Posted by: Brian Hibbs on December 13, 2004
Hey, all. I swore I’d keep my nose out of the SavCrit blog for a couple months after October, where even I got a little sick of myself. But since Brian’s on a deadline (I am too; I should be working on the CE newsletter but I left the blackline at home) and I’m stuck at the day job with nothing really cooking, I thought I’d throw in a few quick shots in case you haven’t gotten to a store yet…
AQUAMAN #25: I’m shocked Hibbs didn’t review it since his great contribution to my day at the shop Friday was throwing it at me and hollering, “Check it out!” It’s a real education on how execution can either save or damn a book. You’ve got great art and an idea that’s thoughtful and a little daring–the people of Sub Diego are so miserable they’re turning to drugs as a way of escaping their “washed up” existence–and the suck suckiest execution that ever sucked a suck. The villains trafficking in Heroin was one thing, but then with all the little cocaine vials, you really wondered what the writer was thinking. (Or as Hibbs so eloquently put it, “Yeah, let’s do a rail of cocaine! Underwater!”) Then, to add some kind of menace to the issue, you’ve got coke fiends sharpening their teeth…and then attacking Aquaman and his sidekick..and biting them…you know, as coke fiends are wont to do (Or as Hibbs so eloquently put it, “Wha? Fuckin’ huh?”) Makes the O’Neil/Adams relevance issues seem like Drugstore Cowboy. A can’t-miss AWFUL.
BLOODHOUND #6: I’ll second Hibbs on this–they did a perfectly good gloss on the prison side of things in the first issue, I don’t really see much of a reason to return to it in this much depth. I think the last thing you want to give the readers is a sense the book’s running in place, particularly in the first year, and that was the feeling I took (reluctantly, since I liked the first arc so much) from this issue. Not good. EH.
BULLSEYE’S GREATEST HITS #4: Gah. Getting Steve Dillon to draw this is like getting Gordon Willis to do the cinematography on a ‘Little Rascals’ short. I love the art and the colors add an extra layer of crispness, but the story’s conceit–guys working against the clock to get Bullseye to tell them a life-saving fact–is undercut by all the pointless flashbacks, and all the flashbacks are undercut by all the time spent on the story’s conceit. Did Bullseye really think he was in love with Elektra? Was he just blowing smoke up the feds’ butts? Or is the writer blowing smoke up ours? Just a big lovely-looking waste of time. AWFUL.
DOC FRANKENSTEIN #1: Great looking book and a clever conceit (connecting the common points between the origins of the Frankenstein Monster and Doc Savage–not to mention Jesus–is pretty savvy) but the book confirmed what Matrix:Re and Matrix:Re-Re taught us: The Wachowski Brothers need a good editor to make them hone their ideas, or things feel draggy and bloated. But that doesn’t mean you should pass this up. Quite the contrary; this was still lovely apeshit stuff. GOOD.
GOTHAM CENTRAL #26: I think part of the reason writers stick to cliched work–apart from the ease with which you can crank it out–is that once you start trying to create something a little more true to life, the stuff that’s still cliched sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb. I mean, there’s a perfectly fine start here with well-defined characters having a meal then catching a case, but the rest of the story spins around the idea that Josie talks to her parent’s graves for three pages, Catwoman overhears and uses what’s she’s heard to blackmail Josie into helping her. Maybe in a regular comic I could buy that, but after all the very realistic and believable set-up, that old “character talks out loud to the grave of a loved one” trick stinks like the dead fish that it is. (Has anyone in real life ever done this?) Having Catwoman then use that info just compounds the problem, I think, and left me pretty disapointed. EH.
INTIMATES #2: I didn’t finish reading this at the shop because business picked up, but I kinda liked that “hyper-compressed” storytelling with the constant commentary bands at the bottom, the quick cut-aways to character’s interior fantasies, etc.–it reminded me of what Alan Moore was doing with the TEXTure panels in Promethea, but I think it has a chance of actually working better here; I felt like there was a full universe here that I was being dropped in the middle of. I can’t say if there’s any there there, but I think as a way to immerse the reader it’s got a lot of potential, and I’m curious to pick the book up to see if it ends up being developed or what.
JLA #109: Bri says he wants a little more plot, and I utterly disagree. The problem is there’s too much plot–I want somebody to sock something. You bring back the Crime Syndicate and then spend four issues showing their subtle machinations, contrasted with the political turmoil of Qward? No. Get with the socking, please. Thank you. EH.
JSA #68: Suffers from Identity Crisis syndrome, in that Johns does such a good job making you feel for the family that when they get so brutally slaughtered, you just feel turned off. Having children shotgunned (just barely off-panel) is the sort of thing exploitation filmmakers and writers do when they don’t have the time or the talent to make you care about the characters. That said, I liked the rest of it even though time travel stuff almost always makes my tiny brain hurt. OK.
MARVEL KNIGHTS SPIDER-MAN #9: I was really glad the villain didn’t turn out to be Uncle Ben’s diseased zombie corpse, but that’s about all I liked about this issue. Weirdly, Millar’s “people-behind-the-people” conspiracy for supervillains seems both dated and somehow wrong for the Marvel Universe in a way I’m finding difficult to put my finger on. I think the Marvel Universe as conceived of and developed by Stan and Jack (and Steve, and Roy, and etc.,) is an insanely chaotic place which is the source of its power, delight and terror: Atom bombs dropping all over the place; people getting irradiated; Venusians dropping from the skies and keys to Asgardian kingdoms lying around in caves. In that universe, a guy somehow wiring enough crap together to turn himself into the Leap-Frog makes more sense than the idea that Galactus got ten grand in unmarked bills to show up in New York and make a pest of himself. I’m usually a fan of cynicism where the government’s concerned, but it just doesn’t seem like the right fit here. The rest of it being generally terrible doesn’t help much, either. AWFUL.
NIGHTCRAWLER #3: Again, gorgeous art but a bafflingly bad story. Do I care whether the kid is another demon or not? Is the kid anything but an emotional cipher (although thanks to Robertson, an expressively drawn cipher)? Between that and the usual problems where a magical system is in place but it’s only explained as it goes along, this is a pretty slack read. EH.
NIGHTWING #100: Hibbs thought the ending of this was plot-hammered, I actually thought it was the opposite. It read like Grayson was shooting for an ending in which Dick ends up serving time (which would make for a pretty cool arc or two) but looked at her set-up with his ex-partner and went, “Nope, that’s not gonna work.” A shame, because that seems to have a lot more potential than the “Oh no! There’s a streaker in the Bat-Cave!” ending. (Although what a great Infantino-era cover that would make). EH.
Hmm. That may be enough to chew on for a little bit. Unless some repressed traumatic memory regarding She-Hulk or The Punisher comes back to me (and sadly, despite nice art and Furioso2012’s comments about issue #1, Wild Girl isn’t coming together like I’d hoped it would) the ball is back in Hibbs’ court.