I’m not even gonna lie, folks. Yesterday I was on the verge of lashing out at anybody who looked at me the wrong way. Some people said some things that I felt were highly disrespectful, and then they followed up on that by asking me to go out of my way to do something that I am not actually able to do without significant time spent doing so. Why would I do this when I don’t get treated with any measure of respect in the course of my regular comings and goings? All I can say is that luckily the day was salvaged by a date with a beautiful girl and a stack of mostly excellent comics.
Yesterday was really the kind of day that comics were invented for. I was in a foul mood, the rain outside was just nasty, nothing was on TV; it was just a day meant to be ended laying on the couch reading about super powered people in bright costumes punching bad guys in the face. Honestly, yesterday would have been almost a total down note if it weren’t for my weekly pull.
ACTION COMICS #890 3.99
ASTONISHING X-MEN #34 2.99
BATMAN BEYOND #1 (OF 6) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #607 HA 3.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #892 2.99
DEATH OF DRACULA ONE-SHOT 3.99
FLASH #3 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #13 2.99
HERALDS #5 (OF 5) 2.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN ANNUAL #1 4.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #46 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #40 2.99
SECRET AVENGERS #2 HA 3.99
THOR #611 HA 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #600 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
And now that my personal bitching is out of the way, let’s do this shit.
Lex Luthor takes over the protagonist duties on Action Comics this week, with former Captain Britain and Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell taking the reigns and bringing us a story that spills directly out of Blackest Night, which most of my readers will recall me as christening a “steaming pile of Geoff John’s diaretic feces” or something similar. And while my feelings on that particularly shoddy mini-series haven’t changed, the fallout here with Luthor, whose power hungry ego was out of control before he got ahold of an orange ring, is actually intriguing and well plotted. I attribute this mostly to the fact that Luthor is one of the better multi-faceted villains DC has at their disposal. I mean, the Joker has a lot of different degrees of crazy he can go in, but he’s still going to be the Joker. With Lex we can get mad scientist Lex or evil industrialist Lex or actually-not-evil Lex, his lack of true definition isn’t a fault of the writers it’s a byproduct of his psyche as a character. Luthor truly does not know what he wants to be. Really, he just doesn’t want to be Superman, despite what Geoff Johns would have you believe.
This particular issue knocks it out of the park as far as I’m concerned. The story is obvious setup, where we learn of Luthor’s plan to quest for the rings (which sounds a little more Tolkien-esque than I thought when I typed that out). But while it’s definitely an issue meant to catch up readers who may be jumping on board as well as giving us a clear direction for where the title is headed, we also get Cornell’s Luthor clearly defined in the span of one issue. We know which Luthor we’re going to be getting. Cornell writes a very compelling Luthor, with his actions making complete sense in the context of who we’re dealing with. The way he treats Lois in this issue (probably my favorite aspect of the series thus far) is probably as good a gauge of character as we’ll ever see.
Oh, and the surprise reveal of the villain at the end made me squee, because he’s a personal favorite and I’ve been waiting for him to pop back up for a while now. But that’s just personal bias.
I only vaguely remember Batman Beyond as a show. I mean, I watched it because I was young and there wasn’t much else on but I didn’t latch onto it the way that I did with Batman The Animated Series. Chris Sims over at ComicsAlliance said that he enjoyed the show because it was basically Batman meshed with Spider-Man but set in the future. I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment. The character is more Spidey than Bats most of the time, and I think that’s an interesting dynamic but it was never something that hooked me. I mean, if I want to watch Spider-Man I’ll go watch Spider-Man. Batman has a specific style and tone that I identify with and Batman Beyond didn’t really hit that note for me.
That having been said, I felt compelled to pick up the first issue of the mini-series because I’ll be damned if I’m not going to at least give it a fair shake to make me a convert. I won’t say that it has, but I think that is because a lot of what did make the show work in terms of style was lost when translated with it’s adaptation to a different medium. I think that regular fans will enjoy it more than I did because they’ll just be happy to see Terry McGinnis back in some form.
I will say that Beechen gets kudos for surprising me with the villain, if they do in fact go where they suggest at the end of the issue. He’s not my favorite villain by any means, in fact I hate the living hell out of the story that introduced him while a lot of people hold it up as some paragon of Batman lore, but given that this is an alternate reality maybe they can fix him in some small degree, although any progress made won’t resonate in the regular titles and so I’ll likely end up dissapointed either way. As you can tell, I am still harboring some residual pessimissm left over from yesterday.
