Weekly Comic Book Discussion 7/26/2007

Here it is!

Picked up last week’s Birds of Prey (our store didn’t get them in) and Aquaman (heard about the villain.) Enjoyed both pretty well.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #32: One of the things I really appreciated about the Waid/Kitson Legion is that it wasn’t doing the “Ultimate” thing. Sure, it was a reboot, and yes, most of the familiar names got hip new costumes and such. But it wasn’t about telling the same classic stories with an updated attitude. We didn’t see the origin of the Legion yet again, or a retelling of the Death of Ferro-Lad. We got completely new stories. Bedaro is walking away from that a bit, with some more familiar names popping up, but darned if Validus as the focus of a alien storm cult doesn’t work for me. And no, not that you asked, I don’t care how this fits in with The Brave and the Bold. I like the new artist, too.

Green Lantern Corps #14: I found Sinestro’s argument to be a little hard to follow. BUT SO MUCH AWESOME. Robot Heads! Sodom Yat! Sentient Cities versus Sentient Planets! And all of them have power rings!

Countdown #40: Much improved. Giffen has brought the extra spark this book needed to pull it over into quality. Loved the Darkseid interlude. Just absolutely adored it. How much better is it? I actually took interest in the Holly Robinson plot. That’s how much better. Though the artist and colorist really blew it on the mask on the last panel. Ick.

Blue Beetle #17: He lied to Batman. He didn’t know it, and he didn’t need to, and he was caught in the lie, but still, worth of a few points on the Tim Drake Awesome Scale.

Batman #666: Despite not really liking Damien all the much, and not really liking the current fake batmen story, I really enjoyed this despite myself. I think it’s because Damien freely admits that he’s a lesser Batman than Bruce or Dick, and what he’s had to do to cope with that.

**Superman #665: ** Eh. It’s alright. Doesn’t real contribute all that much to the characters.

Teen Titans #49: A bit better than the last one. The politics here incredibly silly, though. “These women are only guilty of being women!” Well, and of associating with the Amazons, who are somehow striking within America with terrorism. That’s a pretty key distinction, you know. “Women should not shackle their own kind!” Marston rolls in his grave. Also, is that supposed to be as stupid as it sounds? It’s actually pretty chilling that in the DCU, superheroes have veto power over lawful orders from the president. But, if you ignore all the stupid, it’s actually pretty good.

Superman #665 - Rather less interesting than the Jimmy story just in Action Comics – I suspect this would’ve come off better had it preceeded the latter, rather than followed it.

Wonder Woman #11, Teen Titans #49 - I think I’ll just assume that someone in “Amazons Attack” detonated a stupid-bomb. Because there seems to be rather a lot of it flying around in these tie-ins (particularly from the amazons and the Wonders).

Supergirl & the LSH #32 - Not sure if I’ll end up liking this art, but the story is interesting. Was rather disappointed that Cham didn’t show up in a fishbowl-helmet spacesuit, as on the cover.

Blue Beetle # 17 - Glad I started picking this one up. Really liked the way the Bruce cameo was used here.

GL Corps #14 - The Sinestro Corps War storyline continues strong. Nice characterization on all the second-tier GLs, but I’m really wanting to see more of the second-tier Sinestro Corps, like Enkafos and that cool alien space-mummy vibe he’s workin’.

Legion - Augh, the art is killing me. Mekt Ranzz is not the love child of William H Macy and David Caruso, dammit! Although the ‘you’re a stupid, stupid man’ panel was classic. The non-art parts, though, were good. I do wonder how the Winathi protect the crops, in this case, though. I love the idea of Storm God Validus. On the other hand, we know from Brave and the Bold that the Fatal Five exist in this continuity, so I wonder at the connection between the two Validi.

Batman - Damien leaves his old man in the dust as far as preparation goes. And I must say, the Future Gotham Criminals are an interesting bunch. (Although I note that Flamingo was also the name of an enemy of the Knight Watchman, the Big Bang Comics analogue to Batman.) I’m not sure I buy Barbara becoming commissioner, but…eh, a minor detail.

