Jason Schachat's Weekly Breakdown
Schachat is still alive in 2099.
October 1, 2004
week, Jason Schachat takes you along for his ride on the
four-colored pulp pony. Feed the addiction, and the addiction
Breakdown? I have to put my marathon read of Mark Waid’s
run on Flash (issues 62 through 163 - if the lord
wanted us to have lives, he wouldn’t’ve given
us eBay…) on hold for a breakdown?
Man, next thing
you know, they’ll be telling me Marvel flooded the
racks with worthless—
so, here’s the deal: I went into Black
Panther 2099 #1 thinking it was kicking off
a new attempt at the 2099 line. Yeah, yeah, I shoulda known
better, but I’d like to think I don’t have to
research EVERY damn thing I read. Sad thing is I kinda liked
it as an opening to a new series, but it falls flat as a
The future finds
us in a Wakanda where there is no Black Panther and no hope
that one will arise. Then the new Dr. Doom decides to invade
the nation and forces a councilman to realize his potential
and rise up to save his people.
pretty much it.
I like the way the story tries to tie-in to Doom 2099,
this one just doesn’t stand alone well. It’s
a lot of stuff we’ve seen before that would be acceptable
as a starting point but ultimately amounts to a waste of
time. Robert Kirkman’s K’Shamba doesn’t
demonstrate enough intellect, ability, or personality to
endear him to us in the 22 pages allotted, and the ending,
while chilling at first, will prompt a loud “Wha?!?!”
five seconds later. I read it over again to be sure I hadn’t
missed an important plot point. I hadn’t.
art, while reminiscent of what we suffered during the 90s
boom, isn’t up to snuff. I suppose some blame could
go to the coloring and simplified shading, but, again, I
have to wonder if that wasn’t an intentional ploy
to harken back to the look of the 2099 books. If
this were a series, that style might be appreciated. As
a oneshot, it’ll just turn readers off. Pass on this.
but never forget the brightly flaming glory that has been
Caper. It comes to a close at
issue #12, where Lou’s strapped into a torture device
to have his innermost recesses dredged while Richie maintains
the secret location of the missing severed hand. Of course,
the men in black learn that Richie’s stubbornness
is ironclad, but they also figure out that his dependence
on Lou is even greater. They nearly break him, too, but
Lou points out a structural flaw in Richie’s chair
and the great chase begins anew!
this exact same scene happened last week at the
does it make me sad to see Caper go. The earlier
chapters gave us great historical fiction and statements
about twisted human nature and society, but this final one
has been goddamn hilarious. I don’t think Judd Winick’s
been this funny outside of Barry Ween, and that
leads me to one conclusion: the man needs to cuss. It’s
not a crutch; it’s his muse. These big DC titles he’s
writing for are fine and all, but there’s nothing
special about them. No nuance. No Winick magic. Aside from
smart plotting and occasional humor, very little of his
mainstream work approaches the level of his indie titles.
Caper has broken that hex.
to you? Pick up this book. My advice to DC? Put out the
Caper TPB. NOW. This is one we all need to read.
Even if they have to be strapped into a torture device to
make it happen.
really say what compelled me to pick up Captain
Canuck: Unholy War #1. Really, I can’t.
I’m trying hard, here, and I’ll be damned if
I can find a reason… Well, let’s say it’s
to bolster Amero-Canadian ties in the face of a tumultuous
economy upset by the trade of cheap prescription drugs.
Yeah, that sounds important.
Ah, but the comic!
