Comics Ate My Brain

September 21, 2009

New comics 9/16/09

Big agenda this week not just because a whole lot of comics came out, but also because we’re catching up from last week. That means forty-odd minutes of laconic drawlin’ ’bout Action Comics #881, Agents Of Atlas #11, Batman And Robin #4, Batman: Streets Of Gotham #4, Blackest Night #3, The Brave and the Bold #27, Captain America Reborn #3, Green Arrow & Black Canary #24, JSA Vs. Kobra #4, Marvels Project #2, Warlord #6, and Wednesday Comics #s 10 and 11.

Download it here, listen to it via the player at right, or visit the podcast homepage here. Music, of course, is by R.E.M.

August 16, 2009

New comics 8/12/09

For this week’s 40 minutes of heck, I try to balance a rant about Dr. Mid-Nite and some Blair Butler bewilderment with some memories of the classic New Teen Titans and nice words about Wednesday Comics’ “Wonder Woman.”

Specifically, it’s Action Comics #880, Adventure Comics #1, Batman #689, Blackest Night #2, Blackest Night: Batman #1, Booster Gold #23, Green Arrow/Black Canary #23, Green Lantern Corps #39, JSA Vs. Kobra #3, Titans #16, The Unwritten #4, and Wednesday Comics #6. Plus, Olivia gets another cameo!

Download it directly here, visit the podcast homepage here, or cast your eyes to the player at right.

Music, as always, by R.E.M.

July 16, 2009

New comics 7/15/09

In this week’s podcast: Action Comics #879, Agents Of Atlas #8, Batman: Streets Of Gotham #2, Blackest Night #1, Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1, Brave and the Bold #25, Captain America #601, JSA Vs. Kobra #2, Rasl #5, Titans #15, Wednesday Comics #2, and Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-38.

I hope I have fixed some of the lingering technical issues (which I further hope no one minded in the last episode), and of course I am still working on my elocution. Early on, Olivia even offered her own comments in the background. (The music, once again, is by R.E.M.)

Download it here, or visit the podcast homepage here. Thanks for listening!

December 13, 2008

Making the world safe for Justice Society

Filed under: justice society — Tom Bondurant @ 4:44 pm
”There will always be a Justice Society of America book in the DC Universe,” according to its lame-duck writer, Geoff Johns.

Let’s start there.

On one level, it’s somewhat sad to think that National/DC went years, even decades, without a steady source for new adventures of its original superhero team. But for the Justice Society of America, there might not have been a Justice League; but for the Justice League, there might not have been a Fantastic Four; and so on. No Marvel, no Image, no Charlton or First or Dark Horse, Jack Kirby stuck doing monster stories and romance comics — the mind cannot conceive it!

However, the bittersweet fact is that the Justice League, like the rest of the Silver Age reinventions, supplanted the Justice Society so completely that the Golden Agers had to reposition themselves in relation to their successors. Today the JSA serves an “inspirational” function, which seems like a more important thematic justification for the group (and, by extension, the series) than the jurisdictional niche which has been carved out for it. The older folks are teaching the up-and-comers how to be good successors.

Here is as good a place as any for the obligatory disclosure that I stopped reading JSA back in 2005, at the end of the Per Degaton/1950s storyline. Apart from a few issues here and there, I haven’t read it regularly since then. Honestly, I think you have to share Geoff Johns’ particular DC tastes in order to get the most out of his Justice Society work; and mine must be just different enough.

Johns’ first issue of JSA was #6 (January 2000), appropriately enough featuring Black Adam. (Johns’ run will end with a story called “Black Adam Ruined My Birthday,” which by itself sounds pretty fun.) For the first four years or so, his co-writer was David Goyer, who left after issue #51 (October 2003). Accordingly, I suppose we can only call the book “Geoff Johns’ JSA” from that point forward. To my mind its creation belongs in no small part to James Robinson’s Starman work, because Robinson had been exploring the original Justice Socialites through Jack Knight. Furthermore, JSA’s “reunion of names” seemed at the time to borrow heavily from Grant Morrison’s high-concept for JLA; which of course had been running for a few years to great success. (Indeed, anyone looking at the two books’ logos would surely notice the similarities.)

