Tuesday, June 27, 2006

One Month Later

For a variety of reasons, I've been unable to get and read my comics from the LCS for the last month or so. For the same reasons, I've been unable to blog. If anybody is interested and doesn't already know, post a comment and I'll do a quick post explaining. However, since this is a comic blog and not one about my whiny personal life, here's the stuff you should have read in smaller doses over the last month.

Spoilers Ahead!

Action Comics #839 and Superman #653: These two issues are parts 6 & 7 of the excellent Busiek/Johns 8 parter Up, Up, And Away! If you aren’t reading this book and consider yourself a fan of DC, Superman or just super-heroes in general, you have no excuses. It has done a fabulous job of resetting Superman’s status quo (including some apparent changes to the New Krypton that must go along with the post-Crisis New Earth) and giving some hints as to how Clark has spent his year without powers. Better yet, we’re given an idea of what Lex has been up to in the last year and all his machinations finally come home to roost. There isn’t really any bad here unless and until DC starts claiming it was always their plan to return Superman to something more in line with the original Donner and Singer films. It might be true, but it’ll ring hollow in the face of all the crystalline Kryptonian tech and the shiny, 3-D S-Shield Supes is now sporting. Either way, I can’t wait to see how this arc wraps up.

Detective Comics #820: Overall I’ve really enjoyed Robinson’s OYL reset for the Dark Knight (of which this is part 7 of 8). This is going to sound like a dig, but the best word I can use to describe it is “serviceable.” It’s getting me where I need to go. Gordon is commissioner again, Batman is less of an asshat and Tim is actually working with him all the time. These are all good things.
The issue previous to this one was a total letdown as Harvey talked himself back into being Two Face and while that did make me worry for the last couple installments, I probably shouldn’t have. I have some general questions about the story (like why Batman would leave a recently stabilized Harvey in charge of meting out vigilante justice for a solid year), but most of them were probably mandated by editorial. Bottom line, I expected to just mark time until Morrison and Dini took over the Bat titles, but instead I’ve really enjoyed the ride.

Birds of Prey #98: BoP is the workhorse of my comic buy-pile. Some issues are beter than others, but there’s never a bad issue. This is one that feels a little on the worse side. I feared a deus ex machina once Prometheus took Shiva down in two panels last issue and there was something of one, but it was also one that had been foreshadowed in the lead-up to this issue. Really, the weakest part of this installment was Prometheus letting the Birds walk out once the Crime Doctor was dead. Maybe that would have happened if there was some sort of contract and he wasn’t being paid to kill the Birds, but he works for the Society now. I doubt that Talia and Deathstroke are going to be too amused to find out that he didn’t kill Oracle’s operatives when he had the chance.

I’m sorry to see Shiva go, she was a great addition to the book and I was really hoping that her status change would continue for longer. For instance, I’d like to see the Birds run into Batman or Green Arrow while Shiva was running with them as the Jade Canary. Shiva and Canary each getting “daughters” was a very nice touch of synchronicity, hopefully Simone will be around for a good long while to shepherd that new status quo. Unfortunately, with a young Asian girl who knows how to kick ass running around Babs, I can’t help but think of the mess that is Cassandra Cain. Ah well, none of that is Simone’s fault that I know of, I’ll try not to hold it against her going forward.

All-Star Superman #4: I have a bit of a crush on this book right now. The two months in-between issues seems interminable until you just about forget about how much you enjoyed the previous issue and then BAM! there’s a new issue in your pile. I recently read that Morrison described his All-Starniverse as the Pre-Crisis Superman with 20 years of continuity that we know nothing about. I love that, it shows through every issue of this book. Twenty more subjective years of Lois getting jerked around by Clark as he tries to protect his secret, twenty more subjective years of wacky stuff happening with bottled cities and long-dead alien father’s college roommates, twenty more subjective years of Jimmy being the coolest cat in the world because he hangs out with the Man of Steel.

That’s where we find ourselves with this issue. Jimmy Olsen is leading essentially a dream life with the coolest best friend, the hottest girl his age and the baddest ass job in the world for the biggest metropolitan newspaper ever. The good news is he’s about to be P.R.O.J.E.C.T. manager for a day. The bad news is he’s been cursed with bad luck by the Queen of the Gypsies. Naturally hijinks ensue and Morrison does an amazing job of showing why Superman would hang out with a kid who wears bow ties, which isn’t something that always made sense to me. This series has been absolute magic and this issue was no different. How else but magic could you explain me actually wishing I was Jimmy Olsen?

