Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One More And I'll Shut Up About Comics (for a while)

I’m not sure if DC saved the best for last or if everything just looks better compared to last week’s releases, but I think this week’s releases had the best overall quality so far. Nothing managed to beat out Action Comics for my favorite book of the reboot, but there’s some good stuff here (of course there’s some bad and unremarkable stuff, too).

All-Star Western
I heard good things about Gray and Palmiotti’s recent Johnah Hex series, but never got around to reading it. My understanding is that All-Star Western is basically the same book under a new title, and it looks great. The first story teams Hex up with a 19th Century Dr. Arkham as they try to solve a series of Ripper-style murders in Gotham. The issue’s a little “ancestor cameo”-heavy, but that’s really my only complaint. Hex is written like Hex should be written, Dr. Arkham’s running psychoanalysis of him is entertaining, and the art’s great. It’s pretty stylized, but I love the way the artist brings things into focus by giving more detail to and using a more varied color pallet on the things that are important to the scene. I think I’ll keep reading this one. One question for the peanut gallery: Is the woman in the cloak and cowl in the bar scene (kind of center-right in the background, behind the guy in the red vest) a cameo I’m not getting?

Batman: The Dark Knight
This is in the same category as all the other Bat books in the reboot: solid, but not spectacular. At least story-wise. I’ve got kind of a love/hate thing with the art. The costumed Batman and the cityscapes and other set pieces look great, but most of the actual people suffer from a bad case of what I can only describe as “Liefeld face.” And don’t even get me started on Hulk Two-Face.

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I really enjoyed the new Aquaman comic. If the first issue is a good indication of where the series is going, it might even become a regular book for me. The thing that makes it work for me is the idea that people of the DCU feel pretty much the same about Aquaman as the DC fans do: that he’s a really lame super-hero who talks to fish. Acknowledging that Aquaman basically sucks right from the beginning might actually allow Johns to write an Aquaman book whose plot isn’t constantly undercut by the fact that it’s about Aquaman.

The Flash
Nothing groundbreaking here, but there’s super science right from the get-go, a good story hook, and I like the art. Buccellato does a great job of conveying a sense of movement, which is pretty important in a comic about the fastest man alive. I know that sounds obvious, but Flash artists and editors don’t always figure that out. I recommend giving this one a shot.

I, Vampire
If you love vampire cliches, this is the book for you! “Unimaginative” seems too generous and “uninspired” suggests a potentiality that does not exist here. So I’m going to go with “awful.” Not “Starfire is a sex doll” awful, just “this is not even remotely a good comic” awful.

Justice League Dark
The “occult JLA” concept could fall into a serious pile of suck very easily, and Peter Milligan is one of the few writers still working for DC that I’d trust to keep that from happening. After a couple of pages of uncertainty, Milligan won me over with three panels. The final (and my favorite of the three): “The local power station threatens to explode when it is imbued with consciousness...and gets bored.” YES! That’s some Doom Patrol level shit there! I was a little worried about John Constantine as a character in a mainstream DCU comic, but his introductory monologue (“He wanted to contact his dead wife. I wanted to pay my rent.”) put those fears...well, if not “at rest,” at least “into a state of sleepiness.” I feel good about this one as long as Milligan’s on board.

First off, what the hell is wrong with Supes on the cover? His arms and legs look hideously deformed. I’m curious whether the artist used an action figure for a model, because the limbs seem to have that sort of weird toy articulation to them. Once you get inside the book, the art is much better, at least when you can see it. For a comic book artist, George Perez is a very wordy writer. When combined with a few too many panels on some pages, this makes the comic seem a little crowded at times. Aside from the verbiage and clutter, though, it’s not a bad story. I’m especially glad that Perez didn’t immediately throw out everything I loved about the Action Comics reboot version of Supes.

Teen Titans
Ok, I like the fact that the comic starts out by acknowledging that super-powered teenagers would probably be a giant pain in the ass, and that they do it through Kid Flash, who would no doubt be the biggest pain in the ass of the bunch. The rest of the book really just establishes Red Robin as being very Batman-like and introduced Wonder Girl. Nothing wrong with it, and there’s an occasional hint of a Young Justice vibe, so I’ll at least give it until the whole team’s introduced before making a definite decision.
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