It’s time to start round 2 of this experiment. It’s the second month and we’re getting our second issues. Will the good comics continue to be good? Will I regret giving some of them another shot?
The DC comics I didn’t get this week due to dropping them a month ago are Green Arrow, Hawk and Dove and Red Lanterns. To fill the void, I figure I’ll talk briefly about the two miniseries that just started up.
First up is Action Comics by Grant Morrison, Rags Morales and Brent Anderson. The wave of awesome continues and Morales eyes or not, I’m enjoying the hell out of it. The carefree Superman really is a breath of fresh air and I just wish more writers could get a handle on it more than Morrison and, from little we’ve seen so far, Johns. What I truly enjoyed was how it portrays Lex Luthor. He goes from cruel and egotistical on his quest for knowledge and dominance to a desperate coward at almost the drop of a hat. One thing I’ve always loved about Lex Luthor is his main weakness of being closed-minded. Once he believes something, it takes a lot of persuasion for him to change his mind on it. It’s much like how AI characters lose due to humans making human choices, but for Luthor, it’s about non-Luthor people making non-Luthor choices. That’s why he could never put it together that Clark and Superman were the same in older continuity. If he were Superman, he’d never have a secret identity, ergo Superman is just Superman. This leads to him acting like he has four aces when it turns out Superman has a royal flush up his sleeve. Then we get this perfect angry face.
I have a feeling the new Luthor is going to have a couple more character surprises. I can’t wait. Better believe I’m sticking.
Speaking of rad comics, Animal Man follows up on the first issue’s momentum. It’s kind of jarring, yet welcome, how similar the Baker family is to the Richards family in FF, only more suburban and a couple family members don’t have powers. It’s reached its stride in being an off-putting horror comic, but there’s just enough family togetherness to make it work. Ellen is justifiably pissy about what’s going on, but not pissy enough to make her unlikeable. Maxine’s know-it-all hold over her now powers mixed with being a naïve child make her almost as creepy as whatever the real threat is, but it’s kind of sweet how she stands up for her brother. I also find it kind of funny how when Cliff – the son of a superhero – is threatened, the very first person he calls for help is his mother. That’s a cute touch.
When it’s creepy, it’s disturbing. The hippo sequence is gross as hell and we still don’t know what we’re really up against. Just that whatever it is, it’s unsavory and downright demonic. I’m hooked. Sticking.
Batwing by Judd Winick and Ben Oliver is a comic I was undecided on last month and while I’m warming up to it a little bit more, I’m still not able to give it a full thumbs up. Things are certainly moving forward and the characters are starting to get a little more rounded in their actions, but something about the art irks me. It’s great and all, but it almost feels too intimate. I don’t know if it makes sense, but everything is all close-up and every scene is only about the two guys involved to the point that there’s no atmosphere. It’s almost claustrophobic. It hits me as weird, considering the concept is a Batman-type in a place that is most certainly not Gotham City. It doesn’t seem to matter because you can’t see what’s going on in the background and location is a non-factor. Still, it’s a step up from last month. Sticking with a little more probation.
Another probation from last month was Detective Comics by Tony Salvador Daniel. My decision was that I figured Batman vs. Joker was a necessary evil for the first issue of a comic that wasn’t going to be reinvented or reintroduced, so #2 would be the real first impression. Personally, I liked it better when we were getting the tired Joker story. I’m not very keen on Batman dealing with rejects from Resident Evil and Twisted Metal Black whose MO appear to be mutilating people and stitching them up all weird. I’m going to drop this down to the depths, but I do get to go out on the best page. Look at how happy Batman is!
“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HIM?! IT’S FANTASTIC! I LOVE IT!”
Justice League International by Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti is the first real instance where I’m glad I was lenient on the first issue. It feels a lot stronger and the characters get a little more to say. The robot threat is better defined, which makes the previous cliffhanger suck a lot less. I’m genuinely interested in seeing what’s up with the Galactus-like threat that they’re up against, though it does make you question why this specific superhero team has to take care of something on that scale. The character of Godiva would probably be really offensive if she wasn’t one of four female members on the team, but it’s still kind of tacky that she mainly exists to fellate the character the writer created.
Then it hit me that Godiva may possibly be Rip Hunter’s mother… unless that whole thing is gone due to the reboot. In Booster’s solo series, it was brought up to the reader that Booster is Rip’s father. The identity of the mother was an unstated mystery. It was never even brought up until the Time Masters miniseries where Supernova is in constant contact with a woman identified as his wife. We’re led to believe that Supernova is Daniel Carter (Booster’s ancestor introduced in 52), meaning the woman is his destined wife Rose. The last issue reveals that this incarnation of Supernova is really an older Booster from long after he had accepted his time cop destiny. That means that whoever he was talking to was Rip’s mother and is identified as such. This is all we got to see of her.
And here’s her in Justice League International to compare.