Regardless, from the late summer of 2003, give or take some co-contributors (Alex Ross, Dale Eaglesham, Brad Meltzer, arguably the 52 crew), it’s been Johns’ show — much like Birds Of Prey had become associated strongly with Gail Simone. I am inclined to argue that because Johns has become so identified with Justice Society, and because the JSA isn’t an indispensable part of DC’s dramatic infrastructure, the book could stand to be cancelled upon his departure.


I mean, why not? Neil Gaiman and James Robinson got to bring Sandman and Starman to respectable closes (although certain supporting characters continued to live on, even in unrelated series like Trinity). When Johns left The Flash, it was all but over; although clearly Infinite Crisis had something to do with that book’s eventual cancellation (… and here comes Johns again, arguably causing Wally’s book to go away again…). Likewise, when Johns leaves Green Lantern, the book will remain. Flash and GL are two of DC’s “foundational” titles — but Justice Society is not. Despite Johns’ declarations, I suspect that it never will be.

That said, though, DC has published monthly adventures of the Justice Society in some form or another for the better part of the past thirty-odd years. Starting with the revived All Star Comics in late 1975, the JSA later jumped to a feature in the bimonthly Adventure Comics. That lasted about a year (1978-79), after which the characters were title-less until the debut of All-Star Squadron in the summer of 1981. ASSq lasted about five years, and was succeeded by Young All-Stars, which lasted about another two. This period also saw the launch (1984) and cancellation (1988) of Infinity Inc.. The Justice Society itself had been “banished to limbo” in 1986, but returned in 1992, headlined its own series (Justice Society of America vol. 1) for ten issues, and then had most of its original members killed in 1994’s Zero Hour. Aside from a 1940s-oriented miniseries and a similar fifth-week event, the JSA didn’t see much else in the way of significant action before 1999’s “Crisis Times Five” arc in JLA. That led to the new JSA series, and here we are.

Obviously the turning point was Crisis On Infinite Earths, which took away the JSA’s status as its world’s No. 1 super-team. (Ironically, as I’ve said many times before, in Crisis the JSA pretty much assumed the traditional leadership role of the JLA, which was in its “Detroit phase.”) Since then, DC has shown, both in 1986 and 1994, its willingness to close the book on the team and (some of) its members. That’s something DC hasn’t done with, say, the Teen Titans or the Legion of Super-Heroes. It has relaunched, revamped, and outright rebooted the latter teams, but it hasn’t outright ended them as it has the JSA.

Therefore, I agree that Johns (and his creative collaborators, including previously-unmentioned artists Stephen Sadowski, Michael Bair, Leonard Kirk, Don Kramer, and Jerry Ordway) have successfully repositioned Justice Society in a world in which it was no longer required. Nevertheless, the question then becomes whether Johns has contributed so much to Justice Society that it should not continue without him.

Of course, this argument is largely academic. DC would be nuts to cancel Justice Society … wouldn’t it? Johns has made the book a consistently reliable source of income, both as a monthly periodical and in collected form. Surely Sean McKeever, Tony Bedard, or whoever DC pulls off the bench to write and/or draw the title will be able to do just as well.

… Yeah, I don’t know. It’s hard to say. The new writer will undoubtedly proclaim his or her love for Johns’ run while at the same time making it clear that this will not be a mere retread of Johns’ work. Geoff laid a great foundation, and we’re going to build on that to take the JSA to new and exciting places! It’s an excellent place for new readers to climb aboard — you won’t want to miss this!

What, too cynical? Maybe I’ve just been reading too many puff-piece interviews. It just seems to me that if this is truly “Geoff Johns’ JSA,” then it should end with Johns’ departure. The Justice Society itself doesn’t have to disband — it can show up all over the DC map, as needed — but maybe the next writer (and artist) would be served better if there were at least an hiatus between them and the Johns Era. The upcoming creative team will be compared to Johns and his collaborators anyway; why invite those comparisons the month after Johns et al. leave?

