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Posts tagged “Geoff Johns

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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COMIC BOOK REVIEW – JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA (2013) # 1

PictureJUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1
Geoff Johns (w) • David Finch (a)
The march toward TRINITY WAR begins with part one of “WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS”! Green Lantern! Green Arrow! Catwoman! Katana! Vibe! Hawkman! Stargirl! They aren’t the world’s greatest super heroes—they’re the most dangerous! But why does a team like the JLA need to exist? What is their ultimate mission? And who is pulling the strings? Plus: Find out why Martian Manhunter is the most dangerous of them all. Period. 40 pages • $3.99

I gave up on Johns’ nu52 version of the Justice League after the first arc. I think it did a lot of things right but unfortunately I just needed to cull something off my list and aside from the Avengers and X-Men I’m not much of a team book sort of person anymore and my interest in team books on the DC side of the equation has always been spotty. I’ll fade in an out with the Titans, the League, Birds of Prey, the Suicide Squad, and others based on lineups or writers.

The new JLA got me because of the lineup more than the writer. Johns’ name doesn’t mean guaranteed gold anymore than any other writer so it came down to an interesting grouping of characters. Green Arrow and Catwoman sold me on this book. That’s what it really comes down to. I’m not a huge Hawkman or Martian Manhunter fan, though they can be an interesting element in a good book and I know nothing about this new GL and only have a passing familiarity with Vibe or Katana. I’m essentially going into this as blind as I can. I figure that helps give me a clean slate when I say that I still don’t have much of a feeling about the book following the first issue.
Why am I still not sold? Because very little actually happens in the first issue. It’s a framed narrative with Steve Trevor, apparently this League’s handler, talking with Amanda Waller, who I still can’t get over being so damn thin, about what shape the League should take and why. Waller wants a response to the high and mighty Trinity-led League, who she thinks have lost perspective while lording over us in the satellite. Trevor wants…I’m still not entirely sure. Mostly he just doesn’t want it to be totally in Waller’s hands.
We are introduced to the characters who will be in this new League and it ends on a major cliffhanger. The last page kickstarts the real story and by proxy makes the rest of the issue seem like preamble. I really wish they could have condensed the setup somehow because it doesn’t feel like I got $3.99 worth of story. I think this is a problem with most modern comics, not just JLA, but many comics get around the price point issue and really deliver some bang for my buck. (Quick aside; best value of story for your money? Probably Jason Aaron’s THOR)
Could this eventually be a good series? I think the elements are there. Now that the setup is out of the way I’m sure it’ll grow with the next issue, but if you’re looking to be blown away by a debut issue, this isn’t the one to look at.

Rating: 2 & 3/4 Stars of 5 


Review – Batman : Earth One

I didn’t rush out to get this particular book because after the hooplah surrounding the Superman Earth One graphic novel I didn’t want to find myself let down. I was seeing more than a few positive and glowing reviews and figured that a little distance would do me some good. I have been anticipating the book a little bit, as the announcement for the title was made back when I still had a bit more regard for Geoff Johns as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe he is a great talent and one of the best guys working in the mainstream today but his more recent work does seem to lack the sort of focus he had back when he relaunched the Green Lantern franchise.

With Batman Earth One there is at least something to be said for Geoff Johns getting the tone of Batman. JMS’s work on Superman Earth One was passable but I don’t think he get the tone of what the book should have been. It was far too, as much as I hate the phrase, “street level” in its execution. Batman has that same feel but it goes with the character. JMS would have been smart to study Morrison’s work on All-Star Superman for the sort of tone that really works for big blue. Johns seems to want to play in the Nolan sandbox and that is appropriate. Johns also realizes that because there is no continuity to follow he can throw everything up in the air and be a little dangerous. Some of the changes to established lore might upset a number of Batman fanatics, but that’s okay. Again I point to the sort of people whose heads exploded over Ultimate Spider-Man. Johns’ idea of Harvey Bullock coming from Hollywood as a reality tv cop trying to regain his former glory is something that comes wildly out of left field. Alfred being a grumpy old army colleague of Bruce’s father is also somewhat odd. But within the confines of the book Johns is able to make it work.

More than JMS’s Earth One book, Johns really swings for the fences here and while not everyone will be pleased, I can say that I feel like I got my money’s worth this time around. Nothing here felt particularly rehashed the way that it did in Superman Earth One. The parallels to Superman Birthright in that OGN are almost unmistakeable. Even the death of Bruce’s parents has a different spin. It’s not entirely original. It’s just a retelling. But it feels different in the way that The Magnificent Seven was different from Seven Samurai. The flavor is refreshing.

