18 Things I Loved This Week

In Spoilers Abound on May 29, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Man, I am in love with monthly comics right now.  Both Marvel and DC are producing some of the best mainstream fare I have read in YEARS.  Welcome to my weekly (?) love letter to comics.

1. Ganthet of Oa, Green Lantern of Space Space Sector Zero.  I got goosebumps!

Green Lantern Corps #48 (DC Comics) by Tony Bedard, Adrian Syaf, and Vincente Cifuentes

2. The Anti-Monitor (best post-Kirby cosmic villain design ever) returns!!!

Brightest Day #2 (DC Comics) by Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Ivan Reis, et. al.

3. Thanos soliloquizing/recapping his life story (a totally underappeciated genre, as the unkind term “infodump” attests).  Great reveal at the end of this issue about the “Cancerverse,” too.

The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1 (Marvel) by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Brad Walker, and Wil Quintana

4. Jim McCann’s nostalgic and lovingly researched Dazzler script.  Oh, let him write an ongoing.

Dazzler #1 (Marvel) by Jim McCann, Kalman Andrasofszky & Ramon Perez, et. al.

5. Everything about our heroes dealing with Max Lord’s massive mind-fuck of THE ENTIRE EARTH, but especially every scene involving Booster Gold.

Justice League: Generation Lost #2 (DC Comics) by Judd Winick, Keith Giffen, Joe Bennett, and Jack Jadson

6. Valkyrie’s return to monthly action in the UTTERLY FANTASTIC Secret Avengers #1.  I am seriously smitten with this book.

Secret Avengers #1 (Marvel) by Ed Brubaker, Mike Deodato, and Rainier Beredo

7. The mystery of the other Serpent Crown.  (See #6, above.)

Secret Avengers #1 (Marvel) by Ed Brubaker, Mike Deodato, and Rainier Beredo

8. Richard Rider in that cave…

Secret Avengers #1 (Marvel) by Ed Brubaker, Mike Deodato, and Rainier Beredo

9. Mike Deodato drawing space ships, coloured by the amazing Rain Beredo.

Secret Avengers #1 (Marvel) by Ed Brubaker, Mike Deodato, and Rainier Beredo

10. The straight and narrow path or sprawled in the gutter with the rest of the garbage–choose, boys!  (No pressure.)

DC Universe: Legacies #1 (DC Comics) by Len Wein, Andy Kubert, and Joe Kubert

11. My wirepoon says otherwise, punks!  (Len Wein: oh you!)

DC Universe: Legacies #1 (DC Comics) by Len Wein, Andy Kubert, and Joe Kubert

12. Grant Morrison explains converging timelines.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2 (DC Comics) by Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving

13. Grant Morrison channels Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2 (DC Comics) by Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving

14. Grant Morrison messes with your mind.  (LOVED THIS.)

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2 (DC Comics) by Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving

15. Paul Levitz returns to the Legion!  The Legion is the Legion again! (And it is SO good.)

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (DC Comics) by Paul Levitz, Yildiray Cinar, and Wayne Faucher

16. Sodam Yat: the new Pariah.  (Love the GL/Legion mashup.)

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (DC Comics) by Paul Levitz, Yildiray Cinar, and Wayne Faucher

17. Levitz and Cinar pay nine-panel tribute to LOSH master artist…Keith Giffen!  (I gots the warm fuzzies.)

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (DC Comics) by Paul Levitz, Yildiray Cinar, and Wayne Faucher

18. Dawnstar!  Dawnstar!  Dawnstar!

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (DC Comics) by Paul Levitz, Yildiray Cinar, and Wayne Faucher

BONUS: Dex-Star brings the rage!

Green Lantern #54 (DC Comics) by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke, and Christian Alamy

More next week!

The Truly Awful

In Pull List on May 15, 2010 at 8:47 pm

As many of you know, I have a high tolerance for bad comics.  But these ones are trying even my patience.

Oh, lord.  Outsiders.  For my money, Dan Didio has done an acceptable job of steering DC over the last few years, but he needs to stop embarrassing himself and hire a real writer—or at least a scripter—for this book.  Listen, I’m thrilled that Didio has love for Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo’s stellar years on the original series.  Me too, Dan!  So howzabout we show that love by treating ourselves to a competent wordsmith and a good artist to bring all that awesomeness to a new generation of comic readers, huh?

Kudos to Didio for reuniting the team and for coming up with some story ideas that, for example, build on the various lesser iterations of the team in the various failed relaunch attempts of the 90s (eg. Looker as Vampire).  This is all solid, and I have been pining for such developments for years (as readers of this blog know all too well).

But Didio isn’t a writer.  He has no sense of pacing and absolutely no ear for dialogue.  Evidently, Didio prepared for his new gig by rereading the original series and making note of the signature character beats and dialogue ticks Barr designed.  This is sensible, and in more competent hands would be swell.  But, Didio combines his aping of classic Outsiders mannerisms with dreadfully inept vulgarity, trash talk, and posturing.  It’s obviously meant to come across as hip and badass, but the effect is quite different.  It’s as if my dad were having a midlife crisis and decided to score points with me by reviving an old comic series he knew I used to like; in other words: mortifying.

The bottom line is that I’m conflicted.  I love that this title exists and has taken the direction it has under Didio’s stewardship.  Presumably, if Outsiders is Didio’s pet project, that bodes well for the longevity of the title, even if the sales are soft.  On the other hand, we’re stuck with this kind of hurtful mishegas:

from Outsiders #29 by Dan Didio and Don Kramer

Perhaps the most I can hope for is that Didio will find the task of scripting a monthly series too taxing on top of his regular job and will pass the reigns to someone else, even if he retains the role of plotter.  Such a development might be the best of both worlds, since his involvement would keep the direction steady, while the quality of the scripts themselves could only improve.