Again, to me it’s not like Johns is leaving a “foundational” title like Flash or Green Lantern. It’s more like Gail Simone leaving Birds Of Prey, or even Johns’ own departure from Teen Titans. I submit that DC needs to publish its foundational titles in order to maintain the identity of its superhero line. However, DC only needs to publish Justice Society as long as it can bring in an acceptable number of sales. DC clearly doesn’t want Justice Society to go through a succession of ill-fitting writers like the post-Johns Teen Titans did.

In other words, Johns hasn’t turned Justice Society into a “foundational” title. Instead, he’s established that Justice Society’s revised premise can be sustained over the long term. This accomplishment is not insignificant. It takes a special kind of hair-splitting axe to clear a space for what is, to children of the Silver and Bronze Ages, another version of the Justice League. If DC has found the right person to carry on what has evidently become something very personal to Geoff Johns, that’s fine. I can’t help but think, though, that Johns’ work should be followed by a break. It would both honor Johns’ departure and allow the next Justice Society creative team some time to figure out its own approach.

August 25, 2008

New comics 7/28/08 and 8/6/08

Here are some quick impressions of recent books, as I try to get rid of the accumulated baby-related backlog….


Batman: Death Mask #4: I stand by my original appraisal of this series, which is that it’s more of a read-right-to-left exercise than a demonstration of manga’s storytelling potential. It was a decent Batman story, but (as opposed to those Star Wars manga from ten years ago) nothing which really encouraged me to read more manga. If this were Batman/Punisher or some other outside-the-norm crossover, each “side” would get a chance to “win.” Here, though, Batman is still Batman, just read differently; so he wins decisively.

Green Lantern #33: This was the penultimate chapter of “Secret Origin,” wasn’t it? Good. I get the feeling that “SO” could have been more interesting, and more to the point (leading up to “Blackest Night”), if it had been a couple of oversized issues told from the point of view of someone other than Hal. Also, I really think Johns et al. are pushing it to give Black Hand’s mortuary the Black Lantern symbol.

Justice Society of America Annual #1: I talked about this one in a Grumpy Old Fan.

Teen Titans #61: Not a bad issue, although I am still not convinced that Kid/Red Devil is the breakout character everyone says he is — and I say that as someone who looked forward to his appearances in the old Blue Devil series.


Detective Comics #847: Part 2 of “Heart of Hush” would have been better if it didn’t have so much Hush.

Final Crisis #3: This is a scary, scary miniseries, and I admire its unwavering fatalism. I think I also like the way it paints its terrifying picture through individual snapshots, and not a “widescreen” overview.

House Of Mystery #4: Last month I think I said it’s taking a while for Fig to realize what the readers already know (because it’s the premise of the book). This month does nothing to change that. HOM isn’t badly made, it’s just slow; and I may have to give it another storyline to evaluate it properly.

Manhunter #33: I continue to like this series, and I want to learn more about it, but honestly I couldn’t tell you why I liked this particular issue.

Nightwing #147: Part 1 of a 3-part Two-Face storyline is fairly entertaining, although for various external reasons I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be with the book.

Supergirl #32: However, it looks like I’ll be with this book for a while to come, as long as it ties into the Superman titles.

Tor #s 3 and 4: Tor starts a family in these issues. I’ll probably finish out this miniseries, if only because I enjoy Joe Kubert’s storytelling.

Of course, I also bought Trinity #s 9 and 10, and enjoyed them beyond my self-imposed obligation to annotate.

Back before too long to catch up on the next two weeks!

November 26, 2007

Sunday Soliloquy

Filed under: justice league, justice society, sunday soliloquy — Tom Bondurant @ 2:09 am
Had a great Thanksgiving with my wife and parents; thanks for asking. Sorry that meant no blogging for the past week. Still, back in the swing of things now, so let’s get movin’.

