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All this and Earth, too? Hibbs starts on 5/2

Brian Hibbs

Everybody loves comics!

ACTION COMICS #9: This is a lot more like what I was hoping for from Grant Morrison on a regular ongoing Superman comic — focusing on President Superman from Earth-23. last seen in FINAL CRISIS — but I was a bit surprised to not find the “real” Superman anywhere in the story. Still, Silver Age-y without feeling dated, and lots of fun things happen. Gene Ha’s art was as awesome as always. I thought this was VERY GOOD.
AVENGERS VS X-MEN #3 (OF 12) AVX: Brubaker’s got the writing spot this week, so maybe that’s why I felt this issue had a bunch more plot? I can’t even imagine how this is going to read in trade, with it’s crazy tonal shifts every issue? I thought this one was strongly OK.


DIAL H #1: China Mieville’s comic debut, and it’s pretty decent. There are a few mechanical problems with the set up (most namely: how do you dial four digits 0n a *rotary dial* phone by accident when trying to call for help in the middle of witnessing a horrible beating?), and I have to admit that I’m not sure that I at all like the notion that the H-dial is in a static location, but putting that aside, I very much liked this issue. (On the other hand, I always liked the Robbie Reed version as well) (Sockamagee!)

I liked the schlubbiness of the protagonist, I very much liked the dialed up heroes (Captain Lachrymose needs an ongoing series, stat!), and I just liked the general weird vibe on display here — this comic could be perfectly at home at pre-Vertigo Vertigo, and whatcha know, it’s Karen Berger editing her first superhero comic in 20-something years.

The art by Mateus Santolouco sort of veers back and forth between some Ted McKeever-looking wonderfulness to “Ugh, you need more fundamentals”, but it certainly works with the book just fine. Overall: VERY GOOD


EARTH 2 #1: Having read this, I really really can’t even begin to understand all of the faffing about in the pre-print interviews of “well, we really can’t describe this to you”, because, unless there’s a dramatic change from what’s on display in this first issue (which would then, arguably be a not-so-good FIRST issue), this seems easy to shorthand: it’s the formation of a NEW e2-based Justice Society (though maybe they’ll never be called that, who knows), where the set-up is in contemporary times, rather than ww2.

I’m a pretty big (“real”) JSA fan, and I didn’t really like any of the new costumes we’ve seen so far, so I was suspicious of this at first, but yeah, I very much liked the setup and world building, and slow roll-out of characters.

James Robinson’s script was solid — I felt a real emotional tingle in that scene between Bruce & Helena — and Nicola Scott’s art is as strong as always. I don’t know if I will like the new JSA, really (there’s really only 7-8 pages of those characters, the rest of the oversized space is dedicated to setting up the world), but as a “Yes, I would like to see more, please” first issue, I thought this was VERY GOOD.


EPIC KILL #1:  If you want to see teenage hotties do acrobatics like River Tam in Firefly, with lots of slaughter, then this is surely the comic for you. Largely reading like a pitch for a movie, it at least has fairly pretty art by Raffaele Ienco that kind of reminds me of John Ridgeway, I think — detailed, but with straight lines not noodly curvy ones, yet just ever so slightly stiff because of that. Anyway, since the base idea feels so “Seen that a dozen times”, the joy of this kind of work is all in the *execution* of the idea, and there’s just enough “hey, cool” scenes to have me say that this is GOOD.



GI COMBAT #1: Half the book is about soldiers fighting dinosaurs, so there’s that, and as a plus the art is by Ariel Olivetti, and it really fits here; the other half is yet another new take on “Unknown Soldier”, who is getting close to becoming DC’s equivalent in the if-we-keep-relaunching-him-someone-will-like-it-eventually-right? sweepstakes to Moon Knight. I think they need to try again, as I was really entirely uninterested in this version, sorry. I think this may be a concept that just can’t work in the 21st century, maybe because of the “unknown” part, and that doesn’t work in our database-driven world (esp with regards to soldiers, I’d have to say). Anyway, like the first half, disliked the second, which means I can’t say better then EH.


