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Jason Schachat is a
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Jason Schachat's Weekly Breakdowns
April 26, 2005

You know, looking at the new Superman costume, I can’t help but wonder why he needs a big leather belt to hold up his indestructable hotpants…

For anyone who thought the DC Universe wasn’t rife enough with paranoia and distrust after the events of Identity Crisis and Countdown to Infinite Crisis, there’s good news: The Omac Project #1 is here. This first issue gives us so much reason to distrust everything we know, comic fans will probably start stocking up on canned food and shotgun shells in preparation for the apocalypse.

We pick up right where Countdown left off: Blue Beetle has been murdered by Maxwell Lord, who now rules a shady organization called Checkmate. Having hijacked Batman’s OMAC surveillance system and essentially won the day, Max is surprised to learn that all the files concerning how to kill every hero in the known universe have been purged. Batman, on the other hand, is sulking over how his machines won’t respond to him. And Sasha, Black Knight to Max’s Black King, ponders how they got to this point and sacrificed their souls along the way.

Oooooooooooh, mysterious…

Though I admire the way Greg Rucka’s setting up his story, I’m also deeply dissatisfied with certain elements of it. Undoing any good done in Countdown, Rucka portrays Blue Beetle as an idiot who happened to stumble onto a plot, couldn’t possibly hack into Max’s computer, and isn’t important enough for his death to squeeze an emotional response out of Batman (though it’s hard to get too peeved about that last bit). But then he gives us a scene where Wonder Woman says she always believed in what he was doing.

Here's hoping Bats gets a mohawk.

Sorry, kids, but I read Countdown, and, despite the fact that they killed off one of the best comedic heroes in the DCU, I could appreciate that they at least let him die the most heroic death of all: fighting the good fight to the last even when no one believes in you because you know it’s right and has to be done. The Omac Project pretty much saps all meaning out of Beetle’s death, tainting the whole affair.

It’s a decent start to a mystery, but avoid it like the plague if A) you didn’t read Countdown B) you liked Blue Beetle C) you’re still having trouble accepting Maxwell Lord as a villain AGAIN D) you don’t have the patience for another gradual story of how you can’t trust anyone in the DCU or E) all of the above.

Barely managing to find a way to cram a miniseries into the time between when Spidey was offered membership in the New Avengers and when he accepted, Spider-Man: Breakout #1 devotes most of its pages to rampaging supervillains rather than ol’ Webhead. But will this one work out better than Identity Disc?

Our tale begins at a supermax security prison where the U-Foes and another gang of villains plot a breakout, only to have their attempt thwarted when the security guard they bribed turns them in. Two years later, Electro raids The Raft and our baddies are on the loose in New York. The U-Foes and the other gang are both gunning for the guard who betrayed them, but first they need to take each other out, just for good measure.

Good thing Spidey’s swinging around when the battle breaks out, eh?

Tony Bedard squeezes some sympathy out of the U-Foes and Manuel Garcia gives us some very nice pencils (with the exception of a few face shots), so I can safely recommend this title to anyone looking for a good supervillain POV adventure. But, if you’re looking for Spidey, this isn’t the book for you. He appears in exactly three pages and two panels of this comic, so the title’s a bit misleading. Still mildly recommended.

And, still marginally safer than tripping on acid, Superman #215 staggers onto the stands with the end of Brian Azarello and Jim Lee’s year long run. The cover boasts “30 pages!” as if that were something special, and then we’re treated to lots of big panels, meaningless brawling, and meandering faith questions.

As if we already hadn’t been for the last year.

The good points: our dying priest has been turned into a cybernetic killing machine just like Equus, the “vanishing” is solved, over, and done with, and Superman gets a new Fortress of Solitude.

The bad points: Zod is still just a cackling madman, Lois and Clark have inexplicably hit a bump in the relationship, just about everything has returned to the status quo, and I still can’t for the life of me figure out why Kal-El would design an android version of his mother with so much cleavage.

The only thing about this run I’ll take on faith is that it reads better as a single volume than a monthly series - because there’s no way I want to read this story again. Minorly intriguing faith argument aside, the recent Superman hasn’t lived up to any of the hype and I won’t be surprised to see this run selling for peanuts on eBay. But don’t waste your money. Even if you have the peanuts to spare, this just isn’t worth the time it takes to read it, scratch your head, then re-read it and sit around in puzzlement for an hour.

I really wish Kang hadn't picked that New Coke Iron Man look.

Young Avengers #3 furthers my belief that I’m becoming a softie. You look at the ingredients going into the book, and it’s the same assortment off the ol’ Marvel spice rack, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work.

Following prior issues’ fighting and revelations, this issue chooses to sit us down and discuss what’s going on.

In fact, it’s probably the most sitting and discussing you can get away with in a comic, but that’s tempered with the revelations that Patriot (the mini-Captain America) is the grandson of the “original” Captain America (from Truth – Red, White, and Black), the late Ant-Man’s daughter has been exposing herself to Pym particles over the years and will probably be the new Giant-Girl, and the whole team of youngsters is based off a plan found in the memory banks of our dear departed Vision.

So, despite a lot of chit-chat and a somehwhat brief and anti-climactic fight scene, the book still manages to reel you in. Granted, there will probably be a lot of questions about continuity (though not as many as with this week’s JLA Classified), yet it’s still an interesting, well produced little book that outshines many recent Avengers stories. Recommended.

Jason Schachat

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