* * *

Back at Thanksgiving 2002, the Justice League and Justice Society had to fight not only tryptophan, but a couple of uninvited guests….

… with bad table manners to boot! Hey, Despero, we put out the good napkins so people will use ’em!

[From JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice (2002), written by Geoff Johns and David Goyer, pencilled by Carlos Pacheco, inked by Jesus Merino, colored by Guy Major, lettered by Ken Lopez.]

November 11, 2007

Sunday Soliloquy

Filed under: justice society, sunday soliloquy — Tom Bondurant @ 8:03 pm
And now, a villain who desperately needs the sartorial touch of Blockade Boy:

Yes, it was the ’70s, but bell-bottoms and platform shoes? For an ancient mystical creature who allegedly brought down civilizations? Really?!? Maybe the clothes are meant to keep his victims awake during his speeches….

(sigh) “A place where nobody dared to go,” indeed.

[From “When Fall The Mighty,” All-Star Comics #62, September-October 1976. Plotted by Gerry Conway, scripted by Paul Levitz, pencilled by Keith Giffen, inked by Wally Wood, colored by Carl Gafford, lettered by Ben Oda.]

P.S. Zanadu is also the name of a fine chain of Seattle comics shops which I am sure have nothing to do with this ill-dressed bad guy.

October 12, 2007

Friday Night Fights

Filed under: friday night fights, justice league, justice society, meme — Tom Bondurant @ 11:12 pm
Having been double-crossed by their Earth-2 (former) teammates, the Earth-1 contingent of the Secret Society of Super-Villains has a plan: free the Justice Leaguers and Justice Socialites they’ve imprisoned in Limbo. Shattering one of the spinning cells will do it, so the Secret Socialites sic the near-feral Cheetah on Wonder Woman’s tube.

Now, that’s not the Friday Night Fight. In fact, Bahlactus’ theme for this go-round is “Sucka-Punch,” and this turns into more of a melee.

Actually, it turns into more of a rout for the Secret Socialites, who I guess were suckas after all!

[From “Crisis In Limbo,” Justice League of America #197, December 1981. Written by Gerry Conway, pencilled by Keith Pollard and George Perez, inked by Romeo Tanghal.]

June 2, 2007

New comics 5/31/07

Let’s begin this (timely; keep your fingers crossed) roundup with Justice Society of America #6, Part 4 of “The Lightning Saga” (written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Dale Eaglesham, inked by Ruy Jose). This chapter’s big mash-up involves the reconstitution of old-timey Legion foe Computo in Suicide Swamp, itself the old home of both Solomon Grundy and the Legion of Doom’s Vader-helmet headquarters. (Dialogue says it belonged to the Secret Society of Super-Villains, but same difference.) That the Justice League just got through fighting Solomon Grundy in its first arc is never brought up, although goodness knows everyone gets ample time to compare notes.

That brings me to my main complaint about the issue: ach, the talking! Right from the first page, the reader is bombarded with information — head-shots of the JLA and JSA, paragraphs of Superman’s exposition comparing and contrasting the various teams, panels cluttered with characters — and we haven’t even gotten to the Legion’s formal introduction yet. Both Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns are so enamored of the plain fact that the JLA and JSA are getting together again (eee!) and they’re meeting the no-foolin’ Earth-1 Legion (!!!) that all the teams can do is tell us about it. To me it’s indicative of the story’s tone that the actual three-team battle against Computo is summed up largely by one double-page spread. It goes on for some five pages after that, and it started three pages before, so it’s about half of the issue, but it just doesn’t seem paced right. Maybe it’s Jose’s inks: they don’t quite flatten everything out, but they don’t do a lot to make the characters pop against the dense swamp background. Neither do Jeromy Cox’s colors, for that matter. Anyway, since the Legion’s fighting Computo, someone’s gotta die — or does she? We’re down to the last installment and it still feels like a long way to go.

(Finally, obligatory Alex Ross cover gripe: nothing whatsoever indicates this is Part 4 of an inter-title crossover, and it features only Damage, who’s hardly the center of the story.)

