Thursday, November 30, 2006

Comic musings for 11/29

Some quick hits for the new comics that came in this week. I'm going to try to do this on a weekly basis and then have some longer posts about bigger issues.

Caveat this week. My local comic book store was missing about half its shipment, so I don't have as many books to read and talk about. The good news (or bad news, depending on your point of view) is that this means more to read and talk about next week.

Spoilers ho!

Teen Titans -- Jericho is reintroduced to the team. I have been excited about this possibility and trying very hard to ignore the "coming back from the dead" thing, which I thought was going to be avoided in the DC universe for a while. The Titans is my favorite book, in all its incarnations, and Joey was one of my favorite characters in the Wolfman run. Unfortunately, I don't think Johns has a grasp on the character yet. Joey narrates the entire issue, which I think is a first...we've seen the world through his eyes before, but not with him as an active narrator (I think). And the voice just feels off to me. Of more concern is his use of his powers. I don't recall him ever jumping into a teammate's body without permission or without that teammate being unconscious, but he does it first thing in this issue. What a lovely way to inspire confidence after you have been possessed and done evil things, have possessed another and forced them to do evil things, and then risen from the dead. Perhaps the re-activated formerly dead brain cells aren't quite firing yet. And honestly, I love the art, but this take on Jericho is going to take some getting used to...where's the damn muttonchops and the pirate shirt???

But overall I like this issue. There's some excellent touches outside the quibbles I make above. The origin of Bombshell is interesting. Miss Martian is fast becoming one of my favorite characters in the DC Universe. The interaction between Jericho and Ravager is wonderful and holds a lot of promise. The strange activities of Kid Devil are rapdily coming to a head. Diana Prince shows up and Cassie picks on her about her potential relationships. And Robin and Cassie uncover a theory I've had for a while. This feels more like an issue from the Wolfman/Perez run than any I can remember in a long time.

Green Lantern -- Hal fights the Global Guardians and we learn that one of its members might have a crush on him? Then the Rocket Red Brigade joins in the fun. Then the newly formed Justice League shows up in what I believe is their first appearance as a team (which is amazing since they haven't become a team yet in their own book). The action is fast and hard, but this storyline started out as an attempt to add dimension to Hal, who has been written very flatly for years now. And while that wasa noble thing to do, this issue has no character development for Hal at all. And we are stuck with the bizarre premise of the Air Force knowing Hal is a Green Lantern and allows him to fly their jets...without his power ring. But, it appears on of Hal's old nemeses is back, and that's a very good thing. The one-page jump to the Guardians feels terribly displaced, and the Qwardian pages don't make a lot of sense yet either, though the Sinestro Corps promises to be a lot of fun. Overall, a very uneven issue.

Superman/Batman -- Perhaps it's just me, but I still haven't put everything together with this story arc. Something bad is happening to the aliens who visit Earth, but for the life of me I have no idea what. The interaction between Batman and Plastic Man feels wrong. Since Plastic Man's membership in the JLA, Batman has had a healthy respect for what Plastic Man brings to the table. Suddenly, in this story, he no longer trusts him. I had suspected at first that the Infinite Crisis had changed their relationship, but Plas refers to his son, so we know the time they were together in the JLA is still canonical. And it is incredibly jarring for Batman to find himself performing missions for Lex Luthor. But, you know, that Ethan Van Sciver can draw, and it is delightful to see what he does with Starfire in her old costume. Another uneven issue and I am slowly losing patience after expecting a significant shake-up following Loeb's disastrous run.

Batman/Spirit -- This was just a lot of fun, especially when we find P'gell dating Commissioner Gordon and Pam Isley dating Commissioner Dolan. The interaction between the characters of the two worlds is very well done, and just feels right. The irony of Commissioner Dolan pretty much receiving a lifetime achievement award from a national police organziation is strong. Watching the Batman rogues gallery take front and center while the Spirit's regular foes dart around the perimeter is a very nice touch and deftly handled...of course everyone wants to see the Octopus without his mask. There are two drawbacks in the issue however; first, it's not Eisner's art. To his credit, Cooke doesn't try to channel Eisner, and it takes a while to get used to the look. The panels also aren't quite so full as they are in Eisner's work; there aren't things happening in the background in all the panels. Cooke's work is good, it just takes getting used to something different for something so iconic. The other bad thing is that Spirit is pretty passive throughout the course of the book, which just isn't the way he should be written. Batman steals all the big scenes, and Sprit isn't even allowed to be a sarcastic witness to the events. It's pretty clear that when the new Spirit series starts, he can't have a lot of interaction with the superheroes of the DC Universe. (And really, couldn't we see just one interaction between Ebony and Robin?)

Warlord -- A not-very-good conclusion to the ill-conceived re-imagining of a good SF series from DC. Warlord had a vibrant and large mythology that the new writer, Bruce Jones, chose to ignore from the start. Instead, we got a new mythology using some of the same names, which made things confusing enough. But some of the worst Bart Sears art I've ever seen (and I generally really like his work) made the series pretty much unreadable. The art gradually got better, but the series could never really recover from its dismal start. This last issue seemed to forget anything that happened in the other issues and went on to set the story in a medieval village rather than the Bronze Age setting the rest of the series used. The plot involved the classic sacrificing the virgin to the demon trope with a completely expected bait-and-switch at the end, and the unlikely denouement that comes from poor fantasy writing (kill the beastie, kill all its spawn?). I hope that DC will forget this series ever happened and that the real Travis Morgan will make an appearance in the DC Universe soon.

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