Hm. So in review, it’s a blond woman in white spandex who is a romantic interest to Booster and she’s shown to have a calm sense of humor about things. And of course, this series is written by the guy who never got around to finishing up this mystery in his last series. It’s a strong possibility. Then again, I once thought that Magog could be Booster Gold’s dad and that certainly didn’t pan out.
Anyway, this issue definitely steps it up, even if we’ve still yet to see anything of note from Fire and Vixen. Let’s stay on course. Sticking.
Men of War by Ivan Brandon and Tom Derenick is kind of okay, but that’s it. I like the use of Rock’s backstory and the art style used to make it look like a series of old photos and I really enjoyed his meeting with Circe, but that’s about it. I can’t recall caring about much else. After the Circe episode, he’s in the hospital and all the dialogue comes off as white noise to me. Then it’s followed by the backup story that I can no longer bring myself to read. If this was $2.99 I might be able to give this another shot, but the extra buck topples it over. Sorry, army dudes, but dropping.
O.M.A.C. by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen features a scene where our hero transforms into his cyber-Hulk form by Brother Eye telling him to “Omactivate!” That’s amazing! Stick!
Static Shock by Scott McDaniel and John Rozum does a great job at jogging my memory on a character I’ve never read before. I feel like I’m up to date, or at least enough to follow what the comic wants me to. We get enough threats to open up a nice little rogue’s gallery, even if it means Joker Knockoff #8281. My favorite part of the issue is the reveal about Virgil’s sister and her clone. It’s kind of neat how his normal family life involves some parents who don’t realize that he’s really a superhero, but there’s a big sci-fi situation going on that they live with regardless. It’s not the top of my list, but I’m liking the cut of this comic’s jib. Sticking some more.
Stormwatch by Paul Cornell, Miguel Sepulveda and Al Barrionuevo is a little steadier than its first issue, but loses the energetic flavor of it. I keep seeing a lot of people hating on the art, which I don’t really see myself, but this panel does bug the hell out of me.
Kinda want to punch that guy.
Also, not keen on how the big cliffhanger of the last issue is shoved into the background. #1 ended with “OH SHIT! MIDNIGHTER!” and #2 has to have him remind you that he’s in the comic while standing in the corner. Other than that, I’m still enjoying the craziness. I especially like how they explain how they fight threats without the likes of the Justice League getting involved. Poor Fox. Sticking, though not as enthusiastically as before.
Then we have Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette. Lots and lots of exposition, but I like it anyway. Mainly because the art and layout is out of this world and the backwards head thing is awesomely creepy. I like how this ties into Animal Man without being a straight-up crossover. It almost feels like a two-book version of Seven Soldiers. Much like with Static, I feel like I’m up to speed on a character I’ve never read and I can’t wait for more. It’s not as good as its animal-based brother comic, but I’m still going to stick.
Now for the two new minis. First is Huntress by Paul Levitz and Marcus To. Energetic and fun comic that seems like the more superhero version of Punisher’s Slavers arc. Slavers are like the new Nazis. The kind of bad guys you can use again and again because they’re the scummiest of the scummy and the terrible things they’re behind don’t need to be portrayed before us. I’m going to stick on this miniseries.
Now, Penguin: Pain and Prejudice by Gregg Hurwitz and Szymon Kudranski is a different story. As far as I can tell, the only good Penguin story in the past few years is Jason Aaron’s one-shot from Joker’s Asylum. To follow up on that, Hurwitz decides to write the exact same comic. Same crap. Wah, wah, people picked on me when I was younger but I liked birds and they sent me over the edge by killing my bird friends. Some guy barely slighted me so I’ll make him pay by ruining his life to the point of overkill usually saved for an aristocrats joke. The difference is that the Joker’s Asylum version seemed to tell a tragic story. Penguin started off as a protagonist who was in love and we liked that, but the story showed us that he’s in fact a terrible human being and his life is a prison of his own doing.
Pain and Prejudice shows us that he’s a bad person and is completely unlikeable, even if he does love his mommy. What are we supposed to get out of this, really? He’s not going to go to prison. He’s not going to realize the error of his ways. He’s not going to get killed. The story’s probably going to end with him all depressed because of how alone he truly is and I don’t care to see it because it isn’t good enough. I’ve heard this comic compared to the Azzarello stories for Joker and Luthor, but those at least gave us someone to follow who we didn’t hate until the third act, if then. Luthor’s story was shown from his perspective where he’s a good guy and Joker’s was shown from the perspective of a guy who works for him. There’s no likeable protagonist in Penguin’s story. Just a guy who has an innocent woman injected with AIDS because of the minor actions of her loved one. I don’t want to read about this character for another four issues, so I’m going to drop.
Getting back to the New 52, I’ve gone from 39 books to 37. Next week gives us a new Shade miniseries. Loved him in Starman, but I’m wary on whether Robinson can hit that flavor again. I can only hope.