Next up is the week’s second Geoff Johns book, Green Lantern #20 (drawn and colored by Daniel Acuna), which wraps up the Star Sapphire arc for now. While the arc hasn’t been nearly as bad as I thought, I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. First, Acuna’s art is very good, but he draws Hal about ten years younger than he should be. Second, I have an uncomfortable feeling that the whole Sinestro Corps/Sapphire Corps angle will wind up with some new Grand Unified Theory of Power Rings that the mythology doesn’t really need. Third, I liked the idea that Carol Ferris had moved on after Hal, because as we all know, Hal and Carol’s relationship was poison to the idea of him being Green Lantern. In fact, one of the things I did like about this arc was the maturity Hal and Carol showed with regard to each other. The suggestion that they’re still in wuv is a frustrating indication that the title doesn’t want to move forward. All that notwithstanding, the Sinestro Corps backup (drawn by Dave Gibbons) was another fine little horror story, and it gives me hope for the Sinestro Corps arc.

Are we really just on Amazons Attack #2 (written by Will Pfeifer, drawn by Pete Woods)? With two issues of Wonder Woman supplementing AA #1, it feels like we’re a lot farther into the story than that. Because I read those issues (and the issue of Manhunter which linked Everyman with Circe), I felt a lot more comfortable with this issue. The Justice League starts making battle plans, Donna Troy confronts Hippolyta, and the Amazons open up two more fronts. I thought it was a well-paced issue, maintaining a lot of subplots fairly well. However, it has the potential to sprawl out into a big goopy mess, and I don’t like the idea that Donna’s story will continue in Countdown (with Jason Todd, I presume). As for the art, I like Pete Woods a whole lot, even if he does draw (regular) ears under the Bat-cowl.

I was a little disappointed by Action Comics #850, the week’s third (yikes) Geoff Johns title (i.e., written by Kurt Busiek, Johns, and Fabian Nicieza, pencilled and colored by Renato Guedes, inked by Jose Wilson Magalhaes). Not because of Johns specifically, because I haven’t picked out what his contributions were. No, I expected more of a resolution to the Supergirl-Legion (mainline, that is) question, but instead I got another retelling of Superman’s origin and his relationship to Kara Zor-El. On balance, though, it read fine. There were the familiar skips through time, revisiting old moments and filling gaps with new ones. For all the subtle (and not-so-subtle) revisions to Superman’s origin just in the past few years, this was a good way to harmonize them and even give us a look at some alternate-Earth incarnations. Since this is an anniversary issue, there’s a shout-out to the cover of Action #1 as well. Guedes and Magalhaes do excellent work throughout, especially on Supergirl. Because Guedes will be her new artist, this was a preview of her future in more ways than one.

Last on this week’s list is Countdown #48 (written by Paul Dini and Adam Beechen, pencilled by David Lopez, inked by Don Hillsman with Alvaro Lopez), and I think I’ve finally figured out the dirty little secret of this title: it’s a big crossover series like all the others, but it’s weekly and it aims to be self-contained. Maybe that’s obvious to everyone else, but I think I had been subconsciously approaching it by remembering 52‘s “newsweekly” structure. Clearly Countdown is its own animal, but it looks like it’ll have a significantly different approach than 52.

In any event, this issue was better than the last, although I do have some quibbles. First, Black Adam has reappeared too soon. Even if he doesn’t have his powers, he’s been reduced to the same kind of one-note “my family is (choke!) dead” mantra that plagued the worst Batman stories. Second, Lightray is familiar to me, but he hasn’t been around a whole lot otherwise, perhaps even since the start of Infinite Crisis. (He was so out-of-sight I thought he might have been Supernova.) His death may therefore mean only about as much as Duela Dent’s. Third, I’m still confused about the timing of the Karate Kid scenes.

