Comics Ate My Brain

August 8, 2005

New comics 8/3/05, plus a little ranting

Filed under: batman, firestorm, gotham central, justice league, new teen titans, superman, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 3:21 pm
Rant first, to get it out of the way: it irritates me to no end that Alex Ross insists on putting Plastic Man and Captain Marvel into the Silver Age Justice League. I understand that it’s wish-fulfillment for him, and who am I to be a big creative buzzkill — but it’s as bad as saying cavemen fought dinosaurs, Abraham Lincoln signed the Declaration of Independence, or John Glenn walked on the Moon. It just didn’t happen that way. Captain Marvel joined the post-Legends Justice League in 1986, and didn’t even stick around long enough to be a part of Justice League International six issues later. Plas joined in 1997 (“Rock of Ages”) and has been with the League pretty much ever since. However, during the early-to-mid-1970s that Ross wishes to enshrine, both Cap and Plas belonged to different Earths. Furthermore, although “Justice League Unlimited” did some great stories with the “everyone’s in the League” concept, for most of its history the Justice League was a select group — and people didn’t join “just because.”

While I am sure that many outstanding stories can and have been told about dino-hunting Neanderthals, Lincoln in 1776 Philadelphia, and Glenn’s lunar footprints, that still doesn’t mean they can be told without breaking some significant rules of history. Yes, the history of the Justice League is both fictional and malleable, but it’s history nonetheless, and it lays the ground rules.

(sigh)

Anyway, more on Justice #1 is over at The Great Curve. To sum up: I think it has potential, especially for casual readers, but somehow it manages to take itself very seriously while not feeling very consequential.

Serenity #2 (written by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews, drawn by Will Conrad) is mostly setup for #3. The good guys and the bad guys each stay in their own locker rooms and talk about their game plans. It’s all very true to the TV show (“Firefly,” available on DVD, if you came in late), and that in itself is enjoyable — but all it does is get you anxious for the good part to start.

Firestorm #16 (written by Stuart Moore, pencilled by Jamal Igle, inked by Rob Stull and Keith Champagne) continues to be a fun, entertaining, straightforward superhero book. For the most part, it has also stayed out of the whole Identity/Infinite Crisis imbroglio, which has been nice. (Wonder if that means sales are good?) Looks like that changes as of next issue, but I have faith in this creative team.

In the omnibus review round-up of a week or so ago, I wondered if DC Special: The Return Of Donna Troy #3 (written by Phil Jiminez, pencilled by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, inked by George Perez) wouldn’t end in a big teary group hug. Wrong again. There are tears, and a bit of hugging, but it’s mostly business as usual — fighting and mind control and exposition, setting up a big battle for #4. There’s also a weird panel where Cha– er, Beast Boy, apparently to lighten the mood, flashes the reader a totally inappropriate hoo-hah! grin and a thumbs-up. Oh well, it’s not like Beast Boy hasn’t made a career out of being inappropriate.

Superman #220 (written by Mark Verheiden, pencilled by Tony S. Daniel, inked by Marlo Alquiza) is an unremarkable issue featuring Superman and Superboy fighting the Eradicator. It felt like a Chuck Austen issue of Action Comics, mostly because Austen was fond of using Superman and Superboy together against some implacable foe. The point of the issue is to get Superman to admit that things are getting bad, but the punchline is Superboy telling him he’d better get his act together. Wow, really, you think? This could have been an 8- or even 16-page story in a Secret Files or 80-Page Giant for all it contributes to the ongoing I-Crisis plot, but instead it takes up 22 pages in what is objectively DC’s flagship title. Crikey.

(Speaking of those Secret Files and 80-pagers, I think it might actually have been better for DC to have put out a few more of those for these kind of gap-filler stories, instead of expanding them into a 22-page monthly.)

“City of Crime” takes a break for a month so that Detective Comics #809 (written by Andersen Gabrych, pencilled by Pete Woods, inked by Bit) can bring you “War Crimes Part 1,” the fallout from Stephanie Brown’s death. This is not quite the same as the “Dead Robin” arc going on in Gotham Central, although once again the great DC Coincidence Generator (or the Who’da-Thought? Machine) has made sure there are two dead Robin stories out the same week. No, this is the more sensational, yellow-journalistic approach to the story, which is that someone is using Stephanie’s death to tell Batman his secret identity has been blown. (Too bad the Who’da-Thought? Machine wasn’t working well enough to also give us this week the last issue of Gotham Knights, in which someone also tells Batman his secret … oh, you know.) Anyway, a big Bat-villain makes a surprise appearance and Batman does some detective work. It’s not that I don’t care, and it’s not poorly executed, but do the Batman writers even talk to each other anymore?

