Comics Ate My Brain

August 11, 2007

New comics 8/8/07

Filed under: batman, countdown, green lantern, justice league, star wars, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 3:16 pm
We begin with Countdown #38 (written by Paul Dini, Justin Gray, & Jimmy Palmiotti, pencilled by Jesus Saiz, inked by Palmiotti), which has a lot of action, several big names, and a couple of decent character scenes, and yet it’s undone by the little things.

The backbone of the issue is a cyber-fight between Oracle and the Calculator which has repercussions out in the real world. The JLA, JSA, and Freedom Fighters have to stop the various crashing planes and launching missiles, so there’s your action. In an unrelated story (or is it?!?), Mary Marvel and Zatanna fight off Slig, one of the Apokoliptian Deep Six, who nevertheless becomes the latest Fourth Worlder to get zapped away. Jimmy Olsen tries to join the Teen Titans, and Trickster and Piper convince the Question they’re not guilty of murdering Bart Allen. Oh, and Karate Kid is dying.

The problem is, Zatanna doesn’t use the full range of her powers, but Mary Marvel has some new ones. The runaway Rogues are apparently too dumb to be lying about the Flash’s death, but they still get away from the Question and Batwoman (who, admittedly, aren’t all that experienced as superheroes). Finally, the Jimmy scene doesn’t resolve anything: he doesn’t join the Titans, but he’s not dissuaded from superheroics; and the limit of his powers is something we readers probably figured out a few weeks ago. Art is good, though — Saiz is a fine storyteller.

Star Wars: Rebellion #9 (written by Brandon Badeaux & Rob Williams, drawn by Michel Lacombe) was an entertaining chapter of the latest arc, with lots of action and plot movement. Using characters who aren’t “untouchable” members of the main cast only reinforces the anything-goes feel. Art is quite good — expressive, but faithful to the SW details that the license commands. Some of the character moments are a bit familiar, but again, it’s Star Wars.

Speaking of character development, it turns out (in JLA Classified #41, written by Peter Milligan, drawn by Carlos D’Anda) that Kid Amazo’s incorporated more of the Justice League than just their powers. Again, I think there are a few interesting nature-vs.-nurture and free-will questions floating around this story, and the end of the story is rather disquieting for the JLA’s own solidarity. However, it’s somewhere in between a philosophy treatise acted out by the Justice League, and a Justice League story rooted in philosophical principles. It’s probably closer to the latter. Not bad, but not as great as I originally hoped.

Green Lantern #22 (written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Ivan Reis, inked by Oclair Albert) is a big fight on Qward between Hal and Kyle and their attendant GL and SC colleagues. An interlude involving the Cyborg Superman and the Anti-Monitor is very Vader-and-Palpatine, which can’t be a coincidence. Reis and Albert do a great job at organizing the chaos, creating a comic which invites the reader to slow down and look at the detail while simultaneously pushing the action forward. Everything looks bleak, but in a good way.

Finally, as you might have expected, I enjoyed Batman #667 (written by Grant Morrison, drawn by J.H. Williams III) the most this week. I can’t say enough about Williams’ design: panels are shaped like black gloves, the first page dissolves into bats, and a hero falls under a painting of past glory. The “Batmen Of Many Nations” is perfect for Morrison’s multiple-choice examinations of superheroics, and he doesn’t disappoint here. It’s perhaps the best part of his Batman tenure so far, which is saying a lot.

So just as an appendix, here’s a picture of the original Club, cribbed from my trusty Michael Fleisher Batman Encyclopedia, along with its rundown of the original members.

England has the Knight and the Squire, secretly the Earl of Wordenshire and his young son Cyril, who, clad in knightly raiment, roar into action astride their motorized “war horses” whenever the tolling of the bell in a nearby rectory warns them that their services are urgently needed (BM No. 62/2, Dec/Jan ’50-’51: “The Batman Of England!”),

Batman counterparts in other countries include the Legionary of Italy, the Musketeer of France, the Ranger of Australia, and the Gaucho of South America (Det. No. 215, Jan ’55: “The Batmen Of All Nations!”). And in the Western United States, in the region inhabited by the Sioux, Chief Man-Of-The-Bats and his young son Little Raven battle crime and injustice among the Sioux much as Batman and Robin battle crime in Gotham City (BM No. 86/3, Sep ’54: “Batman — Indian Chief!”).

Although Batman has given advice and encouragement to all these crime-fighters, some he has actually trained himself from scratch, such as Northern Europe’s Wingman (BM No. 65/1, Jun/Jul ’51: “A Partner for Batman!”) and Latin America’s Bat-Hombre (BM No. 56/1, Dec/Jan ’49-’50: “Ride, Bat-Hombre, Ride!”). Bat-Hombre cauased Batman grave disappointment, however, when he turned out to be a member of an outlaw band….

(Fleisher, pp. 75-76.)

So there you go. There’s a Batman in the 31st Century (but not the Legion’s 31st) and on the distant planet Zur-En-Arrh; and Batman-related figures throughout history: a caveman (Tiger Man), an ancient Babylonian (Zorn — I am not making that one up), the 17th Century American colonist Jeremy Coe, and the 18th Century’s Abel “Captain Lightfoot” Adams. I don’t expect Morrison to use all of these, but at this point, who knows?

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