Schachat's Occasional Breakdown
Schachat will one day be the ancestor of a loser
superhero from the 25th Century.
52 Week #18 lands the grand experiment
in a bit of a pickle. Has the Tenth Age of Matic begun or
not? Is Booster Gold DEAD dead, or just dead? What’s
up with Ralph Dibny?
Trying to tie-in
the ever-hanging thread of Dr. Fate’s fate, the Croatoan
Society find Tim Trench dead, wearing Fate’s helmet.
The body disintegrates into a fine powder, they wrap up
the helmet and seek out Ralph Dibny because... well, he’s
more of a B-lister these days, and they barely rate any
list at all.
Back in Kahndaq,
Black Adam and new bride Isis award shiny new medals to
The Question and Montoya for foiling the pre-teen suicide
bomber. Montoya’s busy drowning her sorrows in booze
and poon-tang, however, so Adam crashes her party and nearly
kills her before Question reminds them the real enemy is
the group who set up the attack: Intergang.
Back at Booster
Gold’s funeral, Clark Kent muddles over how the world
turned on Booster so quickly that not only would no one
attend but the only city willing to host was Cincinnati
(and only because he’d never been there). Leave it
to Skeets to find the silver lining and one of Booster’s
ancestors. As next week’s cover foretells, Booster
could be coming back one way or another.
Not really the
best issue, though. Booster’s surprising death is
still building up to future events, so we don’t expect
much there. But The Question and Montoya have been on thin
ice and the lack of plot development only makes it thinner.
They remind us Montoya’s a drunken lesbian. And?
Black Adam and
Isis need to embrace some new conflict ASAP. Hopefully,
we’ll see the Ralph Dibny arc tie into theirs soon
enough, but that brings up another problem: what the hell
is going on with Ralph? Last time we saw him, he was a thoroughly
broken man. Again. Logically, the next step would’ve
been for him to relentlessly pursue methods to bring Sue
back from the dead. Here, he’s cool as a cucumber.
Sue may be one
of the only things driving him, now, but this rapidly changing
characterization is just nonsensical. There’s only
one term for a person who oscillates personas so quickly:
insane. Through lack of continuity, DC have made Ralph a
madman in the eyes of any loyal reader. The sad thing is
it doesn’t seem intentional. They need to get their
act together fast or just flush him down the toilet and
be done with it.
know about anyone else out there, but, until reading The
Lone Ranger #1, I was pretty sure the new
wave of cowboy comics had run its course. They’ve
changed established characters’ personalities, sexual
orientations, genders, and species. We’ve set Westerns
in the future, distant planets, vampire-infested wastelands,
and retro-steampunk dystopias.
Lone Ranger and Tonto have an accident with the
But it always
loses that core sensibility when people make it overly funny,
scary, sexy, or bizarre. These are stories about a simpler
era when people didn’t have time to consider the finer
points. You either respected the law or you didn’t.
Firing your gun was never in question, though how you felt
afterwards defined you.
In this relaunch
of the classic character, we finally get the origin story
we never expected. At a deceptively rapid pace, we see the
character grow to manhood, learning the importance of sacrifice,
loyalty, and the rest of it. Just without the stereotypical
we also find out about the disaster that introduced him
to his Indian friend, why he became a Ranger in the first
place, and how a tragedy led to him being “lone."
story takes one of the most ridiculed heroes in American
pop culture, and turns him into a real western lawman. Sergio
Carriello’s art is lovingly rendered and Dean White
adds just the right amount of dirt to give it a well-worn
texture. If this creative team can keep it going, they just
might end up with one of the greatest Lone Ranger stories
While Outsiders #40 may benefit
from Judd Winick’s dash of humor and kooky ideas,
the plot development is pretty glacial. Of course, this
book has mostly lived and died by whoever’s fleshing
it all out on the page. Matthew Clark and Ron Randall’s
styles match up with the standard weirdness you expect from
this team, but you can’t help feeling like the overall
production is a bit cheap. Still, when Winick’s writing
This new arc
(which is still wrapping up events of the last arc) opens
with a brief explanation of Monsieur Mallah and The Brain’s
cloning enterprise; the years they spent gathering blood
and hair samples. It’s a good montage that feels just
a bit too smart for this ultimately harmless duo.
thrill that Shift might be back is defused when he tells
us he’s just another fragment of Metamorpho with no
intention of being his own person.
