Friday, January 02, 2009

Weekly Haul: January 2nd

Avengers: The Initiative #20 (Marvel Comics) At long last the secret identity of Mutant Zero is revealed! What's that, you forgot that was even a mystery? Yeah, me too. And the solution was less than exciting to me, as it's someone whom I've heard of, but never actually read any stories featuring. And I didn't even know she was a mutant.

In other goings on, the real Hank Pym gets some weirdo therapy to deal with the "death" of his ex-wife, and we learn whether it was Pym himself who slapped Jan that one time or if it was Skrullowjacket, Ant-Man gets transferred out of the book and into Thunderbolts, hippies get slapped around and Tigra tells her therapist she intends to have an abortion! (Prediction: Message board discussion of that last bit is going to be awesome).

Christos N. Gage and Dan Slott mostly use the issue to take a breath after the Secret Invasion crossover and take stock of their cast of dozens. Pencil art comes courtesy of guest Steve Kurth, and while it's readable enough, the issue struck me as visually weaker than most of the past issues.

Avengers/Invaders #7 (Marvel/Dynamite Entertainment) About as much stuff happened in this one, single issue of the Jim Krueger and Alex Ross written series featuring three super-teams than in any four issues of Secret Invasion. Just sayin’. I know, I know, different tastes and all, but this book has been using the two Brian Michael Bendis assembled Avengers teams to tell pretty solid old school, event-filled comics, in which people are fighting and tricking each other and using their super-powers and constantly crossing paths with different denizens of the Marvel Universe and it’s all just been really fun.

Batman #684 (DC Comics) The last issue of Batman featured the second part of two-part story "The Butler Did It." This issue features the second part of another two-part story called "The Last Days of Gotham," by an entirely different creative team. What the hell's going on? Well, this is the second part of a story that began in another title, Detective Comics. You're not likely to be confused, however, since you're the sort of person who reads about comics on the Internet.

Of course, you may be disappointed that this is basically just a time-killing, page-filling story about how Dick Grayson is insecure about filling Batman's shoes and how sometimes Batman doesn't answer the Bat-signal, and that makes Commissioner Gordon sad (Stories you've read a few dozen times before, basically). The solicitation seemed to promise something a little more dramatic.

Seriously, check this shit out: "In a world without a Batman, what happens when Commissioner Gordon lights the Bat-signal, in desperate need of assistance against the growing tide of crime sweeping his city? What does Nightwing do when his longtime partner fails to aid him in yet another of Two-Face's villainous assaults against Gotham? Without The Dark Knight to protect its walls, Gotham City may be facing its final days!"

Ha ha, joke's on you! A trio of jewel theives knock over a jewelry store, and then try to dig up a bag of diamonds they lost in the great Gotham earthquake. That there's your "growing tide of crime" and, apparently, what is causing Gotham City to "be facing its final days." As for Two-Face, he's not actually in the issue, although one of the jewel thieves does dress up as him.

If you recalibrate your expectations from An Important Story About Post-"Batman R.I.P." Gotham By One Of The Most Influential Batman Writers Ever to An Okay Nightwing Story, this is a perfectly fine effort from Denny O'Neil, whose primary focus seems to be introducing a new character whose future is uncertain. Thanks to artist Guillem March, it is the very best Batman has looked since the Caped Crusaders left the island of Mr. Mayhew. What a difference mastery, let alone competence, at laying out a comics page or choreographing an action scene makes. Guillem March for all future Tony Daniel art assignments!

Green Lantern #36 (DC) The Red Lanterns splash around blood around their gore-soaked home planet while crucifying Sinestro and debating with him over what's cooler, rage or fear! Hindu deity Ganesh joins the Blue Lantern Corps! Geoff Johns writes another silly poem! A Minor GL villain joins the Purple Lantern Corps*! Neither the Controllers nor any Orange Lanterns are so much as hinted at, despite the fact that the solicitation says, "Meanwhile, the war lights ignite across the universe as the Controllers seek out the Orange Lanterns," making me look foolish**! This whole War of Light/"Blackest Night" storyline is precariously perched upon the thin dividing line between colossally stupid and super-awesome, and depending on how I squint or tilt my head, I can see it as either one. Of course, no one is better at striking and maintaining that balance than Geoff Johns.

