Thursday, May 29, 2008

Final Crisis #1


I felt very little about this comic. I read it and thought, "I'm not sure what that was about." Then i waited a while, read it a second time, and i still didn't know what it was about.

Anthro (who isn't identified, and neither is his setting) is met by Metron. (It's neat that Morrison combines the image of the burning bush from the Old Testament with the Prometheus story from Greek mythology, but it doesn't add to the story.)

Dan Turpin (who isn't identified, and neither is his history with the New Gods) finds the expiring Orion. We get the hint that the New Gods have been reincarnated somehow (as we've seen in Seven Soldiers and Birds of Prey).

John Stewart investigates. The Black Racer is floating in the background. I guess that's the new Black Racer. The New Gods reconstituted themselves really quickly. They're already online before the last of their old forms has completely croaked.

I like Mirror Master's accent.

Why would those supervillains stage a protest march? Aren't they all wanted for multiple felonies? Shouldn't they be hiding out instead of marching down the street in costume? And why is that lone panel in the middle of the "League of Titans" bit?

It's good to see that Luthor, etc. aren't simply accepting Libra as the new boss. And Libra's dig at Vandal Savage was funny.

The cell phone bit confused me. I thought that maybe the Human Flame was watching something he'd recorded earlier. So i thought maybe he was watching the execution of Martian Manhunter on his phone. Something about that scene didn't flow well for me. That might just be me.

I kind of like the New Gods being in human forms. Of course it will depend on what sort of role they play, but it could be cool. I suspect that Darkseid's machinations have somehow fused the New Gods' essence with humanity, which is fitting since all of his plans seemed to involve Earth anyway, and "New Earth" is the "foundation stone of all existence."

Is it me, or are the Leaguers talking about the New Gods as if they don't know them? As if Orion, Lightray, Big Barda and Mister Miracle weren't members of the League? Has that bit of history been changed, or has the reincarnation of the New Gods somehow caused amnesia?

I don't know what the Monitors are here for. Thematically, they're another level of cosmic power and mythology; they're like another pantheon of gods who may be higher than or in competition with the New Gods. How does their story relate to the others? The other stuff all ties to Darkseid's plans, but i don't see how this one does.

Then Anthro meets Kamandi. Apparently Anthro is either transported to another Earth (if this is the Countdown version of Kamandi) or the distant future (if this is the old school Kamandi). Kamandi is not identified, and neither is his setting. But we do learn that Metron set his own plan into motion before he croaked, and this is the good guys' Last Best Hope.

The monitor who was "exiled" wakes up in his new, human form (more gods becoming men, soon to strive towards godhood again; Morrison's working his literary themes) for i guess the first time.

This issue was set up, as you'd presume a #1 to be, but while it put the pieces into place, it didn't give us any indication of what kind of game is about to be played. Any thread between these various plots has to be deduced by the reader. That's not necessarily bad, but it's not Summer Event Series storytelling. The stakes are unclear.

It was odd.

Readers not already familiar with DC's superhero universe will have a lot of questions. Characters and concepts are not introduced in several instances, as i noted. If you haven't read Seven Soldiers, you might scratch your head about the Dark Side Club. This is a big minus for an Event comic, which is intended (or so i always thought) to sell to a lot of people, not just faithful DC fans who follow their "universe" as a whole. Something as simple as caption boxes, or a couple editorial pages, would have helped.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Son of Short Comic Reviews

Birds of Prey #118 – So this takes place after Final Crisis, looks like. At least, it has the new version of the New Gods that we saw in Seven Soldiers. Interesting. We've seen this superpeople fight club thing several times recently. Are all the Apokalipsians black? That's not...y'know...kinda racist? To make all the bad guys black? I'm not accusing anybody of being racist, i'm just dumbfounded that the folks at DC wouldn't see the implication, and diversify accordingly. Nicola Scott is really good. I like her style. This issue is mostly about Misfit and Black Alice, both of whom are cool. They both learn something surprising here. It's good to see some fairly new characters getting page time and development.