ASBAR - As much as I loath this title, I have to say…I love the Batgirl design. And I’m disappointed she got so little face time. Especially since she was the only tolerable part of the issue. I can’t wait to see what Miller does with Lois, who I’m sure will show up, since he worked out a way to shoehorn Jimmy in. So, Superman’s an easily manipulated buffoon, Jimmy’s a hormonal horn-dog…Lois…either she’ll be in the Vicki Vale vein of T&A sink, or she’ll be a bitchy man-hater like Wonder Woman and Black Canary…any bets on which?

Green Arrow - Year One - Good gods, Ollie is a Bad Ass. That is all.

Superman - I don’t know, I thought this Jimmy story was really solid. When was the last time we got a Jimmy origin story?

Batman - fun, fun filler.

All-Star Batman : Heheheh. What was it, “Eat glass, lawman!”? I think that was the line. Frank Miller’s spiral into senility is extremely entertaining.

My one Marvel pick - Incredible Hulk. Disappointed that we veer from the interesting scenario of Earth heroes joining Hulk into a side story about Rick Jones and bug-guy-I-never-heard-of.

Uh… last issue of Action Comics? You know, last week?

Granted, that was more the origin story for his watch, but Jimmy really doesn’t need much of an origin story (unless they were going to explain the multiverse oddness he’s going through now).

Plus, the Action Comics story had drunken Scottish engineer robots, so I gotta give it the nod for the win.
As for Validus, it’ll be interesting whether the fatal five Validus is the same as the Winathian cult’s, or if he’s only named after 'em. Particularly interesting if the original Great Darkness Saga epilogue gets riffed on in some way.

That wasn’t a Jimmy origin story!

It was the origin of Jimmy’s watch! Jimmy doesn’t have much to his origin story – photographer, Superman’s pal, with signal watch. Not complicated enough that it needed to be split into two comic issues, surely. And the AC story was the better of the two (IMO).

Actually, the AC story establishes that (1) Superman is Jimmy’s pal, and (2) how Jimmy got his signal watch. The Superman story only deals with the former, so it misses a rather important part of Jimmy’s character. If it’s supposed to be a story to explain Jimmy’s backstory, it shouldn’t leave new readers wondering where the heck that signal watch came from.

I disagree on all counts. the Signal Watch’s origin isn’t important - Superman could certainly have just given his pal a device to call him. I liked the Action story, but I felt the story of how Jimmy cam to be at the Planet, how his relationships with Perry and Superman formed, et cetera, was more important, plus it gave us a peek into Superman’s early interaction with Intergang. Witht he rise of the New Gods in Countdown, a much more important story than Jimmy’s implausible scientific improvisation.

I picked up the Archive Edition Doctor Fate for $65 (with discount).

I disagree. Jimmy doesn’t need an origin story. He works at the Planet. How did he come to the Daily Planet? Who cares? Probably the same way Perry and Lois did, answering a want ad or something. This story gave complications to the character (missing archeologist parents) that he really didn’t need. Jimmy’s just some kid who really likes Superman, and Superman in turn is impressed by his inherent goodness and moxie.

I saw them more as “story hooks” than “complications.” I think that one point of the origin story was to establish the background for Jimmy’s renewed status as resident weirdness magnet. But just as importantly, the story provides a needed justification for Clark’s special affection for him. Jimmy isn’t “just some kid,” after all; he’s Superman’s Pal, capitalized, and this story explains why.

In the current continuity, Clark and Lois have been married for a while. But this story reminds us that initially they were rivals, and that Clark was unable to open himself up emotionally in her presence. So Jimmy filled a vital need at that point, providing unstinting friendship for Clark both in everyman and Superman roles. This is why Jimmy isn’t merely a random kid who idolizes Superman, like the dozens of others that Superman must save every week. He really is Superman’s best friend.

I also think the story did a fine job of delineating Jimmy’s relationship with Perry White. It turns out that Jimmy isn’t just an annoying kid who works at the Planet and gets into trouble on occasion. Perry keeps him on because he sees something of himself in Jimmy, which I don’t think was hugely apparent previously. He pushes Jimmy, presenting a gruff exterior not out of irritation, but from a sense of tough love. Again, after such a continuity reboot, it’s useful to get a sense of how this was all established.

