Comics Ate My Brain

April 13, 2005

New comics 4/13/05

Filed under: adam strange, batman, gotham central, justice society, lotdk, superman, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 7:45 pm
The most pleasant surprise of the week came in Adam Strange #7 (written by Andy Diggle, drawn by Pascal Ferry). Check out the flashback on page 6, panel 2, and tell me those aren’t two of the schmucks treated so shabbily by Countdown! Sure, they’re second-rate in DC’s eyes, but they took out a cosmic menace! Maybe that was the point of Countdown — remove the obstacles to Mr. Cosmic Menace’s conquest of the galaxy — but I digress. This was yet another fine installment for the miniseries, effectively balancing what seems like an opening dream-sequence with the reality of preparing for the aforementioned menace. It’s too much to hope that the rest of DC’s big event miniseries will be as good as this one.

I had thought the cover of JSA #72 (written by Geoff Johns, with art by Don Kramer and Keith Champagne) referenced the cover of America Vs. The Justice Society #4 (April 1985), but silly me — that was itself a reference to All Star Comics #35 (June-July 1947), Degaton’s first appearance. As for this issue, most of it’s a big fight on the White House lawn as Degaton tries to use the Justice Society’s powers to destroy Washington, D.C. Accordingly, it’s most concerned with fight mechanics and the effective use of powers. There’s also a kind of deus ex machina at the end which makes little sense now. I say “now” because it’s the kind of thing I expect Johns to work into a storyline a couple of years down the road. More overtly, Johns works into the ending a setup for the Power Girl storyline in July’s JSA Classified, and possibly even a reference to Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Not that I’ll be reading either in July. This was my last monthly issue of JSA for the foreseeable future. It’s been coming since “Black Reign,” and the first part of this storyline (with Courtney’s family murdered) kind of sealed the deal. The book just doesn’t do anything for me anymore, and I don’t find myself caring about characters like Atom-Smasher or Hourman II. “JSA/JSA” in particular was oddly free of suspense, mostly because we never saw the consequences of Degaton’s alterations to the timestream. Sure, he says America will never trust mystery-men again, but does that mean Kal-El’s rocket won’t land, or Abin Sur’s spaceship won’t crash, or Diana won’t get sent to Patriarch’s World? Surely some super-people will be around to overthrow Degaton; and if he’ll eliminate them in their cribs to get them out of the picture, why not just do that and avoid this elaborate frame-job?

Speaking of elaborate plans, Mr. Freeze has apparently concocted one for a two-parter beginning in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #190 (written by J. Torres, with art by David Lopez and Fernando Blanco). By the way, does Mr. Freeze get Subway stamps for every Bat-title he’s in this month? He’s 3-for-4 so far. Anyway, the story’s narrated by Bruce Wayne, so that drains some of the suspense, but it’s not like we couldn’t have figured that Batman survives. It’s interesting so far, using the old “why is the villain stealing these unrelated items?” plot, and if we can maybe guess their connection, it’s still a diverting issue. The art is by Fallen Angel‘s team, so you know it’s good; and it’s nice to see those guys getting work.

Action Comics #826 (written by Judd Winick, with art by Ian Churchill and Norm Rapmund) kicks off a 3-part team-up with Captain Marvel that finds them battling Eclipso. This is the setup issue, in which Eclipso apparently tries to take over people by pushing them to the point of anger. It’s all designed to get Superman involved so that Eclipso can take him over too. So far not bad, and the art is better than I would have expected — not as stiff as the cover might suggest.

While Gotham Central #30 (written by Greg Rucka, pencilled by Stefano Gaudiano, inked by Kano) relies a little too much on Hannibal Lecter riffs (even trying to make Dr. Alchemy look like Anthony Hopkins), I still liked it. The plot (spoiled somewhat by this month’s Flash, so thanks) involves transporting Alchemy to Gotham from Keystone City. Again, despite the Lecterisms, the interaction between our heroes and Alchemy is pretty effective, and the Keystone detectives come off a lot more natural here than they do in Flash. There are a couple of big plot holes, mostly involving the security around Alchemy, but if they weren’t there, we wouldn’t have the big dramatic cliffhanger ending. Next issue is set up very well.

Finally, if you have the chance, check out the new hardcover edition of Batman: Year One. Most of the extras are related to the art, but there’s also a new four-page David Mazzucchelli strip which talks about his own relationship with Batman and superheroes in general. He concludes by saying “the more realistic superheroes are, the less believable they become.” Food for thought.

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2 Comments »

  1. I’ve been wondering what the freakin’ deal is with Mr. Freeze. He’s not a terribly interesting villain, and yet it seems like for the past few years he’s EVERYWHERE. I don’t like him in Lapham’s Detective, but the rest of the story is so good I don’t care. It’s just strange, seeing him everywhere.

    Comment by Greg — April 14, 2005 @ 2:21 am

  2. He’s either the new Two-Face (another Bat-villain used to the point of overexposure) or the new black, I can’t decide which.

    Comment by Tom Bondurant — April 14, 2005 @ 4:35 am


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