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Here comes Crankypants!: Hibbs’ 5/23

Brian Hibbs

Here I am, here I am!

(Yeah, I skipped a week, sorry)


AQUAMAN #9: Here we are at issue number NINE of this comic, and I’ve realized that I still really don’t know who Aquaman is, or what motivates him (other than “being pissed off”, I guess, generically?). I mean, I like the character just fine, but there’s not any “there” there, is there? Pretty much just a collection of cool powers and a costume. And this “Aquaman’s other team” storyline is just as bad at this, introducing several new characters, again, who don’t seem to have clear personalities or motivations. And yet, and yet…. and yet, I kinda still like it, because Ivan Reis is a very good artist, and Johns knows how to write compelling action and dialogue, but it still feel like less than the sum of its parts to me.

I didn’t like the cliffhanger either. Besides the tarnishment it implies, I’m kinda getting sick of John’s Daddy Issues as being the only kind of motivation that anyone ever has.

I enjoyed this more than the rating as I was reading it, but here two days later I can’t say this is anything other than OK.


BATMAN INCORPORATED #1: I liked the issue just fine as chapter #81 (or something like that? He’s coming close on 100 Batman comics, isn’t he?) of Grant Morrison’s Batman run — especially because Chris Burnham is one hell of an artist — in fact, as issue #81, this was pretty crazy awesomely good, but I’m this weird old fashioned kind of a guy who thinks that a first issue of a series should contain it’s premise. I thought this was largely unreadable as a FIRST ISSUE, and it’s hard to see where the “incorporated” comes from here. So that’s going to knock this down at least an entire grade to only a GOOD. You can tell me I am a crankypants. But it won’t stick, because I’m also pushing for a Bat-Cow mini-series. So there.


FANTASTIC FOUR #606: It’s nice to see Hickman doing a “traditional” FF story for once — where they are heroically exploring. And then there’s a fun little “twist” at the end that makes it even better. A nearly perfect little “done in one” issue that I thought was VERY GOOD.


FLASH #9: Pretty pretty comic, every month without fail, but can I say that I’ve yet to find the “new” Speed Force to be compelling, and Barry Allen personally even less so? I think tying in the “origin” of Gorilla City to Flash is incredibly wrong-headed, and I don’t like the new Grodd’s relationship to his fellow residents. But it is pretty, and therefore, at least OK.


IRREDEEMABLE #37: As impossibly powerful as Waid has made his title character, there was largely only way this could end, and Waid did almost exactly what I thought he was going to do. Exxxxxcept, I was thinking that “energy” would moebius-loop somehow (like the Supremium Man in Alan Moore’s Supreme), and I didn’t expect that Waid would then make his evil analogue responsible for the creation of the original from Siegel and Shuster. That’s kind of ballsy. Or douchey, I don’t know. For leaving a bad taste in my mouth, I sadly have to go with AWFUL, when it’s not nearly that bad — hell, I’m sure Mark didn’t consciously realize that’s how it would be taken; but there it is.


JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #9: Jeff Lemire’s first issue, and the book takes a decided turn towards “traditional super team” with a guest appearance by Steve Trevor, an explicit naming of the team, tie ins to the “black room” plot points in JL, and so on. And it strikes me that in a way this is a larger betrayal of anything the creator envisioned, or the character was built to be, or, hell, of their sister imprint for that matter, than “Before Watchmen” is going to be. It also seems like it undoes Gaiman’s Sandman kind of explicitly.  Which is weird. I kind of don’t understand what this book is meant to be, and the nuDCU has way too many superteams-without-a-clear-function titles already. More than anything, I’d guess this book is aimed at formal Marvel editors who sneered a lot about Vertigo when it launched — “Sandman done right” and all that. That’s not a very large audience, though; and I don’t see how this book doesn’t just keep freefalling from issue to issue like it has been. Extremely EH.


MIND MGMT #1: It has been a terrific year for amazing first issues from new independent ongoing series, and this one spreads the love over to Dark Horse for possibly the strongest debut issue yet this year (which is a crowded field, I think, with things like SAGA and MANHATTAN PROJECTS and PROPHET, etc. etc). There’s this wonderful wonderful density to this title, which sets up a wide-ranging conspiracy theory-ish story like, say, “Lost” or “Fringe”, and does so under the incredibly assured layouts of Matt Kindt. I absolutely admire Kindt’s storytelling and energy on the page, though I constantly think that he’d be incredibly aided by having a solid and professional finisher to ink him — there are pieces of this that really look like layouts more than anything else, and I think that stylistic choice is going to turn a lot of the widest potential audience off.  Try to overlook it, though, or you’re missing something really special.  Kindt colors the book himself, and his color choices are really strong and striking.