I hope the inevitable second volume is as willing to play with conventions as this is. Johns teases a personal favorite villain of mine as the centerpiece and for not immediately jumping to the Joker he has scored major brownie points with me.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse CusterAnd I’m back. Sorry for skipping out on doing reviews last week but I’ve been busier than I would like and it was the last thing on my mind. Also that issue of Catwoman sorta bust a blood vessel in my brain. This week was a more pleasant reading experience, so the reviews should reflect that. Let’s get started!

ALL-STAR WESTERN # 1

The first review this week is for what I have to say is the best book of the week. I feel like getting that out of the way early is important because I’m gonna gush fairly heavily on this one. I’ve been a vocal booster of Palmiotti and Gray’s work on Jonah Hex for a long time now and when the reboot news came down the pike I was surprised to see Hex getting any attention in the new DC landscape. I figured it would be the perfect time for DC to quietly push the character aside the way it has with a few other less-than-stellar selling titles. I’ve been hearing the same “the trade sales keep it alive” line in regard to Jonah Hex for a while but DiDio’s comments that new books would be judged harshly and only the best selling titles would remain in a short period of time made me wonder how this new interpretation would work for our favorite heavily scarred western bounty-hunter.

First and foremost I need to point out that this is not your typical Jonah Hex issue. Gone are the desolate western landscapes where the dust and dirt seem to fly off the page and nestle in the corners of your eyes. We’re now in the developing sprawl of Victorian-era Gotham City, a place where cobblestones have replaced the muddy central thoroughfare of the frontier town. Our Jonah Hex here is an older iteration, having experienced the frontier life and aftermath of the Civil War. He is drawn to the city on contract to help hunt down a Jack the Ripper-esque murderer who is carving a bloody swath of violence through the city leaving a trail of mutilated prostitutes in his wake. It is a story that matches the setting quite well and Palmiotti & Gray set the stage for our adventures efficiently giving us a quiet slow burn through the proceedings punctuated with sudden bursts of violent energy as if the book itself mirrors Hex’s personality.

I felt like there was more in this issue than in three lesser titles combined. It felt dense without feeling impenetrable, offering an excellent place for those who have heard how amazing Jonah Hex was and are finally willing to give the character a shot. Tying his history in with the development of Gotham City should drawin some Bat-fans interested to see how Hex fits in with the story of the Waynes, the Cobblepots, and the Arkhams. Fans of Snyder’s work on Batman will not be disappointed by the similar tone and the uninitiated should be drawn in by the sharp pacing and quality artwork.

Overall Rating: 5/5

AQUAMAN # 1

I’m an unabashed Aquaman fan. Seriously. I’ve got a good longbox full of Aquaman books and I feel like it’s a shame that nobody gives the guy a real shake. He’s a warrior king from under the sea! The logline alone should sell it but most people only view him as a joke. As such, it’s not surprising that Geoff Johns has gone in for a psuedo-meta presentation of the character where the surface world and the DCU don’t understand why Aquaman exists. I admit that it’s a bit disheartening that this is the direction he wanted to go, because it’ll be hard to dissuade people from believing everything they previously thought about the character when even the folks in the book itself don’t take him seriously. Of course it seems like Johns is also using every page of the book to prove everyone wrong. He lays the smackdown on a bunch of bank robbers, clarifies that he does not in fact talk to fish, and makes sweet love to his woman on the seashore after deciding that he doesn’t want to be king of Atlantis anymore.

This issue reads quite a bit like Johns’ Green Lantern no. 1 when he relaunched that character a few years back. As was the case with GL, Johns dives in head first and works to establish a status quo that clearly defines what sort of character we’re going to be dealing with and doesn’t divert much attention to the looming threat, devoting perhaps three pages total to setting up any sort of external conflict. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it’s important at this stage to prove to the readers that Aquaman is a character worth reading about. I think that Johns has done that effectively. I believe that people who weren’t fans previously will indeed have something to latch onto with this interpretation.

Let’s hope that Aquaman takes off big time like Green Lantern did all those years ago. He deserves it, damnit.

Overall Rating: 4/5

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK # 1

I almost passed on this just because I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of John Constantine being in any book with the “Justice League” label on it. It’s like seeing an old friend who used to weigh 300 pounds showing up looking like Chris Evans on the set of Captain America, your brain just can’t wrap itself around the concept of what is being presented as opposed to what you believe in your head to be true. Sort of like when a sentence doesn’t end the way you expect it banana.

