Hey hey hey, sex party people! How was the weekend swinging? I hope you reinvigorated your marriages, because here at C!TB, we’re ready to reinvigorate your minds. Now, where do you want the electrodes?
While we’re hooking those up, why not enjoy a different kind of smooth, exhilarating rush?
Ah, Uncanny X-Force. Has there been a superhero comic in recent memory that’s managed to genuinely shock the reader like this one has with this issue? Now, nothing against the previous incarnation of the X-Force team, but their adult situations generally involved just cold murderin’ dudes who weren’t very sympathetic and usually didn’t have names. Now, what about when that situation involves a little kid… who’s name just happens to be Apocalypse? Is it right to murder him just because in a previous life he was kind of a dick who maybe enslaved the entire world? Is it oh so very wrong? That’s the conversation the team has here, except it’s right in front of that very same terrified, sobbing kid.
So, yeah. That’s intense and uncomfortable and pretty brilliantly executed.
But wait, there’s more! Because this is a comic where a dude straight up feeds himself to another dude to make him big and strong and ready to murder a little kid, maybe:
Oh yeah, and this takes place on the moon inside a tent shaped like the first dude. As a reward for making me feel very, very uncomfortable, C!TB gives Uncanny X-Force #4 the first (and, if there is decency in the world, which, thank god, there’s not, last) Alive! Award. (J)
Confession time: I absolutely own the entire run of Gossip Girl books – including the spin-off series, The It Girl. This probably comes to a surprise to a few of you who only know me from this site – I have yet to really let loose on all of my girly addictions – but for a good chunk of you, you’ve come to realize that this is merely par for the course. If pressed to explain my appreciation of certain sections of teen lit, I will often tell people flat out that I feel no shame reading those books. Hell, the last time my car died, I read some of those babies on the bus – and if you think reading comics will get you scared – try being a grown ass man reading some Gossip Girl. I’m pretty sure a woman told her kids to not stare at me once, because she thought the book was some kind of bait. But anyway. Fact is, I enjoy me some teen lit. But I will not settle for just anything. There has to be a certain depth to the characters, and the situations they find themselves in – and the women have to be strong. Not physically per say, just emotionally. Which, you would think you’d be able to find in a lot of teen lit, considering how the bulk of the genre is written by female writers – but man, nothing will get me to close up shop on a book faster than discovering the girl in a book’s only function is to fawn helplessly over a guy, and be saved from stressful situations.
I’m getting a little off track here. Let’s focus.
A few years ago, DC started an imprint called Minx, which aimed to capture the teen lit market, using graphic novels. For the most part, these books were great – but one of the best was New York Four – a Brian Wood/Ryan Kelly book that was half teen lit drama, half guide to the absolute best of New York. Well, this week, that book returned, and god damn, was it awesome. All of the characters returned, and the drama is ever present. The relationships found within are definitely not easy ones, and the characters have to work really hard to keep their lives – such as they are – together. But man, that’s hard to do when you’re in your first year of college and dealing with having the training wheels off for the first time ever. All the terrible teenage drama hasn’t quite disappeared yet, and now it’s mixing with adult responsibility and it really, really sucks – and this book captures it perfectly.
And so, for being such an accurate depiction of college life – and for being a sweet look at the city of New York, we give New York Five our coveted Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of Award. [B]
Our pick for best of the week probably won’t surprise anybody, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right one. Jonathan Hickman‘s Fantastic Four #587 made the news on Tuesday and caused many comic book shops to run out of stock before the rest of the week’s comics even went on sale. Here at C!TB, we wrote about it on three different days: a spoiler-free review, a story about trying and failing to avoid having the ending ruined and a final review with all things discussed.
But far more important than that, it was a great, beautiful read. Hickman managed to make the death of a major superhero more than a publicity stunt. Instead, the death of Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, felt like a vital part of the story and its natural conclusion to this part of the Fantastic Four’s arc and the beginning of the next. Steve Epting drew his goddamn heart out and left absolutely every devastated emotion on the page.
Johnny Storm, the eternal optimist. Johnny Storm, the heart of Marvel‘s first family. With Fear Itself coming and Johnny gone, who’s going to make sure the family makes it through? How will the rest of the heroes, especially Spider-Man, respond? It’s going to be tough. It was certainly a difficult read to get through. Johnny went out the only way anybody could ever expect him to: courageously. But the last scene with Johnny and Ben? That final panel of The Thing, broken, holding his niece and nephew as they cry and mourn? Heartbreaking. There’s no other way to describe it; I’m tearing up now as I write about it.
So for making a comic book death feel vital and real, for making tears well up in my eyes despite the fact that I knew what was going to happen, I can’t think of a comic more deserving of being called the best last week.
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