Posted by: Brian Hibbs on May 15, 2005
Still haven’t QUITE finished all this week’s comics (have about 15 or so to go), but there’s enough done to make a stab at this.
Jeff Lester tenders his regrets, but he says he’ll be unable to review this weekend, so it’s just you and me baby!
Speaking of babies, have I told you about Ben’s newest tactic? That’s right, the little fella is now trying emotional blackmail! He’ll want us to do something — lift him up, get something for him, whatever, and if we won’t do it right away, he’ll say “I la!”, which is Ben-ese for “I love you!” “I la!” I la!” (*makes kissy lip smacking noises*) “I la!”
It doesn’t work, of course, but the power of the boy’s brain continues to impress the crap out of me.
ACTION COMICS #827: Me, I’m kinda thunderstruck that the return of John Byrne to Superman got about… well, NO marketing behind it whatever. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but Byrne’s MAN OF STEEL was the highest selling comic that DC had in like 30 years until they killed ol’ Supey. Certainly, it sold 8-10 times better than IDENTITY CRISIS. More people read that than know what a “Sue Dibney” is. So why not trumpet it? Is it just me, or does that seem mental? And, the craziest part was this was easily the best Superman comic book I’ve read in a long-ass time (2 years? 3?) — fun action, good Lois & Clark scenes, nice use of the worldwide power of Superman, awareness of the universe he’s in, yet not bogging down on too many cast members, a fairly strong twist at the end. Good solid craftsmanship all around by Byrne, Simone, and Nelson, if one regarded this as “minimum base quality” for Superman, maybe the character’d sell 100,000 copies an issue again. I’m going to go with VERY GOOD (though the “very” could be a reaction to the last [2 years? 3?] of Superman comics…)
ADAM STRANGE #8: *shrug* I guess the series was fine — the art was certainly sharp, and the plot was inventive enough. It was probably twice as long as it *needed* to be, what with the Omega Men-this and the Vril Dox-that, and I’m kind of pissed off that the end wasn’t exactly an end, but more of a “Hey, now go buy this!”, so that’s while I’ll give this one an EH.
AQUAMAN #30: “Sub Diego” is a decent enough idea — I do especially like the stabs they’re trying to make at showing how the undersea community is trying to cope, the scrabble board idea was fun, although it seems to me that the tiles would just float off — but it’s missing a few things, it seems to me: impact, scope, and a through-line. For the first two, just think what would happen if San Diego cracked in half and fell into the sea. That would be huge, it would be a huger incident than the Towers falling, by far. The effects of such a catastrophe would be enormous — the economic impact alone to California… such an event should have been touched upon in every DCU book, y’know? I don’t think it’s ever even been MENTIONED anywhere else. By through-line, I mean, right, so where are you GOING with this? In a lot of way this looks like recognition that “Aquaman in Atlantis is kinda dull”, but then you run up against, “well, wait, he’s underwater guy, now what?” so they needed to build him Atlantis II. Problem is, unless you actually DO something with it, you’re back to “Aquaman in Atlantis is kinda dull”. Problem #2 is that a lot of what COULD be neat about rebuilding a city, dealing with the issues involved, don’t really work right in a comic. That’s an idea probably better suited for a novel. This actual issue of the comic itself, was perfectly OK, but I’ve come to think the very premise is misguided.
ARANA HEART OF THE SPIDER #4: That’s kind of not the advice that I’d see Spidey giving to a little scared girl on a rooftop at night, but, whatever. Otherwise pedestrian: EH.
ASTONISHING X-MEN #10: See, maybe I wouldn’t mind this as much if the issues were coming out monthly like they did in the beginning, but with that kind of a wait, part 2 of “fighting the Danger Room”, came down to 2 good beats, both revolving around Emma, and a lot of, well… fighting. Extraordinarily well drawn fighting, yes, but it wasn’t half as clever as it needed to be to make a middle sequence work. The best I can muster for this is a piece of serialization is an OK
BATMAN LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #191: A tidy enough one off Mr. Freeze story, though I was kinda shocked that no remorse was spoken for all of the dead murdered innocents in the explosion. A solid OK.
CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON #14: Sure, Captain America can just get up from a bullet in the head cuz, cuz, cuz… well, just because, OK?!? Then, just like it never happened, he gets up and enters major combat. Sweet! As for the Falcon… well, dunno. He’s not in the issue. His costume is, though — in just about the most strangely ambiguous ending I’ve seen lately. Are we to assume that’s he’s quit? Or maybe he’s dead. Or kidnapped, even. No way to know, except to wait for the I guess forthcoming FALCON mini? 14 issues of build-up leads to zero emotional pay-off. Sorry, cholly, I gotta go with AWFUL.
CITY OF HEROES #1: Sure, that was fine, I guess — a little more backstory for the NPCs of the MMOG is fine. And if you don’t play the game, this might have seemed intriguing. Did you know that the character of Statesman, the lead main bad-ass guy, isn’t even actually in the game? There’s even a mission of “rescue Statesman” but you at no point see him. You just get a little piece of text saying he got away safely. Woo! Anyway, a perfectly OK comic.
DESOLATION JONES #1: Great start to this new bi-monthly ongoing from Warren Ellis and JH Williams III. Imaginative locale, great Ellisian characters, all in all terrific stuff. If you find yourself missing TRANSMETROPOLITAN, this hits a similar vein. VERY GOOD.
DESPERADOES BANNERS OF GOLD #5: I feel like I missed something here: how are they tipping over coal cars and such exactly? Ending the story so the supernatural elements are more the focus than the emotional ones is a real wrong turn. This is the first “Desperadoes” storyline that utterly missed the mark for me. Ow, and $4 each? Sorry: AWFUL.
EXCALIBUR #13: Speaking of Awful, from comics very first “mega crossovers” we’ve had fans lamenting about “Red Sky crossovers” — books would say “CRISIS crossover!” on the cover, and inside there’d be a panel of someone saying “Hey, look, the sky is red. Wonder what that’s about?” End crossover. Creators and publishers HAVE to know that that kind of thing pisses people off, right? So, when it says “HOUSE OF M prelude” on the cover, I think the thing should probably have more than 3 pages, all three of which were more properly a prelude to the prelude. INCREDIBLE HULK #180 may well have been the first appearance of Wolverine, but the comic that people WANT is #181. Particularly as the VERY FIRST SHOWING of the “House of M” branding, I think this was a serious lost opportunity. On the other hand, I was going to give it an “Awful”, until Lester pointed something out that I missed my first read. Charles visits Dr. Strange in his Astral form, right? Then how the hell is he KNOCKING ON THE DOOR? Normally, that would lower a grade, but it made me laugh so hard (and, again, right now when thinking about it!), that I’ve going to actually raise the grade to an EH.
FABLES #37: I like reading about Fabletown. It feels like it’s been six months since we’ve been there. This is quite good, too, but it’s not what I’ve come to want from the title. A muted GOOD.
FANTASTIC FOUR #526: Clearing the old fill-in drawer out, or so it felt. Extremely EH.
FINDER #36: Terrific stuff. I can’t always remember who is who from the delays between issues, to Speed’s sometimes fragmentary approach to forward narrative, but the characters were well-drawn (er, not in the illustrative sense, though they are that, too) enough that it didn’t matter, I got up to speed fast enough, with the honest emotions on display. Nothing less than VERY GOOD.
GAMBIT #10: Very very cute, though irresponsible enough to publish without a warning for certain communities. “It’s OK to lie and steal as long as you’re learning! (and leering at topless Storm)” cuz, like, knowing is half the battle or something. Liked it though: on the low side of GOOD.
GOTHAM CENTRAL #31: This arc has felt a little drawn out, but it has still been enjoyable. OK
GREEN ARROW #50: Absolutely fine, the Riddler was even used to good effect. GOOD.
GREEN LANTERN REBIRTH #6: Did what it needed to, put all of the pieces back on the board and in play again, showed Hal’s badder than Guy, differentiated between the GLs nicely. Can’t fault this comic for much other than a bit of late shipping. VERY GOOD.
