Jason Schachat's Weekly Breakdown
Schachat may someday found the Legion of Superheroes..
October 8, 2004
week, Jason Schachat takes you along for his ride on the
four-colored pulp pony. Feed the addiction, and the addiction
Superboy was Superman as a kid, and he inspired the Legion
of Superheroes to form… but then the Crisis made it
so there was no Superboy… er, Superboy died saving
the past in 1987… but Superman still exists…
then there’s a clone Superboy… then Superboy
comes back and joins the Legion… but he’s the
nothing you can do, Jake… It’s… Hypertime…
Ennis’ new mini 303 kicks
off this week with the first of six issues set amidst the
hills of Afghanistan. Our hero, a brooding ex-patriot Russian
Colonel marches through the beginning of the issue with
the namesake of the series, a Lee-Enfield .303 rifle slung
over his shoulder; the author narrating with the lifespan
of the venerable weapon and the role it’s played in
the history of the country as the protagonist walks into
the sunset. We flashback to three days earlier when he carried
a different weapon and was accompanied by a group of naïve
British soldiers in search of a downed aircraft, an aircraft
which the Americans are trying to keep secret at all costs.
Punisher, Hitman, and, to some extent, Preacher,
this is a story of a mean bastard surrounded by a bunch
of stupid bastards shooting each other up in tough, bastardly
world. Lotta bastard. Jacen Burrows’ character designs
are reminiscent enough of Steve Dillon’s to have an
instant synergy with Ennis’ words, but his faces are
far more varied. Unfortunately, 303 lacks some
of the humor Dillon managed to squeeze out of Ennis’
dark, cynical tales in the past, but it has a good hook
and promises some tasty developments in the near future.
America and the Falcon #8 answers all our
questions about what the hell is going on with one simple
acronym: M.O.D.O.K. Yessir, the big floating head guy is
linked to the conspiracy that’s making guys see “Designed
Only for Killing” written everywhere they go, has
a hand in the Rivas drug cartel, has something to do with
Admiral Westbrook’s shadow ops, and probably made
Cap think he and Scarlet Witch had a thing going on. Not
a bad day’s work for a guy with such stubby arms.
DiVito takes over art duties from Joe Bennett, and, although
I prefer the latter’s realistic stylings immensely,
Divito’s heavier lines and less detailed scenes aren’t
a bad fit to the oddball script. And, man, what an oddball
script. Modok. Who ever thought we’d see Modok floating
around in two different Captain America titles in the same
month? Christopher Priest’s take on Cap and Falcon
has energy, but the issues are never even as satisfying
as Robert Kirkman’s goofy approach to Cap’s
solo title. Worse yet, the endings never make me want to
buy the next issue. They don’t particularly make me
want to recommend the book to my readers, either. So I’m
not. Moving along…
our need for more Conan, Dark Horse gives hungry fans Conan
and the Daughters of Midora, the first one-shot
to grace the new franchise. Done in a style perhaps even
more reminiscent of The Savage Sword of Conan than
the current series, the tale opens with a thirty-something
Conan spending his money on ale and whores, generally making
a nuisance of himself and attracting the attention of the
royal guard with boasts that he intends to rob the king
that very night. A few severed heads later, they subdue
the barbarian and lock him away in their sturdiest cell.
Of course, that was all part of Conan’s clever plan;
you see, he has the key to the cell door.
flashback in a flashforward.
however, is all prelude to a mission much like those we
remember from Conan the Barbarian and Conan
the Destroyer involving a missing princess, evil sorcerer,
undead minions— the whole shebang! It makes for a
great old school adult fantasy adventure with blood flying
everywhere, enemy corpses piled knee-high, and one helluva
mean warrior chick in a loincloth. (Though she wears shoulder
armor. How cool is that?)
story doesn’t match Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord’s
work on Conan, but Jimmy Palmioti’s formulaic
story has the barbarian king’s style written all over
it. Mark Texiera’s pencils could be straight out of
the 70’s series and Michelle Madsen’s simplified
yet nuanced color scheme makes the book feel old school
without appearing lazy or dull. A must for drunken Conan
diehards and recommended for anyone who wants to be one.
