Saturday, March 07, 2015

Comic Shop Comics: March 4

Batman Eternal #48 (DC Comics) That's a really great cover by Cliff Chiang, depicting The Penguin being "crowned" during the middle of a prison riot...although I think having the space around the rioters also shaped like a top hat is a bit much. The image would have been just as effective, if not more so, were there simply a circle or square of space between the prison christening ceremony and the violent chaos of the riot.

The interior art this week, by Fernando Blanco, isn't quite as nice as that cover, but it's not bad at all, really, and the storytelling is pretty crisp and clear.

Basically a direct continuation of last week's issue, just about every single good guy is imperiled in this issue, with the exception, perhaps, of Batman and Julia, who escaped their death traps at the climax of the last issue, or between the two issues. Team Batman—Red Robin, Batgirl, Batwing, Bluebird and Red Hood—all take on heavily funded Batman villains that, in some cases, seem pretty out of their league (Is Harper really ready to take on a criminally insane super-genius serial killer with a fucking sci-fi freeze gun?). Spoiler tries to go to Vicki Vale with a flash drive full of answers, and gets nabbed by her dad. And as for Gordon, well, you saw the cover right? That's the excuse the mysterious Bad Guy Behind All The Bad Guys* provides to give The Penguin the opportunity to have Gordon killed.

There's an awful lot happening in this issue, then, but not a lot of distance covered.

In the quibbles department, I was unclear why Gotham City Police Commissioner Jason Bard needs the mayor's signature to release James Gordon from prison, if he has evidence exonerating him. Shouldn't he have to go to a judge, or the state governor? Isn't Blackgate a state prison, like most such facilities, rather than a city prison?

Also, Bane wearing an Iron Man-esque suit of robot battle armor seemed very un-Bane-like to me. I know a lot of characters have changed dramatically since the New 52-boot, and perhaps I no longer know the character's current origin and goals, but I thought he was all about perfecting his mind and body...robot battle armor seems like cheating. Especially if he's just wearing it to beat-up Jason Todd...

New 52: Futures End (DC) This might be my favorite of Ryan Sook's covers, generally the best part of each issue, of the entire series so far. Superman holds a city aloft like Atlas while the sky turns red, as it does in times of Crisis. Simple in design, and rendered quite well, with very dramatic coloring.

Inside? Patrick Zircher and Andy McDonald handle draw the climax of the battle against Brainiac, which is something the series has been foreshadowing for over 40-issues now, so when I finally reached the bottom of the twentieth page, I felt for a moment like the series had ended...then I remembered all those dangling plot-lines yet to be addressed.

Well, here's one conflict seemingly over, anyway: Superman, Batman, The Justice League and Ray "I told The Atom!" Palmer take down Brainiac, and save New York City from being flown off into space by this new, giant alien monster version of the familiar villain. The cover depicts a scene that literally happens; Superman catches New York and flies it gently back to the ground.

Okay, it probably shouldn't be entirely possible to do it the way Superman does—maybe if he took the middle and Wonder Woman and Shazam each took and edge—but it's Superman, his super-feats usually get a pass, right?

Saga #26 (Image Comics) As is so often the case these days, there weren't a whole lot of serial, comic book-comics awaiting me at the comic shop this week, and I might have even skipped a visit altogether, were it not for the fact that a new issue of Saga was released today.

It's interesting how big the cast has grown, with this issue checking in on three distinct groups of characters, at least one of which seems like it could be well on its way to growing larger, depending on what happens next.

I like the motley make-up of Marko's group, although the all-lady (and animal) group's battle against the dragons was pretty fantastic too. What's rather remarkable about Saga at this point is that there's enough plot and enough colorful, compelling characters that any of its several plotlines could easily be spun out in order to power a comic book of their own, but here they just make up one-third of the narrative.

This issue also features a brief scene of robot oral sex which...well, it's just one more thing about the robots in Saga I don't understand. Maybe the stimulation is simply electromagnetic...?

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #9 (DC) Huh. I always thought there would be more sexual tension between Velma and Jimmy Olsen than this.

And I can't tell you how happy I am that there exists a comic book that allows me to say such things about! (Later, Jimmy takes Velma to his fan club's HQ, and she is incredulous when he says "Jeepers," while he fires back, "What, like 'Jinkies' is any better?" Velma and Jimmy Olsen are like the Hepburn/Tracy of Rated E for Everyone comics.)

Artist Dario Brizuela rejoins writer Sholly Fisch as Scooby-Doo and the gang return to the DCU—after spending two issues time-traveling in order to team up with first The Flinstones and then The Jetsons—in order to team-up with Superman. Silver Age Superman, to be specific. Brizuela's Superman may look a little more post-Crisis than pre-Crisis, but this story has Krypto, red kryptonite, The Jimmy Olsen fan club, Elastic Lad and, hell, gorillas feature prominently in its conclusion. And the last panel? Superman winking at the reader, obviously.

Fisch has Mystery, Inc. arrive in Metropolis to investigate the apparition of the most obvious supernatural entity that could ever appear to be haunting the Daily Planet—Great Caesar's Ghost. It only gets crazier from there, but it's an organic, completely natural form of craziness, as Fisch mines Superman's Silver Age adventures for events, objects and characters upon which to hang the expected Scooby-Doo shenanigans.

The title of the series may e Scooby-Doo Team-Up, but this one actually read more Scooby-Doo and friends guest-starring in a Superman comic...albeit the sort of Superman story one would be more likely to find in a Showcase Presents collection rather than Superman or Action Comics...

*Bat-Mite, probably. That would actually make the most sense at this point.

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