Weekly Comic Book Discussion 7/14/2005

Here 'tis. Some good stuff this week…

Dammit–you beat me to starting this by about 30 minutes, dammit! :wink:

Batman And Robin: Lord, I hate Frank Miller’s writing. I prefer a Batman who’s not a psychopath, thanks. Luckily, I’ve read that this is out of continuity so it won’t affect anything else. I’m dropping it with this issue. I mean, why bother? I want to read about Batman, not some random psycho with magic “Psychic bat control” powers wearing Batman’s suit.

Action: Um…wait. What? I thought that Supes thought that he was fighting Braniac, not Darkseid (in Superman #219). Did the editor totally foul up or am I missing something?

Fables: This book just keeps getting better and better. Loved seeing more of the Kipling fables!

Justice League: It’s holding my interest, but I’m not stunned…the big revelation at the end? THAT was great though. I wish they’d fix Despero’s look though–the sideways (ear-to-ear) fin was so much cooler than the front to back one.)

New Avengers: That does it. I’m gone. (It was too late to drop it for this week, but I’ve asked that it not be pulled for me in the future.) I hate Bendis’s Wolverine, I hate Bendis’s Iron Man, I hate that Spider-Woman and Luke Cage and Wolverine and Daredevil (per rumor) are in the team. And I hate that we had another 20 page talkfest with 3 pages of action.

Green Arrow: First issue for me since Kevin Smith left. I picked it up 'cause it’s an Infinite Crisis tie-in. It wasn’t bad! I may keep buying it afterwards.

Batman: Wait! What happened to the writer from last issue? The one who could write decent dialogue? (And why is Killer Croc suddenly alligator faced and eriudite?) >< Thisclose to being dropped if whatshisname–Winick? isn’t back.

Ultimate X-Men did nothing for me, although if Ms Frost isn’t an arch-fiend and is just someone who doesn’t agree with Xavier’s philosophy, I’ll be very impressed.

Ultimate FF- Generally good stuff but I’d thought that we were being scammed by the other Reed. And dammit, I wanted to have the “Crisis on Ultimate-Earth” storyline we’ve been expecting. Either way, scam or not (I think they’re from the What-If? where everyone became a vampire) they blew it on the cover: Shoulda had a brick wall dividing the cover in half and a workman with a girder falling on him calling out “Mr Fantastic! Help me!” and both Reeds saying “I’m coming” See here for what I mean.

More later.

Serenity #1: Filling in the blanks between the last episode of Firefly and the upcoming Serenity movie. I’ve seen Serenity, and was tickled to see some details that show up in the film already (f’rex, we see some pictures Kaylee takes with the camera she’s putzing around with here). They’ve captured Firefly perfectly here. Note Wash going for his buttons. Also, the origin of Mal’s gun! The art’s pretty good for the most part, but there’s some stuff that snuck in that seems out of place. The freaky crook and the really big gun, and Book’s monster truck. Also, I’m not sure swearing in chinese works when it’s written in Chinese characters. Still, very cool. Two by two hands of blue!

JLA #116: Hawkman is a dick.

Outsiders #25: Dang. They were building up to the Superboy part of the story for so long. And this… This is how they end it? Major disappointment.

Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder #1: Yay! The All-Star line! A more iconic Batman, separate from the paranoid and manipulative borderline psychopath he’s often portrayed as in the main continuity. A compassionate Batman, a true hero. A man who, after seeing Dick Grayson, the boy whom he’s been stalking for his own nefarious purposes not unlike a common pedophile, witness the murder of his parents, just as Bruce himself did, sends a flock of bats to comfort him, and then lovingly lifts him by the throat, saying “On your feet soldier. You’ve just been drafted. Into a war.”
Jesus Christ. What the fuck is this shit? Now, I liked Year One and DKR as much as the next guy, but seriously, why does Frank Miller hate Batman so much. Well, Vicki Vale provided some quality, if completely gratuitous, cheesecake, so it’s got that going for it at least.

