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Jason Schachat often rubs two good books together.

Jason Schachat's Occasional Breakdown

Well, it just figures. After last week’s smorgasbord of frikkin’ awesome comics, this week’s a doldrums. A few choice titles aside, Marvel largely gives us a bunch of Trade Paperbacks. DC’s fielding the b-team, Image can’t find two good books to rub together and Dark Horse only put out one actual comic amidst a flurry of collected editions.

I think the only bad thing I can really say about Cable & Deadpool #31 is, damn, I miss Patrick Zircher. Not like the guy got gunned down, but the chemistry he had with Fabian Nicieza’s scripts made this book a gem. Staz Johnson’s art is passable, but the storytelling and laughs aren’t quite as strong.


This is still one of the better “Civil War” tie-ins, comedically addressing how this Mercenary and Messiah duo would be divided by the Superhuman Registration Act. Or whatever the hell they’re calling it now. I think I’ve seen a few different wordings in recent months...

Not the point.

The issue opens with hero-hunting Deadpool facing down the all-star team-up of Captain America, Falcon, Daredevil, Hercules, and Goliath. K, the Goliath formerly known as Black Goliath, so it’s not entirely devoid of Z-list heroes. Deadpool does well for the 5 seconds he can jump around, but it’s up to freedom-fighting Cable (fighting FOR freedom, to be clear) to save his hide. A crate of duct tape later, the situation is well in hand, so Cable decides it’s time they talk to the President.

So, in two issues, Cable & Deadpool, the court jester of the Marvel catalog, does more to salvage the Civil War than a few series put together. Kinda sad.

Though this book may lack the stellar production of Civil War, Fabian Nicieza’s solid head for entertaining stories keeps the series all but Liefeld-proof. Even when dealing with a crossover as thoroughly unmovable as Civil War, this comic bravely trudges on like it’s all according to plan.

Oh, and seeing Deadpool mummified in duct tape is worth the price of admission alone.

If you've got a heart, then Hulky's a part of you...

Marvel’s Mythos: Hulk #1 is probably the most beautifully illustrated boring re-hash to be put out in a while. Over the course of 22 pages, we get the same old craptacular Hulk origin story decompressed to the point where even the SMASH!ing doesn’t wake us up.

Unlike the repressed characterizations of Bruce Banner or even the severely trod upon Ultimates incarnation, this one doesn’t really seem to have enough repressed emotions to justify his alter ego. Mention is made of his psychological problems, but there’s nothing pent up about this man’s dark side. He’s too well adjusted to have Hulk stomping through his cerebellum.

As if that weren’t enough, writer Paul Jenkins tries to update the story with almost insultingly tacked on nods to modern society. Rick Jones, still decked out in gear from an episode of “Dobie Gillis”, is listening to an iPod when Banner saves him. Bruce uses a cell phone to call up Betty. Humvees and M-16s abound. Betty wears sensible pants to work.

But they do nothing to justify how a man survives a nuclear explosion. Hell, they even let him out of observation as soon as he wakes up, rather than dissecting him open like any real god-fearing American institution would.

Thankfully, artist Paolo Rivera paints some beautiful pictures. There are gloriously Kirby-esque poses, onomatopoeias aplenty, and a nice helping of rubble. Still, this only lures readers into an otherwise tepid and worthless purchase. Look for the art online, if you can, but pay this book no mind.

Superman/Batman #29 is a field trip through the land of confusion (minus the puppets from the Genesis video). From the last issue, we know J’onn J’onzz is up to something. Then we get suspicious that some other shapeshifter may be at work. THEN it looks like mind control is involved.


After a head-to-head with the newly militant Martian Man-hater, we take a detour with John Stewart to examine his power ring. It goes all wacky, as ultimate weapons focusing the will of heroes are wont to do. Then John gets laid out by a giant green fist (glowy power-ring variety, not Martian).

Superman finally makes an appearance, fending off an old school Lois Lane who wants to... speak cryptically... or something else non-threatening. Then she turns into the Caveman from Krypton and rampages through the Daily Planet offices. Hal Jordan shows up to save the day– BUT IS IT REALLY HIM!? WHOSE SIDE IS HE ON!?!?!

Honestly, I don’t give a damn. There’s no intrigue to this limp plot, no matter how many guest appearances you wedge in. Even though J’onn’s evil costume establishes this as a post-Crisis 2.0 story, Batman’s back to being dark and impenetrable. For a really good Batman story, you’d be far better off checking out last week’s Batman #656 where Grant Morrison had him fighting a legion of Man-Bat ninjas. For a better Superman story... well, anywhere but here.

