Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Weekly Haul: July 11th

Deadpool/GLI: Summer Fun Spectacular #1 (Marvel Comics) The mutant assassin finally shares a title with characters with a sense of humor about them, unlike the other character usually occupying the other side of the slash in Deadpool’s regular title. Having signed up with the Super-Human Registration Act, Flatman, Squirrel Girl and company now go by the name “The Great Lakes Initiative,” and in the lead story they team-up with ‘pool to fight AIM, who have manufactured an “Inebriation Wave” that affects all superheroes’ brains as if they were drunk. Deadpool, seeing what a nice spread the team got by selling out to Uncle Tony, offers to become the team’s first reserve member, as a pretext to move in and become an unwelcome house guest. That’s the premise of these four stories, written by Fabian Nicieza and Dan Slott, and illustrated by four different artists with four very different (and rather incongruous) art styles. The strongest art is probably that of Clio Chiang, which seems best suited tonally to the material.

The best part of the book, however, is probably the one Squirrel Girl story broken up into chapters between the other three stories, in which Deadpool hands S.G. a copy of Civil War: Frontline #10, prompting her to seek out Speedball to convince him that his “emo-thing” (her words, not mine) isn’t really him:

Oh, there’s also this:

That’s the “Squirrel-A-Gig,” Squirrel Girl’s own personal helicopter.

So why doesn’t this woman have her own series yet?

Green Arrow: Year One #1 (DC Comics) On the list of DC characters who could really use a “Year One” story explaining their current origins, Green Arrow has got to be somewhere near the bottom. Seeing as he’s just a guy with some bows and arrows who liked Robin Hood enough to emulate him is pretty much his whole origin, and even when you sex it up by throwing in a Batman-like millionaire playboy lifestyle, falling off a yacht, and spending time on a desert island wearing a leaf hat, it’s not exactly anything demanding its own series.

(What, you thought I was kidding about the leaf hat?)

At least, not after this



and especially this

which is even called Green Arrow: Year One.

The argument could be made that since all of those stories were written, the entire history of the DCU has been radically altered. There were the infamous Superboy-Prime punches that caused a lot of stupid, minor changes (Max Lord’s not a robot…and an evil douchebag! Jason Todd came back to life! The Gentleman Ghost’s origin is different than we said it was a few years ago!), there was Alex Luthor recreating the multiverse, collapsing it into “New Earth,” which unbeknowest to anyone except Rip Hunter then split into 52 identical parallel universes, which Mr. Mind then altered. And yes, all of this half-assed monkeying around with continuity has lead to some pretty major changes for some characters, particularly Wonder Woman, which is why the existence of this particular series at this particular time perplexes me so.

A Wonder Woman: Year One series would be quite welcome, as would a JLA: Year One series, since her origin was shot backwards through the DCU timeline about six years, rewriting JLA history in the process. I could even see a potential need for Batman and Superman Year Ones, since bits of their past have been tweaked as well (Batman caught Joe Chill, Superman was once Superboy…sorta, he did meet a Legion of Super-Heroes back in the day after all, etc.).

But did anything change about Oliver Queen’s history during the course of Infinite Crisis/52?

Yes, yes it did: His hair. Post-Infinite Crisis Green Arrow had long hair and a scruffy, grungy goatee before he ever washed up on that island. And this is the four-issue miniseries that explains it.

Well actually, I’ve only read the first issue, so maybe there are more radical changes yet to come in the next three (Is it three? DC’s website says it’s a six-issue series, the cover of the issue says it’s only four issues).

I don’t mean to sound cynical and bitter about the story (“cynical and bitter” is just the default setting of my voice), which is actually quite good. The team of Vertigo’s fun espionage/thriller series The Losers, Andy Diggle and Jock, re-team here, and this first issue shows us Ollie as a drunken, vapid, thrill-seeking jerk of a millionaire, one who gets thrown off a yacht at one point (another change, I think, is making the criminal who does it someone closer to home for the Emerald Archer-to-be).

The script is fine, and, since this is a story we’ve heard before, it’s the art that really stands out, and Jock delivers as well as expected. The panels are all fairly empty, but when Jock doesn’t draw a background, it seems stylistic, not lazy—the foregrounds are composed so as to utilize the empty space. And his cover is wonderful; there’s something quite Lost-like about it that makes me think a Green Arrow-marooned-on-Star-Island would have been a crackerjack idea a year or two ago, when that show about those people marooned on that island was at the apex of it’s popularity.

One final note, this is the first of several “Year One” stories that have been announced, and it’s the first to show off the new “Year One” logo, which I quite like, particularly the symmetrical way it’s paired with the DC logo and is built into the title. Taking everything into account, the image, the logos, the credits, the UPC symbol, this is one of the better-looking DC covers I’ve seen in a long time, one that even forgoes the thing I hate the most about DC Comics—their terrible habit of putting headline-like bad pun cover blurbs on their covers.

