I don’t think I ever consciously decided to discontinue these weekly wrap-ups, but somehow I just got out of the habit. We’ll see how long I can keep this up. 52 is a big part of my desire to return to the weekly habit — if it’s coming out every week, I don’t want to get behind.
However, we start with the immensely enjoyable Superman #652 (that number again!), written by Kurt Busiek & Geoff Johns, with art by Pete Woods. This story arc has been something of a revelation in its simplicity: a powerless Superman, a scheming Luthor (together with old Silver Age allies Toyman and Prankster), and a sort of winking acknowledgement that things will be back to normal before you know it. At the risk of gushing too much, as I read the opening pages (featuring Clark vs. a tall building), John Williams’ 12/8 beats started thrumming in my mind’s ear. When a Superman book spontaneously inspires the theme music, it’s done its job well.
Also pleasantly old-school, as usual, is Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #25 (written by Stuart Moore, pencilled by Jamal Igle, inked by Keith Champagne), in which Stormy squares off against Killer Frost and Mr. Freeze. The story expands Frost’s powers in ways which don’t seem entirely plausible in hindsight, even for superhero comics, but it’s refreshing to see the various parts of Firestorm having to work together to think their way out of problems. There are also cute moments with Gehenna and Jason’s dad. The obligatory Batman appearance doesn’t feel gratuitous, and gets its own funny little twist.
Apparently people have been talking (here, for example) about the sexual politics of She-Hulk #7 (written by Dan Slott, art by Will Conrad), and from what I’ve seen, they’re doing a fine job without me. I have no particular problem with making Starfox an irredeemable lech, since I have no real emotional attachment to the character. However, I do wonder, as a practical matter, how someone with his abilities would get a fair trial. Isolating him, as the story does, seems to be the best short-term solution, but as Jen argues, it also pretty much admits that if he were physically present, he would use his powers to influence the jury. I suppose that a better solution for future reference might be to incorporate his isolation into voir dire before the trial even starts (“My client will appear via closed-circuit TV — will that influence your deliberation in any way?”). As it stands now, Starfox should be in a whole lotta trouble with the State of New York, and a mistrial has probably been declared. You know, if only Marvel-Earth’s governments had some kind of way to, say, keep track of its super-people….
With regard to the issue itself, it was the most “Ally McBeal”-like this series has been, and that’s not necessarily good. I thought Slott handled the main issues appropriately, and the art was good too, but it just seemed like everything revolved around romance and sex. Not that I have a problem with that, but “Ally McBeal” was fixated upon those things, and it got tiresome. Looks like civil liberties are going to preoccupy She-Hulk for oh, about seven months.
It was good to see that Captain Atom: Armageddon #8 (written by Will Pfeifer, art by Guiseppe Camuncoli and Sandra Hope) hadn’t forgotten Cap’s marriage to Plastique. However, I’m not sure what this miniseries is supposed to accomplish beyond giving DC-centered readers like me a taste of the WildStorm universe. I spent most of the issue trying to figure out whether Majestic or Apollo was the better Superman analogue. The rest of it seems like the Captain Atom version of “Russell Crowe Fightin’ ‘Round The World.” We know from Infinite Crisis that Cap survives, and we can probably guess that Earth-WildStorm will too, so I guess the burden is on issue #9 to make all these fight scenes worthwhile.
I liked the wrinkles introduced in American Virgin #3 (written by Steven T. Seagle, pencilled by Becky Cloonan, inked by Jim Rugg), but again, it looks like the conclusion of the first arc next issue will determine how this series will continue on an ongoing basis. I do like the series as a whole, because it raises valid questions about how we react when what looks like God’s plan for us gets torpedoed by, well, an Act Of God.
Finally, here’s 52 #1 (written by Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, and Greg Rucka, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencilled by Joe Bennett, inked by Ruy Jose — whew!), and I’m not sure how to evaluate it in monthly-comic terms. As Part 1 of a month’s worth of story, totaling 80-odd pages, I suppose it can afford to be a little decompressed. Wisely, it sticks with the story of Booster Gold’s humiliation (and we know he’s going to be humiliated, because the cover practically tells us so). The other major players (Renee Montoya, the Question, Ralph Dibny, Black Adam, and Steel) were pretty much just teased, so I’m holding off on evaluating their stories until some kind of format starts to take shape. For all the chefs stirring this particular pot, it held together fine, and was a good palate-cleanser after Infinite Crisis. I do wonder how accessible this would be to a new DC reader who (for some inexplicable reason) decided to start with this instead of all the Crisis hoo-rah. I don’t think it would be so bad, because by and large these characters have been on the periphery for the past couple of years.
That felt good. Let’s do it again next week!