Friday, September 23, 2005

Chris' Reviews 9/21, Pt. 1

Kisses and hugs all around; you'll be delighted to know that this week was MUCH better than last week, mainly for two reasons:

1) I read a lot of good comics this week.
2) Not a single one of them was All-Star Batman and Robin.

In other words, this week was incredibly Airwolf.

I read so many comics this week, Part One of my reviews will cover the DC comics, and Part Two will be Marvel and Others. And those are just as good, if not better, than these here DC comics (so screw you, anonymous emailer who keeps accusing me of being a DC homer).

As always, Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


The final issue of this mini wraps up nicely, as Batman and Harvey Dent have their final confrontation, save the city (kind of), and we learn something about why Harvey is so screwed in the head. (You'd think that taking an acid bomb to half your face would be enough. You'd be wrong, my friends.)

In re: the aforementioned confrontation, it's not exactly tense (because we know the guy with the cape is going to win), but it moves through the city and it's action-y enough to satisfy. Along the way, Harvey shoots a motorist in the skull, throws a background bystander off a construction site (which doesn't sound like much, but he was, like, 4 floors up), and takes a hostage, with whom he taunts Batman, then shoots the hostage right through the head. Doh!

In other words, Two-Face kills people, and not in the grand "I'm killing people via an insanely complicated plot involving city utility companies and corrupt bureaucrats" Batman tradition (although that was the overarching plot). It's weirdly nice to get a sense of these cartoony psychos being dangerous on an immediate and personal level. Anyway.

We also learn that Two-Face's evil half is Harvey's sublimation of his brother Murray, whom he killed as a kid by locking him in a room on fire.
Whoa! So, Two-Face was a murdering bastard even as a kid! Quite frankly, I like it, and it makes the Harvey Dent transition from good guy to bad guy a tad more believable for me. But this isn't in continuity, so oh well.

Two more things about this comic: first, Two-Face's plan actually kind of worked. Jim Gordon mentions 800 or so people killed or injured, so again we see that things aren't all nicey-nicey here. Second, the one beef I had was that at the end, Gordon walks in and mentions that he just got Harvey's family records, and sees that his dad abused him, his mother died, and his house burned down with his brother in it. I'm thinking that this is a black mark against Gotham City's Human Resources Department, since this is prime "Um, don't call us, we'll call you" material when Harvey applied for the DA position.

Best Moment: Bruce taking off the mask and inviting Alfred for a walk in the park at the end. Yeah, it's cliched and corny, but it was a sunny-ish ending to a very dark series.

Worst Moment: Harvey's fall off the construction site. The guy fell like at least 4 floors, and he's OK. This is especially amazing, since he just finished shooting himself in the head. Now that I think about it, this series would have made a great Two-Face: The End kinda thing.

Comic Book Airwolf: 4/5. I honestly don't understand why nobody liked this series, as I thought it was a classic Batman adventure with great art, a dash of grittiness, and great character moments.


Grant Morrison's overlooked maxiseries starts another chapter with Shilo Norman, a.k.a. Mister Miracle, dealing with the pressures of being a world-renowned escape artist.

Shilo is getting tired of the life, and looking for something different. He performs a stunt, then visits his shrink looking for...what, exactly? An escape from the life he's made for himself, I guess, and despite the tone of this sentence I wrote, it's fairly compelling. As he relates his experiences (which includes meeting Metron inside a black hole and encounters with Granny Goodness), you get a feeling for Shilo and it instantly makes him more compelling than Scott Free. It's true. Deal with it, purists!

Wow. Bang-up start to this mini. When you begin with Mr. Miracle escaping from a black hole and it goes up from there, you know you're in for something good. Granny Goodness and her dames are reimagined as a madame and some hookers here, and the ending sets up a cool fight with the Derby of Death and Mr. Miracle.

