This past Wednesday there was no movie night, so I didn't stay in the city, and therefore did not have the usual easy access to the city's comic book stores. I could have gone back to Hall of Heroes at Cherry Hill Mall to do my weekly book shopping, but I was highly disappointed by their selection (not to mention their staff and clientele) the last time I was there. Luckily, one of the nicer fellows at Hall of Heroes had made me aware some time ago that there was a Fat Jack's Comic Crypt out here in the wilds of Jersey, and that the store had the ability to find pretty much any book you were looking for. Some quick Googling revealed that this heavenly shop is essentially right around the corner from our condo. So that's where I headed Wednesday night.
And yea, did I find what I sought, and more! In fact, I could hardly suppress an evil cackle as my grasping clutches finally closed around the last two backissues that I had been searching for, lo these many weeks. In short, I completed my Eternals collection, and my Immortal Iron Fist collection. I also acquired everything else on my shopping list (refer to the previous post), except for Hulk: Planet Hulk, and Ex Machina volumes 4 and 5. Not because they didn't have those particular books (they did), but because the stack of books I'd put together was already quite large, and those books already had lots of big numbers on them after dollar signs, and because the Planet Hulk hardcover is a gigantic, and indeed hulking, book whose size and heft was ultimately frightening enough to dissuade me from its purchase.
Since then, I've already taken the time to finish reading the rest of the Eternals series, as well as all the other single issues I picked up this week. To start with, Eternals was quite good. I really love John Romita Jr.'s artistic style here; it reminds me a bit of Frank Miller's thick, blocky drawings of hulking beast-men - but prettier. The coloring on these books is also quite lovely. And then, of course, there's Gaiman's writing, which is quite stellar. Really the only thing that bugged me was the way the series ended - which was not an ending at all, really. But then again, that was the point; this was meant to be the reboot/rebirth of the Eternals series. As far as I know, no new Eternals book picked up where this seven-book intro left off, but then again this mini-series only just finished in February, so maybe they're still preparing the new book.
Anyway, I really liked the ideas in the story, of ancient races of super-powerful, immortal beings living among us, and space gods lurking on the edges of the universe, while one of them lies asleep, imprisoned and dreaming, in the Earth, awaiting his eventual awakening (*cough* Lovecraft! *cough*). I also liked the way Gaiman wove the story into the current over-arching events in the Marvel Universe - namely, the Civil War and superhero registration. It was good to see arrogant superpowered heroes like Iron Man get laid low, and to see this whole petty squabble put into perspective.
I also enjoyed Nova #3, a lot more than I thought I would. Admittedly, it swerves toward the melodramatic when covering the main character's family problems, but it kept my interest, and apparently the next bunch of issues are going to be about yet another gigantic intergalactic war which apparently involves cross-overs into other books, so I'll certainly stick around for that.
Sadly, the two books I was most looking forward to this week - World War Hulk #1 and Punisher War Journal #8 - really kind of disappointed me. I suppose WWH delivered everything I had a right to expect from it. Hulk shows up, gets Manhattan evacuated, and beats the crap out of Black Bolt and Iron Man while busting up the moon and the city of New York pretty spectacularly. But I guess I was really hoping, what with all the hype and everything, that it would really blow me away, and it just didn't. Still, I saw some smashing, and that was cool.
Punisher War Journal, meanwhile, was just kind of dull. The last couple of issues, they've been using that storytelling technique where they give you a quick glimpse of what's going on in the present, sort of in medias res, then flash back to explain how we got here. But they're still doing it again in this issue, and the technique is starting to wear pretty thin. (It also gets really confusing when you read the books out of order, but that one's on me.) But worst of all is the fact that pretty much nothing happens in this issue. We do get to see Frank designing his Captain America outfit, and we get to see him mouthing off at the Hatemonger, and we learn that his little sidekick was getting some action on the side. But that's about it. It looks like once again we'll have to wait until next issue for any real action or story. Sigh.
Another pretty lame book was Green Arrow #75. This is one I picked up simply because it claimed to be a final issue, and because it claimed to feature our hero proposing to his long-time love. And indeed it does look like that after this they're going to drop this book and instead do a Green Arrow origin book called Green Arrow: Year One (which I guess is supposed to be like Batman: Year One? Man, I thought Green Arrow was done biting off of Batman these days...). And indeed Ollie does propose to Black Canary - in the very last panel! We don't even get to see her answer - we have to go buy a Black Canary miniseries for that. It's a typical lame comic book publisher trick, but I'm not buying. I found this story rather dull and uninvolving, even if it did start with a huge fight, and include a very short cameo by the Justice League, and continue with some vaguely clever political intrigue.
Another book I picked up was Avengers Classic #1. This series was born from the desire to provide reprints of the original Avengers titles. This issue includes a reprint of Avengers #1, and follows that up with two clever and funny original stories set around the same time period. It was interesting to see the birth of the Avengers and to see how much has changed in the team, and how much has changed in terms of writing style. I've read worse female stereotyping than is here in the characterization of the Wasp - but this is pretty bad. The story itself is also rather clumsy. It involves Loki making the Hulk look like a dangerous threat in order to lure Thor back to where Loki is imprisoned in Asgard so the evil God can fight and destroy his brother. Unfortunately for Loki, the threat of the Hulk is met not just by Thor, but also by Iron Man, the Wasp, and Ant-Man (but not Captain America, to my surprise). It's only at the very end of the story - really, the last two panels - that it comes out that Hulk is not the true threat, and it's decided that they should form a team called the Avengers. This happens so suddenly and hurriedly that it's really rather ridiculous.
Which makes it even funnier that one of the new stories included in the book is a comical, postmodern one in which Stan Lee explains (yes, he actually appears in the comic) how they really decided to form the Avengers. (Essentially, Stan Lee talked them into it, by offering money.) The other original story tells how the second monthly meeting of the Avengers nearly got completely out of hand, until Wasp calmed all the boys down by stroking their out-of-control egos and secretly taking over the chairmanship of the team herself. This story is also quite clever and funny.
But all-in-all, I wasn't all that excited by this book, and in particular I found the reprint story to be rather dull and poorly written, so I won't be buying any more of these in the future.
Now that I write it out like this, it sounds like I had a pretty disappointing week, but actually I'm still quite pleased that I was able to complete by collections and get everything I wanted, and I did enjoy reading a number of these. Now all I have left to read are a handful of graphic novels, and then I'll be all ready to devour some new books next week...