Thursday, June 7, 2012

Paul's Picks! - June 7, 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 now for his much-anticipated pick-of-the-week...

Alright, alright, you got me; I totally skipped out on you all last week. All joking aside, I completely forgot that I hadn't written it until around Friday, and by then I felt like there was almost no point in going on to write it. In a week with very few issues coming out to read anyhow (those darn 5th weeks get me every time), there wasn't a whole lot to choose from in the first place. However, you're just dying to know which book tickled my fancy last Wednesday, go check out our most recent episode of the AC Podcast, where you can find not only my pick, but also Seth's and Ethan's. Fun times are sure to follow.

Now that we got that awkward moment behind us, let's move on to what you're really here for: Paul's Pick from Wednesday, June 7th. The first week of the month has become one of those that always contain some A list titles, such as Action Comics and Swamp Thing, not to mention the recent addition of some new books like Earth 2. And yet, while I had my share of topnotch series to choose from this week, I found myself somewhat underwhelmed by many of these titles. Don't get me wrong, there were some good books, but no single comic jumped out as the winner of the week. I hated the thought of just picking one, as it kind of demeans what "Paul's Picks!" is all about. Therefore, I've decided to give you all another "special edition" of the column, where I will stray from my usual choice of a single title that reigns victorious by instead picking out my favorite aspects of several books. So instead of a "pick of the week," I'm gonna give my pick of the best aspects from a handful of books. Sound good? Ok, let's get to it then...

ALERT! There are probably going to be some spoilers present, so if you haven't read the book I'm discussing, skip that segment, or you just might regret it!

Will the Real Grant Morrison Please Stand Up?

First off, Grant Morrison's Action Comics #10 returns to "normalcy," after the series has basically been all over the place since the first arc wrapped a few months back. Rags Morales returns, and while most of you will know that I've had mixed feelings about him up to this point on Sups, I must admit he was doing some great stuff on the book this week. However, for this book, I want to point out the return of the Morrison we all know and love to DC comics. I would say that this rebirth began two weeks ago with Batman Incorporated (see my last pick for all the juicy details), but Good Ol' Grant comes out swinging again with this month's edition of the #1 Superman book on the market. As a major fan of Morrison, I am no stranger to his crazy ideas that somehow manage to be both awesome and enraging and the same time. However, it is his adoration and love for the characters combined with his fearlessness for going outside of the box that make his books so great. The surprise revelation at the end of this issue was honestly the first time that I can say I have found this in the series, and it's something I've been waiting for. Anyone who has read All Star Superman knows that Grant has the ability to write a Superman story that'll change the way you think about the character, but up until not this has been absent from the series. But if this issue is any indication, we may have just gotten a glimpse of a very interesting plot twist that is deserving of the Morrison name. The issue wasn't perfect, but there was definitely that Morrisonian charm that we've been searching for.

AvX: Developing Characters

When it comes to these big Marvel events, one thing that isn't usually a focus is character building. I mean, any kind of huge crossover event is typically revolving around the characters we already know and love, and AvX is no exception with the massive roster of heroes on both sides. With issue #5, the world is certainly talking all about the big reveal at the end... But that's not the part that stood out to me. (To hear more on Paul's thoughts, check out the new episode of the AC Podcast, due on iTunes this weekend!) This issue was the first time that the reader really got a glimpse into the mind of Hope Summers, who is the one character most pivotal to the story as a whole. I mean, the Avengers and X-Men are at war over who gets to take her home, but we've not got a good look at how she's viewing all of this. With Matt Fraction at the helm, especially after recently reading Fear Itself, I was a bit nervous that this issue would, well, suck. But that wasn't the case, because at its core, this month's book wasn't all about the big reveal: it was about Hope Summers, the mutant girl who didn't know how to come to grip with the massive destiny that had been laid on her shoulders. She was trying to take on the most powerful being in existence (the Phoenix Force) and live to tell the tale, but at the critical moment, she came to the realization that she wasn't ready, that she was just a kid. It was the most human moment so far in the series, and Fraction shows us again why he's at his best when he's writing character based stories.

Swampy Goes Psychological

Scott Snyder's new take on the Swamp Thing has been one of the better books coming out of the New 52 since #1. However, this week's #10 was the first issue to step away from the first arc (sort of). The art has been handled between both Yanick Paquette and Marc Rudy, who have maintained a very similar take on the series, but this issue features some new blood in Snyder's past collaborator Francesco Francavilla. This book has quickly become one of the more disturbing series from DC, with the appearance of such creepy things as severed baby heads and the like. I would even classify it as horror, with an emphasis on the more gory aspects of the medium. Issue 10 steps away from the gore, and yet I would say that it just might be the creepiest issue so far. The month features the return of classic Swampy villain Anton Arcane, and man does Francavilla make it super freaky. While other issues have relied on gore and shock factor, this time the reader is subjected to the psychological distress that this new enemy brings to Alec Holland. As the issue progresses, the scene changes back and forth from the regular narrative to Arcane talking to Alec before he is going to kill him. The art is perfectly suited, as it trades in the usual blood and guts for deep shades and reds that create the feeling of fear and anticipation. By the end of the issue, I was on the edge of my seat, as the writing and art worked perfectly to create the terrifying ambiance that I don't think I ever found in a comic. It's definitely something new to the series, and it's better for it.

So there you have it folks, a few thoughts on a few of the better books from this week. Please feel free to comment, or even tweet us @AncillaryTweets, or me personally @jollygreen05, and be sure to check back this weekend for the podcast.

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