Thursday, May 31, 2007

Weekly Haul: May 31st

Action Comics #850 (DC Comics) Kurt Busiek, Fabian Nicieza and Geoff Johns join forces for an extra-length story featuring Superman, Supergirl and the Waid/Kitson version of the Legion that makes for a nice overview of them all. (Bonus points for writing a Supergirl I didn’t want to strangle, too). Lost in the future or whatever (not reading Supergirl or Supergirl and The Legion of Super-Heroes), Kara tests out Brainiac 5’s time window thingy and views Superman history, from birth through the near-future. There are some multiversal mentions in here that seem extremely screwy (Guys, guys, guys! If you’re going to have a multiverse, fine, but could someone maybe get around to explaining it to the readers within a story at some point? I’m getting awfully sick of seeing different Supermen and thinking, wait, what?! like, twice a week), but other than the check-in with the ballerina-slippered Superman of Earth-2 (…maybe…?), I found little or nothing to complain about herein (Well, there’s Superman’s “Justice League—Together!” battle cry…).

Pencil and color artist Renato Guedes is an incredible talent, one who’s mastered that photorealistic-esque style while still producing art that looks like it came out of a pencil instead of out of a computer full of photo reference, and his Supergirl is probably the best rendition of this version of the character I’ve seen. I especially liked his Baby Kal, who only had about 20 little black hairs on his tiny baby head, but they were already forming his little S-curl. Just darling.

Amazons Attack #2 (DC) Despite the fact that I hated the first issue of this series, I bought the second one because, well, there’s no other way around it—I’m a sucker for DCU superheroes, and I’m weak. The effort it takes to not buy an issue with that many of my favorite characters on the cover is just too much for me, so I caved, thinking, “Okay Amazons Attack, I’ll give you one more chance.”

Maybe I should have flipped through this thing a little more thoroughly in the shop though because all those heroes on the cover? Only three of ‘em actually appear inside, and though Batman’s one of ‘em, he doesn’t actually pick up a sword at any point.

Pete Woods’ artwork is just as incredible as it was in #1 (although he draws the wrong face on Red Tornado; Matt Idelson and Nachie Castro, let’s get this guy some art reference, huh? I know it kind of sucks and all, but JLoA is your top-selling comic and you guys should really be reading it, if only to make sure everyone’s head looks right).

Will Pfeifer’s scripting is mostly okay, and I have a hard time judging much of it due to the fact that I’m not reading Wonder Woman, which several events here refer back to, but it was easy enough to follow, and it seems that the Amazons themselves are questioning the brutality of their own attack.

Still, Pfeifer seems unable to transcend the feeling that this is all just the fleshing out of a memo full of plot points handed to him by editorial, which includes some tired concepts (Superman’s Kansas attacked—again?) and too much suspension of belief to take seriously. The most obvious example? Check out pages four and five, where we see an Amazon spear to death a wounded pilot, only to be knocked out by Black Canary’s canary cry, and then she makes a dramatic entrance quip, while the rest of the Justice League poses behind her.

Nice entrance and all, but couldn’t someone with super-speed or a magic ring have, you know, saved that woman’s life? Washington D.C. is in ruins, the Vice President is missing and the First Lady is in critical condition, and the League just kind of mills around, like they’re giving the Amazons a head start or something.

Countdown #48 (DC) Okay, we can add Perry White to the list of People Who Know Red Hood’s Secret Identity, and Donna Troy to the list of Heroes Who Aren’t Terribly Interested In Bringing Multiple Murderer Jason Todd To Justice. Like the previous issues, most of this reads kind of exciting in the broad strokes—Jimmy Olsen exhibiting mysterious superpowers! An incredible battle in the heavens sending a dying Lightray plummeting to Metropolis!—but the details all seem irritatingly wrong.

