Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 1/21/09

A bigger week than usual for me. Sadly, a lackluster one. But amazingly, the books that have disappointed me the most of late were the ones that excited me the most this month.

BIRDS OF PREY #126 - Good news - most of the gigantic waste of space that was The Syndicate (aka the techie-based super-villain group that has been the main source of eeeee-vil in BoP since Tony Bedard took over) has been killed off.

Bad news - in order to do that, they turned The Calculator into a Borg/Matrix Droid. This would be kind of a cheeseball move, even if the design of "Calculator 2.0" and the circumstances of his empowerment at the hands of the sentient program Kilgore seems awfully similar to when Brainiac forcibly assimilated Barbara Gordon during Gail Simone's run.

I'd drop this book if the end weren't so close.

CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #7 - Either the flashback stories of Conan's grandfather are growing on me or I didn't mind this one as much since it had a more direct bearing on the action of the on-going story than previous stories, as Conan's mother tells him of his grandfather and how the old man would wander off into the woods alone for days at a time but always returned, his wanderlust not quite so great as his desire to stay with hearth and home.

As for the current action, Conan's latest romance - and his departure from his village - are settled in perhaps the only way they could be settled. Still, the images are powerful, despite being heavily foreshadowed. I am sure Robert Howard would approve.

DOCTOR WHO: THE FORGOTTEN #6 - The Doctor sums up my own thoughts on last issue's ending beautifully with his first sentence. "... now that's just stupid." It turns out that the revelation that the ultimate villain was... well, who they said it was... another fake-out. And a beautifully pulled off one I fell for hook, line and sinker.

I don't want to spoil too much of this story or the final chapter, except to say that this is easily one of the best bits of Doctor Who writing that isn't a part of the TV Show. The eventual trade paperback is a must-read for any fan of Doctor Who.

GREEN LANTERN #37 - Geoff Johns is writing an epic here, with more and more revelations coming out with every issue as The Final Crisis ends and The Darkest Night approaches. This issue?

* Confirmation that the Red Lanterns are little more than rabid dogs with no intelligence.

* Removing a Red Lantern's ring kills them.

* Blue Lanterns can not only recharge the rings of other Corps Members at will - they can drain power from them as well, as we see in this issue as they depower a slew-load of Yellow Lanterns.

* The leader of the Red Lanterns Atrocitus (aka the guy who prophetically predicted both Abin Sur's death and Sinestro's betrayal of the Green Lantern Corps) gives Hal a prophecy. "One day, you will become renegade once more. The Guardians will take your greatest love from you. You will revolt. And you will lose everything as the universe divides." Now taking bets on if this involves Carol Ferris, Cowgirl or Hal's Family.

Please do not spoil the secret of the last page!

HELLBLAZER #251 - Somehow, I missed the news that Peter Milligan was taking over as the writer on this book from Andy Diggle. A damn shame, especially since - after the bang-up job that Diggle did on Green Arrow: Year One - I was really hoping he might wind up on Green Arrow/Black Canary if his schedule freed up.

I'm not bitter at all, mind you.

So how was Milligan's first solo issue? Well, I'm giving it another issue or two before making any big judgments... but so far, so good. Milligan has already passed my first test for any Hellblazer scribe: must be British. And I rather like John's new love interest even though I give her a cheesemaker's chance of surviving past the next issue. Still, the plot - involving John's developing a very odd scabby rash mixed with seemingly unrelated tale of a union worker turned scab in a strike - is your standard, high-quality Hellblazer concept so far. One to keep an eye on.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #29 - Lame. Just... lame. I don't care if this IS setting up something for Dwayne McDuffie next month, this book looks and reads like what it is; a one-shot fill-in issue that was probably commissioned solely to be a "Faces of Evil" tie-in. The artwork leaves one longing for Ed Benes, ass-shots and all and Len Wein - while capable of writing a good Justice League story - doesn't do his legend any favors here.

KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #147 - Not even the typically lame and lackluster 'Gaming The Movies' column could ruin this issue. With a wonderful review of Fallout 3, an article introducing a wonderful Sanity mechanic for base-line d20 games, another presumably useful article that introduces wizard familiar rules that 4th Edition D&D was somehow released without and a spattering of hilarious comics depicting things coming to Hard 8 Enterprises as well as The Black Hands attempts at a Cattlepunk game... this is the best KoDT in a goodly while.

Unsurprisingly, there are no letters praising the new column. But there was another intelligent, thoughtful letter written by a Gamers Rant fan who notes that as disappointed as he is with Jolly Blackburn's decision to knuckle under to the whims of a devoted team of trolls with too much time on their hands, he isn't going to stop reading the magazine because of it or even make threats to that effect. This proves once and for all, I think, that all intelligent, right-minded and generally dashing and handsome people support Noah Antwiler and his snarky, unapologetic reviews.

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