Spoiler Alert – Dracula dies in this issue. Yeah, I know some people will actually complain that I mention that. Despite having the central premise of the book right there in the title. Though Marvel has thrown swerveballs at us in regards to titles and events and covers that bely my point, but this is my blog so deal with it.
Anyhow, all I have to say about this issue is that it is a damn fine little vampire story that follows the logic and style I prefer in my vampire fiction. I was hoping for a Blade cameo, but no such luck, this one is all about the fanged dudes. The clear definition that Gischler gives to the vampire sects is refreshing rather than having a catch-all group of undead with no real regard to locale or backstory. I particularly liked the hot dominatrix female vampire sect. (The fact that I almost typed that as “Sext” seals the deal. Hot vampires for the win. Good job Gisch!)
I have to appreciate Marvel’s recent revival of their vampire community. The upcoming trade reprints of Tomb of Dracula have me positively giddy as I can finally replace my Essentials. Cornell’s Vampire State arc of Captain Britain was phenomenal and every time I see a copy at the shop I get really angry that the book got cancelled because it truly was a gem. But luckily Marvel has good, talented writers like Gischler handling their vampires because they seem to understand what makes them work. Vampires are supposed to be creatures of horror. There is a lamentation in the book that humans don’t fear vampires the way they should, despite being creatures of fear by nature. And that’s the crux of this. There is a regal fearsomeness to the vampires presented in this issue. I want to thank Vic Gischler for righting the wrongs brought on by vampires like this:
Yeah, seriously. Read Death of Dracula. It’s not lame.
First, let me state how awesome it is that Matt Fraction was able to throw in a nod to Immortal Iron Fist in this annual. I think that was wicked awesome, especially for those of us who loved that book unconditionally. I will say that for the five bucks I paid to pick up this book, I got about as much content as your average trade paperback. Fraction knows how to give his readers bang for their buck, and here we got an interesting look at the life story of the Mandarin through the eyes of the director he shanghai’d to film his biopic. It’s filled with fabrications and lies mixed with fact. Kind of like a White House press conference (BA-ZING!).
It’s a hefty book, with a sprawling story that weaves itself around Iron Man without ever being about him. Which is both a good and a bad thing I suppose. I did like how Fraction essentially updated Tony’s origin to mirror the one in the film, with the terror sect from the first movie being utilized and the escape sequence recreated almost identically. We knew it was going to happen eventually, I’m just glad it was done in a way that was organic and didn’t feel forced. Like some stupid mini-series launched simply to cash in on the movie. I get tired of that. Quickly.
This annual has a lot going for it the way that Action Comics did. We get a character who is well known but not defined in any real manner. Fraction plays with that a bit to create a character who is defined by the smokescreen created by his own illusionary presence. The Mandarin is a villain who needed an issue like this to give us a reason to care about his existence. I can’t wait to see what Fraction does with the character in the pages of the book proper.
Christ on a cracker, Robinson. You’re killing me here.
JLA has turned into a solid gold turd. I mean, it started off pretty bad with Meltzer, and McDuffie’s run was a mediocre bore, but now it’s just a walking joke. Bagley’s pencils are great and all but they cannot salvage this dreck. It’s poorly written, poorly plotted, and doesn’t feel like a JLA book at all to me. There’s none of the gravitas of Morrison or Waid’s run, and none of the fun that was so prevalant in the cartoon. JLA is supposed to be big and bombastic, it’s supposed to be all that’s great about the DC characters in one book but instead I find myself reading this issue and wondering how anyone could enjoy it. It’s full of faux importance but everything rings hollow. If it weren’t crossing over with JSA, which I’m loving, I never would have put money down on this title. It’s sad to see how far Robinson has fallen since Starman, it really is.
All anyone is talking about is that damned costume redesign. Which basically confirms my suspicions that Wonder Woman is more an image than a catalyst for stories. She’s a fetishized figure that hearkens to teenage masturbatory fantasies whose value as a character is largely ignored. I personally liked every little story in the book, with my favorite of course being the one by Amanda Conner, who may be the most talented working artist around. I mean, come on. You have Power Girl and Wonder Woman teaming up to punch a giant walking egg. Don’t tell me that’s not great!
