Comics Ate My Brain

January 26, 2008

New comics 1/23/08

Filed under: countdown, justice league, she-hulk, superman, teen titans, weekly roundups, wonder woman — Tom Bondurant @ 10:15 pm
This is only tangentially related to the story, but while reading Wonder Woman #16 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Terry Dodson and Ron Randall, inked by Rachel Dodson and Randall) I wondered why the “swimsuit” costume ostensibly lets people take WW less seriously, when (say) Tarzan, Namor, Hawkman, Hercules, and other notable men can expose lots of skin to combat without such repercussions.

A scene in WW #16 has Diana stride ashore, loaded with weapons, and calling the Nazis out — but she’s not wearing the armor, helmet, cape, etc., which writers and artists since George Perez have used to signal that the serious butt-kicking is about to begin. Instead, she’s wearing a slightly sturdier-looking version of her usual costume (or maybe it’s supposed to be the usual costume and the Dodsons just draw it to look sturdier). To me, that says she doesn’t care how exposed she might look — because how she looks will have no bearing on the hurting she’s about to administer. It’s like my response to the Batman-needs-body-armor argument: isn’t he that much more impressive in an ordinary cloth costume?

The issue itself was quite good: Hippolyta’s bodyguards’ motivations are understandable, Diana is a great presence, and Ron Randall’s art assist meshes nicely with the Dodsons’ work. The Nazis are a bit two-dimensional, but then again, they are just Nazis.

Countdown #14 (written by Paul Dini and Tony Bedard, story consultant Keith Giffen, pencilled by Tom Derenick, inked by Wayne Faucher) continued the title’s upward swing, but again I think this Earth-51 arc only illustrates what might well have been its major flaw. Since all of January has been consistent — same creative team, same story focus — it’s had a chance to build some dramatic momentum. Granted, the story isn’t objectively that innovative, but it’s still not as choppy as the past few months have been. I’m also digging the Batman & Red Robin team — the suits look good together, kinda like the old Earth-2 “grown-up Robin” costume did, or even the Chris O’Donnell and Kilmer/Clooney suits. (Without nipples, of course.)

I didn’t realize She-Hulk vol. 2 #25 (written by Peter David, pencilled by Shawn Moll, Adriana Melo, and Val Semeiks, inked by Victor Olazaba, Mariah Benes, and Dave Meikis) was supposed to be an anniversary issue until I got to the backup stories and the OHOTMU pages. Pretty entertaining all around, although I don’t understand why Man-Elephant got the spotlight he did. I had been thinking about dropping the book, but I’ll stick around for at least another month.

Crime Bible #4 (written by Greg Rucka, drawn by Diego Olmos) was very good. I liked Montoya’s relationship with Rodor, I thought the story’s central mystery was structured quite well, and I liked the denouement with the main villain. Like Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano on Gotham Central and Jesus Saiz and Chris Samnee on Checkmate, Olmos is yet another thick-lined, minimalist-realistic, blacks-heavy (I’m just making up terms here) artist working with Rucka, and it’s always a good pairing.

It’s too bad JLA Classified (#51 written by Roger Stern, pencilled by John Byrne, and inked by Mark Farmer) has been cancelled, because this issue is exactly the kind of thing I’d have loved to have seen more of. It’s a flashback to the era of the original League, and it informs the overall arc’s present-day plot, but it works pretty well on its own. A behemoth named Titus is taking the First Commandment pretty personally, destroying religious sites all over Earth, and the JLA (with help from occasional members Superman and Batman) has its hands full stopping him. Stern and Byrne can do this kind of story in their sleep, of course, so it’s the little things which catch my eye: the Arrowplane, the Weapons Master’s robot, a mention of “Spaceman X,” the 1968 Batmobile. It’s comfort comics.

There’s a lot going on in Countdown To Mystery #5. Bruce Gordon spends much of the “Eclipso” story (written by Matthew Sturges, pencilled by Chad Hardin, inked by Dan Green) trying to figure out how much SCIENCE! he can do with Eclipso’s powers, before he goes too deep into the Dark Side and reawakens ol’ pointy-ears. It features more exposition on recent Eclipso history, fights with evil critters which apparently the Spectre can’t automatically wipe out, and an omniscient narrator (much appreciated). Hardin and Green’s art is clear and sharp, and by “sharp” I mean you could get a paper cut from some of Green’s lines. It serves the story well, though, keeping the reader on edge (no pun intended).

The “Doctor Fate” story (written by Steve Gerber, pencilled by Tom Derenick and Shawn McManus, inked by Wayne Faucher and McManus) is also pretty dense with meanings, since Fate reads Inza’s comic book work to get some clue into her psyche. Apparently she wrote and drew a Hellboy-meets-Spawn horror comic which might reveal her inner turmoil, or might not. Either way, the new Fate finally learns a startling (to him) secret about the Doctor’s past, but we’ll have to deal with that next month.

Superman Confidential #11 (written by Darwyn Cooke, drawn by Tim Sale) wraps up the title’s inaugural “Kryptonite” story, as we all learn why the big chunk of Kryptonite has been narrating the whole thing. That’s basically it — it’s kind of anticlimactic. Don’t know how it reads as a whole … probably a post for another day.

Finally, I liked Teen Titans #55 (written by Sean McKeever, pencilled by Jamal Igle, inked by Ruy Jose and Jimmy Palmiotti) quite a bit more than I did the noisy, crowded “Titans of Tomorrow” arc which preceded it. Much of this is probably because of Igle, whose work is always good, but I got the feeling that this issue gave McKeever more room to spread out. As the cover indicates, the spotlight is on Robin and Wonder Girl, who explore their relationship for most of the issue. Ravager steals a couple of scenes, though, and the way she plays off Kid Devil and Blue Beetle is entertaining too. Overall, it’s a good slice of soap-opera, as you might expect from a teen-superhero team book. I was iffy about McKeever on this title, but as long as he can keep this up, I’ll be happy.

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3 Comments »

  1. Oh yeah, it’s not just Wondy whose costume looks, shall we say, impractical…although I’d give Tarzan a pass because most of his adventures take place in the jungle, and Hercules has had various uniforms, some more revealing than others. Hawkman at least wears “pants” of sorts, but i’ve found myself at various times imagining the rest of the JLA hoping that he remembered to put on deodorant before the meeting…Of course, just because Wondy doesn’t seem to care doesn’t mean the costume is any less ridiculous…it just makes her blissfully unaware.

    Comment by Johnny B — January 26, 2008 @ 11:58 pm

  2. I’ve never really been bothered by Wonder Woman’s costume, just as long at it covers her breasts and backside and she’s not wearing high heels. Likewise, I’m not bothered by Black Canary’s fishnets, as long as the same applies. An outfit that’s too tight or doesn’t support the breasts or feet is out, as is one that gives wedgies, but something resembling a swimsuit designed for actual swimming doesn’t seem that bad. My personal rule is, that if an Olympic athlete could wear it with it affecting their performance, then it can be used to fight crime in.Amazon armour looks awesome, though.

    Comment by simargl-wings — January 27, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  3. … i’ve found myself at various times imagining the rest of the JLA hoping that he remembered to put on deodorant before the meeting…Oh, that’s a priceless image! “Who’s on ‘musk patrol’ this week, Hal?”As for the armor, I picture WW contemplating her closet and thinking “Armor? No … they’re just Nazis.”

    Comment by Tom Bondurant — January 27, 2008 @ 4:19 pm


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