Monday, August 11, 2003

Looking To The Stars: Quick Takes

Dear Reader,

Due to some rather hectic things happening in the last few weeks, I haven’t gotten to have as many of these special weekly little talks with you as either of us would like. Well, I hope you like them anyway and if not, why the heck are you wasting your time reading this?

Don’t answer that.

At any rate, a lot of good books have come out in the last month or so, but I haven’t gotten a chance to weigh in on them. But how… how am I going to cover so much ground in so little space?

Brevity is the soul of wit, I’m told. And it is also the soul of writers with a quickly approaching deadline. With that in mind, here’s my quick takes and ratings of some of the books to grace and curse our shelves in the past few weeks.

Bad Girls #1

Somewhat amusing tale of superpowers accidentally given to the bitchy beautiful girls we all hated in high school and the new, uncool girl having to stop them. I’ll give it a few more issues, but this looks pretty prosaic so far. Indie title Shades of Blue does the same thing but with a lot more passion and realism.

Final Score: 4.0 (out of 10)

Supreme Power #1

To my regret, I have yet to get around to reading the original Squadron Supreme books and what I saw here isn’t making me all that eager to read much more of this prequel series. I probably will keep reading it though, as JMS has a way of starting stories off slow and typical but then twisting the heck out of everything later. If nothing else, I’ll probably be able to sell the single issues for a mint later. Word is the issue #1 is already doing a brisk trade on eBay.

Final Score: 3.0 (out of 10)

Futurama #14

The series may be over, but the comic lives on. This month it features a gimmick that even ol’ Stan Lee never tried… seven comics in one story. The entire comic is done in a six-box format that can either be read as one whole comic story or by following each corner-panel to read a separate story centering around a different member of the cast. The effect is a bit trippy, but enjoyable.

Final Score: 7.0 (out of 10)

JSA All-Stars #4

I’m going to miss Geoff Johns when he goes off this title and I can only hope that Courtney a.k.a. The Star Spangled Kid (now Star Girl as of this issue) will make an appearance in Teen Titans. John’s baby, Courtney really came into her own in the pages of JSA and this issue is a real treat. And Starman fans (that’s fans of the comic and not fans of yours truly), will want to check out the vintage story by James Robinson and Tony Harris, complete with cheesy Golden Age ending.

Final Score: 10.0 (out of 10)

Formerly Known as the Justice League #1 and #2

There’s just not enough good comedy in comics anymore. So may any gods that are listening bless whoever had the idea to bring back Giffen and DeMatteis to doing this book instead of preaching pseudo-intellectual spiritual dogma (Spectre) or mindless violence for the sake of comedy (Lobo). Not that I have anything against The Main Man or The Spirit of Redemption, but I don’t think either of these writers shined quite so well as when they were working on JLE and JLI together.

Final Score: 8.0 (out of 10)

Superman/Batman #1

Jeph Loeb, the best writer on Batman and Superman in the last ten years, is writing.

Ed McGuinness, one of the best artists in the field today, is penciling.

It sold out at DC before it hit the streets.

It was the best thing I read all last week.

What else do you need to know? Get this book!

Final Score: 10.0 (out of 10)

Batman #617

Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee continue to do everything we always wanted to see or never thought we’d see in a Batman story. If you aren’t already reading this book, nothing else I can say will get you reading it. Go sit in your dark corner all alone and cold while the rest of us laugh and point at you.

Final Score: 9.0 (out of 10)

Birds of Prey #57

It’s been too long since I’ve read Huntress done right. Too long portrayed as a PMSing brat (Greg Rucka), an unemotional psychopath (Chuck Dixon) or Nightwing’s wannabe love slave (Devin Grayson), she actually… and I’m sorry I can think of no better or more original way to say this because it has become such a cliché with this title… she actually READS like a real woman who kicks butt. And while I’m not too crazy about her hot-pants and halter costume, the fault with that lies with Jim Lee and not the art team here, who manage to keep this from degrading into total Jim Balent-esque cheesecake work. If she keeps fixing up my favorite books like this, I may have to propose to Gail Simone. (You heard it here first, folks!)

Final Score: 10.0 (out of 10)

Daredevil #49

I wanted Matt back in the costume. I got Matt back in the costume, and none too soon as we get a fight we’ve been waiting for since nearly the start of this volume. My one complaint though, is that Bendis has ruined the mystique of one of the best villains in all of comicdom and in a very off-handed fashion with this issue. While I can appreciate and understand the brief “origin” details given here, it is still too much and ruins the imaginings of me and a million other Daredevil fans.

Final Score: 6.0 (out of 10)

Hawkman #18

Proof you don’t have to have all-action, all the time, even on an action heavy title such as this one. A brilliant story about a depressed Carter Hall visiting a place from his past life and learning a lesson from an unlikely teacher.

Final Score: 8.0 (out of 10)

Green Lantern #167

Slowly but surely, Raab is building towards something. I’ll stick around to find out what, if only out of curiosity. That and because I’m really digging the sci-fi hero elements that we haven’t seen since… well, since Hal was still GL 10 years ago. And cheers to someone finally doing something with ex-Darkstar and perpetually ignored John Stewart girlfriend Merayn.

Final Score: 7.0 (out of 10)

Fantastic Four #500 and #501

Excellence. Pure unadulterated excellence. I can only echo the thoughts of most of my colleagues and the vast masses I have seen on the message boards in asking “What the hell is Bill Jemas thinking taking Mark Waid off this title?”

Final Score: 11.0 (out of 10) Cause it’s one higher, don’t you know?

And on a final note, as long as we’re talking about the insanity of Bill Jemas, I’d like to address the rumors flying around now about an Ultimate Hulk title aimed at children.

GOOD IDEA about to be executed badly.

Look, Mark Millar has gone so out of his way to make the Ultimate Hulk…. NOT a kid’s character, that only a fool or a madman would suggest a kid-friendly Ultimate Hulk title. The whole raping Betty, using Giant man’s skull as a toilet thing is SO not going to fly with the parents of a younger audience. And I am not suggesting that Marvel editorial would be so stupid as to put such material in a children’s book. But having had to fight to keep the young ones out of Ultimates #5 at my store, thanks to a mention in the big history book of The Hulk that’s name escapes me at the moment, I can tell you that slapping Ultimate on the cover and trying to tie a friendly face onto the Hulk as depicted thus far in the tight continuity of the Ultimate Universe would be a BAD IDEA.

A Hulk comic aimed at kids, however, would be a great idea and would sell quite well. Many a customer I’ve had to warn away from the current, more adult Hulk books by Bruce Jones and many is the parent I’ve had complain about how they bring a kid favorite like The Hulk to the big screen, they put out all these toys and then they don’t even have books that the kids can read.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again folks; the audience is there. But the publishers need to cater to it and cater to it right.

Tune in next week. Same Matt Time. Same Matt Website.

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