Sunday, February 3, 2008

Comics for 30 January

A sad week in a way--the last issue of Y the Last Man came out. I have to admit I like the idea of a series knowing where it intends to go in a limited run and then actually making it. But then Y has had superior story-tellign and art throughout its run, with only a few miscues. My only gripe with this issue is that I wish soa badly it had come out a month after the last issue, so it didn't feel so much like an after-thought for the rest of the series.

It was a good run, and Brian Vaughan has pretty much guarantted anything else he writes I'll at least take a look at. Thank you for the good work and all the heart.

Now as for the rest of this week's comments....

Spoilers ho!

Jack of Fables 19 - You know in the movies,where they have to convey a lot of action in a little space, so they do short little montages that give just the gist of what the characters do in that space, usually with little snips of humor and expedited character development? That's what this issue is, as Jack and the gang go travelling through Americana, the land of American fables. And the montage effect does such short shrift to the overwhelmingly cool concept of Americana that I just hated this issue.

I think I could understand the montage thing if the series had somewhere to go, a scene to be at by a certain issue. And maybe it does, but thus far, this single issue sums up my bad feelings about the series--a whole lot of picaresque wandering that has very little to do with the ongoing plotlines also taking place in this work, in Fables. In Bill Willingham's hands, I imagine Americana could be its own title, and a darned good one, but the concept here is hurried, with only minor tastes of the potential inherent in the idea. I honestly have no idea where the story is in a hurry to get to.

The art, as always, is quite good. Russ Braun's pencils and Andrew Pepoy's inks are excellent story-telling tools, and the colors by Daniel Vozzo are clean and crisp and a powerful addition to the story-telling stew. It really is the story that is the weak point, and that is surprising to me. I'm likely to give this just a few more issues to see if the whole thing can find a direction, but if something doesn't happen soon, I'm dropping it from my list.

Batman 673 - Say what? An entire issue of flashbacks and hallucinations as the result of Batman having a heart attack? Clearly this issue is setting us up for something down the road, but it just doesn't feel right. That is, the flashbacks are okay and no horrible retcons, but it just doesn't make sense for Batman to have a heart attack without warning. Yes, I'm sure it happens to other people, but Batman is in such peak physical condition that it seems unlikely that he wouldn't have any symptoms he might suspect. And I recognize that it is possible that this new villain, the Third Man, may have caused the heart attack by using some drug with his attack, but we've never even really heard of this guy before. Why wouldn't Hugo Strange use a heart attack inducing drug?

It just sort of feels random, which has been my concern with Batman of late, especially since the Joker prose issue. I think I'm a pretty close reader, but I'm not finding any clue these things are coming up. And you know that would be okay too, I think, if the impact unexpected plot movements can have were used to do something artistic. But nothing seems to happen as a result of these almost arbitrary directions. And Morrison's writing in Batman is definitely hurt by the inevitable comparison to Dini's Detective where there seems to be a goal with the story-telling.

Morrison is writing the blockbuster storyline later this year "RIP Batman," but I can't decide if that is gong to be a gimmick or a real storyline. This also has to do with my recent comments on DC's overall direction. Maybe if the idea of Batman's heart attack propagated though some other titles, like Justice League, I'll more easily accept what's going on here. Right now, however, I'm not really optimistic.

Black Adam 6 - Well, we finally find out what the magic word is, and it turns out Captain Marvel is right. Adam would never have guessed it if he hadn't stumbled over it. And by the end of this issue Isis is alive again, with no memory and very little self-control...and Adam thinks she is dead, and because of his own mistakes to boot.

While a little cliche in comic circles, the series ends in a good space for more Black Adam stories. His character has been extremely well developed in the last few years, first in the paes of JSA and then in 52. He is a character capable of so much good and yet so much evil, and usually those characters always land on the light side. Peter Tomasi does a fine job adding story elements to this saga, and I hope that we will get to see it continued somewhere.

Death of the New Gods 5 - Two things really jumped out at me with this issue. First, the retcon of the origin of the Source is delightful, in part because of the narrator being the Source itself. It also helps the bizarre history of Kirby's Fourth World fits much better with human history as we know it as a result of this retcon. And I have to admit, once I read that the Source had been weakened by being split from its darker half, I knew immediately what that darker half was better known as. No wonder Mr. Miracle has so much trouble controlling himself. I did find it pretty hokey, however, to continue to hide the identity of the Godkiller with a silhouette colored by a huge question mark. With all the build-up, it betterbe a huge reveal, or else this is just becoming a nuisance.

The other thing I noticed is the tremendous unevenness of the art. The pencils are being done by writer Jim Starlin himself, with Matt Banning and Art Thibert splitting inking duties. There are panels where the artwork is exquisite--powerful and delicate all at once. And then there are panels that are hideous, with ham-handed inking resulted in lop-sided faces and features. I would guess the inker for the good stuff is Art Thibert, but that is only based on his reputatoin as an artist, and I admit to not knowing Matt Banning at all. But I could be wrong. Whoever is doing the lop-sided stuff needs to stop though.

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