Posted by: Brian Hibbs on October 31, 2008
Clunk. That’s the sound of me dropping the ball, I’m afraid. Today’s my birthday, I’m at work, and in my spare moments, I spend a lot of time debating how much plot I really need to describe for a review of Marvel Apes. Unfortunately, those spare moments have disappeared as the workday has heated up, so the Apes have as well–I only have reviews for two books for you today. I may or may not get some short reviews next week, depending how the birthday weekend goes and how chicken I am about diving into revisions to my novel, but someone will pick up the slack by then, I’m assuming…
Behind the jump: two books, no apes.
IMMORTAL IRON FIST #19: I haven’t checked out any of Duane Swierczynski’s Cable stuff because I really don’t care about Cable much (and, frankly, as a cranky fanboy manbaby, I was annoyed that Fabian Nicieza’s perfectly fine Cable & Deadpool–which if I remember correctly was one of the few books that, while not selling like gangbusters, held its audience month after month–got screwed up so Cable could end up back in the X-books proper). But his Iron Fist is a perfectly acceptable substitute for the Frubaker team–in fact, it’s an astonishingly good simulacra, right down to some too-clever dialogue that bugged me a little in exactly the same way some of Fraction’s too-clever dialogue bugged me a little. The art suffers by not being by David Aja (but the art was suffering by not being by David Aja before the first team left), but Travel Foreman and his Jae Lee-influenced art (to my eye, anyway) is fine–occasionally striking, occasionally muddy. If there’s a problem, it’s that this arc feels a bit *too* safe, but that’s not a bad problem to have in a book. And it means that Swierczynski’s earned some trust from me–I’ll be curious to see where he goes from here. Good stuff.
SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #1: Upping the ante in the game of Continuity Hold ‘Em he and Johns and Morrison have going on, writer James Robinson brings back Code Name: Assassin, another 1st Issue Special forgotten hero. (He also brought back Atlas in Superman #677, I guess. Thanks, Wikipedia!) My inner ten year old, who never forgot CN:A, recognized the costume on the cover of this book while perusing the racks the other day and I gotta admit, it put a goofy smile on my face.
The story covers not only CN:A, but the Cadmus Project, Vigilante and even tosses in a new idea (as far as I know) about a border town filled with illegal immigrant supervillains. (It’s not as terrible as it sounds, but it’s not that great, either.) While the layouts, art, and some of the scenes are really well-done, the story suffers because at the core of it you’ve got…Jimmy Olsen.
Robinson dutifully gives Jimmy a quest and something to prove, but it’s paint by numbers–this could’ve been a Steve Lombard one-shot and it would’ve had the same punch. I don’t think Robinson has read the last four or five attempts to make Jimmy Olsen interesting (apart from maybe a bit of Countdown) and, honestly, who can blame him? But, really, one gets the sense Robinson doesn’t give two shits about Jimmy Olsen (and, again, who can blame him?) except to the extent he can use Jimmy as a hook on which he can hang his stylish ensemble of characters and concepts.
Olsen is one of those characters that’s been written and rewritten, and spun and respun, such that the palimpsest of the DCU has just completely worn through: I can’t read three pages of the character without seeing through the hole in the tapestry and watching a team of professionals doing their best to squeeze some blood from DC’s register trademarked stone.
It’s highly Okay–I’ll go with Good, in fact–and I think new readers and older readers will find different things to enjoy in it. If this is what a good DC superhero comic reads like in 2008, I really worry how such a creature will evolve by 2013–I don’t think you’re gonna get more obscure than the 1st Issue Specials–but let’s get double-crossed by that bridge when we come to it.