Schachat hopes to be bitten by a genetically-modified
Jason Schachat's Weekly Breakdown
July 16, 2004
week, Jason Schachat takes you along for his ride on the
four-colored pulp pony. Feed the addiction, and the addiction
Alba as Sue Storm? This just in: Jack Kirby’s desiccated
corpse has reached 100,000rpm, cored through the planet,
and shot out the other side, leaving this world and its
evils behind. …oh yeah, and then some comics came
out this week…
Comics #817 picks up from last month’s
slugfest and death of Superman with his miraculous revival
at S.T.A.R. Labs, where a twitchy Jack Black- er, I mean,
Mohlman reiterates that Kal was pumped full of liquid kryptonite
that has left him in a weakened state. Naturally, sleazy
TV reporters broadcast this information, it attracts every
villain in creation, and a huge battle royale with big,
big explosions ensues.
Austen’s plotting and characters still do nothing
for me, and, like so many things he does, this reeks of
his TV writing background. However, it’s a lot more
fun than Chuckles’ usual fare. He lets Ivan Reis pencil
some vibrant action sequences and Guy Major’s colors
bring it to blazing life. There doesn’t seem to be
any big plan at work here, and we still have no clue as
to why Gog’s running around, but it makes for a much
better read than X-Men.
#1 isn’t such an enjoyable experience,
however. It takes place in the future. I don’t know
why. It’s told as flashbacks and flashbacks in flashbacks,
and I don’t know why. It also seems to be skirting
around a very obvious lycanthropy story, and, dammit, I
just don’t know why. This new mini is relying heavily
on mystery story devices to prop up something that just
doesn’t have legs. The black and white art is desperately
in need of grayscaling (or a more liberal inker, perhaps),
and the plotting needs to flow better. Still, for a small
press title, Awakenings manages a professional
production and more realistic dialogue than we usually see.
Not recommended, but things could come together next month.
#1 doesn’t make a much more promising
debut, but at least it’s got Dan Jolley and Leonard
Kirk to spice up the mundane story of an ex-cop in jail
who’s offered a second chance by the FBI. Almost half
of this issue feels like a TV police drama, but it picks
up when Kirk manages some intensely violent imagery. Still,
I don’t see where they can go with this book. The
main character’s a cipher, there’s currently
no connection to the rest of the DCU, and I’ll be
damned if I can tell you what the story is besides “Let’s
go get ‘em.” They’re clearly aiming at
mystery and hard-bitten cop stories, but the plot doesn’t
kick off in any way other than establishing the anti-hero
as a killing machine with enemies on both sides of the law.
From this issue, I can’t really say if this is a series
worth following or not.
also of a few different minds concerning Captain
America #29. In one sense, it’s nice
to see Cap running around, kicking ass, and not stopping
to take names. It’s also nice to see a few jabs at
the slimy politicians slithering around in the shadows while
Cap makes the world a better place. But the series continuity
at work here is… odd. Cap seems ready for another
girlfriend swap (not a new speed record for comics, but
definitely pushing it), he’s moved on to aid the presidential
hopeful for 2008 (strange considering he’s been palling
around with the Democratic nominee for 2004), and the lessons
he’s learned (or re-learned) in the past few years
have been swept aside, setting Steve Rogers up more as a
boy scout than the embodiment of the American spirit.
the heat of battle, Dave looked over his shoulder
and noticed the cameraman.
in a way, that’s not bad. Kirkman approaches the material
in a fashion not unlike Invincible or other Image
superhero books he’s done (this arc is titled “Super
Patriot” *wink, wink*). Penciler Scot Eaton trades
in Cap’s heavy scale-mail armor for a more Kirby-esque
costume, and the general approach seems pretty neo-Silver
Age. I don’t think it’s necessarily where the
title should go, and it may cause a bit of a headache for
fans of the past year’s Cap, but it’s entertaining
and not painfully ridiculous, which is more than I can say
for the last couple of issues.
X #3 continues its exploration of a world-more-mutated
as a gang war heats up, the limits of human/mutant interaction
are tested, and a mysterious new character steps onto the
scene. This book is doing a lot for me, attempting to answer
the often ignored question: If mutants are EVERYWHERE in
the Marvel universe, why the hell do we only occasionally
see small groups of them wearing tights and duking it out?
District X feels almost like Gotham City at times,
dark and lovably lawless, but it also delves deep into the
soap opera roots of Marvel’s mutant books. Unfortunately,
this issue actually gives Bishop some screen time to play
detective, and the result is less than awe-inspiring. Recommended,
Fables #27 is a must-read, this
week. Ending the eight month long “March of the Wooden
Soldiers” arc, it treats us to the intense battling
we’ve craved since Fables: The Last Castle,
while delivering the brilliant plot threading that makes
the book such a delight to read. The false Red Riding Hood’s
true identity is revealed (yes, you could’ve guessed
it a few issues back… but you didn’t!), a good
number of heroes fall in battle, and Bigby Wolf rocks it
like a hurricane. The way Bill Willingham writes Bigby,
I can’t help but dream of him working on a Wolverine
story. I mean, this is what Wolverine is SUPPOSED to be,
people. And the way he sets up the next arc… yum.
