Rude Chapbooks 06.18.12 | Woodcraft

In addition to Conan the Barbarian #5 (unreviewed here), this week lavishes a bounty of four-color bliss on fans of writer Brian Wood, who figuratively goes to sea with The Massive #1 and likewise takes the helm on Ultimate Comics X-Men #13 and X-Men #30.

 
As he did late last month with Irredeemable, this week writer Mark Waid, according to plan, concludes that series’ BOOM! Studios spin-off with Incorruptible #30, the vale to supervillain-gone-virtuous Max Damage. In context, the parent title’s valedictory almost perforce impacts that of Incorruptible. After all, the Plutonian, the horribly scarred focus of the former, metaphorically fathered Max, the horribly scarred focus of the latter, and then re-created him at least once and arguably twice; moreover, during its run, Incorruptible customarily counterpoised the parent title’s stellar scope with a streetwise slant. In that regard, with radioactive death and human stupidity threatening the tenuous continued existence of Max’s base of operations, Incorruptible #30—beautifully visualized by Damian Couceiro, by the way—involves no cosmic (and metadiscursive) legerdemain, yet grants its Springsteenesque protagonist a sweet epiphany: Max, to wit, discovers within himself not the quote-unquote hero borne of the Plutonian’s villainy but a human being—and nowadays, where all human consideration increasingly fades before the banality of corporate or technological horror, that seems a denouement worthy of celebration.
 
For all of its spandex glories, writer Robert Kirkman’s long-running Image supersaga compels just as much attention with its deft characterization, and in Invincible #92, after many teasers, Kirkman at last begins to explore the star-crossed love between Monster Girl and Robot, two of the series’ multitude of supporting players. More specifically, largely via flashback, the issue sketches the pair’s initial entrapment and captivity in a hostile alien dimension before closing with a scathing declaration by Monster Girl (something of a transgendered Hulk) to Robot (by and large, an emotionally robotic man-child occupying an exoskeleton). Almost necessarily, the issue also furthers the braided tales of the Invincibles “old” and “new” (the hero Bulletproof substituting while the real deal recuperates from a genetic virus); most notably, the “new” Invincible faces his archnemeses—his insufferable parents, on a dinner visit. Providing the series’ invariably clean and graceful visuals are penciller Ryan Ottley and inker Cliff Rathburn with artist Cory Walker. As ever, Kirkman & Co. continue to redefine the superhero saga as such for the new millennium.
 
Dark Horse this week launches “the big one” for devotees of the creator-owned works of writer Brian Wood, The Massive #1, and on first impression, it certainly seems to warrant a shattered bottle of Dom. Something of a slantwise companion piece to his lapidary DMZ, whose late-December finale this column saluted, the new ongoing partners Wood to stunning effect with Kristian Donaldson, who illustrated a tripartite prelude to the series earlier this year in Dark Horse Presents. Here Wood and Donaldson dab the background to a near-future/alternate-present landscape vast and cataclysmic, following a yearlong series of both ecological and related economic crises that have devastated the globe. Plying that world’s troubled waters, figuratively and literally, is the Kapital, a trawler belonging to the Green Peace–ish “direct-action conservationist force Ninth Wave” a year after those crises, collectively dubbed “the Crash.” The series’ title, incidentally, refers to the Kapital’s much larger sister vessel, The Massive, missing at sea toward the end of that year, but apparently not sunken—a ghost ship of quasi-Melvillean grandeur. Highest recommendation.
 
With Ultimate Comics X-Men #13, the series earns a reprieve, however provisional, from P&H expulsion, as Brian Wood replaces Nick Spencer as scriptwriter. No slight intended to the latter, who approached the assignment with characteristic intelligence. Rather, over time, the unrelenting dreariness of Marvel’s “Ultimate Universe” grew simply too joyless for toleration. In any event, Wood initiates his tenure stylishly, with a self-mocking quotation from the title’s premiere last September. Moreover, emphatically, he returns its focus to Kitty Pryde, the character that, over time, has blossomed into the X-Men’s heart and soul—even more so than Cyclops, whether in the Marvel Universe or its shadow twin, the X–Captain America. In this turning-the-page chapter with serviceable art from pencillers Paco Medina and Reilly Brown and inkers Juan Vlasco and Terry Pallot, Kitty assembles a strike force to liberate the U.S. Southwest, now controlled by an army of rogue Sentinels, and Wood, with varying degrees of subtlety, seeks to dissipate the charnel stench of not merely the series but the U.U. Intriguing enough to warrant patience.
 
Shockingly sans an adjective—whether astonishing, ultimate, uncanny, or even (let us, in context, hope not) xylophagousX-Men #30 marks writer Brian Wood’s debut on that Marvel ongoing, following memorable merry-mutant work earlier this year on Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha & Omega, a quinary miniseries. An old-school reader coming to the title for the first time might balk, understandably, at this “security force to help defend mutantkind”; although its roster boasts team lead Storm and Colossus, it also includes three decidedly lesser characters, Domino, Pixie, and Psylocke. (“Telepathic ninja”? Puh-lease.) Nonetheless, Wood brings believable widescreen wonderment to the narrative, as the quintet investigates and battles monstrous pseudo-mutant anomalies, the second like a cross between a kraken and Bob Marley, in Chechnya and the North Sea; Storm also “manages” the increasingly insufferable Cyclops, who desperately needs a chill pill the size of a Volkswagen. Greatly abetting Wood are penciller David López and inker Álvaro López, the former of whom previously illustrated, among other things, the DC run of Peter David’s underappreciated Fallen Angel. Pretty cool. | Bryan A. Hollerbach
 
Click here for a preview of Invincible #92, courtesy of Comic Book Resources.
Click here for a preview of The Massive #1, courtesy of Dark Horse.

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