Schachat's Occasional Breakdown
Schachat hopes to be beaten then arise stronger,
smarter and a whole lot greener.
first installment didn’t do much, but, to some relief,
Annihilation #2 actually gains
ground. Sure, they skipped right through Galactus’
defeat. Yeah, cosmic characters are being tossed around
left and right without much fanfare beyond “Look!”
Uh huh, the damage to the Universe is widespread and irreparable
as pestilential hordes sweep over known space.
But now it’s somewhat entertaining.
Drax The Destroyer learns that Thanos has
kidnapped his daughter, so that’s got HIM off his
green ass. Ronan was about to be executed by the Kree running
the remaining armies, so HE’s finally taking charge.
Super Skrull’s body shows up along with his resistance
cell from the N-Zone, so you know HE’s not gonna be
dead for long.
Still, this comic barely manages to earn
your dollars. After months of build up with all those miniseries,
Annihilation should have jumped right into the fray. Instead,
it rewarded loyal readers with a recap issue and hesitated
to weave the numerous threads together.
issue gives the story some much needed momentum. It’s
not at the same level Rann-Thanagar War was by
this point, though. The characters have all been thrown
into the mix, yet they still have no idea what they’re
going to do. The former book chose to pound readers relentlessly
with battles and new warriors appearing on the battlefield,
but Annihilation has been far too content repeatedly
taking stock of the situation. Unfortunately, the situation
is always “Annihilus can’t be stopped. Keep
that’s an unavoidable problem when your villain’s
goals are so dull and simple. Destroy and conquer. No sex,
love, or rock and roll. Of course, Ultimate Galactus
covered that up by giving us more of a clue about the villain’s
inner workings and history. Annihilus just crouches in painful
poses and yells. They probably should’ve given him
more to do...
the cover of Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #44
ruins this issue’s big surprise, but other developments
are more important. As the subtitle tells us, the Ocean
Master is the one behind all the recent destruction and
enslavement. The Aurati are merely pawns bent to the will
of powerful surface dwellers with big, big guns. That work
underwater. And stuff.
Finally, DC tries a
Arthur is a tad perplexed by the moral issues that crop
up, but a good talking to from the Dweller in the Depths
and the Sea Devils gets him to take a look at the bigger
picture. Not only will they rescue Mera and the Atlanteans,
but they must take down the humans who caused all this suffering
in the first place.
And then we get the big fight with Ocean
Master which would’ve been surprising if they hadn’t
put it on the cover.
was going on and on about the new concept of this Aquaman,
and I must admit that it draws you in more than any other
recent take on the character. Kurt Busiek really has tapped
into the old myths (be they Celtic, Greek, Norse, or Sumerian)
to recreate the underwater world for these post-Crisis
adventures. Admittedly, it does seem pretty obvious who
the Dweller in the Depths is, but there’s enough doubt
to keep the guessing game going.
The lion’s share of credit has to
go to the artists, though. Butch Guice’s pencils/inks
with Dan Brown’s colors make for an underwater epic
with all the raw edges of a Conan story. The look not only
makes the book stand out; it gives the story the texture
it needs. Pick this one up before the story passes you by.
damn month late, Green Lantern #13
still manages to do what no other issue in this run has:
weave a story with lasting impact. And a friggin’
awesome one, at that. Finally, we have villains tearing
through the cosmos, vengeances sworn against our heroes,
and tie-ins to both the events of Infinite Crisis
It also resurrects enough dead characters
to fill out an entire Justice League.
To catch us up on some GL history, Geoff
Johns reminds us of Hal Jordan’s doomed romance with
fellow Lantern Arisia. He then retcons her race to have
a hibernation mode that looks JUST like death and uses that
to bring her back into the epic battle between Jordan’s
group of lost Lanterns and forty point three million Manhunters.
Oh, and they’re being led by Hank
Henshaw (the resurrected Cyborg Superman) who’s created
a new army of giant Manhunters powered by captured Green
Ivan Reis’ pencils are great, but
the production by Inker Oclair Albert and Colorist Moose
Brumann make this conclusion to “Revenge of the Green
Lanterns” truly stirring. In less capable hands, the
drawn-out fight might read like another dull shoot-em-up.
This art sings.
have to give props to Geoff Johns for finally leading Green
Lantern into thrilling new territory. As we knew when
the book launched, a “square one” Hal Jordan
just wasn’t going to be as much fun as the sprawling
space opera he played a part in.
that Guy Gardner is on “Prime duty” and Henshaw
lurks near “the path," Green Lantern will
have a tension running through it until those inevitable
conflicts come to a head. Let’s just hope Hal’s
Earthbound solo efforts don’t take up too much of
the limelight again.
you can appreciate Howard Chaykin’s dense storytelling
in JLA Classified #27, the plot
points are pretty few and far between. Part two of “Secret
History, Sacred Trust” is much like part one. It keeps
building up the conflict between a pair of third world military
dictatorships and how the UN keeps the JLA from interfering.
JLA if Ed Wood was in charge...
The problem is we really only get one major
development in this issue.
Martian Manhunter and Aquaman are keeping
up appearances while the rest of the team infiltrate these
nations which are building up super-powered armies. The
President acts like he’s obeying the U.N. declaration.
The U.N. repeats their concerns that America has become
the Metahuman hegemony. Then a Metahuman soldier from one
side attacks one from the other in disputed territory.
Even then, nothing really develops. The
scenes come at us rapid fire. There’s plenty of narration
and dialogue. Wonder Woman dons a skanky outfit. End of
The premise is still interesting, what with
the allegory for nuclear weapons in our own time. I just
can’t recommend buying this issue since so little
happens. Next month might give us more story, but this one
is dead on arrival.
X-Men #74 concludes “Magical,"
the arc focusing on the Ultimate Universe’s latest
overpowered mutant, Magician. Last month revealed that he’d
been manipulating the team the whole time. Topping that,
this story also furthers the growth of Jean Grey’s
Phoenix powers, throws the team into disarray (again), sends
members packing, and calls into question the limits of high-and-mighty
Charles Xavier’s mentoring capacity.
Man, Robert Kirkman tells a good tale.
I don’t want to spoil anything, since
the first half of the issue is dedicated to the showdown
with the Magician. The real plot development happens in
the second half, and that’s what gives this story
differences between the Marvel and Ultimate Universes are
made quite clear here. Rather than star-crossed lovers who
instantly fall for each other, Xavier and Lilandra learn
to trust one another first. Jean’s powers aren’t
as sloppily retconned as in X3: The Last Stand,
but she’s also not the same cosmic avatar we knew
in regular X-books. Instead of being the saint we know and
love, Nightcrawler turns out to be just as bigoted as the
people who fear him.
Does this mean we’re going to end
up with a radically different group of people as the story
progresses? Probably not, but the journey’s going
to be a helluva lot more interesting.