Weekly Comic Book Discussion for 10-26-05

New books for 10-26-05:

Many of us have felt, at least since the “Golden Age” storyarc that Brian Michael Bendis’ Daredevil, once as timely and dependable as a freight train on a clear track, has been running out of steam. That said, “Decalogue” made for great drama, and the second part of “The Murdock Papers” in Daredevil #78 promises that the rest of this arc is going to be a great slam bang end to the run: all the major players in Matt’s life are here: the Kingpin, Milla, Ben Urich, the new White Tiger, the Widow and Elektra showed up last issue. This issue Iron Fist, Luke Cage and the Owl, put in quick appearances, and capping it off (actually, “Kicking it all off” would be more accurate) Bullseye makes his entrance! This is going to be great. All we need is the return of Night Nurse! … Oh yeah: “Murdock for Mayor!” 8/10.

Wow! Brubaker’s and Epting’s “Winter Soldier” Part III (in Captain America #11 is a great read: we get a good chunk of the answers about the former-Bucky Barne’s past, and a brief, but extremely evocative epilogue, as Steve Rogers tries to process the information. Admittedly, I’m often on the fence about this title. I’ve found Brubaker’s first two arcs slow going at times (though not nearly as unnecessarily drawn out, as many stories are these days), but every four or five issues, Brubaker & his collaborators lob an issue like this in our laps, and the book drags itself back onto the “pull and hold” list. (I’m still trying to figure out why I didn’t feel this way about his previous work for DC and Vertigo.) Damn good read. 8/10.

Another book that’s often teetering on the edge for me is Waid and Kitson’s Legion of Superheroes. Not that there is anything wrong with the book. I just find stories about teams as large as the Legion hard going. As hard as it must be to fit all these characters into a story and keep it moving, it’s also hard to keep track of, and maintain strong interest in all of them. However, Legion #11 is one of the better issues, wherein the divided Legion, makes varied degrees of headway in their desperate attempt to hold the UP alliance together, and forestall Elysion’s allies’ planned invasion. Waid also plays with some nice sci-fi concepts, such as ideas and notions taking humanoid form and coming to life as full fledged concepts. And I loved the extra short story at issues’ end, evoking the simple positive lessons about heroism that comics can impart to the young. Good solid issue. 8/10.

It’s great to see Azzarello and Fruscin working together again: while their run together on Hellblazer was uneven, there were more good arcs that bad, and the two men’s storytelling styles complemented each other almost perfectly. In Loveless #1 we’re introduced to “Grey Rider’ Wes Cutter, a Confederate soldier returning home after a stretch in a Union prison, shortly after Sherman’s punitive march through the southern states. Echoing half a dozen Clint Eastwood characters with every jingle of his spurs, he mows down a bunch of old friends, who I figger’d simply stood by while northern soldiers abused his woman and took over his land. All well and good, if a bit predictable. Then Azzarello throws us a last minute curve-ball: one that upends every expectation of the role to be played by Mrs. Cutter. Good start! 7/10.

Speaking of great starts, up ‘til now Geoff Johns’ and Amanda Conner’s four-part “Powertripping” arc in JSA Classfied has been a barrel of laughs. Readers have been treated to the fun comic spectacle of Karen Star, Powergirl, stumbling through the varied origins offered up for her since Wolfman & Perez’s landmark Crisis on Infinite Earths “maxi-series” thirty years ago. It’s kind of a shame that the Psycho Pirate’s impromptu therapy session didn’t come to the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for all these past four issues. I can understand why Johns chose to defer gratification in this case, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Boy, that was disappointing. Hope he makes up for it when Karen shows up in Infinite Crisis. 6/10, for the letdown, however minor.

One result of the DC Countdown miniseries and storyarcs (including the all-too protracted dissolution of the League in the “Crisis of Conscience” story arc in JLA #113-116) has been a gradual movement of the B-list League members away from the “clubhouse” mentality of old, to something akin to the social dynamics of Marvel’s Defenders. In JLA #121 we watch as, like Jenny Sparks did after the fall of Stormwatch, Aquaman, Green Arrow and Green Lantern (John Stewart) attempt to recruit an ad hoc “covert JLA” to deal with ‘big league’ threats in the absence of the ‘big three’ (Supes, Bats and WW) – led League. This leads, in this issue, to an interesting exchange between the Canary and the Green Arrow over Ollie’s history of infidelity, Aquaman stepping forward as a new kind of “moral center”, filling the role Superman often played in the past, and an attempt to recruit Nightwing . They’re all so busy confessing their failings or being noble to notice Manitou Dawn freaking out in the next cavern over, a harbinger of the big threat coming their way… fortunately Batman, operating in a very Oracle-like mode, hasn’t (of course).

