We’re an issue away from its end–whether it was intended to end the series or just the story, it’s ending the series now. I’d say that’s sad, but I think he’s a character that “should” stay in this format. Overexposure would be his ruin–bad enough that he’s learned a new language…

I’ve been reading Secret Avengers (the first volume) and Venom (as in “Agent”) and Scarlet Spider and such in the “background” to try and catch myself up to reading other series (like the current New Warriors), but I’ll spare any comments there, other than Remender made Avengers  and Venom both super good, and Bunn took Venom down to the end quite well after him. Shame that book’s gone–and a bit of a shame the first Secret Avengers aren’t the ones that stuck. But such is life, with these things!

¹To be fair, I’ve got some issues from grab bags and such, as well as cross-over issues, but still largely avoided that book like the plague, despite growing up on X-Men, as I thought the team was composed of stupid, boring, 90s characters. Even as a kid in the 90s. I know that it escaped that mentality at some point, somewhat, at least.

²The clearest sign of my changing tastes. Thanks to Peter David, I think I own more X-Factor than any other single title, now.

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