Posted by: Brian Hibbs on November 1, 2004
Been a busy week around here — The Geoff Johns signing on Saturday (Thanks for coming, Geoff — you are a gracious and garralous man, and everyone who showed had a wonderful time), then Ben’s first Halloween on Sunday (well, OK, his second — but he was barely a lump for #1), and the order form is due tomorrow, but I have to get it done today because tomorrow we have to process the new comics…
So, I still haven’t read a lot of last week’s comics yet!
But I’ve read some, and there’s a few things I definitely want to say, so let’s get to what I do have….
Actually, first up, not a comic, but this week’s ENTERPRISE. STAR TREK has been in a really really awful place since the end of DS9. VOYAGER stank on ice, and ENTERPRISE has been a jumbled mess. I stopped watching TREK as a weekly thing some time ago, because the quality was just too poor. But, maybe things are changing….
The old TREK production team of Berman & Braga have brought in a new show runner in Manny Coto, and since I’m always one to give a sentimental favorite a second chance (dude, I sell comics for a living!), I’ve started watching ENTERPRISE again.
Some of the same problems are still there — the majority of the cast are ciphers, the show is horrifically crippled by continuity needs, the costume and designs are fairly uninspired — but the watchability of the show has just skyrocketed because the show seems to be about STAR TREK again.
This week’s episode has Brent (Data) Spiner guesting as Data’s dad, Dr. Soong (hm, or maybe not, I just went to Startrek.com to check my spelling, and Data was built by Noonian Soong [hey, and Juliana O’Donnell Soong Tainer, to be exact!], while Spiner’s character in ENTERPRISE is listed as “Arik Soong”), and there’s related-to-Khan (who is, by the way, actually Kahn Noonian Singh…. confused yet?) eugenically-enhanced humans, and a visit to an Orion slave depot (Orions are the green folks, like the dancing chick in the first broadcast episode of STAR TREK: TOS), and there’s punching and ethical quanderies and it just feels like STAR TREK again.
It’s not *great* TREK, mind you, but it seems like it’s solidly back in the “right” direction. I’m not sure if I’ll be *tuning in* (I only watched this one because Bennett reminded me about it — thankfully, they have 2 showings a week) each week, but I’m keeping at least one eye on TREK again. In SAVAGE CRITIC speak, I’d give it a (very!) low GOOD.
Now, to the comics.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #513: The rumor is JMS’ deal with Marvel says that they can’t rewrite a single word of any of his scripts. I sort of imagine this applies to his plots as well. This is a lousy deal, however. For Marvel, for the readers, and, yeah, I think, for JMS, too. See, I don’t think there’s a single writer out there, in any field, in any place, that can’t benefit from editing. Particularly on what is, if you think about it, a licensed book where you are, at best, a steward for the future. Let me get this out of the way, too: I’m not what you would call a Spider-Man fan, especially. Unlike Jeff Lester, I don’t have any particular affection for Gwen Stacey or the purity of her character, and her death wasn’t a “defining moment” in my comics reading history.
I do, however, know crappy comics.
It starts out bad, really bad, with 5 pages of “comedy” so flat and uninvolving I couldn’t beleive it. It’s so out of place with the tone of the arc, it feels like a bit placed for the TP — but I can’t imagine it being anything less than horrifically jarring when encountered at page 100 (or whatever). Then we get to the meat of the story, where it seems they want it both ways: you’re meant to respect the power of the original story, while at the same time knocking the legs out from under it. This simply doesn’t work. “I…won’t…fail…her…AGAIN!” has already been done like 47 times, and when it is in service of a story that completely undercuts the original character, you’re not even rooting for Spidey to win this time.
Then there’s the clunker of the plot points — the police can’t hear what’s going on up on the bridge (though, um, I had thought for sure that there were parabolic mics that could listen in at 1 mile+), yet they’re able to hit the girl (with, er, pistols?) no problem from the distance. That’s just absurd.
I’ll reserve judgment on the last panel because there’s the obvious way it’s going to go, and the “whoa, surprised me!” way, and why make assumptions.
Blech, I hated almost every page of this. CRAP.
AUTHORITY REVOLUTION #1: The AUthority’s time is up. They were of a moment. And they perfectly captured that moment. But now that moment is the past, and, even with a reasonably strong premise, like this has, even with a good creative team, like this has, the whole thing really feels like fucking corpses. Look, on a craft basis, on a storytelling basis, this is just fine. But, at the end of the day, I’ve found I simply don’t care any longer. EH.