MIND THE GAP #1 :Another book that reads a little more like a pitch then a comic, but I thought this pitch was fairly terrific. The set-up is for a whodunnit kind of mystery, with the victim’s spirit interacting on the, dunno, astral plane, maybe is what to call it, with what looks like a little touch of Deadman-meets-Quantum Leap, maybe?  Jim McCann’s script is very strong, and the characters vivid, while the art by Rodin Esquejo and Sonia Oback is realistic, without being creepy and off-putting, like some in that style become. As a bonus, this first issue is oversized @ 48 pages, and just a mere $2.99, making it a helluva deal. No doubt this was a VERY GOOD comic!


STAR TREK ONGOING #8: Given that the premise of the first six issues of this series was adapting/converting classic Trek episodes with the movie characters, you might have missed that they followed that with a two-parter (starting in issue #7), that followed up on the film, with the Romulans and the last drop of “Red Matter” — I know I sure did until I grabbed this issue to read, and went, “Wait… that’s not TOS!” (from the “next issue” pic, it looks like they’re going back to that and “The Return of the Archons”). I don’t know that I exactly care about the tattooed Romulan faction, or Red Matter, but it was nice to see something wholly new set in this universe (and, in theory, “official”). I thought it was highly OK, and if you miss the TOS characters, recast or not, this was a fun little follow-up.


SUPREME #64: Wow. this should be taught as a masterclass in how to utter destroy a previous set-up in 22 pages, and replace it with the exact opposite. I really loved the clever way that Moore set up his “all versions are true” love letter to Superman, and it’s own set up gave all of the ability to complete rewrite the rules as new creators came onboard, but instead Erik Larsen rips it all to shreds and chucks it out the window for the ugliest possible of all iterations of Supreme. That takes mad skills, yo. The craziest part to me is actually the letter’s page to the issue (which I suspect won’t be in a digital version, sorry) where Larsen defends his actions by comparing this to following Todd on Spider-Man, or whoever followed Miller & Mazuchelli after “Born Again” in Daredevil. the difference, of course, being that there’s a 15-or-so year gap here between issues, and while the argument is at least understandable when related to regular ongoing production of corporately owned icons (the trains, in fact, have to keep running), it’s utterly bizarre in this case, especially after they went out of their way to try and show “respect” to Alan Moore by illustrating his final “lost” script.

Obviously, the difference between, say, WATCHMEN and this situation is that the creator of the property is the owner and can do whatever they want on work-for-hire material, but there’s a dissonance here that my brain is ringing from.

Erik is a talented creator, and this work has a lot of energy, but I really liked the Moore version of Supreme (and pretty much hated the grim’n’gritty take that preceded it), so I thought this comic was pretty AWFUL


WORLDS FINEST #1: I have to say that if I were DC marketing, I wouldn’t have scheduled the two Earth-2 related comics in the same week, but I just sell the things, what do I know? But, I also have to say that I really really liked this one, as well. Paul Levitz turns in the first script in months that I genuinely liked from start to finish, and the twin artist (George Perez in the modern sequences, Kevin Maguire on the flashbacks) really worked much better than I thought it would. Yeah, I really thought this was strong, VERY GOOD stuff.

The one problem? That logo. Jesus, that’s a horrible horrible disaster — it looks cluttered and terrible using the “across the room” test (if you can’t pick a logo/design element/whatever from across the room, it fails), and it’s not at all clear what the name of the comic IS, with “Huntress” being over “World’s Finest”. Yow.


X-O MANOWAR (ONGOING) #1: If you read the original in the 90s, you’ve pretty much read this first issue, as it really alters very little of the original setup, just with a little more depth, maybe. It reads well, it’s pretty enough, but I didn’t feel like “OMG! I need to read the next one right now!” Maybe I’ll check back in a few issues to see if they’re doing new stories and not just retelling things I already know. Or, maybe I won’t. OK.


Right, that’s me — what did YOU think?



