It’s a week of almost-beginnings and not-quite endings: Angel and Faith #25 ends one half of Buffy‘s Season Nine by wrapping up the climactic action within the first few pages and shakes up the status quo enough for Season Ten to arrive feeling relatively fresh. Gage and Isaac’s work over the past couple years has been excellent, and while this last arc has been one of the weakest due to an ill-defined villain and the fact that the main narrative thrust ended around issue #20, but the promise of future stories from the team is enough to keep me sated until next season. On the bright side, I’m pretty certain this is a better ending than Buffy #25′s going to have…
While the book likely won’t be ending soon, Matt Fraction’s recently-announced departure from both Fantastic Four and FF after the twelfth issues of each gives #11 of the latter a rather melancholy feel, being as it is one of the most touching stories of his run. An encounter with a supervillain interrupt’s the team’s attempt to track down the Fantastic Four, but it’s quickly revealed that the Impossible Man would rather have his son enrolled in the Future Foundation that engage in fisticuffs with heroes. It’s a thoughtful inversion of a well-trodden path, and Medusa’s interaction with the Impossible Boy cements Fraction’s reputation as a writer who truly understands what ‘Marvel’s First Family’ actually means.
Two very different Avengers books for me this week: New Avengers #9 continues Infinity from the Illuminati’s perspective and shows each member defending themselves from Thanos’ henchmen – on the hunt for the last remainig Infinity Gem, obv – while keeping their secrets safe from those around them. A key betrayal is made by one of their number, but not a whole lot else happens and I found myself especially bored by some of the inconsequential action and stodgy exposition. Hickman and Deodato can do a lot better. Conversely Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are at the top of their game with Young Avengers #9, which rockets the interdimensional chase plot along while managing to get a healthy chunk of character development, gleeful dialogue and a healthy dose of Tumblr-baiting OMG moments with all the wit and verve we’ve come to expect as standard from those rascals. In a way, YA is the perfect antidote to crossover fatigue, but it’s certainly much, much more than that. Volume 1 just went on sale so if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet there’s never been a better time to catch up. Do it!
Meanwhile in indie territory, Lazarus #3 carries on at its own relatively meandering pace without ever feeling slow or less than enthralling, thanks entirely to Greg Rucka’s thorough world building (there’s a whole fictional timeline in the back of every issue), subtly expository dialogue and complex characters, aided in no small part by Michael Lark’s detailed, realistic art. We get to see lead Forever interact with characters who aren’t her (incredibly fucked-up) family in this book which reveals something of a vulnerable layer beneath her stoic exterior, while her siblings plot and things go boom. Action happens when necessary in Lazarus, not when an editor decides too many pages of dialogue have gone by, and I’m perfectly happy with that.