There’s a curious symmetry that the last comic I read before I disappeared off the face of the Earth for three weeks was Blackest Night #1 and the first one I’ll read when I get back is Blackest Night #2. So, did I miss a glorious meltdown amongst the fan entitlement crowd? Or are they all still complaining about Cry for Justice because “omigod zombiez so awesome, yo”?

I did manage to pick up a few odd comics while I was traveling. I’ll probably get to the more interesting stuff I picked up at Comic-Con later, mostly because I barely remember them and need a chance to rediscover them. But the were a couple of things worth mentioning that I picked up post-Con.

Justice Society of America # 29
by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges and Jesus Merino, published by DC Comics
I don’t think there was ever a time when you could say that Bill Willingham was a great comic-book writer, but he used to be at least good. If the last two years worth of Fables hasn’t convinced you that his talent has declined, this issue should. It’s not just bad, it’s aggressively bad. I needed a Wildcat fix and so picked this up, but if this is the caliber of story to expect, I may be off the JSA for the first time since my teens.
Every character speaks with an affected “bad ass” voice, except for Cyclone, who Willingham somehow manages to make even more annoying with three lines of dialogue than Johns managed during the entirety of his run. He also manages to introduce two of the most obnoxious, instantly unlikable new characters in comic book history. And this is on a book that has become a showcase for bad characters inspired by the insipid and over-rated Kingdom Come, so for King Chimera and All-American Kid to be more aggravating than Cyclone, Lightning, Damage or Judo-Master, well that is quite some feat.
And then Obsidian is turned into an egg, which is even stupider than “hanging around flat on building walls” and the entire team is beaten by a group of C and D list cross-over canon fodder villains in order to establish how “big” the threat is. Instead of actually giving us a convincing threat.
Art’s pretty, though.

The Stuff of Legends Volume 1: The Dark, Book 1
by Mike Raicht, Brian Smith and Charles Paul Wilson III, published by Th3rd World Studios
Ponderous title, but this was the book I was most excited about from the most recent Free Comic Book Day, and so I leapt at the chance to buy it when I saw it on a shelf (sorry, Mike). Charles Wilson’s art is beautifully lush and rendered in exquisite sepia tones that bring to the work a nostalgic feel that fits the tone of the story perfectly. The story by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith is nicely evocative of classic “toys come alive” children’s stories. There’s some nice nuance to character here as well, as the toys personalities come shining through with simple dialogue choices and art. If there’s a flaw here it’s that in this first issue the foreshadowing is laid on very, very thick. I’ll wager a quarter that most careful readers will detect the eventual conclusion of the story by the end of this first issue.

Fear Agent Volume One: Re-Ignition
by Rick Remender and Tony Moore, published by Dark Horse Comics
This is one of those comics that people with good taste keep telling me is good, but given that it’s published by Dark Horse it’s always either out of print at the publisher level or out of stock at the distributor level. So it took me a while to stumble across a copy. And I’m glad I did. Tony Moore’s art is fantastic, and the story strikes a good balance between action and comedy, in a realized world that doesn’t feel the need to beat the reader over the head with exposition.
It also has a really frustrating cliff-hanger ending, which means that I need to start stalking stores for volume two…

I also saw a film…
G.I. Joe: Rise of COBRA
Yes, I know, the trailers looked absolutely fucking terrible. And, to be honest, the film isn’t really very good. There’s no sense of logic to the plot and the characters are all cyphers, only vaguely defined by code-names and job titles. But it’s the enjoyable kind of bad, dumb action movie, which is lost in the trailers. It’s fun, and very unpretentious, and it’s not pretending to be anything other than a lot of loud explosions based on a toyline that hasn’t aged well. Granted, I may be coming to that conclusion because as a kid I never gave a damn about G.I. Joe, in either toy, comic or cartoon forms, much preferring to play with half-naked muscle-men and Manichean robot warriors. As an adult, of course, I can appreciate the property more, even in an insufferable, pomo ironic sense, as basically the story of the Village People fighting Randian Libertarian terrorists. Seriously, those toys and cartoons came out during Reagen’s America…and people dismiss deconstructive readings of pop-culture with this staring them in the face.

2 Responses to “Road Reviews”
  1. You know, the fact that I DIDN’T watch GI Joe (or Transformers) as a kid makes me look at the trailers and commercials and go, “Ugh!” I don’t have the nostalgia that would make it in any way palatable, even if there are shirtless guys and Chris Ecclestone (who is still the Doctor, lalalalala, I can’t hear you David Tennant fanboys/girls!). I like movies with tons of explosions as much as the next guy — heck, I enjoyed Wolverine and thought Star Trek was terrific — but there does come a point where mindless, “fun” summer blockbuster entertainment just enters the abyss, and I think the Gog and Magog of Transformers/GI Joe this summer was it.

    BTW, thanks for the link! I’m very honored.

  2. Evan Waters says:

    Libertarians? But they had their own health plan!

    (Youtube fails me, but it was a throwaway joke in one of the cartoons.)

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