Speaking of Gotham Central (#34, written by Greg Rucka, pencilled by Kano, inked by Stefano Gaudiano), part 2 of “Dead Robin” finds the cops talking to the Teen Titans and trying to keep a lid on the media. The Titans stuff isn’t bad, but it’s the weakest part of an issue which has good scenes with the dead boy’s parents and with Stacy, the Bat-Signal operator. It really plays with the idea that no one really knows anything about Batman or Robin, and it does that well enough to make the reader question whether (for example) the guy at the beginning of the book really is Batman. Considering that the readers know the “real” Batman and Robin better than the cops do, this is quite an achievement.

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7 Comments »

  1. Firestorm #16 (written by Stuart Moore, pencilled by Jamal Igle, inked by Rob Stull and Keith Champagne) continues to be a fun, entertaining, straightforward superhero book. For the most part, it has also stayed out of the whole Identity/Infinite Crisis imbroglio, which has been nice. (Wonder if that means sales are good?) Looks like that changes as of next issue, but I have faith in this creative team.I’m so glad that Stuart Moore and Dan Jolley managed to keep Firestorm out of the whole Crisis-crossover shebang for as long as they did. What’s been happening in the rest of the DCU is affecting Firestorm only peripherally, and it makes sense to me that it should continue to do so, especially with Ronnie Raymond out of the picture for the moment. Seems to me that Jason Rusch is new at being a superhero, hasn’t been made part of the JLA, and isn’t likely to be inducted into any of the superhero groups for a little while yet. The kid doesn’t have a Superman, Batman, GA, or WW to act as a superhero mentor, to nominate him as ‘worthy’ of being a part of the group. In a lot of ways, Jason seems like the DCU version of Peter Parker–a young man given fantastic powers, and having to learn to cope with what they mean and how he wants to use them. As such, for Jason to embroiled in the whole crisis fiasco doesn’t make sense. The main core of the supervillain community don’t know who he is, and probably don’t care–Firestorm hasn’t done anything to annoy as yet. :-)Superman #220 (written by Mark Verheiden, pencilled by Tony S. Daniel, inked by Marlo Alquiza) is an unremarkable issue featuring Superman and Superboy fighting the Eradicator. It felt like a Chuck Austen issue of Action Comics, mostly because Austen was fond of using Superman and Superboy together against some implacable foe. The point of the issue is to get Superman to admit that things are getting bad, but the punchline is Superboy telling him he’d better get his act together. Wow, really, you think? This could have been an 8- or even 16-page story in a Secret Files or 80-Page Giant for all it contributes to the ongoing I-Crisis plot, but instead it takes up 22 pages in what is objectively DC’s flagship title. Crikey.Heh. At least, Verheiden allows Superboy and Superman to chat about how awful life is. From the few issues of Austen’s run on Action Comics that I skimmed, it consisted mostly of Superboy cooing admiringly to some bystander or another about Superman’s abilities, all whilst Superman was pretty much getting the stuffing knocked out of him. Oh, and there was the whole shades of Smallville Lana ‘I’ve always loved you, Clark!’ Lang debacle, but I’m trying to forget that part of it… :-)I kinda liked that Superboy was the one to tell Superman to start dealing, but I think Verheiden missed an opportunity to show Ma and Pa Kent in full parenting mode when it comes to Clark. *shrug*I’m still trying to figure out how a man with superhearing is the last to learn of Superboy’s big secret. If nothing else, I’d have thought Clark’s JLA buddies (like, say, Batman) would have mentioned it to him at around the same time as they told him that Superboy had just tried to take out the Teen Titans… (Speaking of those Secret Files and 80-pagers, I think it might actually have been better for DC to have put out a few more of those for these kind of gap-filler stories, instead of expanding them into a 22-page monthly.)I’d buy them if they printed more of them, if only because the stories would be single issue tales. After a year of six-issue made-for-Trades story-arcs, I could live with a few more one-offs. So could my wallet. :-)”City of Crime” takes a break for a month so that Detective Comics #809 (written by Andersen Gabrych, pencilled by Pete Woods, inked by Bit) can bring you “War Crimes Part 1,” the fallout from Stephanie Brown’s death. This is not quite the same as the “Dead Robin” arc going on in Gotham Central, although once again the great DC Coincidence Generator (or the Who’da-Thought? Machine) has made sure there are two dead Robin stories out the same week. No, this is the more sensational, yellow-journalistic approach to the story, which is that someone is using Stephanie’s death to tell Batman his secret identity has been blown. (Too bad the Who’da-Thought? Machine wasn’t working well enough to also give us this week the last issue of Gotham Knights, in which someone also tells Batman his secret … oh, you know.) Anyway, a big Bat-villain makes a surprise appearance and Batman does some detective work. It’s not that I don’t care, and it’s not poorly executed, but do the Batman writers even talk to each other anymore?First issue of ‘Tec for me in a while, and it has to be the start of a ‘fall-out from War Games’ crossover. Heh. Hated that Steph ended up dead at the end of War Games–wonder if she’ll come back in twenty years as Red Hood II? :-)Speaking of Gotham Central (#34, written by Greg Rucka, pencilled by Kano, inked by Stefano Gaudiano), part 2 of “Dead Robin” finds the cops talking to the Teen Titans and trying to keep a lid on the media. The Titans stuff isn’t bad, but it’s the weakest part of an issue which has good scenes with the dead boy’s parents and with Stacy, the Bat-Signal operator. It really plays with the idea that no one really knows anything about Batman or Robin, and it does that well enough to make the reader question whether (for example) the guy at the beginning of the book really is Batman. Considering that the readers know the “real” Batman and Robin better than the cops do, this is quite an achievement. Not read this issue yet, but I loved the cover. And the whole idea of this storyline as introduced in the last issue, because it’s approaching secret identities from a completely different perspective to most of the other (‘Identity Crisis’ driven) DCU books.

