Schachat spent way too much time living mutant high
Jason Schachat's Weekly Breakdown
July 23, 2004
week, Jason Schachat takes you along for his ride on the
four-colored pulp pony. Feed the addiction, and the addiction
Comic-Con is in San Diego, actually, and I’m still
rotting away in my cell while Derek and the others traipse
around the floor with the rest of the downtrodden masses…
they slipped some comics through the bars before they left,
so let’s go nuts!
#62 makes a big splash, this week, taking
a jab at politics, the espionage community, and fidelity.
What really excites me, though, are the reaffirmations that
Bendis’ prior arcs aren’t things to be lost
in DD lore. Matt Murdock is still seen as Kingpin of Hell’s
Kitchen, his marriage to Milla won’t be forgotten,
and the revelation of his secret identity won’t magically
erase like so many seem to (‘cause let’s face
it; realistically, once headlines are made, people aren’t
letting go that easy). The arc is still moving pretty slowly,
so fans that missed the last couple of issues can still
dive in without missing much.
Frost #13 also offers itself as a jumping-on
point. A dull, boring jumping-on point. After the last issue,
where Emma finally harnessed her powers to “mind-control”
a gang of thugs into turning on each other and letting her
go, the new arc promises us six issue of action-packed COLLEGE!
Yes, that’s right; just in case your own school days
weren’t boring enough, Marvel’s gonna let you
relive them through the eyes of a bookworm with the body
of a playmate. Even though this issue finally provides us
with a cold, blonde, vixen Emma (after various teases where
they presented the image, only to return to the brunette
plain-jane look the next month) she’s still vanilla
on the inside. What’s more, all the women Adriana
Melo draws here are foxes, so the change may not last.
at this rate, it doesn’t look like we’ll EVER
get near the Hellfire Club. As a superhero book, Emma Frost
rarely works, but, even as soap opera, there simply isn’t
enough going on. The only regular character has been Emma,
and, for someone who’s been narrating the whole time,
we know very little about what she’s thinking, feeling,
or even doing. If you want a Marvel soap-opera comic about
the troubles of a teenage girl, read Mary Jane
(more on that later…); If you want a great female
superhero book, pick up She-Hulk. Emma Frost is
enough, DC Presents: Green Lantern #1
makes for a much better read than the adventures of Ms.
Frost using a method older than the hills: basing a story
off a pre-rendered cover (a favorite tool of Julie Schwartz,
of whom this series is made in memoriam). The two tales
differ in tone drastically; the first being a cornball jab
at the Silver Age, penned by Brian Azzarello and penciled
by Norm Breyfogle (who’s facial expressions are some
of the best I’ve seen this year), that’ll have
you in stitches by the end, and the second a more modern-flavored
Green Lantern and Green Arrow team-up by Martin Pasko and
Scott McDaniel that offers a creepy but interesting look
into the mind of Hal Jordan. And, yes, if you’re a
Hal Jordan fan dying for his imminent return, this is one
you need to buy.
Jason, this is EXACTLY
what Comic-Con is like.
DC’s really trying to push Justice League
Elite #1 as their must-have, this week; god
only knows why… Now, I’ll confess to being an
all-too-infrequent JLA reader, and, usually, I would make
up for this by researching or playing catch-up, but when
the book says “No. 1”, I’d hope to not
have to read the original Joe Kelly run with The Elite and
JLA #100 to have a clue as to what’s going on. I remember
that The Elite are basically a slightly twisted version
of The Authority, meant to contrast against the purity and
idealism of the JLA, but why am I reading about them now?
What’s going on? Why’s all this happening? Is
my copy of the issue missing a re-cap page?
original run of The Authority is something to treasure,
and I instantly agreed with Warren Ellis’ bragging
that it wasn’t just A superhero book; it was THE superhero
book. However, I’ve never enjoyed anything done with
the characters since Ellis left, and Justice League
Elite hits the same pitfalls of making the characters
too callous, cruel, and constantly dripping with blood while
the story loops around confusedly and tries to seem important.
The events here look like an amalgam of events from Stormwatch
(which became The Authority after nearly all the
team died, governments pulled support, and the few remaining
heroes banded together to save the world on their own) and
WildC.A.T.S. Is it entertaining? Maybe. Have we
seen it before? Yeah, and it was a lot better, then.
Twilight of the Gods was also better than the events continuing
in this month’s chapter of Loki.
Still beautiful yet boring, issue #2 keeps trying to be
an Asgardian Macbeth, only without all the intrigue, conflict,
and generally good writing that makes the tale an enduring
classic. Esad Ribic again paints beautifully, but the story’s
nothing more than Loki gloating over his prisoners, flashing
back to his torments and misdeeds, and waiting for the inevitable
and swift end to his reign. Again, nothing we haven’t
for new things, the surprise of the summer has to be Mary
Jane. As soon as I saw the cover for issue
#1, I cringed in that just-saw-grandma-naked way (oh, the
fear) at the thought of Marvel putting out another teenage
book for girls- this time pushing the “For All Ages”
label. And with Mary Jane Watson, no less! But I’ll
be damned if that first issue didn’t blow me away.
