Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Comic book musings for 11 April

Not a big selection by any means, but you know what they say about quality and quantity....

Spoilers ho!

All Star Superman 7 -- Sadly, it took quite a while for an issue to come out after the phenomal issue 6. But absence makes the heart grow fonder (another thing they say), so the wait was going to be worth it, right? Well, no, not exactly. After six issues of pretty straightforward story-telling, recalling the days when Superman was innocent and powerful and untouched by continuity and all the dross that goes with it, this issue is the first of a two-parter featuring the All Star Bizarro. The details of this are splendid--I love the new takes on Steve Lombard and Jimmy Olsen--but Morrison and Quitely try the interweaving storylines into a single plot gambit, and it doesn't work. Sure, it's very cool that Bizarros come from a sort of virus that infects normal people. And that virus comes from the "Underverse," whatever that is. But the two plot threads don't make sense when they come together. If the virus is from the Underverse, where the heck did the big cubical planet come from that is hovering outside the Earth's atmosphere?

Again, the character we eet at the end of the issue is the logical and thoughtful result of natural processes--if Bizarros are mutated lifeforms, what happens when the mutates mutate even further? There is the promise of good things in the next issue with this revelation, but this one just makes my head hurt when I get bast the wonderful details. What makes humans immune to Bizarro virus? Heh.

As always, Quitely's art is brilliant and evocative and almost worth the price of admission itself. Perhaps the next issue will tie this up so that the dangliness of this issue makes a sort of serial sense.

Stormwatch P.H.D. 6 -- Unfortunately, I did not get onto the Stormwatch ride early enough, so that part of the history being summarized in this series is the first time I have heard it. So nuances of characterization are missing for me. But in this issue, the first time the new Stormwatch has run up against a villain group, knowing the details isn't so very important. Uncovering the villains' powers as the story progresses is fun, and watching the results of the team's betrayal an interesting introduction into what makes this team so very different--they mostly are not super-powered.

Christos Gage has been excelling at the dialogue and situations between the characters, so that we understand why the attack is a surprise to the traitor even if the same attack is not a surprise to the reader. This nuance and detail and thus dead-on characterization is at its best when it is focussed on team leader John Doran. AS the issue begins, we see that has won the heart (and other body parts) of his new team, but by the end of the book, we also are given glimpses of his sway over his old team. Doran is a rarity in the Stormwatch universe--he is honest and trustworthy and his a palpable strength of character, the very existence of which causes people to want to follow him. Natural leadership, they call it.

This book continues to excel, and I find myself looking forward to each new issue. I'm pleased that the series is not focussed on King, so that we can see the real heroes of the Wildstorm universe, rather than the perverse anti-hero he continues to be, even in his appearances here. Just as is Doug Mahnke's art this issue, which usually feels not quite finished to me. But with this issue he nails it and it really works.

And a teaser

Teen Titans 45 -- I think I've said in other places what is, at the same time, the biggest attraction and most serious flaw with Geoff Johns's writing--the reliance on the last page shocker, usually involving a single panel to overpower the reader with surprise at how the characters and we have been guided to the astonishing reveal that alway comes. This issue is no different, because any fan of the Titans knows what happens when Deathstroke starts flibberting around with the Titans family. But damn, it sure is nice to see the old team together again, even if they couldn't find Starfire for the reunion. (However, I'm about 50/50 on whether they are really there....)

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