Thursday, July 21, 2005

This Week's Reviews: 7.21.05

This week's reviews:

Astonishing X-Men #11. A victim of near catastrophic decompression. Not to say it's not a good book - it's a good book - it's just that this story could've been told in three issues or less. This issue also features a scene where half-a-man (referred to, I swear to God, as a "fucking cripple" by the book's current villain, a faintly ridiculous anthropomorphic version of the Danger Room, though Marvel replaced the swear parts with the little symbols above the numbers on a keyboard. It ended up reading like Dagwood Bumstead was swearing after dropping a giant sandwich on the tools his neighbor borrowed but never gave back. But I digress) Charles Xavier drives a truck into his opponent. Ended up being an illusion, but there was still that moment where I was left thinking "he sure is lucky he stole a wheelchair-accessible truck." Cassaday's art is, as always, freakin' great, but drawing people realistically really does show how stupid a normal guy would look in, say, Colossus' get-up.

All at once: Action Comics #829 and Adventures of Superman #642. I've started picking up Action because Gail Simone writes it. That's about it. I've got a long-standing belief that Superman works better as a supporting character in other people's books and is really sort of dull on his own that I've never had disproved, so the Superman books were never personal favorites. Anyway, these two end up being the middle two parts of a four-issue storyline called "Sacrifice," taking place between Omac Project #3 and 4. Sacrifice part one, over in the other Superman book (called, you know, "Superman") had sold out in my local shop, which seems to be out of the ordinary, since I could grab a complete run of the last four year's worth of that title off the rack pretty easily.

The comic shop guy summed up the issue I'd missed by telling me Supes had spent the whole issue saving his supporting cast from Brainiac. At issue's end, he's left in his Fortress of Solitude (which is now in the Amazon jungle, for some reason. It's a big Mayan temple situation with an S on the front. I think the "S" is for "Subtle.") surrounded by the Justice League with blood on his hands.

Action's a flashback to what Superman thinks happened in part one, except this time he's fighting Darkseid, so, clearly, something's afoot, but the reveal at the end of the issue's really a pretty solid one, and something I didn't see coming, so I've got to give Simone credit on that front. Adventure was interesting enough that I'll actually end up buying next month's Wonder Woman for the end of the story. Mind you, I have never actually purchased Wonder Woman. Ever.

I've got a really weird nitpick about this story that I can't rightly get into without blowing most of the interesting stuff so invisotext follows. Highlight if you want to read:

So the villains Superman fights, they're all in his head. Which is pretty obvious once he tells the League what he remembers and he mentions four different villains as the root enemy. The two we actually see (and that made the covers of Superman and Action) are Brainiac and Darkseid. Now, Darkseid was killed (well, as killed as Darkseid can be, I guess) a few months back in Superman/Batman. By Superman. And Brainiac was just blown up in Outsiders, like, a damn week ago. You'd think Superman'd remember offing Darkseid so recently. But I guess the whole point's that his head's screwy and unreliable.

There. Fun? Yes.

One other thing before I'm off this topic: which Green Lantern is actually in the Goddamn League right now? This issue's got John Stewart, but JLA has Hal Jordan, and they've got to be happening more-or-less concurrently.

Day of Vengeance # 4: There're four DC miniseries with the "Countdown to Infinite Crisis" logo plastered on them right now. One's the aforementioned Omac Project (probably the best of the bunch, or at least the one that involves the most characters I actually give a damn about), Villains United (an interesting read, but I'd much prefer if the book focused on the Injustice Society and not the Secret Six. What can I say, I like Luthor better than Catman. Or Ragdoll.), The Rann-Thanagar War (which I give almost no damn about. I don't like any Green Lantern or Hawkman enough to buy their books, nor did I read the Adam Strange miniseries that this seems to be taking its cues from) and this one. Day of Vengeance, I have to say, is probably the most impenetrable of the four. If the point of Infinite Crisis is to try and drag in new readers with a big event, I can't see this helping. The six main characters here are, I swear to God, Ragman (last seen in, Jesus, I don't know, one panel of JLA: The Nail ten years ago? Maybe he popped up in Batman, or something), the Enchantress (I'll readily admit that I have no idea who the Enchantress is. I'm not even kind of ashamed that I don't know. All I know for sure is that she's not the Thor villain of the same name), Nightshade, Detective Chimp, Blue Demon and a guy I just kind of assumed was the Shining Knight, even though he had an "N" on his belt buckle and was named Jim Rook instead of Sir Justin.

