Saturday, May 24, 2008

Clipped on 5/21/08

THE BRAVE & THE BOLD #13 (DC) – 3 ½ whiskers – When one is presented with a commonplace story such as in this issue, one needs to look for character bits for entertainment. At least, that’s how I look at it. Samuroids aside, I couldn’t have asked for a better DC team: my favorite all-time hero (Batman) paired with my favorite Flash (Jay Garrick) for a fun but standard plot. The fun is the interaction between the two men and Waid’s knack for zeroing in on truisms with just a line or two. The price of admission for me was worth it for the familiarity Bruce affords Jay with his identity and exposure to the Batcave, and a quiet yet revealing (and one-sided) discussion of heirs and legacies. This is how I like team-ups between the old guard and the middle guard; somewhat warm, somewhat prickly, all together respectful. And having Jerry Ordway draw it doesn’t hurt the eyes too much, either. Extra points for the post-52 use of T.O. Morrow.

COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY #8 (DC) – 3 whiskers – I feel sorry in a way for Matthew Sturges, as he’s had to take a back seat to Steve Gerber, and now the ghost of Steve Gerber, for eight issues. The Spectre story has been hit and miss but I’m going to call this wrap-up a hit as it held my interest and piqued my interest to hear more about Crispus Allen’s future. On the Dr. Fate front, I’ve enjoyed Gerber’s re-imagining of the character, but felt that he’d hit a speed bump by what I perceived as a shift away from Kent and to Maddy. The four-vision coda by Waid, Evanier, Simone, and Beechen was lacking somehow but alas, how could it have been otherwise, really? It lacked Gerber, of course, and though we were promised four different writers’ visions of how Gerber would have ended the story, what we got was four tributes to Gerber. That’s not a bad thing, not at all, but it is an all-together different thing. Now I just want to know if this version of Fate will be left to lie fallow or if someone will actually run with it.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #21(DC) – 4 whiskers – What I found really interesting about this first permutation of DC’s “Sightings” sub-brand is that someone else other than Grant Morrison was allowed the first real use of Libra in a regular title. This is really two separate stories, following the Big Three through a conversation in the Star Chamber, err, excuse me, “Lounge”, and the return of an old Silver Age Martian Manhunter baddie, the unfortunately-named Human Flame. I credit the conversation part with being “just” a conversation and holding my interest at the same time. In a way, its commercial for the upcoming TRINITY weekly, but the characterization is rich. The Human Flame’s story was also engaging I gotta tell you: the ability to so deliciously skewer stupid-ass Lex Luthor with one, single sentence puts the Flame way high on my list. Always nice to see Carlos Pacheco on a book, too.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #15 (DC) – 4 whiskers – After some criticism for walking-and-talking too much on the book, Geoff Johns gives us two issues in a row that are basically slugfests. But when the sluggers are the JSA and the sluggee is Gog, it’s a tasty tussle. Somehow artist Dale Eaglesham is able to hold things together and actually makes sense out of all the brouhaha AND infuse the art with beaucoup d’art. Everybody gets their shot at Gog and what shots they are; some of it, heck, most of it, looks like it hurts. I was worried that the Kingdom Come characters would take over this title but the JSAers manage to rise to the top and show us that they too classify as “heavy-hitters.” And that wow-ee-wow turn-the-book last page(s)! And that what’s-become-a-tradition teaser page! JSA is and has long been one of the most consistently-good DC titles since 1999.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #560 (Marvel) – 4 whiskers – Its getting pretty embarrassing for me to keep saying how much I love “Brand New Day”, but – its true. Things didn’t click quite as much this issue as they did last time but ASM is still one of the very best super hero books on the stands. A few words about Paper Doll: the “obsessive fan becomes murderer” is nothing new but PD’s infinite amount of creepiness more than makes up for the cliché. I hope she has some staying power. I loved the whole battle in the art gallery and Spidey’s line about the art speaking to him was tops. I also dug Marcos Martin’s drawing of Edith’s autopsy (so sue me!). The downside here is a bit too much humor, just a bit, and my concern that Peter’s jump into paparazzo-hood is a bit too pat; I think it should be bothering him a lot more than it seems to be. I’m also pretty sure everyone saw the MJ bit coming a mile away and frankly, I don’t think this book needs her – or at least not right now. Oh, and a point off for having the two week break come in the middle of a story arc. Not cool.

FANTASTIC FOUR #557 (Marvel) – 3 ½ whiskers – The Millar-Hitch FF has been a bit of bumpy ride for me but this issue, the wrap-up of the “World’s Greatest” storyline was definitely more palatable. Again, it’s not so much what happens in the story as the characterization. Anyone who writes a good Reed Richards is a-okay in my book and Millar gives him that necessary balance between nerd and swashbuckler that Reed needs. I appreciated the nods to the current pro/ant-Registration status quo of the Marvel Universe (made it feel like it was actually part of the MU) and I got a kick at how “easy” it was for Reed to beat CAP – all on an educated guess. Alyssa Moy got exactly what she deserved, in lieu of being hauled off to prison, Reed and Sue got more than they deserved (wonderful dinner scene), Ben is basically running in place, and sadly, Johnny has been devolved to an insufferable, shallow, cartoon of his real self. Bryan Hitch’s art has been…rough for me. After much soul-searching I’ve come to the conclusion that his expressions are often wrong for the scene and he uses way, way too much photo-reference. In all, I’m going to stick around and see what’s up with ol’ Doomsie, though.


Glen said...

I think JSA #15 would be better if the plot had advanced instead of just a punch up.

Jim Beard said...

Agreed, to a point - but honestly, I was glad to see the team in a dust-up finally...