Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

New Comic Book Day (July 30)

July 31, 2008

Here’s what I picked up this week:

 

Blue Beetle #29

Catwoman #81

DC Special: Cyborg #3

Green Lantern #33

Huntress: Year One #6

JSA Annual #1

Reign in Hell #1

Superman / Batman #50

Teen Titans #61

Trinity #9

 

The Justice Society Annual was interesting for a few reasons.  On the surface it’s a pretty straightforward “you can’t go home again” story for Power Girl, as she finds herself back on the alternate earth (Earth-2) that was her home and that was presumed destroyed in the first Crisis.  And while it is that kind of story in many ways, it tackles that theme from so many angles that it makes for a deep, wonderful read.

Geoff Johns could have easily played Earth-2 as the happier, shinier earth where everyone was happy and untouched by the tragedies that have befallen their New Earth counterparts… and instead he opted to give us an Earth-2 that is a logical extension of the classic version, updated for today, with all the added complexity and drama that that entails.  Thus we get a Helena Wayne that is perhaps in a worse place emotionally than Helena Bertinelli of New Earth, who’s no picture of mental health herself.  This Helena Wayne is haunted by an aging, still-murderous Joker, and torn between her feelings for her long-time boyfriend and her feelings for Dick Grayson, who is, after all, practically her brother.  It’s an interesting extrapolation of the classic Huntress character, but Johns isn’t done yet.

Despite what the cover might lead you to believe, Earth-2 is not patrolled by classic members of the Justice Society, but rather by their children and heirs.  Al Pratt (for some reason) is the sole original JSAer to remain an active member of the team.  Johns therefore gives us the “classic” JSA earth, only for us to find that the classic JSA lineup is less represented here than it is on New Earth!  Johns seems to be wagging his fingers at the readers who have spend the last twenty-two years waiting impatiently for the return of the “real” JSA.  Despite what comic book readers like to believe, time can’t stand still, after all.

And then there’s Power Girl itself.  Her story could have gone down two very formulaic paths.  1) Kara returns to the earth she loved, it’s everything she remembered, BUT WAIT, now she’s being pulled back to New Earth and she’s all sad and mopey!  Or 2), nothing’s like I remember it, so I’d like to go back to New Earth now, please!  But Johns takes the story down neither road.  Earth-2 isn’t perfect, but it isn’t horrible, either.  It’s just different.  Time has passed, her friends have aged and matured, and the world has gotten a little darker, but these aren’t BAD things.  It’s just what happens.  It happens to everyone, everywhere.  And so of course Kara is happy to see her old friends, but it’s like she says to Helena: “I don’t feel like we’re friends anymore.  I don’t feel like I belong here.”  Like Helena and the others, Kara has grown up.  She doesn’t need to go home and be with her old friends any more because she has new friends.  She’s not the junior member of the JSA “Super Squad” any more, she’s the chairwoman of the Justice Society of America!  It’s no surprise, then, that Kara realizes fairly quickly — much faster than we, the readers, are likely to — that there’s no choice to be made here.  She has to go home, back to her real home, on New Earth.

It’s to Johns’ credit that this Annual is both a loving tribute to the old Earth-2 stories, and a cautionary tale about living in the past.  After all, surely this earth isn’t inherently better because Al Pratt is still the Atom, or because Ted Knight is still Starman, or because Jay Garrick is still the only Flash?  No, this earth just seems a little less special without Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi, without Jack Knight and Thom Kallor, and without Barry Allen and Wally West running around.

Earth-2 is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

More Reviews

July 24, 2008

Working my way through the July 24th stack…

 

Brave And The Bold was good fun.  I can kinda understand why Waid was disappointed in the series’ sales; in today’s market, anything that doesn’t tie into a BIG EVENT or have LASTING CONSEQUENCES is going to get skipped over by a lot of people.  As this is Waid’s second-to-last issue, it strikes me what a shame this is, as the book has always been fun, old-fashioned superhero stories with great art.  I’m a big fan of Scott Kolins, and he doesn’t disappoint here, but is it just me or does the colouring in this issue make everything look a little washed out?  Compare it to his Flash work, or even the last issue of BATB.

 

Justice League Of America gets dumped on a lot too these days, for similar reasons, I think.  It’s no longer the BIG EVENT book it was during, say, the Lightning Saga, but it’s not trying to be.  McDuffie (who I loved when he was writing for the JLU cartoon) is no longer playing second fiddle to Salvation Run and Final Crisis, and is getting to finally tell his own stories.  And they’re fun, witty, enjoyable stories.  The recent additions of Wally West and Firestorm, not to mention guest star Zatanna, make for a large cast but a diverse and interesting one.  I hope McDuffie won’t be kicked off the book to make way for another big name before he has a chance to build up a nice, long run.

 

Not having been familiar with Ambush Bug, I didn’t know what to expect from Year None, but I found myself laughing out loud several times.  Comic book satire can be hit-and-miss, especially when the character has been out of the public eye for a while and no one’s quite sure if his style of humour works any more… but Ambush Bug: Year None works.  I know that Giffen wants to keep the series accessible and so he doesn’t want readers to have to have read Identity Crisis to enjoy this issue, and he succeeds, but the IC jokes were so on-the-mark that I found myself wishing he had chucked that rule and gone all-out on Meltzer’s series.

New Comic Book Day

July 23, 2008

Here’s what I picked up this week:

 

Ambush Bug: Year None #1

Brave And The Bold #15

Green Lantern Corps #26

Justice League Of America #23

Legion Of Super-Heroes #44

Robin #175

Superman #678

Trinity #8

 

Preliminary thoughts: Superman was good, but is it just me or does James Robinson make odd choices regarding which words to emphasize?  It’s like he just picks them at random.  The art was great — did Guedes do the old-timey sections as well?  They were eerily Kirbyesque.  I have a feeling Robinson will start to play up the similarities and differences between Superman and Atlas as the story rolls along, inasmuch as they are similar in terms of ability and initial motivations but Atlas grew too attached to power once he saved his city and found it easier just to rule it permanently.  On the odd side: wasn’t Clark being kind of a dick when talking to Lois about Krypto?  He sounded like he was one minute away from accusing Lois of P.M.S.-ing!

 

Robin was decent; I’m loving Batman: R.I.P. so maybe I’m a bit biased.  It’s good to see Tim’s take on everything that’s been happening get fleshed out a little.  Continuity problems, though: isn’t Sgt. Harper supposed to be Officer Harper?  And didn’t Nightwing head back to Gotham to deal with Intergang before Bruce underwent the Thogal ritual?  Anyway, Nicieza is a solid writer, and I’ve enjoyed his Superman fill-in work and the stuff he’s done with Kurt Busiek, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with the book once he can start his own storylines.

 

Haven’t read the rest yet, but I’m looking forward to taking in some lush Scott Kolins art on BATB.  Hope DC puts him on something after Rogues’ Revenge…