Yes, the comic stars Canada’s own masked crime fighter
in a biker gang caper. Well, actually, it’s not the
original Captain Canuck. It’s not the early 90s revamp,
either. It’s West Coast Captain Canuck (yes, there’s
a West Coast Captain Canuck) fighting crime in Vancouver
and freeing loggers from bear traps. Well, except for the
bear trap part…
Anyway, the first
issue introduces us to what may be the first niceguy superhero
of the 21st century. He’s a Mountie, doesn’t
have weapons, doesn’t belong to any covert organization,
his parents weren’t killed during his childhood, his
partner wasn’t gunned down, and even the local police
chief believes him when he says the deadly Mr. Gold may
be hiding out in Vancouver. Inspired by the comics he read
as a kid, this guy just wants to do more.
nature of this bold old approach combined with the smart
dialogue and non-gritty, realistic portrayal of cops and
criminals make for a strong read. However, the plot may
be a bit too simple and straightforward for its own good,
and the art doesn’t feature enough rippling musculature
or high caliber weaponry to appeal to the vast majority
of fandom. It’s a great change of pace and a great
deal at $2.50 for 30-some odd pages, but I can’t say
that it’s the must-buy hit of the summer. Mildly recommended.
The New Frontier #6 wraps the series with
the biggest damn Silver Age hero team-up you ever done seen,
brother. Following the apparent death of Superman last issue
[insert derisive snort here], the adventure heroes of the
50s join with the new breed of superheroes to take out The
Centre, a living island on course to destroy all life. The
mystics and heroes of the last generation wait on the sidelines,
putting their faith in Earth’s woefully underpowered
champions who battle both inside and outside the monstrous
We get some nice
moments with Adam Strange, newly released from Arkham, and
Ray Palmer arrives on the scene with a device that can turn
the tables, but this issue is really more about Martian
Manhunter, Flash, and Green Lantern. J’onn finally
breaks out of his haze and embraces the mantle of heroism
(which comes with free cape, ring strap, blue BVDs, and
a bottle of chest grease), knocking evil reptiles out of
the sly and tearing them limb from limb. Darwyn Cooke’s
design for the Barry Allen Flash is so divinely retro, I’d
kill for him and Dave Stewart to repeat the magic in a Flash
mini-series. No one important, mind you. Maybe a hobo or
a mime. But I’d kill, nonetheless.
Of course, it
all comes down to the man who’s been the quiet protagonist
for most of the series: Hal Jordan. Yes, Hal has his moment.
And, yes, it is glorious. Sadly, it also demonstrates the
trouble with bringing Hal back to the DCU: It’s kinda
the same thing we’ve seen him do for the last forty
years, give or take a mental breakdown or fanboy-angering
death. The military man turned hero angle has been played
out, tragic hero was an ill fit, and being a spirit of vengeance
sat as well as a Jack in the Box chili relleno after a long
day of boogie-boarding at a rather polluted beach (ah, memories…).
ends the story with a return to the message of hope and
progress that characterized so much of this series, but
I have to admit this last issue is marred by the seemingly
endless battle against The Centre. By the time I got around
to the epilogue, I found both myself and the comic’s
cover exhausted from the long read. There’s no denying
this is a good book, but, man, will it beat you down. Recommended.
while I’d like to continue ranting about the ills
suffered by Green Lantern, I have to give Ron Marz credit:
he ended series with class.
is not to say that Green Lantern #181
hits it out of the park (though a certain something does
get whacked into the far reaches of space), but far worse
things could’ve happened. Unfortunately, Marz deflates
the delicious rage we all felt when Kyle found Major Force
had murdered his mother with a rather convenient revelation.
A few hits are exchanged, there’re lots of glowy fists
and *gasp* even a few cool constructs, but this story ends
with a crisis of faith and a hero’s ultimate decision.
Duck gets the ring...
be told, it isn’t really much of an ending. I guess
we’ll have to wait for Green Lantern: Rebirth
#1 to show us where this franchise and its sizable
cast are going. And what’s gonna happen to Kilowog.
And why the Guardians tried to kill Kyle. And how a reformed
genocidal maniac known throughout the galaxy as “The
Great Betrayer” and “Destroyer of Worlds”
will be allowed to once again wield the most powerful weapon
in existence. But that’s next month.