Confusing continuity issues aside (I won’t even go into them here), I’m really enjoying what Bob Harras is doing with this story (besides, the continuity issues have to do with what’s going on in other titles, a coordination issue that is simply not his fault), and his dialogue shines, this issue. Dan Green finishes make Tom Derenick’s pencils look better than ever. I’m already enjoying this more than “Crisis of Conscience”, which I honestly feel suffered too much from the manufactured, contrived quality of the conflict between Batman and the League. I just don’t buy Batman making such a big issue of this: he’s much smarter than that. JLA #121 may not be the “book of the week”, but it’s certainly one of the weeks pleasant surprises. 7/10.

Back in the day (sounds funny to say that – it wasn’t that long ago) many of us referred to the Ellis/Hitch Authority as “the Avengers (or the JLA) finally done right”. Three years late, DC gives us Ellis and Guice’s very “Authority-like”, “New Maps of Hell” storyarc, the fourth part of which just came out in JLA: Classified #13. Here, six of the A-List League members, “the Big Three” plus Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), the Martian Manhunter, and the Flash, act (and just as importantly, sound) meet the threat, head-on, like the seasoned professionals they should be, each one complementing the other, instead of behaving like whining, divided and belligerent brats, and the change is both refreshing and welcome. The only drawback to this issue, is Jackson “Butch” Guice’s art. Like last issue, the layout is still fine. Even inspiring. The problem are the finishes, which have a sketchy, dry brush quality, that serves fine on some panels, and detracts from others. 7/10.

A bit too tired to cover my last book of the week, David Mack’s much anticipated continuation of Kabuki’s travels in Kabuki: the Alchemy #5, but it looks great. There’s something about this title that reminds me of very much of some stories in Alan Moore’s celebrated run on Swamp Thing. Both he and Mack can take their dear sweet time telling a tale, but they do so in a way that doesn’t feel excessively “decompressed”. That and the art always puts me in mind of John Totleben’s work on “Swampy” however different the two men’s style. I’m looking forward to getting to this over the weekend.

Anyone Else?

I’ll weigh in here.

JSA Classified: MAJOR disappointment. I suppose I should have expected this for “Power Girl’s definitive origin,” but Geoff Johns is usually such a good storyteller and usually has unexpected twists up his sleeve. Essentially, all this issue gives us is “Remember we retconned her? Well, forget the retcon and go back to her old origin.” It obviously ties in with Infinite Crisis (which is a shame for anyone who was collecting the lead-in series and missed this one because it lacked the Inf-Cri Countdown banner) but I see it as a waste of four issues. If this had to be done, one issue of JSA would have been a better venue than the leadoff four-issue story arc of a new spin-off book.

On top of my distaste for the Power Girl non-story, how the heck did Psycho-Pirate get back to his old self? Wasn’t he replaced in that Animal Man story where the fourth wall was broken?

WonK, I can’t believe you gave this one a 6/10. For me, it’s no higher than a 3.

Legion of Super-Heroes # 11: Wonderful issue. Touches all bases, great Brainiac 5 moments (he’s easily the best-defined character in this book so far), and the backup story plays the “heroic inspiration” theme very well. I do wish the plot would move forward a bit faster, though. I’ll agree with your 8/10 here.

Flash #227: Much improved after the lacklusterone-shot last issue. A bit heavy-handed, and Wally seemed to reveal way too much to the extradimensional alien cult, but still, give the new guy time. Besides, I think we’re just killing time until “One Year Later…” over here anyway. And that’s assuming Wally survives Crisis (I think he will, him dying is just way too obvious).

JLA #121: Batman’s paranoia is proven correct yet again. Good to see Nightwing isn’t having any. Ollie just doesn’t get it, does he? This is another title that feels like it’s just treading water until Crisis throws it something to do. Not bad, but nothing special either.

JLA Classified #13: At this point, it’s almost refreshing to see the league working together. A pretty cool story, but I’m not sure Guice is the right artist for this kind of thing. I loved him on Resurrection Man but it’s just not clicking here.

Legion of Super-Heroes #11: Great work all around. Especially regarding Brainy. Waid’s been doing a good job on introducing strange new worlds even to a team of mostly humanoids. Loved the backup.

Wonder Woman #222: Heavily tried to Crisis, but unlike Flash or JLA, this one’s still going somewhere. Good work on developing Cheetah here, and unfolding OMAC/Max Lord situation.

Teen Titans #28: Ugh. Is she just uncomfortable with these characters, or did working with Liefield suck away Gail Simone’s usually considerable talent? On the plus side, I actually understood what was happening this issue, on the minus, I still didn’t like it.

Flash - I did enjoy the hints we’re getting here, and look forward to Nightwing guesting in the next ish.