Back at the holding/gloating
chamber, Grace refuses to elaborate on what “her people”
means. The rest of the team is pissed of by this secrecy,
so Nightwing explains that she’d already told him.
The suspense, it builds!
Yet the end of
this issue can’t help but be a little drag-ass. Conflicts
resolve and there’s a climax, but the reveal of a
secret mad scientist partner is about as surprising as that
research years back telling us McDonald’s food is
fattening. Hard to remember a journey fondly when there’s
a waiting room at the end.
will get something out of this issue, but it’s not
a good place for newbies to start.
of Peter Parker’s unmasking, Marvel belatedly gives
us Spider-Man: Black & Blue & Read All
Over now that we’ve nearly stopped caring.
The issue features a new adventure as well as a reprint
of Spider-Man #12... but does that justify the
four dollar price tag?
the new story written by Jim Krueger and pencilled by Drew
Johnson does hit the right notes. It tells a pre-Civil
War tale about a time when Spidey got tired of his
burden (as he so often does) and decided to make a deal
with J. Jonah Jameson (which is new). In exchange for a
few pages of The Bugle to give his opinion, Spidey promises
to reveal his identity on the front steps of the building.
I know you’re thinking this is a rather go-nowhere
premise. Civil War has made any story about Spider-Man’s
secret identity anti-climactic. Now that it’s out
there, who cares?
Well, this issue
handles it better than the others leading up to the big
reveal. For the millionth time, you really feel like Peter
Parker was crumbling under the weight of his anonymity and
needed to let it go. Sure, we’ve seen it many times
before, but it’s something that defines the character.
War never really dug into that. They just kinda treated
Spider-Man like he was another schmo with a mask. You couldn’t
really feel the stress and fatigue of all these decades
of secret identity pulsing through the pages. Not so, here.
The reprint is,
well, a reprint. Doc Ock unmasks Spidey! Whatever will happen?!
Story be damned, the coloring is just painful to look at.
Photo-copies of the originals would be better than these
texture-less things any day of the week. Note to Marvel:
If you’re going to recolor, just go for broke. These
cheap recolors are eyesores.
Phoenix Warsong #1 is a tough read. You have
to be that certain kind of X-fan who can forget what’s
currently going on in Astonishing X-Men; somewhat
recall the last few arcs of Grant Morrison’s run on
New X-Men; keep abreast of the Decimation,
198, and Civil War; and, most importantly
of all, you should’ve read X-Men: Phoenix Endsong.
Emma looks really tired of this whole Phoenix
most of all.
The story follows
the Stepford Cuckoos as they seem to hit their secondary
mutation. Before you know it, they’re teasing a Sentinel
with their new telekinetic flight powers. Emma, Logan, and
Hank separate them to work on the problem from different
angles, but the signs are all there: the Phoenix Force is
rising in the Three-in-One.
the most part, I really prefer to see Greg Pak working in
the Cosmic. Endsong was a bit hard to get into
because of the X-Men’s soap opera leanings. Pak seems
to excel when the storytelling builds to epic proportions.
looks to be doing that.
Rather than letting
Morrison’s uber-psychics disappear into the wings,
he keeps bringing back the Stepford Cuckoos, Quentin Quire,
and, as ever, the Phoenix Force. While other writers may
have trouble with overpowered characters, Pak’s quite
I have little faith Marvel Editorial will let the Cuckoos
breech containment. There’s nothing I want to see
more than the Phoenix Force taking on these new Civil War
Sentinels and bringing the Decimation/198/CivilWar
junk to a thrilling climax– but too many other books
are already heading there. None of them will make it very
with Planet Hulk going on, there’s a glimmer
of hope they’ll let this miniseries tell a story rather
then build towards yet another tepid summer crossover that
last until the next summer crossover hits the shelves. Cross