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Inviting Brain Damage: More Reviews from Jeff of 4/25 Books.

Brian Hibbs

In the last 36 hours, I’ve watched Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain, the Ong-Bak-esque Born To Fight, and Clerks 2. It’s like I’m trying to give myself brain damage or something. In reverse order, Clerks 2 is mostly Eh (I laughed a few times, but how watchable the movie is depends on the size of your Rosario Dawson crush); Born To Fight is unrateable (oh my god, some of the stunts are truly insane, and I applaud these guys for trying to bring Gymkata into the new millennium, but it’s a very grim little propaganda flick at heart) and The Holy Mountain is Excellent, with spots of its vivid imagery still floating in front of my eyes a day and a half later.

While on the funnybook front:

DAREDEVIL #96: Lark’s art is gorgeous, and Brubaker has done a great job twisting the standard Gladiator story on its head as Matt tries to figure out what to do considering his belief in Melvin Potter’s guilt. The problem is that I really, really don’t care about Melvin Potter/Gladiator. The quality of the work here is Good, but the subject is Eh, so let’s go with OK. Maybe next issue will knock me on my ass.

FANTASTIC FOUR #545: Kinda torn about this because even though the character dialogue was tremendously satisfying (particularly between Ben and Johnny), there was a lot of stuff I couldn’t buy. The FF put on bracelets that allow them to survive in space. Okay, fine. Then Ben goes out into the soundless void of space and yells at The Silver Surfer, who then replies. Wait, what? The Black Panther stealthily hops onto the Surfer’s board and rides it in to attack. Okay, fine (and pretty cool). But then he grabs the Silver Surfer in an armlock that renders the Surfer incapable of escaping. Wait, double-what? Bri and G. had no problems with this whatsoever, so I guess I’m just the “Buh-but space is soundless and the Silver Surfer’s can channel the Power Cosmic through his entire body” nerd. Well, this nerd says Eh.

HEROES FOR HIRE #9: Oh, Jack Kirby, how you’ve made a hypocrite out of me. If Jack saw a sequence from a movie or a TV show that he thought would work on the comics page, he wouldn’t hesitate to lift it and I love that about his work. On the other hand, that Zeb Wells brings the Heroes For Hire team to the Savage Land just so he can rip off the bug section from the Jackson remake of King Kong annoys the living crap out of me. That the artist can’t figure out a way to give any of the scenes a sense of space or movement only exacerbates that annoyance. Sub-Eh dross, sadly.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #5: I’m not sure there’s anything I can add to Hibbs’ review. This was a Good issue with decent art and some fun characterization, and the LSH shrine in the Fortress sums up nearly everything wrong with DC right now. Putting aside the gossipy side of me that wonders if the reason Mark Waid was mysteriously absent from Supergirl & LSH this week is because that scene seems to shit on 28 issues of hard work on his part (more, if you count his involvement with other Legion reboots), that scene underscores how much DC relies on selling my own childhood back to me to make its cash. Actually, considering what a good (albeit depressing) definition of superhero comics today that is, let me try and tighten that up somewhat: the scene with the LSH shrine underscores how much DC relies on having kidnapped its own history and ransoming it back to us. Hibbs argues in his review about how DC needs to make clear “what IS continuity, and what isn’t” but obviously that’s the last thing DC is gonna do at this point, because there’s no surprise, no delight, to just saying “okay, yeah, it’s all back in now unless you hear otherwise.” To extend my earlier metaphor, why would you pay the ransom if you know the kidnappers are just gonna release your kid anyway?

Maybe I’m utterly wrong and 52 #52 will lay things out so we’ll be able to look at this scene from a story point of view and have it make sense. But the easiest way to have it make sense is this: when a chunk of your readership is people who’ve been reading these things weekly for decades, the simplest way to really surprise ’em is to give them the things they think they can’t have. And giving us a sudden spread of the Legion and having Superman talk about meeting them when he was just a boy is, in the face of Supergirl and the LSH and the Siegel family winning co-ownership of the Superboy copyright, something I sure as hell didn’t think we’d have again. It is, let’s face it, a neat fucking trick. But like all tricks, it relies on making sure the people on whom the trick is pulled knowing less than the people pulling the trick.

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