Comics Ate My Brain

March 10, 2005

New Comics 3/9/05

Drove back from Virginia today — 8 hours, two brief stops, hardest part was West Virginia (no offense, David Welsh) — and still have lots to do, but here’s what I read when I got in.

Action Comics #825 (written by “J.D. Finn,” with art by Ivan Reis & Marc Campos and Joe Prado) wraps up the Chuck Austen Era with the revelation that Gog was behind all the bad guys fighting Superman during Chuck’s tenure. The fight du jour takes an unexpected turn into moderately familiar territory. Although Aust– er, “Finn” — tries to make a profound statement about Superman, ultimately it’s nothing we couldn’t have guessed. Also, my head hurt trying to figure out the timeline of Gog’s origin. Finally, the book is 40 pages, but with all the big panels and action sequences, it didn’t feel like a whole lot extra had been added. Maybe some of those pages could have explained Doomsday’s existential crisis.

Superman #214 (written by Brian Azzarello with art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams) fares a little better. It too is Superman getting the snot pounded out of him, and it too almost made my head hurt trying to figure it out, but it has at least tried to tell a more coherent plot. However, it asks the reader to believe that Superman would essentially try to hide his plan for saving the Earth from everyone on Earth except his wife. There’s also some bits with the enigmatic Mr. Orr and some mysterious super-soldier builders, but I couldn’t remember enough about them from previous issues to comment. I still need to read this storyline in a sitting, and maybe then it’ll make more sense.

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #189 (written by Shane McCarthy with art by Tommy Castillo and Rodney Ramos) would probably also benefit from being read in one sitting. It’s the conclusion of “Riddle Me That,” and it is full of “Aha! But I am left-handed!” moments — but not in a good way. Actually, I don’t know whether to fault McCarthy for this, because had I made the effort to read Parts 1-4 all at once before today, clearly I would have enjoyed Part 5 more. “Riddle Me That” was basically a caper story with some Riddler backstory woven in, and it was an attempt to remake the Riddler without the mental block that compelled him to tip off Batman using his trademark clues. This would ostensibly make the Riddler cool, I guess; but I’m not sure it did. Back in the reading pile, then.

Adam Strange #6 (written by Andy Diggle, with art by Pascal Ferry) is a good example of how to keep my short attention span engaged. It starts tying together the story’s threads with two issues left to go, and it works in a couple of pleasant surprises as gravy. There’s not much more to say, except that this continues to be a fun story, executed with wit and panache.

Gotham Central #29 (written by Greg Rucka, with art by Stefano Gaudiano and Kano) continues the Keystone City/Dr. Alchemy storyline in fine fashion. Gotham detectives Montoya and Allen travel to the home of the Flash to find out how to reverse the mutation of a Gotham policeman caught in a Flash villain’s boobytrap. I have to say, one of my least favorite parts of Geoff Johns’ Flash makeover has to do with the police characters he created, but here they are handled very well. In fact, they seem more at home in this book than they do in Flash. Montoya also gets a couple of good moments with her dad and her significant other, so all around a very good issue.

Nightwing #105 (written by Chuck Dixon & Scott Beatty, with art by Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens) continues “Nightwing: Year One” by telling the story of Nightwing and the second Robin’s first meeting. It’s rooted in a test run by Batman which goes awry, and it sets up what should be a grand finale wherein Nightwing, Batman, Robin II, and Batgirl all learn to get along. For those of us who were around for the original stories (about 20 years ago), this has some nods to them while being a completely new work. Ironically, McDaniel and Owen manage to make the classic Robin costume (short pants and all) look cooler and more natural than Dick’s first Nightwing costume.

Reading last month’s JSA, I complained that I couldn’t tell whether the bad guys were winning. This month the JSA seems like it has the upper hand, but JSA #71 (written by Geoff Johns, with art by Don Kramer & Keith Champagne) also seems a little rushed, especially since Atom-Smasher’s motivations are explored in bits that turn out to be redundant. It also left me wondering how (in good Star Trek practice) how the timestream won’t end up being corrupted. Still, everybody gets a little scene, and it’s fun to see the current Mr. Terrific beat up some Klansmen. Not enough to keep me on the title past the end of this storyline, though.

The first of Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers miniseries, Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #1 (art by Simone Bianchi) came out today. Most of it relates Sir Justin’s role in the last days of a Camelot unlike many of the traditional interpretations. There’s a fair amount of “wha–huh?,” but the context keeps everything clear. The art is fine, although thanks to some weird silhouettes occasionally I had to pay a little more attention to who was doing what. The coloring, by Nathan Eyring, also makes everything take on a nice ethereal watercolor look. It’s a pretty good start which reminded me, at least superficially, of Morrison’s Seaguy.

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