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Hibbs Tiptoes Through 6/30

Brian Hibbs

OK, so I lied a little — I meant to write the Dark Tower post yesterday, but then I found I didn’t want to after Paul McEnery came in an distracted me for an hour. So, let’s move forward onto comics, and I’ll come back to DT at some point in the future (probably)

WIZARD #228: Wait, what? Well, yeah, Wizard. One of my jobs is to read pretty much everything that flows through the store, and that includes mags like Wizard. Normally that takes, dunno, 5 minutes or less? But this issue is “Guest Edited” by Mark Millar, and there was a fairly interesting roundtable discussion with film-makers about how and what works when making super-hero movies, and while it wasn’t great journalism, or anything, it took me nearly TWENTY minutes to read this month’s Wizard, which is, anyway you look at it, a great improvement. There were a couple of other, at least, readable pieces. There’s no chance that this bump in readability will last more than an issue, and Wizard doesn’t seem to understand that people-who-read-Wizard actually want a price guide (sigh), and I fairly despise the company in general, and wish they’d just go on and go out of business already, but I thought this individual issue was actually fairly GOOD.

CHRONICLES OF WORMWOOD: THE LAST BATTLE #4: I don’t think I actually mentioned this during the first three issues: while Oscar Jimenez is a very fine artist, his art is a pretty severe tonal shift from the first series drawn by Jacen Burrows. Given that the series is (sort of) “So, Jesus and the antichrist walk into a bar”, I find I want that kind of semi-bigfootish cartooning on it, rather than highly rendered, tiny-fine lines. Still, liking this a lot. GOOD.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #40: I really think the JSA has been a mess since Willingham took over; I know I’ve personally broken my multi-year buying of the series. And this issue really isn’t much better: jumping around in time awkwardly, quickly resolving the non-threat of a modern nazi-driven supervillain group, and so on. Art is nice, however. But I’m bringing this book up for another reason: someone in DC Editorial or Marketing branded the cover of this issue with “A NEW ERA returns for the [JSA]” and “NEW beginning! NEW Triumphs!”, when what the comic ACTUALLY is is the CONCLUSION of the current storyline, and doesn’t contain a single thing that might make a new reader either jump on, or stay on. This is even weirder considering that NEXT issue will be the “jumping on” point, featuring a JLA/JSA crossover. I guess I just don’t get the thinking of trying to make the cover super-attractive to a new reader, but not following through with that editorially? I thought it was fairly AWFUL.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #46: This is not great epic comics. We will not be comparing this to WATCHMEN any time in the near future. This will not be winning an Eisner Award. Hell, it’s part one of a JSA/JLA crossover, so clearly it isn’t literature. What it IS, however, is pretty decent, fun, superhero comical books. There’s a certain amount of zest and zing going on here, and, maybe most importantly, it feels like it is taking place in a coherent universe. If all super-hero comics had at least this level of craft, then maybe we wouldn’t be seeing such weak sales on so many books? Just sayin’. I thought this was mildly GOOD.

WONDER WOMAN #600: Let’s leave the problems for last. As an anniversary issue, I was taken by this in a way that I wasn’t with BATMAN #700 or SUPERMAN #700; maybe because I thought the “look back” stories worked well? I super-double especially liked the Simone/Perez story that led off the book, as being essentially “correct” in tone and craft. The Amanda Connor story was also pretty lovely and awesome. The Lousie Simonson story was pretty straight-ahead genericism, but it didn’t suck. The Geoff Johns bit was… adequate, mostly leading into the JMS bit, but other than that, it didn’t really have a lot of place in the book. There’s also a big mass of loverly pinups. So, yeah, this is a nice anniversary issue, and one I can recommend.

But lets talk about the JMS bits, now.

Actually, as a starting point, it wasn’t horrible or anything — and I particularly thought the art was very strong — this seems like it could be a somewhat interesting direction for a short time (though I am wondering where her lasso is?)

The problem is that we have to discuss the “meta” implications of this. First off, there’s a timeline problem here, as I see it. Diana is told it has been “18 years” since whatever happened, happened, and there’s a strong implication she was a child when that happened.. making her… 20? 21? certainly less than 25. I’m not a fan of this, as it then makes her younger than Superman or Batman. I’ve always thought that Diana was older than that, however — Amazons are “ageless”, and while we’ve seen her “childhood”, I’ve always kind of assumed that she was a “kid” for decades on the perfect, timeless Amazon island. You may disagree.

