Monday, July 16, 2007

Comic musings for 11 July

A mixed bag this week--it's sort of like everyone is holding their breaths for San Diego. But that's just silly, isn't it? As best I can tell, Mrs. Speculator and I are the only ones holding our breaths, and it can't be any worse than the fiasco that was the trip to London.

As an aside, the October solicitations for DC came out this afternoon, and I am really excited by the potential of the stories being described. There's a ton of stuff, all tying into Countdown, and it appears my theory that DC is trying to overwhelm the reader with storyline on top of storyline, mimicking the chaos that pervades the DC Universe at the moment is going to be dead on. I just hope they do a better job of carrying off the stories than they have in the past few months.

On to the last week's books--

Spoilers ho!

Justice Society of America 7 - An actual one-and-done from Geoff Johns as the new hero Citizen Steel is introduced. One of the more interesting aspects of this otherwise fairly typical introduction of the unwilling hero is the depth of character given to Power Girl in her new role a the leader of the JSA. She's historically been portrayed as a "hit first and ask questions later" kind of hero, but in this issue, she actually is thoughtful and sensitive to the physical and emotional pain of Nathan, the new hero. Johns has said that the JSA is meant to be a sort of training ground for younger DC heroes, but it seems he has created a fairly disfunctional team here--alongside the novice Wildcat and Cyclone, a mutilated Damage, and a clinically insane Starman, he has added a Citizen Steel that cannot control his strength or his weight, causing all sorts of collateral damage. In fact, this may be the largest team in the DC Universe, including the Legion of Super-heroes, such that a lot of characters are getting short shrift (and we all know that Johns is more than happy to leave a storyline open for all eternity). Despite all that, this is a fine little piece of writing, satisfactorily introducing the new character and his motivation. And as I say, Power Girl is handled quite nicely, in opposition to her recent appearance in Supergirl. If the solicitations are any indication, things are about to get really nuts with the JSA, and this issue or the next appear to be good jumping-on points.

Another interesting passage in this issue is Superman's visit with Starman in the lunchroom of the asylum. Between their common enjoyment of sloppy joes and the enigmatic dialogue with the displaced Starman, this passage is something to behold in its intimacy, privacy and lunacy. Sadly, it's also the best writing Johns has done of Superman...and it appears in a title in which he is not a regular character.

Gen13 10 - A couple of confessions here: I've said it before--I'm a big fan of Gail Simone. And I've never read Gen13 before Simone started writing it...she's the only reason I'm reading it. And now that the Gen13 team has arrived in Tranquility, the title town in the other Wildstorm title for Simone, things are just a-popping. It being a book about teenagers, there's all sort of angst, but despite the angst involving super-powered folks, Simone continues to nail the right level for teenagers suddenly without a family or home. As much pain as these kids have suffered, this could become a depressingly maudlin book, but again and again the Gen13 team recognize their strength lay within each other no matter their personal tribulations.

And since they are teenagers, there is also the hair-trigger feuds with other teenagers. Fortunately, the teenagers in Tranquility are also super-powered, so there is no death and dismemberment to worry about. Along the way, we get to see the team members come up with their "code names" and we getthe backstory for Burnout, a firecaster who idolizes Bob Marley. And when a native Tranquilitian shows interest in him, the leader of the local team (the Liberty Snots) takes offense and tries repeatedly to start a fight. When it finally starts, the Snots and Gen13 face off in the type of fight that Simone has shown in Birds of Prey with conversations between individual combatants continuing to reveal character and offering moments of comedy. You just have to ignore, as we do for all comics, that no one talks that much in a fight. Sooner or later, Simone is going to bust that trope as well.

This is another solid issue, but I wish the pace would pick up justa little..things are happening back at the lab, but it is taking quite a while for them to reach the kids. Maybe the wait will pay off eventually; I just want it to be soon.

Green Lantern 21 - Part 2 of "The Sinestro Corps War," and Hal finds out who he is up against--the new Parallax. Unfortunately this issue is a lot of set-up for future issues, but there are still some moments to speak of. One of them is the obvious distrust some of the Green Lanterns show Hal. I find this to be refreshing--Batman was not insane to be unsure of the reborn Hal Jordan. I suppose ultimately Hal will prove himself against what turns aout to have been his worst foe, and the Lanterns will believe in him again.

Another interesting point is Hal's reluctance to take on the mantle of leader in a strike force to Qward. Hal correctly points out that the history of the Lanterns taking on such taks is not very good. Unfortuately, this shines a light on the untrustworthy nature of the Guardians, which really is just getting beaten into the ground. I'm not sure which is worse, their being enigmatically powerful and whimsical or their being enigmatically suspicious. The way they are written begs forthem to be obliterated again, and I wish they showed more individuality than just Ganthet. they can't all be such idgits.

Finally, we find out what it is Hal fears the most...and it makes no sense at all. Parallax tortures Hal with the memories of his father's death until it is revealed that Hal's deep dark secret is that he is afraid his father died in fear. I can't even begin to understand why that would effect Hal in any way and how it can be used as a wedge to overcome him and the Guardians. If his father had died in pain or died doing something unheroic, it might make sense, but this just doesn't. It also highlights the dangerous edge that Johns is skirting with this new immunity to fear that the Lanters are supposed to have now: fear is a good thing, a natural response to danger that heightens the senses and responses. I hope that, eventually, Johns deals with the fact that Lanterns are effectively crippled without fear.

A quick note

If Amazons attacking and the Flash dying weren't enough, if the imminent collapse of all 52 universes wasn't enugh a spectacle, over in Shadowpact, Doctor Gotham has set off a Krakatoa-level volcano in downtown Chicago. It sucks to live in the DC Universe right now, and I really hope that, since the volcano was summoned magically, when Shadowpact defeats the bad Doctor, the effects of the volcano can be magically fixed as well. Someone needs to redo a map of the DC Earth, making sure that we note where all the disasters have happened. Cheshire blew up a nuclear bomb, Black Adam destroyed a country, Sydney is gone...and now Chicago.

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