I did like this issue’s Jimmy Olsen scenes, especially for bringing in Superman. If this is supposed to be a weekly Big Event series featuring the big-name characters, it needs to start using more of them. Overall I thought the dialogue was better, and I liked David Lopez’s storytelling, although the storm-cloud scenes were kind of hard to follow at times. I’m still on board with the title for now, but its grip is a lot more tenuous than 52‘s was this time last year.

March 23, 2007

New comics 3/21/07

Well, I’m done with Justice Society of America (#4 written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Dale Eaglesham, inked by Ruy Jose), although I’ll have to get it through the Justice League crossover. The big throwdown involves Vandal Savage versus junior Wildcat Tom Bronson (shout-out? Probably not). Meanwhile, the rest of the Justice Society smacks down various Nazi villains in a much more perfunctory manner. I did like how Dale Eaglesham organized the issue, making lots of action fit and flow smoothly, but on the minus side, there wasn’t a lot of life in the main JSA-team action scenes. I understand the emphasis on character over action, and the two significant action scenes — the Wildcats vs. Savage, and another involving Liberty Belle and Damage — are set up to make character points. However, the pacing of the entire arc has front-loaded the issues with foundational character moments, so that the big team moments are almost in the background. Finally, the JLA crossover and the old-school Legion subplot are teased, as are the introductions of two new members. This title therefore seems to have a lot of housekeeping to tend, and I am frankly not so much into its housekeeping.

Flash: Fastest Man Alive #10 (written by Marc Guggenheim, pencilled by Paco Diaz, inked by Art Thibert) presents Part 2 of “Full Throttle,” which wouldn’t be a problem except last issue was the “Prologue,” so you’d think this one would be Part 1. Anyway. Bart comes dangerously close to Mary-Suehood with his cracking of a legendarily unsolved LAPD case. Sure, Bart’s got an unfair advantage being a superhero, but he doesn’t seem to do anything a smart normal-speed detective couldn’t have. Then Bart takes out the supervillain who did it, and Zoom too, in short order. The cliffhanger is pretty effective, though. The art is decent, although some of the figures are posed a little funny, like they’re double-jointed. It’s still an improvement over the previous regime.

I still want to read the whole thing, because I’m not sure what exactly happened, but I ended up liking Omega Men #6 (written by Andersen Gabrych, drawn by Henry Flint). Tigorr and Vril Dox are the stars of the show, and Flint’s art is dynamic and … full-to-burstin’, for lack of a better term. It’s not messy, it’s unconventional, but it works.

Part 2 of the Stuart Moore/Andy Clarke siege of Wayne Tower in Detective Comics #830 was pretty good. The eventual Batman reveal was handled well. I didn’t buy the drama associated with Robin’s needing to blowtorch the trigger off his C4-encrusted shoulder, though. One could do worse than Moore and Clarke on a Batman story.

Birds Of Prey #104 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Nicola Scott, inked by Doug Hazlewood) was all kinds of fun. It recalls a couple of ’90s comics, including the first BoP miniseries when Helena is hit upon in fancy dress by a charming rogue, and also a deathtrap from DC One Million (where the villain was Vandal Savage, also a Secret Six nemesis), but that’s OK. The introduction of a Special Guest Bird (ha ha) was worth it. Best issue of BoP I’ve read lately, and that’s saying something.

Was pleasantly surprised by 52 #46 (written by JMRW, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencilled by Pat Olliffe, inked by Olliffe, Drew Geraci, and Rodney Ramos), because I thought Adam would make short work of the Oolong Island crew. Turns out I didn’t give them — or at least one of them — enough credit. This was also the best “action” issue of 52 in a while, and yes, I know I armchair-quarterbacked the 52 theory of action last week. This was better, I think, because it was on a much smaller scale and also involved a lot of little character bits. The eBay scenes were great, marred only by the fake lorem ipsum language. Also, I know I don’t comment on the origin-story backups, but I really enjoyed the Batman origin. Andy Kubert took a well-worn series of events and made them into a fresh set of evocative images.