So, necessary? No, not at all. A well-written, nice-looking comic book? Yes. (I’d still like to see The Wonder Year get a trade collection though).

Green Lantern #21 (DC) This is a relatively quiet second chapter to “The Sinestro Corps War” after the enormous fireworks of Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps Special #1. If it is indeed a second chapter to the “The Sinestro Corps War at all, as the cover blurb implies. Inside, it says “Sinestro Corps Chapter One: Fear & Loathing.” It certainly seems to be a sort of stand alone story, as it quickly recaps the events of the special thoroughly enough that you probably don’t need to have even read the special to follow this (the only pertinent detail left our was the big Big Bad on the last page of the special.

In just five panels, writer Geoff Johns and the art team of Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert manage to recap “Reign of the Supermen,” the Hal-as-Parallax, Kyle-as-the-last-Lantern years, Green Lantern: Rebirth and the Sinestro Corps Special; having read all of those before anyway, I’m not sure if it’s enough to catch a newbie totally up on what’s going on, but it sure seems effective enough.

Anyway, this issue. The Earth Lanterns take stock of the damage the Sinestro Corps did to them, Guy and John go out like punks, the Guardians bicker a lot, and the new Parallax confronts Hal. The story moves forward, but gingerly, particularly when compared to that one-shot from a few weeks back. Still, this is all pretty decent stuff, probably as good as DCU comics get at the moment, excepting maybe the other Johns book that was in release this week, and the flagship Super- and Bat- books, on those rare occasions when they actually come out.

I really love that the Guardians of the (DC)Universe live their lives according to a gigantic religious text which they refer to as “The Book of Oa,” and which seems to be, from the glimpse we’re given here, some sort of graphic novel collecting the greatest Green Lantern stories ever told. If I were a billionaire, I’d buy a prop replica of that from DC Direct.

JLA: Classified #40 (DC) Is that “Kid Amazo” story still going on? Yes, yes it is. This issue at least answers a question that’s been bugging me throughout the whole storyline—just where exactly the League is hanging out, given they’re always shown in a room with rock walls and computer consoles. Turns out it’s the Batcave. Why is the Justice League hanging out in the Batcave instead of their Watchtower on the moon? Are they painting up there during this story arc or something? That question now replaces the spot previously occupied in the back of my mind by the question where the hell all the scenes of the Justice League were supposed to be set. I believe this story officially makes Carlos D’Anda the first artist in history to draw the Batcave without drawing the giant penny, the dinosaur, the glass case of Jason Todd’s costume and/or a single parked Batmobile.

Justice Society of America #7 (DC) If it weren’t for the scene of Superman having sloppy joes with Starman and trying to get a straight answer about the LOSH, you might not have known “The Lightning Saga” ever happened (and honestly, that’s not such a bad thing). Johns and penciller Dale Eaglesham pick up right where they left off before Brad Meltzer, JLoA and the Legion co-opted JsoA, presenting us with a story focusing on the new Citizen Steel, a character I find myself quite liking based on the simple fact that he too is from Columbus, Ohio. This book is seriously so good I have to look very, very hard to find anything to complain about, and am having a rather hard time thinking of anything positive to say about it that I haven’t said before. Perhaps I should leave it to Power Girl to review this book for me this month.

Power Girl, how was this issue of JsoA?

Really? Perfect? Even though Alex Ross drew painted an eagle head atop the star design on Citizen Steel’s costume on the cover, while the interior art indicates that his grandfather Commander Steel had an eagle head on his costume, but Citizen Steel himself does not?

What’s that you say? Nobody’s looking at his chest in that paining anyway? What do you mean…oh. Oh. Well, I suppose one bulging crotch for every four thousand bulging boobs on the cover of a company’s superhero comics is a step in the right direction towards equality, huh?

Okay, well what about that scene of Hawkman wearing the weird welder’s mask…over his Hawkman helmet?

That didn’t strike you as weird at all? Like, is he that concerned about Nate Heywood recognizing his face through the welder’s mask? Because last adventure, everyone was calling him “Carter” in front of everyone else. And what exactly happens to his beak when the mask is on?

That little art detail doesn’t change your opinion of this issue at all? You still think it’s—

Okay, fine. I’m not going to argue with someone who can fly through brick walls.

