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Monday, January 10, 2005
Well, since mudslides on both of the south-bound freeways are going to keep me home today, I may as well try and catch up on some reviews.
Legion of Super-Heroes #1: Well, I've read the most recent relaunch now, this time by Waid and Kitson, and I have to say, I don't like it. The art is nice enough, and the story is entertaining enough, but too many elements of this story feel very carefully designed to appeal to the long-term Legion fan (the retro code-names, the Mike Grell-era inspired costumes, the complete and utter lack of any back-story for the setting or characters here) while superficially resembling a slick, ultra-cool and modern super-hero book. The line "eat it, grandpa" would have a lot more resonance if it wasn't coming out of the mouth of a character who has appeared in comics for forty years. It's safe and the same-old-same-old, but tarted up in fancy new clothes in the hopes that you won't spot the wrinkles.
Superman/Batman #16 and Teen Titans #19: I'm going to review these together, because I basically have the same thing to say about them both. While I enjoy these titles as good, escapist super-hero fare, playing off my love of the DCU and its history, there are times I really wish that DC had gone for a less inward looking, long-time fan appealing approach with these titles. These could be DC's flagship books, but they're hampered by the in-jokiness of it all.
Adam Strange #4: And on the other side of the scale, we have this title. I've never read an issue of Omega Men in my life, but I'm given a basic idea of their role in the DCU and this story from their brief introduction. And as usual, Ferry's art is gorgeous and Diggle's story is fun. And now, shameful fanboy speculation ahoy: The mysterious figure being worshiped by Thanagarian officer Sh'ri Valkyr, given his cryptic statement about becoming a shadow, and given rumors that this title is of some import for DC's future publishing plans, suggests Anti-Monitor to me. But I'm weird like that. [Highlight blank area to read my geeky predictions]
Ultimate Fantastic Four #14: I like the work of Warren Ellis, but this title frustrates me in how long it takes for very little to happen. And I know it's because it's written for the trade paper-back, but still...
Ultimate Nightmare #4: And see, I know Ellis can write for the trade and still pack action and information into a comic. See, he does that in this issue. So why does his FF feel like such slow-going?
Batman #635: I was hoping that with Winick coming onto Batman we'd maybe start to see a fun Bats title again, but the events of the War Games cross-over pretty much put an end to that hope. Still, there's enough material here to hold my interest. I find myself intrigued by the new villain status-quo, by the emphasis on organized crime-type villains with the occasional freaky psychotic thrown into the mix. And the more street-level Batman is appealing, now that his access to all the nifty new toys has been cut-off. And the identity of the new Red Hood is a good comics-type mystery...because you know it's going to rely on both in-story clues and the reader's knowledge of the DCU to make it work. And no, I don't think it's going to be Jason Todd. That trick would have worked in the "Hush" story-line, but not anymore.
Wildguard: Fire Power: I've always liked Nauck's art in the past, and the first Wildguard mini was lots of fun, so it was very welcome to revisit these characters and to get a taste of what Nauck plans to do with them in the future. The art has an engaging, cartoony style that's very easy on the eye and the story is fun, taking the concept of a super-hero reality show through it's absurd paces. I'm less thrilled with the Little Miss Sunshine back-up story. Sean Galloway's figures are very emaciated and I don't find them appealing, and he seems overly fond of drawing panty shots for my taste.
Strange #3: There was something about this issue that really bugged me, but I couldn't place my finger on it. Then prevailing critical opinion seemed to decide that Straczynski was rewriting The Matrix here, only casting it in fantasy rather than sci-fi garb, and my problem clicked. Not that I necessarily agree that that is what Straczynski is doing, but the book does feel awfully derivative of many, many things that have gone before.
Monolith #11: Something of this issue suggests to me that Palmiotti and Gray may not have had much advance word regarding the cancellation of the book. The story feels a little rushed, with frequent cutting between scenes and flashbacks. I'm going to miss this series.
Quit City #1: The second Apparat book, with art by Laurenn McCubbin, is not quite as successful as Frank Ironwine, I think. The emotional core of the story is there, but the notion of the aviator hero is perhaps too far removed from the contemporary aesthetic for it to have much resonance. Luckily the fact that the lead is an ex-adventuress is almost totally unimportant to the story. The important point is simply that she's the girl who got out of the small town, and then came back. That's where the meat of the story is. McCubbin has a visually dynamic and interesting art style, and I can easily see why it doesn't sit well with some people. Personally I find her figure-work fascinating to look at. Her figures are very expressive and emotive, but they still have a rough-hewn look to them. It's a very expressionistic style that you don't often see in American comics.
303 #2: Regarding my earlier comments about war comics, this is shaping up to be more of a DC style war comic, but it's clear Ennis has read his share of Marvel war comics as well. And, of course, leave it to Ennis to write a contemporary war comic that explicitly criticizes American military adventurism, and yet fills it with enough gore and machismo to please people who don't care about the book's politics. Jacen Burrows is probably my favorite of the artists who regularly do work for Avatar, and his pencils look absolutely stunning in color.