But all the coverage of this milestone issue has been about the damned costume. It only appears for one of the five stories in the issue and that seems to be the only thing that every article I’ve read since the beginning of this week has focused on. Not the fact that Gail Simone teamed up with George Perez to tell a Wonder Woman story that builds on years of Diana’s legacy for a truly genuine story. One that demonstrates how just about every other female character in the DCU is beholden to Wonder Woman in some way, shape or form. Whether in the context of their existence in the mainstream DCU or in a meta-textual manner that references the way Diana trailblazed female heroes, that story spoke volumes. And it made the message while she was wearing the classic costume. If there is anything wrong with that costume it’s simply that George Perez can’t draw every issue of Wonder Woman as well as her every appearance in every DC book. Between Gail and George’s enormous talent, their worst work would be better than the best work of some other talented creators. I stand by that firmly.
Of the Trinity’s anniversary issues, this one was probably the strongest. There was a respect to the character that was lacking in Superman’s, like the point of Superman 700 was to expose the flaws of Superman and somehow right them. Which felt a little like arrogance on the part of Stracynski. With Wonder Woman, he’s also trying to revise her and bring her some place new. But he didn’t do it at the expense of saying “your personality is wrong, this shall be fixed.”
Still not sold on him as the ongoing writer, but this issue was solid. I just wish people could see the reason why.
This week was a monster. I mean, it’s been a while since I picked up this many books in a single week. I normally don’t go this heavy, and I’m trying to pull back on my subscriptions because money’s getting a little tight at this point. But this week I bit the bullet and plopped down a good chunk of change on some comics, so I might as well do an equally impressive review post.
PULL LIST 4-14-2010
ACTION COMICS #888 $3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS #10 $3.99
BATGIRL #9 $2.99
BATMAN #698 $2.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #0 $3.99
FLASH #1 $3.99
GREEN ARROW #32 $2.99
SECRET SIX #20 $2.99
UNWRITTEN #12 (MR) $2.99
CHEW #10 (MR) $2.99
BLACK WIDOW #1 HA $3.99
DAREDEVIL #506 $2.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #894 $2.99
EXCALIBUR VISIONARIES WARREN ELLIS TP VOL 01 $19.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #1 $3.99
NEW MUTANTS #12 XSC $2.99
PUNISHERMAX #6 (MR) $3.99
SIEGE CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 $2.99
SIEGE LOKI #1 $2.99
SIEGE YOUNG AVENGERS #1 $2.99
WORLD WAR HULKS HULKED OUT HEROES #1 WWHS $3.99
X-FACTOR FOREVER #2 $3.99
HACK SLASH SERIES #31 A CVR SEELEY (MR) $3.50
Granted it’ll probably take me a week to ready everything I bought, I still have enough knocked out to bring you the following criticisms…
After an impressive debut arc for Tony Daniel on the mainline Batman book, now comes the part where we find out if he’s worth his salt or if he just got lucky that first time around. I was not a fan of Battle for the Cowl, so Daniel’s showing in the last few issues of Batman has been a nice little surprise. With this issue we don’t get his art to go along with his pencils, and I think that my point made in an earlier review that Daniel writes better when he knows he’ll be drawing the action himself is pretty much on the money, as this new artist, who really is only pedestrian at best, doesn’t really convey the action in the same manner that Daniel did. The story itself seems like filler, which the fill-in artists seems to back up.
I like just about any Batman comic featuring the Riddler, as I think this private detective revamp has made him into an especially viable character, but in this issue it is painfully obvious that he’s a better detective than Dick, which makes it hard for me to believe that nobody has caught on to him being an entirely different person under the mask. Gordon especially. And if he has noticed, you would think he of all people would be the first to tell the new Batman to bugger off if he can’t add anything helpful to the mix. And when the Riddler is constantly making you look like a schmuck in front of the police commissioner, you really have nothing helpful to add to the mix.
The return to happy-times in the DCU starts with a baby bird falling out of a tree and braining itself on a tombstone. Blood splatters and I’m sure a child somewhere weeps. Sure, a very much alive Deadman resurrects him with white power (Holy shit, white power? I need to find a better term.), but still, that little bit caught me off guard. This whole issue didn’t connect with me after that. I mean, we get Max Lord giving himself a nosebleed, a bunch of yammering with Hawkman and Hawkgirl, who I very much preferred to be left dead, and a scene where Aquaman is afraid to go into the water.
Aqauaman is afraid of the water.
It’s hard for me to defend my love for Aquaman as a character when scenes like that pop up. I mean, come on. I try to prove that he’s not the lamest character in existence and now Geoff Johns has essentially turned him from the brave king of the seas into a little boy who lost his floaties.
Brightest Day just goes to proove that Geoff Johns output for the GL universe outside of the book proper is probably not going to be my cup of tea, and as such you probably won’t be hearing much about it here unless he does something that truly shocks me, either positive or more likely negative.
