Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Three Week Catch-Up - Comic Reviews for 5/29, 6/04 and 6/11

To all my fans: Sorry this took so long. I am alive. Just ludicrously busy with work, acting gigs, computer problems, car problems and the end of the world as we know it.

To all of my detractors: Sorry. I haven't quit or decided to hang it up just yet.

Three weeks of what we will charitably call "Fast Thoughts" behind the cuts.

FABLES #73: Still the best book published today. Go get the first trade. Yadda-yadda-yadda.

FINAL CRISIS #1: I'm torn.

On the one hand, I think the detractors of this book (most of them Marvel fans, cheering the superiority of Secret Invasion) do have a point - just one point, mind you - in their complaints that this series does require a bit more knowledge about what is going on in the DC Comics Universe than any recent crossover DC has published.

Even I, who try to keep abreast of things, am lost as to the significance of certain scenes (the entire bit toward the end with The Monitors, for instance) and can see how those who read even less than I might be confused. The scenes with the Green Lanterns, for instance, don't make a lot of sense unless you've been reading Green Lantern and know what the heck an Alpha Lantern is and the scene with Libra, Luthor and the other big name villains is meaningless if you didn't read the most recent Justice League of America.

And yet... I cannot condemn this book completely because of all the things it does get right. In no particular order...

1. J.G. Jones' artwork is great.

2. The opening is one of the more cinematic in history, opening with a caveman fight that is everything 10,000 BC should have been - excluding an appearance by Meteron of course.

3. Grant Morrison still writes the best Lex Luthor we've seen in the last decade. ("You presume I have no creed? My creed is Luthor.")

4. I just love the scene with the super-villain protest march against vigilante brutality. Because I just love reading about how a world with superheroes changes the little details and wonder at if there are laws against merely wearing a funny costume in public and walking down the street... and if the ACLU could sue the Justice League for presuming the worst if a group of super-villains were to organize a fundraising march against vigilantism - all with the proper paperwork.

5. Kirby after Kirby after Kirby. I get the feeling all of this is linked but I don't know how yet. Still, I intend to stick around to find out how Dan Turpin, The New Gods and Kamandi are all linked.

GREEN LANTERN #31: Hal goes into Green Lantern basic training and there is much Killowogy goodness as everybody's favorite Drill-Sargent goes to town on the new recruits.

I've read this story before but Johns makes it seem like new with retcons that further tighten the mythos. The friendship between Sinestro and Abin Sur - while a new touch - is something that doesn't conflict with any previous Green Lantern story that I know of and it helps to further explain away some touches of the Green Lantern mythos that have never made much sense.

As Alan Moore wrote an entire story about the prophecy of the end of the Green Lantern Corps in order to explain why Abin Sur would have a spaceship when Green Lanterns are able to fly through space without one, so does Johns refine and condense the mythos by setting Hector Hammond up to experience his life-changing transformation as a result of investigating Abin Sur's ship rather than because of a random chance encounter as in the Silver Age.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #25: I'm still not fond of Gleason's art style, but I can forgive it for the WOW revelation in this issue.

I won't spoil it except to say that it's two, two, two Alan Moore concepts mixed into one with a dash of Geoff Johns "living spectrum" theory as well.

HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE #1-3: I've seen some critics ask if a Huntress: Year One mini-series is truly necessary, given that she had one a few years ago in Huntress: Cry For Blood.

Yes. No question.

Why? Because Cry for Blood was a terrible story, which undid all of the growth the character had undergone in Grant Morrison's JLA and every Batman-Family book Chuck Dixon was writing seven years ago. Helena's redemption in the early months of No Man's Land was destroyed, all so that Greg Rucka could prove he writes tragedy and romance as ham-fistedly as he does action in his efforts to rewrite The Godfather and create/break-up a Question/Huntress romance while giving us a few minor details about Helena's past.

This series, by contrast, actually focuses upon Helena's past with nary a hint of flashback, forced romance or hack writing. The Helena presented here is strong, intelligent and confident - with nary a hint of the psycho bitch queen that some lesser writers tended to write her as. This book is shaping up to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the year and is already the smart bet for this year's "Best Retro Tale" at the end of the year Starry Awards.

RED SONJA #34: While I'm not exactly thrilled by the idea that the whole series is about to be retconned with "an exciting new direction", I will admit that this issue does put forth one great idea that would explain a lot. Namely, the idea that Sonja has died before and that it is her destiny to be reborn to protect the multiverse from evil for so long as she chooses to do so.

Why is this important? Well, apart from explaining away all the minor inconsistencies between the current Red Sonja series and the books published by Marvel and Cross Plains Comics many years ago (i.e. those stories were in Hyboria, these stories were in another fantastic realm), it also adds another level of heroism to Sonja that had been sorely lacking following the revelation that she was the pawn of two waring gods.

The idea that she could have a normal life presented three issues ago and the idea here that she could go on to a hero's welcome in the afterlife, but choose to keep fighting the good fight and try to rid the universe of evil... that is a legacy worthy of fantasy's most famous amazon.

WONDER WOMAN #21 : What new great things can I say about this book?

It was the best thing I'd read all week, even BEFORE the bit where it looks like Diana is fighting Conan... or a reasonable facsimile thereof.


  1. Amusingly, you could tie in Red Sonja to uber Xena fandom too. *lol*

  2. They do have a lot of the same fan-base...
    And I'm equally ammused by the thought that this means that every Spider-Man/Red Sonja team-up story IS cannon. :)

  3. I think we talked about this the other night...
    So far, I do think Secret Invasion has been more enjoyable. But I also don't think you can really judge each one until Final Crisis has had three issues too. I know Grant always builds to something. So, I'm definitely not worried about FC being bad. It just started a little slow. And you're right, I was kind of lost in a number of scenes.
    Still, like you said, the art was good and I'm anxious to see where it goes from here.