Posted by: Brian Hibbs on August 1, 2008
Been just crazy swamped lately — between trying to keep WATCHMEN in stock (no, seriously, we’re selling a month’s worth each-and-every day, so that’s just nuts; then there was the comedy of errors as Diamond messed up a couple of orders in a row…), and getting rid of all of the Didn’t-turn stuff from the store (first we’ve got to locate and pull it, then remove it from inventory, then removing the minimum points, so they won’t reorder again, then getting them stickered and prepped for the big invite-only customer loyalty sale we’ve decided to do — all in all a ton of frickin’ work); plus I’m rearranging things throughout the store as I’ve got a little free space to play with having, y’know, removed 1400 GNs from the racks…
I know you don’t care all that much when you just want reviews, but that’s what’s been going on. So today, my choice is between getting at the week or so backload of email messages that weren’t Urgency Priority #1, or reviewing a little, and I chose YOU, pikachu!
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA ANNUAL #1: Huh. This may be a good example of Nostalgia being a armed bear trap — it was kind of nice to see Earth 2 again, especially presented as though pre-Crisis INFINITY INC had just continued being published into the 21st century, and especially draw by Jerry Ordway, but for $3.99 (and feel free to call me crazy!), it mighta been nice to have had one of those, whaddyacallem?, stories, too.
For me, in a serial, annuals should be a CULMINATION of the story — I’m especially thinking of that period of late 80s DC annuals that would have been roughly contemporaneous with INFINITY INC: build build build, then boom, the payoff in the annual; but this was nearly exactly the opposite, instead it is kicking off a story that is apparently going to pay off slowly (?) in the main parent book. It’s a really really frustrating choice, made even worse by what appears to be a Deus Ex Machina appearance of the “real” Power Girl in a way that isn’t explained or alluded to at all.
What’s worse is otherwise I really enjoyed this issue tremendously. I like these characters, I miss them a little (in, y’know, a manly way), and I thought Johns did a good job capturing the elusive “feel” of it all (there’s this one line about something like “Justice Society of Infinity, or whatever crazy thing Sylvester is calling it this week” that felt just precisely perfect to me), but, owies, it is $4, and I expect something more. AWFUL.
NEWUNIVERSAL: 1959: a prequel (and probable schedule padder) to the Ellis newuniversal comic, and Kieron Gillen does a pretty good job, except for the somewhat inexplicable decision to have Tony Stark and Iron Man appear in the comic, and in such a weird way too, effectively making it “the ‘New Universe’ is the Marvel Universe gone sideways”, which sort of kind of misses the point of the original, doesn’t it? And all while I’m reading the story, I’m thinking about THAT, rather than about the story itself, which really goes against the point of a story too. The art is relentlessly pedestrian, which hurts — I’m not 100% sure what the conclusion with the baby was meant to be. Odds are, he shot it, and those lines are supposed to be blood, but there are somewhat similar lines in the before shot, too… A noble try at franchise building, but I’m fairly uncertain that anyone is interested in the franchise OUTSIDE of Warren’s involvement. I sorta want to go with a low OK, but the art is so workmanlike that I think I’m going to say EH.
SUPERMAN / BATMAN #50: DICKBAT! Man, I can NOT believe that an editor let that cover go past, at least with those colors in that place. *shakes head sadly* the insides were fine, if you really WANT “Thomas Wayne knows Jor El” as an in-continuity concept. But, hell, Jack Knight did, so what not? OK
WILDCATS #1: What is this? Try #5, I think?
On the one hand, you’ve got to give them credit — they’ve *actually* “destroyed the world”, and are trying a post-apocalypse survival-type set up as a basis for an entire LINE of titles. That’s a “Hail Mary” pass of the highest order, and it actually takes some serious stones to even try. It also does what people have generally asked for from their superhero comics: “let’s see some consequences”. So good job in trying.
I don’t think it is going to work for a few reasons, however:
1) the event the consequences CAME from (“Number of the Beast”) was poorly read, and not on anyone’s radar whatsoever, especially as it is running during ANOTHER poorly read event (The DC/Wildstorm crossover), to make it seem like some portion of one of the two was rushed out. Maybe to get out ahead of Ultimatum in the Ultimate Universe?
2) There’s not a sympathetic character here among the protagonists; and they’re hard to distinguish between them and the antagonists presented, except in the cartoony-ness of the baddies wanting to “eat people” for no reason other than they can.
3) There’s no real sense of threat. It is “the end of the world”, “Devastated wasteland”, etc., but none of it feels real at all — the Wildcat’s have an easily defensible position with power and supplies and whatever, working medical bays and so forth. And LA looks mostly the same, but with some broken windows.
4) That was a pretty non-cliffhanger cliffhanger — there’s nothing to drag me back for the next issue, or even the other three series, actually.
5) It is try #5 on these characters — the audience really and truly do not seem to be interested in them unless you’ve got a big name doing it. And even them, its an uphill battle.
It’s a good try and something that people have seemingly been asking for, and like I say, they deserve props for trying, but you have to grade on the final product, and I’m going to have to go with an AWFUL.
Huh, that’s a bunch of bad reviews, isn’t it? For something good, I’m really really happy with the (FINALLY!) TP of GRENDEL: GOD & THE DEVIL. It’s not Matt’s most subtle of work, but there’s a heft to it, and a reality to the world building that helps sell it really well. Plus I love Snyder’s art, and it’s nice to finally (FINALLY!!) have this collected, with a terrific recoloring. VERY GOOD work, and it should be in your library, and is also my PICK OF THE WEEK!
What did YOU think?
PS: Because someone mentioned it to me yesterday, and I did not know this, you can find Joss Whedon’s DR HORRIBLE’S SING ALONG BLOG for free online at hulu.com. I had missed chapter 3 because of the limited time on it’s original site, so this pleased me to be able to see it still on line, in a way that, presumably, is making Joss and co some money…