Comics Ate My Brain

December 22, 2004

New comics 12/22/04

Filed under: green lantern, justice league, weekly roundups, wonder woman, x-men — Tom Bondurant @ 6:15 pm
I’d bought the first six issues, so I got Astonishing X-Men #7 today, but I wasn’t quite that excited about it. Conventional wisdom apparently holds that if you grew up on Claremont, Cockrum, Byrne & Austin, thrilled to “fastball specials” and purple prose, and cried when Phoenix died, you’re Joss Whedon’s target audience. I was never an X-Men guy, or much of a Marvel guy, so while I’m sure Whedon is hitting a lot of the right beats for the faithful, it goes right over my head. In fact, my favorite all-time Marvel title is Fantastic Four, so the biggest thrill I got from this book was having the FF show up in the middle of the X-Men’s battle with a giant monster. To put this story in TV-episode terms, said battle is the issue’s A-story. The B-story is a young mutant’s struggle with the loss of his powers, and the C-story is the Shadowy Government Operation designed to destroy all mutants.

Reading this book is like going to visit someone you don’t hate, and unexpectedly running into one of your good friends. While you don’t mind the main visit, you’d rather spend time with your friend. Finally, John Cassaday’s art is right purty, and darn near flawless, but you’d expect nothing less.

Now, at the other end of the spectrum in terms of personal fanboy button-pushing is Green Lantern Rebirth #3. In it, Geoff Johns lays out the metaphysical underpinnings of the green energy, the yellow impurity, and what happens when old-school Green Lanterns feel fear. I have to say, I figured out a lot of this stuff last month, but Johns does make it sound reasonable (at least in the context of GL mythology). In terms of making the preposterous plausible, Johns’ theory approaches Grant Morrison-like levels. This may be the best work of Johns’ career so far, which is all the more amazing considering the emotions on both sides of Hal Jordan’s return.

There are a couple of fights before the exposition starts, and Ethan van Sciver is able to handle both action and conversation pretty well. I will say that the Kilowog/Ganthet fight is a lot of “I’ll stand here and direct a tremendous energy beam at you, and you do the same,” so not so much choreography, but still.

Sean Phillips fills in for Drew Johnson on Wonder Woman #211, which picks up right where we left it last month. This month, regular writer Greg Rucka gives us the fallout from Diana’s battle with Medousa. Most of this deals with Diana’s blindness, which doesn’t seem to bother her much. Her one big question is about a young boy killed by Medousa, and she ultimately gets an answer from the goddess Athena. It’s a decent issue which serves more as an epilogue and transition into the next story (apparently involving the Flash) than anything self-contained. Phillips’ art is not too far removed from Johnson’s, but it uses both thinner lines and fewer details. Diana herself seems to have lost a little stature, which may be appropriate since she’s not meant to be as imposing as she was on the battlefield. Otherwise, no complaints.

Finally, JLA Classified #2, written by Grant Morrison with art by Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines, continues the 3-part Gorilla Grodd/Neh-Buh-Loh story in fine fashion. Morrison and McGuinness amp up the plot this issue, showing us where the rest of the JLA was while Grodd trashed the Ultramarines; Grodd’s enslavement of the conquered heroes; and Batman’s assault on Grodd, using android duplicates of the JLA. It’s all very high-concept — Morrison has a lot of fun with an “unhealthy” Earth which has no superheroes — but sometimes it comes at you so quickly that you don’t get it all on the first reading. McGuinness experiments a lot with layouts, using a very conservative sixteen-panel grid for the unhealthy Earth and a much freer style for the “regular” one. Next issue should be a doozy.

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