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(Almost) All DC, All The Time: Graeme On Some 5/18 Books

Graeme McMillan

Wow, Jeff’s really laid down the gauntlet with a second week of capsule reviews. Let’s see what I can come up with, even with the short amount of time I have…

BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM #1: I talked about this some over at Techland last week, but I admit to liking this far more than I’d expected to. It’s not that I didn’t have any faith in Scott Snyder – I’m a fan of both his Detective and American Vampire runs – but there was just something kind of… unnecessary about the whole idea of this series from the start, as if it was being rushed out for some reason (A co-writer? Why couldn’t it just be a Detective arc? etc.). But I ended up thinking it was somewhere in the region of a low Good or high Okay, nonetheless, in large part due to my being entirely sucked in by the mystery at the heart of the story… Trevor McCarthy’s weird, animation-cell-esque art helped, in a strange way, as well; I’m not sure if I like how the book looks, but it’s definitely got its own look, and not trying to copy the many other Bat-books out there, and that’s got to count for something, right…?

BOOSTER GOLD #44: I’ve been on a Booster bent lately, picking up the trades to Dan Jurgens’ run on the new title from the library and finding them to be… workmanlike, but nothing inspiring. Unsurprisingly, then, this issue is exactly like that, and feels like nothing as much as “An Idiot’s Guide To Flashpoint.” Wonder what the hell is going on in #1, and didn’t quite understand the exposition there? Here’s a simpler version of the same thing, with functional but generic art to make it go down easier. The attempt to raise the stakes for a series that deals in alternate timelines (The Flashpoint world is, according to Skeets, somehow the “only” timeline) doesn’t really make any sense, but… Well, that’s not entirely unsurprising. How else are we supposed to know that Flashpoint will change everything forever no really honestly we’re not joking this time? Eh, but I can’t help but feel as if it’s weirdly necessary for some reason.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #57: Talking of books I’ve recently read from the library, I picked up Cry For Justice as well, and… I’ll leave that for the next Wait, What Jeff and I record. But it has to be said, James Robinson’s JLA feels a million miles away from that series and, ridiculously cliffhanger aside, this issue continued what’s quietly turned into one of my favorite runs on the series. I couldn’t really tell you why, beyond saying that there’s something weirdly nostalgic and comfortable about the mix of ambition, rushed character dynamics and familiar faces that Robinson’s turned this book into; it feels like an updated version of Gerry Conway’s 1970s/1980s run on the book in ways that I can’t quite explain or even understand. It also feels, for the first time in a long time, like a book that’s aggressively part of the DCU in a way that doesn’t feel shoehorned in or inorganic, even with the weird continuity issues with other books (This storyline apparently happens midway through the last Justice Society story? You’d think the JSA might’ve noticed the moon being split in two, but apparently not. Also, what happened to the Spectre’s beard? Or is he not Crispus Allen anymore, and I missed that?). It’s one of those comics that you end up loving, but can’t really work out why. In case you’ve never had any of those comics for yourself, let’s just call this a potentially-biased Very Good and move on quickly.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #158: I’m pretty sure that anyone who ever wants to know how to provide readers of a long-running series a wonderful jumping-off point will, in years to come, just look at these last issues of Brian Michael Bendis’ run and find everything laid out for them. Never mind the entirely forced, entirely meaningless “crossover” with Mark Millar’s Ultimates – in part because Bendis clearly didn’t put any effort into it – what’s wrong with “The Death of Spider-Man” is that it all feels heartless and written on auto-pilot, with characters reduced to machines acting out the too-obvious plot, and all of the sense of fun or family that this series has excelled in completely drained. That Mark Bagley has returned to replace the more stylish, more modern, more appropriate David LaFuente and Sara Pichelli speaks to the lack of soul here. It’s Crap stuff, and so bad it kills whatever curiosity I may have had for the upcoming relaunch.

But, as the Hibbs has been known to say, what do you think?

5 Responses to “ (Almost) All DC, All The Time: Graeme On Some 5/18 Books ”

  1. People kept reading the Ultimate books after Ultimatum?

  2. So should I expect weekly reviews from you and Mr. Lester? One could get used to that.

    Does this now mean we’re up to Ultimate Ultimate books? Or did I miss an iteration and they’re now Ultimate Ultimate Ultimate?

  3. Teaming up a giant orange gorilla and a half naked blue guy is kind of fun? :)

  4. Nice!

    I’ve found the Robinson JLA to hit in all those workmanlike ways that Booster doesn’t for me.

    There’s a little more of the new school character development. A little more of the Robinson wordplay that, even in his lesser work, makes characters distinct and gives me the feeling that the wheels are turning even when not being featured. His pieces are in motion throughout whereas Jurgens always felt a little light there. In a nuts and bolts way Booster is built as a traditional 90’s comic book and reminds me of Frenz’ Eric Masterson Thor era. I’m cool with it but not on fire for it.

    On the subject of Cry for Justice it goes likes this:

    That art was crap. Some things are a bad fit for certain types of comics. It’s occasionally pretty but just not suited. Robinson had always worked best with artists willing to play with panels and the moments between. Seeing stagnant painted work goes nowhere for me and really seems a bad casting choice. The fact it was nominated for an Eisner is even more appalling.

    Robinson was, at least in my estimation, rusty as hell. He was coming back after almost 10 years out of the business and grasping at how to define this wild group of characters in an ill suited revenge themed plot. What type of sense did it make to DC to go through all the hoops of bringing back Silver Age innocence / chivalry just to drag it through the mud?

    Toss that in with the oft rumored and alluded to editorial interference and you’ve got one hell of a stew.

  5. Although I do not purchase any of these books I did enjoy your reviews of them. Yes, I did. Thank you.

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