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We’ve lost! Quick! Eat the comics!: Graeme reviews some more books from the last two weeks.

Graeme McMillan

Day six in the Big Brother house, and Good Lord, but my head is spinning from all the reviewin’ going on here. Remember when we never used to post? Those were the days, my friend.

THE AUTHORITY #2: Can we now finally start the “Grant Morrison needs a vacation, desperately” meme? This much-delayed second issue of his Wildstorm relaunch finally ships, and proves to be pretty much a disappointment all-round. The discovery that the Authority have somehow crossed over into “our world” is unconvincing (They all seem to deal with it very well, I must say. “Hey, there’s our lives as a comic book! Let’s make a joke about how much comic books cost these days!”) and, at this point, a tired theme from Morrison that he’s handled better in Animal Man, Doom Patrol and even The Filth, the dialogue is flat and uninspiring, and even Gene Ha’s artwork is inconsistent and overly reliant on the colorist to fill-in the details. After what felt like a much more impressive first issue, this is a massive letdown, and considering that the title is now “on hiatus” until further notice, more proof that Morrison may have burned himself out for the moment. Crap.

FANTASTIC FOUR #543: Happy 45th Birthday, Fantastic Four! Shame that you have to celebrate it with such a depressing lead story that has to jump from one editorial edict (“Civil War has torn this family apart!”) to another (“Black Panther and Storm are the newest members of the team!”) even though both of them don’t really say anything about the characters themselves. Much, much better are the back-up strips, with Paul Pope revealing a deep love for early ’60s Marvel that I wouldn’t have guessed, and Stan Lee firing on all cylinders – surprisingly, considering his “Stan Lee Meets” books – on a story (with awesome art by Nick Dragotta and Mike Allred) that shows off the absurdity, comedy and love that the series used to be full of. Good for the price, and if you ignore the main story, much better.

THE FLASH: FASTEST MAN ALIVE #9: Okay, sure, it’s much better than what came before, but that’s possibly the most backhanded compliment possible considering what had come before. At least now the characters seem to be back in character, and the book has a voice that’s more recognizable as both Bart and a Flash book in general. That said, this is clearly a filler issue, a palate cleanser and attempt to make it up to the fans who’d stayed around by playing firmly to continuity and the DC faithful with guestshots and shout-outs to touchstones for Bart’s particularly hardcore fanbase, more than a successful story in its own right. Okay, I guess, and if nothing else, a step in the right direction.

GREEN LANTERN #17: I really want to like this book. I love the character – He’s a space cop with a magic wishing ring! What’s not to love? – and like the writer and artist, so why do I end up feeling so uninvolved with the whole thing? For every right move (the Batman as Sinestro thing was funny and smart, for example), there just seems to be a lack of… I don’t know, direction? momentum? in this series that I can’t explain. A hesitant Eh, I guess.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #6: Brad Meltzer is a massive fanboy, and that’s the biggest problem with this book. He gets really excited in the small details of the story (How to fight Amazo, in depth. Because, really, we all want to know that Superman goes for the eyes while Batman goes for the legs. And we need to take three pages for that, don’t we?) and sadly the larger plot gets lost in the process. The book reads as if it were written by a kid: “And then they fight and then they win because they win because that’s what they do!” Weirdly enough, I don’t think that Meltzer’s at fault for this, though; he’s a good enough writer to do better, but he’s clearly not getting the editing he needs – the double-page spread of Amazo and Red Tornado looking sad is something that really should’ve been killed at script stage, instead of using it and adding pages (and cost) to the final book – or deserves. Okay, but it should be much, much better.

MARVEL ZOMBIES VS. ARMY OF DARKNESS #1: Yeah, I don’t know. It’s fun enough, I guess? But this joke stopped being funny about a year ago, and even John Layman’s best attempts to keep the comedy coming fail to raise a smile. Eh.

SHAZAM!: THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL #2: If anything, even better than the first issue. Jeff Smith shows that he can do something that’s so wonderfully old-fashioned that it seems contemporary again, bringing a pitchperfect sense of wonder and menace (The Monster Society here manages to be scarier than 52’s Sobek, perhaps because of the context they work in – or maybe just their go-for-broke “let’s eat all the children” plan B) to the character and superheroics in general. I can’t wait for the eventual collection, because if ever there would be a great book for kids who like superheroes to read, it’d be this one. Excellent.

Now that I’ve done all of this week’s books, I can safely say that Shazam is the PICK OF THE WEEK, and Civil War: The Initiative is a sloppy, tossed-off PICK OF THE WEAK. Apparently, I’ve chosen what kind of superhero comic I’d rather read in the future.

Tomorrow: The last day of my week-of-posting, and Jeff Lester and I will have to fight over it.

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