Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Comic Musings for 12/5

Yup, the comics arrived this week, and there are a bunch of first issues in the mix.

Spoilers ho!

Justice Society of America -- A little caveat here: I'm a huge fan of the JSA. I've got all their stories in the archive editions, plus their 70s stories in All-Star Comics. I hunted down as many of the Golden Age/Silver Age crossovers that I could find, only to have DC start to collect them in anthologies after I've spent so much money in my quest. So I was sad to see the JSA series end after Infinite Crisis and have been looking forward to this new series since it was announced.

That said, boy is this a typical Johns-written book: never be subtle when sweeping gestures will do. The narration on the first page begins "World War III" and the real story begins on the second page. Unfortunately, Johns has a real problem with leaving plot threads dangling, and I wonder if this one will ever be picked up anywhere. But as it is not germane to the story itself, I can let it go...for now (but I'm watching you Geoff Johns, I'm waiting).

Beginning in media res as it does, there are plenty of other stories to catch up on, and Johns does as much as he can to pull the reader into those mysteries while revealing as little as possible: What happened to Damage's face? How did Hourman hook up with Liberty Belle (and are those the Hourman and Liberty Belle that we have come to know)? Who the heck is Starman and why is it a good thing to pull a hero from an insane asylum? Why is Obsidian just a "security guard"? And, in what is a huge distraction in the book, why don't Green Lantern and FLash know Wildcat as well as he knows them? Overall this is a fine starting point and it makes me optimistic for future issues. And frankly, Eaglesham's art is just stunning, as it was for Villains United. I look forward to questions getting resolved.

Outsiders -- This is it, the pay-off for months of seemingly unrelated storylines. The Big Brain is finally revealed in an issue that amounts to a lot of sitting around as the Bad Guy tells his evil plot, all the while denying that it is in fact evil. While the big strokes of this book are pleasant, the details just drive me crazy. Winnick pulls out a brand new power for a character that has been fairly well understood in the DC Universe for a few decades now, all in order to get our heroes out of the bind they find themselves in. And, of course, the Big Brain gets away in order to torment the heroes in the future, but not without a pithy observation of their status. It's a shame, really; the characters and the story have much potential, but they are ham-handedly handled by someone who doesn't seem to have a grasp on the characters at all, even the ones he created.

Manhunter -- This is a sort of bridge issue, tying the previous storyline to what shall be the next one. Wonder Woman has asked Kate to defend her in federal court for her actions in Infinite Crisis, because the World Court has exonerated her. It's not at all clear why the federal courts think they have jurisdiction over an event that took place in Switzerland, but if you can take that as a given, it promises to be an interesting case. Chase and Dylan seem to have come out into the open about their relationship, just in time for Chase to be harrassed by a foe from her lamented former title. And we find out there is a shadowy figure manipulating Wonder Woman, and perhaps Manhunter as well. This book is the polar opposite of Outsiders in that Andreyko has won so much confidence from his readers that I'm willing to hold out for future issues to work out the stories adequately (even resoundingly). Winnick has disappointed me so many times, I'm barely willing to wait and see. Outsiders continues from inertia; Manhunter continues to push at its boundaries and its characters grow. "Do we fight or something?" indeed.

Batman Confidential -- I don't understand the difference between this title and Legends of the Dark Knight. Do we really need another title giving stories about the missing years of Batman's history? To be honest, there is nothing outstanding about this book and most of it is only mildly interesting. Once again, we see another "first meeting" between Luthor and Bruce Wayne, and it ends pretty much like one would expect. It's nice to see Portacio's art again, but it seems not very suited to a Batman title. I'll probably give this a few more issues to see if it can get its stride.

Welcome to Tranquility -- I'm a big fan of Gail Simone. I loved Villains United. I love Secret Six. I love Birds of Prey. So when I read the notice of a new title involving retired heroes and villains in a community, it felt like it had the soon-to-be-patented Simone quirk of humor that makes her other writing so enjoyable. And it turns out to be right.

If you are a fan of the Sci-Fi Channel's Eureka, you'll like how this story plays out: a non-powered sheriff in a town of people that are all above-normal. Crimes happen and the normal one has to figure out how it all happens. The cast is introduced in this first issue and someone is murdered, maybe, and it all sets up nicely for what promises to be an enjoyable run. My only complaint is with the's not so good. Fortunately, the writing carries the story and will give the title time to get its art straight. Nice Lost reference on the cover also.

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