Man of the Moment

Sean William Scott

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Slightly Timely Reviews 

Elephantmen #0 by Richard Starkings, Joe Casey and Ladronn, published by Image

Elephantmen is easily one of the best science-fiction comics on the market right now. This reprint of the "origin" story for the beast-men of Starkings' and Ladronn's noir-ish future is a fairly good starting point, as it establishes a good deal of the back story and mood that informs the regular Elephantmen and Hip Flask comics. Ladronn's art is lushly detailed and simply a thing of beauty in and of itself. That it's paired with such a strong and compelling story, that isn't afraid to use suggestion and nuance rather than heavy exposition, makes it an indispensable read.

Justice Society of America #1 by Geoff Johns, Dale Eaglesham and Art Thibert, published by DC Comics

Okay, to be up front, I'm frankly a bit too much of a fanboy for too many of the characters featured in this book to be a really effective reviewer of this. It's the sort of the thing that, whether it's good or bad, I'm going to be buying anyway. Because I'm sad like that. So, it's probably easier to break down the list of things I liked and didn't like.
The pacing. New characters are introduced, new status quos are presented, and the story actually moves along rather than dragging itself out. Now, granted, there's not a lot of introduction for those new or returning characters, but this is no one's first comic book. If you're buying a trade-mark maintaining title based on a sixty year old concept, it's safe to assume you know what you're getting into, character-wise.
The breadth of characters. There's a good selection of types here, all presented in an interesting way.
The story. Uniting the legacy characters under one banner, and the threat to them, is actually a pretty good and original idea for a long-running concept of this nature.
Mr. America. I just like it when minor and forgotten characters get used at all.
The continual shoehorning of elements of Kingdom Come into the mainstream DC universe. Really, it wasn't a very good comic, and it's unrelenting bleakness is supposedly something DC is trying to move away from. And the "new" characters from it were just sort of, well, lame.
The use of Obsidian. Yeah, taking him away from the book where he's actually being used, and sticking him in for one panel, dismissed as a mere security guard...yeah, that's not a good sign that Johns plans on doing anything worthwhile with the character.
Emo-Damage. From the characterization to the knock-off of the Atom/Atom Smasher costume, it just feels like forced, unnessecary angst.
The fate of Mr. America and his family. Cripes, but did that all seem gratuitous.
Cautious About
Eaglesham's art. It's workmanlike at best. It doesn't thrill me, but it doesn't offend me either.
The characterization of Wildcat. Frankly, he feels a bit off. Wildcat not wanting to train the new kids doesn't make sense, given that that has been his primary function for the last thirty years. He's been the "go to" character for fitting in a mentor/trainer for a character for quite some time. Granted, I get that his attitude is set up so that he can have a change of heart in light of the new revelation about his past (a change I approve of, as it plays off dropped plot threads regarding him from the past). But it still doesn't feel quite in character for him.

newuniversal #1 by Warren Ellis and Salvador Larroca, published by Marvel

I keep thinking of this book as "Warren Ellis finally gets around to borrowing plot points from Valis." Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but this first issue contains more than a passing resemblance to Dick's novel. Given the sudden shift to Dick-related territory in last week's Desolation Jones, it seems more than a little coincidental. If anything, this is probably the strongest super-hero genre work we've seen from Ellis since the start of Planetary. This is also the strongest work I think I've ever seen from Salvador Larroca ever, using a much less stylized approach than he's used in the past, beautifully complemented by Jason Keith's colors. The typical, and appropriate, complaints about pacing for the trade apply, but apart from that, this promises to be the start of a good, atypical super-hero comic.

Quick Hits

Welcome to Tranquility #1 by Gail Simone and Neil Googe, published by DC/Wildstorm

An excellent opening to a series blending comedy and drama, with realistically aging "Golden Age" heroes.

Manhunter #26 by Marc Andreyko, Javier Pina and Robin Riggs, published by DC

The critically acclaimed book all of you should be reading returns with an extended team-up featuring Wonder Woman, tying up loose threads from before the most recent Crisis.

Mystery In Space #4 by Jim Starlin, Shane Davis, Matt Banning and Al Milgrom, published by DC

Space opera with an occasional tongue-in-cheek tone, featuring proudly C-List characters.

Midnighter #2 by Garth Ennis, Chris Sprouse and Karl Story, published by DC/Wildstorm

Gay guy in leather kicks lots of ass as he's being forced to travel back in time to kill Hitler. Ennis-brand violence in his "don't take me too seriously" style.

The Exterminators #12 by Simon Oliver and Mike Hawthorne, published by DC/Vertigo

One of the stronger recent titles from Vertigo, with a multi-layered plot that moves at a brisk pace.


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