#4 finds our new heroes rocketing through
space on their quest to fend off the evil Alliance when,
wouldn’t you know it, an Alliance patrol ship pulls
alongside and boards them. There’s a nice tie-in to
the rest of the Marvel Universe when we see a Shi'ar among
the Alliance crew, but it kinda makes you wonder why everyone
thought these kids were crazy when they said they’d
met an alien. Aren’t aliens pretty commonplace in
book is still pulling from the strong “dreamer”
foundation that made Close Encounters of the Third Kind,
E.T., Explorers, and The Last Starfighter
such accessible adventures, but it’s starting to run
into the troubled territory that comes when said dreamers’
dreams come true. Explorers fumbled through its
attempt at first contact, and Spielberg’s films were
content to remain on Earth, but few movie entrees in this
subgenre ever go far into space. Of course, with a comic,
this opening arc is usually prelude to a cosmic adventure,
but I always felt the appeal of Guardians was the
being the first “space” issue of Guardians,
it’s too soon to say the cosmos isn’t where
they should be heading, but I’m hoping it won’t
wander too far from the elements that made prior issues
such great reads. Mildly recommended.
title leapt off the shelf at me, this week. …well,
not literally… shelves seemed pretty secure—
Anyway, I found it hard to resist Harry Johnson
#1, and not just because of the name or the
boobs on the cover or the boobs on the interior or the boobs
on the back cover. This two part mini sets out to create
a pulp adventure that will titillate you with well-developed
characters bouncing through booby traps, voluptuous scenery,
and one curvaceous plotline.
a lie. Except for the booby traps.
The story pieces
together scenes from the last two Indiana Jones movies (which,
of course, were largely lifted from serials and pulp fiction)
to form a plot about a missing scientist and the private
investigator hired to find him.
this is a book of puns, innuendos, witty repartee, jibes,
and the subtlely restrained RAMPANT SEXUALITY that cartoonists
like Tex Avery secreted into mainstream media. Charles Fulp’s
story serves as a simple skeleton for his delightfully sarcastic
dialogue and send-ups of well known adventure story clichés.
really brings this book together is the line the creators
draw for themselves. There’s no nudity, no swearing,
and no blood. The Disney-esque look of Craig Rousseau’s
art (which actually resembles The Curse of Monkey Island
more) makes the whole thing feel rather innocent. Well,
until the stripper Harry hires to be his assistant lets
her dildo fall out of her purse. But when did a dildo hurt
On second thought,
don’t answer that.
The long and
the short of it— In the end— No matter how you
take it— [Insert opening phrase that could not in
ANY way be construed as a dick joke], Harry Johnson satisfies
(Dammit!). It’s a laugh-out-loud adventure that knowingly
jabs a finger in the fleshy eye of cartoon prudery. Definitely
critics have been championing Invincible
for more than a year now, but you guys just ain’t
buying it. So, I think it’s time to come clean: it’s
a big conspiracy. No, really. All us online critics, quotable
comic creators, bloggers, and forum trolls got together
one night in an abandoned wherehouse with overhead lighting
and a big table we could roll secret plans out on and made
a pact to force Invincible on an unsuspecting public.
And we got away with it, too! Muwaha--!
though, this is a title you should check out *hides blinking
communicator watch behind back*. Spawn may still
be the best-selling book Image has, but Invincible
is undeniably their best superhero comic and easily one
of the top ten being made today. Robert Kirkman keeps making
the old new again, keeping the story accessible to newbies
and comic historians alike.