Rann-Thanagar War #3: Hmm… Irresponsible science versus religious fanaticism. I like it. Well-played. And Hawkman is here significantly less of a dick.

Batman #642: Ah. The niftiness of second-tier villains. I like how Batman’s still numb from fighting Jason, yet still up to do the job.

Guardian #3: I’d offer to have Grant Morrison’s babies, but he’s Grant Morrison, and would likely figure out some way to make it happen. After all, here he combined that old glurge about if Earth had a hundred people, that “Itchy and Scratchyland” episode of The Simpsons (of Westworld, if you prefer), and BASEjumping children with flamethrowers. Lovely.

Avengers–(again)–A pal told me to reread it and it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought–I may hold off issue just to see what happens next.

Freshmen–? I have no idea why I got this, but it wasn’t bad, actually.

Gravity–Excellent new book. I hope this becomes an ongoing series.

Nightwing–got 'cause of the crossover. Um. Dude (dudette?)…remember Julius Schwartz’s law? “Every issue is someone’s first.”? If you don’t give me a flashback, or even a one-panel recap of the previous issues, I’m not going to know what the hell is going on and I won’t buy your book in the future. Bye.

What’s scary is that Miller (claims to) like Bats…it’s Superman he’s on record as hating.

Action 829: Crap. Sold out–my comic store let me down yet again. I don’t suppose anyone out there with a convenient shop would be willing to pick up an extra copy for me so I can at least have a shot at reading it before part 3 of this arc comes out…?

Freshman came out? My LCS only got half of its orders for some reason so I guess that and Action Comics are coming tomorrow. Picked up JLA and Rann-Thanagar. Green Arrow looked tempting and I am a Winnick fan, but I might wait a bit on that.

I also picked up Plastic Man #1 and #7-13 at the half price sale. Hilarous stuff.

Rann-Thanagar War #3: Somebody said it last month, I’ll repeat it: this is a big-ass war. Did Kyle say “Great Guardians?” Sigh. That’s not Kyle.

JLA #116: Good times. I’m asuming the cat is Zee’s familar and if it dies she loses her powers, right?
Minor spoiler:

Geez, what’s with all the hero on hero punching lately?

Major spoiler:

Could someone give me the Despero 411? I only know him from the animated Justice League.

See you tomorrow.

No, I think Faust just needed a blood sacrifice. That’s why Catwoman sufficed.

Originally, Despero was a telepathic alien dictator. It’s gotten more complex than that since then (he was posessed by a good guy and served on the League for a while), but that’s still the core of the character.

Seven Soldiers : Guardian #3 - Same old, same old. At least we have a promise of something interesting in the last panel. Some of the dialogue from the scientist couple made me wodner when Grant got brain damage.

Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder #1 - Grateful it’s out of continuity as well … Dick’s parents shot? That’s not how it’s supposed to happen. Meh. At least it’s pretty. I’m picking up echoes of Dark Knight Returns here, though - I think that’s the genesis of the “soldier” line. Between the Dark Knight series, Year One, and this, perhaps Miller’s established his own little Bat-continuity.

JLA #116 - Woo. Yes, nice reveal for Despero, well done. He looked a little darker than we’ve seen him before - sort of Despero’s shape, but the coloration and costume made me think of J’emm, Son of Saturn. Who showed up earlier in JLA… And at least Hawkman has a sturdier jaw than Gardner - but yeah, he was being a tool.

Rann-Thanagar War #3 - I’m just glad to see Captain Comet in action, and hopefully they’ll explain Kendra and Shayera a little better - not sure who’s supposed to be Hawkman’s reincarnated hoochiemama.

Green Arrow - Meh. The promise of the cover was barely fulfilled. Ties into Identity Crisis though.

Nightwing - Some interesting interaction between Robin and Nightwing; Dick also finds out about Luthor’s villain organization, and plans to infiltrate it - but wonders how he can with Deathstroke on board.

Wonder Woman - Picked it up to see the aftermath of her big quest in the Underworld, and prepare for next issue’s crossover with Superman.

