Posted by: Brian Hibbs on August 21, 2004
I am Lamor, the Sub-Pariner (or is that pronounced “Sub-Pare-iner”?) Not only did I leave CE early yesterday, but I left without my books. So the only reviews I’ve got are a few quick “gotta-reads” and a couple of books I don’t buy but check in on. And I have to do it all from memory. Better than nothing? I guess we’ll see, won’t we?
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #631: Rucka tries to serve two masters here, and I don’t think it works. If you’re doing gritty military sniper action, why does one round of the sniper rifle explode and take out the whole troop? If you’re doing slug-’em-up superhero action, why does it all seem to take place in a small little room with all the drama of three people playing hearts? Five issues in, this, Action and Superman all seem like pretty big messes: they actually make me nostalgic for the days when Loeb would craft over the top widescreen messes jam-packed with nonsensical plot twists and padded with captions pulled from famous speeches and penis spam emails. Sad but true. Eh.
BIRDS OF PREY #72: Don’t like this storyline at all, I’m afraid, in part because it spins on the idea of a super-charismatic type able to form a cult around his wacky fanboy beliefs. Maybe there’s some subversive commentary I’m missing there, but it takes a larger supension of disbelief than I can maintain (if there’s one thing people who read superhero comics know, it’s the impossibility of using their wacky fanboy beliefs to convince people to read comics, much less dress up like superheroes and boy sidekicks and blow themselves up). And also, the creepy Oracle cyber-identity-rape thing? Not so much. Awful.
BONEYARD #15: I saw where Nessie’s “origin” story was going a mile away, and I didn’t think I was going to like it–but somehow it worked for me. I’m a soft touch, but Moore’s fondness for his characters keeps both the comedy and the melodrama from reading flat, and that’s a pretty rare achievement these days. Good.
COSMIC GUARD #1: Proof that Pavlovianism works: give me a dozen mind-blowing comics to read when I’m twelve, and I’ll follow your career for the rest of my life. And although I’m not sure Starlin can draw characters any more unless their heads are either ginormous and/or made of stone, I thought this looked damn gorgeous. The dialogue, though, is a mess, utterly wooden in the space scenes(“It was a honor to be your consort, Dark Paladin!” is the sort of thing one shouldn’t read unless one’s cybering in a MUD somewhere) and utterly unconvincing in the Earth scenes (does anyone under the age of fifty use the word “dopers” any more?) But am I really surprised? Will it keep me from picking up future issues? No, and no. OK.
DAREDEVIL #63: On the one hand, I’m glad Bendis didn’t pull a “Zeiss” and make his hitman the most insanely super-competent mega-assassin to ever kill eleven people with a pencil eraser and a library card. On the other hand, the fact that Quinn was just a well-prepared shlub who beats two superheroes to a standstill with some guns and a SHIELD dog whistle pretty much sucks–and by “sucks,” I mean “makes very little sense following a storyline where Murdock single-handedly beats eleven million yakuza on a rainy street.” Surprisingly awful.
DC COMICS PRESENTS ATOM #1: Hibbs presented a very unique defense for this issue: “No, it’s okay that these stories sucked because the original silver-age Atom stories sucked!” Yeah okay, but still. Not only have we seen enough “Julie saves the day” stories by now (and I have even more appreciation for Morrison’s Adam Strange story now, where Julie saves the day without even appearing) but these were really, really dull “Julie saves the day” stories. (It says something about today’s superhero books that the idea of a character chained to a live hand grenade has absolutely no inherent drama in and of itself anymore.) I’m sure if this had come at the start of the tribute, I would have liked it more. Eh.
EXILES #51: I read this because of Hibbs’ good review and liked it. The ending really saves the whole thing because up until that point I thought they were doing a pretty lame job with a pretty cool premise. I hope this team gets a chance to polish its chops on this title, because I think they’ve got chops to polish. Good.
GOON #8: I was pretty put-off by the opening, cheap laugh though it was (Wait, I’m supposed to feel like an idiot for enjoying and praising this book? Mission accomplished!) but maybe Powell was overcompensating for a story that lets the laughs taper off and allows a sense of melancholy to set in. Another great issue. Very Good.
HAWKMAN #31: Even though the supervillain is a big ball of snot, I liked this. I had built up some empathy for Domina so the payoff worked, the reference to St. Roche mostly worked (I like that Hawkman ends up fighting a guy inspired by one of his possible past incarnations) and that Ryan Sook art still really works. Not gonna blow anyone’s mind, but as yr. basic superhero comic: Good.
MANHUNTER #1: Nice art, but too many “I don’t buys.” Jury lets Copperhead off because of rogue DNA? I don’t buy that. Storage locker of supervillain evidence doesn’t have an actual guy checking stuff in and out? I don’t buy that. Attorney picks up electro-staff and is instantly able to fight and leap and run around in sewers? Sorry, I don’t buy that either. Awful.
PLASTIC MAN #9: Good laughs had at the expense of time travel stories: nothing’s funnier than having your two heroes quarrel over shooting Abe Lincoln. I think maybe I didn’t finish reading it, because I can’t remember the ending. Why’d they have to do all that again? Good.
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #64: Wow, I thought Bendis dropped the ball on this, too. Can you imagine watching, say, The Empire Strikes Back, and just as Luke and Darth Vader draw lightsabers, you suddenly cut to Luke sitting on the bed of the med-ship telling Leia, “It was awful, I was doing everything I could to stay alive, and then Vader told me: he was my father.” Oh sure, you get flashbacks to all the cool fights and everything but wouldn’t that feel, I dunno, a little disruptive to the narrative tension, maybe? Why on Earth Bendis pulled such a narrative blunder I have no idea, unless he looked at his checklist of plot points and realized he had to hit them all in eight pages. He sacrificed one of his best characters for this? Shockingly, shockingly Awful.
X-MEN #160: Probably the best Austen X-issue I’ve read. Lots of cool fights, the almost-friendly bickering between Iceman and Juggernaut worked (if you can accept Austen’s take on Iceman), some really nice visuals from Larroca (Hibbs didn’t like that sideways double-page splash but I thought it was just really cool, and something about Polaris dissembling that rifle with her mind just looked really detailed and satisfying at a basic fanboy level–ditto the retrieval of Xorn’s mask) with some nice emotional beats. Wish the stuff previous to this had been so sturdy. A very high OK.