Dynamo 5 #13D5 tries to recover from getting their butts kicked last issue. There's a revelation about one of the characters which was totally unexpected, but works very well. It fits with everything that had already been established. It looks like next issue we'll see a slightly different version of the team, which should be fun. Thumbs up.

JSA #15 – I enjoyed this, but there's not much to say about it. It's all Fighty McPunchkick, in a good way.

Project Superpowers #3 – I got lost reading this. It felt like i'd missed an issue. There were too many indistinct scene changes, too much first-person narrative from too many characters. This ain't a movie. We can't automatically tell that a new person has started talking in the narrative boxes like we can tell when a different voice starts doing a voice-over in film. A different colored bar beside the box doesn't help that much, either. How about a different font, or a differently shaped box, a different manner of speech? Look at pages 8 and 9: Samson and the Scarab are talking. Then half of page 9 cuts to Shangri-La, where the Black Terror is tearing through some bad guys. Why does this bit with Black Terror interrupt the Samson/Scarab scene? Are they supposed to be linked, or somehow comment on one another? I can't see how. It's confusing. And on page 10, what's going on there? Was this thread introduced previously? Is it referring to the FCBD issue? Who is this person 'Devil is talking to? Why put only one page of this in the issue? Where are Pyro and Hydroman? Can't they spare a box saying “Coney Island” or something? This was just confusing.

Wonder Woman #20 – This felt kinda like an episode of Xena, with its use of not-quite-right mythology. (Beowulf died fighting that dragon, and he didn't have to chase Grendel, he killed him in Hrothgar's mead hall, etc.) Xena bit Wonder Woman's style, not the other way around. Never forget that. It's still a fun issue, though, b/c it's really hard for Gail Simone to write a bad comic. There's the unexpected appearance of Stalker, an obscure character from the 70s. (No prior knowledge necessary, however.) I'm not sure if that's actually cool, or just a bit of trivia.

Green Lantern Corps #24 – I loved last issue, i didn't like this one. Mongul is boring. Boring boring boring. What's his deal? Does he have a motivation? Oh, he's psychotic. Yawn. All the dead bodies orbiting that planet was kind of dumb. Why couldn't the lanterns fly around it? Or was it supposed to encase the entire planet? It would take trillions and gajillions of bodies to surround a planet, even a small one. And why did it stink? There's no atmosphere in space, thus no medium for the smell to travel through. If the lantern rings let in smells, wouldn't they let in poison gases? Aren't the black mercies supposed to show you your fondest dreams, thus lulling you into a fantasy world you don't want to leave, while it slowly kills you? Isn't that what makes them cool and memorable? But here, they're showing Ion and Arisa their fears. (And some future stuff, like the multi-colored rings killing Ion?) What gives?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Comics of Free Comic Book Day
Brief reviews

I've read most of them by now. With this weekend's nice weather, i've sat in the backyard reading, which is cool. The only ones i haven't read yet are the EC sampler and some of the kid-oriented stuff.

Broken Trinity Prelude
- I knew next to nothing about these characters (Witchblade, Darkness, Angelus). The opening story here is an introduction via a story being written by a reporter for an alternative weekly paper. It was informative. Definitely i know more about these characters than i did before. I'm not rushing out to buy the trades, but i'm slightly intrigued.

Amelia Rules - All four of these stories are very good. The first one, "The Things I Cannot Change" really impressed me. It could have been cheesey or maudlin, instead it was emotional and smart. This is good stuff. Obviously it's aimed at kids, but it's intelligent an nuanced enough for grown ups.

Hero By Night/Gunplay - HBN is pretty cool. It's old school superheroics. There seems to be a lot of story potential built into the set-up. The Gunplay half of the book looked kind of cool, but it seems like they pulled pages from various issues, and they didn't flow well at all, so it was hard to tell quite what was going on.

X-Men - This was a good read. It felt a lot like a Buffy episode, including the depiction of the demons as simultaneously very nasty and chuckleheaded. Pixie is cool, even if she's a bit munchkined out (she can fly, teleport, throw pixie dust, detect magic, and has a demon-killing soulknife? c'mon...). What does a Welsh accent sound like? Is this the creative team that will be taking over the regular comic? Is Pixie from the Morrison run?

