Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Weekly Comic Reviews – 9/3/2013

This week saw thirteen new 3D covered .1 issues released by DC. My readership of their output has dropped so heavily that I only bought one, and I’ll get to that a little later on. I want to let you guys know that when it comes to DC my views are a little shaded right now. I see everything through the dark haze of “clearly this isn’t meant for me” every time I crack a cover. DC published several dozen titles and I only actively enjoy about three of them. That number will drop when Williams and company leave Batwoman and I drop that like a hot potato. It would take a miracle for DC to put together a creative team for that book that would wash the bad taste of that decision out of my mouth. But hey, that’s just me speaking. Unfortunately I don’t have any Marvel comics to review for you this week, so you’re going to have to deal with a little negative energy.

jokerBATMAN 23.1 – The Joker
Written by: Andy Kubert
Art by:  Andy Clarke
Page Count: 32
U.S. Price: 3.99
The Joker has FOREVER been the face of EVIL in the DC Universe…but what led him on this devious path of treachery? Andy Kubert pens this early adventure showcasing the maniacal exploits of the Crown Prince of Gotham—The JOKER! 
The biggest fear I have had about these Villains Month issues, aside from the fact that they would drive speculators into the shops in droves thus giving me a headache that no amount of Advil could cure (a prediction that Wednesday proved to be true), was that they would be useless filler that negated all the hype and hooplah surrounding them. Surprise, surprise…that’s pretty much what you’re getting. This particular issue, focusing on the Joker and his attempts to raise a gorilla as a surrogate son and the hijinks that ensue, feels completely tone-deaf with regards to Snyder’s work on the title. Attempts to shed light on an abusive homelife in Joker’s early formative years do little to shock because the rest of the issue does little to capture our attention or feel substantial in any real way. Coming on the heels of the Death in the Family arc makes Kubert’s work here seem off-base and, at least to me, offensive. There was a chance here to tell a truly worthwhile Joker tale, one that people would remember. You know what people will remember about this issue? The stupid cover.
This issue is a joke. I’m not trying to be witty or make a pun; this issue is laughable. As a writer, you cannot let a gimmick overtake your work. In a few months, everyone will be mocking the entire Villains Month endeavor. I doubt a single positive step forward will come out of any story told in any of these gimmick issues. I am saddened that there is so little here to enjoy. I was hoping DC would prove me wrong. Whoops, there I go again.
Rating: 1 out of 5
Forever-Evil-1-cover-David-Finch-Crime-SyndicateFOREVER EVIL # 1
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: David Finch, Richard Friend
Page Count: 48
U.S. Price: 3.99
The first universe-wide event of The New 52 begins as FOREVER EVIL launches! The Justice League is DEAD! And the villains shall INHERIT the Earth! An epic tale of the world’s greatest super-villains starts here!
I made it through the first issue of Trinity War. Apparently that led to this. You don’t need to worry about catching up, the issue is fairly cut and dry in getting everyone up to speed. Lex Luthor opens the issue blackmailing another businessman like the greasy industrialist he is when he’s interrupted by the arrival of shadowy figures doing nefarious things. The issue then plays out as roughly thirty pages of showing us which villains are being broken out of which prisons until the Crime Syndicate led by Ultraman and Superwoman reveal that they have defeated the Justice League. It is as by the numbers as an event book can get. It reads like everything Geoff Johns has slapped onto a page in previous tent-pole titles and honestly the schtick is wearing thin on my nerves. There’s nothing fresh here, not in the writing nor in the artwork. David Finch’s dark linework portrays the sense of mood the title wants to inflict on the readers but feels rushed and without any real weight.
Compared to something like Infinity which took the time to build the world the event would unfold in, Forever Evil feels like watching a recorded TV show at 1.5x speed and being unable to tell if you’re missing the nuances or if they’re even there at all. This is a book for a very particular type of fan and the only thing I can say is that I honestly had hoped that type of fan went extinct with the end of the 90’s but seeing how copies of issue number one flew off the shelf on Wednesday it would appear they have not only survived but may in fact have multiplied. It was like that rolling wave of Zombies in World War Z except they were all asking for variant covers and extra bags and boards.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5
The Star Wars #1 by Doug Wheatley (Ultra Variant Cover)The Star Wars # 1 of 8
Writer:  J.W. Rinzler
Artist: Mike Mayhew
Cover Price: 3.99
Before Star Wars, there was The Star Wars! This is the authorized adaptation of George Lucas’s rough-draft screenplay of what would eventually become a motion picture that would change the world. Annikin Starkiller is the hero . . . Luke Skywalker is a wizened Jedi general . . . Han Solo is a big green alien . . . and the Sith . . . Well, the Sith are still the bad guys. High adventure and derring-do from longer ago, in a galaxy even further away!
Of all the books I picked up, this is the one that shone brightest. I know the company it keeps isn’t that elevated, but let me assure you that I was hesitant to even give this one a shot. I am glad I overrode my guttural instincts because this is a fun comic. Elements of what became Star Wars are definitely in the story here, names may be familiar but the story takes such a different turn that you can’t help but be fascinated how this eventually became the classic we all know and love. I will state for the record that based off of this, Lucas has had an interest in shoe-horning trade diplomacy into space pulp fantasy since the beginning, he simply had to wait until Episode I to get it on the screen. The backdrop of this series utilizes those elements in an interesting way and lets itself play out in a way consistent with the rest of the story. Honestly, reading this and comparing and contrasting story elements is quite a fun little experiment. It really gives you a look inside George Lucas’ head in a way most people only like to speculate.
Will Star Wars fans enjoy it? I believe so. I think those turned off by the later installments will find a great deal to like here. There is so much that is obviously pulled from the series that Lucas idolized in his youth and while it is certainly a rough outline of a story it seems to have molded into something worth reading. More happens in the first issue of this series than in the entirety of Episode I, so if that’s a bar you’re willing to set, go ahead and give it a read. You can’t possibly be let down.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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