And while Brightest day might have made me give up on Geoff Johns as a writer, Flash # 1 proves that he can still write the hell out of a monthly book. I have to admit that I’m not a big Barry Allen fan. I grew up with Wally. Wally is my Flash. I was going to give this book a pass but picked it up for the sake of doing a review. And I’m glad I did because this book moves at a mile a minute and hits every note that it needs to. Geoff Johns really has a grip on the Flash. This is no surprise given how great his last run was on the title, but that was years ago and that was Wally. He also seemed to care more about the Rogues than he did about the Flash, which gave the book a distinct sort of flair.
Here he is really more interested it seems in showing us how Barry is going to integrate himself back into society after having been gone for so long. He’s bringing back old characters and introducing Barry to a new generation at the same time. It’s sort of like a spin-off TV series in the way everything is set up. There is a striking familiarity but at the same time everything feels so shiny and new.
Honestly, I think this is going to be a book to watch, as I think this is something that Geoff wants to write while at the same time being a book that he needs to write in order to ground himself after spending so much of his talent writing mindless epic event books. I hope I’m right. Dear god, I hope I’m right.
Uh, wow. That was quick. You want to talk about a rushed issue? This would be it. Plots are resolved within the length of a page, what would normally take several issues is condensed down into a few panels, and the book ends with a major tease for the new # 1 issue.
I guess with the timeframe he was given JT Krul did the best he could to wrap everything up in a manner that didn’t completely collapse under its own weight, but jeez, an extra issue might have helped to pad this thing and make the narrative flow better. Ollie changes his mind about life-altering decisions in the span of half a panel. It’s so sudden and jarring that it can’t be described as anything other than a WTF moment.
Oh well, bring on the relaunch.
Here’s one I’ve been looking forward to. The Black Widow – Deadly Origin book stoked my interest for an ongoing Black Widow book and now it’s here. I can only say that Marjorie Liu does a bangup job with the character. Artfully taking from what writers like Ed Brubaker have done with her in the Captain America book and moved in the next logical direction.
This book is a lot like Deadly Origin, in that it has a great deal to do with the Widow’s past in setting up the narrative. And honestly, that’s one of the things that makes the Widow so interesting. She’s like the bizzaro Wolverine in that regard. Wolverine is (was) interesting because of the mystery of his past. The Widow however seems to work because we know how integrated with the Marvel Universe she is. That allows for her to organically interact with just about ANY character in the Marvel Universe without it seeming like a gratuitous cameo. Here we get Tony Stark, Wolverine, and Bucky, all of whom should appear in a book like this.
We don’t get that many books with female leads. We were lucky that Ms. Marvel lasted as long as she did and it’s a shame that She-Hulk isn’t around anymore. But between this and Bendis’ Spider-Woman, the ladies of the Marvel Universe are looking damn fine right about now.
I might as well just write a review that says “FUCK YEAH!” and leave it at that, because really that’s all I can say about this book. Matt Fraction has been knocking it out of the park over in Invincible Iron Man, but Fred Van Lente takes a look at Tony’s past and completely nails the character in ways every writer who’s ever handled Tony wishes they could.
I’m not gonna spend any more time on this book. I don’t need to. Go buy the damned thing. If you don’t, you hate being happy. And for that I am so so sorry.
I have to say, this crossover feels like an X-Men story. I maintain that the holding pattern that the x-books were staying in from Messiah Complex to this moment only heightened the intensity of the crossover and it’s making for some amazing storytelling. This issue is balls-to-the-wall action and it’s all done on such a scale that it can only be described as classic X-Men. I get the feeling this is gonna be one of those crossovers that we look back on with a fond memory, remembering just how awesome it truly is.
Jason Aaron writes a better Punisher than Garth Ennis.
There. I said it.
There is something about his run so far that really connects with me. I think a lot of it may be how he seems more willing to blatantly show that he has no regard for mainline continuity. Whereas we know that Ennis was writing in another universe, simply by proxy of using no existing characters, Aaron is more than happy to re-define existing Marvel characters like Kingpin and Bullseye with Ulitmate Universe style reckless abandon, and at the same time make it work and not alienate the fanbase.
Not only that, but he seems to get the Punisher in more than a cathartic sadist sort of way that Ennis did. Aaron’s Frank Castle is decidedly human, and we see this through the skillful mastery that Aaron brings to the people surrounding the Punisher. We get precious little insight from the Punisher himself instead getting more out of reactions from people like Kingpin, Bullseye, or an old army friend who comes by to patch up Frank’s wounds.
Jason Aaron is amazing, and so is this book.