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Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Action Comics #845, by Geoff Johns, Richard Donner and Adam Kubert, published by DC Comics
This comic is something of an odd beast. Rather than pander to the typical super-hero comic audience, the book seems intent on appealing to those fans with a high degree of loyalty to Donner's one and a half Superman movies. Certainly, the revelation of the villains behind the "Kryptonian child" plot is an element of that, given that the characters were never really that integral to Superman's history prior to the films. And that's largely the flaw in the book: it doesn't feel like a Superman comic as much as a continuation of Donner's Superman films in comic form. There's big, action-movie pop spectacle, but it lacks the humanity of the far superior Busiek and Morrison written Superman comics DC is putting out now as well.
Batman/The Spirit by Jeph Loeb, Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone, published by DC Comics
This sort-of prologue to the forthcoming Cooke and Bone Spirit series from DC is an amusing, slight diversion featuring lovely art and a lively sense of humor and fun. It's not quite a perfectly successful comic. The story assumes that the reader is familiar with the heroes, their supporting casts and their enemies. In the case of Batman, this is probably a fair assumption, but the same cannot be said of the Spirit, whose popularity these days seems confined mostly to the more intellectually and historically minded comic fans. And while it's a tirelessly faithful pastiche of Eisner's Spirit comics, it's too reverent of the material to really feel like more than a pleasant wallow in nostalgia. Eisner's spirit also had a certain sense of self-awareness that is missing here. The end result is an enjoyable comic, but I'm left wondering what the point of it was outside of servicing trade-marks.
Hero Squared #4 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Joe Abraham, published by Boom Studios
Boom's premier humor book marks an escalation in the conflict between corny do-gooder Captain Valor and his ex-girl-friend/arch-enemy Caliginous. It's the closest the series has come so far to a "traditional" super-hero comic, with an extended fight scene laying waste to the city. In a nice twist, and a much needed display of character development, a specific point is made about the level of devastation that real super-humans wreak on the world around them. It's an escalation of the ongoing story that makes for an engaging development in the series.
Whisper by Steven Grant and Jean Dzialowski, published by Boom Studios
In this kinda-sorta revamp of Grant's Eighties female ninja comic, a new female assassin who speaks only in a whisper becomes involved in an elaborate double and triple cross scheme with drug dealers. As action comics go, it's not a bad story, and Dzialowski's art is very impressive. The problem is, we're given no reason whatsoever to care about any of the characters in the book or what happens to them. Even the actual plot is more implied than stated, and when it is stated it comes out in a great rush of exposition. So, what we end up with is a clumsily written story about unpleasant characters, trading off the name of a generally well-remembered older comic.