Issue #16 finds
us in an alternate reality where Invincible joined his father’s
conquest of Earth, subjugating the populace and hunting
down the Guardians of the Globe. Just as certain doom seems
inevitable, the Angstrom Levy from the reality we know and
love snags the other Angstrom Levy from the icy fingers
of death and brings him to our reality where, wouldn’t
you know it, an alien invasion fleet is decimating the planet.
has been loaded with jumping-on points, but this one really
stands out. New mysteries concerning the Guardians of the
Globe, Robot, and the deaths of the former Guardians are
popping up left and right. New threads are starting up and
old ones we thought tied up have come unraveled again. The
glut of bonus pages and pinups make this easily worth your
money. Have no doubts. Buy it now. You have no choice. The
Legion of Doom commands it!
all breathe a sigh of relief now that Chuck Austen’s
finished his run with the Justice League… but not
before he finally solves the big mystery of “The Pain
of the Gods” for us in JLA #106.
Not that there’s really any mystery. Sure, the son
of the new hero Superman let die in the first issue has
powers. Sure, we find out that his sister and mother have
powers, too. Sure, Batman does most of the thinking in this
issue. We still don’t really know how they got their
powers or what’s going to happen to them in the future.
just doesn't look comfortable.
to break the format of the other issues (probably because
it’d take one insanely bad day for Batman to be mired
by self doubt), but we don’t get any nice psychological
insights or attempts at characterization, even though Bats
is more verbose here than Impulse on a sugar rush (well,
for Batman, that is). Chuckles also refrains from using
an internal monologue to show off Batman’s big fat
brain, so most of the wording amounts to “I’ll
investigate blah blah” and “I know pain”.
Kurt Busiek takes over the writing for JLA next
month, but Ron Garney’s still penciling, so my enthusiasm’s
been curbed. Pass on this one, even if you’ve been
following the arc in other issues. Calling it generic would
another look at Marvel’s 2099 bonanza, we again find
disappointment in Punisher 2099 #1.
But, unlike some of the other titles, this one works better
as a oneshot. The story, though not particularly interesting,
maintains its focus on the descendants of the Punisher and
their attempt to continue his legacy.
But the devil’s
in the details: 1) The first page of each 2099 book tells
us there’s a Sentinel on every street corner. So why’s
there a mafia? How can you have organized crime without
crime? 2) The idea that the Punisher ever took a break from
his killing sprees to have a kid is suspect. Him re-marrying
is pushing it too far. His wife being Elektra Natchios is
frikkin’ ludicrous. 3) Apparently, Punisher’s
daughter was born in 2038. Considering current Marvel continuity
still places him in the Vietnam War… Well, even if
Franky was hittin’ some futuristic mega-viagra, the
notion of a 90 year old raising his child to be a killer
this issue has better standalone value than Black Panther
2099, it’s simply too ill-constructed to be worth
buying. Take a look at it, if you want. I wouldn’t
recommend it, though. This is a future we can do without.
Wars: Republic #69 kicks off a new arc this
month that’s as much about the past as the present.
So much so, it takes forever to read the issue due to unending
exposition and references to prior events. In a way, it
helped me play catch up to a series I haven’t followed
in a long time. It also gave me a headache for trying to
make sense of it all.
of Rendili” begins, innocently enough, with Anakin
and Plo Koon trying to prevent a fleet from joining the
Separatists. Then things veer across the galaxy, where Obi
Wan finds a derelict space craft with Quinlan Vos (former
friend and Jedi gone to the dark side) aboard. Obi saves
him from a group of attack droids on the condition that
he come clean about his recent actions. Quin agrees, but
the old friends barely have time to catch up before Dark
Jedi Skorr and Ventress appear.
are numerous reasons why I tend to stay away from Star
Wars comics. Far and away the greatest one is continuity.
This is vast universe that had no one to regulate it during
the first ten years of films, books, and comics, and, for
that, most of the early stories have been wholly ignored
by current continuity. Then we had the 90s Star Wars renaissance,
where Timothy Zahn’s books and some addictive video
games kicked off the new wave, this time with a more unified
vision and greater attempt at continuity. Except for the
comics. In fact, the events of the comics were SO bizarre
and haphazard, they nearly destroyed the new continuity
in Kevin J. Anderson’s noble (if misguided) effort
to unify them with the novels.
then ol’ Georgey trotted out his new Star Wars
films and declared everything not written by him to be an
“alternate universe” story, and continuity went
out the window once again. So why does this comic need to
breakdown events in the movies, books, comics, kids’
books, tv mini-series, video games, CCG, RPG, etc. just
so we can follow the storyline? It doesn’t, really.
the result is too confusing for new readers and too boring
for completists. There are nice elements to the story, but
they’re so thoroughly buried in exposition, it’ll
take you a while to find them.