Incredible Hercules #124 (Marvel) Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak and Clayton Henry prove it is possible to tell a comic book story about Amazons attacking Washington D.C. that doesn't prove hopelessly embarassing to everyone involved. In this issue, Marvel's Wonder Woman and her allies invade D.C., the Titan giant Atlas takes it in the loincloth, President George Washington guest-stars and many punning sound effects are employed. My only gripe is the cover; Bob Layton missed a perfect opportunity to draw Herc using his whole body to thumb-wrestle Atlas.

Justice Society of America #22 (DC) Geoff Johns and Alex Ross' 3,000-part sequel to Kingdom Come finally comes to its completely predictably conclusion. Wait, let me take that back: I didn't expect KC-Superman to rip off Gog's head, nor did I expect Starman to say "Yabba Dabba Doo!" The diddling with Kingdom Come seems to, overall, do more harm than good—here it's made clear that the KC-Superman in the book was the same one from Kingdom Come, plucked out from between the panels of that story and then reinserted after his adventures in JSoA—but the Ross-painted pages detailing the next 1,000 years of that Superman's life are by far the most interesting of the book, in large part because of all the little details to stare at and make sense of (Trying to figure out who's who at Batman's funeral, wondering if The Trinity has opened up a daycare center or what in that one panel, etc.)

Superman #683 (DC) I was actually quite surprised to close the cover of this and realize it was Superman, which is written by James Robinson, and not an issue of Action, which is written by Geoff Johns. Because Robinson turns out a very Johns-y script here; there’s even that familiar surprise arrival/cliffhanger ending that Johns seems to use in one-third of his scripts. Anyway, a bunch of Johns and Robinson’s favorite Earth superheroes versus some Kryptonians, while Superman tries to hash things out with his evil aunt and Supergirl cries.

Confidential to Guardian: Please stop air-surfing on your shield. That’s just embarrassing.

Trinity #31 (DC) The first half of this story reminded me a lot of G.I. Joe, specifically the episodes in the five-part miniseries like when Cobra was trying to build the Weather Dominator or The Pyramid of Darkness or gather genetic material to make Serpentor. You know, how a squadron of some good guys would meet up with a group of some bad guys in an exotic locale, and they’d fight over something, and one side would win, bringing them closer to meeting a specific goal. This was kinda like that, with Hawkman and the Evil Trinity playing decks of tarot cards against one another in an attempt to claim part of the altered-Earth to remake in their own image. I mean this all in a good way, by the way—G.I. Joe is, like, one of my fondest cultural experiences, and the five-part miniseries were pretty much the best episodes ever.*** The back-up, continuing to detail the Trinity-inspired mythology of the people in Krona’s egg-iverse, is pretty lame, but not so lame as to make the book not worthwhile or anything.

*Just kidding. They're not really called the Purple Lantern Corps. That would sound stupid. They're called The Star Sapphire Corps. Which sounds much cooler.

**Well, no more foolish than usual, I guess.

***Except the one where Lady Jaye and Destro find out they’re distantly related and go to that castle where the Lovecraftian horror is in the well, and Lady Jaye spends half the episode in her nightgown. Or the one where Shipwreck finds himself in a crazy upside-down world where he married Mera and lives a civilian life. Or the Cold Slither episode. Or…okay, I’ll stop now.


LurkerWithout said...

Dude, best G.I.Joe is the one where Stormshadow finds Excaliber. Because its a freaking ninja with freaking Excaliber!

Jacob T. Levy said...

"Of course, no one is better at striking and maintaining that balance than Geoff Johns."

So true, and such an excellent summary of the state of DC under GJ's intellectual leadership!

SallyP said...

I for one, found it to be a fabulous week! Finally! Having to wait two extra days was extremely difficult.

I put Green Lantern definitely on the super-awesome side, but I'm funny that way. Ganthet and Sayd are at least being competent, which is something that I certainly can't say about the other Guardians.

Incredible Hercules was a hoot as always. Tough luck for him about Namora's fantasies however.

Although I liked the Gog story in JSA, I agree, that it went on a bit TOO long. The Alex Ross painted epilogue was fun however.

Was...was that the Shade standing behind Zatanna in Superman #683? Be still my heart1