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One Door Opens: Diana sees some Firsts and Lasts, 10/24

Brian Hibbs

Well, it’s been an interesting week: some new beginnings, and a somewhat unfortunate ending. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

I’m hard-pressed to find a more radical transformation this week than SHE-HULK #22: with Dan Slott’s departure (he’d be writing Spider-Man right now if Joe Quesada’s shock collar still worked), Peter David takes the book in a completely different direction. That’s to be expected, of course – David and Slott have very different senses of humor, with the former leaning more towards quips and puns while the latter works better with goofy, cartoon-esque scenarios – but I didn’t expect to become so interested in the story. It may just be that David has more experience in the field, but I found his first issue of SHE-HULK was enough to hold my attention, where Slott’s run never really caught on with me. On the other hand, David has a tendency to wear his pop culture influences on his sleeve… X-FACTOR’s Singularity Investigations was obviously drawn from Wolfram & Hart (ANGEL), and I doubt it’s a coincidence that SHE-HULK #22 is structured on the same principle as the HEROES season premiere: we start the story in medias res, time has passed, and a big part of what compels us forward is learning what’s happened in the interrim. Narratively speaking, this is a perfectly fair and efficient tactic, but the timing could be better. Nevertheless, this is a GOOD starting point for David’s run: there’s a proper balance of action, humor and mystery, though if you’re looking for Slott-esque gags, you’re better off searching elsewhere.

AUTHORITY: PRIME #1 is another new beginning of sorts, though I suppose anything Wildstorm’s doing at the moment is soured by the total collapse of the imprint. It’s interesting that this miniseries comes out more or less at the same time STORMWATCH: PHD was cancelled; for all intents and purposes, this can be read both as a continuation of Gage’s run and as a sequel to Ed Brubaker’s AUTHORITY: REVOLUTION (since the Morrison/Ha run has been completely derailed). When it comes to action sequences, Gage rarely disappoints; in this issue alone Stormwatch goes old-school (it says something that I don’t find Battalion’s look nearly as ridiculous under Darick Robertson’s pen as it probably did ten years ago) and beats up some giant robots while the Authority fends off a Lovecraftian hentai monster. Characterization is a bit on the light side, with a distinct focus on Stormwatch Prime (though there’s a case to be made that the Authority has always been comprised of flat, one-note characters anyway). However, there’s a definite sense of “road well-traveled” here – I feel like I’ve read this story before, Stormwatch and the Authority going to war over secrets from the past (though I can’t remember whether Wildstorm has actually published a similar storyline). OKAY for what it is, because I know Gage isn’t setting out to reinvent the wheel here… all the same, I can’t see this being more than a pleasant distraction in the long run.

And speaking of long runs, it would’ve been nice to say that Gail Simone’s tenure on GEN13 comes to a close after a long and successful reign on the title, but… well… no. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the first six issues – Simone’s characterization of the teens, especially Eddie, was instantly endearing – but somewhere along the way GEN13 seriously lost focus. This “Road Trip” arc had a grand total of four superteen teams running around fighting each other, all through an unofficial crossover with Simone’s other soon-to-be-canned Wildstorm title, WELCOME TO TRANQUILITY. It didn’t accomplish much other than allowing the kids to whine about their fate some more, and this latest issue – Simone’s last – was particularly frustrating because the potential is right there on the page, and she doesn’t take advantage of it. Disappointingly EH, especially as a finale to her ongoing storyline. Better luck on WONDER WOMAN, I guess.

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