    Comment by iamza — August 10, 2005 @ 7:06 pm

  2. What do you think now that ‘Stormy’s involved in Villains United? (And OMAC too, not far down the road.)I really like the new Firestorm, and Peter Parker is the archetype for this kind of young-adult superhero, but it makes me want to re-read the early issues of Static. I remember those as being quite good, and reminiscent of Spider-Man without copying it too closely.

    Comment by Tom Bondurant — August 11, 2005 @ 2:10 pm

  3. Honestly, I’m not sure what to think. On the one hand, having ‘Stormy participating in a DCUniverse-wide crisis is certainly a great way of getting him bumped up to the big leagues, and possibly back into the ranks of the JLA. I like Firestorm. I want to see more of him in the DCU.On the other hand, I also like that Jason is a small fry in a big pond. I like that Firestorm, as a book, is more about the superhero, and less about the superheroics. And I think that perhaps this distinction is likely to get lost if ‘Stormy becomes just another third-rank JLA member. Again.

    Comment by iamza — August 12, 2005 @ 7:55 am

  4. I wonder if Firestorm is the new Kyle Rayner.Speaking of which, I’ve been quite surprised that Green Lantern has also been blissfully unaware of the big DC crossovers. Sure, Hal and Kyle show up in other books, but GL itself has been isolated. Not that I’m complaining — but it’s ironic considering who writes it, and how continuity-intensive its relaunch was.

    Comment by Tom Bondurant — August 12, 2005 @ 1:17 pm

  5. I guess if Jason’s girlfriend ends up in a refrigerator… :-)As for the GL books, this is where my anti-Hal bias shows. I read the six-parter in which Hal was brought back to life, but haven’t read any of the new GL (vol. 4) issues since. I am extremely surprised to hear that the GL book is staying of the Crisis build-up, though–if nothing else because Hal was involved in the original Light-lobotomy debacle.Out of curiosity, does John Stewart show up in Green Lantern?

    Comment by iamza — August 12, 2005 @ 5:23 pm

  6. I think John Stewart has been in both issues of the new Green Lantern. The impression I get is that they’re equally responsible for Earth. Kyle and Kilowog are in Rann-Thanagar War, and those two plus Guy are supposed to be featured in the upcoming GL Corps miniseries.And, of course, Hal’s role in the mind-wiping is presumably being addressed in JLA.Scary — I haven’t gone to any conventions this year and already I sound like a DC flack.

    Comment by Tom Bondurant — August 12, 2005 @ 8:02 pm

  7. To this point, Hal hasn’t really featured in JLA. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. But, yes, fall out from the Justice League’s “Lobotomies-R-Us” period is happening in the group’s book. I almost wish the four mini-series building to Crisis were completely seperate from the individual character books, just because it seems so random to be reading a story and, all of a sudden, have an OMAC-obot show up for three pages of fight scenes, then disappear again.

    Comment by iamza — August 13, 2005 @ 3:27 pm


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