I almost didn’t buy Batman Confidential #4 (written by Andy Diggle, pencilled by Whilce Portacio, inked by Richard Friend) because I’m not getting that much out of the story, and now I’m really not sure why I continue. As it happens, this was a good issue, art included, except for two things: the first Batplane looks a little too advanced; and the ending seems to torpedo Luthor’s post-revamp “bad guy behind the scenes” persona.

Bane goes out a little too easily in Checkmate #12 (written by Greg Rucka, Nunzio DeFilippis, and Christina Weir, pencilled by Steve Scott and Cliff Richards, inked by Nathan Massengill and Steve Bird), but other than that this was a fascinating issue, crystallizing a lot of political subplots and probably setting up John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad revival. It kept me guessing, which was great. The art is the usual thick-lined, moody, kinda muddy style that this title uses to good effect. It’s helped greatly by Santiago Arcas’ colors, which brighten up as more information is revealed and get darker again when the issues get murkier. I really liked this comic.

I’m also cautiously optimistic about Aquaman: Sword Of Atlantis #50 (written by Tad Williams, pencilled by Shawn McManus, inked by Walden Wong). It’s a new creative team dealing with some of the old subplots, but the first thing you notice (obviously) is the different artistic style. Instead of Butch Guice’s more washed-out pencils (no pun intended), McManus and Wong combine for an almost cartoony effect which migh tnot be entirely realistic, but it makes characters easier to distinguish. Ironically, though, that doesn’t apply at first to “Narwhal,” the new villain introduced on the first page, because he looks a lot like Our Hero. I think he’s also meant to remind us of Koryak, Orin’s son from the Peter David days of the early ’90s. Williams also gives us a new Topo, presented without reference to Aquaman’s old octopus sidekick. Topo II is more cute comic-relief, I take it, but I was never a big Topo I scholar so I can’t really evaluate that. Also, Tempest and Mera look to be a big part of the book now too. Basically, the current Aquaman gets introduced to the ruins of Atlantis, there’s some talk about the fate of San Diego (a plot from the days when I didn’t read the book) and Narwhal cuts a swath of destruction through the ruins. Pretty intriguing stuff, and it’ll keep me around for a while.

Reading Army@Love #1 (written and pencilled by Rick Veitch, inked by Gary Erskine) was almost a novel experience, because it seems that I had pretty much forgotten the accoutrements of a Vertigo book. The last Vertigo book I read was American Virgin #4, about six months ago, maybe, so I was a little surprised at how new the line seemed. How was A@L itself? Not too bad, and pretty entertaining. I expected it to be over about seven pages before it was, and I was reading it while trying to watch “Friday Night Lights” so I might not have been paying as close attention as I should’ve, but it was still very good.

The Spirit #4 (by Darwyn Cooke) was another fine issue. I halfway expected it to be continued from last time, since #3 ended on something of a cliffhanger, but that’s OK. #4 (re)introduces Silk Satin, surely an Eisner creation who’s now a top-notch CIA agent. I love how everyone the Spirit encounters is so much better at their particular job than he is at his; or at least has that impression of themselves in relation to him. With Satin and the Spirit on the run from bad guys for most of the issue, the dynamics are somewhat similar to the news-anchor story from #1, but Cooke makes Satin different enough, and likeable enough, that it doesn’t matter. Art is impeccable, as usual. I especially enjoyed the clever logo-centered two-page spread.

Finally, I can’t believe it’s here so soon after #1, but The Brave and the Bold #2 (written by Mark Waid, pencilled by George Perez, inked by Bob Wiacek) is almost an improvement on what was a very good first issue. This time Green Lantern pairs with Supergirl, resulting in a sort-of-uncomfortable internal monologue about not succumbing to his primal urges vis-a-vis her nubile teenaged wiles. However, that even gets turned on its head in hilarious fashion. Perez and Wiacek really give their all this time, cramming even more detail into the backgrounds of the gambling planet Ventura. I made a point to look for Marvel’s Grandmaster, one of the antagonists in the Perez-drawn JLA/Avengers, but didn’t see anything, and that may be my only complaint.

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