The goal seems to be to make Diana as important and significant as any other character, but the way they’ve appeared to try and make that happen is to essentially remove her from DC continuity. This is partly because two things in opposition can’t be true at the same time — if Diana was “never” star-spangled WW, then what happens to the JLA? To Donna Troy, or to Wonder Girl? If she never was, then she never killed Max Lord, in which case he couldn’t have “come back” in BRIGHTEST DAY, could he? WAR OF THE GODS and AMAZONS ATTACK then never happened (well, that last one is not SO bad, is it?) Hippolyta would never been in the JSA. I can go on, but what’s the point? There are characters and situations that can be retconned, but Star-spangled WW really isn’t one of them, because there are too many other things happening to and around her — pull a thread like this, and the whole tapestry collapses — she is, or at least should be, central to the underpinnings of the DCU. It’s NOT like “Well, Peter never married MJ”, because that still left Spidey in play as effectively the same character. Even the whole “Spider-Totem” thing didn’t invalidate previous stories (and OTHER CHARACTERS) stories — but this really would appear to do so.

So, there’s that.

There’s also the dissonance of renumbering the series (that previous #1 really never should have happened…especially because Picault didn’t stay on the character) back to “classic” numbering, then delivering a story that really kind of DEMANDS a new #1 (not that I like “fake” #1s, but this is a pretty different version of the character, both figuratively and literally) — it’s like “we’re celebrating 600 issues of this by getting rid of anything that happened in those 600 issues!” Weird weird choice.

The costume? I don’t hate it. I mean, personally, I’m more for the sandals-and-skirt version myself, but I’m OK with mixing it up a bit. Ugh, that jacket, though — it just screams “90s!”, and it flashes me back to the bicycle-pants-and-bra Mike Deodato redesign (which didn’t much last) (There’s a pretty great article on Comics Alliance about her costumes over the years) — it just feels very “last decade” to me, rather than “21st century cool!”

thought I really do have to question the wisdom of getting rid of the Star-Spangled look DIRECTLY BEFORE FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND. Ooops.

Also on the “meta” scale, JMS needs to… well, he needs to think before he speaks. Apart from the factual notions he gets wrong (ie, she’s never changed her costume over the years, Superman and Batman look radically different than they did at launch, and so on), he just sounds remarkably and amazingly dismissive towards anyone else who has worked on the character recently. It rubbed me the wrong way.

At the end of the day, I don’t really think this will stick — there’s too much product in the Star-spangled mode, there’s too much history that this unwraps — and, unless there is a WW movie greenlit using exactly this model in the next six months, I can’t imagine this will still be here in two years from today. Maybe I’ll be wrong, I’ve sure been so before, but I can’t see it.

Despite all of that, I still thought WONDER WOMAN #600 was pretty GOOD.

What do YOU think?

-B

15 Responses to “ Hibbs Tiptoes Through 6/30 ”

  1. “she’s never changed her costume over the years”

    I think what JMS said was that this was the most significant or dramatic costume change she’s had since 1941 or something.

    Which is also incorrect.

    But I think that’s how he put it.

  2. On Wonder Woman: I also had the distinct feeling that this was definitely being set up as a short term (12 issues, probably) storyline. I don’t think it’s meant to be anything BUT a ‘get to the roots of the character before bringing her back to normal’ sort of thing. Quotes about the ‘start of her odyssey’ and the like.

    I mean, no one doubts that she’ll be back to normal, I’m just surprised at how many people feel this is ‘intended’ to be permanent.

  3. I like Jim Lee as an artist but I don’t think he’s a great designer. With his last Green Lantern design, Kyle Rayner looked like he was wearing a sneaker. The Wonder Woman outfit is similarly 1990s – Lee couldn’t think of anything more dynamic than black pants?

    I love the skirt and sandals look myself. Jim Lee did a great rendition of that outfit during Azarrello’s Superman run.

  4. [...] | Techland contributors on Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1; Brian Hibbs on an assortment of new releases; Michael Dirda on Wilson; Ryan Jent on Batwoman: Elegy; Tom Speelman on Chew, Vol.; and Kirk Warren [...]

  5. Just a piece of useless trivia: in current continuity, Hippolyta wasn’t in the JSA.

    I enjoyed the Simone story also, and for some reason was really struck with the way Perez drew Batgirl and Batwoman.

