Friday, May 18, 2018

Comic Shop Comics: May 16th

Batman #47 (DC Comics) Wow, was that dark. I don't often ask this sort of thing about Batman writers, given that darkness so long suffused the character and his adventures, but, um, is current Batman writer Tom King okay? Should someone maybe check on him...?

This is the third (and hopefully final) chapter of "The Gift," an too-long story arc in which Booster Gold attempts to get Batman a "For The Man Who Has Everything"-style wedding gift by rescuing his parents in the past and then de-rescuing them later, purposely creating one of the more depressing and nightmarish alternate futures of Batman's career full of depressing nightmarish alternate futures. Seriously, this makes The Dark Knight Returns look like Batman '66.

At a single issue, complete with the "Oh shit, now what?" ending, it might have been a kind of funny "Ha ha, Booster is dimwitted" done-in-one lark (albeit a dark lark). Instead, each of the following chapters has gotten darker and darker and bloodier and bloodier, to the point where this issue ends with just about everyone from the alternate future dead, mostly shot to death, a Bruce Wayne who shoots himself in the head, a Booster Gold dead and the presumably real Batman and Catwoman looking on in grim-faced silence while the presumably real Booster Gold is traumatized and in shock, even his sassy robot companion Skeets unable to utter a quip.

Seriously, this is some Max Lord-shooting-Ted Kord-in-the-head level darkness. Bwa. Ha. Ha.

Justice League: Not Justice #2 (DC) Team Testosterone, errrr, Team Entropy takes the cover for this second issue of the series, which seems to bring us up to the point in the narrative that the DC Nation #0 short story was set around, with the characters divided into their four teams, each going about a different task on Colu, while Green Arrow awaits the threat on Earth. There's a bit of a last-page surprise entrance of an unexpected character (who actually makes a lot of sense appearing where he does, in retrospect).

As in the first issue, some panel-space is afforded to demonstrate that J'onn J'onnz is the natural leader among all these characters, presumably setting up his return to the Justice League and its new iteration.

One element I found particularly funny, although not written as a joke, is the fact with Braniac having abducted all four super-teams with their own comic book series--the Justice League, the Teen Titans, the Other Titans and the Suicide Squad--Green Arrow and Amanda Waller talk about how Earth is defenseless, having lost all its superheroes (the members of those teams who aren't on the four No Justice color-coded mini-Leagues are in stasis tubes somewhere). I mean, I'm pretty sure there's at least 100 superheroes hanging around--there's at least three wearing a Superman-like S-shield on their chests, for example--and many of them would probably love to be given something useful to do. (I doubt it will come to pass, but this would be a good time have Waller collect and rally some of those "New Age of Heroes!" heroes; banding together to fight off world-eating space giants while the A-List heroes are in outer space would be like a superhero debutante debut, you know?)

Persephone (Archaia) Loic Locatelli-Kournwsky's retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone is a fairly fascinating remix, as it loses Orpheus completely, diminishes Hades' role, greatly emphasizes that of Demeter, and no longer has any sort of romantic component. Those changes are probably for the better, given that she is the protagonist of the story; why then make it the story of the guy who wants to marry and/or ravish her, and the other guy who wants to marry her...?

The story is so radically changed, however, that if those names and a few of the proper names were changed, one might not necessarily recognize this as a retelling of the Persephone myth. That's in large part because it is set in a peculiar land, far removed from its ancient Greek origins. In fact, its mixture of magic and a modern, early 20th-century Europe reminded me quite a bit of Full Metal Alchemist. Locatelli-Kourwsky's gorgeous artwork is almost as Japanese in its look and feel as it is European, and it is well worth picking the book up just to drink in all that gorgeous artwork. This was an impulse buy for me, and wasn't even on my radar, but I'd encourage you to make sure its on your radar.

I hope to write about this book more later in the coming weeks.

Star Wars: Lost Stars Vol. 1 (Yen Press) Is it just me, or does anyone else find it extremely weird that Disney went and bought themselves a whole comic book company in Marvel, but whenever it comes to adapting Disney-owned properties into comics, particularly those geared at anyone other than middle-aged Marvel Zombies, they turn to other publishers? For Star Wars, that has meant IDW publishing Star Wars Adventures and that hit-or-miss-but-mostly-hit Forces of Destiny series of one-shots and, now, Yen Press publishing the translated version of a Star Wars manga.

This is the first volume of a manga adaptation of novelist Claudia Gray's 2015 young adult novel of the same name. Yusaku Komiyama handled the adaptation and the art, and Gray gets top billing for the original story. Opening just before the battle on the ice planet of Hoth at the opening of Empire Strikes Back, it stars a Rebel Alliance pilot, who defected from the Empire, and his childhood friend, who didn't, before flashing back to their childhood to show how they came to be on opposite sides of the conflict.

The characters from the original trilogy appear, occasionally just in illustrative images, as in an opening image reminding readers of the conflict, with a panel devoted to the villains of the Empire (Vader, The Emperor, Grand Moff Tarkin) and the heroes of the Rebellion (you know who). Occasionally we see Han and Chewbacca bickering atop the Millennium Falcon as they prepare to abandon the Rebellion, Leia looking worried as they do, etc.

I didn't read the book--or listen to it, as audiobooks are the way I normally consume Star Wars novels, as those have John Williams music and laser sound effects--so I can't speak to how well the adaptation element goes, but I really rather enjoyed this as a standalone manga. Plus, I kind of love seeing manga Peter Cushing, or Chewie's angry face as a semi-super-deformed manga exaggeration, or an adorable Han who looks nothing like Harrison Ford, around the edges of the main drama.

Oh, and it's got AT-ATs. I fucking love AT-ATs. I wish the films (and books, and comics) spent less time on who designed the Death Star, who built the Death Star, getting plans for the Death Star, destroying the Death Star, etc, and more time on who designed AT-ATs and their use in combat and so on.

Anyway, I'll return to this book at greater length elsewhere...

1 comment:

Jose Gregorio Bencomo Gomez said...

Marvel won't even publish Disney properties comics, for that matter. Of course, EVERYTHING has to be superheroes, superheroes, superheroes.

But... I don't want to be that negative this time. I mean, I've noticed you've been fairly sour and grim lately yourself, down to that 'My heart is not in this' at the top of the page. But... you know what? You are very fortunate, and you should count yourself as such.

I live in Venezuela. Here, collecting comics and even living more or less well in general was never easy, but I still managed. Nowadays, that's all but impossible, our whole lifestyle has collapsed around us, every passing day we're plunging further into mysery, and tomorrow we're going to enter another whole new stage of despair under a tyrannical regime. I'm not even sure how long will I be able to survive, period.

I'm freaking afraid for my life and those of my loved ones.

So, please, keep reminding yourself, you are very lucky to keep enjoying this kind of hobby and to have a (I assume) peaceful, stable life in a First World Country. That's a luxury most of mankind doesn't have. Please keep that in mind when your mood for this blog is feeling low.