Weekly Comic Book Discussion 3/20/2008

Here we go.

Incredible Hercules was my only Marvel book of the week, but a solid one. Fables and Invincible were good as always. Robin featured the surprise confirmation that someone isn’t dead, and Batman and the Outsiders featured a pair of lively cameos by dead people.


Checkmate #24: I’m a bit disappointed. So they spend much of the book uncovering a really nasty Kobra plot. It’s really nasty and ties in nicely with recent DCU history. So then they bring together the JLA and the JSA and a host of international heroes to fight it. Which is awesome. Since this book’s inception I’d hoped to see Checkmate being used as the nucleus of superhero crisis (or should I say Crisis) response. Yeah, the JLA has served as that in the past, but Checkmate has the international reach, resource and legal authority to really make sense in that role. And hey, Mr. Terrific coordinating all the world’s heroes. How awesome is that? So the don’t show it to us. Turns out that Kobra’s kick-ass plan was just a cover for a much less awesome plan. Well, we finally get to see the Rooks, which is nice. Though I’m more interested in why they’re so scared of those four. The latter two, ok maybe, but the first two?

Brave and the Bold #11: Ultraman is aweways fun. He’s *such *a dick. Sir Mixyezpitelik was great. The plot was uncustomarily slow, but the other elements made up for it.

The Death Gods #7: Ugh. I think I see how this thing came together. Grant Morrison came to them with his “Fifth World” concept, and Final Crisis, which rendered the current New Gods obsolete, or at least superfluous. So, needing to build up the hype and being able to dispose of the Fourth World, the opened up the floor. Shame they couldn’t have done more justice to the characters. Well, Morrison is guaranteed to give us something epic and kick-ass if nothing else.

Justice League of America #19: Eh. Not bad. A little bit crossover-y, but not too bad. At least the League seems to know that Salvation is a really bad idea.

**The Flash #238:**I want to like this. I really do. I like how it’s backing ff the kids and recentering on Wally as family man. I like Spin. But I hate the art. It’s not just ugly, it flops a major plot point. Jai asks if there’s going to be an earthquake in Keystone like the news is talking about. This is important because Spin’s power is to manifest the fears of the populace and Wally won’t take Jai out to fight the quake since he assured him there wouldn’t be one. But Jai doesn’t look scared! How tough is it to draw a kid looking scared?

Robin #172: This book is nostalgic for me. It really is. Dixon’s early Robin was one of my first favorite books. Still solid stuff. And then a big reveal.

Countdown to Final Crisis #6: Yeah. I just don’t care anymore. And I usually like these kinds of stories. But it’s not enough to tell us the the world is burning. We have to actually see it.

**Birds of Prey #116:**Heh. My copy has the wrong writer on the cover. Collector’s edition! Anyway, Nicola Scott’s my favorite artist at the moment. Her stuff is just so incredibly gorgeous. I have mixed feelings on Killer Shark turning out so pathetic. It worked, here, but I liked the idea of Zinda having her own nemesis. Babs is too much like Batman at his worse. But I like what McKeever is setting up here with the new city and all. It’s a shame that he’s being taken off this, where he’s starting to really hit his stride, and kept on Teen Titans, where he’s floundering a bit more.

Brave & Bold #11 - last few issues kind of felt like there was a drop in the enjoyability, but it’s definately back in this one. the whole Megistus plotline is rather murky still, but the details (a vowelled knight of order from dimension five!) are superb.

Birds of Prey 116 - the storyline and plotting seem to have a good handle on the Birds, but the characterization of Oracle, Black Alice, and Misfit have been kind of off.

Countdown #06 - yeah, still crap. I can see where they’re heading with Buddy Blank, and maybe toward a Kamandi the Last Boy thing, but. I. just. don’t. care.

Death of the New Gods #7 - this book is just insultingly bad.

See, I really like Death of the New Gods. It’s the most fun I’ve had with the Fourth World characters in years.

:confused: I’m perplexed. What do you find “fun” about it?

All that has occurred is, the Fourth World characters being killed off like chumps. It has, literally, been all deus-ex-machina action from the beginning. I wouldn’t think of this storyline as “fun” no matter which characters were thrown into it (even if they were, say, Liefeld characters that I couldn’t stand, anyway).

So, please, point me to the fun.

I could almost enjoy DotNGs as an unconnected cosmic story, but I think it fails even there. But really, as a Fourth World story, certain promises were made.

This is the story we’re measuring Death of the New Gods against. Imagine how much cooler this thing would be if they stuck to that model! Hordes of Parademons invading Supertown. Deep Six rising from the sea with a floatilla of monstrosities. Each New God falling in battle with their opposite number. Scott and Barda falling side by side, after falling into a trap even they can’t escape. It all coming down to Darkseid and his most fearsome son fighting in a firepit, their mutual fury tearing themselves and their world apart. Only Metron survives to bear witness to the end, and watch the birth of the Fifth World.

