Posted by: Brian Hibbs on February 5, 2005
Wow. Hibbs posts–twice on the same day, in fact. And on the same week as the release of Bizarro World….Coincidence?
Maybe he’ll even post after I post, thus causing our universe to collapse in on itself. That’d be something to see.
Oh, and, ostensibly, I don’t care but the fact that Enterprise was cancelled warmed my heart tremendously. You know those fighting games where you got the special move bar that builds over time and depletes with constant use? Let’s just call that bar “quality,” and hope the Star Trek franchise gets time to replenish it now.
As for the funny books…
ADAM STRANGE #5: My attention seriously dwindled this issue, in part because there was too much Omega Men, too little Adam Strange. I also think Adam detecting the one ship on an entire planet that has Rannian etc., etc. is a little too..convenient? But considering all that, it’s still five issues in and I’m still enjoying it so let’s call it a very high OK.
BLACK PANTHER #1: I’m pretty much with Bri on this one: the anachronisms and the racial epithets didn’t help with the tone on this, although the art and the conception are fine. For me, though, the biggest no-no was introducing Klaw like he’s some sort of bad-ass. As somebody who’s been reading Black Panther comics for far too long now, the last person to get me worried is a guy who’s been getting his ass beat by the Panther for thirty straight years. This probably should have been the time to mix things up a bit and given us somebody else’s supervillain—like, I dunno, Count Nefaria or something. It’s damn pretty pictures, though, and it’s just getting started so lemme also OK this.
CONCRETE: HUMAN DILEMMA #2: I skipped the first issue but something about the cover of the second issue drew me in and I’m glad. I can’t remember the last time a indy creator really changed the paradigm of the relationships between main characters, and it really gave this mini the sense that Chadwick is willing to take some risks. (It helps that it worked.) As Hibbs pointed out, the “story” is a bit slow but all the character stuff is where the juice is at and I’m fine with that. If you’ve ever liked Concrete, you should pick this up. Good.
DEADSHOT #3: Tone, tone, tone. The artists really oversold the comedy on the babysitting scenes and that really wrecked it for me–just because you can draw Charles Bronson making the Home Alone face doesn’t mean you should. But the GA/Deadshot fight was better than I expected, particularly as each character tries to psych the other one out. I’m liking this, although it’s gonna be rough to get a satisfying ending. I don’t want a cute and fuzzy Deadshot but I don’t want this mini to end back at square one, either. So it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out. Good.
DETECTIVE COMICS #803: Pacing was definitely off this issue, as Lapham apparently realized how to turn Clayface into something straight out of The Silence of the Lambs, which worked fine, and overfocused on The Penguin’s organization, which didn’t. This is very, very dark stuff and I’m not sure if Lapham’s reach is exceeding his grasp (his Stray Bullets stories are usually much more intimate, narrower in focus, which he uses there to devastating effect) but I’m really intrigued by it. I’ll give it a highly qualified Good.
EXILES #59: Hmmm, everything I liked about this (particularly Sabretooth’s refusal to just off Mimic) was counterbalanced by that ending which kinda stank. I really wanted more from the Timekeepers storyline than a segueway into a new Age of Apocalypse crossover. The X-Men have a funny franchise in that anything that gets fondly remembered is brought back–even if the reason why something was fondly remembered is that it was only done once. Eh.
MARVEL TEAM-UP #5: This actually recaptures the spirit of the early MTUs: it’s one big incoherent mess, in other words, and that’s fine with me. It’s not really a guilty pleasure per se, but I am enjoying it even though I probably shouldn’t. And we’re all tired of me blah-blah-blahing about Scott Kolins so I’ll just stop here. A guilty Good.
