Friday, May 16, 2008

Clipped on 5/14/08

Big week for books. Let's get right to it --

BATMAN #676 (DC) – 3 ½ whiskers – “Batman R.I.P.” begins in earnest. For the most part I’ve been enjoying Grant Morrison’s tenure on BATMAN and his increased use of Bruce Wayne, the most forgotten part of the Bat-mythos, in my opinion. I’ve read this issue about a dozen times now and still feel like I’m absorbing it all. Here’s what I think at this point: Jezebel Jet isn’t yet a character that’s worthy of our time – or Bruce’s, for that matter. It’s like the members of the Black Glove; they’re visually intriguing and I can see the potential but they’ve got a long way to go to deserve being the villains that bring down the Batman. We barely know Jezebel and I’m just not feeling the weight of the romance. Why should I care that this is the woman that may finally tear down the last defenses of the Bat? Not saying Morrison won’t tell us but we seem to be pretty far along in the relationship and I simply don’t feel it in my gut yet. I dug Alfred’s monologue about Bruce very much and the feeling of dread I have for Bruce is becoming all-too palpable, but I need a bit more information. And the Joker stuff is way too weird – even for the Joker.

BOOSTER GOLD #9 (DC) – 2 ½ whiskers – When Geoff Johns is done with this book, I’m done, too. I liked the first few issues and had high hopes for it but by this issue I feel like I’m slogging through it and not getting my money’s worth. This whole rehash of the Maxwell Lord/OMAC magilla is tepid at best and I’m just not seeing the point. Not being the biggest fan of time travelers-change-history stores I guess I’m just not the intended audience here. The book looks nice and it’s competently written but overall this issue hammered home my fairly pervasive boredom with the entire story arc. Booster, I made it all the way through your original series; can’t say the same for this one, bud.

FINAL CRISIS SKETCHBOOK #1 (DC) – 3 whiskers – See, now, I like these kinds of books. I’m a sucker for all this behind-the-scenes stuff, ‘because I like to see the footprints of the creative team, see the pencil marks and the false starts and the creative process. In some ways I was surprised that they revealed as much as they did about the FINAL CRISIS characters here but the more I thought about it, things like the Forever People and these crazy-ass Japanese heroes will probably only play minor parts in the series. I approached the revelation of the New Gods’ new incarnation with trepidation (I’m a huge Kirby fan and changing his work doesn’t sit well with me) but I found that basically the characters are intrinsically the same, despite their “updated” looks. Morrison and Jones’ notes do show some reverence for the source material and I enjoyed getting in their heads for a bit. I think I may like Big Science Action and Super Young Team as much as I liked the Great Ten: they look annoying as all get-out but the fun kind of annoying! So, the Sketchbook is pretty much what you would expect from these kinds of things and in that I felt as I got my $2.99’s worth – besides, immersing oneself in an event isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes the whole-cloth experience can be rewarding on many levels. Btw – does the #1 on the cover and in the indicia denote more Final Crisis Sketchbooks on the way?

SUPERMAN #676 (DC) – 3 ½ whiskers – In some ways, I hated this issue…because it’s the kind of story that I wish I had the chance to write. Reading like a lost issue of DC COMICS PRESENTS, it tells a tale set in Superman’s early days at the Metropolis Marvel and showcases a team-up with Alan Scott, the original Golden Age Green Lantern. It’s standard stuff, told well, and looking visually nice, and the only real gripe I have with it is that I can’t believe for one moment that either Superman or GL would allow a bunch of strange guys in hazmat suits to waltz up and cart Grundy away with nary a question as to who they were or what exactly the hell they were doing with the monster. Alan even holds Superman back from doing this! Nope, that was definitely a sour note in an otherwise good story. Alas, it’s simply a fill-in before James Robinson takes over – and I for one can’t wait.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #559 (Marvel) – 5 whiskers – I’m a 100% unashamed fan of “Brand New Day” and though I’ve been lovin’ this book since the reboot, everything clicked for me this issue. Every. Thing. And it gets my perfect score. I find that Dan Slott seems to be the most-suited writer for AMAZING, doling out equal amount of action, pathos, and humor, and making it look breezy and easy. I normally can’t stand “hip urban” characters like Screwball, but Slott made me giddy with that chase, as well as with JJJ’s attempt at tai chi. Pete’s new job as a paparazzo is both troubling and engaging, perfect fodder for another aspect of the original comic book loser’s life. And Paperdoll? Brrr – creepy. And let us not forget the real pleasure here: Marcos Martin’s art. Hear me out – Martin is the true successor to Steve Ditko, in my opinion. And the guy knows how to draw it all, super heroes and mundanities alike. That was Ditko’s legacy and its Martin picking up the ball and running with it. I just love his Spider-Man to death; the best of the ASM BND artists, in my estimation. The Spidey team needs to take a huge bow and then forge ahead with this perfectly enjoyable periodical.

LAST DEFENDERS #3 (Marvel) – 3 whiskers – I’m trying real hard to like this book. It should be giving me a few kicks, an old Defenders fan like me, but unlike ASM its components are definitely not clicking yet. The parts are all there: Nighthawk, crazy memberships, crazy missions, even the return of Dr. Strange and Son of Satan – but these elements are not mixing overly well for my tastes. First, Nighthawk is being portrayed as an almost complete doofus and loser. He’s never been the most sterling example of a Marvel hero but Joe Casey has claimed that he loves the character and wants to show everyone how cool he can be. Despite a smidge of a move in the right direction this issue, its otherwise just ain’t happening. Its like it’s almost the Defenders, its almost coming together, there’s almost some of that old magic there…but not quite. Makes for a frustrating read, I gotta say. I’ve given Casey the benefit of the doubt for 3 issues but he’s only got 3 more to go – Joe, do something. Say something to make me care that this is the “Last” Defenders.

THE TWELVE #5 (Marvel) – 4 whiskers – One of my most favorite titles, THE TWELVE is an absorbing read every month. I will admit to being somewhat concerned after finishing #5 that nothing truly significant is happening yet in the lives of our timelost heroes but I then realized that that’s what its all about: their lives. If figure the first six issues are supposed to read “small” and the second half of the series will turn everything on its ear. This issue we have the story of the Witness and it was an interesting one to be sure. The surrealistic sight of that old man being struck by the bus is burned into my eyes forever. Dynamic Man is getting way out of hand (on purpose, I presume), the Blue Blade is pathetic, the Laughing Mask is even more pathetic (the shot of him being arrested is enough to make you bawl), and finally something is being done about Electro! All this good stuff and delineated by the wondrous Chris Weston means THE TWELVE is always a page-turner for me.

(I also still have 2 Dynamite and 1 Dark Horse books to review; will update soon!)


Glen said...

I differ on several of these books.

I found the Last Defenders rather funny. I thought his solution to Iron Man's bureacratic bumbling was a good one.

I thought Booster Gold was great. I liked seeing a requiem of the old JLI. I can't wait to see what happens next ish, and to learn who Black Beetle really is.

I find The Twelve hilarious, in the manner of reefer Madness or the episode of Dragnet that featured BlueBoy.

Jim Beard said...

Thanks for all these comments; I really appreciate them.

I take it you LIKE The Twelve, though, right? :-}

Glen said...

I like it, just not for the same reasons you do.