Best Comics in March Part 1: Spider-Man and Thor Are Better Than Ever
Every month the staff at 8th Dimension Comics helps us elect the best comics that come out. Tune in tomorrow for part 2.
Thor Annual I think it's safe to say that the shake-ups in the world of Thor have been extremely good for the God/Goddess of Thunder. The persistent mystery of Thor's current female incarnation's mortal identity and the quest of the Odin son to find out why he has suddenly become unworthy make for gripping stuff. I miss the latte jokes, but badass feminist hammer chick has been more than worth the trade-off.
The annual has three Thor stories that each look at a past, present and future version of Thor. Jason Aaron pictures Thor as the King of Asgard far into the future, long after the Earth itself has become devoid of life. Burdened by centuries Thor toils endlessly to try and bring his adopted home back to life, and is aided by his trio of granddaughters who consult ancient Bibles and magic books to help him. It's a sad story with an awesome payoff that proves Aaron remains a storytelling genius.
In the present Thor tries to make friends in Asgard and goes on a series of adventures with the Warriors Three. It's set as another stark contrast to the different approach she brings to the character and a celebration of what it truly means to be Thor at all. The last story was written by wrestler CM Punk of all people, and follows a drinking contest between Thor and Mephisto long before Thor was found worthy to wield Mjolnir. The debauched, hilarious yarn puts a nice exclamation point for the whole collection, and if you've been hesitant to give Thor a chance nothing will give you a better presentation.
Rating: 8 of 10
Hawkeye #1 Matt Fraction made Hawkeye one of the top books in comics right now and I would argue the single best ongoing superhero book. While that series is still going on we're already getting a reboot starring Clint Barton and Kate Bishop as a team, and somehow it actually still freakin' works.
Continuing with the experimentation that became the hallmark of Hawkeye's adventures, the new series weaves back and forth from scenes from Clint's childhood to an assault on a Hydra base by he and Kate. It's not an easy read, I have to admit. At times the contrast between the dreamlike flashbacks and the, honestly, pretty by-the-numbers superheroics makes things sort of needlessly hard to follow.
But you have to do it because the ending is a screw attack that will mess your head into twisted knot. It's jacked up, that's all I can say. Jacked up and very, very good.
Rating: 7 of 10
Spider-man and the X-men #4 I don't usually dedicate this much wordage to a single company's books but there are some really exciting things going on in Marvel and it's worth talking about. This is one of those things.
Once upon a time there was a really great book called Wolverine and the X-men that focused on Logan as the headmaster of the Jean Grey School struggling to teach the next generation of mutants. It was Degrassi Junior High with explosions and it was brilliant. Then Marvel spent a couple of years going nuts on huge crossover events that Wolverine had to be a part of and everything in the book just kind of fizzled.
One of the last things Logan did before he died was contact Peter Parker and ask him to teach at the school to help ferret out a traitor. Now Spidey is once again part of those same types of great, student stories that made the previous series start so strong. I'm especially pleased to see No-Girl getting some heavy page time, including a surprise appearance of her in her body as she guards Parker's mind from a psychic attack. Throw in a competitive science fair between Parker's students and a team put together by a pissed off Beast and it's shaping up nicely.
Rating: 7 of 10
Invincible #118 Image is aiming on introducing new readers to the long-running Robert Kirkman series Invincible. So #118 hit shelves for the price of a quarter and a six-page summation of the entire history in order to do that.
I've seen several people who were big fans of the book complain that the ploy wouldn't work for a newbie, but I'm here as someone who has never read a single issue and can say it's no more confusing than the beginnings of most Image books these days. Yeah, the set up takes a bit of pushing through, but ODY-C was twice as nuts in their prologue and everyone loved that.
It's clear that Kirkman wants to take the book into dark and strange places. Not to spoil it too much, but Invincible confesses to his wife that he suffered something terrible that you don't hear many men talking about in this day and age, and in doing so is tackling startling territory. It's good, but I'd call Invincible an advanced book best suited to people who read comics very regularly.
Rating: 6 of 10
Big Man Plans #1 There's really no other way to say this so I'm going to just say it; this is a book about a hyper-violent dwarf that goes on a rampage against a world that has wronged him very, very badly. It's Eric Powell and Tim Wiesch, which is synonymous with crazy, but it's also an amazing read.
The Big Man (He's never given a proper name in the story) started out life trying to live up to the dreams of his father as a farmer and solid man, but one by one fate turned against him until he was a trained to hunt the Viet Cong in tunnels and thrown in prison for punching a man in the dick. He's brutal and broken and the first thing he does in the book is kill a man with a grenade for serving him chocolate milk in a clown cup when he asked for whiskey.
There's no shortage of grim old men on rampage comics these days. It's actually become common enough that it's a little repetitive even if individual stories are pretty good. Big Man Plans does add in a new dimension to the genre worth checking out, but it's going to be a bloody ride.
Rating: 7 of 10
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