CATWOMAN #36: And, see, this is why I didn’t give ASM #513 PICK OF THE WEAK status. Because it clearly has to go to the horrific conclusion of “War Games”. Is anyone up there thinking? I mean, seriously. Batman, as they’ve portrayed him lately, is a meglomanical control freak with obsessive compulsive tendencies who surrounds himself with broken personalities who just reinforce his worst tendencies. And lots and lots of innocent people die because of it. There’s no way that the superhero community would let this stand, no way the public would support these people any longer, no way, in fact, the supporting cast as written could possibly keep going along with this. Jim Gordon? Leslie Thompson? Alfred? One of these people WOULD stand up and say “You completely fucked up, you have to make this right, change your game, or we’re going public with all of this bullshit”
Story elements alone bring the whole Bat-mythos crashing down. Look, Black Mask proclaims he’s attacking the “batcave”. The building is protected by gas and lasers (!) and the entire assault is live over-the-air. Who do they find at the middle of it all, surrounded by banks of computers? Little Barbara Gordon who, huh, just happens to have red hair like Batgirl, whom never was seen again after Babs got shot by the Joker. You can’t tell me, that in a world where Presedential politics turn on 20-year old events being exhaustively unearthered, that some reporter somewhere isn’t going to figure this all out in like 90 seconds?
Then we have the emotional core of the story, and Batman’s deathbed scene with Spoiler — at no point does Bruce take the slightest amount of responsability for any of his actions… actions which DIRECTLY led to the death of this little girl (not to mention Orpheus — no one seems to care there — and notice the other dead person is the black guy…). Look, this isn’t like Jason’s death. This was Bruce’s FAULT. HE did this. And there’s nothing there, no heart, no remorse, nothing.
ANd the story ends with evil winning. Black Mask? (The most thoroughly c-list of Batma’s Rogues Gallery, to be sure) He tortured and murdered a little girl, and he’s rewarded with exactly what he wanted — rulership of Gotham’s gangs. Hooray!
You know what this really was? This was “Maximum Clonage” for Batman.
CRAP. And the PICK OF THE WEAK.
DAREDEVIL #66: I liked the story quite a bit, and I liked the idea behind the use of B&W to seperate the eras. On the other hand, the cheap bastard part of me said, “but if half of it was B&W why were we paying color prices?” Still, GOOD.
DOOM PATROL #5: Heh, Robot Wars. That John Byrne, 3 years beihnd the zeitgeist! Still, dopey and unobjectionable, I’ll go with an EH.
FLASH #215: Maybe Jeff Lester will pop his head in and give his well-reasoned counter that he laid out on Friday at the store, but I didn’t think this issue worked. Mostly for reasons of timing. Even though the timing was to tie-in to IDENTITY CRISIS, I think the story would have worked a whole lot better if ithad come 6 months before or 6 months after IC. I understand the intended counter-point this was intended to provoke, but it’s not a seemless continuity implant. See, while I don’t like it, I can accept that, in the aftermath of Zoom killing Iris, Barry made a singular big mistake with Dr. Light. That doesn;t strain my vision of continuity. I have a harder time with “and, by the way, I did it again” even if his motivations were more… altrustic, I guess. ANd I have the hardest time beleiving that the Top was then a hero and visible presence in Central City, because we’ve never ever heard of that before. Then when you add the whole big psychic powers and body swapping things in, which I only sorta remember being brought up once in the past (note: I really and truly miss editorial notes [see: Flash (v1) #172]) but seems like a whole lot more to spin off the character (ow, sorry) than he was built to handle. So my “Wait…what?” shield went right up. Other than that, this was OK.
GREEN LANTERN REBIRTH #1: If you’re not a big GL history/fan/buff, I’m not sure if a lot of this wouldn’t just slide right off of you. However, when you know your GL, this was a love letter. PLus the art was GREAT, with yummy colors. Me likee long time. EXCELLENT.
JLA #107: Kurt Busiek’s first DC wwork was the little-remembered RED TORNADO mini-series. In which Reddy fought… the Construct. So, it was cute to see him come full circle in here. I always thought that, at least theoretically, the Construct was a neat concept. Especially now with the common use of cell phones and the internet. Not like back when he was created in the 70s — now the idea of the internet getting sentience seems almost inevitible, y’know? Anyway, so that was nice, but otherwise, I was kinda bored. Not much happens. Mostly Wally just pacing aorund the Watchtower. I have higher hopes for next issue, where the Crime Syndicate actually appears! For now, though, EH.
