Comics Ate My Brain

October 7, 2004

Quick Reviews For Quick Reads

Filed under: batman, legion, majestic, teen titans, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 9:45 pm
Another light week.

Detective Comics #799: “War Games” Act 3, Part 1. Written by Anderson Gabrych, pencilled by Pete Woods, inked by Andy Smith. And now, the big finish! According to the Bat-plan, Orpheus has gathered all the bad eggs from across Gotham into a big stadium. Batman has organized his posse and the Gotham City Police around the stadium, ready to strike. Unfortunately, it all disintegrates, and Batman is trapped inside the stadium with hundreds of angry crooks. Outside isn’t much better, as Commissioner Akins isn’t too thrilled with Batman’s leadership. Overall, it’s a good start — it’s at least exciting, and it builds suspense — but I was left wondering why Batman didn’t signal any sooner.

On balance I don’t like the whole “Batman seems more gullible now” paradigm upon which “War Games” has come to depend. Sure, the all-knowing Batman can get boring, but the Batman who 1) doesn’t recognize his own plan and 2) can’t see through the Orpheus disguise seems even less realistic.

Majestic #3: Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, drawn by Karl Kerschl. This too is a setup issue, with Majestic’s current “mysterious boarder” situation contrasted with his former royal status. Meanwhile, the Eradicator’s looking for him, as is whatever came through the dimensional portal. It’s the kind of issue you can’t really judge until you see what #4 does with it.

Teen Titans/Legion #1: Story 1 written by Geoff Johns and Mark Waid, and drawn by Ivan Reis and Marc Campos; story 2 written by Mark Waid and drawn by Barry Kitson. Superboy brings the Titans into the future to help the Legion fight 100 iterations of the Fatal Five. No plot, really, just wall-to-wall fightin’ and some technobabble about repairing the rips in reality the Fatal 500 have caused. Said rips also help set up the “hard reboot” of the Legion, coming in December from Waid and Kitson. The artwork is more than adequate to the task, and the dialogue is jaunty. There’s some fun interaction between the acerbic Brainiac 5 and the we-forgot-he’s-smart-now Imp– er, Kid Flash, and a well-meaning scene involving Cosmic Boy and Cyborg. Kid Flash also gets to visit relatives, which is nice. The bottom line is, this looks like the last adventure for the post-Zero Hour Legion. (By my reckoning, they lasted just over 10 years.)

The best thing about this special is the preview of the new Waid/Kitson series. Waid’s “movement” description is right on — this Legion is composed of Merry Pranksters who scare the adults and inspire the teens. That alone makes me excited about its prospects.

September 2, 2004

New Comics 9/1/04: Special Cheapskate Edition

Filed under: batman, birds of prey, firestorm, majestic, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 2:41 am
Well, not really, because I bought Majestic #s 1 and 2 after hearing good things about the series. Otherwise I would have bought just three, count ’em, three new issues. Still, let me have my dreams.

Detective Comics #798: Written by Anderson Gabrych, drawn by Pete Woods and Cam Smith, edited by Bob Schreck. “War Games” Act 2, Part 1. Lots of plot in this issue and only one real cringeworthy balloon. (Page 3, panel 6: “No! No! Oh, God, no! Henry what have you done?!?”) It’s a solid, satisfying issue which sets up some intriguing threads, including Batman’s relationship with the police and the fate of Tim Drake. (Okay, so Tim’s fate isn’t surprising, but given its predictability, it’s not overplayed.) I got the sense that lots of things were happening without being lost among all the players. If that helps redeem all the exposition of Act 1, so be it. There’s also a backup story featuring the Riddler and Poison Ivy which picks up where recent issues of Gotham Knights left off. I don’t know why, but ever since “Hush,” I don’t know who this person calling himself the Riddler is supposed to be. He just seems radically different somehow.

Firestorm #5: Written by Dan Jolley, pencilled by Chriscross, inked by Rob Stull and Keith Champagne, edited by Peter Tomasi. Jason experiences a new Firestorm power while on the trail of last issue’s antagonist. Along the way he merges with a police officer who has an unusual take on his “need” to be Firestorm. Also, Superman and the Flash pop in for a couple of pages. This title has earned its way onto my regular rotation (alert readers will note that Justice League Elite is no longer there). Jason already seems more book-smart than Ronnie Raymond, not to mention more practical (as evidenced by his calling the professionals when he needs their help). The “anthological” nature of this series — merging with different people — also offers a whole host of possibilities. I’m waiting for Jason to merge with his dad. (Is it coincidence that Ronnie Raymond also lived only with his father, who by and large didn’t know about Firestorm? Hmmm….)

Birds of Prey #73: Written by Gail Simone, with alternating artwork by Ron Adrian & Ron Lea and Eric Battle & Rodney Ramos; edited by Joan Hilty. Huntress and Vixen take out the cult and its mind-controlled superheroes as Black Canary helps Oracle fight off Brainiac. It’s funny, but I would have expected Adrian & Lea’s “cleaner” artwork to go with the more cybertech-oriented storyline. Battle & Ramos’ muddier style could then have augmented the superhero slugfest. Still, the two teams mesh well, and Battle/Ramos did get a more unsavory assignment overall. They definitely don’t make the bloodied Canary look glamorous. Since this issue’s theme is “breaking mind control,” Huntress uses a rather novel method, but Black Canary is not so original. Thus, the story isn’t quite redeemed for me. Technically there’s still one issue to go in the arc, so I’ll see how that turns out in a couple of weeks.

Majestic #s 1 and 2: Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, drawn by Karl Kerschl, edited by Tom Palmer Jr. The only exposure I have to this WildStorm character is his appearances in various DC books — 1997’s JLA/WildCATS (where he met Superman, assuming the story still counts) and last winter’s Superman titles. Clearly he’s a Superman analogue, because the miniseries is playing that for all it’s worth. Issue #1 has an entertaining encounter between Majestic and Superman in a greasy-spoon diner, and follows that up with a Majestic/Eradicator fight. Issue #2 has Majestic taking Superman’s advice to start a secret identity, but even that has him mistaken for the Man of Steel. Meanwhile, there’s a flashback to Majestic’s homeworld, from which something has pursued him to DC-Earth. I can’t quite discern a plot for the miniseries just yet, other than “Eradicator hates him” and “something evil from his home has followed him,” but each issue’s main vignettes have held my attention long enough for me to want more. Heck, it’s probably cheaper than the paperback will be.

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