Each week we take a critical
look at some of the best books on the stands, courtesy of Big
Guy's Comics (the unofficial comic book store of FanboyPlanet.com).
If you publish a book that you want us to be covering, contact us. Or
contact Derek. He doesn't have
enough to do.
Hey Kids! Comics!
#791 The Invitation
writer: Benjamin Raab, artist: Derec Aucoin
And the slow merging
of the comics and the television show begins anew. It's slight and subtle,
and Raab does a good job of not forcing the issue. Now Clark is a former
Smallville Crow, and invitation to emcee this year's homecoming dance.
The prospect fills
him with unease, which he doesn't share with Lois. So desperate for
a distraction from the idea is he, that he spends time playing chess
with Plastic Man at the JLA Watchtower (nice touch). This worries Plastic
Man so much he calls Lois (collect).
Once in Kansas
(note to Gough and Millar: Smallville is in a whole different state
than Metropolis), the story comes out. It's a tale of tragedy and missed
opportunity. Without beating us over the head with its obviousness,
it marks a small step from Clark Kent, callow youth, to Clark Kent the
Aucoin delivers journeyman work. His Lois looks strangely like Kristin
Kreuk, but that's probably all in part of the nod to the television
series. More impressively, Aucoin has a good mastery of facial expressions
that his simple line-work doesn't reveal at first glance. Oddly, though,
everybody seems vaguely double-chinned.
Topped by a nostalgic
cover by J.P. Leon, this issue of Action Comics marks one of
the most satisfying Superman reads in a while.
Birds Of Prey
#43 Blind Spot
writer: Chuck Dixon, artists: Dave Ross and Andrew Pepoy
After being integral
to the overall cross-over, with this issue Birds Of Prey falls
into the pattern of the rest of the bat-books: offer a couple of pages
in which characters rehash everything we know, then advance the mystery
by inches over one or two more pages. Devote the rest of the book to
the regular goings-on of the main cast.
Does anybody remember
Sasha? Just checking.
It's a disappointment,
because the crossover has given this book deserved attention. If it's
going to be a chapter in Bruce Wayne: Fugitive, let it really
be one. Not that Bruce is a fugitive; we all know where he is.
The main story
brings Deathstroke to Gotham City, clearly about to be set against Black
Canary. Both of them will be racing to find a miracle genetic cure that
could, of course, change the course of mankind. One small obstacle stands
in their way; the cure is on Dinosaur Island, home of The War That Time
With only a few
issues left, Dixon clearly wants to go out having fun, which this promises
to be. But it also promised to be part of a different story. All we
get is promises, and that's just frustrating.
At least Ross and
Pepoy continue the solid art that characterizes the book.
DC 1st: Green
Lantern Tomorrow's Hero
writer: Benjamin Raab, artists: Pete Woods, Jamal Igle, Rick Burchett
and Andy Owens
Thanks to Hypertime,
fans can easily swallow retroactive continuity. Retroactive characterization
is another matter. Because the whole Parallax thing has not gone down
easily when blamed on "Hal was always really, really cocky and arrogant,
and he was an alkie, and…and…and he called his best friend Pieface,
for gosh sakes," the Powers That Be at DC have been flailing around
for other explanations.
Over in the pages
of the Deadman mini-series, they blamed Neron for it. (And that's
why Guy Gardner can go to hell for being a drinker, but Hal Jordan can
be redeemed for being a mass murderer - the devil made him do
it.) But clearly, that isn't enough, either. So with this "DC First"
we get a re-telling of the first team-up between Alan Scott and Hal
Jordan, which Raab makes interesting.
As is often the
problem with these re-castings of classic stories, it takes a while
for the reader to understand who knew who when and how. Too much bizarre
revamping of the characters has occurred between now and then. (If I
never hear another reference to the Starheart, I can be happy.) So while
Alan and Hal know each other, they hadn't really "teamed up" until this
story. To make matters more confusing, it's all a flashback being relayed
to Kyle, whose own continuity right now is still a little in flux.
All of it seems
little more than an excuse to throw blame on Krona for Hal's corruption,
which doesn't necessarily make it better. What does work is cool artwork,
especially from (I think) the Woods and Burchett team, making some segments
look as if they were done by Joe Staton and Ric Estrada, a classic team
of the '70's responsible for most of the adventures of both Hal and
Alan in their heyday.
But with Staton
at least still working, why not just have them do it?
JSA #36 Time-Bound
writers: David Goyer and Geoff Johns, artists: Leonard Kirk and Keith
Johns and Goyer
have used the last few issues to revive some of DC's most potentially
powerful heroes, with mixed results. Fighting in a world controlled
by the Ultra-Humanite, the best of the heroes' personalities come to
the fore, but the urge to define them occasionally trips up the writers.
continues to develop into far more than Grant Morrison created him to
be. Blessedly free of blacked out dialogue, his young mind already grasps
the power he can wield better than Johnny Thunder ever did. And yet
he has a respect for the original man with the thunderbolt, a respect
that could prove everyone's undoing.
Hall breaks out of his self-pity, effectively teaming with Wildcat against
(essentially) his own parents. There's heavy-handed symbolism there,
folks, but it works, while Rick Tyler reveals the peace he's reached
with his own father. There's a poignance to his situation that Johns
and Goyer will obviously be playing on from time to time. They may be
treading on the maudlin, but wisely pull back.
Where things get
awkward is with Captain Marvel. Jakeem comments, "he's been called simple.
An anachronism." And truly, fans have grumbled the same. But as Jakeem's
commentary continues, it just doesn't really flow. Yes, Captain Marvel
is in many ways simple. But in desperate times, isn't that a
Johns and Goyer
try to give Marvel a depth that may be there, but it's awkwardly phrased,
distracting from some powerful layouts by Kirk and Champagne. They leave
the last page without words; the effect might even have worked starting
a couple of pages earlier.
It's a minor gripe,
based on a great personal affection for Marvel that the writers obviously
share. For me, just seeing Captain Marvel save the day is enough.
I don't have to know why.
Origin #6 Dust To Dust
writer: Paul Jenkins, artists: Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove
Jemas and Quesada
must be so grateful to Frank Miller. With all the hoopla over DK2
being chronically late and not living up to expectations, Origin
has kind of slipped by unnoticed. True, it's not as late and maybe not
as bad as fans claim Miller's work to be, but it still sucks
as a story.
I can't blame them
for this. Alex Ross established the pattern with his Earth X
series of maxi-series and specials; he taught Marvel that we would buy
empty, slow-moving stories if they told us that at least they looked
does look good. Page after page, Isanove has turned Kubert's already
sterling pencils into something sumptuous. As an art book alone, that
hardback edition may be worth it. But for this final issue, the artwork
looks a little rushed, not quite as careful as earlier issues.
Then again, everything
about this "final" issue feels rushed. Rose seeks to escape to a new
life, Dog comes seeking revenge, and Logan seeks…well, we really don't
know. But at least his basic nobility asserts itself.
In an obvious nod,
the bulk of this climax takes place where the movie introduced Logan:
at a bar, in a cage match. It serves to literally wrap up this chapter
of Logan's mysterious life, but there's still way too much unanswered.
Dog may be Sabertooth.
Then again, so might Smitty be. And the mystery surrounding Logan's
parentage still stands. At least until Origin III. Sorry to jump
the gun, but I'm betting that Origin II will only continue teasing