This was an amazing week of comics. I’m definitely in my happy place, reading so many top notch books today, and the hard part is narrowing it down to just three to feature in this column. So these are the best of the best. It’s a very good time to be a comic book reader, indeed.
Young Avengers #7
There’s a feeling you get after reading an amazing story, that’s kind of like glowing with happiness. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s what you keep coming back for. And for me, that’s what Young Avengers #7 delivered.
There aren’t any comics that are more creative with the format than Young Avengers. They’re totally willing to break out of regular paneling at any moment, and it’s amazing how often it works. There’s a page here that’s essentially Loki posting pictures to twitter and the team commenting on them, that’s just the greatest thing ever.
I suppose, plot-wise, this is mostly a transitional issue. We start up the next arc at the end, but most of this issue happens during down-time, like on their spaceship or at the intergalactic breakfast diner. But, it’s kind of like the movie Pulp Fiction, where the best parts are not when the action and plot is exploding, but the quieter character moments leading up to them. This was a chance to take a few moments and let these fantastic characters breathe.
This is my pick for the best single issue comic book of the year to date. It wouldn’t be difficult at all for new readers to jump in here. Please do. Click on the image, it takes you right to where you can buy a digital issue. This is a masterpiece, where everything just works perfectly.
Astro City #2
And there’s a fair bit of superhero stuff in it, but this issue focuses on a much more ordinary character. Marella thinks she’s applying for a regular call center job, but it turns out to be the call center for the Honor Guard, this Universe’s equivalent to the Avengers or Justice League. And it makes perfect sense! Why should Commissioner Gordon be the only one with a Bat Signal? Lots of people need help, and in a world where terrible threats emerge anywhere with no notice, it makes sense to give ordinary people a way to summon the heroes. But this means a huge volume of calls and emails and such, most of which need to be routed to local authorities.
But also, there’s a huge amount of drive attached to being the employee that notices a real threat in time. There’s a constant tension between filtering properly so as to not overwhelm the second level support, and not missing the big catch. I’ve done enough work around call centers and volunteer work with troubled youth, that this atmosphere is very familiar.
Likeable characters, in familiar-yet-fantastic circumstances. This is a recipe for a great issue, and yet another time where Astro City shows a new insight into the world of superheroes. Highly recommended!
The Superior Spider-Man #13
For an entirely different tone, we have the Superior Spider-Man. There’s a lot going on this issue, and just when it seems like they’re starting to establish a new status quo, and we learn what a Superior Spider-Man story is, they continue to change the game in interesting ways.
When we left off, Spider-Man and the Spider-Slayer were sealed onto the floating fortress jail known as The Raft, trying to kill each other. Meanwhile, J. Jonah Jameson is also running around gunning for the Spider-Slayer, because he killed Jameson’s wife a while back, and there’s some other villains causing chaos.
We get a little more of the plot dangler involving the Lizard from last year, who seems to have recovered the mind of Curt Conners, but not his body. He shows some real heroism, and picks the right person to save in Mayor Jameson. I expect we’ll see more of this later.
And after a rather enjoyable climax to the main fight, we get the rug pulled out from under us again, as Spider-Man blackmails Jameson into giving him the Raft to establish a superhero base. Huh! And Otto starts putting the call out for minions to man his “Spider Island 2″. And that’s a lot of what this series is about at heart: What if you applied Super-villain tactics and mindset to the job of heroing? How would that work out?
I’m not sure, but the concept is in capable hands, and I can’t wait to find out!