Schachat's Weekly Breakdowns
fears the Schachat.
February 8, 2005
know what almost makes up for spending all those hours watching
the Eagles lose the Superbowl? Seeing my dad get all wide-eyed
when the Batman Begins ad played, and, after a
brief silence, say “Cool”.
he said the same thing after the Constantine ad…
and the Verizon ad with the monkeys…
Okay, so maybe it didn’t mean that
Strange #5 brings us some more space-thrills
this month with battles, revelations, and lots and lots
of alien spiders. It may be a little late for people to
try jumping onto this miniseries, but you still gotta give
it a flip and drink in the awesome art.
When last we left our hero, he and the Omega
Men had found the stereotypical giant space thingey floating
around where a star had once been. Following some minor
investigation and huge leaps in pseudo-science, Adam Strange
figures out that they’re dealing with an Omega Beam
Device: a teleporter with limitless range and ability. Powerful
enough to, say, transport an entire star system to another
But this staggering revelation is cut short
by the appearance of the Spider Guild; a nasty race looking
to punish the Omega Men for their transgressions and “freedom
fighting”. Strange and company realize they’re
doomed and rush to find the coordinates of the Omega Beam’s
recent teleports before they have to blow it up to prevent
it from falling into the Guild’s claws.
This issue gives us a lot of bang for our
buck, answering questions, raising a few new ones, dragging
more spacebound elements of the DCU into play, and giving
us lots of big action. Andy Diggle’s writing is of
the caliber we’ve come to expect, but Pascal Ferry’s
art is what will blow you away. The Futurist touches he
places throughout this series give it a hint of Golden Age
magic without drowning us in nostalgia. Hell, I think this
is the first time a character with a fin on his head has
gotten a loyal costume update that looks cool.
missed all the other issues, you may want to wait for a
trade paperback… but I sure wouldn’t. Many titles
on the racks this week don’t deserve your attention,
but Adam Strange should be one of the first you
crack open. Recommended.
to like The Amazing Joy Buzzards #1.
I really did. The promise of giant monsters, evil robots,
Mexican wrestlers, a group of rock band detectives, and
pinups by Scott Morse and Jim Mahfood was enough to get
me onboard. Then I read it. Oy.
It all begins when an evil pink robot puts
“something” in the drink of Stevo, bassist for
the Joy Buzzards, at a concert. The rocker then mutates
into a mop-topped giant monster who then apparently swims
of to England (hard to tell, since he steps on both Brit
punks AND American tanks). The remaining Buzzards and their
Mexican wrestler bodyguard meet a Professor to find a cure
and then hop into a biplane so they can medicate Stevo and
turn him back to normal.
And that’s about it.
There’s a confrontation in the end,
some backstory (despite the book’s pretension in announcing
it won’t waste our time with an origin story), and
a link to the next issue, but the plot’s pretty much
limited to what I summarized.
the concept of having a Scooby-Doo/Josie and the Pussycats/Jabberjaw/Speed
Buggy group of young detectives is always somewhat amusing,
The Amazing Joy Buzzards tries WAY too hard to
be funny and fails at every possible turn. None of the gags
or references are particularly humorous, and there’s
no comedic timing to the jokes.
Burritos aren’t inherently funny.
Saying “burrito” outloud with a funny voice,
on the other hand... And, if a guy doesn’t look anything
like a giant ghila monster, it’s kind of a leap to
call him one. Following that with a Japanese tourist calling
him Godzilla seems more observational than humorous. And
a pink robot wanting revenge for being turned pink? You
gotta work hard to sell that one-liner. But all this wouldn’t
be so awful if the creators hadn’t sacrificed the
story in the unending effort to make us laugh.
One of the big problems here is demonstrated
during the rock concert. It just doesn’t translate
to a medium where music is non-existent. This is not to
say we haven’t seen music performed well in comics,
but it relies on words to get any message across. Showing
us panel after panel of guys holding guitars in silence
just doesn’t work.
