INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1. Let’s start with this: I’m not a fan of the new armor design, particularly given how awesome the last two suits were. I don’t like the faceplate at all, although I can’t put my finger on exactly why, and the whole suit seems a little too streamlined for my tastes. That said, Brian Michael Bendis is one of my favorite comic book writers, and David Marquez’ art is excellent throughout– I’m just not a fan of the design itself. This first arc is bringing back Madam Masque, who I haven’t seen in a long time, and the villain who shows up at the end is, without spoiling things, a hell of a surprise. I’ve been really happy with Iron Man for quite some time, so it’s good to see the book is still in good hands. My only complaint: BMB is fond of multi-panel layouts that stretch across two pages, but isn’t a hundred percent about doing it that way, so there are occasional moments where it takes a while to figure out the panel flow on any given two-page spread. I attribute this to Marquez not being used to working with him; Mark Bagley, his frequent contributor, hardly has pages like that at all any longer. I’m sure it’ll get better.
DOCTOR STRANGE #1. Doctor Strange is one of those characters who I have historically not been a fan of, but have always sorta wanted to be a fan of, if that makes any sense. And he has an axe on the cover of his new book, which pretty much guaranteed I was going to pick it up. I know little about the character other than what you’d pick up via osmosis after 30 years of buying comic books, so it’s possible Jason Aaron’s take on him as a sort of exhausted, cigaretteless John Constantine is going to annoy longtime readers, but I liked the book enough that it guaranteed a few more issues. Chris Bachalo’s art is superb, too, which doesn’t hurt at all, and the book was way more action-packed than I was expecting. The axe comes in handy; let’s put it that way.
INJECTION TPB, by Ellis, Shalvey & Bellaire. I almost didn’t buy this. I bought INJECTION in single issues as it came out, and by the end of the six-issue run I had no damn idea what was going on at all and was basically only buying the book because I was too lazy to take it off my pull list– which, I think, comic fans know happens a bit more often than it probably should. So why spend more on the TPB? Because I had a hunch that the book would work better if I sat down and read it at a gulp than it would have in singles when I’ve read 30 comics since the last time it came out. And… man. Yeah. That’s exactly what happened. INJECTION is complicated enough that honestly I feel like it should have just come out as a trade paperback rather than bothering with the singles, and I’m glad I jumped at it twice. Warren Ellis doesn’t do bad work, guys. I shoulda known better. Check it out.
EMPIRE, the entire first season. I had to stand up and walk away for a bit before I wrote this part, because I’m still sort of in “What the hell?” mode on this show. Some facts: We watched the first season in maybe three or four big gulps. The acting is, by and large, phenomenal. And the characters and story arcs and quite possibly the entire setting of the show make no goddamn sense at all, especially if you know anything about the music business. Watch this show for Taraji P. Henson as Cookie, because she’s Goddamned amazing, and she needs to win all the awards. Pay no attention to the fact that the show seems to have no goddamn idea what year it is, or to know anything about trends in music at all, and definitely ignore the guy in the first couple of episodes who appears to have been unsealed from a time capsule first buried in 1985. Do not think too hard about consistency, because this is a soap opera, and holy shit is it a soap opera, and it’s probably best if you go in knowing that and don’t have to figure it out like I did. But watch it anyway.