Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Jim's Comic Reviews - Week of 9 January
So, now that we've settled in, what can we glean about the direction Fraction and co. have undertaken with this title? I have to say, it's exactly as expected: The first family of comics is in another realm entirely, disconnected from the events of Earth-616, partaking in adventure of a very Trek or Lost in Space vibe. Bagley's art is competent, Mount's colors are all very whiz-bang, as you'd expect on such a title, and the characters are true to their nature...but I'm a little bored with it, to be honest. The one thing the issue lacks is a complex, motivated nemesis, and the being they encounter instead is very Trek-like and just...well, generic sci-fi. It's all very predictable, and this is one title that's gotta be anything but. The vibe they're going for is "boundless adventure" and what you get is something that, although executed with competence, you've seen before. If 50's and 60's sci-fi nostalgia is what trips your trigger, I'd say give it a look-see, but even then, if you're more Whovian than Trekkie in your taste for weird sci-fi plots you'll want to give it a pass. For myself, I've seen this episode dozens of times, it's just that Shatner was playing his own version of Mr. Fantastic.
I gotta say, this was a fun read. Way's giving us a motley of characters that are all very broken, and delights in those moments of interplay within the team that make the book what it is. He's one of those few that can get legitimate, consistent hilarity out of the over-used Deadpool, who's played as the perfect foil to everyone else's weighty concerns. Dillon's art is what it is, though...you never want for clues as to the characters' emotional states, and the storytelling, character blocking and composition is all there...but there's an element of same-face to characters and, well, to put it bluntly there's just something wrong with everyone's mouths and eyes. The line weights are just too uniform around facial features and they lack any sense of texture. That, and character movements and poses are all very uninspired. With a character like Red Hulk, for example, I want more "tank-like" and less "slightly taller than Frank Castle, if you check his driver's license" That being said, this title is going on my pull list tomorrow, great art or no.
Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin #1
Apparently, there's a set of novels and a tv show about this Dresden guy, and I've never seen any of it...go figure. I'm judging the work as an introduction to a reader who's starting out cold, so fans should bear that in mind. Love the art work in this issue: the Cooper/Mohan team gives us images well suited for the story, which concerns the adventures of Harry Dresden, Wizard-For-Hire. Now, that's a job title that just screams for a unique character and a bizarre plot to go with it. While the plot here seems original in it's underpinnings, the execution is rather flat. I haven't followed the character in works past, so maybe there's back-story and motivation I'm unaware of that fans will just "get", but I didn't think the book did a convincing job of laying out the basics. I'm thinking they were going for "hard-boiled" and "noir-ish", but they end up with a sort of faceless guy who deals in the fantastic in a way that's very parochial. I don't recommend it as an introduction for non-fans of the character, but I'd guess that long-time fans might like it.
Batman Detective Comics #16
While the issue is without the mask cover of the other, sometimes more relevant, pieces of the Death Of The Family crossover event, it does have the crossover billing over the marqis. I suppose the guts of the story kinda depend on DotF going on, but it's definitely a side-line arc that could have, with a few tiny tweaks, ended up well outside the bounds of the crossover. Nevertheless, Layman once again lays out a tight, engaging script that's perfectly suited for the title, and could definitely stand as it's own story. An up-and-coming villain is bent on taking control of the Gotham crime syndicate currently headed by the Penguin, and he's definitely proving himself willing to embrace Gotham's own brand of intricate, violent weirdness to do it. Layman is setting us up for many issues to come, and it's a fun ride. The art is pretty stellar, too.
Just go buy it already. I can't believe Marvel is putting out such consistent quality with this title at such a fast pace. Probably the best run of Thor since JMS was on the character a few years back, and I daresay it's even better. The art, imho, is a runaway best of the new Marvel NOW! line, and I'd put it up against any current monthly title by any publisher.
Action Comics #16
Somewhere in here is a good Superman story, I'm convinced of it...but it seems, once again, Mr. Morrison has confounded it with a jumbled aesthetic and an incomprehensible narrative, and it'll probably take another six issues to glean enough pieces to even begin the work of puzzling it all together. Maybe it is hard to come up with an unfamiliar-sounding Superman story after 75 years, but is the character so far gone that finding such a story involves LSD?
Earth 2 #8
Earth 2 has been on-again, off-again with the quality, but I thought this issue was rather solid. It gives us a view from the other side of the conflict, and really serves to cement the idea that in this dimension, things can be allowed to spiral out of control, upsetting the status quo on a world scale and examining the consequences in a way that, let's face it, you just can't in the regular DCU, no matter how many times you push the reboot/reset button. The Steppenwolf of Earth 2, having been trapped on the wrong side of a boom tube, is embracing the new world he's found himself in, and like Caesar in Gaul, he's got his sights set on conquering the scattered barbarians he finds there and bringing them to heel. Convenient, then, that he's found the perfect fictional nation to home base in. This title is, the way I see it, so very necessary to DC as a sort of end-game fulfillment of the what they billed the New 52 reboot as being: Truly new, truly different...and assertively NOT dependent on 75 year-old characters in familiar settings with familiar motivations, to make it tick. All in all, a very good read, if a tad on the dry side.
Superior Spider-Man #1
I've made no bones on the podcast nor in previous blog entries about the fact I think some of the decades-old characters of comics could use an ending to their stories...in truth, I've found the idea of a new psyche inhabiting the body of Spider-Man immensely intriguing, perhaps even worthy of an indefinite status with one of Marvel's linchpin properties. But do I end up liking this character? I don't know yet. Octavius of the comics has always been written as kinda petty, and while it is an interesting premise to have such a self-centered mind saddled with Parker's everlasting guilt trip, yet stuck in a body capable of the sort of wish fulfillment every villain dreams of, you still get the sense things are in a state of flux, and it's tough, at least in this first issue, to get behind it. You want the diverse motivational elements to get to detente, so you can take a look at the singular result with new eyes, but you still get the sense this is two characters jumbled into one, ala someone like Firestorm. Perhaps it's just the stutter of changing gears, and things will all shake out after we've had some time with the character. Nevertheless, it is FUN, and treated somewhat lightly, and I'm genuinely interested in a Spider-Man title for the first time in years. Stegman's art is perfect for the cartoony, frenetic tone of OctoParker's endeavors, and it's scripted about as well as can be expected. Good for Mr. Slott for venturing down this path...we could use a few more such risks with established characters....and a risk, it definitely is.
Anyway, it's been a great week for comics. Thanks for reading!