Saturday, August 18, 2007

Comic musings for 15 August

Well, the writing is going pretty well and Mrs. Speculator is happy with her new computer (Alienware, damned brightest LEDs I think I've ever seen). Work is being a real pain at the moment, but I'm told that's the price of being good at what I do.

But what does any of that matter? Comics came in this week, and so all is right with the world. It's a tough call about whether that is the coolest thing in the world or that college football starts in about 10 days. Yeah, I know a lot is not right with the world at the moment, but it really isn't anything a little tailgating and a 1pm kickoff couldn't take care of. Of course, if Mrs. Speculator ask, the uber Alien conputer is the bomb.

Spoilers ho!

Black Canary 4 - I guess Black Canary can't have any strings attached to her when she marries Ollie in a few weeks. As could have been predicted during the events of the previous issue, Sin is not really dead...not even mostly dead. It was a all a gag set up by Team Arrow so that the League of Assassins would believe Sin to be dead. And of course, to sell it, they couldn't tell Canary, or else she would somehow betray them by not being terrified/pissed off/madder than a wet cat.

So, we get this really bizarre scene when Ollie tells Canary about the plan and tells her he understands that they won't be getting married. Sadly, we know that's a load of crap, since there are like 50 gajillion wedding specials planned (none of which actually indicating that the nuptials really take place), so writer Tony Bedard writes some truly twisted and perhaps overly stereotypical female logic to explain why Canary accepts the proposal. Apparently, Ollie's willingness to sacrifice his possible marriage to her in order to save Sin is symbolic enough that Canary believes he is no longer the selfish bastard he was before he died. The more I think about this, the less convoluted it is, but it strikes me as one of those things that you see in movies but when tried in real life never works.

But what is a little more troubling to me is how the Sin character has sort of been tossed away for what I feel to be no real good reason. Gail Simone's arc that introduced her and then built up the relationship was really strong (at least for the Canary half; the Shiva part not so much). Within Sin was the potential to add dimension to Black Canary, and it feels awkwardly like the writers have forced her to trade one family for another. It could be the case that the relationship will be allowed to grow, though doing so over the Pacific Ocean will not be easy. It just feels very contrived and unnecessary. I hope that I shall be proven wrong following the wedding. (But it's being written by Judd Winnick, so don't hold your breath.)

Booster Gold 1 - I'm hoping this title will be an exploration of the 52 multiverses but it sure isn't starting starting out that way. It would appear that Booster is set to become "DC's unknown champion of time" and it took some real convincing to get him there. Booster is not renowned for his subtlety, but Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz may be wielding slightly too heavy a stick. After the events of 52, it would be nice for Booster to be a little more mature. I guess we'll have to see if the "rapport" between Booster and SKeets will ever parallel that between L-Ron and Max Lord in the heyday of the JLI.

At least we now know that "Rip Hunter" is not a real name, and the rationale for using it is interesting. It appears that time still has some holes in it, some unexpected twists that Booster is going to have to fix. And of course there is the malignant someone who is interested in stopping the repair, and Rip has changed his name in order to hide his real identity and remain safe from temporal incursions that would change his life.

Johns and Katz push the right buttons, making this promising and worth picking up for a while. Dan Jurgens's art has never looked more classic, and it really is nice to see him working regularly again (I say this as though he's done many issues; let's just hope). And it turns out that the upcoming one-shots featuring the new "Challengers of the Unknown" will be visiting some of those multiverses, even if they have the most ridiculously long titles in the history of comics: COUNTDOWN PRESENTS: THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT. I suppose my preceeding the title with another colon was no help. Proctologist comic fans rejoice!

Let me get back to the actual issue by pointing out I enjoyed the tension of Booster trying to return to the Justice League. His ultimate refusal to accept the invitation played out exactly right, exposing the humane side of Booster, a side we get to see more often in the coming months. Similarly, his fondness for Blue Beetle is played fairly well, though if he said Beetle's name a few more times it would have appeared an obsession, and the title may end up there. Of course, Booster would be Booster if he wasn't a jerk sometimes, but he's no Lobo. Johns and Katz will just have to be careful on this measure.

Action 854 - Hey, Krypto's Back! And wouldn't you know it--among his superpowers, the ability to explain where he's been for the past year is missing.

The real focus of this story is the growth of Jimmy Olsen and his powers. Somehow he has suddenly remembered another secret identity, but this time it is Superman. I would've expected a different reaction from Jimmy once he realizes who Superman is--anger, disbelief, something--but he just takes it in his stride and goeson about his quest, to join the Justice League (apparently the League is looking for members and no one knew it). After thinking his way through a potential fight rather than laying the smack down on a fairly harmless foe, Superman agrees to give Mr. Action a shot at joining the JLA.


Did I mention Krypto's back? I'm sure this is all going to lead to some fascinating revelation about the nature of Countdown. Enh.

Flash 231 - Mark Waid's writing the Flash! And it's Wally! And Acuna's drawing it...oh, wait, that's not so great. I was finally able to stomach his art with Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters and maybe I'll get to that point again. To be honest, there are some very nice panels of the Wests' home life, but his style just doesn't seem to be suited to action sequences. I'll suspend final judgement for a few more issues, but I'm not optimistic.

However, Waid returns in fine form, still nailing the voices of these characters. The addition of two kids who appear to be about the age of 8 or 9 while being little more than a year old is troubling, evoking memories of the sometimes clumsily handled Impulse. (Let me be clear, I liked Impulse. But in the wrong hands, he was just annoying. Fortunately Waid's hands were some of the right ones.) The children's powers are speed-based, but don't involve running really fast--Jai accelerates the molecules in his muscles to become what appears to be a steroid freak midget with the strnegth to match, while Iris is able to vibrate through substances (withou them blowing up, it should be added). And Linda's scenes are just perfect. So, while this issue is mostly set-up for the stories to come, a reintroduction of sorts, it's still a better issue in many ways than anything with the word "Flash" in the title for the past year. Gads, what might have happened had WAid been writing *that*?

Justice League of America 12 - I am only including this to do a sort of verbal head-scratching. DC continuity seems all twisted around the Justice League, if only for two reasons. First, Hawkgirl only just got rid of her curse and was going to try to work things out with Carter...and now she's in bed with Roy? (And we had to walk in on it???) And one of the barely glimpsed narrators of the story is Aquaman. No, not the current Aquaman, but the one we all want to come back. I got no explanation for this, unless it is some twisted plot-device I can't explain. Martian Manhunter is clearly speaking to the Aquaman who helped him form the Justice League, calling on their shared memories, even if he is wearing the new Aquaman's armored costume. I hope this one gets explained fairly soon, but Iadmot to really looking forward to the new JLA writer.

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