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Hibbs reviews 6/7

Brian Hibbs

You know what I wonder? How many blogs would get written if it wasn’t for their writers being bored (or trying to avoid work) at their regular jobs?

I ask because I know of at least 2 people (heh) who appear to do most of their writing at their (well paid) work. Heck, even I’m writing this at the counter of the store, where I’m trapped for the full 8-hour shift today. If I was at home, I’d be doing something more entertaining – maybe playing Oblivion, or City of Heroes (apparently my account has been reactivated until Sunday for free – dare I play again for 2-3 days?). But, instead, I’ve wasted enough time running through the SF Weekly, the Chronicle and the SF Bay Guardian (you can vote for SF’s Best Comic Shop in their annual reader’s poll at http://www.sfbg.com/vote/ , should you feel so inclined), and I don’t feel like getting working on the set-making I should accomplish this afternoon, or sorting through the 3 long boxes of back issues we’ve just bought, so I’ll start working on the reviews, in the order in which I read this week…

52 WEEK 5: I have to say that this week’s installment was a big improvement over last’s, but in and of itself, it was pretty much just OK. The big problem of this series is kinda turning out to be the art – there were sections of week 4 where I couldn’t tell what was happening at all – but there’s also a few panel-to-panel writing things that jar, too, like how GL and Steel get all wrapped up in their own angst while Mal has seizures a foot behind them. And what they hell are they doing to Hawkgirl a few pages later? The low point for me, however, is “52! 52!” which just feels like a shark being jumped (already?) On the other hand, having Buddy completely ignore Starfire’s brazen nakedness as he worries about his family was pretty much pure brilliance. I know *I* would rather see a new Buddy Baker series than, say, UNCLE SAM AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS. Still, the weakest link of all of this, is absolutely the backup story – a “history” that has spent FOUR installments now doing the History of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, and there’s clearly at least one more to go.

The PROBLEM with this approach is that as an after-INFINITE CRISIS project, this is all wholly irrelevant and dull dull dull – so what if FLASHDANCE-Supergirl died (20 years ago, at that)? As far as I know that didn’t happen to “our” Superman, because if it DID, then that basically invalidates the TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL Supergirl and the most recent Loeb version – neither of which might be a bad idea, necessarily, when you think bout it, but that’s not the point. The POINT is, I want to know where the CHARACTERS stand, not the freakin’ multiverse. If you don’t know about CRISIS, 52 is absolutely the wrong place to find out about it, and if you DO know about it, you just want to punch Dan Jurgens in the face for wasting so much time. God, it makes me want to scream.

One last thing: is EVERY issue going to have that white background on the cover? Bad call, IMO.

WONDER WOMAN #1: We remember that the SAVAGE CRITIC is a place where there can be spoilers, right? We try hard not to wreck your enjoyment of a tale, because we know not everyone is a Wednesday regular, but every once in a while it’s impossible to separate plot from content (or something)

So, put in some SPOILER SPACE here, and skip the rest of this entry if you’re squeamish at all.

So, WW is now Donna Troy, huh? To me, this is an extremely weak dodge for the essential character problems they ended the Diana version on. Rather than thinking of how to get D out of the corner they painted her into (probably not easy), they just ignore the whole thing.

I guess Donna is meant as an example of the “legacy” of the DCU, which would be fine if she was wasn’t one of the most singularly confusing character histories, or if you could explain her character in 100 words or less. Heinberg does an OK stab at it, but seems to ignore a whole lot for a try at simplicity – all of that New Chronus crap, or even her current as-of-52 role as NuHarbinger. Where’s her “star hair”? Why would anyone take on the mantle of Wonder Woman, considering the failure of the last try, or the fact there is no longer a Themiscryia? Sure, I can give them 2-3 issues to fill in those blanks, I guess, but it sets up a real emotional distance for me as a reader, and makes it very hard for me to approach this with any impartiality.

On the other hand, it LOOKS swell, and, thanks to there being basically nothing shipping this week, it sold like a monster on day #1 – we’re nearly out, pretty much because there’s nothing else to try this week.

Still, I could log-line this in less than 25 words (Donna is Wonder Woman, she fights a bit, Diana is in a jumpsuit – there, 13 words), so there wasn’t much there there, and I’m not “Oh my god, I need to find out what happens next!” like a good first issue should give you. A mild OK, I guess, and I was expecting much more.

SUPERMAN RETURNS: KRYPTON TO EARTH: though it is now “SUPERMAN RETURNS PREQUEL #1 (of 4)”. Here’s the thing: if you were looking for an adaptation of the first 20 minutes or so of Donner’s SUPERMAN film, you’re going to be really thrilled. It’s pretty, it’s scripted well. But it doesn’t add anything you haven’t already seen in a 30 year old movie, not one thing, and I sort of wonder why anyone would WANT an adaptation of the first 20 minutes or so of Donner’s SUPERMAN, this late after the fact? A low GOOD, but, again, why?

Y THE LAST MAN #46: a decent enough end to the arc, and I thought the reunion was touchingly sweet. OK

DETECTIVE #820: quite liked it (esp the Harper sequence), though it does spend a lot of time telling us why Scarecrow needs to be removed from Batman’s rogue’s gallery. It also sorta seems like the “who killed the C-Listers?” plot is a bit back-burnered now, doesn’t it? Either way, I’ll still go with GOOD

HARD TIME SEASON TWO #7: The “49 years later” blurb was, I guess, clever, if a bit insular. I’d tried reading, but stopped hard and cold when the Big Blocks of Text appeared, and thought “Meh, who cares how it turns out, anyway? It is cancelled!” And, so, an Angel dies. INCOMPLETE.