OUTSIDERS #17: Seeing John Walsh’s face on the cover somehow made me flashback to that issue of SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN with Don Rickles on the cover. That’s all I wanted to say. OK
PLANETARY #21: Though PLANETARY has been less obvious in doing the theme issues lately (the first half-dozen being so obviously, “this is the giant monster one”, “this is the hong knog revenge film one” and so on), “this is the Alan Moore one.” In fact, no less than three people specifically asked about the new PROMETHEA when they saw and mistook this for that. Points off for no forward movement in the plot, but, still VERY GOOD.
SOLO #1: Mark Chiarello has done what I had thought was impossible up to now: he’s figured out a way to make an anthology book work for an American audience. Really fucking clever way, too — make the commonality a CREATOR, in this case, Tim Sale. Sale illustrates every story, and writes, to excellent effect, mind you, two of them. Stories range in tone and genre, but, in every case, this is, I think, some of the best writing we’ve seen from co-conspiritors Azzarello, Loeb, Shutz, and Cooke. Every story was a little gem, and they all tied together beautifully by Sale’s art, and I have to give this an unqualified EXCELLENT as well as the PICK OF THE WEEK.
STRANGE #2: Wong’s a hand specialist? Buh? This is taking an awful long time to do what Stan and Ditko did in, what, 2 pages? And, like WARLOCK, it’s making enough changes to the “real” story that it feels very out of step with how Marvel has always run (Every story “happened” — unlike DC where’s theres only comparatively recently been given ANY thought to how all the comics fit together), and makes me feel kinda eeky. “Untold tales” are cool, but changing story details just, y’know, ‘cuz has never been the Marvel way. OK
SUPERMAN #210: One thing out of the way, first. Batman says “Jesus” here and he’s using it as a swear. I am astonished that passed editorial, and it’s so far out of character for more reasons than I even want to list. It looks like the cover was drawn months before the script for the issue came in. This whole thing is just a mess. I can’t attach any revelence to the events or the situations because they’re not only being handled obliquely, but also because everyone seems to be spouting lines that come from plot needs rather than character motivation. This is a muddled jumbled mess, and most of all, it’s not ANY FUN AT ALL. Superman comics are SUPPOSED to be fun, people! AWFUL.
WE 3 #2: Holy crap that was good. EXCELLENT.
WOLVERINE #21: Like Lester observed, no matter what I think of it, we did, at least, get to see Wolverine fuck a shark. My defensive sheilds went up when Fury had that line about loving his job because he see shit that amazes him… like a 747 landing. OK, sure, it’s Airforce One, and sure it’s on the helicarrier, but I can’t imagine Nick Fury being amazed or surprised by that at all. Plus, and Wolvie can kill scores (hundreds? Thousands? Seemed like a lot) of America’s best agents, but he can’t smoke any longer? Is it just me? There’s no way this story can end well, so just turn off the ol’ brain and enjoy the ride. EH.
On to the BOOK OF THE WEEK. There’s a LOT of solid choices this week, and my first pass looked like this:
COMPLETE PEANUTS VOL 2 1953-1954 HC
CRYPTO ZOO TP
FABLES VOL 4 MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS TP
FRED THE CLOWN GN
MARVEL VISIONARIES JACK KIRBYVOL 1 HC
SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATER VOL 2THE FACE AND THE BRUTE
SUPERMAN BIRTHRIGHT HC
SWAMP THING REGENESIS TP
That’s a lot to even try and write about in the time I have left (still have to do the order form today!), so I’m going to say you should ask your LCS for each and every one of those books because they’re all chocked full of goodness, but the one single book I would buy above the others… well it might be SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE because I want DC to do vol 3 & 4 & 5 and so on when the stories get GREAT, but I think I have to go with the other “encourage DC to keep going” book, and that’s SWAMP THING (v7) REGENESIS, as Rick Veitch follows Alan Moore’s run on the book, and I think matches that run for verve and idea. The reason we want to encourage DC, of course, is that Veitch’s run originally was aborted when Swamp Thing was going to meet Christ, as he travelled backwards through time. (Swampy, not JC, that is) — rumor has it that DC was negotiating with Veitch (or the other way around) about maybe finishing the story now. If so, then we really really want vol 8, so buy Regenesis. There’s not many people who have successfully followed Alan Moore, that alone should tell you how good this is.
Times up, time to post and get back to paperwork….