Wonder Woman - I’ll probably read this for the duration of the Crisis - good character bits, and the upcoming attack on Themyscira has me intrigued, and seems to tie in with…

Adventures of Superman - While Supes battles Ruin, we get a little more insight on the Dual-Lex situation, and OMACs come to Metropolis to roost. Let’s see - OMACs at Themyscira… Metropolis… where was Nightwing in Inf Crisis #1? Gotham, maybe? The homes of the big three under OMAC watch…

Got lots of Team books this week…

Noble Causes - picked it up out of curiosity, seems interesting, but I’m missing a lot.

Teen Titans - Yay! Liefeld’s run is done.

JLA : Classified - Yawn.

JSA : Classified - It delighted and amused me.

JLA - Solid. Nice to see Arthur being central again. Good on Nightwing. (Has anyone noticed how exposed Nightwing has become? He’s in a lot of stuff.)
Legion of Super-Heroes** - Delight from start to finish. Interesting that the 5th Dimension is a part of the UP.

Young Avengers - This time, on a very special Young Avengers…

New Avengers - Some background on Spider-Woman’s mysterious contacts is revealed.
New Thunderbolts** - The T-Bolts kick the Avengers’ behinds. Really.

Banana Sunday #3 – Oh my God, Colleen Coover draws the cutest apes ever! The love triangle is nicely underplayed, and I’m really worried about the cliffhanger. There seems to be a lot to tie up in what I believe is the last issue, but I’m really happy with the series so far.

Runaways #9 – Good set-up issue. I think the scene between Nico and Chase was meant as purposefully ambiguous. The art was a bit off this issue, which I’m sort of used to with Alphona; he’s consistently inconsistent.

Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #2 – I’m sorry, who told Dave Gibbons and Geoff Johns they’re allowed to suddenly write a good comic? Great job of managing the tension here. With I could say the same for the art; it’s inconsistent and worse than the pretty good first ish (maybe the inkers’ fault), and there were some problems with the storytelling during the big action sequence. But I’m really excited to read the next issue.

By the way, since I’m not fully conversant with DCU history, can anyone tell me if the Guardians’ pact with the Vegans has been developed previously/elsewhere, of it it’s new to this series? What is it? Thx.


The vegans? As in those who do not eat any animal product? What the hell is going on in the DCU these days!

Hey, WonK. The Discussions are usually dated for the Thursday rather than Wednesday (don’t know why. Tradition?). I’ve done the same in the past, no big.

Plastic Man #14-15: #14 was the first issue to leave me cold. Tex Avery style antics as Plastic Man battles a mouse in his house. Nice payoff, though. #15 was more like it. Edwina meets a Goth boy. Hilarity ensues.

The Flash #227: Much better than the rock climbing (Joel). I was pretty impressed, especially the few couple pages.

Plenty more coming. Eventually.

Eh, I’ve given up on that - I still do it if I start the thread, but as long as it starts with ‘Weekly Comic Book Discussion’ so I can find it, it’s A-OK.

Adventures of Superman #645: Neat. Good Lexy, er, goodness.

JSA: Classified #4: But… but… Damn it, Johns! Purdy pictures though.

Legion of Superheroes #11: I miss her too, Brainy. The description of Colssal Boy (Micro Lad) continues to crack me up, but why is he listed as from Earth?

Legion 11 - A good read. I think Waid might have gotten into Grant Morrison’s stash at some point. Not the REAL good stuff, but enough to get him a bit skewed. The last panel made me think of the end of Wanted and the reactions thereto.

He is in issue 4, too. I suppose not being Human doesn’t mean he can’t be from Earth.

I do have a hard time imagining where a community of his people might live here, though.

Last issue was HORRIBLE. It gave you the impression that Wally’s first act as the sudden father of twins was to make a break for the mountains because he needed some time to himself. Bastard! :eek: Fortunately, I think we can all agree that never happened.

I liked this issue too. I figured out what was going on in the first few pages pretty quickly, but i think that’s a natural reaction. I also liked the baby gifts they were getting from Wally’s friends. Remind me to make friends with some billionaires and Amazons before I have a baby. And I was tickled by Wally’s references to Queen’s theme from Flash Gordon.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I liked the reveal about Power Girl’s origin. It makes sense, and has big implications for the rest of the new Crisis. Hasn’t it always been said that all the old pre-Crisis stories did actually happen, only nobody could remember any of it?

*JLA * was good too. I loves me some Oliver Queen, and anytime he’s with Black Canary is just gravy. Hey, this is what happens when girls read comics. It makes perfect sense that they’d try going to Dick, and even more sense that he’d turn them down.

