Monday, January 23, 2006

Chris' Reviews 1/18

Back with reviews for 1/18, kids! As always, Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


In this issue, Baron Bedlam and his Plastic People show up, kick the living snot out of Shilo Norman, and turn all of his friends against him, followed by Darkseid whispering the Anti-Life equation and Shilo being reduced to a burned and bandaged cripple who pees himself. Guest appearances by Granny Goodness, DeSaad, and Metron.

Start your flames now, because I'll admit right up front that I have no love at all for the New Gods, the Fourth World, or pretty much anything Jack Kirby did at DC. I didn't like it as a kid, and I don't like it now. Having said that, I absolutely understand why a lot of people do like that stuff --- it's whacked out, cosmic opera on a grand scale, and I can see that. It just inexplicably leaves me cold.

(Although to be fair, Harvey Jerkwater's post on why he loves Mr. Miracle was absolutely goosebump-inducing, and may have convinced me to at least reread some Mr. Miracle comics. Maybe.)

So there, I've said it.

And that probably explains why I'm not liking the Mr. Miracle chapter of 7S as well as I theoretically should. We're 3/4 of the way through, and so far it's been entirely a case of "Look how we make the New Gods look like normal people in this world". And that's fine as far as it goes, but it's not very compelling for me, and there's been ZERO mention of the overall 7S plot in the series (you know, the one where the mosquito fairies are taking over the world).

(I just realized that Grant Morrison has constructed a 30 issue series about mosquito fairies taking over the world. Sweet.)

Best Moment: The sequence of Shilo practicing an escape trick while having an unrelated conversation. It's very natural, and struck me as, "Yeah, that's exactly how Mr. Miracle would spend his off time."

Worst Moment: The panel where we're led to believe that Darkseid's men took a pair of bolt cutters to Shilo's yam bag. Ew.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5 for reasons listed above, although those with a fondness for New Gods will probably enjoy it much more than I did.


This is the last issue of Flash until the relaunch, and that's probably a good thing. I'm tired of this Vandal Savage story arc (which I've helpfully retitled Wally West: Moron), which is clearly just filler until Infinite Crisis came along.

So in this issue Flash figures out how to beat Savage and the Summoner machine he's using to pull an asteroid down to Earth. Guess how he does it? No really, guess. Seriously. I'll tell you: by running really, really fast. I did NOT see that coming!

Then Vandal Savage shoots himself into space to be one with the asteroid, or something. No, it didn't sound very smart to me either.

But all that is prologue to the final scene in the comic, where Jay Garrick inexplicably harasses Bart Allen for two pages, sounding for all the world like the stereotypical Old Man Jenkins. Seriously. Jay expounds upon those wacky remote controls these days that don't have any words on them (!?!), video games, and Commie villains. I half expected him to bust out the "And get the hell off my lawn, hooligan! Dagnabbit!"

There's a final page where Wally expounds on family, raising kids, maybe his time as the Flash is coming to an end, blah blah blah, but it's way too heavy handed and rushed (HAR!), the art sucks throughout, and this so should have stopped with Rogue War.

Best Moment: "Please don't get the idea...that the Rogues Gallery holds a cattle call for rookies...Hey, this is a new one. It may get this guy a call-back." Sorry folks, it's the best I can do.

Worst Moment: That forced "family" scene at the end was so...bad.

Comic Book Goodness: 1/5, and that's being generous. Did I mention the art sucked cover-to-cover? Let's just pretend the last 4 issues of Flash never happened, mmmkay?


Joe Casey's miniseries continues as the Spymaster hires the Ghost to break into Stark International headquarters, a psychologist taps into the Living Laser's consciousness at Tony's behest, and Iron Man (or an Iron Man suit, anyway) and the Ghost throw down.

I enjoy the storytelling as done with snippets of text messages, emails, and instant messages as done by Casey here. It's a believable way to communicate the events we're seeing on-panel, and adds to the realistic corporate environment.

I also enjoy Frazer Irving's art the more I see it. It's totally grown on me, although the coloring and shading may be a little too idiosyncratic for some.

So why didn't I like this issue as much as I thought I would?

Well, mainly because not much happens. The talky-talk between Spymaster and Ghost is entertaining enough, but then we spend most of our time with the psychologist Tony has hired to rehabilitate the Living Laser, and she's just not very interesting. The battle at the end between the Ghost and a remote-controlled or automated Iron Man suit is too short and ends with a whimper.

Oh, and depressingly, this seems to be an official part of Iron Man continuity now, if several silent panels in this comic are what I think they are.

Don't get me wrong, this is still a decent Iron Man fix, and I still think the series will turn out to be very good. This was just something of a case of maybe too-high expectations on my part. Joe Casey's still in the will, though.

Best Moment: The opening 4-page conversation between Spymaster and Ghost, showing that Spymaster is clearly appalled with Tony's flaunting of superhero conventions and traditions and Ghost being the disinterested, arrogant asshat he's always been. Loved, loved, loved the whole scene, and the character poses depicted complement the words perfectly.

Worst Moment: Not a moment per se, but a comment: Irving is not at his best when depicting action scenes, as a lot of them are muddled, which seems strange because there's only two people fighting.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. Still a good read, with enough groundwork laid to get to the series proper. I really liked the storytelling method here, and it's still the best Iron Man around.


