Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Paul's Picks! - Jan. 5, 2012

Well, it's that time again folks: Wednesday! And you know what Wednesday is?... Well, of course you do, you're reading a blog about comics, so you obviously know it's New Comics Day, a.k.a. Paul's favorite weekly holiday! And in celebration of this weekly, well, celebration, Paul is here to give you his favorite book of the week.

Action Comics #5 by Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert

Hello everyone! Wow, it feels like it's been ages since I wrote on here... I'm sorry about my week on hiatus, but alas Christmas found me far from home and unable to get my comics, sad times all around. But never fear, I'm back with that comic-loving banter you've become so accustomed to! It's a new year now, and with this new year there are many things for all of you to look forward to from your friends over at Ancillary Characters (... that'd be me and Seth, yes). For one, I've got a new column that'll be debuting soon. Also, we'll hopefully be launching our Podcast this month, and I hope all of you will be subscribing! Also, how's the new logo? Good? Or was the last one better? I'm not sold yet, but hey, it's a new year...

But with some interesting twists!
Now on to business. This week I had the combination of both last week and this week's comics to dive into, and after a couple hours of reading, I've made my absolute pick for this week: Action Comics #5. I've been saying it since the new series started: Grant Morrison is going to do something good with this book. However, the first four issues haven't wowed me. I'm definitely a fan of Grant's work, but so far this series has just seemed like nothing particularly new or special. That first issue stood out as one of the better #1's from the relaunch, but going forward it's been good, not great. With that being said, I feel like it finally hit its stride in #5. When I read that final page of issue #4, where we found out they were taking a break from the story for a short arc starting with this issue, I was skeptical to say the least. I mean, that's a bad idea, right? The book was finally getting somewhere with the "Collector" coming on (and we all know who that was), so why step aside for a few issues? That could be counterproductive, especially for a book that is trying to find the right pace. I was unsure of what to expect, but that's one of the things you have to love or hate about Morrison: you rarely get what you expect.

And boy did I not expect this. Grant finally comes in with his guns blazing in this issue, bringing his own brand of zaniness through the guest narrator: you guessed it, the spaceship that brought baby Kal-El to Earth!... What'd I tell you? Expect the unexpected! I was speaking to a friend of mine a while back about this series, and I said to him that at one point or another, this book would have to start feeling Morrison-esque. Well friends and readers, this is the issue that accomplishes just that. I don't want to spoil it for those of you who haven't had a chance to read it yet, but let me just say that this new intermission/arc has set its self up to be the best thing to come from the new book as of yet. The pace is perfectly set without a dull moment (as we've already had a few of those from the first issues), and Grant recreates the destruction of Krypton in a way that actually manages to feel new. There are even a couple of interesting new twists added in there for those of us who've read this story told time and again. Kudos, Grant.

I want one of those ships...
Of course, half the praise of a weekly pick goes not only to exquisite writing, but to the artist who puts the story on display. For this arc, we have the guest presence of Andy Kubert. He already made a pretty big ripple in the main Flashpoint series last year, but the man won me over with the beautiful "What Ever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" from 2009. My feelings about Rags Morales' art so far on this series have been mixed. Don't get me wrong, Rags is great, and I love his take on the Man of Steel, but I'm just not so sure about his Waldo-esque Clark Kent. Still, his work has been respectable, if not mind blowing. But if I may say so myself, and I may be crucified for this, I wouldn't shed a tear one if Kubert took over the series. Morrison tends to work with some really great artists (Frank Quitely anyone?), and Kubert definitely deserves his place among the best in Morrison's repertoire. Krypton is a world that has been depicted by some greats over the years, and while Morrison's tale manages to give us a fresh take on the story, this wouldn't be possible without Kubert's design of the world and its destruction. This Krypton feels foreign, but not as inaccessible as it has in some past iterations with all of the spikes and lack of color. Believe what you want, but Andy Kubert has definitely done his part in earning my pick this week, and I really hope to see him doing more work on the Man of Tomorrow going forward.

And so, Grant and Andy accomplished what I've been hoping for since September: Action Comics as my pick of the week. I've got some very high expectations for this book, especially after Morrison's masterpiece that is All Star Superman. But with that other Superman book being not so great (We're looking at you Perez), Morrison holds Supes' one chance to stand out among the rest in the DCnU. With a new year and undoubtedly new arcs and creative teams ahead of us in 2012, I can't wait to see what DC has in store for the Last Son of Krypton.

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