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Slow and steady wins… nothing: Graeme wraps it up for 4/25.

Graeme McMillan

So I would’ve posted this yesterday, but I forgot. That’s what I get for writing these things up ahead of time. Something else I get is that Hibbs more or less wrote the same thing as my first two comments – yes, I really wrote this that far ahead for some reason – but I figured why not post it anyway?

(And now Jeff’s posted his reviews saying the same thing as well. Goddammit.)

First off, JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #5, the second part of the current JLA/JSA crossover. Taken on its own merits, it’s perfectly Okay; the story moves along incredibly slowly – Seriously, we’re two issues into this so far, and I’m not really sure that the plot has moved along that much at all – but the art is nice enough, and at least there’s an attempt at expositionary dialogue to give readers unfamiliar with all of the characters a reason to care about what’s going on. Except, as Hibbs pointed out, that expositionary dialogue is kind of a problem. I mean, just the idea that Superman used to belong to the pre-Crisis Legion of Super-Heroes is kind of a continuity fuck in and of itself these days, considering that they aren’t the Legion that currently has its own book or anything, but when he then says “Then the first Crisis hit and I never saw them again,” there’s this moment of the story stopping dead and fans thinking, Wait, what?

On the one hand, sure. It’s a metatextual comment on the post-Crisis changes that essentially, slowly, fucked the Legion up, as well as on the Byrne reboot Superman, and in that sense, huzzah! But on the other hand, there had to be a Legion around for Superman to meet after the first Crisis, in order for what we generally assume to be the vague DC continuity fans understood to still be the case to work – Cosmic Boy was around to take part in the Legends crossover, and as Hibbs and others pointed out earlier this week, there was a team of stranded-in-time Legionnaires in the present during the Final Night crossover. And doesn’t newly-important-again Booster Gold’s origin involve some Legion trickery? It’s not that continuity around the Legion wasn’t already dicey, but having characters explicitly point this out in stories just underscores how mallable and uncertain continuity is for DC, post-Infinite Crisis; something that wouldn’t be such a big deal if it wasn’t for the fact that their comics consistently refer to themselves over and over again. The strangest thing is, they do it to themselves. There’s no reason other than fanboyishness for the pre-Crisis Legion to be used here instead of the threeboot version of the characters, but in order to satisfy that fanboy neediness, the creators needlessly confuse everything. Remember that whole “Where are the editors?” thing?

SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #29 has a similar issue with continuity, in that – as Hibbs said last Wednesday (This really is the post of “Like Hibbs said…”, isn’t it?) – it kind of gives away a reveal for 52 #52 tomorrow (Only kind of, however; this week’s 52 also gives the same thing away, when Morrow says “52 worlds… 52 Morrows…And it all comes down to me…” Legion is just more explicit about it, is all) and reveals that this entire plot that’s been running in one form or another for the last year is the result of a 52 plot that we still haven’t had explained to us properly yet. Fine, congratulations to the creators for tying the book into current DC continuity, but why did you tie a book set 1000 years in the future to current DC continuity especially when current DC continuity seems to want to deal with a 30-year-old version of your characters?

(I know the answer, and so do you: Sales. But still. It’s incredibly frustrating to see this book that has the perfect excuse to be complete in and of itself suddenly become another chapter in the ongoing saga of continuity porn.)

That said, that’s the least of this issue’s problems. With the disappearance of the book’s regular creative team two issues earlier than their announced departure (The book is by Tony Bedard and Kevin Sharpe, who have been announced as the creators taking over temporarily in the wake of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson both taking off for pastures new) and the fact that the end of the issue pretty much sees the main characters where they were at the start of the issue, this feels as if it’s a last minute fill-in rather than the legitimate next chapter of the story. But that doesn’t appear to be the case, because this issue we also get the motivation for the bad guys and the escape of characters who’ve appeared as captives for the last few issues… So it’s not exactly filler, but it’s not entirely essential either; it just feels like an afterthought, a tired attempt to get an issue out and make it barely worthwhile… which, considering that Waid and Kitson had managed to make the book feel like it was regaining momentum and building to a big finish, is somehow all the more offensive in its weakness. Crap, sadly, and unless next issue is somehow jawdroppingly wonderful, enough to pretty much kill interest in the storyline completely dead.

Depressing, ain’t it?

Meanwhile, in the non-continuity-bashing parts of the reviewosphere:

ACTION COMICS #848: We’re completely in the midst of Action’s fill-in period, particularly now that the end of Geoff Johns and Richard Donner’s first story-arc has now been booted over to next year’s Action Comics Annual – Regular scheduling is due to resume somewhere around #855, I think? – and this issue is respectable enough, but falls into the trap of trying to do something “important” with the character… In this case, having him confront a character apparently powered by the religious faith of others. Which is an interesting idea, but there’s something unconvincing about the execution that I can’t quite put my finger on. Okay, but fairly traditionally fill-in-ish.

DAREDEVIL #96: The other day, Jeff and I agreed that this issue of DD was, despite being well-written and well-drawn and otherwise technically Good, a really bizarrely bland reading experience. Maybe it’s because it’s a book that’s so reliable that it’s weirdly dull…? I think that may be the worst compliment ever given to a book, but still…

FANTASTIC FOUR #545: There’s a lot to enjoy in this book, as much as the portrayal of Black Panther as Marvel’s Batman (or Kurt Busiek; whichever one wins more often in your eyes) can get old very quickly – although watching him take the “most strategically sound” route around the Galactus problem was funny, even if it’s probably only part one of a dodge. Dwayne McDuffie keeps with the lighter tone of Peter David in his heyday, and the mix of comedy and adventure feels appropriate for the series… Also appreciated is the fact that Reed and Sue are still part of the book, even as they’re not part of the team; it really reinforces the “family” aspect of the FF. There’re rumors that McDuffie and artist Paul Pelletier are only the temporary creators on this book, filling in until a more high profile team takes over in September, and I’m hoping desperately that that’s not the case – this is a Very Good take, and I’d like to see it continue for awhile.

WONDER WOMAN #8: This third chapter of Jodi Picoult’s run on the book feels like a first chapter of something else – Amazons Attack, say – instead of any continuation of the previous two chapters. Part of that is down to Terry and Rachel Dodson returning to the art chores, but it’s more down to the fact that the AA plot comes in and more or less overruns everything else. It makes what’s already a weirdly out-of-balance book even worse, especially with dialogue like “If you want to hit me, which I’d understand, know that I’m not really here. Whoa – – Deep.” At this point, not much of a surprise that this is another issue of the failed relaunch, but still, this is Crap, sadly.

PICK OF THE WEEK is a bit of a cheat, because it’s also TRADE OF THE WEEK: The Salon, which is very, very worth your time and money. PICK OF THE WEAK is probably Wonder Woman, which just keeps on disappointing, depressingly. Coming up later this week: 52 finishes! Free Comic Book Day arrives, bringing with it a great book from Canada! And I go to New York for the weekend! Can you dig it?

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