Monday, June 12, 2006

Chris' Reviews 6/7

Howdy, all! This week we get a couple of new series, continued greatness from a favorite, and a Batman we can all love. Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


Allan Heinberg of Young Avengers fame turns his attention to the most famous heroine of all, and relaunches the Amazing Amazon.

Here's the idea: Donna Troy is now Wonder Woman, she's summoned to a hostage situation where Steve Trevor (!) is being held captive by Cheetah, Giganta, and Dr. Psycho. Fighty-fight-fight, Donna gets captured, and we learn that Steve is actually Nemesis in disguise, and that he and --- wait for it --- Diana Prince are working for Nick Fury Sarge Steel and SHIELD the Department of Metahuman Affairs.

Well, it certainly was readable, the art was pretty good, and I'm intrigued enough to want to read the next issue.

But can we stop with the Government Agencies That Are Assigned To Investigate Superhero/villains already? Between the DMA, DEO, Checkmate and God knows what else, I've had it up to my ears in paramilitary gubmint organizations. Can any moron form one? At this point, I half expect to see a leather-clad guy in a bunkhouse in Idaho with a rifle calling himself the Office Of Investigating Kid Devil's Ebay Auctions.

Anyhoo: nothing really wrong here, just a few fears that I have:

1) Heinberg's first few issues of Young Avengers were good too, but once the "Who are these people?" questions were answered, I didn't really care for it.

2) I think the Donna/Diana question needs to answered fairly quickly. If you're going to make Donna the new Wonder Woman, then for God's sake don't have Diana's shadow looming over her. And vice versa.

3) This book had a very Geoff Johns-ish feel to it that I can't quite place...

4) ...which makes me fear that I'm going to have to sort out Donna Troy's backstory to understand her ongoing role. Not that I have any interest in doing that. I just finished my Hawkmanology final exams, and my brain hurts.

Like I said, though: those are just me worrying ahead of time. This is definitely worth a read.

Best Moment: Dr. Psycho's entrance and kewl new bald look.

Worst Moment: Diana's reveal on the last page, where she's wearing a 70's outfit in which she resembles nothing so much as a lava lamp wearing Skechers.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. Good beginning, but please Lord, don't let this become Diana Prince: Agent of SHIELD.


The first part of the issue is stock-standard Batman v. Scarecrow fight, with the added (delightful) twist that Batman's on the phone talking to Commissioner Gordon the whole time during the fight.

Batman figures out that someone's been framing Harvey, alludes to his mysterious plans for Tim Drake, and Jason Bard fights the Tally Man.

It's the next to last issue in the "Face the Face" arc, and while I'm looking forward to Morrison's take on Batman, I must say that this story has reset Batman perfectly in my opinion.

He's respectful of the work that other people do, he realizes that allies are necessary, and he's a little more trusting of the people around him. Which doesn't mean he's about to be handed the award for Mr. Congeniality, but he's a hell of a lot more likeable, and that counts for a lot.

Also, I am really digging Leonard Kirk and Andy Clarke's art.

Best Moment: Scarecrow: "Next time, Batman."
Batman: "What? You'll come up with a better gas?"

Worst Moment: The Jason Bard backup story was a hard-to-follow fight scene that I expected more from, but the phone call at the end was priceless.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. James Robinson can write Batman (and for that matter, Robin) any time he wants to, as far as I'm concerned. And the art is underrated. In fact, I think this characterization and story is what many of us were hoping for from All-Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder, instead of the flaming hospital waste we got.


There are three "stories" going on here. I shall endeavor to do my best to explain them all.

Story the First: Ben Urich reports for the right-wing Daily Bugle, Sally Floyd reports for the left-wing Alternative. They both kvetch over the Superhuman Registration Act, then Spider-Man shows up at Sally's apartment to explain to her why unmasking is a bad thing. The end of the story takes us to the big Iron Man press conference, where Iron Man unmasks in front of the public and says --- I shit you not --- "My name is Tony Stark, and I am an alcoholic. And it's time to come clean."