The New Avengers #32 (Marvel) It’s the plane ride back home from Japan, which makes for a very talky, very Bendisian issue, which, in the context of the greater story Brian Michael Bendis has been writing for the last few issue, I don’t mind one bit—this is a team with a lot to talk about at the moment. I was a little surprised to the extent at which the characters spoke like Newsarama posters, using words like “Skrullish,” immediately assuming Tony Stark is a Skrull, and Wolverine even mentioning the fact that he’s everywhere all the time. I think this title is currently at its creative zenith, and I do hope it stays on this plateau of quality for quite a while. There were a few points I was completely confused by this issue though. I understand why Dr. Strange didn’t peep up and say, “Well, Tony, the gang and I did pre-emptively kill/murder a few hundred Skrulls right after after the Kree/Skrull War…could be they’re mad about that.” I don’t quite understand why his magic couldn’t do anything to teleport any of them off the plane, or why, at the least he couldn’t save himself with his Cloak of Levitation (Likewise, why didn’t Wolvie just jump out? Dude jumps off SHIELD helicarriers without a chute like bimonthly). And then that last page, when Wolverine’s pupils disappear…does that mean he was a Skrull? Wait, I’ve got one more question. Is Skrull a proper noun that needs capitalized whenever you use it, or should it be lowercased, like the word “human?” I have a feeling I’ll be using that word a lot here in the year to come, and I’d really like to make sure I’m using it properly.

Shadowpact #15 (DC) Hey, you know, this isn’t really a very good comic book, is it? I like Zauriel and penciller Tom Derenick a hell of a lot, which is why I finally added this book to my monthly haul with #13, but this issue wasn’t very good at all. The Zauriel stuff continues not to make a whole lot of sense in the context of past Zauriel stories and past stories about the angels in the DCU. Michael has a spear now? Okay. Why’s it so useless against Dr. Gotham? That’s a spear that presumably took down Lucifer. And who exactly is that unnamed floating, longhaired, bearded head Zauriel is talking to? Is that Jesus? Because, perhaps coincidentally, that is almost exactly the way Neil Swaab draws Jesus in Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles, if you replace the lightning with a cloud. There’s a brief interlude set in Hell featuring Blue Devil, but most of the issue is dominated by the ‘pact going up against Dr. Gotham in a pretty standard supervillain versus superteam kind of story.

Superman #664 (DC)
Memo to Lois Lane
From Perry White, Editor-in-Chief

Ms. Lane, if you persist in abusing the Daily Planet Publishing Inc.’s current business casual dress code by pushing the definition of casual to include such scanty and unprofessional attire, I’m afraid HR is going to rethink the company dress code. I’m sorry it has come to a written warning like this, but I’ve received too many complaints about your wardrobe around the office to continue to ignore the problem. I trust this will be the last time we have to discuss the matter.

Voodoo Child #1 (Virgin Comics) The cover reads “Weston Cage and Nicolas Cage’s Voodoo Child,” but the small print on the inside front cover simply reads “Voodoo Child,” so I’m going to go ahead and call it that, particularly since this seems to be another case of a Virgin book with a celebrity creator whose act of creation is murky at best. “Created by” credits usually go to the writer and artist responsible for the first story a character appears in, but here the Cages get a “created by” credit, while Mike Carey gets credited for the script, and Dean Ruben Hyrapiet for the art (and afterword talking about what they were going for is also written by a Carey rather than a Cage). As for the story, it’s similar to most of the Virgin first issues, in which we get a supernatural hero character, a police person investigating them, and hints of a larger story line that will follow later.

The book opens n New Orleans in 1860, where some Klansmen kill off some folks, including a young boy named Gabriel Moore who is reanimated through black magic. Flash forward to December of 2005, in post-Katrina New Orleans, where the now black-skinned, dreadlocked Gabriel fights gangsters using supernatural powers and some voodoo. Carey’s afterword tells us our hero is “a night creature unlike any you’ve ever seen before,” which I was a little surprised to have read, as he seemed an awful lot like an awful lot of other night creature-cum-superheroes I’ve seen before, most notably The Crow and Spawn. It’s hardly a terrible comic book, but it is an extremely mediocre one. Were I Carey, I don’t think I’d mind the Cages getting credit for creating the book one bit; let them take the blame.


Anonymous said...

If you're going to talk about Lois Lane's skimpy outfit, you really should show it to us. You know, for comparative purposes.

And I'd much rather read Squirrel Girl than any more goddamn zombies.

Tony said...

I really, really, really wanted to like ShadowPact, but couldn't.

Of course Citizen Steel is from Columbus. You can tell by the picture.

J Ray said...

I read in a review somewhere (and totally agree) that New Avengers would have been one of the best comics ever had at least one of the members definitely been a skrull.

why? because they could have had a short fight scene on the plane, and then the last page could be them on the ground with the title "Skrulls on a Plane!" and Luke Cage standing there yelling "I have HAD it with these mother----ing Skrulls on this mother----ing plane!"