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Comics Digest #3

This week, Comics Daily's Dynamic Duo bring you lesbianism in Buffy, babysitting in Cable, and the Blitz in our dusted off issue of The Dreaming. We also cast our eyes over Ultimate Spider-Man and The Comic Formerly Known As Adjectiveless X-Men, and speculate over Grant Morrison's plans for the Dark Knight...

The Thursday Headline : Cable #1

cable01.jpgIt's that time again! Cable's getting his own series! I mean, technically he's had one for a while - Cable, through Soldier X, through Cable and Deadpool, now back to Cable. But this time he's got a post-Messiah Complex springboard to launch himself off. This series is the adventures of Cable, former mutant messiah and babysitter. Am I interested? Well... maybe.

For me, the real hook for the series is figuring out just who the baby is and why she's so important. Cable's job is to protect and raise her, so we're probably looking at a fairly long arc until this gets resolved, barring any time-jumpy speed-aging situations. While there's plenty of material in raising a child, it's not exactly mainstream superheroics, so there's more to it. You may remember that Cable escaped to the future at the end of Messiah Complex - this book is set in 2043. For those keeping track, that's roughly halfway between the present day and Bishop's timeline as visited by Madrox and Layla. Seems safe enough, but Cable has also been pursued to this time...

As I predicted way back, Bishop does indeed turn out to be the antagonist for Cable. For now, it seems, the two of them are going to spar their way across time and space. Bishop's also rocking a massive robotic arm following his encounter with Predator-X. Worryingly, this means that the book stars two time-displaced mutants from distopian futures with a over one eye and a robotic arm. If Bishop wasn't black, it'd be tempting to believe they're the same person. Luckily, they don't make an issue out of it, so they get away with it - for now.

Writing duties are performed by novelist Duane Swierczynski, who is still relatively new to the comics game. So far, there are no massive flaws in his writing and at least one excellent sequence where Cable disarms and kills several snipers through his sheer experience of the situation - more things like that would certainly do nothing to upset the believability of the character. Ariel Olivetti takes on the art, and I have to say that I'm not really a huge fan of the Larocca-esque washes he's been using lately. Give me a good inker any day. That said, he does make Cable look his age, which is something most artists can trip up on, and any problems with the art are purely a matter of taste, not ability.

If Cable has any real trouble, it's that there's no massive cliffhanger to bring you back. Bishop's status as the series "villain" is pretty much it - that in itself has been no secret, whether you read the solicits or figured it out from Messiah Complex's narrative arc. Where X-Force had a gun to Rahne's head to try and bring readers back, Cable just has Bishop standing up and proclaiming he's a police officer. It's fair to say that Cable will most likely never have as many readers as this issue - couldn't it have ended on a stronger note?
(James Hunt) Original post

Dusting Off : The Dreaming #32 (January 1999)

dreaming32.jpgEvery Wednesday we take turns to delve into our trusty longboxes, pluck out a dusty back issue at random, and give you our thoughts. We’ll also try and place it in the context of the time it was originally published.

Ah, The Dreaming. Road to hell, good intentions, and all that. Having started out as a way to allow an idiosyncratic variety of creators to play in the sandbox of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman universe, the first year or so followed the template of distinct and individual stories (sometimes single-issue, sometimes spread over a few) that bounced around various supporting characters, minor and major, with - as you’d expect - varying degrees of quality. Unfortunately, neither critical nor sales success was forthcoming, and so Vertigo editorial took the decision to change the focus to an ongoing, plot-driven series centred around a core group of characters (Cain, Abel, Lucien and so on). This mightn’t have been a bad decision in and of itself, but the choice of Caitlin R. Kiernan as one of the two writers (and, later, the sole writer) to take the series forward was fatal, as one of the worst writers in comic book history (yes, even worse than Chuck Austen - and it’s telling that the industry has barely been near her since) completely ran it into the ground in a self-indulgent, fan fiction-esque fireball.

Before all of that, however, we were at least treated to a few issues by the series’ other main writer, Peter Hogan. Hogan had already turned in two of the best stories of the “anthology” era (four-part fairy story “The Lost Boy”, and the superb single issue “Ice”), and would also create the Sandman Presents : Love Street miniseries and the later-cancelled Marquee Moon. He showed an uncanny knack for the characterisation of numerous members of Gaiman’s expansive supporting cast, and for my money, he’s also the best potential Hellblazer writer never to have been given a shout at it. Continue reading...

The Sunday Pages is our weekly roundup of comics-related news that's caught our attention, complete with pithy comment and wild speculation...

It’s a quiet one this week, but you’ll find some news about a special event in the Buffy comic, speculation about where Morrison’s Batman run is going, some Eagle Awards suggestions and another FREE comic (one you’d actually want to pay for) from Newsarama! Continue reading...

Also this week...

buffy12_1.jpgBuffy, Season 8 #12
So, in case you somehow missed the media kerfuffle - Buffy #12 is out. In more ways than one. (See what I did there?)

But let’s get to that in due course. Issue 12 is written by former Buffy/Angel scribe, Drew “Cloverfield” Goddard - the third writer to tackle Season 8, and the second to come from the TV series to do so. As with Vaughan’s run, the comic doesn’t miss a beat in the changeover, and Whedon’s initial arc remains the weakest. Jeanty’s artwork is looking better than ever - it might’ve taken me a while to get used to his style, but a year down the line he’s really reaching impressive heights, having nicely defined the look of the series. Full review

Ultimate Spider-Man #119
At the risk of retreading everything I’ve said in prior reviews of this title, it really does bear saying again : Ultimate Spider-Man is about the only compelling reason for the Ultimate universe to exist at the moment. In fact, Bendis is doing such a good job of integrating characters from the other titles into it, that part of me wonders if Marvel mightn’t be better off just scrapping the rest, renaming this book Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Universe Adventures! and having done with it. Full review

X-Men : Legacy #208
As the X-Men line retools itself following Messiah Complex, we finally get to to the book formerly known as Adjectiveless. Essentially created to be a Jim Lee vehicle in 1991 off the back of Todd MacFarlane’s successful “Spider-Man” title, the book was slightly scuppered when Lee left to help form Image under a year into its lifespan. Nevertheless, with a five-cover launch at the height of the speculator boom, it’s easily one of the biggest comics ever published and remained a staple of the line. Full review

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