oy… I must’ve gotten into some fermented apple
juice or something, ‘cause I actually LIKED Jubilee
#2. And I hated the first one. Don’t
get me wrong; I still don’t like the character, see
little potential in the series, can’t understand why
a teenager with the body of a supermodel is an outcast at
her high school, and despise how Derec Donovan’s solution
to making Jubes obviously Asian is to make her look like
she’s sleepwalking. Still, this issue squeezed a chuckle
out of me and really did bear some resemblance to high school,
for a few moments.
this issue settling in to her training as a peer counselor
and unwittingly learns her support of Meg is exactly what
she needs to do if she’s going to help other students.
Dale continues his flirtation with our heroine while the
kids at school torture Meg a bit more, though rather harmlessly
when you consider how bad high school can be. So, yes, it
does seem like Jubilee’s finally settling into a normal
teenage lifestyle. One where her mysterious Aunt who may
be an assassin goes off to “business meetings”
in the middle of the night.
book still has some gross flaws that need to be tended to.
I realize Jubilee’s huge earings are the one identifiable
icon left to her from the 90s, but, geez, do they look awful.
Combined with her cat-eared knit hat and wardrobe consisting
entirely of green t-shirts and blue jeans, she doesn’t
even need to be a mutant to be unpopular with the other
girls at school.
pranks played on Meg still don’t make much sense,
Jubilee using taxis as a means of transportation around
L.A. is kinda odd, and the lack of open-air hallways, outdoor
eating areas, or outdoor gym classes in a California public
school is just plain absurd.
writing pulls through on this excursion, but the book isn’t
out of hot water just yet. For now, I can very mildly recommend
this issue, though I still wonder how it hopes to win in
the “All Ages” market.
League Unlimited #2 delivers big action for
the kiddies and sneaks in just a sliver of charm for the
longtime fans. The League relaxes in their orbiting satellite
headquarters, playing poker through the night. Booster Gold
notices Superman seems to win far too much and suspects
the Royal Flush Gang pop up in Vegas, and the League springs
into action. Definitely one for readers under thirteen,
though I appreciated seeing Booster in the spotlight, again.
Supes plays the consummate boyscout, Flash is just kinda…
there, I’m not really sure if Steel’s entirely
human, and Huntress is almost completely useless.
I could poke
all sorts of holes in this, but the “all ages”
aspect of such a pure superhero story makes me hesitate.
The villains mostly bring about their own undoing and all
the heroes, with the exception of Superman, seem woefully
underpowered (especially against this new, completely super-powered
Royal Flush Gang). It’s nice Bruce Timm-influenced
art, though, so it’s not entirely unappealing. Buy
this one for your kid, not for yourself, unless you feel
you need to be punished.
week’s attempt at self-flagellation through literature,
I picked up Sabretooth #1 with
chilled, shaky hands. I guess my expectations were so low
I couldn’t help but enjoy it a little. Not enough
to recommend it in any way shape or form, mind you, but
it didn’t leave me feeling like I’d been punched
in the kidneys.
The new miniseries
finds everyone’s favorite token nemesis in the frozen
wastes along Lake Superior, killing indiscriminately and
loving every second of it. Wisely, writer Daniel Way chooses
to focus on the U.S. Coast Guard crew who respond to a local
town’s distress call, giving Sabretooth little screentime
and few chances to be thoroughly distended by Bart Sears’
Aside from that,
I can’t say there’s much going on storywise.
This feels like any number of Marvel minis we’ve read
over the years and doesn’t promise any big reveals
or feats of daring. Best you can probably hope for is a
glimpse into Victor Creed’s past, but that’s
probably wishful thinking.
Bart Sears art
isn’t as horribly revolting here as his work in the
past, but I’m guessing that has more to do with the
small number of panels both Sabretooth and a certain familiar
Canadian hero show up in. It also helps that most of the
characters are swaddled in heavy parkas, rendering their
anatomy immune to Sears distortions. Pass on this book,
even if the cover does look kinda cool.