Jimmy is also a character to whom anything can happen. Once upon a time, that was his signature characteristic. He really needed that signal watch, because at any moment he could be bombarded by meteor rays and transformed into a giant reptile-human hybrid, or find himself in the clutches of subterranean mutants after stumbling upon a secret intergalactic conspiracy. By and large, this quality did not survive Byrne’s reboot, with the result that there really hasn’t been all that much to say about Jimmy for the past few decades. This story reverses all that, saying, in effect: “Nope, the way it works now is that Jimmy’s been in trouble from Day One. He’s a survivor, the inheritor of a legacy of strange and implausible adventures. He’s not only an orphan, he’s the kid whose mom was abducted by gorillas in South America.”

I think Jimmy’s credentials as a longstanding key member of the Superman Family are important to emphasize up front, if the comic hopes to recapture the flavor of those bizarre, memorable Silver Age adventures. Personally I think it’s about time Jimmy got his freak groove back.

There are no gorillas native to South America.

That’s the point. Because Jimmy’s life is that weird.

Superman 665, page 11:

JIMMY: My mom, you might know about. Dr. Sarah Olsen, the archaeologist? Found the lost city of Kurtiswana? Anyway, she was in the Amazon somewhere when it happened.

CLARK: I’ve read some of your mother’s books. When what happened?

JIMMY: Vanished. Nobody knew where. Nobody had any clues, ‘cept one drunk, who told my dad he maybe saw gorillas draggin’ her away.

CLARK: Gorillas? But there aren’t any gorillas in–

JIMMY: Yeah, I heard.

Now, see, I read the gorillas comment as kind of an in-joke about the history of gorillas in the DC universe of yesteryear (not excluding with Jimmy, IIRC). I mean, they used to show up everywhere in the comics, so it was just another Silver Agey touch to the story.

And don’t get me wrong: I like that they’re expanding Jimmy’s role in the current Superman mythos. I just don’t feel that they needed two issues and Countdown to do it. And if I’m whittling down Jimmy Olson storylines, I’ll be keeping the story with the drunken Scottish engineer robots, thx.

That’s the one I’d drop, personally.

It was fun, and all, but it’s way less interesting than reading about JIMMY.

Superman’s biggest strength, storytelling wise, is his supporting cast - more than his villains, and certainly more than the gadgetry associated with the supporting cast and villains. So, choosing between exploring the history of one of his closest associates, and one of his more interesting adversaries, or learning where a gadget came from, and meeting a new, and amusing adversary…well, give me Jimmy and Intergang.

Over on the Marvel side…

Ultimate F4 - I liked the other Ultimate Surfer well enough, but I LOVE this one. I was actually kind of worried, despite Surfer’s commentary about what his master would do on Earth, that his master would turn out to be Galactus. I was glad to see it wasn’t. I LIKE his master. I like him a lot. And he’s not just making me say that.

And off DC and Marvel entirely:

Buffy - Why, this title is strikingly lesberriffic, isn’t it? I enjoyed this issue. A bit jarring to skip off on a different storyline after the end of last issue, but I like this kind of side story.

Megatron: Origin - After the first issue, I actually sympathized with Megs. That’s over. Still loving it. The Cy-Kill cameo was somewhat unexpected, but highly amusing.

**Batman ** #666 - FINALLY. This is the type of stuff I’ve been waiting for Morrisson to do since he took over. He got off to an incredibly weak start, but now this is totally awesome and it looks like he’s going totally mental with the next arc, too.

I also got - JSA Classified, with an excellent one-off about Jakeem and the T-Bolt; Blue Beetle, of course, which is my second favorite OYL title. (Narrowly edging out Checkmate, but losing to All-New Atom.)

Green Lantern Corps - I said all along they were building to the prophecy thing, and now we’ve even got Sodam Yat.

Wonder Woman - Good stuff, mostly. Teen Titans - Can’t wait till we move past Amazons Attack, but interesting development with Robin and Cassie.

Supergirl/Legion - Gee, I wonder h ow Tenzil Kem’s going to get out of being drowned by grain…

Countdown - Fun stuff. Invincible - Still dig it.

Buffy - Ahhh, a filler issue, but a good one.

Due to financial duress, I have not been purchasing as many comics lately. However, today on a whim I decided to grab a few recent issues of The Incredible Hulk.

That was a mistake, wasn’t it?

I need to pay closer attention to these threads. Or less attention to whimsy. Or both.