Ultimate FF - I like the new artist; and I am intrigued by the wrinkle in the story.

Fables - Ah, wonderful intrigue.

New Avengers - 4 New Avengers < 1 Disgruntled Member of the Wrecking Crew? Yikes. Yeah, I know he’s got kooky powers in the crowbar, but sheesh… I really liked Tony’s meeting with the big cheeses, and look forward to this Sentry centered revelation.

Action - Who’da thunk it? My second favorite (after JLA) issue of the week is Action. The battle with Darkseid is not an editorial mistake. It is not a hoax! It is not an imaginary story! It is Superman’s mind being screwed with. Let me point out two things of interest :

  1. The covers for the Sacrifice Arc have been advertised; in the first three Superman strieks a classic battling pose against some villain, in the fourth, Wonder Woman strikes that same pose fighting Superman. I think this is a neat idea.

  2. Here’s what happened (spoilers for OMAC):

At the end of the last issue of OMAC Project, Max Lord “activated” post-hypnotic suggestions in Superman’s head. To have him deal with Batman. This Sacrifice arc is showing us the way Superman’s mind is interpreting the fight between himself and Batman. I also find it interesting that Luthor controls Superboy, and Lord controls Superman.

But…but even mind-controlled, shouldn’t Superman remember that “Hey…last week I was fighting Braniac…but now he’s turned into Darkseid. What’s up with that?” especially since that sort of inconsistancy always allows the hero to break out of the mind-control?

Give it time. It’s a four-part story, afterall. And the control doesn’t seem to be in active mode anymore.

Johns & Heinberg’s second part of “Crisis of Conscience” in JLA #116 was the best straightforward League story I’ve read in a while. It’s also what I’ve been waiting for, in terms of a confrontation between Batman and the “satellite era” JLA since Identity Crisis, peppered with nice character bits featuring Catwoman, Zatanna, Hawkman and Bats. I’m definitely looking forward to the next chapter.

So far in NYX we’ve been introduced to Caitlan, a messed up super speedster and runaway, X-23, the child prostitute with adamantium(?) claws, and Tatiana, who can emulate the characteristics of animals. Issue #6 introduces a ‘new mutant’ to the mix, the first male. Nicknamed “Felon” when he uses his abilities, his is the power of possession, not unlike like DC’s Deadman. I like the ambiguity of the new character: he works for a violent pimp, but he does so to make the money necessary to care for an autistic younger brother, and save towards the dream of leaving District X, the 616 NYC’s de facto mutant ghetto. The problem here is in this, and the next issue, is that I’ll keep wondering what changes Joe Quesada was obliged to make in his original story before the writer who created X-23 for television objected to her role in this series. I also wonder if his possession of a woman early in the story indicates the character’s interest in changing genders. It’s all intriguing enough, and for the upteenth time, I wish NYX had stayed a monthly as originally intended. Teranishi’s art is fine here though there are places where I wish he didn’t rigidly adhere to the “wide screen” approach. For some reason it didn’t work well this issue. It’s also unclear to me how Quesada can possibly tie up all the loose ends in just one more issue. At the very least, he and Teranishi must be planning on a few extra pages.

Desolation Jones 32 was a lot of fun, the telling bits of characterization as dense and as appealing as JH Willaims wonderful art, and anything Ellis’ wrote for the cast of Planetary or the Authority. This in stark contrast to his characters in Ocean or ReLoad where it was hard to connect or care for the characters. Desolation Jones and Emily Crowe’s encounter was genuinely touching. (Too bad Global Frequency doesn’t field surgeons. These two ex-spooks need’em real, real bad.) Let’s hope the spec-op villains and the runaway daughter at the center of Jones quest for the MacGuffin are as engaging as Jones, Robina and Emily.