#3 continues the slow crawl toward making
a point, but I still can’t really fault it. Karl Kerschl’s
art is like an amalgam of Ed McGuiness’ cartoony superheroics
and Tony Harris’ photo-realistic drama. I could stare
at the stuff all day. Strangely, however, I’m starting
to wonder if “Majestic” is the best title for
this mini, since it seems to be more about Majaestros learning
to NOT be Mr. Majestic. Abnett and Lanning’s reveal
that he lost his memory may seem like something straight
out of Plot Convenience Playhouse, but then you have to
consider that total recall is one of Majaestros’ powers.
Up in the sky! It's SMOG!
As a permanent
change in the character, I think this would be a big mistake,
since the super-memory is a defining attribute of the many
thousand year old hero, but the growth allowed by the momentary
amnesia will hopefully open Mr. Majestic up to readers.
A major problem some have with Majaestros is the idea that
he doesn’t have an alter-ego. Like that’s a
gonna tell me Batman REALLY has an alter-ego? When was the
last time you saw Bruce Wayne in more than four consecutive
panels? Alan Moore was right to re-shape Mr. Majestic to
resemble the omnipotent 1960’s Superman, and ditching
the secret identity concept becomes necessary when you’re
dealing with a deity (Did Morpheus from Sandman need an
have yet to see a Mr. Majestic story reach the heights of
Alan Moore’s Wildstorm Spotlight featuring Majestic
#1 (easily one of Moore’s best one-shots, it
was reprinted in the Mr.
Majestic TPB), but this journey into the more compassionate
side of one of the most powerful living superheroes has
been a worthy outing. Recommended, but more for the art
than the story.
NYX? Monthly New York street
story about mutants? Started a year ago? Issue #5 just came
isn’t fair to blame Marvel for much more than poor
planning, though. Sure, issues started coming late early
on, and they were stupid enough not to nail down artist
Joshua Middleton (nabbed by DC in a move much like Marvel
did when they stole Frank Quitely off The Authority),
but live and learn, no?
the story suffers from the hiatus. We flashback to the moments
when Kiden and Cameron first discovered X-23, but from the
perspective of one of Zebra Daddy’s whores. She phones
to tell him X-23 killed a john, and Zebra rounds up a posse
to take the three women out. Meanwhile, the animal-loving
Tatiana rescues a dog who’s been hit by a car, tending
to the animal’s wound and getting the blood all over
her. Arriving at school, she notices strange scents and
sounds all around and doubles over in pain, only to rise
up bearing features of the dog she rescued.
Yes; mutant were-dog.
I was stupefied, too, but Joe Quesada and company allayed
my fears by demonstrating Tatiana’s shape-shifting
ability relies on contact with an animal’s blood.
Again, this sounds like another goofy comic book idea. Consider,
however, the strong characterization of Tatiana as the rare
person who gets physically sick when an animal comes to
harm. The empathy she has with animals makes her ability
so much more of a curse, you can’t help but be touched
by the end of the issue.
pencils bear only a vague resemblance to Middleton’s
work, but the rest of the team pulls together to make the
overall feel of the art remarkably similar to the earlier
issues. It lacks the soft glow that made the series so unique,
but the months of waiting will probably make it harder to
notice some of the differences.
complaint is about X-23. Not about X-23 in this comic, but
in Uncanny X-Men. I don’t know just what
Marvel’s thinking, but the girl at the club in Uncanny
is NOTHING like the quiet, distant girl of this book. So
far, I like this one more.
had enough brash Wolverine-wannabes out there to fill out
their own Marvel Encyclopedia and the last thing we need
is another costumed badass. Joshua Middleton and Joe Quesada’s
X-23 felt new. Chris Claremont and Alan Davis’ X-23
is starting down the same old path. NYX may still
be struggling, but at least it’s trying to be different.
indie comic junkies I know have been blabbering on about
Poison Elves for a while, now,
so I thought I’d take a look at it. Problem: My store
had already sold the three copies it ordered. But, amazingly,
the new mini Poison Elves: Hyena premiered
this week, so I sorta got a taste of Poison Elves.
