Comics Ate My Brain

March 23, 2005

New comics 3/23/05

Nostalgia abounds this week, most notably in Spider-Man/Human Torch #3, written by Dan Slott, with art by Ty Templeton and Nelson. It’s goofy for goofy’s sake, as you would expect any storyline featuring the Spider-Mobile to be. Spidey and the Torch confront the Red Ghost, and the plot’s resolution involves a bit of Marvel ephemera which most people would never have expected to be brought into “official” continuity. Although there are some moments of soul-searching (the story takes place shortly after Gwen Stacy’s death and Crystal’s return to the Inhumans), most of the issue is concerned with wacky monkey fun. This issue might appe only to those fans who are old enough to wonder why Mego’s lame Spider-Car didn’t resemble the Spider-Mobile, but those folks will probably love it.

Continuing with the nostalgia kick, Nightwing #106 (written by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty, with art by Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens) wraps up “Nightwing: Year One.” This issue features Nightwing and Robin rescuing Alfred from Killer Croc’s gang while Batman recuperates from being shot in the bulletproof plate. While it was good to see Jason Todd and Barbara Gordon in caped spandex again, I have to question the utility of this arc. It offers a couple of insights into the Dick/Bruce/Jason relationships, and it ends with Dick returning to the Teen Titans (as opposed to becoming another Bat-operative). Still, it’s not clear to me how this affects Dick’s current station in life. Sounds like a topic for another post….

Thirdly, JLA Classified #5 (written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, drawn by Kevin Maguire and Joe Rubenstein) offers Part 2 of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Justice League!” This issue revolves around fears that Guy Gardner will corrupt Mary Marvel. (Billy Batson shows up in a cameo that’s very funny mainly because he’s a kid chewing out adults.) Meanwhile, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold try to recruit Power Girl from the Justice Society, and Booster ends up triggering the group’s next adventure. There’s a lot of witty banter, and it’s obvious that these creators are very comfortable with the characters. The banter is carrying the book for now, and it’s up to the task, but judging by the last couple of pages (and the previous miniseries) that’s about to change. Not that that’s a bad thing, because these creators also seem comfortable with big superhero fights too. So far, “ICBINTJL!” is another enjoyable visit with the former Justice League International.

As for books which “live in the now,” Batman: Gotham Knights #63 (written by A.J. Lieberman, drawn by Al Barrionuevo and Bit) continues the Poison Ivy storyline from the last couple of issues. Again, this isn’t the most objectionable Batman storyline Lieberman has done, but it’s emphasizing style over substance. The opening action sequence is told almost silently, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if it were easier to follow. Ivy has fights with a squad of troopers and with Hush that come off better, but not by much. (The Hush sequence’s main problem, of course, is that it features Hush.) A Bruce Wayne/Selina Kyle date is a pleasant (if brief) sight, but overall it doesn’t amount to much. At the end of the issue, nothing seems to be too much further down the road than it was at the beginning.

Last up is Seven Soldiers: The Manhattan Guardian #1 (written by Grant Morrison, with art by Cameron Stewart). It starts off well, as a gang of subway pirates look for a lost treasure map. This is the best part of the book, because Morrison’s world-building here includes the notion that roving bands of rogues stalk New York’s subways with Jolly Rogers painted on their train cars. Once it gets into the actual super-heroing, things get more predictable, especially the Guardian’s first day on the job. Still, Morrison tells an entertaining story, even updating the Newsboy Legion and explaining this Guardian’s tenuous connection to Jack Kirby’s. My favorite part was the Guardian’s boss “Ed” — a highly appropriate name for a guy who runs a newspaper; and he reminded me of the boss from Being John Malkovich. As for Stewart’s art, it’s more restrained than his work on Seaguy, and reminded me of Ty Templeton’s work. This was still a good read, but it wasn’t as far-out as the previous Seven Soldiers books.

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