This is probably the most traditionally superheroey of the Seven Soldiers minis so far, and it's...good. Character you care about and get to know? Check. Action? Check. Interesting setup for big fight? Check. I'm a fan of the whole Seven Soldiers enterprise in general, and while not every issue has been gold, on balance each series has been worth reading, and with uniformly great art. I see nothing here in Mr. Miracle that would lead me to believe otherwise.

Best Moment: The meeting with Metron, where Shilo has visions of Darkseid, et al. I've never been a fan of the New Gods stuff, but this was creepy and ominous and made me interested.

Worst Moment: I'm nitpicking here, but the panel where Shilo's psychiatrist bites down on something (his pipe? a cherry chocolate bar? a battery?) and his mouth bleeds stood out like a sore thumb. And because it's Morrison, I just know this is going to have some sort of significance down the line and it pisses me off wondering what it is.

Comic Book Airwolf: 3/5. Read the above for an explanation. The only reason it doesn't get 4 Airwolfs is because the whole New Gods tie-in makes me skittish because I find the Darkseid/Apokolips stuff boring and trite. Count me in for next ish, tho.Too bad Pascual Ferry isn't drawing this in the rest of the issues.


Wowzers! (Yes, I just went Inspector Gadget on the program.) Disclosure: I am an admitted GL Corps fangeek, as I've always loved the concept of the space police/superhero combo. As a kid, I thrilled to the possibilities of the GL Corps adventures, since it allowed for so possibilities.

Here, the Guardians are sending out rings to reform the corps, looking for beings that are worthy and enlisting them whether they like it or not.

And I must say, this ish gets me pumped for the rest of the series. Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner are recalled to Oa, only to find that they're there to train the new cadre of Lanterns. Kilowog is there as well, and apparently he's going to be the drill sergeant for these rookies, which is just right. Things I liked about this issue that I have to put in bullet point format lest this become the worlds' first 6,000-word single issue comics review:

  • The idea that Lanterns aren't universally loved. The planet Korugar, for instance, sees the lantern symbol as a swastika, which is totally understandable since, you know, they inflicted Sinestro on the universe.
  • The strengthening of the paramilitary concept of the GL. This is what I love about the Corps: they're an organized force with rules and discipline, which speaks to my inner fascist. (Kidding! Ha! Ha!)
  • Characterization. Guy Gardner is still the cocky asshole he always was, and it'll be interesting to see him given responsibility over "cadets". Kyle makes a great case for leaving the JLA, which is better than what I expected (namely, no explanation at all).
  • The sense of something larger. The Guardians, perhaps having read Previews this month, know that the universe is changing, which is why they're reforming the Corps. They're even assigning two GLs to each sector now.
  • Batman gets a humorous line, which I'm sure DC will immediately edit out in the trade since he's supposed to be an asshole.
  • The personal focus on the new Lanterns, showing that not all of them necessarily are willing participants, not all of them are good beings, and that they have motivations of their own.

The ONLY thing that worries me is that this is written here on out by Dave Gibbons, who has fucked up Rann-Thanagar War beyond all belief. Dear God, don't let this geek-worthy, Lantern-lovin' setup for fanboys go to waste. Stay the course, Dave. Stay the course.

Best Moment: "Tell Guy he needs to shave."

Worst Moment: I literally can't think of one. Therefore, GL Corps: Recharge #1 gets my first ever...

Comic Book Airwolfs: 5/5. Pure gold for GL fanboys like me. This pushes all the right buttons, makes sense in the grand scheme of things, and promises a lot of cool, interesting characters combined with the innate action, mystery, and adventure that defines what Green Lantern is supposed to be about. Excelsior, bitches!


You all know by now how much that I've liked this book. Here, it comes to a...weird...conclusion as the Spectre fights the wizard Shazam (and wins), the Shadowpact finishes off Eclipso, and the laws of magic are broken, making it chaotic and potentially available to anyone now, not that it wasn't before.

Things I liked include the Shadowpact's method of beating Eclipso (sending her into orbit around the sun, bad thing for those who get powers from darkness), the hint that this will become a team book (which I will totally buy, no matter what Randy says), and Enchantress' reminder to the group about Ragman's penchant for kissing at precisely the wrong times.