Sorta. See, Poison Elves is the brainchild of Drew
Hayes, but the mini’s written by Keith Davidsen and
Scott Lewis, so I guess this isn’t quite the Poison
Elves experience I’ve been hearing about.
Yeah, yeah; cry
me a river.
Issue #1 wastes
no time in bringing us up to speed on Hyena’s life,
explaining how the young woman came to study the dark arts,
become a powerful sorceress, fall in and out of love with
an Elven rogue (Lusiphur, star of the main series), came
under the control of an evil wizard, and finally freed herself.
Of course, this is all told to us by a trio of sexy, half-naked
ghost witches lying in bed with her, so my summary probably
doesn’t quite do it justice.
Hyena wakes up
not long after, only to have one of her living gargoyle
servants hurled through her window by an army of goblin-demon-imp
guys who proceed to lob dynamite into her humble castle.
She rushes out to fight them clad in what must be the sturdiest
lingerie ever to weather a battle, but finds herself seriously
outnumbered, despite the numerous spells she manages to
weave against her foes. As certain death looms over Hyena
in the form of a metal golem, a mysterious elven warrior
comes to her aid. But why?
I’m not a particular fan of fantasy comics. Even cartoony
ones. Even when they have voluptuous goth chicks running
around in their skivvies. But Poison Elves: Hyena
works for me in a few ways: 1) The main character has wit
and personality. 2) The excessive violence of the fight
doesn’t shy away from some wonderfully gruesome humor.
3) Okay, maybe there is SOME benefit to having a busty babe
running around in lingerie…
As indie books
go, this makes for a fun read that builds up enough of a
plot to keep you interested in the second issue. Probably
not for everybody, but anyone who can find the humor in
suicidally stupid orc guys dying gruesome deaths should
give it a look. Maybe even shell out the $2.95. Recommened.
why should you fork over $3.50 for the Teen
Titans/Legion Special? Well, it’s certainly
a must have for Legion fans, but Teen Titans followers might
feel they’re just getting jerked around. The long
awaited battle between the two teams and 500 members of
the Fatal Five sprawls across this issue with some glorious
battles, flames and lightning dancing over the pages.
We learn early
on that Persuader’s axe was empowered to cleave that
fabric of reality, allowing the Five to recruit doppelgangers
from other realities. As the conflict continues, the Legion
make a point of acting superior to the Titans based on their
level of cooperation and teamwork, but it’s pretty
clear the Titans are just barely surviving against the army
We get a nice
moment where Kid Flash sees his mother for the first time
in many years before the climax revs up. Superboy finally
has to choose between the two groups and makes a decision
that should satisfy most readers. Robin… frankly,
I’m amazed Robin survived the whole ordeal. He was
the most underpowered person there and he was taking laser
beams to the chest while Braniac 5 did all the thinking.
ultimate results of this outing leave the Titans in the
midst of a new adventure, but fans might not like seeing
their heroes getting tossed around while the Legion does
the heavy lifting. Like Titans/Young Justice: Graduation
Day, the story hasn’t much standalone value and
shouldn’t be read by Teen Titans fans with expectations
of more than a continuity bridge.
on the other hand, NEED to buy this issue. The main series
having ended two months ago, this story will not only feed
your craving for Legiony goodness but restore your faith
in mankind. There are some great moments here, and you’ll
be bursting with excitement at what the future holds. Definite
must buy for Legionnaires and mildly recommended to Titans,
but not the best place for newbies to jump on.
Tomb of Dracula #1 is an odd blend of two
different kinds of vampire hunter stories, neither requiring
any genre familiarity for you to get involved. One is the
neo-classic Van Helsing brand. The other is Blade. So, for
the first half of the book, we get a fight-and-meet scene
that could come straight out of any number of vampire comics.
until roughly fifteen pages in that we get more than “I’m
Blade. Not really a vampire” and random swordplay.