16 Responses to “ All this and Earth, too? Hibbs starts on 5/2 ”

  1. This week’s Action really did feel like the first true *Grant Morrison* issue. Obviously the previous issues had traces but the pacing and art really felt off. #9 seemed to be laying some groundwork for where the series will be going, so hopefully it takes off from here. I wish we could keep Gene Ha full time.

    I didn’t think Robinson had a good handle on Wonder Woman and Superman in Earth 2, but that doesn’t look like it will matter. If the series holds to the feeling of the second half of the issue it should be pretty good.

  2. The start of AvX #3 just reminds readers, perhaps, that writing the Phoenix Force as physical flame really doesn’t make any sense. Plus, if the force could burn Wolverine’s skin off, why couldn’t/wouldn’t it incinerate him?

    There might be more plot, but it’s on the level of scientists trying to figure out how to deal with giant, marauding ants: “Freeze ’em! Insects can’t handle cold!”

    Writing Wolverine as favoring the nasty solution–kill Hope so the Phoenix Force can’t bond to her–while also trying to suggest that his solution is the correct one reinforces stereotypes and points out that, compared to normal stories, the Avengers don’t have enough solid information to strategize coherently. Why would the Phoenix Force have to bond to Hope? Only because the storyline relies on that assumption.

    Retconning Iron Fist’s chi into the Phoenix Force smacks of desperation–writers doing whatever they can to create tie-ins.


  3. AVENGERS ACADEMY #29 wasn’t reviewed here, but– How could anyone who’d taken elementary school classes think that Sebastian Shaw could increase his store of kinetic energy by hitting himself with a book repeatedly? What did Gage think Shaw was using to move the book?



  4. The thing with SUPREME is, I completely get why Erik Larsen doesn’t want to do an Alan Moore pastiche. That wouldn’t work. What I don’t understand is why he decided to try and segue from a long-abandoned storyline into a completely different version of the property. Sure, it preserves continuity, but why bother?

  5. Didn’t Eric Stephenson have an edvertorial in the last SUPREME basically claiming that this was Moore’s plan all along? The finale-that-wasn’t was set up to give the next writer a chance to clean house? (And do we know if that’s the case? It was a huge cliffhanger to go out on.)

    It’s a pity that Larsen wrecks a setup that allows for the easy rebooting of new versions of SUPREME, which is what Moore did at the start of his run… Hell, I can almost see that as the premise for an anthology-ish run where different creative teams rotate through the Supremacy and do their own reboot/version of the character in “the Superman story DC would never publish.” (With Liefeld, it was ultraviolent sociopathic Superman; with Moore, it was an attempt to rehabilitate the Silver Age elements that ’90s DC had thrown out with the bathwater. Think where Brandon Graham, or Hickman, or Paul Pope, or David Hine & Shaky Kane, or Tom Scioli, or Roger Langridge could run with that challenge.) But of any & all possibilities… I just wish it was just about anybody but Larsen picking up the baton.

  6. I like Larsen, but I feel that this tone shift is, let’s be polite and say “misjudged.”

  7. I’d give X-O Manowar a higher rating. I’ve NEVER read the original. I’ve barely even heard of it – its coming from a time when I’d dropped getting floppies.

    As a totally fresh reader, I thought it was a great first issue, better than any DC Nu52 issue I read. Great art, great writing (both dialog (moving where needed and witty where needed without becoming too jokey or snide) and plot (good pacing)), and enough meat to feel like a solid piece of entertainment on its own (even though it hasn’t ‘really started’ yet since the hero hasn’t become The Hero by the end).

    Plus, I like this sort of sci-fi stuff AND I’m starting to realize that maybe I’m just not interested in the zillionth iteration of established characters, even when they’re done really well. (I’m looking at you, Daredevil. Sorry. It’s not you, it’s me.)

  8. “If you read the original in the 90s, you’ve pretty much read this first issue, as it really alters very little of the original setup, just with a little more depth, maybe.”

    I think you’re confusing “depth” with “takes longer to tell the same story”. I liked the new X-O but I busted out my trade of the original and, damn, we’ll be lucky if the next issue gets as far into things as the original did by page 6.

