Comics Ate My Brain

May 20, 2006

New comics 5/17/06

Filed under: 52, aquaman, batman, captain america, fantastic four, robin, sgt rock, star wars, superman, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 4:55 pm
After compiling data from dozens of 50 DC Characters entries I’ve received over the past few days, it’s nice to sit down with a stack of new funnybooks.

Robin #150 (written by Adam Beechen, drawn by Freddie Williams III) was decent, but I’m ambivalent about picking it up again on a regular basis. This is not because I’m shocked and appalled at the treatment of another Bat-character within its pages, but maybe instead because I haven’t really followed the character central to the storyline. These three issues have been a good showcase for Tim’s one-year-better abilities, and this issue in particular hints at a further complication for his civilian life, but I still don’t have a sense of Tim as a person. The art bears some responsibility for this, as Tim varies from somewhere around college-age to early high school. (He’s still high-school-age, apparently.) Also, I don’t like that the new costume doesn’t have a red vest.

Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy #5 (by Joe Kubert) was a good, cathartic issue. Not only does it feature lots of Nazis getting killed, Easy Company kills them protecting a very sympathetic family. There’s also a good, cathartic fistfight at the end. I can’t say much more without spoiling the surprises. The issue also features a very innovative first-page recap which actually makes sense in the context of the story.

Aquaman: Sword Of Atlantis #42 (written by Kurt Busiek, drawn by Butch Guice) pulls back the curtain on a fair amount of the One Year Later backstory, so it has kept me interested for at least another month. I was starting to forget the details of this storyline, since the first couple of issues had blended together in my memories, but this issue grounds it more in the surface-dwelling DC universe. Also, last night I was looking through the DC Encyclopedia (that survey again!) and was reminded that King Shark was an early-90s Superboy villain, so that helped too.

52 #2 (written by GJ, GM, MW, GR, pencilled by Joe Bennett, inked by Jack Jadson) was much better than #1. Who’s kidnapping mad scientists? What’s the cryptic message on Sue Dibny’s tombstone? Why do Renee Montoya and her fling sleep in their bras? This book feels like the window-on-the-world 52 promises. It takes the details and tone of a shared superhero universe (where a newspaper subhead can read “Mystery of the Wandering Witness”) and presents them as the realities of everyday life — without trying to conform them to our world’s reality. Hope it’s this good in, say, October.

On to Superman/Batman #25 (written by Jeph Loeb, pencilled by Ed McGuinness, inked by Dexter Vines) …. You know, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do universe-spanning storylines with multiple versions/analogues of the main characters. There’s even a right and wrong way to have omnipotent beings dictate the whole thing. This issue just doesn’t feel right. It basically boils the “With A Vengeance!” storyline down to a satire poking fun not only at Marvel, but probably also at the book itself. (How else to explain Batzarro’s narrative captions?) That’s not a bad idea in and of itself, but as I probably said several months ago, the satire just lands with a thud. I can’t hate this book, because it was obviously made with love. However, I can say that it is often painfully obvious, and often finds no new ways of approaching very old topics.

Speaking of which, here’s All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder #4 (written by Frank Miller, drawn by Jim Lee and Scott Williams), which I almost didn’t buy because I thought #4 must have been published already. What happens this issue? “Dick Grayson visits the Batcave.” That’s pretty much it, except for brief appearances by Superman and Vicki Vale. Still, Miller does manage to frame explicitly Batman’s rough treatment of his future sidekick in a way which might alter fans’ hostility to the series. Unfortunately, a shot of the still-pneumatic Vicki on the operating table might pick at another scab….

In Fantastic Four: First Family #3 (written by Joe Casey, pencilled by Chris Weston, inked by Gary Erskine), the proto-FF fights the monster from the cover of FF #1 (1961). While the cover’s not specifically re-enacted in the issue, it still shows the team creeping closer to the events of the series, and it’s pretty well done otherwise. Maybe next issue will be the rematch.

Captain America #18 (written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Steve Epting) was a great start to “Twenty-First Century Blitz,” the story which takes Cap to London for a reunion with the Winter Soldier. It’s more superheroic, perhaps, than even the Iron Man and Falcon issues from a few months ago, but it still has the understated spy-novel sensibility you’d expect from Brubaker and Epting. Plus, more Nazis!

I guess I went into Marvel Legacy: The 1970s Handbook expecting more spotlights on the major figures of ’70s Marvel — Spider-Woman, She-Hulk, Howard the Duck, Killraven, etc. Those must have been covered in the regular OHOTMU, because apart from a couple of entries for the Avengers and X-Men, the entries here approach the bottom of the barrel. That doesn’t mean they’re not fun, though. I had been ambivalent about getting the ’60s volume (and the surely-forthcoming ’80s volume), but now I’m interested in seeing what was in it.

Finally, I opened Star Wars: Rebellion #2 (written by Rob Williams, art by Brandon Badeaux) and started reading about … Starbuck? Yep, Deena’s a short-haired blonde with a fondness for tight tanktops and booze, so it’s hard not to draw the comparison. The main plot still revolves around Luke and his old buddy (now Imperial lieutenant) Tank, and the ending is spoiled somewhat by the cover. The art is a bit stiff as well, with Leia in particular not looking quite right. I may give this one ’til the end of its story arc before deciding whether to continue.

Now back to the spreadsheet….

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