Monday, April 13, 2009
Fast Thoughts - The Week of 4/8/09
SECRET SIX #8 - There must be something about Gail Simone stories with the title "Double Date". Such was the name of my favorite episode of Justice League Unlimited and such is the name of this book. It is easily the best issue of the series thus far, with Simone having established a perfect balance of humor, action and pathos... and that's just in the three page Tiny Titans parody which sees Lil' Ragdoll helping Batman save Gotham City, offered membership in the Green Lantern Corps and riding off into the sunset with Wonder Woman begging him to kiss her.
In all seriousness, this issue had everything.
PATHOS: Scandal runs into Liana - the lesbian stripper/escort that the rest of the team hired for her birthday a few issues ago, who is the spitting image of Scandal's deceased ex-girlfriend, the villainess Knockout. Scandal agrees to a date, despite not seeing any of Knockout's fire in Liana and despite wanting nothing more than to sink into alcoholic self-destruction because of Knockout's death. There are some geuinely touching moments here as Scandal keeps looking for something... anything... in this new woman to inspire the passion for life she has lost.
ACTION: Deadshot is forced into a date with teammate Jeanette (aka "the banshee") and is forced to promise a normal evening on the town where nobody dies. Since Liana's idea for a double date leads them to numerous encounters with a gang of skinheads with a grudge against Deadshot, this leads to numerous scenes where Floyd is challenged to fight non-lethally in a borrowed suit. And it is glorious!
HUMOR: Somewhere along the line, Scandal picked up an Apokolyptian lowlie named Insignifiucs as a personal servant, who philosophical bemoaning of his life reminds me of Zathras from Babylon 5 ("Hope is the heart of pain and only fear is eternal... On the other hand, I encourage rutting in the dirt with strangers at every available opportunity.") Between him and Ragdoll's pleading to be allowed to act as Deadshot's chaparone, it's a neck-in-neck contest as to who gets the best one-liner. ("I already have a tuxedo and some nice shoes and a bunch of pharmaceuticals and... oh and a fruitasmic rainbow of condoms! Not that I need them or anything...") Throw in Deadshot trying - honestly trying - NOT to kill people who are in desperate need of killing to keep a promise and you have comedy gold.
It's perfect. Absolutely perfect. This is not only what every issue of this comic should be; this is what every comic should be.
EDIT: Oh yeah... and Nicola Scott's art is just as awesome!
WARLORD #1 - I'm not going to lie. I was doubly disappointed. First, when I heard that Mike Grell was coming back to write and do covers for a book and some characters he was famous for working with over 20 years ago and then found out that they meant Warlord and not Green Arrow. Then I was disappointed again when I read this book.
That's not to say that this book is bad. Far from it. It just seems a lot more uneven than I am used to a Mike Grell story being.
Let me explain; this man wrote some of the best, tightest two-part action stories I've ever read without a single panel being wasted. To read a comic where there are two stories, seemingly unconnected and broken apart by a two-page flashback is like a James Robinson comic where the characters aren't having lengthy monologues about pop-culture and philosophy during their fight scenes or a Grant Morrison story where insane things aren't happening every 10 minutes. Not bad at all - just different.
The first two-thirds of the comic features a group of scientists and adventurers discovering live dinosaurs and a portal to Skartaris in Tibet, which they hurriedly enter after being trapped in a cave with said portal by the Chinese army. This cuts to a flashback of Travis Morgan crashing into Skartaris in June 1969 and a flash forward to present-day Skartaris, where Morgan fights a griffin and then receives reports of his men having fought a self-proclaimed deity, who killed from a distance using something that - judging from the wounds of the one survivor - is a gun.
It's a good start and an interesting one - certainly a lot better than Bruce Jones' attempts to reboot and restart the franchise two years ago. I'm a little anxious to see how the first part of the story is going to tie into the second, but I'm sure it will happen and will be well worth reading. Mike Grell taking his time with a story is a new experience but I'm sure it will be an adventure!