Sean McKeever (from Marvel’s Sentinel) and Takeshi
Miyazawa (of Oni’s Sidekicks) pool together
their vast knowledge of manga-style storytelling to make
Mary Jane potentially the most successful girls’
romance comic on the market (Blue Monday is still
the best, but I recognize the black and white art and non-serial
format chase people off).
are the kids reading it?
writes a story where the kids actually talk and act like
kids dealing with real-world troubles, making a Spider-man
appearance unexpected and magical. There’s no token
slang “fo’ shizzle” or painfully blatant
references to cell phones and the internet. Mary Jane
#2 feels real and unforced. And then Miyazawa comes in with
the subtlety and pacing of good shoujo that’s been
missing from all of Marvel’s attempts to manga-fy™
American comics. This book truly should work for all literate
ages and both genders, but it’s DEFINITELY the kind
of comic we need to bring young girls back to the medium.
X-Men: Academy X #3 dives fully into young
mutant rivalry at Xavier’s when tension flares up
between Professor Dani Moonstar’s New Mutants and
Headmistress Emma Frost’s Hellions. You have to love
the literacy DeFilippis and Weir showoff with their treatment
of the new Xaviers, but Staz Johnson’s pencils are
neither as expressive nor as appealing as the work Randy
Green did on the first two issues. However, for mutant high
school drama, this is really the only place to go in the
X-franchise and the book does it very well. No world devouring
conquerors or mutant terrorists; just a school drama that’s
looking to play out like a mutant version of Harry Potter.
Worth looking into.
I should be really psyched that Outsiders
has been chugging along, giving us a three-part arc with
Tom Raney back on art duties after a couple months of less
than stellar pencils, but somehow, I’m not. I mean,
Winick’s dialogue is witty, the characters are endearing,
and the tie-ins to situations in the rest of the DCU are
cool… yet, when you put them all together, it’s
a bit clunky. Maybe it’s an unfortunate case of expecting
more from the author of Barry Ween, but the soap
opera style just doesn’t leave enough room for the
smart plotting, joyful pseudo-science, and historical reference
that makes Winick’s stronger writing such a delight.
Outsiders #14 is entertaining and should still
please fans of Winick’s Exiles… It
could be better, though.
Plastic Man #8 is probably as
good as this book gets. Kyle Baker had me laughing from
page one on, and I can’t count the number of times
I nearly fell out of my chair. The issue starts not long
after the events of the last arc, poking fun at the logic
of that story’s conclusion before introducing Plastic
Man’s son and “wife” in a rollicking series
of gags that lead up to an attack on DC continuity itself.
The art and panels in this issue are quite different from
Baker’s previous work on the series, but it’s
still damn near perfect. A must-buy for anyone who likes
teenage girl-Robin in a book where Batman dons big ol’
robo-armor for a super-powered smackdown? No, not a new
printing of The Dark Knight Knight Returns, but
Robin #128, featuring Tim Drake’s
girlfriend Stephanie in her continuing role as the new girl-wonder.
I have to admit this issue didn’t tickle me as much
as prior episodes of Bill Willingham’s run, though.
It lacks the wit of some of his earlier work on the series,
and Damion Scott’s uber-fluid characters and overly
voluptuous women don’t quite work for me. Still, the
threads are as tension-filled and numerous as those running
through Fables, and the coolness of new super-villainess
Scarab is only surpassed by the constant guessing game of
what the future holds for Tim, Stephanie, and the position
of Robin itself. The reckless energy Steph brings to the
Bat-team harkens to more innocent times, but the book lacks
the constant displays of wisdom it had before she took over.
So, yeah, it’s a tough decision that’ll keep
us coming back for the final answer.
#3 concludes Morrison’s bizarre-yet-somehow-less-surreal-than-usual
mini with an ending wavering between brilliant and insane
(much like Morrison’s mythical persona) that depressed
the hell out of me before I read it again and soaked up the
metaphor (much like the last issue of The Invisibles).
Seaguy’s trip to the moon is fascinating and ridiculous,
especially when you add in the pyramids and jackal-headed
Egyptians - then again, who’s to say the government
really IS telling us the truth about the moon - …and
now we’re back to the metaphor. Cameron Stewart’s
art is amazing (look at that cover and tell me you don’t
want to read it) and we should all be keeping big bloodshot
eyes open for his future work. Strongly recommended for Morrison
fans and a good read for people following the mini.
Unlimited, on the other hand, is a book that
prides itself on being instantly accessible as a standalone
issue series, yet I find I can rarely recommend it. Issue
#4 breaks that hex by re-teaming Robert Kirkman and Cory
Walker of Invincible fame for a hilarious first half, then
following up with a preachy but decently written tale of
a Lakota doctor who’s life is changed by the web-slinger
(though the art is pretty bad on both Spidey and the doc).
While this kind of book may seem like a wise approach to
some, not having regular artists and writers makes it more
of an impulse buy than other Spidey titles. This is a good
strategy for newsstands, but I have to wonder how it’s
working for Marvel in the shops… In any case, this
issue is good enough for me to greenlight. Next month, however…
last and probably least there’s X-Men
#159, which proves that even when Chuck Austen
can go a few months without bringing the Superman franchise
to its knees, he’ll still manage to readily drive
a Marvel book into the ground. Couple this with Larroca’s
inability to draw Chinese people for a story where the X-Men
encounter the Chinese army in China (even when he resorts
to Fu Manchu moustaches and topknots) and this is just another
snore in the long night of Austen. Don’t worry, kids,
it’ll be over soon.
Predictions for Next Week: Conan #6, DC: The New
Frontier #5, Planetary #20, Powers #2, Red Star v2 #5, and
Ultimate Fantastic Four #9.