NEW AVENGERS #3: I hope this can be read in the most constructive, positive way possible but what the fuck is Brian Bendis doing? We’re two issues into an enormous supervillain prison break, where each hero is being piled on by more and more supervillains every minute, Luke Cage encounters the Purple Man and told to turn on the heroes and kill them. So how does issue three start out? Oh, you know, with Cap and Iron Man watching the sky and sharing bagels. Because God forbid we carry any of the tension from last issue’s cliffhanger past page two: right off, without knowing how, we know that the prison break worked out, Luke didn’t kill anybody and everything’s fine, just by the way Cap’s asking if they didn’t have sesame bagels. And so we jump back to where we left off, except without any dramatic tension at all, and we get to see how our heroes get out of their fine predicament. Well, it turns out that the Purple Man didn’t have his power (or enough of his power) to control Luke Cage so nothing happens there. And the supervillains? Well, some of them get beaten and some of them escape. All of it off-panel, mind you. And then the rest of the issue is Cap recruiting the new team, and setting up the new headquarters, and the new possible traitor with their “ooo, now mysterious team x will know what bagels Captain America likes!” subplot.
In short, this issue was so fuckin’ weak it should be opening for Hanson at Paramount’s Great America. I honest to god expect next issue to be Cap informing Spidey that he *can* write Avengers lunches off on his taxes, and telling Spider-Woman how to get her parking validated when she parks at Tony’s new buliding, and letting Matt know that the deli shop has a policy where if you buy five frogurts, you get the sixth frogurt free as long as you remember to get the card stamped. If you can’t be arsed to finish a fight scene, maybe The Avengers isn’t the book for you. Awful.
SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL #1: I hate Marvel editorial. You want to edit out Shanna’s titties? Fine. But also edit out all the eyeball gouging, face tearing, and brutal dino-deaths, please, because anybody old enough to see that stuff is old enough to see titties. (This is known as “The Friday the 13th Covenant,” and wimpy guys like me were aware that if we wanted to see the nudity, we had to see the violence…) That said, I thought Cho’s storytelling was far more fluid than his recent Spider-Man work, and I liked that although we didn’t get a lot of Shanna, there was enough Raptorectomies that there’s hardly anybody left but Shanna for next issue to focus on. Too compromised to get a Good, but certainly a high OK if you wanted a pretty brain-dead book with cool dinosaurs.
SUPERMAN #213: I’m just posting my review so Hibbs can come in and share his very cool epiphany that resulted from reading this issue. I lack epiphany to share, or any insight whatsoever really, since things now sort of make sense even though they still utterly don’t. I’ve been reading that exquisite Silver Age Superman Archive and can see a certain connection between a lot of those old improbable Superman stories and this new improbable one. But the crucial difference is they were able to do in ten pages what took this team, what, nine issues? Apart from Mt. Rushmore guy and a really cool logo for Zod, this has just about nothing going for it. Awful.
SUPERMAN/BATMAN #17: This didn’t make any sense either (why would Bruce be able to fight as Batman when he had no reason to train, even slightly? And is this evil Superman? Good Superman?) but I don’t care because, like the silver age stories, it’s not afraid to just be absurdly jammed with cheap DC fangasm material. Sgt. Rock? The Blackhawks? The Statue of Al Ghul? Dumb and cheap, but still probably the best superhero book I read this week. Good.
SUPERMAN STRENGTH #2: Although I quite liked this too, even more than the first issue. Scott’s updating of Silver Age weirdness works pretty damn well here. I know, I know: I didn’t like the headless Superman thing from issue #1 but reading that Archive put me in the right mindset–plus it’s got Superman flying off to stop enormous falling combs and pens! Someone drawing more like Curt Swan would have realy sold this for me…hell, as someone pointed out in the comments, Superman acts so much like Zot, McCloud could have drawn this himself and it might have pulled more punch. Shame about the price and the art, because with another format and/or with another artist, this may well have been my pick of the week.
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #72: Again, wouldn’t the “secret girlfriend” angle be more dramatic without that opening scene–because then I think the reader would be more likely to think that Harry’s just being an egomaniacal nutcase, and the story would deepen when we discover otherwise. Everyone in the comments section make it sound like I’m the only sucker still reading this, but this book was so good for so long that such easily fixed stuff drives me nuts. Eh.
Okay, so let’s put the fate of the universe at stake and see if Hibbs will take it from here, and then, if there’s still any fluid left in your eyeballs, I’ll prattle about this week’s trades.