Sunday, December 31, 2006

Comic musings for 12/28

Comics were a day late this week due to the shipping restirctions associated with Christmas. They'll be a day late next week also. That said, the stack this week was huge. So I have some regular reviews as well as follow-ups from earlier reviews.

Spoilers ho!

Red Menace 2 -- This is a very nice period piece from Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo, the unfortunate fellows associated with the launch (re-launch?) of Flash, the Fastest Man Alive this past year. They are also joined by Adam Brody, a name I don't recognize, and artist Gerry Ordway. Immediately this book resolves my main complaint about the aforementioned Flash, that the art was incomprehensible. Gerry Ordway features clean lines and storytelling that accent this story pulled from the 50s about a national hero accused of being a communist and losing his status. Clearly the creative team has immersed themselves in the culture of the time period, as references abound, even in the background art of the panels. While this story covers similar ground as the America vs. The Justice Society mini-series, it is not encumbered by decades of legacy that must be accounted for and is thus more free to make statements about the time and its reflection of our own. I am enjoying this series a great deal, and it makes me wonder about the long-run potential for Flash had they a better art team when that series started. I look forward to the rest of this series and recommend it.

Detective 827 -- Paul Dini is writing the current run of Detective and doing a spectacular job. This issue features the rebirth of the Ventriloquist, a somewhat silly Batman villain from the 80s. As he has been written since his creation, there is the possibility (likelihood, more accurately) that the person acting as the ventriloquist is not nearly as important as the possessed dummy of Scarface, who acts as the mouthpiece of the duo as they attempt to run crime in Gotham City. The old Ventriloquist died recently, leaving the status of Scarface in the air until this issue. Scarface is back and there is a new Ventriloquist, and again we have scenes of Scarface talking without his animator being in a position to move him. All of it is a bit eerie and makes up for the camp factor of mooks cowering in fear from a dummy sitting on a man's leg and issuing orders.

Dini has taken his time on Detective and run with it, filling out the nooks and crannies of the Batman universe while moving it into the post-Infinite Crisis era. His story-telling is nicely augmented by Don Kramer, whose work harkens back to Norm Breyfogle. All-in-all, Detective is in a new golden age, and Batman fans should climb on board for as long as this team can be kept together.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters 6 -- I'm afraid this review is an issue late. I kept meaning to come back and write a separate blog about issue 5 of this series but never found the time to do it. Issue 6 is now upon us and while it also sheds light on the nooks of the DC Universe in the post-Infinite Crisis, it also seems to be setting up for future effects. It has taken me a long time, but I have finally become accustomed to the art of Daniel Acuna, whereas his covers of Battle for Bludhaven made me nearly not buy them. The characters still look too much alike outside the coloration of their costumes, but his action sequences are quite nice.

I unabashedly admit to being a fan of the Freedom Fighters in all their incarnations, and I've been delighted with the resurrection of the first generation of the team--Red Bee and Invisible Hood anyone? I confess to not understanding the need for a new Black Condor and Ray, especially when this new Ray is revealed to be the traitor on the team (who didn't see that coming?). Nonetheless, Jimmy Palmiotti and and Justin Gray are hitting all the right notes with this series, and it is good to see Uncle Sam and Miss America appearing to return to their roles among the most powerful DC heroes. Read this issue, and if you like it, go grab#5 for the entirety of Marvel's Civil War summed up in about 10 panels.

Crossing Midnight 2 -- This is a new series from Vertigo that is wrapped up in Japanese mythology and folklore, which is enough to make it worth trying. But the story is compelling, dealing with twin siblings born on opposite sides of midnight. The birth is complicated by a family's magic shrine, to which the twins' father made promises if the twins could be born safely. So, in a fun twist on the fantasy trope, the twins find themselves already immersed in events beyond their knowledge and caught up in the affairs of the Japanese mythos. The art by Jim Fern is spare, paying close attention to the details of the subject of each panel but only touching on the backgrounds as needed. But the star really is the story by Mike Carey. Thus far, it is relatively straightforward, but only in the way that Japanese fantasy can be. I already have learned things that have enlightened my viewing of Spirited Away, and I look forward to continue the ride for some time.

Following up...

Superman/Batman 31 -- Yeah, still no explanations. I suppose seeing Zook was interesting, but it was just a distraction from somehow resolving this mess. Maybe I'm just not reading as closely as I need in order to figure it all out?

JSA Classified 20 -- Okay, it wasn't the Ultra-Humanite, but the introduction of a new character intimately associated with UH. As a result there was a lot of flashing back in this issue, and the resolution happened mighty fast. And yeah, Dr. Mid-nite appears to be the uber-surgeon of the DC Universe, though I'd be more interested in the surgery to put Godiva's hair back than Argus's eyes. (And no, the nice little mention that Argus's eyes appeared to be growing back on their own really didn't resolve my problem with the last issue.)

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