JSA #73: Nice new logo. Very nice. Solid enough guts, call it GOOD.
MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN #1: Liked this quite a bit. Probably liked it more than I would as the movie it will be. Terrific art, funny stuff, VERY GOOD.
MARVEL NEMESIS IMPERFECTS #1: Based on a video game or something? Nothing special, nothing shitty, kinda just there. Only one beat really worked for me, Elektra’s “You had me at ‘hello'”, other than that, extremely EH. We got the newest PREVIEWS advance photocopy yesterday, and I can already tell you the comic of the year is coming from Marvel: MARVEL MEGA MORPHS, based on the new toy line. Seems Tony Stark has invented suits of giant mecha robot armor, and they’re to be piloted by Wolverine, Ghost Rider, and the Hulk… sounds GLORIOUS! This video game/toy crossover was textbook EH
MARVEL TEAM-UP #8: You’d think a team-up of Blade and the Punisher would have lots action in it. You’d be wrong. Instead, they pretty much stand on a roof glaring at each other for most of the 22 pages. ACTION! EH.
MNEMOVORE #2: No, still a Sci-Fi channel movie. EH.
NIGHTWING #108: Maybe it’s just me but it seems… ill advised, perhaps? for the super-karate using scion of Bruce Wayne to be so open about who he is and what he can do when dealing with mobsters? Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this story so far, but it seems to me there’s no way this can’t fuck up at the end. OK.
OUTSIDERS #23: Um, that was an interesting piece of deductive reasoning, there. You’d think Dick would have something to say, wouldn’t you? Plus, where did ol’ Roy gain the ability to reprogram a robot from the future again? So, EH.
PUNISHER #21: Pretty brutal stuff there, a good strong issue. GOOD.
PUNISHER CELL ONE SHOT: Not at all sure why this isn’t just another pair of issues of Punisher — not out of tone or place in the normal run. Solid stuff here, too: GOOD.
PVP #17: I’m really glad it went back to “standard” formatting — that should help sell the book, and avoid all of the rack damage copies took from falling over. A typically funny issue: GOOD.
RANN THANAGAR WAR #1: Well, it’s selling great, which sort of surprises me. For me, I don’t really care about “Rann” OR “Thanagar” especially — in 40 years of their history, it’s not like anything particularly memorable has happened in either place, with the possible sole exception of the HAWKWORLD run(s). To me, both planets have historically be portrayed as full of unpleasant and unlikable beings (Like: Who’d ever want to hang out with Sardath?), so if they go to war, I’m not sure why I should really carry, other than “war is wrong”. It is competently written, and very nicely drawn, but I didn’t care even a tiny little smidge, so: EH.
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #77: Finally, it is over, hooray! Now, let’s get back the forward momentum! EH.
USAGI YOJIMBO #83: I’ve never read an issue I didn’t find to be VERY GOOD, and the use of time in this story proved no exception.
WONDER WOMAN #216: Lalalala, get to it already, would you? OK.
No “Excellents” this week, but a pack of “Very Goods” — ACTION #827, DESOLATION JONES #1, FINDER #36, GREEN LANTERN REBIRTH #6, MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN #1, and USAGI YOJIMBO #83. You really can’t go wrong with any of them. But you’re going to make me pick, aren’t you? Well, since I expected the least from it, I’ll say the PICK OF THE WEEK is THE MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN #1. Hurray for Bruce Campbell!
For the PICK OF THE WEAK, I’ll go with CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON #14 for the weakest cliffhanger resolution in the history of comic books, and for not bothering to address “What’s up with Falc?!?” after building the shit up for more than a year. Sheesh!
My pick for BOOK / TP OF THE WEEK is STRAY BULLETS VOL 2 SOMEWHERE OUT WEST 10TH ANN TP, and while there wasn’t much competition this week, this Lapham material is prime prime work. Snap up a copy!
That’s what I thought, how about you?
(And, seriously, putting ANY kinda comment in the talkback is welcome — hits aren’t the same as discussion!)