And on your left...
The phenomenal era of Thor being taken just seriously enough (sorry Mr. Oeming) rockets onward. J. M. Straczynski, a writer ever up to the task of keeping a character indefinitely readable, answers that call and so many more in yet another dazzling issue.
That his title burns so hotly with readability is due to nothing less than the writer's flawless grasp of tone. And this is an Asgard so far bereft of conflict! Sure, our lovable tranny God of Mischief is present (sometimes lacking eyebrows and matching pupils- cue Marilyn Manson flashbacks, shuddering and moving on) but she's thus far spoken sweetness that her brother might ignore her.
Which he surely does. Thor is only on two pages in this issue, emphasizing Straczynski's appreciation for the supporting cast that had been abandoned over the years to varying degrees of disaster (Thor with a machine gun wasn't even that BAD, just fakin' retahded). Here we get Loki at her most superbly subtle, doing little more than challenging Balder and the Warriors Three to avoid wasting their new lives. They're built for bloodletting after all, despite the reprieves granted by being dashing, grim and 653 pounds.
It then follows naturally that Straczynski, and we of Alpha Dweebsilon, want Olivier Coipel to draw frost giants getting carved into dumplings. Loki provides this sport, summoning the giants and telling them that Balder will go squish, like, totally. Baldur, of course, is a nut uncrackable second only to Thor, and proves it quite splashily.
In this little diversion are sown the seeds of future mayhem. Thor must come down to the station and ask that Balder otherwise occupy his sword (who will end up boating the bass that Loki's become?) in ways that won't horrify the locals. Thor isn't angry, but fatherly- and therein squats the porcupine.
A new dynamic is flung into motion as Loki tells Balder that HE is Thor's half-brother, and rightly deserving of Asgard's throne. All this AND the comedic stylings of a smitten local named William. Hit me with another ten years worth.
Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen, the second of three dream teams herein splogged, deliver another done-in-one issue of Ultimate Spider-Man. While not as fun as the previous encounter with Omega Red, we get more balanced, genuinely enjoyable situations that let the title breathe between larger stories.
Not much happens except for the Shocker pummeling Peter with a rant on creativity and commerce. It's shrill and whiney and kind of right, but I can only imagine reading the same script drawn by Mark Bagley. I may not have survived it.
Same thing with Kitty convincing a cop that Peter needs help. There are nineteen boxes spread across two pages, and not only are some of them not faces, none of them repeat. As much as I admire Bagley for being quick, on this title specifically, the years were vicious. He'd lost an astounding degree of consistency that, were it Spidey's costume being drawn more than half of the time, might have remained. The sheer number of talking panels likely bored the snot out of him.
Now, either Bendis has adjusted his scripts, Immonen himself is like human wine, or both, I love the new alchemy. This comic struts. I'm deeply, pornographically under this spell Stewey's carried through Ultimate FF, Ultimate X-Men and Nextwave. I want to somehow scan shit comics into a program that will change the artist to Stuart Immonen and then- actually, I'll shut up with that.
Last but never least is All-Star Superman, by the two-headed Loch Ness Monster of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. I just tonight read a thing on my thing that this run has only one more issue left. That's probably good, because, though still wondrous and wacky as all heck, the stress cracks are a-showin'.
Grant's promised us the DEATH of Superman and has only one nugget of Scottish ka-zoom in which to present it. That means more forward movement through a coherent narrative, with less future-science explanations for neato things he's sprinkled everywhere. And sadly, some things in this issue, not even neato things, NEED explanations lest they decay into them pesky plot holes that can strip a summer movie to the bone.
Make no mistake, all of you Pepys-perusing dandelions out there: this run would be the ultimate Superman film (unlike the reading of Michael Scott's mind, for this we have the technology). We'd only have to explain why Luthor, about to be fried in an electric chair, is allowed to do anything let alone mix a final secret potion. It's a 24 hour superpower serum (way to wait until now to create such a thing with the vast array of ingredients available in prison)! All hail convenience! Another element cluttering up this comic like a pair of oh-so useful high-heeled Chuck Taylors is the tyrant sun Solaris.
Though this creature looks awesome (and like a dweller in the pre-Cambrian soup) it isn't actually the size of a sun. Neither is the Sun-Eater that happens to escape its holding cell at the beginning of the issue. After the two have their cosmic showdown, Solaris crashes to Earth and, shown to be the diameter of Batman's penny, does less damage than anything falling from space should.
Then Luthor shows up with powers as Clark drops dead over his laptop. All great set pieces- but not of the same quality this title began with. In good consciousness, I can only give this comic 3.5 out of 5 zagnuts.