    And what qualifies as “depth”? A Visigoth from 160 hundred years ago who thinks and reacts like a more primitive man or one that could pass for somebody from a Renaissance Fair today?


  9. Someone, somewhere on the Internet needs to do a JSA R.I.P. piece.
    Maybe folks are still under the impression that this New 52 thing will all be a dream or parallel universe in a year or two, but think about it…
    For the first time in, what, 70 years, the brass at DC have decided it really is time to retire the WWII JSA and eliminate all links to that era. This isn’t just a “let’s put the characters aside or kill them off or something.” It’s, “Let’s completely reboot these characters in the modern age.”
    Just food for thought. Seems like a big deal to me.
    Although I love the old JSA and think the WWII link makes them kinda special, I’m actually kind of interested in seeing what Robinson does. It is true that this is really what DC did in the Silver Age – polish up the JSA. But then we got Barry Allen and Hal Jordan and Katar Hol and Ray Palmer. Here we’re getting the actual JSA, just in the 21st Century. And frankly I do have a lot of faith Robinson will pull this off. He’s had a shaky track record in recent years, but this is the guy who basically brought the JSA back into the limelight in the late 1990s. So it’s nice to have him on the book. Now if he’ll only stay on for a long run, instead of leaving after six issues as he did when the title relaunched in 1999.

    As for GI Combat, I give DC credit for variety. It really is so nice to have war books and a western back on the stands. But I kinda agree that – and this really deserves a far more in depth analysis than I’ll give it here – the day for war books is over. There’s just a magic about DC’s WWII books like Sgt. Rock and Haunted Tank and Unknown Soldier and War That Time Forgot that can’t be replicated in the here and now. Maybe we’re all just so damn cynical or tired of combat in this Post 9/11 World. Maybe I just have a hard time reading a war book that doesn’t have illustrations by Kubert and Heath. But I give them all the credit in the world for trying.

  10. Mike: I couldn’t believe that either. I don’t think there will be a better example this year of the choking increativity of that bullshit “writing for the trade” philosophy than X-O Manowar Vol.3 #1. Thanks, Fat Stalin. For NOTHING.

  11. My Manager, Matt, said of X-O MANOWAR: “I can’t believe they didn’t get him int he armor in the first issue”, and, yeah.


  12. I’m going to back Chris Brown on this one. I enjoyed issue 1 of X-O in part BECAUSE he didn’t get the armor. Plus, Cary Nord definitely does up some good barbarian.

    As a fresh reader I kind of wanted to see this guy doing his thing acting brash and stupid – coming to the realization that his sword and strong arm just aren’t enough. That’s a big character moment.

    We see him being resourceful. We see him ebb and flow between small victories and defeats he needs to overcome. We got the second thread of the abductions by the aliens (I don’t know if that was in the original as well) so it’s not as though they didn’t advance the story.

    It sounds to me like everyone else just wanted to see him jump in the armor and blow the shit out of everything.

    Not to sound dismissive but “Wow, great story.”

    So look, I respect the veteran reader here and the thought that maybe they’re slow rolling the property is a real possibility. However, when does the trope insult of “writing for the trade” get confused with “writing for a new reader?”

    As a new reader I’m on board for issue 2.

  13. There is not only one way to write for new readers.

  14. Point taken, Smitty, but I still think all that could have been accomplished without Aric still being in the cell by the end of issue #1.

    But it was sold out at at least one store in my area, so I’m in the minority.

  15. @J_Smitty: Thanks. It looks like, on this board at least, you and I are the only ones who didn’t have any preconceptions of what was ‘supposed’ to happen, so we were able to be perfectly happy with what DID happen in X-O. I thought issue 1 was fun, I don’t really give a crap he didn’t get in the armor, and I enjoyed it just fine for the reasons you’ve laid out so well.

  16. I actually hated this issue of Action Comics. This is the Morrison writing I absolutely loathe. It’s most likely my last issue of this book until Morrison leaves.

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