I also read the first issue of J. Michael Straczynski’s Book of Lost Souls, which was…ok. It reminded me slightly of his Midnight Nation, which was pretty good, and a lot more of someone writing who really likes Sandman but isn’t Neil Gaiman. If it’s anything like *Supreme Power * or the first season of Babylon 5 (which I LOVE, but the first season has issues), it’s going to be a year or so before anything actually happens in the book. I wasn’t thrilled, but I’ll keep reading and see where it goes. I do like JMS as a writer, but sometimes he has a hard time getting stories started. I’ve enjoyed his Spidey and FF, but I’m really glad he could just pick those up four decades into the story and get rolling.

Jack Cross #3: still liking this one a lot. Interesting new info on Jack’s family background.

Catwoman: um, ouch. And you know Batman’s the sort of guy who is willing to say “I told you so”.

My husband picked up a copy of Grant Morrison’s Sebastian O, which is the most demented thing I read all week. It was a three-issue mini that’s been collected into a TPB, so it’s short and inexpensive. Imagine if Oscar Wilde was in The Matrix and that’s a good springboard for this. The funniest parts are in the text at the beginning, which gives a timeline of Sebastian’s life so far, but it’s a short, fun, throughly f’ed-up read. Typical Morrison, I guess.

I still have a bunch left to read from this week. I also finished reading the run of Ostrander’s Suicide Squad, so my fingertips are nice and inky. Reading that made me extra glad Deadshot’s gotten more exposure recently, and I’d be happy to see even more. Dear DC: I hereby volunteer to write a couple of Deadshot minis and a new Spectre series. And by volunteer I mean I do it and you pay me.

New Thuderbolts #14 was a good read. They basically beat the living daylights out of the Avengers. The Sentry is shown to be quite a scary Avenger who might kill everyone before killing himself!

It’s a fun read though and it’s generally a great comic that’s well worth the $3 investment.

Big Deadshot fan here. In the last year, I’ve read Suicide Squad #1-27, Deadshot #1-4 by Ostrander from 1988, Villains United #1-6, and Deadshot #1-5 by Gage from 2005. He’s one of my favorite characters, and I eagerly await getting his action figure when it comes out in December. I would also happily collect an ongoing Catman/Deadshot buddy-antihero title, a la Cable/Deadpool.

That’s the most awesome idea I’ve ever heard. Of course, it’d be chock full of the self-loathing, and they’d likely kill each other in the final issue, but it’d be worth it.

My husband and I were just talking about the same idea the other day. I’d seriously be happy to try writing it, if only DC would pay me. Maybe they don’t read this board…

Yep, I read all of those. Have you read the rest of Suicide Squad? There’s some awesome Deadshot stuff in there. There’s a lot of interesting business between Deadshot and Count Vertigo and also between Deadshot and Floyd Lawton. No, seriously.

The Gage Deadshot mini you mentioned is one of my favorite things I’ve read this year. I hadn’t seen much of the character before, but obviously I sought him out after that. Is there any other good Deadshot stuff I’m missing? I think I have a sick, sad crush… :o :slight_smile:

I think those are all the biggies, although Deadshot and Catman both play small roles in the now-classic Batman #400 (from the mid-'80s), a comic with multiple superstar guest artists an an introduction by Stephen King. I still contend that issue was a major inspiration for the Batman Begins screenplay, since it involves Ra’s Al Ghul breaking most of the rogues out of Arkham Asylum. I don’t know if it has ever been reprinted or collected, but it’s a great stand-alone comic.

I loved Gage’s Deadshot miniseries too, and thought of it as a classic Western story. I’m a sucker for sympathetic villains and stories of redemption, particularly when villains and heroes work out truces and uneasy alliances against common foes. Christos Gage, who has written for Law and Order and is a very nice guy, often posts on Geoff Johns’ message boards at http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/ . Coincidentally, Geoff Johns himself is the one who personally told me to check out Suicide Squad, as it is his all-time favorite series. After his recommendation, I won the lot of #1-27 on eBay for about $10. Haven’t read any others yet, though.

I haven’t read Batman #400. I’ll do that. I know we have it at home.

You definitely can see Ostrander’s influence on Johns’ writing. I wish Ostrander still did more work too. One of my other favorite series was his *Spectre * run from the '90s. It’s funny; in the midst of so much god-awful crap coming out in '90s comics, that time still produced The Spectre and Starman, some of my all-time favorites.

I can’t recommend the rest of Suicide Squad highly enough. Well, there was a gigantic crossover called The Janus Directive that you can probably skip. A couple issues of SS were part of that, but you’d have to track down a bunch of issues of *Manhunter * and some other books to read the whole thing and I didn’t particularly care for it.

Random commentary: VU, last issue. The Parademon dies without a name? Not so!

While Dollman III doesn’t know this, the parademon’s name is Mike. He’s from Total Justice a few years back, the comic tie in to the action figures. Priest wrote it, IIRC, and used Mike Chary’s name for the parademon… and most of his lines in that comic are quotes of Mike Chary’s old usenet posts.