I don’t think it matters what I say about Superman
#209. I mean, honestly, is it gonna stop anyone
from buying it? Matter of fact, is there anyone who hasn’t
bought it? Face it kids; there may be nothing going on in
this issue, but slap Jim Lee’s name on the cover and
you all come running like lemmings. Pssh!
And I mean it
when I say there’s nothing going on storywise. Artwise…
eh… But it looks like Brian Azzarello fell asleep
at the keyboard. We continue the long, long, long, long
discussion with the priest (6 months and counting!) and
flashback to a battle between Supes and a gang of giant
elementals. Why? Who knows! Looks pretty, tho.
current runs on the Superman books have gone through some
interesting changes, lately. Ones that started out with
a clear story that was going somewhere (Action Comics,
Superman) have kinda drifted off into muddled territory,
while the dragging plot of Adventures of Superman
got a much needed jolt this month.
to “The Vanishing” and Equus and all the other
weird crap we’ve been slogging through? Does the way
timelines are matching up mean Lois Lane will be dead for
a while? Has the Plot Device Funnycar finally run out of
of mine recently lectured me on the Azzarello/Lee Superman
run. He pointed out that Azzarello was right on the money
setting up Supes as a Christ allegory, but it wasn’t
the Superman we all know and love. I had to agree with him.
Look at the movie and The Dark Knight Returns if
you have any doubts. Powerful archetypes, but not quite
the smart golden boy we’re all used to. Still, I go
issue, however, plays more to Lee’s strengths. I’m
not a huge Lee fan, and, sorry to say, Batman: Hush
never did anything for me, but the hyper-pretty artwork
is right at home here. In fact, it excels simply because
of the confrontation with the damn elementals; flames, dust,
water, and vapor flying everywhere. Lee makes Supes look
a bit too similar to Cable for me to be entirely at ease,
but the fun this art team has with the big fight carries
the issue without a stutter.
say “buy it”, but most of you probably already
bought it, so… well, sucks to be you. Sure, it’s
pretty, but you honestly think you’re ever going to
read it again? BWAHAHAHA!
Okay, okay. I’ll
be nice. I’ll do another best-selling Superman book
to show you I’m a weak-minded fanboy, too…
#12 finally graces us with its presence, this
week, giving us the Kryptonian Thrilla-calypse on Apokolips!
(note to self: Never try to channel Don King again.) Yes,
it’s the house of Jor-El against the house of Zor-El
in a slam bang, two-fisted, pulse-pounding— Well,
actually the fight isn’t that great. Supes and Kara
knock each other around for a few pages, but he somehow
manages to use a kryptonite ring to sucker punch her into
submission. Then Wonder Woman also pulls off a rather convenient
win against Granny Goodness and her girls. The sound of
your own snoring will be deafening!
So, why am I
recommending this issue? Batman, baby. First, the bastard
claws his way out of the digestive tract of the frikkin’
Demon Hound that ate him last time around, then he has the
stones to take on Darkseid one-on-one as a NEGOTIATION TACTIC.
Great Dark Knight moment. Ah, but that’s nothing compared
to what happens to the newly christened Supergirl when she
returns to Earth. Your jaw will drop, your eyes will bug
out, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn a little
something… about yourself.
probably not. Good issue, though.
Predictions for Next Week: Beast Trilogy Chapters
1&2, Queen & Country #27, Ultimate Spider-man #66,
Wolverine #20, and Y: The Last Man #27.