That having been said, Peter Milligan’s name on the cover pretty much sold me entirely and then the contents of what was under that cover won me over entirely. It doesn’t read at all like what you would expect a “Justice League” title to read like. We do get the central Justice League team showing up and attempting to handle the supernatural threat but it soon becomes apparent that it will take a different sort of hero to sort things out. Thus we are introduced to our team through small vignettes. Shade the Changing Man shows up in a scene that is actually a bit heart wrenching. Xanadu, Zatanna, and Constantine get drawn in as well and we finish the issue with the players in position and the game ready to begin. If the issue weren’t almost entirely setup and exposition I would have given it a perfect score. I was expecting something a little bit more along the lines of JLI where they are assembled and the action has begun by the end of the issue but with so many characters to juggle I’m impressed that we got as much material as we did. It’s quite impressive.

OVERALL SCORE: 4/5

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And that’s it for this week. I hope you’ll go out and buy some of these. It’d be nice if the good books of the DC relaunch were the ones that sold the best. Basically I want you to buy 10 All-Star Westerns each and hand them out to friends. Because that would be amazing.


Review: Justice League # 1

I’ve read more Justice League # 1’s than I would care to count. Each time we get something drastically different from the previous iteration, making it hard, for me at least, to say exactly what makes for a definitive Justice League book. Grant Morrison’s run was pretty damned fantastic. As was the JLI group. The earliest incarnations of the team I’ve only read a handful of, mainly because I don’t have a ready access to the back issues the way I do with the JLI to present. (I have all of JLI, the Morrison era JLA book, and dropped the last volume of the book around Final Crisis)

I wasn’t going to bother with DC anymore. I’ve been slowly working my way out of monthly comic buying and sticking to trade releases and only keeping the books that I have the strongest of attachments to. JLA wasn’t one of those books. But I have to admit that the hype around Geoff Johns and Jim Lee tackling the book in an all new continuity was enough to make me pick up the first issue. The (arguably) biggest names DC has to offer working on a title that should be their premiere book of the lineup is not something that comes along everyday. I’ve likened it to putting Bendis on New Avengers back in 2005. How it took six years for DC to figure out a winning formula is beyond me. Johns alone would have been enough to sell the book but Jim Lee is a demi-god to most of the loyal comic buying public. The early numbers for the book indicate as such, what the actual sales translate to is another question entirely.

But what about the book itself? Is it any good?

That’s a little bit harder to answer. The book reminds me of a fine mixing of Bendis’ work on the early days of Ultimate Spider-Man as well as Johns’ own work when he relaunched Green Lantern. Like USM, this is an origin story, and it’s decompressed quite a bit. The days of a team assembling, fighting a threat, and moving on to the next issue are long gone. In this issue we get Batman, still being hunted by the police as they’re not yet aware that he’s “one of the good guys” as he tries to take down a monstrous looking villain that I at first mistook for a revamped Killer Croc.

Pictured Above: Not Killer Croc

Eventually Green Lantern gets himself involved. We soon learn through his banter with Batman that super-heroes are a relatively new phenomenon here and that the world doesn’t quite know what to make of them as of yet. Green Lantern is then surprised to find out that Batman is just some dude in a mask, bereft of any real superpower. The writing here is quick, snappy, breezy, and light. It covers a fair amount of ground in setting up the status quo and getting the ball rolling. The timeframe for this issues is fairly short, so by the time you get to the end of the book, some people might be a little let down, regardless of the somewhat tantalizing cliffhanger where we’re introduced to this new continuity’s Superman.

I can’t say this is a bad book. Jim Lee is on his A-game and there’s quite a bit to cover in a world where the rules haven’t been defined yet, so no matter what there’s a sense that no matter what Johns crammed in it would never be enough. If anything, the only thing I can say is that the book is promising. It’s an origin story where they have free reign to play around with the elements as they please. It looks like we’re seeing some tweaks already with the way they handle Cyborg, who we see as a high-school football player in this issue. The elements are there and only the rest of the arc will tell us if this was all worth our time or not.

Rating: 6/10


DC Comics Announces Line-Wide Reboot

I know that this year has been a bit different when it comes to the content I’ve posted on the blog. After leaving my job at the comic shop back in December I had to make the painful decision to alter my comic buying habits to accommodate my new lifestyle. As such, I’ve been getting my comics from an online retailer, mailed out once a month and as such I haven’t had much luck posting real reviews on a timely basis. It’s just a sad byproduct of my current situation. Another byproduct has been the steady decline of my interest in the mainstream comics scene. I have, sadly, been dropping titles I once considered vital with each passing month and have instead been focusing on creator-owned work that manages to resonate with me more than anything that DC or Marvel sends down the chute every month.

I never thought I’d see the day that I’d say this but I may just be done with DC comics. Lately the only books that I can say I’ve enjoyed fully are Morrison’s Batman Inc., Palmiotti & Gray’s Jonah Hex, Cornell’s Action Comics and Gail Simone’s Secret Six. Roberson’s handling of the Superman book has also been admireable. But that’s five books out of a line that will see 52 titles jump started with a new # 1 issue.