OUTSIDERS #37: Eh, not really down with all of the lecturing and posturing. EH.

WALKING DEAD #28: Strong stuff, and a shocking lot of action in a book that has largely been character study all of these issues. Hope this resolves before we get to the actual rape, though. I also wish that Kirkman could be a responsible creator when it comes to shipping and solicitation. Still, GOOD.

INVINCIBLE #32: On the other hand, I’m bored here. The shipping delays are killing any forward momentum here. EH.

CIVIL WAR: FRONTLINE #1: I was pretty much OK with the main story, though there was an awful lot of covering the ground from CW #1 – while every comic IS someone’s first, I can’t really imagine someone buying this and not the parent book…. Or at least being aware of the major points. Backup #1 (the Speedball thing) was also OK, but the comparison to WW2’s forced relocation of the Japanese Americans in backup #2 was woefully wrongheaded, and, I thought, pretty offensively dismissive to that dark period of America. Sour taste in my mouth gives me a low AWFUL, sorry.

FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #9: PAD goes to wrap up some of his own 10-year old plotlines, and while it isn’t badly done, it feels pretty irrelevant to me. EH.

LAST PLANET STANDING #3: This is selling really well for us (well, at least relative to a SPIDER-GIRL spinoff), which is surprising because this is as old-school “hoo-haa” as you can get. Competent, if not thrilling. OK.

MARVEL TEAM-UP #21: Some of the worst art I’ve ever seen in a Marvel comic, stunted and stilted. The story would have worked better, I think, as an 8-pager in SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED or something. All in all, AWFUL.

PUNISHER #34: Yeah, a good laugh, I guess. OK

NEW X-MEN #27: I never really “got” Stryker as a villain, and here I do even less. EH.

BLOOD OF THE DEMON #16: Just look at the cover. There, you’ve read the comic, and not had to spend $2.99. AWFUL.

JSA #86: I feel like I’ve been reading this storyline for 6 months or more – this wasn’t worthy of more than 2 issues, really. EH.

ANGEL SPOTLIGHT WESLEY: Never really watched more than a few episodes of the ANGEL TV show, so I don’t know who these people are or anything. Read OK, despite that, though.

ANNIHILATION SILVER SURFER #3: I’m not feeling any of this crossover, but, then, I don’t really like “cosmic” OR any o the characters involved. Still, I suppose this is “significant” because Surfer becomes the Herald of the Big G again? Not that can last too long… EH.

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #22: My problem is when Gypsy does all of that detective work to uncover the connections to Deacon that “no one could ever prove”. JL stories should play to the strengths of the characters, not make them all super-competent in fields outside their own. EH.

LUBAS COMICS AND STORIES #8: As I think I’ve said before, I find the work of the Hernandez brothers to be technically thrilling, but it never emotionally touches me. This is a problem of me, not the work, I think. OK.

CHICANOS #8: I think Risso’s art is swell, so I always like these little detective stories. Still, not obviously better than OK.

BATMAN JOURNEY INTO KNIGHT #10: It just goes on and on and on, and it’s all so uninteresting. Awful.

BATMAN SECRETS #4: The padding issue, where nothing happens. I quit liked that page of just the two-shots, though. OK.

JONAH HEX #8: Besides the jarring transition between artists in the middle of the book, I thought this was another fine done-in-one issue. A very high OK.

FANTASTIC FOUR FIRST FAMILY #4: Pretty, and even poignant in places, but it seems pretty drifty and pointless. EH.


EXERMINATORS #6: For a second I had a flash where this was a clever and interesting comic, but just for a second. Then I realized how many coincidences permeate the story, and how it isn’t going anywhere, fast. Look at how much plot and event occurred by, say, SANDMAN #6 or PREACHER #6, if you want to see how a Vertigo comic should be done. EH.

MANIFEST ETERNITY #1: Ugly AND dull! A real winner! AWFUL.

X-MEN THE END MEN AND X-MEN #6: This took 18 issues to get to? Sheesh! AWFUL.

STAR WARS LEGACY #0: Oh, it is the ALL NEW OFFICIAL HANDBOOK TO THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE, and not a story. Foo. Even for a mere quarter, I really don’t care. AWFUL.

SHADOWHAWK #12: Hadn’t read an issue of this since #3 or so, but the first thing that struck me was how little progress had been made since then. These just aren’t very compelling characters. EH.

NOBLE CAUSES #13: Haven’t read this in a while either, but here I had very little idea of who was what – couldn’t figure out why that video tape was so exciting, for example. Art really stank, which is odd given the nice sketchbook section at the back. Huh. EH.

PICK OF THE WEEK: I think what I liked best was WALKING DEAD #28 – but I still think Kirkman is a shmuck for not getting his scheduling shit in order.

PICK OF THE WEAK: Ugh, I’ll go with MARVEL TEAM-UP #21 – also by Kirkman, huh.

BOOK / TP OF THE WEEK: Man, this is not a great week for trades. Pretty much everything is flawed or compromised in some way. I’ll go with FANTASTIC FOUR IRON MAN BIG IN JAPAN by the late Seth Fisher, as my pick, except it really isn’t that good. Still, got to pick something…

So, what did you think?


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