Shonen Jump Special - Not bad, but these selections are too short to give much of an idea of the series. I can fill in some gaps b/c i know enough of the "shonen" tropes that these things usually follow. I didn't read the one about basketball.

Marvel's Best-Selling Authors - Meh.

Kid Houdini and the Silver-Dollar Misfits - I like some of the art, but the book didn't hold my interest. Why Houdini?

The Moth - The art here is awesome--design, layout, linework, it's all stupid good. The Moth is a likable character, too. I just might pick up the regular series when it starts.

Del Ray & Dabel Brothers 2008 Preview - The Dresden Files bit could have told us a lot more about the main character, but it made me wonder about it, so it did what a preview is supposed to, i reckon. Wild Cards is actually very interesting. Are the novels in print? I haven't seen them, even at Ed McKay's. Frankenstein i didn't read. The monster should not look like Fabio's prettiers, skinnier son. In Odd We Trust might be a good read, but i'm not sold on it.

Avengers/Invaders Sketchbook
- It's got some sketches in it. That's it. That "previously unknown" Golden Age team looks kinda cool. But what's up with that guy having a star over his nose?

Ignatz - Some of this stuff is too "heavy" for me--life provides enough problems on its own, thanks. Baobab has a cool setting and strong art, but if it's all as laconic as the pages here, it could be hard to read. Grotesque: i like the art a lot, but i'm not sure what it's about. Interiorae: why do these women want drugs, apparently whatever drugs they can get? i'd like to read this just to see what's going on. Delphine: this looks cool. Remember Sala's cartoons on "Liquid Television"? Those never made sense to me, but this thing looks cool. Reflections: There's no story here, but the character drawings are great. Ganges: I liked this. I'll have to look for it at the store. It's funny. It's accessible. The art is sharp. What makes me hesitant about getting into these Ignatz book is the price. A while back i got the first issue of New Tales from Old Palomar, and it was 7.95. They're bigger and have more pages than a regular comic, but it might make more sense to buy them when they're collected.

Dan Dare/The Stranded - Dan Dare is fun. The Stranded seems complicated. Ramayan 3392 A.D. looks fairly kickass, but that little snippet didn't tell me much.

The Death-Defying 'Devil - Here's some background on 'Devil and superbaddie the Claw. The Claw is crazy pulpy badguy fun. So, are the people in the story calling 'Devil "Devil" or are they calling him "Daredevil" but we just read it as "devil" b/c of copyright issues?

Atomic Robo - This is the best FCBD offering. It's high-octane action with humor, and it stars a robot built by Tesla. It's really good. Neozoic is cool, too. I want to read that trade when it comes out.

Bongo Comics Free-For-All! - This was funny. I dug it. Way funnier than that not funny movie they made.

Drafted - That was really good. The ads and solicits didn't make it look this good. I can see how it might devolve into a shoot-em-up/bad video game type of thing, but it seems smarter than that. Now i want to read this series.

Owly And Friends! - It's very, very cute. Johnny Boo made me laugh. Yam: an enjoyable read.

Comic Book Diner - Nothing here did anything for me, but the character design of Buzzboy is cool, and the colors on Tbyrd Fearlessness are awesome.

Hellboy - Best FCBD offering next to Atomic Robo. "The Mole" is creepy and surreal, and a nice character study. I really need to start reading those B.P.R.D. trades, b/c Guy Davis rocks. "Bishop Olek's Devil" has a great lovecraftian monster.

Jughead - Now i want to visit that museum. But watching "The Wire" has made me afraid to go to Baltimore. Wouldn't it have been crazy if Bubbles had walked in there and tried to con Archie out of some money for smack? Or, is Jughead's food problem a metaphor for drug use? Hmmm...

I volunteered at the local store. I got there a few minutes after they opened at 10:00, and there was a very long line outside the store. That line did not let up for over three hours. That's not b/c we were slow, either. We were stuffing bags with free comics like we had tapped into the Speed Force. We made three types of bags: kid, teen, and adult. It was a lot of work, but worth it.