Comics Ate My Brain

May 1, 2005

New comics 4/27/05

First, an anniversary — today marks 10 years of practicing law, all of it in Kentucky. I hope that when the results of this July’s Virginia bar exam come out, I’ll be licensed to practice law there too.

Less talk, more comics! Batman #639 (written by Judd Winick, with art by Doug Mahnke and Dustin Nguyen) ostensibly begins a new storyline, but really it just continues the mystery of the Red Hood. See, Winick’s first issue started with Batman unmasking the Red Hood, and everything else proceeding in flashback. I liked that device, because it meant we’d work up to the unmasking. However, this issue Bats behaves as if he knows who the Hood is, but to the best of my knowledge we’ve never put the unmasking in any kind of timeline. Anyway, everybody’s still around except Nightwing, who’s been replaced by Onyx in the story structure. Batman also has some post-Identity Crisis moments with Zatanna and Green Arrow, in which Winick manages to make Batman arrogant, antagonistic, and sympathetic. While I like what Winick is doing with the book, I hope he wraps up this “new” arc fairly soon.

Winick also writes this month’s Adventures of Superman (also #639), continuing the Captain Marvel/Eclipso story (art by Ian Churchill and Norm Rapmund). Superman fights an Eclipso-possessed scientist who’s stolen a Kryptonian battlesuit. She wants him to get mad enough for Eclipso to possess him, but he knows that — probably because this plot was used 13 years ago in the summer crossover series Eclipso: The Darkness Within. Based on that alone, this story still hasn’t convinced me it needs to be told. Anyhoo, because this is Part 2 of 3 and Captain Marvel still has to beat the tar out of Supes, I’m sure you can guess how the issue ends. My only question is, does Lois usually type in her underwear?

Speaking of underwear, here’s the new/old Supergirl, using Superman/Batman #19 (words by Jeph Loeb, pitchers by the same Ian Churchill) for what TV people would call a “backdoor pilot.” I call it “Jeph Loeb’s argument that this Supergirl deserves her own comic,” and as with the other bit of Ian Churchill business this week, it hasn’t convinced me. Basically it picks up where the previous Supergirl arc left off. Batman and Superman track Supergirl as she re-enacts key saves from the first two Christopher Reeve movies (eee! shout-outs!) and fights Bat-villains, all the while being tracked by a mysterious “Mr. X” whose identity is pretty much telegraphed from page 2. I know this incarnation of Supergirl is only a handful of issues old, but so far everything about her feels tacked-on. (Insert obligatory underwear joke here.)

Flash #221 (written by Geoff Johns, with art by Howard Porter and Livesay) gives us part 2 of “Rogue War.” I liked this issue more than I have recent Johns issues, mostly because it has a fair amount of Flash in it. While Johns shows the dueling Rogues’ power, he also conveys the extent to which their individual battles are devastating Keystone City. There’s terse first-person narration and armchair psychology, but it all seems to work together. I don’t remember if I noted a Reservoir Dogs influence in Johns’ approach, but he comes closest to that in this issue.

Wonder Woman #215 (written by Greg Rucka, art by Rags Morales and Michael Bair) starts a new arc with Diana, Wonder Girl, and Ferdinand headed to Hades on a mission for Athena. Rucka’s script is efficient and entertaining as always. The Morales/Bair art is more three-dimensional than the book’s usual team, and I was reminded (surprisingly) of Kelley Jones. Given the issue’s subject matter, that’s not inappropriate; and overall, the book hasn’t skipped a beat.

Legion of Super-Heroes #5 (written by Mark Waid, art by Barry Kitson and Art Thibert) delivers a full-length tale of the Legion struggling against its evil — or possibly just more pragmatic — counterpart. I wasn’t sure exactly who they were or where Waid is going, but I liked the spotlights on Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Timber Wolf; and so far the book seems headed in a good direction.

Captain America #5 (written by Ed Brubaker, with most art by Michael Lark and a few pages by Steve Epting) focuses on Cap’s World War II days to give us some background on today’s menace. Along the way we discover the startling secret of Bucky Barnes. David Welsh (and I’m sure many others) have written about the Buckster, and I agree with them that while it is startling, it also makes a certain degree of sense and even gives Bucky a bit more depth. You can’t say that about a lot of retcons, so hats off to Brubaker. Lark does a fine job with the issue, and he and Epting complement each other well.

