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Reviews of 6/2 books

Brian Hibbs

Right, so, as always very little time – Ben and Tzipora are out at the playground, so we do this in what would be, in any decent and just universe, my videogame time. But it’s not a just universe, so how about some reviews, instead?

FIRESTORM #14: I know they put the “America’s #1 Nuclear Powered Hero!” on the cover as code that this was a good “jumping on” point, as Stuart Moore’s first issue, but god, how tacky was that? Also, it was on the wrong side of the cover. Most stores either rack left-to-right overlapping, or top-to-bottom overlapping, and the blurb is barely visible from the latter and INvisible from the former. Ah, well, that’s what the ivory tower brings you. Actually, in a world with a smart marketing department, they would have waited a year and let the series go fallow until it could be fully relaunched. This said as a man who despises “fake” #1s. Thing is, this may as well have been a brand new #1 — while (2? 3?) of the characters are the same, it is a whole new rethinking. That might have even worked had the bait-and-switch of “Ronnie’s back!” not just happened, surely leaving “original Firestorm” readers even colder than they were to begin with. Ultimately, I can’t see much of a new audience coming in for #14 as they’ve had 2 chances to jump on now, with this being try #3 in around a year.
Now, having said that, I thought this issue worked pretty well — solid setup and new status quo. The art is competent, and the writing solid. In fact, I can fairly easily give this a low GOOD — I just don’t think it will make any difference.

HOUSE OF M #1: Certainly there’s plenty of crisp writing here, with good character voices and POVs. It’s also pretty slow, and not much of anything happens until that last page. Sales were slow this weekend — probably running around half of what I expected, and I think one of the problems is no one really knows what the series is ABOUT. There’s been a lot of vagueness, and promotional tools like the sketchbook were so intensely underwhelming, I don’t think anyone feels impelled to add another mini-series. On the plus side, that should mean I’m stocked just fine when #8 comes out, something that is always hard to say with Marvel comics. I can imagine what I THINK this mini-series might and should end up doing (changing reality organically to make some of the universe-backstory start making sense once more. [example: Magneto is anchored to WW2. The time differential is starting to cause problems]), but who knows if I’m right or wrong? Not enough to tell from this first issue at least.
In addition, I was faintly shocked that in all of the conversation of “how do we stop our crazy friend with God-powers?” at no time did any X-Man bring up Jean Grey. Pregnant pause in the middle of the comic for this reader at least. Hard to rate this, really, not enough occurred, but I can go with, I guess, a low GOOD.

JSA #74: I just want to say that the new DC logo looks pretty good when rendered in a variety of colors. There’s an exception though: JSA *just* got a new logo, one that extends out to the edges of the cover, and the DC logo looks like complete ass, sitting on top of it. The new logo also looks like shit on the Johnny DC books — the recently redesigned trade dress is artistically opposed to the “now!” of the new DC logo.
As for JSA itself, I don’t have much to say – there’s good character moments in every scene, but there’s so much Boom! Boom! in every issue, I’m starting to long for a quieter arc soon. Again, a low GOOD.

LAST HERO STANDING #1: What’s odd is that I can’t even give away SPIDER-GIRL. I have one subscription customer for it, but most of the time when I buy a rack copy, it ends up in the dollar box. We even had a subscriber add it to her list, trying to support titles with a female lead, but she dropped it 2 months later. “Wow, that’s really awful!” she laughed. I don’t know WHY I decided to order 5 copies of this SPIDER-GIRL “spinoff” — certainly, it wasn’t the SAFE move, and, especially when it’s a weekly mini-series, which means order adjustments, the norm on Marvel books, become practically meaningless, and reorders will run a week behind (I’ll be able to restock #1, if they have any to sell, when #3 is released). It’s really the kind of book stores HATE to order, yet I gave it some support — and we sold all of them by day #2. So, that’s why retail can drive you crazy some days. Now, it is possible that people didn’t REALIZE it was a SPIDER-GIRL “spin off” (that cover DOES mostly feature contemporary-looking characters), but, I dunno. Anyway, typical Tom DeFalco comic, in the “classic Marvel Style”. I didn’t care ABOUT any of it, set in the possible-future as it is, but I was entertained enough as I read it. Pure cotton candy, and probably worth an EH.

NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET #1: I like Ryp’s artwork a whole lot, and I have a weird fascination with Freddy (I’ve seen each installment in the theatre — even when I had to go to the seedy, sticky-floored, smell-emporium down on Market st. for it. It was never worth it, really), so I’m altogether too biased. But I thought Pulido did a pretty good job on this one: good use of “getting killed by what you think makes you you”, and there was almost a point to the story (as opposed to a scenerio just to kill people) — unlike TEXAS CHAINSAW MASACRE #1, also this week, with which I was completely befuddled, as it didn’t go at all with my recollection of the (original) film. This was not high art, by any means, but for a licensed comic, it held a high standard, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of the same. I’m surprised too, I’m giving it a GOOD. (TCM #1 gets an AWFUL)

ORORO BEFORE THE STORM #1: Action packed street-urchin adventure! Which is about as exciting as it sounds. Filled with kids who talk like adults, this might have been a better fit in the ADVENTURES line, though I wonder how good it really is to sell kids a role model who is a pickpocket and a thief? A big EH.

SEVEN SOLDIERS ZATANNA #2: Liekd it much better than #1, and I might have even liked it better than GUARDIAN #2. If all American comics were this smart and crisp, this blog would be called THE RAINBOW CRITIC. Great terrific fun, and VERY GOOD.

SON OF VULCAN #1: Didn’t really like the ameri-manga art. And I thought the use and explanation for Woodrue was pretty babble-tastic. And I really don’t at all remember the original Son Of Vulcan (Charlton character — maybe some sort of sword-and-sorcery thing, maybe?), and yet I thought this was kinda fun. “What if Batman was killed on Robin’s first day out?” could be the one-line high concept. I thought the minuses (esp the art) will keep it down to an OK, but I’ll be keeping one eye on this series as the next issues develop.

SUPER FUCKERS #1: James Kochalka’s ode to the LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES (pretty much), and it perversely wants me to see him do it straight. I got some grins and giggles, but I think it was probably priced too high for its content, so I’ll go with a very low GOOD.

SUPERMAN BATMAN #20: Like many people, I now wish I hadn’t read Jeph Loeb’s interview on Newsarama — I might have missed some of the specific jabs. All of that is unnecessary. Hand to God, “friendly rivalry” is a wonderful thing between 2 publishers. It’s sorta charming, even. This jarring and personal trash-talking that’s going on these days? It doesn’t make me like comics any better, kids.
I liked the lunacy of some of this — I thought Bat-zarro’s captions mirroring his words was the most perfectly-perfect idea in perfect idea land, for example — but wtf was up with Superman pretty casually murdering another character? I hate shit like that, it doesn’t make me long for the next issue so we can see what kind of dream hoax or imaginary story it might have been — it makes me think, “How could you possibly be so irresponsible as to show Superman murder someone, regardless of the context?”
So continues my love/hate relationship with SUPERMAN/BATMAN. A very splitting-the-difference OK.

That’s it, sick of writing. Not many books, but much longer entries this time.

Obviously, my PICK OF THE WEEK is ZATANNA #2. I’m going to skip the WEAK this week because I didn’t bother to write it up. Maybe you could try and guess?

As for BOOK/TP OF THE WEEK, I have 2 entries for you — MIRRORMASK ILLUSTRATED SCRIPT HC, which is Neil Gaiman’s script, and Dave McKean’s storyboards, for their, I-hope-it-will-be-released film. I haven’t read the guts of the book yet, so I can’t say whether or not it is any good, but I really liked the introductions, and the 2 outroductions, and the book looks well worth it.

I can also strongly recommend Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s WE 3 TP — what an astonishingly good story, even if it is 25% more expensive than the serialization (!!). It’s also selling like a MONSTER — without one single doubt our largest dollar SKU of June, even with 24 days to go in the month.

So that’s it, what did YOU think?

-B

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