Bottom of the Pile: December 4th, 2013
Iron Man 19
Nnngh. I am quickly being won over by Gillen's new Iron Man arc, "Iron Metropolitan". Though the last issue's end scene was a little eye-raising with regards to the whole "Mandarin Corps" idea, it really feels like Gillen has finally laid all the ground work with the standalone issues and the first arc, and now he's finally telling the stories he wants to tell with Tony Stark.
What I love the most about Gillen's run so far is two-fold: First, it's not a complete 180 from Matt Fraction's amazing Iron Man run, but instead a progression in terms of both story as well as character. Second, the array of new ideas and characters being utilized. Iron Man should always be a book that plays with the highest level of bleeding edge technology, and as we look at Tony rebuild an entire city from the ground up, I think that's what we're getting.
Of course, when you have a character like Iron Man, where everything is about the best technology ever, the book falls flat without the proper artist to back it up. Fortunately, the artist for Gillen's second year of story-telling, Joe Bennett, seems to be more than up to the task, giving the art a clean, sleek look that matches the high-tech stories being told. Oh, and those covers? Crack.
Transformers: More than Meets the Eye 24
I wasn't aware until recently that the reception to Dark Cybertron had been so lukewarm. Shame--it's the most fun I've had with a crossover since 2005's Infinite Crisis. The stakes are high as the Autobots and Decepticons continue to play catch-up to Shockwave's master plan. With Starscream's empire rapidly crumbling, the crew of the Lost Light battling the Ammonites (this universe's Mini-Cons), and Optimus and his crew exploring the Dead Universe, my biggest problem with this issue is that its too full of events. We barely get a few pages into one group's story before we're shifted to another. That would be a major drawback, but since nearly all of these stories are equally interesting the real problem is more that the issue is just flat out too short.
The host of artists working on this crossover can be a tad off-putting at first, but with each plot thread seeming to have its own artist, there's a strange sort of consistency that actually works for the story itself. Four chapters into Dark Cybertron and I'm reminded of why I used to really enjoy events, with my only issue being a vague worry that with the whole thing not ending until February or so it might drag, but so far it's kept a good pacing so that may just be in my head.
Superior Spider-Man 23
Impossibly, Superior Spider-Man has grown on me. As much as I think it sucks that Peter Parker's gone, and as much as I think Dr. Octopus doesn't deserve this chance, this book has still managed to be one of my favorites month in and month out. Undeniably, some of Spock's methods have simply proven to be, dare I say it? Superior. Take this recent story: In the past, Peter has often escaped battles with Venom almost purely through luck. But Spider-Ock here? He just pops onto the scene with flamethrower gauntlets and sonic webbing and puts the symbiote on the rope in seconds flat.
And that's just a really shallow, superhero-y example. Honestly, Superior Spider-Man has raised a lot of questions about the way Peter Parker did things that, if Slott (or the next writer if it's not Slott...) is going to bring him back, really need to be answered. Certainly, SpOck employs a number of questionable, arguably reprehensible tactics to get the job done, yet...on a lot of levels, he has simply been objectively better than Peter was.
Of course, the main reason I continued reading this book after Peter was kicked out of his own brain was pretty much to see everything go bad on Octavius. The book even delivers on that, as slowly but surely a number of forces are conspiring around Otto that will eventually lead to his downfall, one way or another. So congrats to Slott--while Otto does work my nerves a lot more than Peter ever could have, he's definitely created a book that I actually WANT to read month in and month out that features Otto Octavius, something very few others could have done.
Young Avengers 13
This book is actually over in two more issues, which is a tragedy that I still haven't managed to cope with just yet. And this issue doesn't make it any easier, with a two-page spread of some of the most beautiful art I've ever seen in my life--Jamie McKelvie is honestly way too talented for comic book fans, but I'm happy to have him nonetheless.
This issue wraps up the Mother sub-plot, but leaves a couple lingering issues for it's denouement, which I'll need two months to prepare for because I'm gonna miss the hell out of these guys. People have been looking for the "next" Teen Titans for years and Gillen's been writing it since the start of 2013 and nobody was paying attention. A lovable cast of teenage superheroes trying to find their own path into adulthood. Usually coming-of-age type stories like this make me barf but apparently adding explosions and superpowers and a subplot where they save creation eases that annoyance? Go figure.