Finally, Star Wars Empire #30 (written by Kaare Andrews, with art by Adriana Melo) continues the compare-and-contrast Luke/Anakin arc. Although this issue went a long way towards explaining why the people of this planet hate heroic Jedi Anakin Skywalker, and by extension Luke, I was still confused by the artwork. Leia especially looks like someone grafted Carrie Fisher’s face onto a taller, more zaftig body. I may drop this book after the arc is over, but it comes out so irregularly I can’t say when that would be.


  1. Okay, seriously, I am prepared to be called a moron – but what did the latest issue of Cap change about Bucky?I hear people refer to it a lot, but what exactly changed with Bucky?By the by…I am not even sure if I really have a problem with Lois writing in her underwear. Is it kinda creepy? Sure. But I think it could be pulled off.Churchill, though, did NOT pull it off…as he made it waaaaay too creepy. His panel composition made it appear as though he was drawing a porno.And here’s my question…is there a chance that when Winick pitched this, that the editor (and/or Winick himself) did not remember/know about the Eclipso Annuals?

    Comment by Brian Cronin — May 2, 2005 @ 12:24 am

  2. ^^^ What do you mean? I’m typing in my underware now.As for Bucky. Let’s just say he’s has more or less the same personality, but the rifle he carries ain’t for shooting the guns out of the Nazis’ hands. It’s a excellent issue, I thought. In the flashback, the artwork not only envoked the feel of WW2, but when the Skull reveals his weapon (The Skull always has a secret weapon, not much of a spoiler is it .It’s not the Cube, though)), it looks like something that could cause havoc against WW2 technology.

    Comment by Captain Qwert Jr — May 2, 2005 @ 1:49 am

  3. About the Eclipso story: I thought it was an editor’s job to remember those kinds of things. I mean, we’re talking about an event which ran through most of DC’s 1992 Annuals and killed off the Will Payton Starman, so it’s not like a blip on the radar. So yes, there’s a chance that neither Winick nor Eddie Berganza remembered. There’s also a chance that they both remembered, and this story will tie into the previous one. I suppose there’s also the possibility that DC knows about the similarities and just doesn’t care. I just get a strong sense of deja vu from the arc, which to me still hasn’t justified its 3-issue length.

    Comment by Tom Bondurant — May 2, 2005 @ 2:14 am

  4. Okay…I think I seriously have a problem with violence in comic books now.Why?Because I read Captain America #5, and I didn’t see anything all that weird about Bucky killing people like that.I was all, “Oh, Brubaker is just having Bucky kill people. Okay.”So I was supposed to be shocked by all that?Man…I am waaaaaaay too desensitized!!!

    Comment by Brian Cronin — May 2, 2005 @ 6:44 am

  5. And Tom, I just reread my Eclipso question, and I realized that it sounded like I was trying to make an excuse for Winick.I really wasn’t.I meant for it to sound much more snarky, like “How could you NOT know that this EXACT SAME STORY had been done only TWELVE years ago?!?!”Sorry about that.How funny…it is rare that you see someone TRYING to be rude and accidentally coming off polite…hehe.

    Comment by Brian Cronin — May 2, 2005 @ 6:48 am

  6. Happy anniversary. Love the blog.I don’t know anything about this, but i’m assuming the people are making a big too about Bucky killing Nazis in wartime? Is that supposed to be shocking?If anything, Cap and Bucky would be guilty of something akin to abetting the enemy, at least of endangering hundreds of US GIs lives, if all they did was shoot guns out of Nazis’ hands. Remember, every Kraut that lives another day, lives to kill our boys.

    Comment by N — May 4, 2005 @ 2:12 am

  7. And if Saving Private Ryan is to be believed, any Kraut left alive will come back to kill someone we are close to!!

    Comment by Brian Cronin — May 4, 2005 @ 9:58 am

  8. “Less talk, more comics! Batman #639 (written by Judd Winick, with art by Doug Mahnke and Dustin Nguyen)”I’m pretty sure the inker is TOM Nguyen, not Dustin, who’s the artist on Authority.

    Comment by Alex — May 10, 2005 @ 4:14 am

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