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Hibbs’ 8/17 & 8/24 reviews

Brian Hibbs

So, I’m borrowing a laptop to write this — not sure if I have all the setting right, so if this is late, well that’s why.

As Jeff mentioned, he’s getting married next month; and I? Well, I’m crazy swamped between the last of the Settlement stuff, working with ComicsPRO (www.comicspro.org), and a couple of things I’m not going to tell you about right now (I’ll tell you when I’m done)

What does this mean? That September is going to be a very thin month for posting on this here blog. Like, I-might-not-even-getting-the-shipping-lists-up-for-the-next-few-weeks thin.

On the other hand, when Jeff and I come back to it, we’ll be tanned, rested and ready, and our (my!) post counts should be going up.

Ben continues to be the light of my life, and the bane of my “free time”, but mostly in a good way. I took him to the Renaissance Faire in Golden Gate park this weekend (sffaire.com), and we had an amazing blast. We saw a Punch & Judy show, and scenes from Midsummer’s Night Dream, and a joust, and acrobats, and a blacksmith, and a Drum Circle and wandering minstrels, and all kinds of wonderful stuff, and Ben seemed pretty captivated by it all. He also participated in as much of it as he could — wandering into the Drum circle and forcing his way into playing, that kind of thing, as 2 year olds are wont to do. The really nice part was we went on a slow Sunday morning, so there were like 200 “actors”, and maybe 50 normal people — which meant people could be patient with Ben, since there wasn’t much else to do.

Normally a music class or a swimming class or whatever costs like $10-15 for an hour (or less) — $15 here got me nearly 4 hours of worked-for-Ben entertainment, so, bonus! I hope they continue the Faire in GG park — it’s a nice spot for it (much better than driving 90 minutes to the dust-chocked field in Novato where the “real” RenFaire gets held)

Funny thing though, and maybe it was just because it was the end of the day and he was getting tired and cranky, but Ben kinda freaked twice. Once was during the Midsummer’s Night Dream scene, because I think he got scared by how much the Puck was overacting; the other time was during one of the juggling shows, and the performers were being so frantic and shouty, that I think Ben thought they were trying to hurt each other. He was getting so cryish about it that one of the performers actually came down from the stage to reassure Ben that they were just fooling around. I hate being one of “those parents” with a squally brat, but sometimes you got to let them cry and work things out on their own I believe.

Anyway, for some reviews, just skimming off the top of the last two weeks, let’s start with 8/17 books:

BIRDS OF PREY #85: I can’t say that I am the biggest fan of THE KILLING JOKE. To a certain extent, it is the darker half of WATCHMEN — all of the grim, and not enough of the hope. If it hadn’t been for the crippling of Babs Gordon, I don’t know that any of us would really remember it today. Certainly that last “joke” isn’t especially funny. But, it happened. I don’t much like reversing out major events like that. So, I have some trepidation from this issue of BoP where there’s every indication that Gail Simone is trying to reverse that action — all the while using some crazy pseudo-science thing, when all of the other “more natural to the DCU” crazy pseudo-science was being happily ignored. Maybe there’s someplace deeper this is going, I suppose we can trust Gail, but keeping Babs’status quo was good for 2 reasons: 1) it showed that there WERE ramifications to stories, and, probably more importantly, 2) that it gave the DCU a handicapped character who was shown to be both competent and heroic. Losing that, I feel, leaves the DCU a weaker place, far more than bringing back everyone’s favorite redhead crime-fighter (dude, I had SUCH a thing for Yvonne Craig when I was 8). Like I said, maybe Gail is going somewhere different than that, but I don’t want my Babs being able to walk around and unravelling all of that. As a single comics this was on the high side of OK.

QUEEN BEE SC: Chynna Clugston’s new series (?) for Scolastic’s Graphix imprint begins here… and, huh, it pretty much sucked. Every trite high-school device is on display here, and as Lester noted, the first 20 pages (or whatever) are all Tell, Tell, Tell, with no show. I literally groaned out loud when it got to the “locket of my long lost sister” because that couldn’t have been more blatent and obvious within the story. I suppose if you’re 12 years old and you’ve never read any of these trite clichés before, you might like this — Chynna’s art is certainly energetic and pretty, “American manga” without being too off putting to a western reader — but if you’ve ever read any fiction ever, anywhere, of any kind, you can recite EVERYthing that will happen, and all of the “very special lessons” that characters learn, just like rote. AWFUL.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1: Yeah, the pairing of (young) Peter and Kitty makes a lot of sense — that was pretty sweet and touching and clumsy and nice, and I thought it was a really enjoyable read…. even without Bagely. I don’t know that I’d like that to be a permanent thing, but, for the moment I liked it a lot. VERY GOOD, and was my PICK OF THE WEEK for 8/17 comics.

