Last Week’s Comics 6/29/2011

Ultimate Comics: Avengers vs. New Ultimates #5

(Marvel – writer: Mark Millar; art: Leinil Yu)

This is stereotypical Mark Millar – people fight and blow shit up. The conclusion will involve splash pages galore, but this issue is (and I’m sure the following one will be) the weakest in this series.

Millar likes to make use of deception. People are always backstabbing each other. This series is no different, and while it seems that both Millar and Bendis are hellbent on destroying the Ultimate Universe, it’s definitely intriguing to think about who’s actually telling the truth.

Previously, Nick Fury accused Carol Danvers and then Tony Stark’s brother, Gregory, of selling superhumans to other countries in order to overthrow their dictatorships. Now, all of this is coming to a mediocre climax.

I only followed this series because I wanted to see how it tied in to Spider-Man’s death. That “event” occurred in the third issue, and the series has just limped on from there. The one positive to come from this is the death of Tyrone Cash – the first Hulk – who was also one of the most overtly racist depictions of a black person I’ve ever encountered in comics.

I used to be a Millar fan. I love Kick-Ass, Superior, and Ultimates Volumes 1 & 2. Since then, his stories have gotten progressively weaker. This is a step up from his last effort, Ultimate Comics: Avengers, but it doesn’t even get close to his original Ultimates series.

On the bright side, there’s only one issue left.

Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing # 1

(DC – writer: Jonathan Vankin; art: Marco Castiello)

They may be nitpicky, but I have several issues with this comic. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, nor do I feel a

necessity to go out and read the rest of the series (though I probably will because it’s like watching a car
crash in slow motion). I don’t know much about John Constantine, and my Swamp Thing info comes from Alan Moore’s collected Saga of The Swamp Thing, so I’m quite a novice in both departments. But I do know good writing, and this ain’t it.

First, the pacing of the issue is terrible. There are quick jumps between moments and dialogue that seems senselessly placed. My Constantine ignorance is prevalent here because I don’t know if he’s supposed to be as cocky as he’s portrayed. I don’t find him a particularly likable character, and his dialogue switches between cockney and formalized English – it’s as if Vankin didn’t know how he wanted Constantine to sound before he wrote this. This lack of consistency continues throughout the issue.

Secondly, when Constantine confronts Batman, I’m not sure which Batman he’s confronting. Is it Dick or Bruce? In other comics, they’re portrayed quite differently. It’s evident when Dick is wearing the costume, just as it’s evident when it’s Bruce under the cowl. Here, I think it’s Bruce, but I’m not sure (damn you, Grant Morrison!). Most writers make Batman quick and intelligent, as well as dark and imposing. When Constantine sneaks into the Batmobile, Batman looks as him for a whole six panels before tossing him out – for smoking. Not because he’s caught the world’s best detective off guard (and somehow found a way to break in to Batman’s car), but because Batman doesn’t enjoy second hand smoke. This kind of inconsistent Batman portrayal continues for the rest of the issue. Why would Batman be beholden to someone for information when he can get it himself? And if he wants it, he’ll beat it out of someone or call Oracle. I imagine Batman as a less dependent figure than he’s presented here.

Lastly, the book doesn’t do a very good job of introducing new readers to the Constantine/Swamp Thing mythos. I

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