Ethan Van Sciver’s art does give this issue some appeal, but the whole thing is just a mess. Just keep away.

We'd rather fight than develop...

Large serial plots are tons of fun and can even be called the underpinning of the comic book medium, but it gets really annoying when you drag things out like Geoff Johns and crew do in Teen Ttitans #38. The cover tells you that Red Star is going to make a guest appearance, so you can already imagine what you’re in for. Then it takes nearly half the book for the Titans to finally bump into him.

This outing largely plays out as another “we’re not getting along, and the team’s in trouble” issue. They take down Girder in the beginning, sign some autographs, squabble, go home, squabble, try to find Raven to learn about the spoooooky mystery she’s covering up, squabble, track down Red Star, and – but that would be giving it away.

It’s a plot that’s almost insultingly drawn out. I’d guess the people who enjoy seeing this ragtag version of the Titans constantly at each others’ throats might enjoy it. After a few years of this in Outsiders and various Teen Titans arcs, I’ve had my fill. The situation isn’t helped out much by Carlos Ferreira’s hit and miss pencilling, either.

However, this story DOES hint at the post-Crisis events that “One Year Later” has kept us in the dark on: we’re presented with a yearbook of all the team members to join during Cyborg’s nap. These pictures add to the confusion, but they at least open up our minds to just how different this universe is since its near-destruction.

Let’s just hope 52 doesn’t steal all of Teen Titans’ thunder.

In other teen supergroup circles, things seem to be coalescing in Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways #2. The first issue was like library paste force-fed down our gullets as to introduce unfamiliar readers to the two teams and the global conflict, but the creative team taps into an actual story this month.

Director Hill, the stone cold biznatch in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D., sends out a further suped-up Kree super soldier from another dimension to track down the oh-so hard to find Runaways. Meanwhile, the aforementioned dysfunctional family squares off with the Young Avengers when misunderstandings about who’s on whose side explode (with loud report).

The fight itself isn’t that interesting, but the miniseries finally finds its footing when the two teams just sit down and talk it out. Sure, the characterizations are a bit far from those in the original books. The constant reminders about who has what unique power and twisted origin get old, too. But the chemistry these kids find with each other is remarkably refreshing.

Zeb Wells’ writing may not be firing on all cylinders, but the miniseries now has some hope. The events are small in the larger scheme of Civil War, so we probably shouldn’t expect significant repercussions. It’s become an enjoyable read, though. With Stefano Caselli’s expressive artwork pushing it along, this series is worth the price of admission.

Not a one of them has tried the purple pill...

X-Factor #10 makes for a good buy, too, but how couldn’t it when you have Peter David at the helm? Well, new artist Renato Arlem brings a grittier, more angular look to the book that... well, it doesn’t help out Mr. David’s work. The backgrounds are either oversimplified or painfully photo-referenced. The look would be more welcome on a book like Daredevil; X-Factor needs a softer hand. But, hey– it’s goddamn Peter David!

Following Madrox’s standoff with the X-Men, the team find themselves caught in the middle of the Superhuman Registration Act with nowhere to turn to. Par for the course, these days.

This issue peeks further into the machinations of Singularity Investigations and the origins of mutantkind. Buried under the usual detective story (this time dealing with yet another mutant-killing virus), we feel the rumblings of much larger events.

That, or Quicksilver’s totally full of crap. As usual. Entertaining either way.

One of the great things this story does is bring up the whole issue of taking a stand. Sure, Civil War and so many stories these days are meant to reflect our own situation. How we need to stand up to the powers that be when they call us unpatriotic or accuse us of being on “the wrong side." Funny how it’s always the overly emotional retards who start up the name-calling...

You can’t help but feel the message is tainted a little when you look at the date, though. People were labeling each other as un-American, traitorous, and “on the terrorists' side” mere weeks after 9-11. That’s when the arts and entertainment should’ve lashed out against the fearmongers. Now, it just rings of opportunism.

Peter David’s been an avid Bush-hater for a long time, so I don’t blame him. Nah, it’s Marvel editorial I wanna see bitch-slapped. DC aren’t innocent either. If these people wanna define heroism for our culture, they shouldn’t have to wait for market research to tell them what good timing is.

Jason Schachat

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