The New Avengers #7. Man, what a fun comic. Brian Michael Bendis knows how to do the kind of stories that intertwine casual, charming dialogue and world ending crises. I suppose the closest writer to his approach would be Geoff Johns and his Green Lantern work at DC, but Bendis has a lot more fun. He does entertaining dialogue so well, which means that for an issue like this that’s all talk, big fight scenes aren’t even missed. Stuart Immonen’s pencils make everything look ultra cool and his facial expressions add much pizazz to the humorous words. Basically, the “new” new Avengers, consisting of Luke Cage, his wife Jessica Jones, Ms. Marvel, Thing, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Dr. Strange and Mockingbird move into Avengers Mansion, given the keys and free rein by the resurrected Captain America.
It opens with nervous discussions and frank realisations about the damage to the Mansion, before some sincere encouragement gets thrown towards the uncertain Dr. Strange and a roll call of lesser known superheroes apply for the job of nanny for Luke’s and Jessica’s baby. Those two pages of close ups are the highlight of the ish, with characters like D-Man (“Does Captain America ever talk about me?”) and Hellcat (“Well, I don’t like babies, per se, but…) showing up as well as others I’m not familiar with (“I can change into a large, ape-like creature, but I don’t necessarily have to if you think that will scare the baby.”). As always, characterisation is great and everyone doesn’t revert to witty one-liners if it’s out of character. Spider-Man’s anger at having former Osborn aide Victoria Hand on the team is great and having new nanny Squirrel Girl hint at a romantic relationship with Wolverine (or James as she calls him) is another masterstroke.
Lady Mechanika #1. Like Image’s Skullkickers, this is another broad, fun series that shouldn’t be dismissed due to its slightly off-center initial appearance. After the #0 issue a few weeks ago, I knew I’d be back for more of this steampunk gal’s adventures. Joe Benitez does everything except the letters and colours here and it shines with a singular vision. An attractive design sense permeates these pages, from the title page to the bordered captions and the return of steampunk themed recipes first introduced in #0. Set in and around the cutting edge city of Mechanika in 1879, the titular heroine investigates the death of a girl who, like herself, is part machine and part flesh. Lady Mechanika searches for answers as to her origin and forges relationships with a doctor and his daughter, and Mr. Lewis, a security consultant with whom she sees as more of a nuisance than a friend. The ish is striking and detailed throughout and it’s obvious that much care has gone into the creation of this world, including Mechanika’s many costumes, which would cause Lady Gaga to be envious. Apparently there’s a chance to appear in LM #2 in Feb, but there’s no mention of it on the sites given just yet.
Pood #2. From Big If Comics and definitely for mature readers comes the next issue in this large format anthology series. We discussed the premiere issue in the very first episode of our podcast and were both impressed. Wisely opening with Jim Rugg’s and Brian Maluca’s USApe parody, next up is a Terry Gilliam-like pastiche of old photos and comics in a nonsensical display by Geoff Grogan, followed by Joe Infurnani’s colourful Ultra-Lad tale. 13 more stories on 13 pages by different creators follow, and as is to be expected in any anthology, they’re not all gold, but most of the creators here make full use of the newspaper size format. Think of it as an indie version of DC’s Wednesday Comics and that’s what you have. Some are in colour, some aren’t, but they are all pretty much experimental. Most aren’t concerned with telling a story as such, but in tales like Cochlea and Eustachia by Hans Rickett they’re just so visually delicious, that it doesn’t matter. For readers who want something very different or art students looking for inspiration.