Dan Didio was quotes in the USA Today article as saying:

In September, more than 50 more first issues will debut, introducing readers to stories that are grounded in each character’s specific legend but also reflect today’s real-world themes and events. Lee spearheaded the redesign of more than 50 costumes to make characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old.

“We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line,” says Dan DiDio, who co-publishes DC with Lee. “This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience.”

Fans around the internet have been in an uproar over this and I have to say that I understand where some of them are coming from, in light of this news coupled with the rumors that have been coming out that have not yet been substantiated such as Lois & Clark’s marriage being lost in the new continuity as well as several creative team changes that are less than exciting including a possible loss of Gail Simone from Birds of Prey. The last time that happened it sucked just about all the energy from the book and it was left to die a slow death. On the other hand Grant Morrison is rumored to be taking over the central Superman title and it is confirmed we will be getting a Justice League book written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Jim Lee, in a move that clearly parallels Marvel’s decision to put Bendis on New Avengers several years ago.

The problem I have with the Justice League book being handled by Johns & Lee, aside from the fact that the creative team is almost begging for publishing delays, is that it seems like they’re aping Marvel’s formula several years after it has already gotten stale. Granted, DC could never make such a move any time after Marvel does anything similar because it’s either too soon or too late after the fact for it not to seem like a stunt or playing catch up. My philosophy when it comes to the DC v. Marvel debate comes down to the way Marvel treats its writers. They sell the writers in a way that makes them out to be superstars. Marvel presents their writers as the A-list. The cream of the crop. Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Dan Slott, Jason Aaron, Nick Spencer, et. al are sold as being equal commodities to the characters they write. DC does not seem to do the same for their writers outside of Morrison or Johns. They have a SMATTERING of amazing talent in people like Chris Roberson, Matt Sturges, Gail Simone, Paul Cornell, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, and so many others. But you don’t see DC publicizing them like walking gods of creativity the way Marvel does with their stable.

The whole line-wide reboot thing reads like a desperate stunt. DC loves to pull stunts. The repeated weekly series plan alone shows that. This stunt in particular will alienate a great deal of the fanbase and probably lose them for a good long time. They say that the point of all this is to garner new readers by eliminating the confusion surrounding certain characters and their continuity but they are failing to understand the simple reason why the comics market isn’t viable to younger readers and that’s that comic books are not cost effective to the consumer.

The article in USA today also mentions that beginning in September, DC comics will be going same-day release with digital and print copies. This is a major leap forward in the digital market but raises even more questions. Are the digital comics going to be significantly cheaper than the print counterparts? If DC wants to make me pay full price for a copy of the new Superman # 1 at $2.99 when I can get it from an online retailer for anywhere from a 10-40% discount, then what is the impetus for me to switch to digital? The price debate is probably the most important hurdle that the comics industry will have to face in the coming years. I bought a blu-ray movie yesterday for $8.99. That’s two plus hours of entertainment plus special features for roughly ten dollars with tax applied. A comic book is 20 pages of content for about $3.25 after taxes are applied and the best case scenario is usually a ten minute read-time if there’s actually any dense content to the book. If you’re trying to attract new readers, you have to give them more bang for their buck. I respect DC for trying to lower the cost of buying comics, but the content provided for the price is a huge turnoff to people who aren’t already hooked. Add to that the fact that comics aren’t readily available anywhere outside of specialized shops and you’ve got a major dilemma. All the continuity stunts in the world will not save you from that pitfall. Comics are being displayed at Barnes and Noble now, but I’ve seen that selection and it’s not very impressive and not too well organized.

I don’t want to sound like a doomsayer, foretelling the end of comics or anything like that. The industry will adapt and survive in some manner, because too much money stands to be lost if they don’t. But the logic that has gone into DC’s latest stunt boggles the mind of anyone who takes the time to look at it carefully. Perhaps this whole article will be rendered worthless when more information becomes available. I hope everything does work out for the best. I still have friends who work in the retail level of the industry, and all the writers and artists who I’ve developed a rapport with since developing this blog don’t deserve to see their chosen profession crumble because the companies don’t know how to adapt. All I can do is sit and wait and see if what DC has to offer is worth paying for.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

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.

ARRIVALS 6-30-2010
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.

Action # 890
ACTION COMICS # 890

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.

BB1
BATMAN BEYOND # 1

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.

DoD
DEATH OF DRACULA

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:

Gayer Than 8 Guys Blowing 9 Guys

Yeah, seriously. Read Death of Dracula. It’s not lame.

IIMA 1
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN ANNUAL # 1

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.

JLA 46
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 46

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.

Wonder Woman 600
WONDER WOMAN # 600

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.