Now, Nightshade is, to the best of my knowledge, a, like, Q-list Suicide Squadder with a pale imitation of the Shade's powers. The Shade's a more interesting character, and one who'd be tied into this whole Spectre's-Destroying-Magic plot-- er, by the by (spoiler's ahoy):

Okay, the Spectre's God's Wrath, or something, right? Replacement for, as I recall, the original God of Revenge, Eclipso. Typically, he needs a human host. Had Jim Corrigan for a while, then Hal Jordan, now nobody. But God's just... letting him run amuck? That's a remarkably laissez-faire attitude for the deity that blew up Sodom for a little bit of man-love.

Blue Demon used to be one of the foremost supernatural characters in the DCU, so I can buy his inclusion, even though he suffered a super-undignified death in an issue of Starman at the hands of the now-dead female Mist. He got better. Detective Chimp's... a talking monkey with a tiny Sherlock Holmes hat. I can't possibly complain about that. As for Rook, I have no idea who he is. None. At all.

Jesus Christ, would a Who's Who at the beginning of the issue be too much to ask? You're dealing with characters that either haven't had a book in over a decade or haven't made any noteworthy appearances in years (Nightshade popped up as one of the characters trying to pick up the bounty and Batman and Superman in Superman/Batman number... Hell, I don't know, 4?). Enchantress doesn't even have an entry in the online Who's Who, for God's sake.

Robin #140. Yeah, I read Robin. I follow certain writers from book to book, and Bill Willingham's one of them, on the strength of Fables. It's the same reason I'm still reading Day of Vengeance, actually. That and the monkey. Anyway, I really don't have an opinion on this, I guess. I read it every month, hints get dangled, Batman makes token appearances (putting him in, I guess, four places this month outside his own titles? That I know of? Jesus. Some poor continuity cop's got to be having a damned heart attack if he tries to think that through), Scott McDaniel draws really good fight scenes, blah blah blah. I'm never disappointed, but I'm also never all that interested.

Teen Titans #26: Geoff Johns is on that Writers to Follow list. The man writes solid superhero nonsense, even if the conclusions to a lot of his big stories end up seeming a bit flat to me (see: the ends to almost every major storyline in JSA. There's always a feeling like "well, that's over. 'Kay" never a "holy jumpin', that's pretty cool"). It's a shame that the end of the whole Superboy's-half-Lex-Luthor story had to fall in Outsiders, the sister series to Titans, because that book just sucks. This issue's more of a capper on that storyline and a last peek at decent art in this book for a couple months. Not wholly essential, but I'm sure I'll have a much more favorable view of it when I read next month's fill-in.

And why is that? Oh, probably because somebody thought it'd be hilarious to get Rob Liefeld to draw two issues. Yeah, the guy that did Youngblood. And wrote Santa the Barbarian. I wouldn't read it at all, but they got Gail Simone to write the damned thing, in some kind of calculated move to keep me from dropping the title. Almost as if they had a meeting where someone said "we need a writer the fanboys actually like if we want people to not run away screaming." Heartless corporate shills.

Marvel Team-Up #7 and 8. I bought 9 and 10 and wanted the beginning of the story. Kirkman writes a funny Spider-Man. The book's a consistently fun read, and I'm going to start getting it monthly instead of grabbing a pile of back issues on a slow week like I've done in weeks past.

No comments: