Sunday, September 07, 2014

Comic shop comics: September 3

Batman Eternal #22 (DC Comics) Minor Bat-villain "The Architect" returns from the pages of the surprisingly good Batman: The Gates of Gotham (which was also a surprisingly good argument for why the Bat-books didn't need rebooting, thankyouverymuch, and, given its usage of an extended Bat-family, something of a kinda sorta prequel to this series, I guess).

Also returning is a minor major Bat-villain, a fairly widely-loathed character to emerge from probably one of the better-selling Batman story arcs of the last few decades. Still not sure if it counts as a spoiler to discuss him (or her!) in any great detail here, despite last week's reveal. As I said somewhere then, the character is only really intriguing in that I think he's supposed to be the main, "boss" villain (but, because of that character's odd history, might end up being a surprise mini-boss) and also because I think this might be the character's New 52 debut, but I can't get any confirmation of that (If you know, a simple yes or no in the comments will suffice).

So in this issue, Batman fights The Architect (which sounds a bit like the greatest, conceivable the greatest conceivable David Mazzucchelli-made Batman crossover), Alfred's daughter discovers her dad's secret life (and Bruce Wayne's secret life), and the villain behind the other villains is re-revealed.

A Jorge Lucas provided the art, with a Brett Smith handling colors. I didn't care for it much. The Architect's costume has a sickly, fake-photo-realistic look about it, which contrasts sharply with the appearances of the civilian characters, and he dresses so much like his henchmen that there's at least one confusing scene where it took me a while to figure out that Batman wasn't yet fighting The Architect.

This wasn't a terribly strong issue all around, but I still dig the series in general, and I appreciate the way it fulfills my desire/need for a decent Batman comic on a weekly basis, while waiting for trade collections of the other Batman series I like and read (Batmaan and Batman and Robin, at the moment).

Batman '66 Meets The Green Hornet (DC) Four issues in, it's becoming increasingly apparent that this series probably doesn't need to be six issues long, as that gives it a scale and scope more akin to a film or a chunk of a season of a TV show than of a pair of TV shows, but the writing team of Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman continue to do a remarkable job of scripting the series, steering quite clear of the easy satire one normally associates with Smith's work, and Ty Templeton's art remains a treat. Certainly I'd prefer if he were working a little more loosely rather than restraining himself to the character designs established by the actors who played these characters on television and the various elements of set and costume design, but his style as employed here is really rather perfectly suited for the deadpan delivery of this version of Batman.

The storyline continues to follow frenemies Batman and Robin and Green Hornet and Kato as they pursue villains The Joker and Gumm, with the early climax of this issue involving the two dynamic duos fighting one another to a stand-still using a series of their silly, patented gadgets.

Lumberjanes #5 (Boom Studios) This was the best issue of this series by far, and, considering how strong it started out, that's great news for anyone following it (And, if you're not following, I hope a hearty recommendation to start). I was already fairly convinced that this was shaping up to be the best issue of the series by the time I hit page seven, bemusedly curious as to what a raccoon rodeo was and for the first time in my life considering making a friendship bracelet, and then I turned the page to see this:

The sight of which elicited in me a similar feeling to that which Ripley expresses here:
But I say this is the best issue of Lumberjanes so far not just because this one had dinosaurs in it, although, just to lay my cards on the table here, the presence of dinosaurs generally increases my appreciation of anything, but there is something equally awesome on almost every single page of this issue, and with a 22-page page-count, that's a lot of awesome things in a single comic book.

New 52: Futures End #18 (DC) Presumably this series will be kicking into high gear this month, as DC suspends publication of their regular superhero line to make room for a 42 tie-in one-shots starring most of their heroes. Some of them are good, some are bad; I didn't really like Green Arrow: Futures End #1 much, but it was nicely scheduled to provide background on this issue of the main, weekly series, and at least give me an idea of who the hell this Emiko lady is supposed to be (The costume she wears in this issue, with dragons winding themselves around her breasts, is pretty terrible).

Georges Jeanty pencils this issue, while Dexter Vines and Karl Story handle the inks. What happens? Superman (the real, original one) does like he did in Kingdom Come to cope with his sads, only on a much smaller, less super-scale; Stormguard rescues Lois Lane and the hero who had been posing as Superman from Rampage; Emiko, Big Barda and a character from the Arrow TV show get a big surprise; King Faraday and Fifty-Sue both have conversations with Brother Eye, independently; and Batman Beyond still hasn't fucking broken into TerrifiTech yet. I don't think it took the Founding Fathers this long to craft the Declaration of Independence; all these guys are doing is breaking and entering.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #6 (DC) This is a comic book in which the Super Friends (the original line-up) call in Scooby-Doo and the gang to help them, because the Hall of Justice is haunted by The Rainbow Ghosts, who turn out to be The Legion of Doom in disguise.

If you can find a part of that one sentence plot summary that is not awesome, well then, you and I certainly grew up watching different cartoons. And that's what makes this perhaps the strongest issue of the series, at least since the first couple, in which the gang re-teamed with Batman and Robin, as Super Friends was a cartoon series of its own, also produced around the time of Scooby-Doo and by the same animation company and, in some ways, this reads like a somewhat truncated version of a long, lost episode of the The New Scooy-Doo Movies.