Story the Second: Speedball's alive, depowered, and under arrest.

Story the Third: Spider-Man swings around New York while a vignette from the Japanese-American internment camps is shown narrated to a poem written by someone who actually was in those camps.

There are many problems with this comic.

First of all, for all their hoo-ha about how "We're not going to take sides in this debate, we'll present a fair and balanced viewpoint", it seems to me that Marvel's with Captain America on this thing. Ben Urich is portrayed I think as someone who grudgingly carries out his newspaper's agenda, and Sally Floyd gives Spidey the opportunity to say why the SRA is bad.

Second, the whole Iron Man thing doesn't make any sense to the five of us who actually follow the character. Since Marvel botched Tony's identity question so badly over the last three years, his unmasking is not the big deal it was meant to be. And the fact that they have him announce his alcoholism at the same time is stupid, inappropriate, and jarring.

(Side note: the splash page of him at the podium is really, really bad. He looks like a cauliflower-eared dockworker.)

Third, the Japanese-American internment juxtaposition... wow. I think I understand what Jenkins what shooting for --- a prominent example of civil liberties trampled on in the name of the greater good --- but man, was this tacky. I think the point could have been made with just Spidey swinging around some Washington landmarks and ruminating on his power/responsibility thing. All this sequence did was remind me that there are a whole hell of a lot bigger things to worry about than comics.

Fourth, Speedball. Raise your hand if you care. No one? Yeah, that's what I thought too.

Fifth, the central conceit --- that you don't have to tell the public that you're a hero, just the government --- exposes its illogic front and center. If that's the case, then what's all the bitching about? Doesn't SHIELD know all this anyway?

To be fair, I enjoyed the first pages as a look at the business of being a reporter and the banter between Urich and Sally. I hope that the next issue keeps the focus on that stuff.

Best Moment: Robbie Robertson makes a solid appearance and appears to be the only one in the comic without their head up their ass.

Worst Moment: Story the Third. Yeesh. Bad taste.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. Enough of a hook to make me try one more, but if there isn't marked improvement then I think this book becomes irrelevant.


JONAH HEX #8 --- Ho hum, another finely done tale of betrayal, vengeance, and frontier justice with a heartbreaking ending. The art transition halfway through is jarring, but this is still --- I repeat, STILL --- one of the five best books out right now. Great stuff.

ACTION PHILOSOPHERS --- I'll have more to say about why this is such a great value and great comic period later this week. Trust me on this one.


Anonymous Vincent J. Murphy said...

You seem awfully interested in Kid Devil's Ebay auctions. Perhaps you know too much. Hmm, must dispatch some B-List heroes to annoy you....

6:28 PM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

There's a question about Donna in WW that needs answering? It's obvious she's a placeholder until Diana gets her head together.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Ragnell: I missed the obvious-ness of it; I figured it would perfectly legacy-ish of DC to throw Diana's sister in the role for a couple of years (if not longer) and have Diana be an "elder statesman" or something or other.

I don't think --- and I could very well be wrong --- that "Diana Prince" is associated with "Wonder Woman" as strongly as say, "Bruce/Batman" or "Clark/Superman".

7:15 PM  
Blogger CalvinPitt said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:59 PM  
Blogger CalvinPitt said...

*waves hand furiously*

I care about Speedball! If Joe Quesada would end this damn "destroy Marvel" campaign he's on, they could be really fun again.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Calvin, I understand.

But now that Joe Q. has turned him into a depowered criminal damned in the public eye, the best you can hope for is the odd one-shot or limited series, poorly hyped and quickly forgotten about that serves only to advance an editorial agenda.

Just ask Quicksilver.

I'm sorry.

I think that since there are like four of us left blogging who actually read Marvel comics we need some sort of organized resistance. Hmmm.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I also raise my hand. Its nice to see Speedy getting a little attention even if its not th ebest kind..and i havent read the issue but that Iron man stuff sounds clunky to me too..

10:36 PM  

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