My BOOK/TP of the week for the 8/17 books was RABBI’S CAT. What a nice little book. Too bad that neither Last Gasp nor Cold Cut seems to be carrying it, whcih means I am stuck with Diamond…. who is out of stock. Gotta love books that can’t be stocked, but rock that much. QUEEN BEE will be my PICK OF THE WEAK.

For 8/24 books, here is what I have to say:

ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #643: On the one hand, if you’re reading OMAC, etc., at least half of this issue was a massive fucking waste, narratively speaking — just recapping everything already said before. But, actually, it turned out to be… well, not clever per se, but an interesting issue balanced against 8/31s WONDER WOMAN #220, which does the other side flip. Plus, I’m going to go an assume that someone figured it out, and that this would end up as the first issue in the 4th trade of Rucka’s run, and so, it works fairly well if that’s going to be the case. I don’t buy the angst and the reactions, though, but then I’m just a big fucking sourpuss, I guess. OK.

BATMAN #644: This is my new working theory: everyone working on Batman right now secretly hate the character, and are doing everything they possibly can to get the book(s) cancelled. How else can you possibly explain this kind of out-of-left-field, out-of-character inanity? I mean, there’s no terms that this can possibly work — the plan is to kill off a child to get Batman to stop being Batman? Huh, that sure worked when it was Jason Todd, right? Like, Jeff Lester, I am waiting for the big reveal when they show it was Jim Gordon who was Hush all along, right? That’s the next inevitable step, right? Then Tim Drake will get sent back in time to become Joe Chill, sure. I mean, what the fuck? The only thing we can possibly hope is that we’ll get a HOUSE OF M crossover, and a white-burst can wipe this all away from continuity, forever. Pure CRAP. [“Retail Intelligence” note: sales of BATMAN have dropped down (about 1/3) to DETECTIVE sales for this storyline, rather than DETECTIVE rising up to match BATMAN.]

DAY OF VENGEANCE #5: I was going along with it thinking that maybe this was a “new” Nightshade or something… and then it referenced the Suicide Squad stuff, and I was all, BLAM, “Uh, no that’s not the same character”. Same thing with the portrayal of the Spectre — that’s NOT how moonface works, based on any of his own comics. The characters were so far off characterization, that I really disliked this issue intently. AWFUL.

INVINCIBLE #25: Normally the anniversary issue should be the “something big happens” issue…. but that doesn’t mean just in the cliffhanger. Something big should happen in the course of the story. And, while I’m sure that seeing his childhood hero is all kinds of intense for Mark, it’s pretty jaw droppingly dull for the audience — we have no emotional connection to the occasionally-mentioned fiction inside the fiction. So, for the price and all, and I was pretty non-plussed by this issue. EH.

JACK CROSS #1: “Now Terror Has Something to Fear”? How does terror fear? Wouldn’t that be like “Now Pain Has Stubbed Its Toe”? Unobjectionable start to this new series, but it’s also pretty uninspired, and I never have liked Erskine’s art very much. I was also shocked by just for violent it was, being a “DC logo” book. I felt the same thing about the end of this week’s GREEN LANTERN #4. I’d rather than level of gore was kept to other imprints, honestly. This issue was OK.

OMAC PROJECT #5: The 1.3 million OMACs roughly matches the number of metahumans Max mentioned to Beetle in Countdown, by the way. Unstoppable menace, Deux Ex Sasha, that about covers it, right? She sure smells like Harbinger II, don’t she, though? Still, if you take it for what it is, rather than what it is not, I thought this was adequately done and is somewhere on the low side of GOOD.

TEEN TITANS #27: I just give you some Retail Intelligence, and leave it at that: Our first-weekend sell through is probably just over half of what it normally is. If DC had a Marvel-style FOC system, I’d be cutting next issue waaaaaaaaay back.

I don’t really have a PICK OF THE WEEK for this week — other than our best-reviewed OMAC PROJECT #5, I also thought the not reviewed WALKING DEAD #21, but neither of those are exatly ringing endorsements, are they?

PICK OF THE WEAK for 8/24 is easy: BATMAN #644

BOOK / TP for 8/24… huh, well best I can do ya is probably one of 2 reprint books: HANK KETCHAMS COMPLETE DENNISTHE MENACE 1951-1952 HC or LITTLE LULU VOL 5 LULU IN THEDOGHOUSE TP. Nothing less than 40 years old though, I am afraid.

So, I know, I don’t post in near a month and that’s the best I can give you, huh?

I’m going to *try* to squeeze 8/31 in as soon as I get enough comics read.

What did you think?


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