Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Weekly Comics Swill Report

This week was light with only a handful of books from DC (to meet demand perhaps?) and a smattering from Marvel & the Indies. It was also the first week in the last four that Bowen Designs wasn't shipping two or more mini-busts and the only hardcover of note was DC's horrible Final Crisis, so my bill was moderate.


Batman #687
The normally reliable Judd Winick turns in a script that's reminiscent of everything else about the "Death of Batman" storyline; a wasted opportunity.

From the failure to make any noise marketing-wise, to it's falling guillotine on Grant Morrison's previously brilliant career (some of those issues were as bad as the Sopranos coma/dream episodes), to the"dredge up and insert some rightly forgotten history" directive that seems to be infecting all DC titles, to it's thin and predictable plot points, this issue lands with all the excitement of a lead ballon. Artist Ed Benes can do better and here seems to be reaching for the same sub-Jim Lee style that evaded Tony Daniel before him.

Like all DC in-continuity superhero books of late, this book has had its identity edited out of it. The issue plods towards a much-ado-about-nothing reveal of Nightwing as Batman at the end, in the most squandered "death of a major character" story in recent memory. Some of Marvel's 90's X-Men Annual crossovers were better executed events than this load of crap and that's saying something.

Flash: Rebirth #3
This is another continuity crazy book that is virtually impenetrable to an outsider. Not a good way to re-launch a book that features the return of a beloved character, especially one whose best stories were relatively simple stuff. Every issue feels more and more like a boring lecture about the speed force delivered with all the enthusiasm of a 65 year old physics Professor on downers. I expect more from both artist and writer. Van Sciver in particular is pulling off the tricky stunt of making his art look both busy and lazy at the same time.

Preview of upcoming JSA JLA mini/maxi-series:
The one potentially bright spot in DC's core universe might just be this upcoming mini that was given a seven page preview in last week's books. It features nice painted art and a compelling premise; Hal Jordan's Green Lantern is tired of getting abused by the bad guys and calls on all the DC teams to do some ass-kicking of their own, essentially calling Superman and Wonder Woman pussies in the process. It's the wish-fullfillment of every disenfranchised DC reader.

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a DC book that's about as plot heavy as a Transpoter film. After all the abuse these characters have taken under the current regime, a monthly book where they stay even marginally in character while beating on DC baddies is just the sort of stupid relief we all need.

Or they could go back in time and rescue the pink kryptonite from Dr Magnus' evil great great grandfather in the time of the Medieval Batman, setting off some sort of Kirby-Fourth-World-gadget-related cataclysm that "will rock the DC Universe to it's core!!" in a preferably impossible-to-follow weekly comic that everyone will stop reading after the sixth issue, but many will keep buying so they have a complete set "in case something that affects continuity of the ongoing books they read happens (DC will categorize this as earth-shattering), like 'Snapper Carr Stubs His Snapping Finger - Forever!' or 'Martian Manhunter dies.'" Which it won't.


Amazing Spider-man #597
I like Joe Kelly and am not one of the Post "One More Day" Revised Continuity Haters, so I'm a little bummed out that this chapter of an otherwise promising storyline seems to exist for no reason but to remind us that Norman Osbourne is a bad guy and not a particularly good father, either. Since that's the predominant story in nearly all Marvel books these days, it doesn't bear repeating here. You can do better guys.

Deadpool #11
This book continues to be a blast to read, Deadpool having settled into the most sympathetic writer since Joe Kelly or even Fabian. Way is clearly having a blast here and although the battle with a Hawkeyed-up Bullseye is all you get, it's so well done that you don't mind that the story barely moves forward.

Fantastic Four #567
Millar is one of the top British writers still working in superheroes that hasn’t completely lost his shit. This entertaining (if slight) second part of a four part Dr Doom storyline moves right along with a nifty Doom dream sequence that tells us oodles about the character without getting all psychedelic. Hitch's work looks amazing as usual and the story is unhampered by Dark Reign continuity.

Punisher Max #71
Under the great Johnson cover is another fine Punisher story that continues in the earthy vein that Garth Ennis so successfully utilizeded in revitalizing the lead. The humor isn't as evident, but the dialogue and motivations ring true to character. Nicely written and drawn.

Wolverine #74
Great artists, great writers, in two short part ones (!) of what appear to be two leftover inventory stories that seem to have been intended for Marvel's "experimental" black and white anthology from a few years back. Avoid this issue (and apparently next month's as well), this is a pointless issue featuring material that should have printed as back up stories. At least it was only $2.99.


Absolution #0, Resurrection #1
I've lumped these two together not because they are similar stylistically, but because both feature established mainstream comics writers breaking out their own creator-owned series. That said they are both fine books, but neither is anything more than promising at this point. Christos Gage's Absolution is another "superheroes in the real world" conceit that hopefully has more up it's sleeve than the well-worn ground it covers in this preview. You can't be too critical as it's a short "zero" issue, but unless some hereto unrevealed twist is lurking in the first issue this series will be nothing but a competently done retread of familiar concepts. Resurrection from Marc Guggenheim is slightly more intriguing, although the post apocalypse (this time it's an alien invasion and occupation which as suddenly ended) survivors theme is equally ragged. The art isn't doing a many-charactered story any favors as the designs aren't unique enough to give any of them personality beyond the limited capacity of the stylized drawings, but there are enough intriguing concepts and unanswered questions here to compel me to buy issue 2.

The Unknown #2
Fine work from Waid and Oosterveer as the story picks up speed, and mysteries start to unfold. I'm not typically a fan of contemporary magic / mystery in comics as it's rarely very well done, but this, like many other Boom! original series, is an exception to the rule and a mainstream looking book with a European flavor, covering unfamiliar ground with compelling panache. If you like this, seek out Waid's Potter's Field, which just came out in a trade.

Walking Dead #62, Hack/Slash #23
If you enjoyed previous issues of either of these books, you'll enjoy these. Probably the most consistent indies published on a regular schedule. Neither book is earth-shatteringly great, but both deliver good old meat & potatoes-style cheap thrills, and as such, are a welcome relief from the endless parade of unnecessarily overworked event books from the big two.

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