Comic Book Catch-Up: The Peter David Edition
The reviews have been sparse the last few weeks as I’ve been catching up on at least a years worth of several series I follow. You all know of my passion for Peter David books, so the first batch of catch-up I’ve done is with his titles specifically. So, let’s get this party started right…
SHE-HULK: Peter David Style
As promised earlier this month, I’ve been really making an effort at finding a non-mutant female superheroine to follow in a regular monthly series. She-Hulk, as penned by Peter David, seemed like it was built of instant win. Not so. Ever since a conversation with comic book sage, Hisham, it’s been quite impossible for me not to see how meta his writing becomes at times. I dig his sense of humor, but it was not jiving well with the She-Hulk I remember from earlier days.
I read an issue with her as a respected lawyer, struggling with balancing work, superhero duties and a relationship. Seems pretty relatable. Unfortunately for this new direction – Bounty Hunter She-Hulk has too many throw-backs to a lame reality TV show I’ve watched a few episodes of. And it confusingly includes a Skrull woman who assumes her identity. They live in a trailer park and roll around in an RV. I dunno, nothing about it really sung off the pages for me. I gave the trade paperback the first 20 pages and then honestly couldn’t press myself further. But I tried, alright? I really did.
FALLEN ANGEL – To Live and Die in Bette
The first of the three Fallen Angel TPBs – Red Horse Riding – opens with a young boy being able to pass in and out of Bette Noire in his sleep. He witnesses the start of the war between good and evil being waged there (or perhaps, evil and more evil?). By the conclusion of the book, Jubal (son of the previous evil magistrate) has successfully deprived his 1/2 brother Jude of the title of Magistrate, and is in control of the City that shapes the world. Except he’s a freaking all-powerful demon now. So, that sucks.
The next book, Cities of Light and Dark has to do with Black Mariah, Jude and Liandra (who escaped) chumming about in the real world, attempting to find someway back to Bette Noire to reverse all the bad mojo and dethrone Jubal. They make it to one of the other cities (apparently there are four), but on the way crash an airplane, battle a shark, and jump into a volcano. Which of those three things screams moody noir to you? Oh right, none of them. Hmph.
Long story short – they win the battle and then, Illyria from the Whedonverse shows up and wants to kill Liandra (cause the Powers That Be asked her to). They go on a magical journey to find three instruments of power Illyria needs to retain her God form, but in the end she is convinced that being in Fred’s body ain’t so bad.
No single part of these elements is stand-alone awful, it just isn’t resonating with me. The first few TPBs were mystical, ethereal and fairly low on the camp, cheese and witty back-and-forth.
The entire series feels so uneven at this point. The concept is great, and the world David’s created is intensely fascinating, but I feel like its floundering. Personally, I could do without the “special guests.” Unless they really fit with the story, and the universe…I don’t want them there. Despite it’s flaws, I’m still attracted to the series and will continue to follow where Mr. David leads.
X-FACTOR or How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Art and Love the Comic
Right about when I gave up comic books the last time, the Secret Invasion was creeping in, and the art in X-Factor had gone from being my favorite to being some of the worst I’ve ever seen. Like, really, EVER. Larry Stroman was the culprit, and pulling myself through the storylines featuring his artwork was like being drug by a car over a street of glass. It was excrutiatingly painful, but after emerging on the other side – bless my heart – it got better! SO much better – the characters were all recognizable again. Special thanks to Valentine De Landro, who is consistent…but apparently has zero web presence.
And while I was horrified at the idea of bringing Longshot AND Shatterstar (along with this Darwin guy, who the hell is he?) onto the team – David has handled their characters with aplomb. He has quite the knack for turning superzeros into superheroes. However, all these additions have made the sex of the team quite lop-sided. Ahem, there are far too many swinging dicks and not enough chicks on the pages. So I’m politely requesting the resurrection of a crappy late 80s early 90s female. What’s Jubilee up to? Husk? Dazzler? Boom Boom? Anyone? ANYONE?
As for what kinds of activities transpired in the FOUR TPBs I read over the last few days *SPOILER ALERT*
– The Multiple Man/Siryn baby is born, and then re-freaking-absorbed!! Total WTF moment.
– Jamie time travels and Layla Miller returns in all her special, beautiful glory. MAN, I really missed her.
– Rictor is gay with Shatterstar. Apparently they shared a special bond back in the day *shrug*. I don’t judge – they make a cute couple. Rictor seems happy and less emo, which is good news for all. Also, nice to see that more homosexuality is being embraced in the Marvel Universe.
– Monet and Strong Guy have incredibly boring storylines. Seriously, what’s up with these guys? Nothing. Oh, OK.
– Longshot hangs around, pulling tail whenever he can – but with marginally better hair than in the 80s and early 90s. Go him. Darwin also hangs around and in most panels evolves into goo to save his own bacon. These characters don’t seem especially useful, but at least they aren’t annoying…
And back to the time travel paradoxes: who else loved crabby future Cyclops and Ruby, the red-skinned goddess? I did! Also, did anyone catch that she has Gambit eyes? Was it ever confirmed that he’s the result of Sinister messing around with Cyclops DNA? THE THIRD SUMMERS BROTHER, OMG. Come on! Throw us a bone here.
I love Ruby and crabby future Cyclops, in their small doses. I love future Layla slightly less than regular timeline Layla, but find myself growing confused about all the paradoxes involved in time travel. Clearly – Cortex is a Jamie dupe that was trapped in time and set out to destroy all Mutants. By Doom?
But at the end of this TPB, it seemed like Layla has been kicking it in the present (slightly past) – feeding her young self all the information and then…what? We never see her go back to the future (hah!). She is apparently aged in the present timeline now…just sort of hanging around until Jamie gets back from his most recent trip to the future. Then they will get married, have lots of none-dupe babies and live happily ever after. THE END OF EVERYTHING.
Also – loved me some grizzled pudgy Madrox, shortly after the baby debacle. Jamie is at his best when most everyone hates him. He seems to revel in being loathed, and there’s something enjoyable about that.
I picked up an issue of X-Men Legacy on a whim a few weeks ago at a LCS, and it was actually decent. Between X-Factor and X-Men Legacy, these may be the only X-Books worth picking up. Well, I still haven’t gotten my hands on a copy of X-Men Forever yet. I can’t yet say the title without thinking of that catchy Chris Brown song.
In summation – Peter David has been a little hit and miss for me in this round of books. I can’t say that I love every single storyline, major arch or even minor character arch he’s got going on, but I will say that his work, though at times meta and laden with pop culture references – for the most part keeps me coming back to a book. Except for She-Hulk. But we already talked about that.