In Hawkman #42, Kendra Saunders awakes in the hospital, and is immediately set upon by the Purple Pilgrim, a murderous walking curse on the Saunders’ clan, who seems a bit too much like the Egyptian sorcerer Hath-Set, the fellow reincarnate who has plagued (and murdered) the Hawks down through the ages. As such, the Pilgrim’s “progress” felt a bit forced, as though P&G felt they needed to come up with an unnecessarily dramatic way to get Kendra out of bed, while the guilt ridden Charley Parker mopes around. I wish I found the Pilgrim or Parker half as interesting as the unexpected alliance between Satana and Roderic, a big money art dealer, and current host of Hath-Set’s soul. (Which handily explains how the Manhawks ripped Carter Hall to pieces. They were his – meaning Hath-Set’s - handiwork.) Sadowski tells the story well enough, but I honestly prefer Bennett’s rendering style on these characters, particularly the women, and hope he comes back soon. The weakest issue so far, in a surprising strong (and good selling) string of issues.

Azzarello throws some nice complicated curve balls in the third part of “Staring at the Son”, in 100 Bullets #62, all the more remarkable as the suspense emerges from what are essentially three conversations: Mr. Branch’s sweats it out, waiting for Cole Burns to make his pitch (though I must say, if the war between factions within the Trust and the Minutemen hinges on ownership of a single painting, I’ll be disappointed); drug dealers, Spain and (what was his name?) head toward an ugly confrontation (with poor Tino caught in the middle); and the painfully subtle fencing between Megan Deitrich and Augustus and Benito DeMedici over drinks and dinner. It’s interesting that while the threat of violence is all too evident in the first two conversations, it’s the civil, if insinuating tone, of the third, that generates the most suspense. It’s as intense and intriguing (moreso really) than anything in Greene or LeCarre’s best suspense fiction. This is great stuff!

Evocative narration has long been a hallmark of Frank Miller’s work, forming a narrative thread that tied even the most abrupt transitions in together, as in Dark Knight Strikes Again or his Sin City work. It’s definitely missed here, as the breaks between three rigidly divided sections, introducing the young Dick Grayson, a predatory (an overdone) Vicky Vale (in a gratuitous, overlong, mostly visual intro – Miller and Lee’s cheesecake sequences are usually better integrated into the story as a whole), and the Big Man himself. Likewise Jim Lee’s visual scene-to-scene transitions are usually much smoother. Thus the first issue of All Star Batman and Robin ended up feeling very ‘choppy’, for lack of a better term. (I actually found myself wondering if the job had been rushed.) As for the liberties Miller’s taken with Robin’s origin story, Miller tends to remake the characters he works on, and here the changes he’s made seem to fall in line within a darker, uglier take on Batman’s early war on political and police corruption than anything we saw in Batman Year One. No one takes prisoners in this Gotham. Miller’s Vicky Vale reminds more of that predatory society columnist for The Daily Planet (again, what was her name?) than any earlier version of Vale than I can remember. I can’t tell yet if her “good” actions are motivated by real concern for another person or reportorial ambition – something that might prove to be a problem for Batman. Clearly she has no love for the GCPD, who are even scarier here than they were in Year One which makes me wonder if her reasons are anything like Kendra Saunder’s, the new Hawkgirl.

I also picked up the first part of Jason Pearson’s Body Bags reprint (loud obnoxious fun, as I recall) and New Thunderbolts #10. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to read and respond to those titles later in the week.

All I got was the second She-Hulk TPB, Superhuman Law, in a trade through the mail.

I’m pretty sick of comic books. I think I’m gonna sell most of mine.

You’ll be sooooorrrry!


Don’t do that! I’ll hold on to them for you until you come back into the fold.

Lou, do you say things like that just to hurt us?

No, but I’m dealing with some other stuff that isn’t worth derailing the weekly comic book thread over. I’m definitely going to be listing some chunks of my collection on eBay over the next few months (for a variety of reasons), but I don’t plan to get rid of ALL of it. Not unless things get worse, anyway. The complete run of Marvel’s G.I. Joe may be on the chopping block, but the complete runs of Starman, Justice League International, Question, and Blue Beetle are safe for now.

Dibs on the She-Hulk! I’ll get in contact with you in a week or so when I get my money stuff in order.

Good luck with everything.