Comics Ate My Brain

September 15, 2006

New comics 9/14/06

Filed under: 52, aquaman, captain america, escapists, firestorm, green lantern, justice league, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 1:25 am
First let me say, regarding the mystery villain in Firestorm, The Nuclear Man (#29 written by Stuart Moore, pencilled by Jamal Igle, inked by Keith Champagne), that based on the last page of this issue, I Was Right. This gives me the distinct impression that Stuart Moore isn’t so much recreating Firestorm for the 21st Century as revitalizing the best parts of the Gerry Conway/Pat Broderick/Rafael Kayanan Fury Of Firestorm from the early ’80s. It’s subtle, but it’s there. Not a big fan of Martin Stein’s hairdo, though; makes him look too grandmotherish. This issue makes me want to re-read all of the current series in preparation for the next one, and that’s a good, geeky feeling to have.

Speaking of good, geeky feelings, here’s Green Lantern #13 (written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Ivan Reis, inked by Oclair Albert), a time capsule from the summer (aww, Superman Returns advertising! Don’t feel bad, you did your best…) that, had it actually come out then, might be accused of stirring up bad vibes from Infinite Crisis. It still does that, but enough time has passed that it doesn’t feel so blatant. Anyway, it’s pretty entertaining. Reis packs a lot into his pages, and Oclair does his part to tidy everything up. Reis had a tendency in Rann-Thanagar War to fill each issue with a lot of background detail, so much so that it tended to distract from the action in the foreground. This story has a smaller scale, but there’s still a lot going on in the fight scenes. The difference, I think, is both inking and coloring, so I’ll give colorist Moose Baumann some credit too.

Anyway, this issue mostly resolves the Cyborg/Manhunters storyline (with a big, satisfying fight), but it also sets up subplots that will probably take months to play out. I’m not quite convinced that Hal and Arisia coupling up again is a good idea — I wasn’t convinced of that the first time — but other than that I’m pretty happy with this book. Not counting 52, it’s the only Geoff Johns book I still buy regularly, and I think it’s because Johns is really interested in exploring the untapped potential of the Green Lantern Corps mythology that other writers never got around to. In particular, he seems to be going back to the Gerry Jones well of “what’s the Guardians’ real agenda?” Because he’s picking up on old threads, abandoned during the Kyle years, it all feels more organic than it might have if he were forging a new direction of his own design. Not that he shouldn’t do new things, but with this kind of series it’s always appreciated (as with Firestorm) to use what’s already there.

Boy, it was nice to see Dave Gibbons’ pencils on a Green Lantern comic again. Green Lantern Corps #4 begins what should be a very fun all-Guy Gardner, all-Dave Gibbons (with inks by Mike Bair) story. Guy, on shore leave, is chased by Bolphunga the Unrelenting, a bounty hunter from the old GLC backup-story days (the Alan Moore story that introduced Mogo, in fact) who’s just the kind of Groo-like over-the-top foe to make Guy look subtle by comparison. Interludes with other Lanterns show that Gibbons hasn’t forgotten about the book’s other characters, and their stories provide good character counterpoints to the main plot’s action. Looking forward to the rest.

JLA Classified #27 (written by Howard Chaykin, pencilled by Killian Plunkett, inked by Tom Nguyen) presents Part 2 of “Secret History, Sacred Trust,” and while it’s produced about as well as Part 1 was, all the skullduggery gets a little confusing after a while. Still, Chaykin and company wrap things up in a way that drives home the main point of the plot, and his dialogue is sharp as ever, so I probably just have to pay more attention.

It hit me this week that for the past few issues, I haven’t been paying much attention to the “Day ___” notations in 52 (#19 written by the Four Freshmen, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencils by Pat Oliffe, inks by Drew Geraci). The Pope Lobo bits reminded me, perhaps only superficially, of Pope Cerebus (although Lobo might take his office more seriously), so that was fun. I wonder, though — can Starfire not repair her top? (Not that it’s a big deal.) Also, jeez, who knew Skeets was so devious? Oliffe and Geraci were a good team in their 52 debut, although Supernova looked a little younger and Wonder Girl a little more angular than normal. I can’t remember which issue is supposed to be the big tipping point where everything speeds up exponentially, but it feels close.

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #44 (written by Kurt Busiek, drawn by Butch Guice) makes many old-school Aquaman connections, including Mera, Ocean Master, and a big clue about Orin of Atlantis. A recent Busiek interview spoiled that last bit for me, but the notion that this is all a big arc to unify the new and old casts makes me more interested to see where this is all going.

More old and new integration happens in Captain America #21 (written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Steve Epting), a really pretty book that focuses on Cap and the Once and Future Bucky’s efforts to stop the big Nazi robot from destroying London. This issue brings Bucky/the Winter Soldier one step closer to being a recurring member of Cap’s supporting cast for the first time since the Big One, and I’m not sure such a thing could have been handled any better. Certainly, in the Dead Sidekick Returns Derby, Buck’s more than a few lengths ahead of Jason Todd, and it looks like he’s speeding up.

Finally, thanks to last week’s vacation, I was able at last to read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and it was so good only my new-comics budget stopped me from buying all the Escapist swag the LCS offered. I did, however, pick up The Escapists #s 1-3 (written by Brian K. Vaughan, drawn by various people), a sort-of sequel to the book wherein an aspiring comic-book writer with parental issues of his own uses his inheritance to buy the rights to the character. It has the same breezy optimism as the first part of the novel, which kind of undercuts some of the suspense — you can’t imagine too many bad things happening to our hero, considering what he goes through in the first half of #1, The romance between two main characters is also pretty easy to foresee, and I wonder if a sort of inverted change-up, mirroring the novel’s triangle, is on the way. The book does use its “real comic” pages to good effect, putting the “real peoples'” words into the Escapist’s and Luna Moth’s mouths, and the artists play effectively not just with the comic-within-a-comic, but also the fact that you’re reading a comic that’s about a comic. Also, our hero sometimes looks around 15. Overall, it may be the 2010 to AAOK&C‘s 2001, but there were some good parts of 2010 too. I just want to know if K&C themselves capitalized on the Silver Age boom in superheroes….

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