Either way, this is comics by someone who “gets” comics just perfectly, and this absolutely deserves to be on your reserve list — I’ve just placed a reorder at 100% of my initial, and will be hand-selling this with some large amount of joy. I thought this was a truly EXCELLENT debut.


PROPHET #25: This was the first issue where I was NOT enjoying what was happening until we got well past the halfway point and the “real” Prophet showed up. Then I totally fell back in love all at once. This is such a VERY GOOD comic, and I’m totally at awe of the world-building that gets built and tossed around each and every issue.


SUPERMAN #9: Basically, see what I said about AQUAMAN above — I have no idea who or what the “modern” Superman is about, really, other than “it’s Superman”, but all of the changes to the supporting cast and mythos, so far, seem to be arbitrary to me, rather than organic. All of the stuff in this comic about how the media behaves? Beyond terrible. This is terribly EH material, and I doubt I’ll read another issue until they change creative teams (again!)
YOUNGBLOOD #71: Y’know what? I was digging on John McLaughlin’s script here — kind of the most AUTHORITY-like comic that we’ve seen in a while, but dear god, the art by Jon Malin and Rob Liefeld (Rob’s inking?) is really wretched and uninspiring. I know a lot of people used to really really like Liefeld, but, honestly folks, most of those people stopped actually purchasing comics at least a decade back, leaving this a commercial trainwreck. Too bad, I really dug the script, but the final product is a muddled EH of a comic.


That’s me… what did YOU think?




17 Responses to “ Here comes Crankypants!: Hibbs’ 5/23 ”

  1. I love Morrison, but decided to drop Batman Inc. I actually sold off all the issues that came after the wrap-up of the “The Return of Bruce Wayne” ’cause that seemed like a good end point for my Morrison Batman collection.
    Batman Inc. on paper sounded like a fantastic idea.
    But it’s essentially been one long, drawn out story about how the Batman franchise is at war with Talia.
    I really would have preferred just some cool done-in-one stories about different Batmen around the globe that didn’t feed into this larger plot. Kind of like how Morrison handled his JLA run – some really great two, three, four, and five issue storylines.

    I haven’t read Aquaman but have been picking up Johns’ Justice League. As a fan of the League it’s an entertaining enough read. Exciting and pretty to look at. But I have a similar complaint – after nine issues we don’t really “know” that much about the characters or the team. We got a six-part “the gang gets together tale” and then two issues kind of starting to flesh out how they operate 5 years later, that they don’t want other members, barely tolerate government assistance/interference, and are kind of cocky and even a bit unlikeable.
    I think perhaps the problem for DC when it does these relaunches of icons is creators still expect readers to know the basics of decades-old heros and thus they figure they can get away with not focusing on characterization. Does that make sense?

  2. I dropped Superman after last issue. It doesn’t really feel like Superman to me (though I like Action just fine, so I’m not just hating on the reboot). It actually feels like I’m reading an analogue from another company when I read the Superman book.

    I think Batman Inc is ridiculous post-reboot, frankly. I know this has been said before, but this is a world where superheroes have only been around for about 5 years, yet Batman is on his 4th Robin (at least) and has inspired a global franchise.

    Someone really needed to explain the whole “having cake vs eating cake” thing to DC editorial before they launched this thing back in September.

  3. Batman Inc: This is Morrison’s 60th or 61st Batman comic–it just passed The Invisibles as his longest extended run. Good point that it doesn’t work as a first issue, but I suspect anybody who’s reading this has already read at least an issue or two from the last go-round. And Burnham’s work is phenomenal, especially on that slaughterhouse sequence. (I couldn’t help but read that scene as some kind of bitter commentary on assembly-line corporate superhero comics, but this is either wishful thinking or a sign that I’ve been listening to too much “Wait, What.”)

    Flash: The first arc was a lot of fun, and this book looks so good, but Manapul is falling into two of my least favorite modes of superhero storytelling, “grand tour of all the old villains” meets “stories about the source of the hero’s powers.” I don’t know why Flash writers can’t keep themselves away from the Speed Force–since when did “he runs really fast” need a whole fucking cosmology?

    Justice League Dark: I liked this one more than I would have thought possible; give me a successfully executed traditional super-team book over an incoherent and halfhearted attempt at the same, I guess. I just can’t get too worked up about this:

    “And it strikes me that in a way this is a larger betrayal of anything the creator envisioned, or the character was built to be, or, hell, of their sister imprint for that matter, than “Before Watchmen” is going to be.”