For example, Jason Todd’s not alive because of “that whole mess with Bizarro Lex Luthor;” he was resurrected before Infinite Crisis. In fact, years before. He’s alive because Superboy-Prime’s punches literally damaged the walls of DCU continuity, and Todd would have no way of knowing that. (Again, I understand that all of the Jason Todd stories have been shit, and I don’t blame Adam Beechen, Paul Dini and Mike Marts for not wanting to read them, but, if that’s the case, don’t base your story on them!) Likewise, Todd tells Donna Troy she doesn’t know her true origin, which similarly seems off, considering that the Return of Donna Troy miniseries explaining it to her (and us) that Phil Jimenez, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and George Perez was both really good and farily recent (two years ago, maybe?), and then there’s fact that Donna’s been made the new Harbinger, given that crazy little ball with the history of everything in it (Isn’t she, like, the one character in the entire DCU who shouldn’t be confused about her origins now?)

I know that’s just two panels in a whole comic book, but seeing as how the entire point of this series is to address the minutiae of DC continuity, then if they continually get the minutiae wrong, the story kind of crumbles. And if this story is the “backbone of the DCU” as DC editorial keeps claiming, then the whole universe (and publishing line) is in some serious trouble here.

The Dan Jurgens “History of the Multiverse” back-up continues, this time summarizing some of the adventures collected in the early trades in the Crisis on Multiple Earths series. Sort of like a clip-show, where the action that isn’t clips is a bunch of Monitors calling each other “Brother” and “Sister” while commenting on the events. Ugh.

Green Lantern #20 (DC) Geoff Johns and Daneil Acuna wrap up there three-part tale of Hal Jordan versus the pink vagina crystal alien thing that wants to mate with him. The story’s an incredibly slight one, but I kind of dig what a cocky asshole Jordan is, and the scene where he defeated the Zamoran by making out with her and insulting her was fun (If this is Johns’ Hal, I shudder to think what his Guy Gardner would be like). Johns \ also follows through with the Zamoran/Star Sapphire corps-building idea he’d introduced in the previous issue, taking it to its logical (though zany) conclusion. Is the world ready for The Pink Lantern Corps? I know I am! Acuna’s art looks a little looser and a little stronger every time I see it, and by the end of the issue, when he was just drawing people sitting around a bar instead of superheroes in costume fighting, it sort of approached Kyle Baker’s early, more serious work. This is an artist I look forward to seeing grow from here. There’s another Johns/Dave Gibbons “Tales of Sinsetro Corps” back-up this month; it’s not as good as the previous ones, but that seems to be because it’s the one devoted to wrapping things up.

Justice Society of America #6 (DC) Welcome Dale Eaglesham, artist number four, to the five-part “Lightning Saga,” which oughta make for a wildly discordant trade collection in a few months’ time. Eaglesham is certainly the best of the artists to take a crack at the three teams running around this storyline, and he does his normal great job of differentiating and rendering the individual heroes, all while filling the backgrounds with details. With so many characters appearing, some get to do little more than cameo in the big two-page spread fight scene, but they all look great.

The plot consists of a visit to an abandoned set from Challenge of the Superfriends, the three teams uniting against an ancestor of Computo, two more Legionnaires appearing and a reveal of what exactly it is the team plans to do (My guess was resurrect Lightning Lad, but I was way off, since they say the plan was purposely kept from him; The Absorbascon has an interesting theory, which points to something so creatively bankrupt and backward looking that I can only assume it’s probably right).

My favorite part that had nothing to do with Eaglesham was probably Geo-Force’s response to a story Superman tells involving “Chameleon Boy’s shape-shifting pet, Proty.” Says Brion: “That is not only ridiculous, Superman, it is insane.” It’s such a perfect summation of the Legion, that DC should pullquote it to blurb their next volume of Showcase Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 2.

