Saturday, June 9, 2007

Comic musings for 6 June

There was a large selection this week at the local comic book store. I wonder if I should sometimes list what I got, so folks who might be interested can see what I am choosing from for reviews. I'll ponder it for future blogs. Until such a time that I might make that, you'll have to make do with the regular reviews.

Spoilers ho!

Supergirl 18 - As difficult as it may seem to believe, it's just getting worse. All the conundrums, the unfinished plotlines, the general hash of things, all of it comes to a kind of resolution in this penultimate issue of this story. As a caveat, I admit that there is a timy sliver of hope that the last issue will redeem this mess, but I have my doubts.

This week, Supergirl confronts another unexpected adversary, the bronze age version of Supergirl. What follows is a slugfest punctuated by shallow psychoanalysis of the current Supergirl's weaknesses. It doesn't really matter how the fight proceeds; it's enough to know that her victory is punctuated with the comment "Don't play mind games with a crazy chick." And suddenly the adversary behind all her misery is revealed, Dark Angel and her mentor Monitor, testing Supergirl to see if she really belongs in the universe she is in. That's right kiddies, it was all a test to prove her worthiness. Never mind that the Monitors are supposed to protect the universes from breaches from other universes and thus using Dark Angel is highly suspect. What's more important is the utter lameness of this explanation, and what really rankles me is that I should have known it was coming. It has to be a trope that if everywhere a hero turns are crises (no pun intended) for no reason they can discern, that hero is undergoing a test from a supernatural entity. And despite it's "tropeness" it's a cop-out, a sign of poor writing, that the hero has been placed in a situation from which there is no release except for the deus ex machina.

And really, it's all been going downhill for a while. Even this time around, the art is facile and reminds me of some of the worst art from Image. I want it to be resolved well; I really do. So I am going to continue to get the title for a few more issues (maybe just one) despite my belief that there is no recovery from what feels like the nadir of a bad series.

Jack of Fables 11 - I'm a big big fan of Fables. I love Willingham's storytelling and the world he has set out for the reader, basing its mythology on the familiar and unfamiliar legends of both Western and Eastern culture. It turns outs to be huge in scope and engaging as heck. So I jumped on to the spin-off title, Jack of Fables eagerly, expecting more of the same.

As you can probably guess from the tenor of this, this is not going to be a highly positive review. Jack, while involved with the same mythology as its parent title, has nothing to do with the incredibly engaging story of the War. Instead, this title practices the picaresque by following a rogue on his adventures in the mundane world. But because there is no over-arching to act as a framework for the adventures, the quality of the stories must fall on the characters themselves. And it comes as no surprise that Jack is entirely unlikable. I don't believe there is a more egotistical and selfish character in comics today, but series can work with anti-heroes. But there must be some light in those stories--occasionally the anti-hero must do some good despite himself, or there are companion characters who espouse a positive viewpoint. Jack of Fables has neither of these and thus ends up being far more bleak and unyielding than its companion title.

There is, of course, a sort of slapstick humor as Jack gets his comeuppance at the end of every arc, but it's beginning to grow tedious, even after just 11 issues. And the self-serving monologues don't help. Jack 's delusions of his power and ability, and his excuses for his screw-ups, are momentarily amusing, but they too are growing old. Perhaps it's a credit to Willingham and his co-writer Matthew Sturges, that they have created a character I can so thoroughly despise. But an ongoing series about a despicable character is a tough sell, and unfortunately the way he is being written right now, I'm on the verge of not buying any more. Tie Jack, even tangentially to the War, adn I think there is some potential available to the character. I have a lot more faith in Willingham than I do in Supergirl's Joe Kelly, but that faith is leeching away.


I called it! I called it! I probably should have said it online, but I said to myself that Ivar Loxias sure looks a lot like a classic Batman villain miscolored. And sure enough, it's him. Congratulations again to Dini for such strong writing--I love how the Joker has returned in Detective and the promise of a more malevolent evil than just the random insanity he has practiced in the past.

The timing problems with Superman have reached their crest as evidenced this week when Lightray appears in the title. Unfortunately, in last week's Countdown Lightray was killed and this week's issue deals with the aftermath of a god dying. It was more than a little jarring to find him alive and well in another title. Pondering this, I noticed that the DC titles now sport a Countdown indicia beside their UPC codes. The indicia lists the week of Countdown that the story is associated with, which could prove useful down the road if the scheduling problems get any worse.

1 comment:

  1. The art in this issue of Supergirl was down right hideous. Was the artist deliberately going for a Neanderthal version of Supergirl? I've never seen such flattened and shortened foreheads, except perhaps at a museum exhibit of pre-historic humanoids. This cannot be attributed to the artist's "style" but to his lack of training. There was a lot more wrong with the art, but why beat an ugly horse.