Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fast Thoughts For 02/20/08

I think, except for the Green Lantern books and Comic Foundry, I got every thing I buy for myself this week.

BIRDS OF PREY #115 - I may stand in the minority on this, but while this book hasn't been quite as good since Gail Simone left, it's far from bad... even with some fairly fractured Superman characterization. McKeever is playing to both his strengths with this, his opening story - reviving obscure points of a character's background and tales of Teenage Angst.

On the first front, we have Lady Blackhawk dealing with her repeated stints as "Queen Shark" to longtime Blackhawk enemy Killer Shark. Much as I've wanted a story centering on Lady Blackhawk for a while, I wish we could have found something better than the just-plain-creepy stories in which a supervillain brain-washes the one female member of the team. I especially could have done without the revelation of Zinda being just a bit angry over all the things he "had her do".

The details are left to the imagination, of course, but somehow it's hard NOT to imagine some pretty disgusting things. Especially given that Killer Shark had to undress her and get her into the Queen Shark costume. :P

On the second front, we have Misfit (aka Oracle's unwitting teenage sidekick and magical teleporting girl) freaking out over Oracle's adoption of Black Alice (aka the magical goth twink girl) into The Birds, seemingly over the much more inspired and much more enthusiastic Misfit.

I think the intention is for Misfit to be coming off as an anxious and over-eager brat - which she is - but honestly, she's got a point. Granting that Babs seems to be thinking in the purely logical terms that SOMEBODY needs to keep Alice under control and that she honestly could use a magic-sniffer/stealer on her team...

a) Alice's powers are unreliable under good conditions
b) there's a lot more qualified people than Barbara Gordon to teach a teenage girl how to manage her magic powers and Babs has most of them on speed-dial
c) Alice is ... kinda insane.

If I were buying this for me, this book would be on the fence. Since I'm getting it for my girlfriend, it's safe to say I'll still be buying it until she tells me to stop. Wish I could give the book better praise than that but McKeever has yet to hook me. And - uh yeah - the whole Queen Shark thing is just plain creepy.

CONAN #49 - A standard, but enjoyable tale. Truman closes out the last lingering plot-thread from the Busiek run and the tale of a beggar-girl with prophetic powers who followed after Conan to warn him of danger only to wind up in great danger herself.

I think I can see the shape of where things are going but it's an even bet that Issue 50 will end with Conan shifting from a mostly amoral mercenary to a mostly moral mercenary. Violence and sorcery aside, the greatest conflict in this issue is between Conan's natural urges to head home and fend for himself following the defeat of the army he had signed on with versus his code to help those who have helped him or proven helpless.

EX MACHINA #34 - Another scale-back issue, similar to Issue #25's close look at the past of Bradbury. This one gives us a closer look at the past of Commissioner Amy Angotti and just why - apart from being a general law-and-order kind of cop, she seems to have such a grudge against ex-superhero turned mayor Mitchel Hundred.

It's kind of a slow-down after the last few issues with the plot to kill The Pope and the revelation that Mitchell can talk to God through his powers. Still, this kind of character work is the kind of thing that Vaughan is famous for. And Tony Harris' work sings on the page, as always.

JUSTICE LEAUGE OF AMERICA #18 - Dwayne McDuffie made me care more about Red Tornado in one back-up story than Brad Meltzer could across an entire six-issue story arc.

THAT is talent.

Still not digging the Salvation Run tie-in and the "fight" with the Suicide Squad is one of the most anti-climactic affairs in recent memory. Nice to see someone play with the history between Vixen and Bronze Tiger, though. And I did like the scene with Batman and Amanda Walker as Bruce figures out that "The Wall" is trying to distract him and Superman while The Watchtower is being attacked.

"You're wasting our time. You NEVER waste time."

KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #136 - With the exception of one strip continuing the story of B.A's game, the whole of the comics are devoted to three seperate groups playing the on-line Role Playing Game World of Hackcraft (Give yourself a no-prize if you can guess what that is a take off on!)

While the game we see here has nothing to do World of Warcraft (a shame, as I'd love to play a D&D On-Line game that actually had something to do with D&D AND penalized you for being an idiot who constantly hits on "the hot chicks"), there's a lot of humor here that is fairly consistent to all walks of MMORPG. The Clan of Griefers who play only to annoy other people (Logan and Newt). The hobbyists who take things too damn seriously (Johnny, Brian and company). And the female gamers who abuse the stupidity of the men around them (Bridget and Shelia and Sara).

I've said it before and I'll say it again: best pure gaming humor comic on the stands today.

RED SONJA #30 - And so we enter an era of rotating writing/art teams and I already find it more enjoyable than the last 20 issues of Red Sonja put together. A flashback tale, told as Sonja herself is taken deep in the Underworld to face judgement for her crimes - this details Sonja's first attempt at thievery and how her mistakes got a friend and mentor killed.

Ron Marz previously wrote the Sonja Goes East one-shot and proved himself capable of writing a well-paced action story. He lets the art tell a lot of the story here and while this is usually a good idea in a sword & sorcery comic, Lee Moder proves incapable of carrying his own weight much less Marz's slack. Moder's art is serviciable but not quite as good as Mel Rubi's previous work on the title, im my humble opinion. His work looks too cartoony and that's not a good thing given the blood and gore this title usually features. There is a time and a place for Bruce Timm styling and that place is not in Red Sonja.


  1. More Shade?
    Robinson said that he's probably not going to be going fully back into (Starman’s home) Opal City in the foreseeable future, but has a plan to write a Shade limited series in about a year. "And in the book that I can’t talk about, there will be some Opal there as well."

  2. Yes, I saw that. But call me a dreamer... I'm more excited about the news that James Robinson is writing something involving Green Arrow and Green Lantern that he also can't talk about... and how Neal Adams might be involved in the art.