Hal and Ollie are back up to their old tricks in Coast City, as they engage in some friendly banter while saving some dude from falling to his death. Hal gets a call from the Corps to go fight Mongul since, you know, he's the one that made Coast City kablooey in the first place, and he and Ollie fall victim to the Black Mercy plant.

Along the way, we get Captain Exposition telling us that the power rings record events as "evidence", Despero's a mean guy, and Guy Gardner is a jackass.

Hal's also in full-on asshat mode, as he blows off his brother (who, I might add, relocated his family back to Coast City at Hal's request) when said brother asks Hal to drop in on the family and just spend a little quality time with them. What a jerk.

I'm going all self-referential in this post, but this comic is a perfect example of what I meant here. It's straight-line, perfectly serviceable, workmanlike, and...dull. Apart from the semi-neat reveal at the end (that we all saw coming anyway, thanks to it being telegraphed 3 pages in advance), there's nothing here that completely sucks or that rises above the average.

And for the record, I think they played the "Hey, everybody! Hal and Ollie are back together again!" card waaaaaay too soon in the relaunch. But that's just me.

Best Moment: "Ring. Ignore Guy Gardner."

Worst Moment: Hal's "I'm too busy to save the world to visit with my family who just relocated against their better judgment to a deserted city because I laid a Kilowog-sized guilt trip on my brother" attitude.

Comic Goodness: 2/5. Not horrible, but not much there. Next issue could be interesting, because of the Black Mercy plot device, and I'm a GL fan in general anyway, so I think this comic always has a shot at being interesting.


Well, well, well.

So, in this issue, Bludhaven gets gassed, Superboy-Prime fights a lot of people, Alex Luthor's plan comes to fruition as Earth-2 rematerializes, Crispus Allen gets a new gig as the Spectre, and we learn that Luthor's actual plot involves mastery of the entire universe, not just recreating Earth-2.


Damn you, Johns. Damn your cold, black heart, for pushing the fanboy buttons and delivering some really well done moments. And I mean, REALLY well done.

To me, there are three key components to this issue.

1. Superboy's childish, petulant rage and self-centeredness that ends up with him going "Kill Bill" on a few heroes, including him kicking Krypto the Superdog, and if you don't think there's a special place in hell for those who kick dogs --- much less Kryptonian Super Dogs --- then you, my friend, are sorely mistaken.

2. The destruction (I think) of the Speed Force. This happens when Wally, Bart Allen, Max Mercury, Jonny Quick, Jay Garrick and Barry Allen (yup) combine forces to drive the rampaging Superboy back to...somewhere. Anyhoo, it's a nice Speed Force family moment, and I was actually really, really sad when Wally said goodbye to his wife and kids. Then I was really, really touched when Linda and the kids decided that wherever Wally was going, they were going to follow. And they did. I thought that was just exceptional.

3. But the money shot in this book is the conversation between Batman and Nightwing, where Bruce basically admits that he's been a complete dick (HAR!) to those that matter, and goes with his hat in his hand to Nightwing. It's a conversation that has the ring of truth, the smell of foreboding, and the texture of forgiveness that only comes with unconditional respect and love. I freely admit that I actually got choked up over this. And I'm a 30 year old man who didn't even cry at my own wedding.

Overall, the series is still meh. Story be damned at this point; I couldn't care less how the series ends up, because I'll still be buying DC comics whether there's a multiverse or not (and DC knows it). Just keep giving me moments like these in comics.

Well played, Johns. Well played.

Best Moment:

Bruce: "The early years. I've forgotten if......they were good for you, weren't they?"

Dick: "The best."

Worst Moment: OK, I could have done without seeing Superboy decaptiate, dismember, and incinerate other human beings. Really. It was over the top.

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. I don't care that I'm being shamelessly manipulated by corporate concerns. The moments absolutely made this book worth picking up, whether I care about the Infinite Crisis or not. Those moments push the book from mediocre to pretty good, though on an individual issue basis I'd probably still give the series a 3/5 overall.


Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

Thanks for the link, yo. Lots of people don't dig the Fourth World books, and I can't fault them for it. They resonate with me, and I groove to the strange things Kirby was trying to do. But it doesn't work for lotsa folks.

The first post-Johns issues of The Flash, which was "Into Thin Air" with the Flash in it, made me drop the book immediately. Looks like it didn't improve since then. Good god, what a turd that issue was.

World conquering mosquito fairies are freakin' cool. No question.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

If its any consolation, I cried at your wedding. You had it made til then.

2:55 PM  
Blogger CalvinPitt said...

I'm really sorry that warren ellis' Iron Man stuff seems to be in continuity.

I'm confused about something: If Seven Soldiers is in continuity (as I've been informed it's supposed to be running even with 52), then that means Darkseid - I'm sorry Dark Side - has returned looking like Michael Clarke Duncan from Daredevil? Or is it just an illusion?

8:16 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

I think the thing with Mister Miracle is not so much that the New Gods are these people, but that they're working through them, literally possessing them for tasks on Earth. My guess is that Shilo has gone native and doesn't remember thatt he was one of them.

Of course, that doesn't explain how Darkseid got back from the Source Wall, unless they're playing the Ignore Jeph Loeb gambit, which is fine by me.

(Or something might happen during InC/52/OYL which traps the Gods on Earth, but the impression I'm getting is that it's the "working thhrough" theory)

As for InC, the very thing I didn't like about it was the obvious button-pushing. Perhaps because I don't have much invested in these characters, these "special" moments really didn't do anything to disguise the choppy writing for me.

9:27 PM  
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