Rundown, week of August 20th.
MOON KNIGHT #21: The second issue with Mike Benson writing solo, first with him doing an ongoing story arc rather than a one-and-done. I hate to say this, since in theory I love anything Charlie Huston writes (basing this mostly on the fact that I fucking adore his Joe Pitt novels), but I think now that Huston isn't involved with the title anymore things are a lot clearer. I also think this is a good time to start reading this title. Moon Knight has been even more insane than usual since returning to the caped-crusader scene, and has killed or nearly killed a lot of people. The government has run out of patience, and they're after him. Is it possible that Moon Knight has lost his mind any more than he already had? If so, it looks like maybe he has... or maybe he's actually getting better. Either way, he's dressed all in black and appears to have shed the spectral presence of Khonshu, his god of vengeance. But Moonie's only in about 6 pages of this issue, the rest being setup for a major reckoning that's coming down the pike. I'm looking forward to what's coming, especially since it's going to look fucking gorgeous with the art team of Mark Texeira and Javier Saltares on the title. Love these guys' work.
IMMORTAL IRON FIST: ORIGIN OF DANNY RAND: Other than a 2 page intro by Matt Fraction and Kano, this is a straight up reprint of Iron Fist's first appearances in Marvel Premiere #15 and #16, back in 1974. I'm one of those people who tends to think that any comics made more than a decade ago are utter shit 99% of the time, so I was surprised to find two issues obviously churned out by Marvel Bullpen regulars of the time (Gil Kane, Len Wein, Roy Thomas) to be pretty decent. Don't get me wrong, this isn't great writing, and it gets pretty cliched at points, but it's not the kind of churned-out crap I expect from just about anything this old, so that in itself is a compliment. I probably could have done without this comic--if I'd realized it was almost entirely reprints, I wouldn't have bought it--but having gotten it, I don't regret doing so.
AIR #1: Never read anything by Willow Wilson before, but have heard good things, so I figured I'd check out her new Vertigo title. SO glad I did! This is excellent writing, excellent art by M.K. Perker, and something like 48 pages crammed in for a regular-comic price of $2.99. Great enticement to keep me sticking around on the title, and even though I don't completely understand what's going on, I love the character of Blythe the acrophobic stewardess, and want to see what happens next with her. It's really hard for me to tell which of the shadowy organizations using commercial airlines for their own ends in the post-911 world are really good guys and which are really bad guys, and I question whether any of them are 100% one or the other, but that only makes it more human and more interesting. Definitely on board for more of this. Also, I found out from Willow Wilson's afterword that she's straight-edge, which is cool because a lot of times in the world of comics, where everyone's either down the pub knocking back pints or doing hallucinogens and chaos magick, I feel like the only sober one in the pack. Nice to know I'm in good company there.
1985 #4: This is an action packed issue of a title that started out quite calmly, with a lot of exposition. If I'd gone straight from issue #1 to this one, I wouldn't have recognized it as the same title. The Marvel supervillains that have been unleashed on little Toby's town are running completely amuck, and most of this ish is nonstop action as Toby and his dad try to avoid the chaos erupting and make sure each other and Toby's mom are safe and accounted for. By the end of the comic, Toby's realized that drastic action is called for... and wait til you see what he does. It kicks the whole thing up to another level, at a point when I didn't think this comic could get any more intense. Between this title and the few of Millar's recent Fantastic Four issues I've checked out, he's on a serious roll with the Marvel universe, and that's not to mention his creator-owned title Kick-Ass. It's all the more remarkable that I'm saying this in light of the fact that I usually have nothing but hate for Fantastic Four, and would typically have to be bribed to read it. Oh, and by the way, Tommy Lee Edwards' art on this title is outstanding. I don't know where this guy came from, but I hope to see more of his work soonest.
SCALPED #20: This is the final issue of a story arc that was the darkest yet in Scalped. All of the action has basically been cleared up, and this issue is more a denouement than anything. Things are going pretty much as expected for all of the characters, and our long-suffering hero Dash Bad Horse is getting the worst of it on pretty much every front. Meanwhile, his girl Carol, who's got demons of her own, is exposing him to some bad elements, and with no relief in sight, Dash gives in to temptation and gives this comic about the most downbeat ending possible. I actually yelled out, "No, don't do it!" as I read the second-to-last page. I really want to believe that the next arc will introduce some much-needed hope for these beaten down characters, but I don't see it happening. Realistically, there's nowhere to go from here but down. I'll follow it all the way, and I'm sure I will appreciate the talent it takes to create such a fascinating storyline, but I don't know that I'm really enjoying this anymore. I feel like I'm reading the closing chapters of "Heavier Than Heaven" again.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #41: Ed Brubaker's storyline has been complicated and requiring of close attention ever since I started reading this comic around issue #21, and I think I've finally read enough of it that I'm starting to understand everything I need to understand and get every reference I need to be aware of. This is the first issue I've gotten in a while that I didn't feel required my rereading the previous four or five in order to understand. There are a couple of bigtime shake-ups in this issue, too, and they seem to indicate that things are looking up for our heroes, but we won't really know for a while, will we? Either way, the writing is even better than it is complex, and I continue to love Steve Epting's art, so this comic stays solidly in my good graces.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #568: This title has been fluctuating from "Hmmm... I don't know" to flat-out "I fucking hate this crap" ever since the execrable "Brand New Day" concept was unveiled, and that fluctuation has everything to do with who is writing the title at any given moment. They've given the lion's share of the post-BND issues to the worst of the four regular writers, Bob Gale, but every time I'm about to cancel the title entirely, to walk away and never look back, someone pulls me back from the brink. This time around it's been a double-whammy: first a three-issue arc by Marc Guggenheim that was the best writing the title has featured since Dan Slott's opening arc, and now a double-sized issue featuring the beginning of a new storyline by Dan Slott and a backup feature by Mark Waid. OK, OK, I will continue buying this comic--for now. This story is looking pretty good too, though Dan Slott's been forced by the Bob Gale-ization of the title as a whole to retain some of the stupid crappy-writer exposition that Gale loves, and those moments definitely irritate me. John Romita Jr's art is also solid as always. One thing that gets my goat a bit, though--why is it that the big ominous reveal on the last page is the SAME EXACT big ominous last-page reveal as that of Moon Knight #21? The first time I saw it, it was cool, and it would have been equally cool if I saw the second use of this trick two months later, but reading these two comics almost back to back had me responding to this big ominous ending the second time I read it with outrage. That could easily have been avoided. Sloppy executive editing, Marvel people!
And finally, my comic shop did not receive any copies of Anna Mercury #3. In fact, they told me it had been delayed. FUCK THAT.