Schachat's Weekly Meltdown
Schachat is the next Supergirl.
November 15, 2004
right...Jason accidentally missed a week. We blame the computer,
because it can't fight back. Here, then, in his own words,
are the highlights of the week before last...
Due to my now
weekly total computer meltdown, last week’s Breakdown
was buried under a bad Windows installation and couldn’t
be found again until THIS week’s comics had already
But, not one
to let mind-numbing hours of comics reading go to waste,
I’m tossing some choice reviews of last week’s
books your way:
be any wonder that Astonishing X-Men #6
is a must buy. This book’s been a chart-topper from
day one, hailed as a return to the storytelling that made
the X-franchise explode in the early eighties. It has Joss
Whedon writing a witty and thoughtful script that managed
to bring back Colossus without too many fanboy heads imploding.
And, more importantly than everything else, John Cassaday
and Laura (DePuy) Martin are handling art duties. With visuals
like these, you could have a script by an angry marmoset
beating a keyboard with a rock hammer, and it would still
be worth buying.
there are two glorious words, unsaid in this issue, that
make for the most unexpectedly enjoyable moment we’ve
had in an X-Men book this year:
know how they did it, but Whedon and Cassaday made the goofy
Danger Room classic sing. Oh, sure, we find out that ORD’s
been plotting the whole mutant cure to prevent a mutant
from destroying his planet and kicking off an intergalactic
war in the future. And there’s lots of fighting, explosions,
betrayals, and big speeches. That’s all well and good.
But the sight of Colossus hurling Wolverine at an alien
spaceship… that damn near brought a tear to my eye.
gentlemen (and lady Martin); you’ve made the X-Men
a delight to read again. Definitely recommended.
a more than two year hiatus, Rising Stars #22
finally hits the stands with little fanfare. It’s
a shame, really. When it was going, this was the most successful
Image book around (though Spawn could still top
it). It was J. Michael Stracynski’s big foray into
the world of comics, and some still consider the unfinished
epic his greatest achievement. As The Authority
moved from badass post-superhero revolution into sad self-parody,
Rising Stars took up the reigns and didn’t
back down from its extreme storytelling, even in the wake
President is Special.
would guess that the series would come to a screeching halt
because of a spat between creator and company when a movie
deal was in the air? The details have gotten a bit fuzzy
after all the gossip and rumor-mongering, but, essentially,
JMS withheld the last three issues after supposed backstabbing
and then re-directed his creative efforts towards Marvel’s
Supreme Power, the direct descendant of Rising
Stars in both subject matter and style. It wasn’t
until recently that creator and company came back together
and gave the fans what they wanted. And now, after a painfully
long wait, the final chapter of the saga winds down.
The story mercifully
recaps the entirety of the series before resuming John Simon’s
elegiac tale of a generation of superpowered humans who
fought for and against a world that wasn’t ready for
them. For perhaps the first time, we see that the stories
he’s told us have all come from books he’s written
and that his final manuscript is entitled “Rising
Stars” (a conceit, yes, but one that’s been
hinted at for a long time).
then launches into telling how Randy Fisk (aka
Ravenshadow, aka nice guy version of Batman) ran
for President of the United States, winning when one political
party’s snooping on the other’s illicit affairs
leads to a sex and murder scandal that leaves both major
candidates publicly disgraced. Randy immediately sets about
blackmailing Congress with information of the government’s
past misdeeds and uses his new power to bring the rest of
the Specials in as defenders of the nation, thus cutting
down on defense spending and siphoning it back into urban
renewal. Of course, some folks in dark, smoke-filled rooms
aren’t happy about that.
In a way, it’s
unfair to review this issue. The long pause in the story
forced a lot of exposition that’ll seem clunky in
a collected edition and doesn’t do much more than
set up the next major conflict. Loyal readers already know
the military hates the Specials and Randy’s bid for
presidency was so well concocted in the last issues that
the long explanations here are almost redundant. On the
other hand, I’m not sure any amount of summary and
flashbacks could catch up new readers in time for the story’s
climax (namely: what the hell is John building in Mexico?).
Stars has always owed something to Alan Moore’s
work in the ‘80s. Elements of Watchmen and
Swamp Thing have trickled into the story every
now and then. At times, it practically rips off the ill-fated
Miracleman (Marvelman in the UK), especially in the three
act structure (which is rather amusing, since Moore started
Miracleman with no hope of structure). However, like Babylon
5, Rising Stars may have climaxed in the middle
of the story, leaving a fascinating but less exciting third
act in its wake.
already hazard a guess as to what the “big surprise”
in the end will be. It’s practically screamed at us
since the last page of the first issue. I can also see it
working, since it’s such a natural close to the saga
of the Specials. But, unless JMS is writing at his best
and pushes the narrative to the extreme scope it’s
hinted at for so long, it could be too subdued for its own
good. Recommended, but check out the Rising Stars
trade paperbacks if you want to get the full effect.
had to sum up the M.O. on Superman/Batman,
it would be “make it big”. The series began
with damn near every villain in the DCU (as well as a few
heroes) teaming up to take down the world’s finest.
Then it all ended with Lex Luthor being ousted from the
White House and presumed dead. How did they top that? Trot
out Kara Zor-El and make her the new Supergirl (don’t
even try to figure out the continuity on this one, kids).
No parting shot of Supergirl?
not enough for you? Okay, let’s have Darkseid enslave
her mind and make her captain of his guards.
Still not enough?
Fine, Darkseid kills her.
Oh, cripes, you
want MORE? Alright, how about the fight to end all fights?
Fists flying, omega beams blasting, limbs getting dipped
into the sun… and only one of them makes it back home.
Purists may not believe Wonder Woman’s bracelets are
strong enough to reflect omega beams (not quite proven capable
of destroying anything), and I wouldn’t bet on Darkseid
being “dead” for long, but issue #13 more than
meets the task set out before it.
There IS a big
cheat and I won’t spoil the ending by revealing it,
but it’s for the best. The ending of this arc leaves
you feeling good. The characters are strong and true to
form, and your head doesn’t hurt too much when the
obligatory explanation is delivered. If Jeph Loeb can keep
writing it like this, it just may deserve its #1 spot on
next month begins Carlos Pacheco’s arc. Much as I
LOVE Pacheco’s work, I wouldn’t call him a flashy
artist. The loss of Michael Turner’s insane scribbles
could see the title slowly slide down the charts (like it
did when fans got tired of Ed McGuiness). Hopefully, Superman/Batman
has spent enough time riding the top ten for fanboys to
know it’s worth the pesos. Definitely recommended.
Predictions for Next Week: Captain America #1,
Conan #10, Ex Machina #6, She-Hulk #9, and Walking Dead