Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Zen Bones

In The Question on March 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm

One of the many pleasant character pieces to come out of Blackest Night is Denny O’Neil & Greg Rucka’s The Question #37, a revisiting of O’Neil’s Zen-themed The Question series from the late ’80s.  Like that eariler series, this issue is drawn by Denys Cowan, whose wonderfully scratchy pencils are inked by The Question‘s old cover artist, Bill Sienkiewicz.

Although nominally part of the longer Blackest Night tapestry, this story is a genuine bookend to both the original series and Rucka’s sections of 52, while at the same time reading smoothly as a stand-alone issue.  It is one of my favourite single issues of the past few years.  I’ve read and reread it several times over the past couple of weeks, and I will read it many more times I’m sure.

At its core, it is a marvelously simple idea, deftly executed. The story unfolds on a dark and stormy night.  (Don’t be put off by the cliche; in a move that can only be called elegant, O’Neil and Rucka refashion the compulsory “Blackest Night” framework into a metaphor for the “long dark night of the soul” that follows for at least one of the main characters.)  Charlie’s old friend ‘Tot awaits the Question’s resurrection as a Black Lantern, hoping that an undead Charlie will help him unlock the mysteries of death.  Meanwhile, Lady Shiva appears at ‘Tot’s lighthouse to test new Question, Renee Montoya, in a martial arts throwdown on the beach.  As expected, Charlie returns as a puppet of the Black ring to attack his successor and Lady Shiva.  The crux of the battle [spoilers ahead] is that since Black Lanterns can only “see” auras comprised of their objects’ emotions, the solution to evading them (though perhaps not to beating them) is simply to “feel nothing,” Zen-master-style.

Thus does Lady Shiva will herself to “disappear.”  And so, too, Renee Montoya.  But the real disappearing act–the one that matters here–is ‘Tot’s.  For it is ‘Tot who has–so the narrative might be taken to imply–garrisoned himself against the pain of mourning by reducing the emotional significance of Charlie’s “resurrection” to a scientific opportuinity.  “Say goodbye to him,” Montoya councels ‘Tot, as she disappears into meditative invisibility and the Black-ringed Question turns on his former partner.  The story is thus primarily about the necessity of mourning, of overcoming the fear of facing loss (‘Tot’s aura is yellow as he fades and says “…goodbye…”).  It is a moving scene in a comic whose visual tonality is, so to speak, pitch-perfect.

Needless to say, I have started rereading the original series, which I haven’t picked up for many years.  Too long.

Countdown to a Proper Burial

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2008 at 1:22 pm

You want to know what’s really sad? This is probably the best issue of the entire series.

The ludicrous Jimmy Olsen-Darkseid smackdown/Kirby homage (or whatever) advertised on the front cover turns out, mercifully, to be a red herring. The real fight this issue is (spoilers on) a father-son matchup between Darseid and Orion. First, the good news: the fight looks amazing. Every Scott Kolins issue of Countdown looks sensationsal, obviously, but he really pulls out all the stops here. There are more Kirby dots per square inch in this comic than, perhaps, in any comic actually illustrated by Kirby himself. (BTW: Someone needs to hook a fanboy or two up some kind of blood pressure/heart rate monitor and then show them slides of images with and without Kirby dots–I’m pretty sure it will bear out my theory that Kirby dots are actually physiological stimulants.)

So, CWCID: great looking issue.

The totally mindnumblingly not-at-all-surprising bad news is that, like every single issue of this misbegotten travesty of a series, good writers once again produce risible work. For instance: Superman’s response to the showdown between Darkseid and Orion in the middle of Metropolis:

Green Lantern: Superman, I don’t care what Orion says–we’ve gotta do something here!

Superman: This is between a father and his son, Kyle. [portentously] This is between Gods.

Whaaa??? Huuuhhhh?????? One of the “Gods” is Darkseid! At least the Flash was running around saving people on page 1, not standing on a roof eating popcorn with the impossibly lame “Challengers of the Unknown.” Normally, I don’t care much about this kind of hiccup in my suspension of disbelief, but it’s so egregious here that it seems as if Paul Dini and Sean McKeever (good writers both) have just said, fuck it. Let’s put this baby to bed. And you know what? I can’t say that I blame them. Does anyone really care anymore–if, indeed, anyone ever did? Don’t we all, much like poor Brooke White on Tuesday night, just want this damn song to be over and done with so that we can get on to something new and pretend it never happened in the first place?

How To Relaunch a Classic Property

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2008 at 11:13 pm

Written by Chuck Dixon
Art by Julian Lopez & Bit
Cover by Doug Braithwaite
Metamorpho finally makes the trip back to Earth — only to be immediately arrested! And while Katana and Batgirl attempt to break Rex out of a Paris jail, they also manage to abduct a mysterious astronaut! Plus: don’t miss the return of the former Outsider called Looker!
On sale July 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I love love love this book. This is exactly what the new Titans series should be, but (so far) isn’t. Batman and the Outsiders is all action, mystery, and great characterization. And it looks stellar, both inside and out. The covers by Doug Brathwaite are more than just icing. They give the impression that DC is actually behind this series. Really behind it. Committed to making it something special, much like the Justice Society of America with its classy Alex Ross covers and slick Eaglesham interiors. Either editorial is behind a series or it isn’t; sorry, Titans. Great news for BATO fans, though. Chuck Dixon, Julian Lopez, Doug Brathwaite: kudos.