Things I had an issue with include the gruesome death/decapitation scenes at the end when magic explodes over Gotham City (totally didn't jibe with the vibe of the comic so far), Billy Batson falling to his death (although we know Captain Marvel ain't gonna be dead), and do I explain this?

My problem with the Spectre has always been that he's supposed to be God's right hand man, and that in a universe that has multiple gods, beings of pure energy, superpowered mortals, immortals, and whatnot, that's apparently supposed to matter. Well, against that backdrop it's kind of hard to accept that the Judeo-Christian God means more than, say, the Anti-Monitor, and that inherently makes the Spectre little more than an asshole with ill-defined but omnipotent powers.

My answer? Keep the Spectre as the Spirit of Vengeance, but make Vengeance itself a universal, primal force to be reckoned with --- you know, kind of a moral equivalent to the scientific principle of "every action has an equal and opposite reaction" (which would allow writers to show him being a great guy to balance out evil acts, too), and have the Spectre (who is soon to have Blue Beetle as its human host or I'll eat my pants, which is twice I'll eat my pants for those of you who remember my "Wally West will die during Infinite Crisis" prediction, which means I should be buying stock in Levi's Jeans before October) be the avatar of the Vengeance Force. I've said too much, much too incoherently.

Best Moment: The Phantom Stranger reappearing at the end, because the Phantom Stranger is inherently cool, and those of you who think otherwise are wrong.

Worst Moment: I didn't need to see a 13 year old girl decapitated by a Magical Debris Pebble at the end. Jarring and unnecessary.

Comic Book Airwolf: 3/5. I recommend the series as a whole, but this one lacked the humor prevalent in the prior issues. Still, a cool fight that bodes ill for magic in the DC Universe to come, and I really would read a Shadowpact team book...because I need me some Detective Chimp! (Shut up, Randy.)


Blogger Jacob said...

"(sending her into orbit around the sun, bad thing for those who get powers from darkness),"

Also a difficult thing for the teleporter whose powers rely on shadows.

Maybe Nightshade's powers got altered in that awful-looking Charlton heroes mini a couple of years ago (it had an acronym for a name, I remember), but as I recall, a shadowless orbit around the sun is exactly the last place in the solar system that Nightshade should be able to teleport anyone to.

(Not to mention: "non-decaying orbit"? Apparently Nightshade's power increase included the newfound power to perform tricky math in her head on a moment's notice, and then to visualize distances phrased in mathematical terms. That's not a *place.* It's the conclusion of a math problem; and even if one could perform the math problem that doesn't mean one could identify it as a precise destination in the way Nightshade's teleportation requires.)

10:07 AM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

Your best quote this week: "The Phantom Stranger reappearing at the end, because the Phantom Stranger is inherently cool, and those of you who think otherwise are wrong."

Also, agree totally on Recharge!

7:51 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Oh look, Two-Face was abused as a kid... yawn. Come on, they can do better than that.

My general allergy of DC usually wavers around the GL Corps, because I think it's an absolutely superb concept, but I've never really seen it live up to its potential. DC have a book which could be the best/only arse-kicking space-opera title out there, but usually insist on making it generic superhero bobbins, only in space. When I think of what 2000ad would achieve with the GL Corps concept, it makes me sad to see DC wasting it. Gibbons might be just the right person for the job.

And still no John Constantine appearance in Day of Vengeance? Tsk.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Haven't picked up GL:Recharge yet, but I'll take a look at it based on your review.
I disagree on the Blue Beetle becoming the Spectre bit. I think Bruce Wayne will die in Infinite Crisis, taken down by Luthor's Villains United/Injustice Gang/Whatthefuckever team and become the new Spectre.

6:23 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Not while there's a movie series just starting out. While common sense suggests that it realy doesn't matter who's under the cowl, and moreover that it shouldn't matter if Batman is Bruce Wayne in the films but not in the comics, that's not the way these people think.

5:19 PM  
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