Monday, September 19, 2011

comics for the week of 09/14/11.

All right. Something really wonderful is happening with the New 52. Unfortunately, it's confined to pretty much one book. Meanwhile, something awful is happening, too. Read on to see if you agree.

Batwoman 1 - The best thing to come out of the New 52, by far. Head and shoulders above the rest of the competition which, aptly, are pretty much sinking. This book is so good, it should be called Locke and Key. Is that effusive enough for y'all? All right, let's break it down just a little bit. Issue 1 picks up pretty much right where the Batwoman run in Detective Comics left off, which was as solid and innovative comic-writing (and illustrating!) as I've seen in a long, long time. Kate Kane is still Batwoman, her father is still on the outs for the lies he told, and Flamebird comes back in a nice way. The writing is that great mix of real-world crime with some supernatural elements and we can see drops for long-term storytelling while still getting a superb one-issue arc under the belt as well. Let's not kid ourselves, though, the art is the major draw here and there's nothing wrong with that. This book is the best looking book that's been put out since Alex Ross first made a splash with painting instead of penciling - I know that might sound too heavy, but I truly believe it. This is the best book that will come out of the New 52 - I don't even have to see the other books to feel confident in saying that.

Buffy Season 9 1 - She's back! This issue had that mix of humor and real life that people claimed was missing from Season 8. The party was great, the way the flashbacks were set up was ideal and the involvement of Spike was a great addition. It's my hope that he gets to stay in the book longterm and isn't banished back into the dirigible with the insects. He brings a je ne sais quoi that's important to the overall tone that was missing for a lot of the last season. I'm not even a huge Spike fan, but I think he's important to the theme. On the other hand, the last page was kind of a let down. That being said, I remember that, in the TV series, sometimes we didn't get to the big bad until the last quarter of the season, so I know this can be a slow build.

Green Lantern 1 - My buddy Greg was right: Geoff Johns is basically just skipping the whole New 52 nonsense. There is absolutely nothing in this book to make us think that it's not Green Lantern 68. And that's not a bad thing! But it is a solid sign that the New 52 is not something that everyone is planning on sticking around forever, much less for a long time. And to this the ambiguity of Gardener in JLI saying that Hal is a part of the regular Justice League and it's easy to see that all the ducks are not in a row. A bad sign from the supposedly coherent universe. All that being said, this was a good issue, continuing upon the course that Johns has set up for Hal (& Sinestro!) since the Sinestro Corps War. The biggest thing that bummed me out about the issue was that Doug Mahnke's art didn't look as good as I'm used to it looking. In fact, in some panels, I found myself wishing for a different artist. I hope this was a hiccup and not an indication that his art, like Johns' writing, is falling off.

Resurrection Man 1 - A blast from the past and it feels so good. I used to read Resurrection Man back in the '90s and I always thought it was a pretty clever concept. In a DC Universe where at least three characters (Beast Boy, Animal Man and Vixen) all have the same powers, this guy Mitch gets to experience a wild variety of cool stuff. Plus, there were all the nods to Soder Cola and Hitman and the subtle aspects of the DC Universe that made the book a fun ride. This debut issue does a good job of maintaining that tone and also of giving a few long-term drops. This will be a book that I'll stick with through the first arc at bare minimum. A fun ride.

Superboy 1 - I've loved the character of Superboy since before his last number one, all the way to the creation of the character. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where the New 52 truly starts to collapse. There is no way that this can mesh with everything else that we're seeing. It frustrates me so much, too, because Connor Kent had become such a great character and I was proud of the way that he'd mature and taken his place in the DCU. So, in this issue, we get Cadmus and Dubbilex and it's acceptable and I even thought maybe we'd see the Guardian and it's fun but all just goes straight to hell. Superboy is being invented as we speak. He's barely getting started. And yet, Barbara Gordon was merely shot three years ago. Blackest Night still happened. Superman has only been around five years. Sinestro is Earth's GL (along with Guy Gardener, apparently - so what happened to John Stewart? and Mogo?) but he's not in Justice League. I know all these things don't necessarily have to do with Superboy, but this is the problem with their quote-unquote soft reboot. It's not a reboot at all. It's neither soft nor hard. It's just a shoddily put together plan with some gaping holes in it. It was cute to see Rose Wilson in a radically different role (and to hear her calling her VR self out as a Mary Sue was an instant classic!) but it just doesn't work. I know not every comic book fan has to (or does) think like this, but there's just no getting around the fact that DC is claiming to be presenting something that they're not. And for me, Superboy was the title that made that clear to me. Unlike Batgirl, I won't be returning this book, because I want to hold on to it for sentimental reasons, but you can be damn sure that I won't be buying anymore of this title.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man 1 - A Marvel title that's at number one, too? And Spidey back in my life? I do declare this a hilarious day. Miles makes a great debut here, and we can see plenty of strife for upcoming issues in his home life. The origin, sure, is a pretty blatant ripoff from Peter's Spider-Man, but I don't have a problem with that. If they're going to make him a legacy character, make it a real legacy. I like to see that there's some kind of connection, as opposed to pure chance and then putting on Pete's costume. Make it apparent, because it already is! And so, the issue of shame doesn't come up for me. All that comes up is that this is a well-written, nicely-pencilled issue. And I, for one, will be sticking around to see if they run with this, or if it's just a gimmick. It's my hope that they go whole hog - this could be the chance the the Ultimate Universe needed to really, truly differentiate itself in a bold way.

The Unwritten 29 - The only comic that I bought that wasn't a number 1 and it was a solid book, as always. However, after spilling my guts about hating the New 52 and having my emotional reconnection with Spidey, I'm just not convinced that I have that many things to say about this book. It's great, as usual, but this story hasn't really pulled me in, like previous ones have. That being said, the last page is a doozy and I'm anxiously awaiting next issue. I feel like that's gonna be the one that I love. Insofar as what happens in this issue, Wilson Taylor tries to pull one over on Pullman and the rest of the Cabal, Milton Jardine pays the price of letting his lady friend use his name, and Tom and Lizzie do some more exploring. Tom's gaining a lot more control over his magic powers, although it's clear that he's not quite in command yet. Great book.

(To be fair, I'm also now reading Scalped, which I highly recommend, but I'm not about to start throwing my two cents into the reviewing ring on issue 52 of a 60-issue book. Suffice it to say that I was damn late to this party and I should not have been. If you have the chance, pick up all the trades, blaze your way through the first one, which might not draw you in all the way, and stick around for the ride. By the time you finish the second, you'll be hooked.)

Book of the week is easily Batwoman. This book is the epitome of what all comics companies should be doing. Find someone who knows what the hell they're doing, sit back, and let them do their thing. If you're not buying Batwoman, there is no chance we will relate as comic book people. Go find someone else to talk to.

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