Thursday, June 05, 2008

Comic Reviews for the Week of June 4th, 2008

Manhunter #31 - This series lands on its feet again. The past is neatly recapped in two pages, then it jumps back into the action with a fight scene, and the rest of the issue gets to the substance of Manhunter's life, her supporting cast, and her newest adventure.

See that scene with Iron Munro? That's how you work DC continuity, even fairly obscure continuity, into a comic. You name the character. Through natural-sounding dialog, you establish that this guy used to be a superhero. Now i know sometimes characters are just dropped in there, without identifying them or giving any context whatsoever, but for my money, this works better. But i guess i'm just lazy b/c i don't want to wait for the "director's cut" reprint to find out who the folks on the page are.

Back to the story, Iron Munro comes off as a jerk here. No, i don't have much sympathy for the guy who wants to "catch up for lost time" after ignoring his family for decades. Go make up your lost time wherever you were for the last thirty years, jerk. You have no right to ask other people to alter their lives just b/c you suddenly decided it might be nice to "connect" with your grandkids. Jerk.

I liked the phone conversation between Dylan and Chase. That was sweet in that "we're too cynical to be sweet" kinda way.

I'm not happy about the possibility of the Joker showing up, though. Unless Manhunter kills him. Somebody needs to kill that character. I hate him.

Between Director Bones and Atomic Skull, there are two skull-headed guys in this issue! That is cool. Does Atomic Skull have invisible skin and stuff, too, or is he just a skeleton powered by atomic energy magic? Manhunter took him down too easily, too. He didn't even try to hit her, seems. He just seemed confused. It was kind of sad.

I'm really dubious about the "real world issues" thing. It's really hard to do justice to real issues in fiction, and even harder when said issues are background for superhero action and soap operatics. Plus, anything that reminds me of politics is a big minus. However, and perhaps paradoxically, i was excited by the idea of a superhero rescuing a "real" person who was in "real" trouble. That line about "we fight aliens, evil geniuses, you name it...why can't i find one missing girl?" was onto something. It would be cool to see a superhero, especially a "street level" one like Manhunter, rescuing people from man's inhumanity to man instead of fighting fantastic threats all the time.

Blue Beetle shows up at the end, and that's good, and it's enough to convince me to pick up the next issue.

Noble Causes #34 - Talk about your superhero soap operatics, hoo boy does this comic have soap operatics to spare. The Nobles are a serious super team. There's a kaiju-sized pharaoh stomping downtown Cairo, and they don't even send the whole team to deal with it, they just send three people. And those three people p0wn the cyclopean menace. It's all the interpersonal drama and emotional machinations that give them real trouble. This is fun.

I like the world Faerber has built. This, along with Dynamo 5, is a good example of how to build a broader continuity for faithful readers without depending on it too much and alienating newer or more casual readers.

I like how Bonechill is freaking out about the Nobles trying to capture him. Plus, he's the third skull-headed guy this week, so bonus.

This world has a prison for supervillains in orbit? Wow.

I'm not sure what that sentence on the last page means. How do you hire someone to do that? Especially someone who was "an accomplished super-hero in her own right" at the time. But i'll go along with it for now.

Buffy #15 - Mixed are my feelings. This has some of the great Buffy action and snarkiness that i love, but also some of the Buffy cliches that have come to annoy me. No one can be happy for long without Tragedy! stepping onto the stage and randomly killing people. Drac shows admirable concern for Xander, but i'm not buying the Drac/Xander friendship...or whatever it is.

Way to go Dawn with the rallying of the troops! The um, Dawnbot, however, was not so cool. But for an uncool thing, its idea of what makes it a teenaged girl was really funny. "I like blue jeans and irony." That cracks me up.

That discussion between Willow and Buffy, where Willow is saying, in a sarcasm-disguising-honesty-jokey way, that it bugs her that Buffy didn't decide to "experiment" with her, was kinda wierd. Can't two people of the same sex just be friends?

Drac's sword is "one of the ancient your scythe"? That line begs for a future story to explain/explore it. Maybe i've played too much D&D, but that line implies all sorts of epic backstory and +5 vorpal sword enchanting.

Vlad the Impaler stealing Drac's Big Bad vibe was nicely done, as well. He was just as scary as a human as he is as a vampire. (Though if you like your Europe European and not Turkish, you gotta give the guy his due.) This hits one of the major BtVS themes: we are the monsters! It also once again gives the lie to that malarkey about the human soul being removed when a person gets turned into a vampire. That's Watcher poppycock. And it's a badass scene to boot.

I'm not sure what the "kill every single one of them" page is supposed to make us feel. Sometimes it's necessary or justified to obliterate your foes in a kinda genocidal way? Or, this is Buffy going Too Far, or becoming jaded?

Satsu, you are losing my respect. Buffy used you. She was a huge jerk to you, taking advantage of your genuine feelings for her momentary enjoyment. Do not tell her how great it was. Do not give her one for the road. Tell her to go screw herself next time and stay out of your life.

This issue has a beautiful cover.

Justice Society of America #16 - That was an unexpected twist. It was played well, too. Although of course it's going to end badly, for now i almost believe that it won't. Well done.

Gog's tell is that he repeats the phrase "i made them/him good again." I MADE him GOOD. It's that theme of "trying to make the world the way you think it ought to be is bad" thing that Johns uses so much lately. That was Black Adam's sin, and Sinestro's, and probably some other folks' whom i'm forgetting. He's gone to the well a bit too often on that one, especially since he's never clarified the difference between that villanious motivation and the motivation of our admirable heroes--not to my satisfaction, at least.

And speaking of Black Adam, here he is. I'm going to ignore that retconning rubbish about his powers being inherently evil and the apparently futile diversion of said powers to Mary Marvel (i'm also going to ignore the last year of Mary Marvel stuff while i'm dipping into denial). So Isis may be back, huh? That could be cool. The "Black Marvel Family" is a concept worthy of further exploration.

That double page spread of Gog being "cast out" from "paradise" is awesome. What's that beneath his left hand? Ain't it the same eye-in-a-triangle symbol that's on FDR's grandkid's arm? (That, or the Illuminati goes back even further than i thought.) Interesting...

What happened with Damage was cool. I hope it sticks, b/c angry Damage was becoming too one-note.

Another strong issue for JSA. When's the next one?!