  6. I’ve been enjoying JMS’ take on the DCU in Brave and the Bold. His stories aren’t always great, but they are interesting and thought-provoking.
    It seems that is what he is trying to bring to Superman and Wonder Woman.
    But I’ll add the following.
    For all of the work he’s already done in comics, JMS’ approach to me still feels very “outsiderish.”
    Two of my favorite writers – Waid and Morrison – always do something interesting with the characters they write BUT you also come away from their stories with the idea that they love and understand the sandbox they’re playing in.
    That they’ve actually read what other writers’ have done with these characters. They these characters exist in a shared universe and have histories and relationships.
    JMS’ DC work to me so far feels like its written by a guy who has a general idea of the characters – The Flash has superspead, Atom shrinks, the Jokers’ craaaazzzzy – but that’s about it.
    So we get the scene in Superman 700 where the woman complains Supes didn’t save her husband from a brain tumor It’s the kind of scene that would be written by a comic book outsider – someone who hasn’t worked enough in the genre to understand some of the unspoken rules, like you don’t question why cancer, AIDS, war, famine and natural disasters still occur in the DC and Marvel universes.
    Similarly I don’t think there’s any use in complaining about how JMS’ approach to Wonder Woman appears to ignore work by other writers and cause all sorts of continuity havoc. I don’t think he cares. He has a story/approach he wants to write and, because he sells books, DC will let him get away with it.
    I’m not condemning JMS. A fresh set of eyes is often a good thing, and as I said his Brave and the Bold book is enjoyable.
    But I can deal with his approach there because the stories aren’t necessarily “out” of continuity, but are happening in their own little world. These are untold tales.
    I don’t think I could get into JMS writing a regular ongoing series, however, for all of the aforementioned reasons.

  7. I won’t be picking up any of JMS’s DC work for two reasons…

    1) I’ve been burned by his corporate superhero work already and I’m not going to keep punishing myself. He’s a good writer when working with his own characters but he can’t seem to play nice in other people’s sandboxes.

    2) The comments you mentioned above are indeed insulting to the people who came before him and I just don’t want to give the guy any of my money.

  8. Kramer’s gives it his all which seems to result in a John Cassaday kinda vibe. i like. The Jim Lee sketch looks like a bonus “Manga” skin for DCUO.

    My theory is that JMS’s overly cinematic style has him winning the day again with this title. Order #s will double from where the book was at easily.

  9. [...] Hibbs made a much better note than I did about the continuity problems presented by JMS’ revisions … The goal seems to be to make Diana as important and significant as [...]

  10. [...] cover, even if it is grammatically accurate and probably the most honest thing about this comic. As Hibbs points out, it’s even worse because this is actually the final part of some lengthy-ass “Durnit, [...]

  11. I don’t read Wizard magazine anymore either but I’ve always wondered why they have a bad rep? I mean I have my own issues with them but I know I’ve read somewhere that Frank Miller hates them and other creators have not had nice words to say. And this was before the comic-con fiasco, I already know about that one…

  12. [...] Wolk Recent Comments Brandon Yates on Hibbs Tiptoes Through 6/30Matthew Craig on Okay, You Can Call This A Comeback; We’ve Been Away30th June – Still [...]

  13. Brandon, Wizard is largely responsible for the overinflated prices of comics in the 90s that led to the eventual crash of the market. They’ve also managed to destroy many a good comicon.

  14. [...] Brian Hibbs, The Savage Critics: "The goal seems to be to make Diana as important and significant as any other character, but the way they’ve appeared to try and make that happen is to essentially remove her from DC continuity. This is partly because two things in opposition can’t be true at the same time — if Diana was 'never' star-spangled WW, then what happens to the JLA? To Donna Troy, or to Wonder Girl? If she never was, then she never killed Max Lord, in which case he couldn’t have 'come back' in Brightest Day, could he? War of the Gods and Amazons Attack then never happened (well, that last one is not so bad, is it?) Hippolyta would never been in the JSA. I can go on, but what’s the point? There are characters and situations that can be retconned, but star-spangled WW really isn’t one of them, because there are too many other things happening to and around her — pull a thread like this, and the whole tapestry collapses — she is, or at least should be, central to the underpinnings of the DCU." [...]

  15. I’m glad I’m not the only one that was “rubbed the wrong way” by JMS’s dismissive comments. He just turned me off of buying his run on this book.

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