Outsiders is pretty awful, but at least it isn’t completely offensive.  The same cannot be said for Titans: Villains for Hire, which is, hands down, the worst comic I have read this year (I didn’t read the much-maligned JLA: Cry For Justice; perhaps they are on par?).  Basically, Deathstroke assembles a “Titans” team of villains and Dlisters and they proceed to toy with and eventually murder Ryan Choi, The “All-New” Atom.  Turns out Deathstroke was hired by Choi’s psychotic nemesis Dwarfstar, and the issue’s climax is the delivery of Choi’s tiny corpse to Dwarfstar in a matchbox.  Oops.  Did I forget to say “spoilers”?  I hope I did spoil it, and I hope you don’t buy it.  It’s a gross waste of time on a number of different levels.  I won’t bother to expand, except to say that I agree with every word of Greg McElhatton’s review at CBR, which gives the book an absolutely earned rating of 0 out of 5 stars.  I’m cancelling my subscription to Titans, incidentally.

Wait–did I say that Outsiders wasn’t offensive?  While looking for a cover scan of the latest issue, I encountered some speculation that the “Harold” character in this issue is based on a Didio-bashing message board troll.  If so: grow up, Dan!

The Good

In Pull List on May 14, 2010 at 11:39 pm

So much to catch up on.  For this post, I think I’ll concentrate on the good reads:

Birds of Prey #1 (DC Comics)

I might as well start with the brand new Birds of Prey by Gail Simone and Ed Benes, since this is the book that actually got me off my ass and into the comic store for the first time in over a month.  I feel bad for Gail that she got kicked off Wonder Woman, but, if I’m being honest, I’d rather read her Birds of Prey and Secret Six any day.  Gail has a knack for writing interesting team dynamics that was a difficult fit with the Wonder Woman gig—not that she didn’t try to bring that oddball-ensemble sensibility to Diana and her friends, even if the results were hit-and-miss.  It’s hard to be quirky with an icon, but Gail makes it look effortless on the Six and now again on Birds.

So, yeah: Birds of Prey #1.  Well-scripted, well-illustrated, well-paced, exciting.  Loved it.  And love the idea of bringing Hawk and Dove to the title—such a “Gail” move, and SO brilliant in terms of storytelling possibilities.  The prospective interplay of Hawk (the maniac? the dickbag? the “fancy boy”?) with Dawn, Zinda, Dinah, Helena, and Babs is basically just delicious.  I really missed this book and I am so glad it’s back.  P.S. to the haters: Ed Benes does a bang-up job on the visuals.

Sticking with Gail’s comics, Secret Six is still amazing 21 issues in.  The gruesome story of Catman’s dysfunctional family and his continued journey into nihilistic badassery this issue plumbed just the depths of depravity that one has come to rely upon this book to provide.  The inventiveness of Gail’s mind when it comes to developing tortures to inflict upon her characters (and readers) always astonishes me—and I mean that as a compliment, of course.  She’s making great use of Black Alice in this series—which is a feat, since Alice gives off this “annoying character” vibe that is difficult to write through.  Alice’s askew “romance’ with Ragdoll has helped, and her surprise possession near the end of this issue is delightful.

I finally got around to reading the epilogues to Blackest Night in Green Lantern #53 and Green Lantern Corps #47.  We’ve been hearing rumbles of Geoff Johns backlash around the web for awhile (something that was obviously stoked by his recent ascension to Chief Creative Officer at DC), but whatevs.  Blackest Night was a spectacular—and spectacularly well-managed—comic book event, and these issues are more of the same.  (The return of the Anti-Monitor!  Still excited about that !!)  Peter J. Tomasi’s writing still shows a bit, but he has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years.  I love his “day in the life” stories, and GLC #47 was no exception.  It’s nice to see a superhero comic spend a whole issue dealing with the issue of workplace relationships—who’d a thunk?  I liked the tease for August’s Guy Gardner headlined Emerald Warriors series too.

Brightest Day itself is a lot of fun so far.  I’m enjoying the spotlighting of Aquaman and Mera, as well as J’onn, the Hawks, and Firestorm.  The series so far has the feel of a sequel—despite the ominous beats, everything feels a bit lighter, which is not a bad thing at all after all the zombie-anguish of Blackest Night.

Bill Willingham’s first arc on  Justice Society of America didn’t wow me, but his second is turning out to be a barnburner.  Mister Terrific and the JSA vs. the Nazis in an alternate reality?  Could have felt like a waste of time, but Willingham has taken the story in a nasty anything-can-happen direction that has me riveted every month.  The ending to this issue is particularly jaw-dropping, and I can’t wait for the conclusion.  Jesus Merino’s pencils are amazing, too.

Matthew Sturges’s  JSA All-Stars has a very different feel from the main book.  Perhaps because Freddie Williams II is working an early Bart Sears vibe in his pencils, I keep drawing comparisons between this book and Justice League Europe (coincidentally a team book also featuring Power Girl!) during the Giffen/DeMatteis heyday of the Justice League.  Both spinoff books have a “cozy” quality about their storytelling that I enjoy, without being absolutely jazzed about. So far, JSA All-Stars has not felt like essential reading, but it serves up an extra helping of JSA every month that I have so far always enjoyed.  I have been particularly digging the Liberty Belle/Hourman back up romp featuring Icicle and Tigress.  It’s fun.  And kind of sexy.

NEXT: The Bad