Tuesday, July 19, 2011

comics for the week of 07/13/11.

Comics are starting to become something that I'm not sure if I'm going to keep up with. Which is a weird feeling to have now that I'm past the point where most people give them up, if they're going to.

Batgirl 23 - Annnnd the conclusion that the fans have been asking for. This is nice because this book will feel like it told a complete story and like it was something that, perhaps, they were meaning to do, as opposed to DC screwing them over and eradicating a new character that was surviving and thriving on her own. The story itself continues the Reapers gang, and there's a riot in prison and a big fight and a cool team-up, but none of those are actually central to the point of this book. The main point is the discussion that Stephanie gets to have with the Detective (dropping a hint for the relaunched Batgirl?) and the ending with the mastermind behind the whole Reapers plot. If you didn't see that reveal coming, you haven't been reading comics long enough and if you weren't delighted by it, you're reading comics for the wrong reason. I'm really looking forward to next issue, where they'll be given a chance to wrap things up. And I'm still pissed at DC for robbing us of this character.

Detective Comics 879 - Another look at how good things are right now. Scott Snyder continues to write the best Bat book that's existed in a long time (seriously, when was any Batman title better than Detective is right now? Hush?) and Francavilla pencils the hell out of the issue, giving a nice break from Jock. This is the way the artists should be handled, sequencing logically around the story, and putting the book in capable hands, regardless of who's there. (There's gonna be a counterpoint later on.) The story has no Batman in it, but that doesn't hurt it at all - in fact, the Gordon-centric approach on this book has been one of the highlights. We have great family ties with the looks at Jim and Barbara and a throwback look to Dr. Leslie and her clinic (hello, another tie to Stephanie Brown!) that show how well-rounded the Bat-universe is. The plot, of course, is looking at James Jr. and questioning whether he's recovered or not. Thanks to the last page of the last issue, we definitely know for sure that he is not. But the dramatic irony of the issue is that Jim wants to believe in his son, even while he knows, in the back of his mind, that he's wrong. The art has already been compared to Mazzucchelli and that comparison is dead-on, so let's not make any bones about it: a great team, doing great work, on a great book. Detective is the must-read mainline DC superhero book right now.

FF 6 - This, on the other hand, is how you lose readers. I have faith in Jonathan Hickman, and I like the idea of the alternate Reeds, but this was the worst comic I've read all year. Taking us completely out of the momentum of the great story they'd been building, switching artists (and this was a bad switch! I'm sorry, I know I'm not an artist and I shouldn't talk smack on things I can't do, but Greg Tocchini & Paul Mounts gave me shivers at the poor quality of their work) and offering no ties whatsoever to anything that I care about means that I can comfortably drop FF without wondering what's going on. If the story pans out again, I'll check it out, but here's how much I don't care: the story was about the formation of the Inhumans. There was something about celestials and Black Bolt's five wives and...that's it. I'm done.

Flashpoint 3 (of 5) - This story feels emptier than all of the DC titles combined. Instead of the neat twists of the Age of Apocalypse or the wonder of the Amalgam Universe, we have here a holdover. AOA was neat because we knew that, four months later, it'd be gone; get it while you can! AU was amazing because we'd been waiting our whole lives for something like this! Flashpoint, on the other hand, feels like it's just something they're tiding us over with. The Old DC doesn't matter, but neither does the world of Flashpoint. 2 months from now, everything is going to be different. It gives the current books a sad tinge, but it makes me wonder why anyone cares about the Flashpoint books at all. This Superman, while interesting, isn't going to be the new Superman. And he has nothing to do with the current Superman. There are exceptions, of course. Obviously, this Cyborg will have a lot to do with the one they're going to be pushing hard in the JLA. There are hints here, echoes that are going to live on in the DCnU. But I'm so angry with the idea, with the execution, with the blatant disregard for longtime fans, that it's hard to care about any of those. Maybe this story will read better after the New 52 has existed for a while. Regardless, in this story, Barry Allen gets struck by lightning again, at his insistence, because he's not a scientist and he doesn't know about the Speed Force and he can't think of any better way to get his powers back than by almost killing himself in back to back attempts. Surprise! It works. He saves Batman from near death, makes a new costume and goes to save the world. They find the Superman of this world, but he's crazy different (we see Krypto's skeleton, it's kind of sad) and Superman abandons them. Also, there's a bit with Lois Lane and the resistance - we see Grifter. I wish I was more enthused about that.

Green Lantern 67 - Another book where the overall story, which I should be psyched about, felt derailed by the plans for the future. The conclusion to the War of the Green Lanterns is sweeeet (although, even as a fan of Kyle Rayner, I literally laughed out loud at Hal's grand plan for freeing the other Guardians from the Book of the Black - really?!) and I'll say that I honestly did not see this twist coming. I'd talked to my friends about my doubts regarding the new GL book and who was going to be in it, but I did not see this coming. The quick summary: Krona certainly appears to be dead, and how did Ganthet apparently survive? The looks at the New Guardians before they get their rings back is amazing, Sinestro is still a badass and the (old) Guardians are dumber than I've ever seen them act. The conclusion while semi-shocking and very cool story-wise, makes no sense. They would never act that way. No matter what. Hal's will is too strong, they're scared, it just doesn't make sense. Also, where did Sinestro's ring go? Great, great story, leaves us with tons of questions, but it seems like none of them will matter now. I know there are people who say they will, that the stories are still here, but they're irrevocably changed. I'm a fan of change, but this feels far from natural.

The Unwritten 27 - The worst book of the run so far proves how much better this book is than everything else. Tom Taylor is fully in charge now and he's using his father's journals to try to figure out something about the Cabal. The journals, he discovers, can bring old memories back to life (or at least let him [and Lizzie] see what happened) and so he begins his quest. The idea of Savoy being in charge of the network is a good use of his character, and I like the reality of his complaining of substandard tools, but, even in a comic book, I can't stretch my suspension if disbelief that far; no way would he be able to run that server with those enemies trailing him. The main story, though, concerns Wilson Taylor in New York sometime between World Wars and the creation of a pre-Superman superhero called the Tinker. There's definitely echoes of things we've seen from the Cabal and from Tom (and Tommy) so it's obviously important. I love that Carey is expanding the universe from just fictional books to comic books as well. It's clear that he has a love for the genre and I love when people wear that on their sleeve. All that being said, it felt like a long intro to get to the meat of next issue, where we'll meet the author of the Tinker and try to get some information on how this is all relevant. Still a great issue

Book of the week, however, does not go to the Unwritten. I'll repeat what I've said times before: Detective Comics is the best superhero book being put out by the Big Two and in 2 months, it's going to be changed in a way that will be impossibly difficult to remedy. Pick it up now while you still can and enjoy some of the best Bat storytelling in a long, long time. And then, yes, give the New 52 Batman #1 a try, because Snyder will still be writing it. Hold out hope. But beware the change in artist.

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