Amazing Joy Buzzards, as a whole, seems to suffer from
this problem: it doesn’t look like it knows what it’s
doing, but it keeps trying to reassure you it does. The
plot doesn’t flow well enough to tell a story, the
panels don’t flow well enough to tell a joke, and,
at 31 pages of graphic narrative, it gets boring really
fast. You want a real rocker detective story? Pick up Hopeless
Savages. Aside from some fun art by Dan Hipp, this
one’s a dud.
other side of the racks, David Latham and Ramon Bachs continue
probably the best Batman story since Batman: The Long
Halloween in Detective Comics #803.
Once again, I’m baffled that they handle it with such
ease. Aside from some more bone-chilling subject matter
than the usual Bat-story, “City of Crime” doesn’t
stray far from the normal routine. But, wow, what great,
all those birds, you need an umbrella.
This issue immediately divides the story
into four threads: One following Batman on his investigation
of the baby-ring that’s kidnapped a pregnant young
girl; one with Mr. Freeze leading a cleanup crew to ice
and bash apart all evidence of the baby-ring; one with a
bald stranger who carefully makes a face-mold of a man tied
to a bed; and one where The Penguin curses the sudden strikes
against his criminal operations. Of course, he did bring
it down on himself by starting a baby-ring in the first
As Mr. Freeze betrays Penguin and ices the
cleanup crew upon finding the pregnant teenager, Batman
applies some psychological torture to one of Penguin’s
lackeys and learns that the baby-ring sells infants to the
wealthy and childless. He spends some time at the scene
where Freeze took out the crew and learns from the remains
of a thawing man that Penguin is involved. But then, that
mysterious bald man making the face-mold knew that all along,
gotta love the way Latham weaves his story. It’s chilling,
suspenseful, poetic and everything else a Batman story should
be and usually isn’t. I invoked the memory of Jeph
Loeb and Tim Sale’s The Long Halloween earlier
because, frankly, that’s how long it’s been
since we’ve had a story arc deliver on so many levels
(Dark Victory built up to an ending that wasn’t
there, No Man’s Land was more about Gotham
than the Bat, and don’t even get me started on Hush).
Is “City of Crime” revolutionary?
In the sense that it’s brought us back around to how
you can tell a dark Batman crime story, oh HELL yes. Will
it change the way they write Batman stories? I doubt it.
Again, the concept of this story isn’t all that different
from what we’ve been reading. But the method is masterful.
Shanna the She-Devil and her jungle adventures? Me neither!
Which is probably why Frank Cho deemed it necessary to revive
the savage goddess in his first comic book series. Actually,
I suspect it had more to do with Shanna’s resemblance
to Cho’s work with Budd Root’s Cavewoman,
but, whatever the cause, we still get a scantily clad vixen
running around fighting dinosaurs in Shanna
The She-Devil #1.
True to the wisdom of starting afresh rather
than catching everyone up with the character’s history,
Cho presents us with a lost military unit wandering through
what may be the Savage Land when they find some sort of
abandoned science lab. Naturally, the first sights to greet
us are a Nazi banner and eight bubbling cylinders—each
containing a clone of a young woman.
sample from Cho's work on Cavewoman, strictly
for historical and not prurient interests.
The soldiers stumble around and trigger
a sequence that brings the lab thrumming to life, forcing
them to rescue one of the clones from drowning in her cylinder
(good thing they save her, too, ‘cause the other seven
died in hibernation). The woman immediately slips out of
consciousness before they can learn anything about her,
but the half-eaten corpse and traumatized German scientist
they discover give them some clues as to why the place was
Story-wise, this first issue keeps it very
simple. Soldiers show up, discover Shanna, battle ensues,
etc. There’s no reason given for why any of this is
going on, but keeping us in the moment allows an air of
mystery and suspense to dance around the uncomplicated plotline.