Dude. It practically writes itself. Instead we got a half-baked murder mystery with brave warriors going out like punks off-panel. Over and over again.

Oh, I do…very much…I likes me some Great Disaster titles. And if I’m understanding it right, that’s classic future (does that make sense?) Earth-1 stuff coming down the pike. The return of the Atomic Knights, Hercules and OMAC in the past few years!

And it looks like there might be the return of Solaris…

I finally got the Madrox: Multiple Choice TPB in the mail from eBay, after getting turned on to Peter David’s *X-Factor * and buying and reading the first three TPBs in the last month. It was a nice little noir story, although I was promised it was very dark, so I was expecting Sleeper levels of dark. Some stuff we’ve seen in X-Factor since then (Siryn’s abduction) was darker than *Madrox: Multiple Choice! * Still really liked it, though. Jamie Madrox is my new favorite Marvel character, beating out Daredevil and Gambit.

My problems with Death of the New Gods are several:

  1. Plot. Or rather, lack of one. Nothing anyone has done thus far has had any effect on what has occurred. (this might change next issue, with Darkseid’s gambit.)

  2. Characterization. More accurately: mischaracterization. They made Scott all emo (understandable, considering) and stupid (not). Metron has been behaving like a scared little kid (until this issue). Superman has been thinking circles 'round the rest of the New Gods. But – worst of all – the damn Source has done a heel-turn worthy of Superboy Prime!

  3. Telling, not showing. I can understand the need for some narrative recaps of Fourth World lore – the bit where the Source reviewed old continuity history that’s probably not available to most younger readers was kind of necessary. But by and large, the entire plotline was laid out by that very same Source-narration to Metron. The only good point of showing instead of telling came back when Superman guessed what spotting the Forever People meant for who the bad guy was. (and that was promptly red-herringed nigh unto death).

  4. Spotty coverage of the Fourth World. As Menocchio mentioned, we’re missing quite a few important minor players from the Fourth World. Not only Deep Six, but Bug, and Power Boy, and the goddamn Uni-Friend are all MIA. The absence of the latter is particularly annoying given the Source’s claims last issue and this.

  5. Crappy coordination with ongoing DC titles such as Countdown. We’ve covered this before, and DC has admitted the problems, but over in Countdown we’ve got Jimmy Olsen heavily involved in the death of the New Gods and Darkseid’s schemes and here… nothing. Likewise the timing of events on Apokalips in Countdown, and the deaths in DotNG are all wonky.

The irony here is, as a New Gods fan, I think that the Fifth World revision is really, really needed to bring the whole New Gods continuity into relevance with the current DCverse. But they’d’ve been better off having a one-shot Countdown tie-in where Superman or Jimmy Olsen or someone discovers all the New Gods are gone. Or leave it to be briefly explained at the debut of the Fifth World.

Eh? Must’ve missed that, in catching the “animals with hands” = Kamandi stuff.

The virus is strikingly similar to the DC One Million virus that Solaris sent out, and the markings on Karate Kid’s hand on the cover is the same…plus, if you figure that Grant Morrison is involved with Final Crisis…

Now, it’s a lot of speculation, but the seeds are there…

I haven’t read this series, so maybe you mean something else, but Power Boy is dead (Titans East Special), Deep Six is all dead (Countdown early on) and the original Bug is dead, that is why the female is running around with Jimmy.

I’vew been reading volume 2 of the Savage Sword of Conan trade paperback reprints. One reader described them as “So testosterone-driven that I grew a third ball just leafing through the book.”

This is absolutely true, though a little more true for Volume 1 than Volume 2. I recommend both volumes highly.

So I’m sitting here doing my taxes, and my brain is scrambling for any excuse to get out of it… and it thinks “hm, I should go re-read the Countdown stuff to see if I can pick up on more Morrison stuff…”

And I pull out the stack o’ unfiled comics… and find the All-Star Superman. Score! And the taxes can wait and damnit when is the next issue coming out, anyway?

Lok, that was kind of my point – if they’re killing off the New Gods, and they have a book named Death of the New Gods… why is there no mention of the New Gods killed elsewhere? Lightray and Barda certainly got their shout-outs.

And the (new) Bug hasn’t been gacked, yet. (though I’m not clear if the bugs = New Gods, strictly speaking). And Power Boy didn’t get gacked by the DotNG storyline, and there’s a couple of Apokaliptans over in GL Corps, still alive too. As reboots go, this one’s been kind of hit-or-miss on handing out the apocalyptic death.

It’s intriguing. The motivations of the source. The promised conflict between Darkseid and his maker. Orion’s grim determination. Metron’s characterization.