Wonder Woman #1: Okay, at this point you’ve read it, heard about it or don’t care. Bottom line, I’ve never given two shakes about Wonder Woman. I always thought the spy days sounded interesting, and now I may get to see for myself. I like Donna as Wonder Woman, I like the new Wonder Woman outfit, I liked what was done with the villains and I love to see Diana in a white version of Mrs. Peel’s catsuit.

But I’ll say this. If Heinberg runs me off this book with ridiculous and over the top melodrama (I’m looking at you, Young Avengers) or if issue three isn’t out by September…2008 (I’m looking at you AGAIN, Young Avengers), then I will be royally pissed off.

Casanova #1: I like Matt Fraction’s work. I’m not obsessive about it; when he wrote something in the universe of 30 Days of Midnight, I didn’t get it because I didn’t like the original book. But I did love the ever-loving hell out of Last of the Independents and I’m still anxiously awaiting Big Hat (pay attention, Matt! I still remember it even if nobody else does!). I’m very likely to add a Marvel book to my pull list with his Punisher. So, I dig his stuff. I dug Casanova VERY much.
I can’t explain the plot, but that’s okay because the plot is totally meaningless. It’s a bunch of influences thrown together into the pot that is Fraction’s brain and brought to a boil. The art is damn fine as well. You could do a lot worse for two thin greenbacks. Go buy this…in fact, buy it instead of Fell. I want to support the format, but I’ve heard about all I need to from Warren Ellis.

Astonishing X-Men #15: There’s been some talk in the blogalaxy that Whedon is relying to heavily on the nostalgia of the old Claremont/Byrne days and is trying to recreate some Golden Age of the X-Men with this book. I think that, whether we like it or not, nostalgia has become a big part of our comics and we need to decide if that’s what we want or not. If I can get quality writing like this each month, then I’m in like Flynn. The last time the X-Men were worth reading (aside from Morrison’s New X-Men run) was back in those days, so a writer could do a lot worse than looking back at them and emulating or making reference to that era. I also, however, give Whedon mad props for having the huevos to build on the stuff Morrison did. Since every other writer has broken their back to undo that stuff, its extra gravy for Whedon to embrace it and combine it with the classic stuff. I’m not blind to some of the problems of this series, but neither can I focus on those problems when I’m getting such an enjoyable read.

Green Lantern Corps #1: This comic isn’t bad by any stretch, but it did fail to rock my socks in any significant way. When I think of a book devoted to the Corps, I think of a book like JLA: 100% Spectacle, 0% Characterization. I’m not really interested in getting to know a bunch of Lanterns, what makes them tick, what they fear and why it keeps cropping up. I’m not really interested in watching Kilowog be the understanding father figure and Guy being the disreputable uncle. Wait, I lied, I am interested in that. But I need it in a MUCH broader context than some backwater planet that’s having a civil war…I have Marvel’s entire line for that. The GLC as a police force, sure. The GLs as cops or troubleshooters, sure. But for crying out loud, make the trouble they shoot big enough to get the attention of the Guardians of the Galaxy! Anything smaller is just Green Lantern of Sector XYZ doing their day to day stuff. I don’t really care about GL of Sector XYZ, I have Hal and his book for those kind of stories. I enjoyed this read, but it isn’t what I was expecting or what I want from a GLC book. It gets a few more issues, but I need it to get above a Tales of the Jedi setup.

Godland #11: I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t do anything other than love this homage to Jack Kirby. There are some things about it that grate on friends of mine, but I’m willing to accept those things as part of the overall tone of the book. I’ve enjoyed every issue and #11 was no exception. This series is highly recommended. However, nearly a year into the book, and its still just more and more madness piled on top of itself. Something somewhere needs to be resolved and it would be nice if it were done inside the first year’s worth of issues.

Eternals #1: Apparently Dan Didio isn’t interested in getting the money I would spend on the Fourth World, so I’m forced to spend that money elsewhere (see above as well as this entry). If you’ve read the early Eternals stuff, you can see that Kirby was in a very Chariot of the Gods mood back then (Gaiman even references that book), but the Eternals were unfortunately integrated into the Marvel Universe proper. Because of this, they’ve never really took off, they just don’t fit in the grander scheme that is the MU. Gaiman is apparently going to try and reimagine them back in and make it work this time. I enjoyed this first issue, but I’m willing to chock that up to being willing to give just about anything that’s moving a Kirbyverse forward. For six issues of Gaiman’s great writing, Kirby’s great concepts and Romita Jr.’s great art, I’m all in.

Liberty Meadows #37: I really shouldn’t have bought this. It is, after all, two freakin’ years late. Seriously, two years. But the fact is that the book is really funny and my wife loves it. We all know Cho now, he’s a very good artist. He’s got a sense of humor in strip form. Liberty Meadows is good comics and I’m stuck buying it even if it comes out every Centennial. It is my own personal shame.

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