So buy it. Or I’ll hunt you down.
of the Heartland #4 gives us some more clues
about the origin of Will, the misshapen boy in question,
and the other deformed children he and Trevor keep hearing
about. The story is beyond leisurely and needs to be read
slowly so you can drink in the art of each panel, but, if
you let the mood sweep over you, it provides for a haunting
read. Steve Niles tells a tale of innocence, fear, prejudice,
and hope with few words to get in the way of Greg Ruth’s
soft watercolors and harsh brushstrokes. Freaks
of the Heartland may not be for everyone,
and I’d rather read it as a trade paperback than separate
issues, but it’s worth looking into. This is the kind
of unique and subtle tale we need more of, in comics.
of creepy graphic narrative, Identity Crisis
#2 downright chills. Brad Meltzer’s
run on Green Arrow never really hooked me, but what he’s
doing here is powerful. Following the death of Sue Dibny
(wife of the Elongated Man. Yes, you can laugh at that.),
one of the many incarnations of the JLA bands together to
hunt down the murderer, Dr. Light. How do they know it’s
Dr. Light? Simple: the League perpetrated an almost equally
unforgivable crime against him in the past. But was it justified?
And was it justified the other times they did it to other
Meltzer, do you ever push the right buttons! Rags Morales
pencils the characters deftly, easily matching and, at times,
surpassing his work on Hawkman (though I still
can’t quite forgive him making Power Girl’s
breasts as big as her head in the Hawkman/JSA crossover…).
And the Michael Turner cover actually focuses on the main
characters, this time! Definitely one to check out.
#63 gives us deeper looks into the mind (not
the cleavage) of Power Girl, the amulet of Dr. Fate (which
now imprisons rather than houses the god Nabu), and the
rocky layers of the Earth’s crust which hold Sand,
former chairman of the JSA, deep within the planet. I keep
feeling that JSA lost its stride
when David Goyer left writing duties solely to Geoff Johns
(the second time, that is). It’s not that I don’t
like Johns, but the big “Black Reign” crossover
was pretty slow moving, and his last arc had far more to
do with The Spectre and Hal Jordan than the JSA. That may
be changing, now, but all the Sandman things they’re
doing have me more worried than hopeful. Lyta Hall has no
memory of any events from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman,
and I can’t help but feel a bit robbed. I’m
onboard for whatever happens next, but this isn’t
the rollercoaster ride we’re used to.
probably coincidence, but, the way this first arc of Marvel
Knights Spider-Man has gone, I can’t
help feeling like we’re seeing a miniaturized version
of Batman: Hush. Hero’s identity is compromised;
he dukes it out with some misled heroes, faces old stand-bys
from the rogue’s gallery, and ends up in bed with
a sexy leather-clad cat burglar. Well, sorta.
Millar may have a great knack with putting a modern gloss
on old stories, and his use of subtext tickled me on the
first few issues, but Marvel Knights Spider-Man
#4 lacks plot and the supremely witty dialogue
we expect from Spidey books. For the most part, it’s
an extended fight scene with some poor story wrap-up and
not so interesting lead-ins to the next arc. However, Terry
Dodson’s art is exciting as all hell (no, I don’t
just mean the amount of fan-service we get from Black Cat)
and gives enough visceral action to make the issue a decent
I love Bendis - I think everyone here loves Bendis - but
The Pulse #4 left me wanting
to rip my hair out. I should’ve been paying attention
to the fine print by the publication date on the title page,
so I would’ve noticed it switched from being a monthly
book to a bi-monthly (meaning once every two months, not
twice every month). This storyline is so slow and gradual…
and then, when you get to the last page, you realize hardly
anything has happened and you’ll have to wait ANOTHER
month - no, two months, now - for any resolution.
know, if you'd wear looser undergarments, your eyes
wouldn't bulge so much...
gives us solid characters and dialogue, and Bagley draws
Spider-Man as only someone who’s worked on the character
so long could, but these are table scraps. I want the steak.
The Pulse is a good book, but when your core story
focuses on finally putting Norman Osborn in jail, and that
already happened three months back in Marvel Knights
Spider-Man, you’re dragging ass. Not pretty.
anyone who’s browsed Scurvy Dogs
knows there probably isn’t an uglier book on the market.
Scrawled out, slapped together, and seriously lacking backgrounds,
this is one of the crappiest looking regular books out there.
It’s also funny as hell. Operating under the motto
“pirates are the new monkeys," creators Ryan
Yount and Andrew Boyd shoe-horn their mutinous gang into
the modern world and douse them with all the obscure pop-references
they can muster. Issue #5 finds the crew at the mercy of
a not-so familiar face from the Buck Rogers TV series who
throws them headlong into fame and fortune. Oh, horrors!
I’d still like to see Yount develop his style more,
but the comic timing works great and the paneling is solid.
Not a must-buy, but lots of fun.
on the other hand, has proven itself to be a title you can’t
ignore. Issue #5 starts up the title’s first arc (only
a two-issue one, though) with Paul Pelletier filling in
on pencils. His style works for the story, but he makes
Jen Walters a bit too much of a babe, so it’s hard
to understand why she’d rather spend her time as She-Hulk.
When John Jameson tells her he’d rather hang with
Jen than rock out with She-Hulk, it seems more like he’s
prejudiced against green women than tired of keeping up
with the party girl. The art also lacks the cartoony zing
Juan Bobillo gives us, but it still looks great, so I can’t
really complain. As ever, Dan Slott’s writing is witty,
inventive, and wordier than the Bible. He manages to squeeze
so much into a single issue… Believe me when I say
you’ll regret not giving She-Hulk a chance.
Predictions for Next Week: Daredevil #62, Plastic
Man #8, Robin #128, Seaguy #3, and Top Shelf Conversations