Sunday, July 8, 2007

Comic musings for 5 July

A lot of comics arrived last week, but nothing really stood out to me, while a lot of naggy little things made me a little peevish. So rather than write long tirades, which seems to me mostly what I am writing of late, I'm going to provide just a few comments on a few issues.

Spoilers ho!

Thor 1 - Thor was not on my pull-list, but the employees who have known me for years put it in my bag because they figured I would really like it. Honestly, I don't know why. The writing is pure decompression by J. Michael Straczynski. Thor and Donald Blake have a conversation in some place called the void, the place where dead things or perhaps dead ideas go when they die. So there are panels where there are no words, or maybe three or four words, when a topic of their conversation needs illustration. And it is a silly conversation with a predictable conclusion: Thor thinks perhaps he is tired of fighting and Blake responds that such is not the way of a hero. So Thor fights to escape that which would hold them in the void, aand they escape. To Oklahoma. And Coipel's art is a mixed bag. Thor's head continually looks squashed and he has no bridge to his nose. I'm not sure I like the new armored look at all. About the only thing that's going to interest me about Thor is his response to the Hero Registration Act and Cap's death. I do suppose that the interminable pages of dialogue prove that Thor is not a Skrull.

Y the Last Man 57 - This was the highlight of the week. After nearly five years of searching for her, Yorick finds Beth and there is sweet sweet love. But in the post-coital bliss, the couple begins to talk, and Yorick pushes Beth to tell him the important thing that was interrrupted in their last phone call, nd I have to believe that not a single reader in the world knew what was coming. Before they were interrupted by the cataclysm and the last man on Earth began searching the world for his fiancee, she was going to break up with him. And now, when she is declaring her love for him again, Yorick can't believe it's not because he is the last male on the planet and walks out on her. To pull perhaps the lone underpinning of the entire story out like that is a radical and brilliant move, especially with only three issues reamining in the series. All along, we have only ever had Yorick's point of view, so writer Brian K. Vaughan just reminded us that Yorick's perspective isn't necessarily the correct one. Bravo!

Supergirl 19 - Where to start? I guess with the cover, an image of Supergirl standing victorious over a bloody Superman, with the caption "The Death of Superman Again!". This book has to just be the absolute nadir of DC sales, because Superman only appears in the final panel, and when Clark Kent does appear in the last few panels, he seems perfectly happy. I went back to the DC Web site to find the blurb for this week's issue: "Superstar writer Joe Kelly concludes his SUPERGIRL run with a grueling fight between Supergirl and Superman! Is the only way to save the universe to kill the Man of Steel? " Remember a few weeks ago when I said that I didn't really mind lying in the solicitations in the cause of a good story? It really yanks me when they lie for no reason at all. The entire issue is about Supergirl going back and reconciling her abominable behavior (which I would argue is the result of abominable writing) with all the people she has offended, such as the Teen Titans, especially Cassie, and Power Girl. The last person she visits is Clark and they make up their differences. And each visit is drawn by a different artist, sort of like one of those special issues where major events take place...only nothing important happens here, unless you count Supergirl adding a headband to her wardrobe. I'd like to think this was Joe Kelly's way of apologizing to the readers for the past two year's worth of crap, but I don't know if he could think at that deep a level. About the only thing that could happen that would keep this on my pull-list has happened. The writer is gone, flaming out in the worst way imaginable. Given her recent treatment in the pages of Amazons Attack, I think DC should just stop writing about Supergirl until there is some sort of editorial fiat about who this character is and how she is supposed to act. And all of this doesn't even mention the baffling and eventually useless appearance of Pariah for the first time in the latest crisis. Bah. Just bah.

Countdown 43 - The funeral for Bart Allen. Two glaring problems, perhaps among many. First, where the heck is Wally? This is unconscionably poor characterization to have the entire DC universe convene for this tragic occasion and Wally not even be there. Second, Bart left behind a recording to be played at his death, and it appears it comes from his days as a member of Young Justice. Suddenly we are confronted with the childish immature Bart, when we (and the funeral's audience) are supposed to be remembering him for his noble sacrifice and his life. It appears that about the only good thing they can say about him is that he loved life and then the wise-cracking Bart, in video form, shows up to prove it. Except that there was very little that was noble about it. At least the cameo by Harley Quinn was well-written and unexpected, even if it doesn't fit in with her recent continuity in Birds of Prey.

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis 53 - Maybe writer Tad Williams is having trouble writing because he knew the series was drawing to its end. Or maybe he still hasn't mastered the form. But in what should have been a climactic issue, with the first showdown with Black Manta coming to a conclusion, it's all a bit of a let-down. Whole panels filled by a word balloon as characters practice exposition to describ what the heck is going on. Black Manta drawn like and acting like he really is the latest incarnation of the Joker. And predictably, the recently diseased Orin's body has gone and done something weird, changed entirely to water. I thik there are only three issues left to this, and it's sad that what had been so promising a turn when Williams took over has become what it has. I hope that we get an explanation or, better yet, an attempt to put things to right, but Ifear it's not going to come, further putting Aquaman into comic book limbo for the foreseeable future. At least the book had the second best moment in comics this week, when King Shark figures out the way to shut Black Manta biting off his face. Literally.

Detective 834 - I've been raving about this book for a while now and this month's issue delivers a relatively pleasing close to the latest appearance by the real Joker. Except for one staggeringly poorly written moment. As Joker has released his Joker gas into a crowd of fans of the dead stage magician Loxias, Zatanna turns that audienec into vampire bats that turn on Joker and begin to feed on him. On the one hand, that's a very Spectre moment and particularly distasteful. I wonder what the repercussions of that would be when she turned them back into humans--little bits of Joker flesh remaining in the tummy? Do the audience remember what shedid to them? Which leads to the bigger problem for this action: Batman is supposedly still angry at Zatanna for wiping his mind, and she tries tro win back his confidence by turning an audience of unpowered spectators into bats?! I realize that Bruce is trying to be calmer and more friendly after his year-long sojourn, but he accepts her actions without a word and they ultimately make up. However, for me, it calls Zatanna's mindset further into question, and I would be seriously leery of calling for her aid in the future.

Action 851 - The "Last Son" saga goes on, and it turns out that escaping from the Phantom Zone is not nearly as difficult as everyone makes it out to be. And it turns out that Mon-El is more of a hero than anyone had accounted for, sacrificing himself so that Superman can escape. Given the tragic turn of his eventual release from the Phantom Zone in Legion of Super-heroes, it's safe to say Mon-El has become the Hamlet of the DC Universe. And it turns out that General Zod is an abusive parent also, as well as willing to throw out innuendo about his plans for Lois as he tries to figure out why Superman is so enamored of her. Fortunately, this train-wreck of storyline is nearly over, since it will be concluded in an Actions Annual which I don't believe has even been solicited yet. Kurt Busiek will be taking over for a little while starting with the next issue.

I can't go on. There were similar bizarre plot turns in Outsiders and All Star Superman but I have no wit about them and I'm tired of appearing bitter. Here's hoping that next week makes everything all better.

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