    But did the creator have a vision? The creators of the individual characters, maybe–this certainly isn’t your big hairy father’s John Constantine–but the book “Justice League Dark” never really had a vision. Or much in the way of characters. It read like an editorial mandate in search of a couple of host bodies to bring it into the world. The mandate might have changed from “Vertigo-before-it-was-Vertigo nostalgia” to “Vertigo-before-it-was-Vertigo does Suicide Squad,” but I can’t say I mind one bit. Lemire seems like his heart is in this way more than Milligan’s was. This was a pleasant surprise.

  4. Prophet #25. My store ran out of the previous issue so I read this first and then got #24 digitally afterwards. Oddly enough I loved #25 from start to finish and only really started getting into #24 towards the end. Which is odd.

    Youngblood #71′s script had a moment every 1.5 to 2 pages that drop kicked me out of the story. I dont know whether it was the art that made things like the youtube comment seem worse than they really were, but damn this was bad comic. Also this is the second book in the extreme relaunch to start with pages of comic within the main story.

    Might have to pick up Mind MGMT now

  5. There’s a great, very insightful interview with Waid up at Newsarama, where he waxes about how autobiographical the series has been for him (And he professes that people don’t realize how much- actually, I realized it from page one, and it became a big block to my enjoyment of the book), and hopefully it’s been theraputic, but I have a feeling that we’re not going to see an all-new, all-different Mark Waid any time soon. The fact that after all the Plutonian did, it was still implied he was more sinned against than sinner…

    I’m of the firm belief that sometimes we are the villains of our own story. Most of us rarely, if ever, come to this realization. And I’ll leave it at that.

  6. Thinkings I had:

    JLD #9: If you are talking about John Constantine then it doesn’t really matter like BW does. JC is, even in the mind of Affable Al, owned by DC. The Magus has never raised a peep about the treatment of characters he created for DC and which he recognises as being owned by them. But if you are talking about Steve Trevor then I am breaking out the pitchforks and flaming torches and getting on a plane forthwith. Steve Trevor is sacrosanct!

    BATINC#1: I am glad DC saw sense and made Bat Cow from Tiny Titans part of the regular DCU. Bat Cow! Aw, Yeah!

    MIND MGMT #1 Agreed, it is EXCELLENT! Hey everyone, let’s all make Matt Kindt rich. Let’s get on that right now by buying this spectacular comic!

    Thanks for these reviews!

  7. i think it must be something in your food this week , i found all of your reads to be a grade or so better , when i bought and read them today. Based on a galnce at what you were reviewing , i went out today and picked up all of them. Even liked the Supes and Aquaman books , great art and fun dialogue can make me overlook a few minor quibbles. Batman Inc was my 1st exposure to Grant’s Batman , safe to say , i will be buying the previous 80 issues

  8. galnce = glance (in the above)

  9. BATMAN INCORPORATED #1 accessability…

    how freaking hard can it be to google “Morrison + Batman + run” and place an order at

  10. So people should spend $150+ in order to understand and enjoy a $3 comic? That makes perfect sense.

  11. there is also wikipedia, pete.
    which does a far better job than a few lines on the back of the cover ever could…

    and yes, i would start at Batman #655.

  12. You could’ve said that first, which would’ve been more reasonable.

  13. “there is also wikipedia, pete.”

    So, how much work should a reader be expected to do for the “honor” of experiencing Morrison’s 3 dollar Batman comic? Nobody had to go read a damn book or magazine article in order to watch a Hitchcock film. Nobody had to do any research to appreciate Moby Dick or The Old Man and the Sea. But for 20some pages of story and art about a vigilante who wears pointy ears and a cape, folks should have to study up like they were taking the bar exam?


  14. to my knowledge hitchcock never released 5 minute segments of his films individually. So maybe DC could have added volume2 before #1, in the title.

    but really who the hell cares about the other readers?
    Or you whiny sobs?

  15. That’s the spirit! Comics should be for nobody!

  16. Kindt is awesome. Check out SUPER SPY. And I’m waiting for his FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF SHADE debut.

  17. Super late, but: in Irredeemable, wasn’t the idea that the energy dispersal would “get it right”? I thought the point of that ending, and kind of by extension the last 3 years of those books, was that Evil Superman is wrong, and dark ‘n’ gritty is wrong, and everything Waid said nearly twenty years ago with Alex Ross.

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