“Not only ridiculous…it is insane”

—Prince Brion “Geo-Force” Markov

The New Avengers: Illuminati #3 (Marvel Comics) Okay, I had absolutely no idea what was going on in this issue. None at all. The sum total of everything I know of The Beyonder comes from Dave’s Long Box, which amounts to the fact that he’s a tool. Maybe if I’d been reading Marvel comics since Secret Wars I’d have a better grasp of what the fuck this comic book was about, but I kind of doubt it as, from what I’ve gathered over the years from stories like Beyond!, Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed seem to be weaving an “Everything You Know is Wrong!!!” story having to do with a character I actually didn’t know anything about before anyway (Well, aside from the fact that he was highly tooletic). But my confusion doesn’t stop there! I have no idea when this is happening, or why Tony Stark is missing, or what the Illuminati are trying to accomplish and why or what happens at the end. This thing might as well have been in Portuguese. The art was fine, but the only way it could have been good enough to make up for the story was if, I don’t know, Geoff Darrow was drawing it.

Shaolin Cowboy #7 (Burlyman Entertainment) And speaking of incomprehensible… I had only a tenuous grasp on what was going on in this title for the first three or four issues, but at this point, the meandering plot and months upon months between issues have combined with the dreamlike story logic and dense dialogue (everyone speaks exclusively in wordplay) that I’ve forgotten what little I knew—or what I thought I knew. It is the best looking book on the shelves though, and if Illuminati were one-fiftieth as gorgeous and one-one-hundreth as detailed as Shaolin Cowboy, I wouldn’t have been one-tenth as frustrated as I was. (God, that’s a lot of math for a one-paragraph comic review, isn’t it?)


Jacob T. Levy said...

52 ends, Amazons Attack! and Countdown begins, and all of a sudden things feel like they've gon to hell really quickly, don't they?

I know DC's embraced metastory-as-story so thoroughly as to make it already boring, but you're right-- Jason shouldn't know any of that stuff about humself and shouldn't know the metastory around Donna's origin being wacky.

Unknown said...

Re: Jason Todd

it just occured to me: what if in the new post IC universe, there was no Jason Todd as Robin. Jason Todd/Robin occured on another Earth, and is shunted to Earth 1. Doesn't explain how Jimmy knows about Dick Grayson, but it help explain how even Perry friggin White knows who Todd is. While I appreciate the efforts of "Countdown", I am not as eager to read it every week like with "52"

Re: JSA/Legion/JLA

Despite the weaknesses, I'm enjoying this crossover. Mind you, I've read most of the old stories involving the participants. I can't imagine what a reader who has never read this version of the Legion (*cough* good time for trades *cough*) makes of this.

I'm defintely intrigued by this mix of Legionaires. In the old continuity, Princess Projectra became Sensor Girl after her husband Karate Kid died. Yet both are here.

If, as "Countdown" suggests, Karate Kid is destined to stick around modern DCU, maybe that indicates which Legionaire is going to die, which would give KK a reason not to bother returning to the future. I was interested by the suggested rumour of what the Legion's true mission objective is.

I imagine we'll be seeing some new series of stories with the re-intergrated original Legion, but hopefully not at the expense of the Waid-Kitson version which I am loving. (and yes, they manage to not make Supergirl look like a twit).

Medraut said...

Just wanted to say don't feel bad about not understanding the Beyonder retcon in New Avengers: Illuminati, it really makes no sense. Its especially bad because they already did an "everything you know is wrong" retcon for the Beyonder in the Fantastic Four (early 90's) where he was revealed to be half of a cosmic cube!

I honestly don't understand what the obsession is with "fixing" the Beyonder. Yes he was a tool, but he was "dead" at the end of Secret War's II, so wouldn't it be better to forget him and move on?

Incidentally, I believe Tony Stark is missing because the story occurs during the time when Tony was drunk and living on the streets while James Rhodes was wearing the suit.

JohnF said...

I actually like the Illuminati series quite a bit, even if doesn't always make sense. But revealing the Beyonder to be an Inhuman is just asinine. Since when do the Terrigen Mists give you the ability to destroy galaxies and punch Celestials in the face?
This was a big misfire.