Posted by: Graeme McMillan on July 24, 2007
Two random thoughts (and one of them concerns Harry Potter, so look away, Charlie): Firstly, that epilogue in Harry Potter – what? I mean, seriously, am I the only one who thought that it was kind of a crappy ending to the whole thing? (I know that Kate didn’t; she loved it to pieces.) And secondly, after listening to Danger Doom on the way to work this morning, I realized: Stephen Colbert is Space Ghost, and The Colbert Report is Coast To Coast. Now it all makes sense.
Okay, with both of those out of my system, shall we look at some comics?
ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST: QUASAR #1: As much as I didn’t care for this Okay issue – a lot of my dislike is down to Mike Lilly’s art, which is overly rendered and feels weirdly gratuitous in terms of its core couple at times – it’s still an interesting set-up for the series, and ties in nicely with the overall event. Maybe I’m just a sucker for stories where the heroes are fighting against a ticking clock, but I like the concept that Quasar only has limited (and getting smaller all the time) amounts of power to use unless she can save the day… Christos Gage’s script feels very Claremontian at times, but I’m much more forgiving of that in Marvel superhero books these days… Blame it on my recent Essentials diving.
BIRDS OF PREY #108: So, I was reading Douglas’s “Reading Comics” book this morning, and he mentions Birds of Prey as a pleasurable experience if not necessarily a long-lasting one due to its multiple-creator and cross-book-continuity elements… and with this issue – Gail Simone’s last, I believe – I can kind of see his point on the latter part of that, at least; the thing that sticks out most from this rush-ending (which is nonetheless full of nice moments once Spy Smasher has left the book; she was an interesting idea for a character, but never seemed to quite work) was that the heart of the book really belongs not to Oracle but to Black Canary, who was pulled out of it to go star in Justice League and marry Green Arrow. Once she was gone, the series lost its focus and identity, and didn’t really find it again throughout the remainder of Gail’s run. The second half of this issue is as good as the book’s been for a long time, and that’s partially because Gail gets to write all of the main characters – including Canary – in a scene together again, bringing the friendship and familiarity that made the majority of her run so good. Very Good despite the obvious attempts to tie-up loose ends before leaving the room.
BLACK CANARY #2: And this was one of the reasons Dinah was taken out of BOP – Her own mini-series by name, although (excluding flashbacks) she only actually appears in eleven panels of the entire issue (Supporting cast member Green Arrow, by comparison, gets fifteen panels. Oh, and the bad guy is actually out to get him, not Canary). I shouldn’t be that harsh, I guess; Tony Bedard’s script is tight enough, and Paolo Siquiera’s art is really rather nice, but this really isn’t a book that stars Black Canary at all. Okay.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #5: As much as I really love the Legion, and especially Mark Waid’s version of the team, and as much as I loved this issue, this is still just an Okay issue because there’s just too much going on in it without any of it really mattering – For people who’ve never read the Legion before, there are too many characters appearing here without any real introduction or even personality, so they just become generic stand-ins to react to how cool Batman is. I mean, sure I love that Invisible Kid is a massive fanboy, but if you didn’t know who Invisible Kid is, there’s nothing here to make you love him, I don’t think, and that’s a disappointment from a series (and a writer) who’s managed to distill all the other characters down to their essences so far. That said, bad guys called Luck Lords is somehow an awesome idea.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #11: You know, this is a nice enough one-off issue – and Gene Ha’s artwork is probably what elevates it to that level, to be honest. There’s something about the texture on that double-page spread opening the book that I adore, but I couldn’t tell you why – but it feels weightless and unnecessary, filler while Brad Meltzer plays for time and waits for his run to finish next issue. What’s become obvious about Meltzer’s JLA run is that, while he’s a massive JLA fan, he’s a really bad JLA writer – his thirteen issues amounting to a confused eight-part (I’m counting the #0 issue) opener that substituted misdirections and fanboy nostalgia for plot, a JSA crossover that aspired to – and failed to meet – the level of something that Len Wein would hack out to meet a deadline so that Dick Dillin had something to draw, and a couple of fill-in issues. Yes, he’s somehow a big name issue and a fan-favorite, but he didn’t actually manage to do anything with the team, or even show why his particular version belonged together. He also managed to set plots in motion that he’s unlikely to be able to wrap up next issue: What’s going on with Geo-Force’s powers going weird? What was happening with the three villains in the future seen during the JSA crossover? Red Tornado’s traumatized and unstable now that he’s a robot again – where is that going? Will Vixen be able to get her powers under control? and so on and so on. This issue: Eh from a pretty Awful run to date.
THE LONE RANGER #7: Okay, I admit it. Somehow this week, between announcements of Matt Wagner writing their Zorro revamp, this issue and PAINKILLER JANE #2, I’ve somehow come around to the idea of Dynamite as a pretty good publisher. I mean, yeah, they do Xena (which is potentially good, but I never saw the TV show nor the appeal, really) and Red Sonja and all, but they also do things like this and The Boys, and even that new Alex Ross book they’re talking about. There’s no way of getting around it – The Lone Ranger is just a Very Good series, and this issue keeps that up, building more onto the framework from the first storyline in terms of plot and character while Sergio Cariello continues to provide high quality Joe Kubert-esque artwork. It’s the best TV show they never made, in a lot of ways, and I mean that as a complement. Meanwhile, Painkiller Jane continues to sneak up on me and become my new guilty pleasure – It’s borderline exploitative and gratuitous, but there’s something enjoyably offkilter and unexpected about where the story’s going, and Lee Moder’s art is smart and cartoony in all the right ways. Weirdly Good, if that makes sense.
SHAZAM: THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL #4: A big finish that actually feels like a big finish, this hit all the notes that you wanted it to and, perhaps more importantly, did so in a way that felt right. Thankfully pulling back from the “Dr. Sivana is Dick Cheney!”-isms of the previous issue to concentrate more on the rockin’-em and sockin’-em moments, Jeff Smith manages to close out his series in a way that leaves you wanting more but happy with what you’ve got, just in case. Very Good.
THE SPIRIT #8: Darwyn, you had me at the first use of “Mr. Sexypants.” Very Good and then some, this is one of the best books around these days; never mind Cooke’s amazing art, his writing (balancing enough plot and closure to make each issue complete in and of itself, but consistently moving larger plots forward) may be the unsung star of this book.
SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP: MODOK’S 11 #1: Can we now call time on MODOK as co-opted ironic cool icon? This issue is Okay enough, but I’m not sure the world ever really needed to see that MODOK was once a lovesick nerd before he got turned into a giant floating head, nor do I particularly want to see him in a heist movie with other forgotten villains. I mean, yeah, it’s funny in a hipster way, but… Meh. I don’t know. It feels like it’s laughing at the source material and people who find it cool, rather than enjoying the dumb fun because it’s dumb fun, you know?
THUNDERBOLTS: DESPERATE MEASURES #1: Because, for today’s Marvel, you don’t get fill-in issues, you get special one-shots that just take the place of the regular book on the schedule for a month. Aside from Steve Lieber’s artwork (which is rather good, really, and definitely better than the story deserves), there’s nothing to recommend this (Well, okay, there’s the Herbie reference), unless you particularly want to read Paul Jenkins do a weak impression of Warren Ellis. Awful.
This week: More comics! And San Diego, so I take a couple of days off! Great!