The pity of it is the rushed second half of the issue paints
an interesting picture of a team of vampire hunters. One
that hints at history, culture, and mythology. And then
Blade comes back into the picture. Snore.
The art is done
in an inconsistently scratchy style which may add some tension
but does nothing for the characters. Perspective and proportion
are fudged on nearly every page and, aside from the image
of Dracula with a few dozen women writhing at his feet,
nothing will stick with you. My advice to Marvel: ditch
Blade. He wasn’t that great of a comic character and
movie fans aren’t going to buy the book if his name
isn’t on it. Perhaps the book will get better without
him, but this Blade-heavy issue plays to none of the character’s
strengths and brings out all his weaknesses. Steer clear,
know if it’s really fair to summarize Ultimate
Spider-Man #66 for you guys… Lemme check
if Derek already ruined the surprise in his Spotlight…
damn, can’t even blame McCaw on this one… Hell,
fine: Spidey and Wolverine wake up one morning to find they’ve
swapped bodies. I know, I know; it doesn’t sound like
anything new, but Bendis makes it pure damn gold. The first
five pages confuse the hell out of us, offering no clues
as to why Peter Parker is wandering around his house in
a daze and seems surprised that he’s supposed to go
Then Logan wakes
up, eyes sweeping over his decrepit apartment in terror,
and runs to look at himself in the mirror. That’s
when we’re reminded that Wolvie’s claws can
be triggered by fear, and, well, let’s say there’s
a new record set for the number of times those adamantium
wonders have been used to for unwitting self-inflicted torment
and outright hilarity. Meanwhile, Peter gets all surly with
Aunt May, but a call from Logan (yes, they’ve now
both realized they’ve swapped bodies) convinces him
to go to school in his place. Which doesn’t seem so
bad when he notices the unreasonably sexy cheerleaders parading
dressed schoolgirls aside (‘cause, honestly, if they
walked around like that, teenage boys’ hormones would
boil over and blow their heads clean off), this was a damn
near perfect issue. You could’ve missed the last arc
of Ultimate Spider-Man, the entire series, or even
the last forty years of Marvel Universe continuity and be
perfectly at home jumping into it. The dialogue is smart
and witty, the concept never feels as phoney and trite as
it is, and, again, I’m dying to see what happens next
issue. Probably the best book of the week…
then Y: The Last Man #27 finally
takes us to San Francisco; the long-sought after city where
Dr. Mann can complete her studies to see what’s kept
Yorick and Ampersand alive while everything else while a
Y chromosome died. First, we flashback a couple of years
to when Yorick picked up the ring he would propose to Beth
with. At a magic shop. Back in the present, Hero continues
to hunt her brother, though it’s still unclear whether
she’s driven by her love for him or the voices in
Before that can
clear up, Brian K. Vaughan re-introduces even more long
forgotten threads, bringing back the ninja from the “Comedy
& Tragedy” arc just before the burqa-wearing secret
agents from the end of “Safeword” ambush Yorick
and Agent 355, stealing Beth’s ring from around Yorick’s
If I find any
disappointment in this issue, it’s that I feel the
ending of the series could be lurking just over the horizon.
It isn’t (not to my pitiful knowledge, at least),
but bringing together so many threads in one arc…
an arc that starts off in the “final destination”…
well, they’ve got me scared.
the ring, an element practically unseen since the first
issue, gives us such a clear tie to the beginning you can’t
help but feel that way. Drawing the focus of Y: The
Last Man back to the “plague” smacks of
finality, and the reappearance of actual magic could be
the shocker ending will set your hair on end, so there really
isn’t anything to complain about. Y is still
one of the best books on the market and, with any luck,
it will be for years to come. Definitely recommended.
Predictions for Next Week: Ex Machina #5, Fallen
Angel #16, Hard Time #9, Secret War #3, She-Hulk #8, and
Ultimate Nightmare #3.