Writer Sholly Fisch continues to wring comedic possibilities out of the pairings in this book, producing stories that, generally speaking, maintain a tone that is true to both of the franchises that are teaming up. Artist Dario Brizuela also generally does a strong job of maintaining the designs and looks and making them fit together, although it's maybe worth noting that, costuming aside, many of the Super Friends characters look slightly off-model, at least compared to how they appeared on their original show (it was a little weird to see The Scarecrow show up wearing his Super Friends costume, when we've previously seen him dressed in his Batman: The Animated Series costume).

There was at least one pretty serious art mistake in this issue, in which Supergirl—dressed in her 1970s outfit, and appearing to fill-in for a missing Superman—is drawn in the background of a panel following a scene in which she is captured and removed from the action, and some of the "acting" is a bit off in at least one more scene (Daphne is so non-plussed by the appearance of the Legion of Doom, for example, she doesn't even remove her hands from her jutting hips).

These are quibbles, of course. So, here's the story: The Hall of Justice is being haunted by ghosts of various colors, and one of them took Superman. So Scooby and the gang, who have previously worked with Batman and Robin and, last issue, with Wonder Woman. In order not to arose suspicion, the Super Friends have the members of Mystery Inc don the costumes of their previous junior member Super Friends:
Huh. I wouldn't have thought Velma could fit into Wendy's clothes. Or that the Super Friends would have wigs and fake, pointy ears so people could dress up as The Wonder Twins, but you know that Batman—always prepared for anything.

As previously spoiled, The Rainbow Ghosts are unmasked, and turn out to be something even scarier under their disguises: The Legion of Doom. The kids aren't much match for seven of thirteen of the most sinister villains of all time, but luckily they are able to rescue the Super Friends in time to help them save the day.

That, and Sinestro's fear-fueled yellow poer ring flies from his finger to induct the these two into the Sinestro Corps—
—since they have the power to instill great fear. Even if it is only ever put to use in scaring themselves and/or one another.

There are some weeks in which I'd declare this my favorite release of the week, but this week there were just so many good comics, it's hard to say...

She-Hulk #8 (Marvel Entertainment) This issue was one instance in which I wish I didn't read all the solicitations for DC and Marvel comics a few months in advance, as the big surprise ending for this issue, including why exactly Matt Murdock was being so cagey and weird with Shulkie over the phone, was already pretty thoroughly spoiled by the solicits. The way writer Charles Soule structures the issue, however, it is clear that it was meant to be a big surprise.

In this issue, drawn once again by regular(-ish) artist Javier Pulido, Captain America Steve Rogers—now an old man for some reason—is being sued for wrongful death in California, and he's engaging Jen Walters' services. She and her team prep for the trial, which includes finding a legal firm she can work out of (Luckily, one of Jamie Madrox's dupes is an entertainment lawyer).

The plot in this issue is mostly set-up, but with lots of gags. It's Pulido's fine details which bring many of the best jokes to life; I really enjoyed watching and reading Hei Hei's movements and expressions in the backgrounds. Oh, and Stark's private jet is nice; the Stark-ian robot hover-stewardesses, whose bodies end shortly below the thigh, are a particularly nice touch.

That's really one of the great pleasures of this book. It's a book set in a particularly lived-in and interconnected Marvel Universe, filled with fun little details, all of which are expertly designed and rendered. With another artist on the book, I think it would still make for a pretty great book, but Pulido really makes it sing.

Superior Foes Of Spider-Man #15 (Marvel) I may have mentioned this before, but while this is not the last issue of the series (although that is coming up), it is a great cover for the last issue of the series, with our protagonists flicking off the readers who just didn't buy it in great enough quantities to keep it going indefinitely.

When we last left the four members of The Sinister Six, they had just been attacked by The Shocker, who made up the fifth person in their still-less-than-six-member line-up. Shocker, through a series of mishaps, had his hands on the severed but still living head of Silvermane, which automatically gives whoever possesses it the right to lead the New York mob.

He's understandably pissed at Boomerang for trying to kill him, and, well, Boomerang tries to kill him again. This time with the help of the rest of "The Six," and in a particularly scary and brutal way (it gave me the willies, even though I knew that a) The Shocker's not really real and b) He probably wasn't going to really die anyway; I guess that's just one of those primal fears).

Meanwhile, Hammerhead reacts violently to the implication that his quest for the help of a psychologist is maybe a little cliche, the four members of the Sinister Six win a bar fight against a chunk of their one-time allies in their one-off Sinister Sixteen gang, and, having finally found the true value of working together, they all immediately make plans to betray one another.

Man, I'm gonna be sad to see this book go, but going out on the top of your game is generally the best way to go, isn't it? And, this being Marvel Comics, there's always the chance for future, short-lived runs. I mean, how many times did Runaways and Young Avengers get launched, canceled and relaunched...?

Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #4 (DC) The Tiny Titans continue to search for a new treehouse base of operations, while simultaneously touring the DC Universe, this time searching underwater. This issue sees the return of some little-seen characters (anywhere, at the moment), including Lagoon Boy and Offspring, along with some of the more often-present Tiny Titans, like Robin, Batgirl, Wonder Girl, Beast Boy, Miss Martian and Aqualad.

Commissioner Gordon, Aquaman, Black Manta and all of Aquaman's many Super-Pets guest-star.

1 comment:

Evan said...

Yes, that is the first New 52 appearance of that villain. I read an interview with James Tynion IV at the MTV website where he said so, and also confirmed it was the "iconic" version of the character and not an impostor.