Better Late Than Never Reviews - 10/19/09 (The Captain, the Kids, and the People With Weird Heads Edition)

Captain America: The Man With No Face - I came into this happy that the story of Bucky Barnes gaining acceptance as Captain America was now in the past, and was ready to get on with the business of him actually being Cap. And for the most part this was... just another Captain America story. I mean, it's very good... Bucky's past as the Winter Soldier pops up to haunt him, Namor guest stars and is entertainingly impatient, and Batroc the Leaper (BATROC! THE! LEAPER!) kicks a bunch of people. But it feels like it's all been done before. I'm not sure if my interest is waining or if the story just didn't meet my expectations. But compared to the rest of Brubaker's run, very good doesn't really match up.

Amelia Rules! Vol. 2: What Makes You Happy - I discovered Jimmy Gownley's Amelia Rules! back when it first came out and enjoyed it from the start, but managed to miss a bunch of issues and never got the chance to go back for them. Most of them are in this volume, and the book, as ever, is such a treat to read. And though the series focuses mostly on the kids, of course, the adults in Amelia's life get more screen time in this book, as we get the background on her aunt Tanner's music career (and how she was kind of A Big Deal for a while) and the history of her now-divorced parents. There's no shortage of stuff with the kids, though, as Gownley covers love, loss, friendship, and the generally awkward business of childhood, as usual, but in giving the adults a chance to be more than just foils or scenery, he makes everything seem all the more real. And Gownley, much like Tanner, tends to be the sort of adult who is actually willing to tell kids the way things really are. Kids appreciate that. Adults, too, for that matter.

MODOK: Reign Delay - I'm not going to lie - I was annoyed at first Ryan Dunlavey's comedic story of a desperate MODOK being shipped back home by Norman Osborne, entirely because "home" in the story was Erie, PA, and not Bangor, ME. See, I grew up in Bangor, and according to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, so did George Tarleton, the dude AIM turned into MODOK. Bangor doesn't have a lot of comics clout to call its own, so I was happy to have a character - a full-on Kirby Classic, no less - from my neck of the woods. And seriously, you're gonna contradict OHOTMU? But the Bangor reference does get a shout out, and the book is very, very funny besides. Just being a macrocephalic supervillain in a jet chair is comedy gold as is... recasting him as a former high school nerd with anger issues and a tendency to brain blast his own henchmen is even greater still. Throw in some digs at Alpha Flight and the sort-of return of Karl, the greatest AIM henchman ever, and you've got a great book here, even if it is entirely wrong.

(Look, I covered this a long time ago, people - my hometown never had a huge footprint in popular culture, so I revered what we had. We don't all come from places we aren't desperate to escape, you know!)

Sweet Tooth #1 - Jeff Lemire is one of the best comics talents to emerge in the last few years, and I have nothing but respect for the man and his work, but this didn't grab me in the slightest. Admittedly I have little-to-no patience with post-apocalyptic-event survival stories of any kind unless they involve Roddy McDowall in a chimp mask, so there's a huge stumbling block for me before I even flip open the cover, but still, I didn't find myself interested in the story of the deer antlered boy (Does he even have a name yet? I honestly can't remember.), why he is the way he is, who else may be in his condition, or the people hunting him. Not to say this was completely without merit, though: the scenes where the boy talks about his father talking to God, and what the father claims God is saying back, were interesting, and read like something out of Lemire's Essex County trilogy. And then I remember that I wasn't too crazy about the initial Essex book when I first read it, either, but I did eventually come around to it when I understood it's place in the larger (brilliant) narrative. So I'm willing to come back to this some day, but for now, I'm just going to give it the space and time to grow into something more significant.

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