Shanna fans (all five of them) may be somewhat puzzled at
how this fits into the continuity, but newcomers shouldn’t
have anything to worry about.
the main attraction here is Frank Cho’s artwork, and
he doesn’t disappoint. It’s not as titillating
as one might expect (a definite lack of fan service for
a book that technically begins and ends with naked women),
but the tasteful censoring of feminine naughty bits works
pretty well. I’d say the bigger success is found in
Cho’s dinosaurs (again pulled from his work on Cavewoman),
which, like so much in this book, owe a lot to Dave Stewart’s
colors (sadly, the cover of this issue only features Cho’s
name, since he wrote, penciled, and inked).
in all, I’d recommend Shanna the She-Devil,
but the plot’s pretty light, as is its crafting. Cho’s
sense of narrative still seems pretty limited, but, hopefully,
this miniseries will let him prove himself as more than
just an artist of cute animals and busty women. Well, more
than just cute animals, anyway.
being disappointed by the Batman: Hush story because
it meandered through all sorts of pointless sidestories
just to keep us from complaining that the mystery villain
was so painfully obvious. As Jim Lee and Brian Azzarello’s
current run on Superman winds down with Superman
#213, we find that, yes, we’ve been
running around in circles in yet another story that shouldn’t
have lasted a year, but, no, this time we wouldn’t
have guessed who the big villain was. We probably shouldn’t
the religious imagery subtle since May 2005.
After a brief interlude where Orr (the covert
ops guy who keeps popping into the story) finds and interrogates
Halcyon (the mystic chick who sent out giant elementals
to beat on Superman), we return to the land of the Vanishing.
Without any warning, it’s sprung on us that Supes’
Kryptonian parents are here, too (apparently to explain
what the heck is going on).
It turns out this land is part of the Phantom
Zone. A Heaven created out of Hell by Superman’s imagining
of a way to spare Earth’s inhabitants from suffering
as Krypton’s did when their planet died. It’s
a place without poverty, hunger, strife, or need of a superhero.
Oh, except that General Zod’s running
around with an army and Clark Kent strapped to Equus’
I really have no idea what’s going
on in this book, any more. This issue was supposed to be
the big reveal, and I’m more confused than ever. Superman
imagined this place and it suddenly came into existence?
And someone just happened to construct a machine that zapped
everyone there? Even supposing Zod was behind all that,
why are Jor-El and Lara there? If Superman can recreate
dead loved ones here, why did he stop with his parents?
If this land’s made up of his deepest desires, why
does it seem so hollow?
I can appreciate the continued biblical
stylings of Azzarello’s concept, but it probably looked
a lot more impressive as a pitch than it does on the page.
And that’s saying something, when you have Jim Lee
prettying everything up. Maybe this will read better as
a whole story, when it finishes. For now, it’s just
put Supreme Power on last year’s top ten
list due to some botched deadlines and a couple lazy issues.
But, damn, the issue they put out on December 30th made
me regret that decision, and this month’s Supreme
Power #15 fills me with even more grief. Why?
Because there currently isn’t any sign that #16 will
be coming out.
Following “the killer” Redstone’s
(known in the Marvel Universe as Nuke; though there are
about 5 different Nukes in Marvel continuity) capture last
time around, General Alexander interrogates him in a facility
built to hold Hyperion. Meanwhile, Nighthawk and Hyperion
argue over the latter’s choice to hand the killer
over to Doc Spectrum and the government after all they did
to bring him to justice.
argument comes to a head when Nighthawk says he pretty much
thinks Blur is an Uncle Tom—just as Blur speeds through
the door. Blur and Hyperion then decide to cool down, all
the while discussing issues of “might makes right."
While General Alexander keeps squeezing backstory out of
Redstone, Doc Spectrum stops by and receives a new mission:
to find and capture Kingsley (Amphibian) and Zarda (Power
Princess). Still, that’s not nearly as thrilling as
what happens to Redstone…
before I start a wave of panic by saying that Supreme
Power has been cancelled, let me reassure that it IS
on an odd release schedule, which could explain the lack
of solicitation info. Issue #14 ranked 23rd on the December
sales charts, and there’s no reason to think the title
isn’t financially viable.
according to Marvel’s website, this should’ve
been issue 3 of 6 in “The Squadron” arc. Instead,
despite an issue that weaves threads in and out, deliciously
drawing characters together, the final page says “The
hope it isn’t. Despite all our expectations for Amazing
Spider-Man and Rising Stars, Supreme Power
has been the best JMS book in recent memory. Definitely