Monday, August 04, 2008

Blue Beetle #29 -- The new writer, Matthew Sturges, starts with this issue. Though the cover credit still says "Rogers", who hasn't been the writer for at least two months. Rogers' run was great, so there's trepidation about a new writer taking over. So far, so good.

There was also trepidation about this issue's subject: illegal immigration.* Politics is the opposite of art and entertainment. If this story falls into politics--i.e., this party's policy is right, the other party is wrong; or the people who support X are good, and their opponents are bad--it will fail as both art and entertainment. The only way this kind of story can succeed is if it addresses the reality that the politicians are trying to manipulate. The reality is complicated, nuanced and contradictory, while the politics is simplistic, arbitrary, and deceitful.

Thankfully, Sturges is steering towards the reality so far. There are characters involved in various aspects of the issue. None of them have been portrayed as saints or devils. Everyone is sympathetic so far. The only cliches or political spin i noticed were delivered by reporters, which is appropriate, since that's what they do in real life. There is a bad guy involved, but he's clearly not meant to represent any element of the real life problem. Jaime, of course, is caught in the middle, and, true to his character, wants to find a solution that does the least harm to everyone. It remains to be seen whether this story will conclude without decending into politics, but so far, so good.

Okay, on to the good stuff. Rafael Albuquerque is still the series' artist, which is great. Pairing him with another writer on this comic highlights how much of the series' "feel" is attributable to his contribution. Plus, i can't imagine any other artist making a flying coyote dude look cool.

The coyote dude figures in a very entertaining sequence in which two wannabe supervillains fight over the right to use the name Hellhound (aparently the last guy to use that name died in Salvation Run--this is a nod to "universe" continuity that doesn't intrude on the main story or make you feel like you're missing something by having not read something else; well done). They're fighting in a cheap wrestling ring, with a small audience (presumably friends or henchmen) egging them on. Blue Beetle busts up the match and, while he's clobbering both would-be Hellhounds, suggests alternate names so they won't have to fight in the first place. This sequence makes me think that Sturges has a decent grasp on the character; it's a good sign--and it's fun and funny.

It'll take a few more issues to form a real impression of Sturges' run on this series, but after the first issue, i'm hopeful. Recommended.

*I call it illegal because, per law, it is. Don't assume that, by recongnizing that it's illegal, i think it, or the people who do it, are automatically bad. I don't. Speeding is illegal, but we all do it all the time and don't consider it or ourselves immoral. There are loads of legal activities that are immoral, and the government that writes the laws often does immoral things. So i'm not making a connection between law and morals here. Identifying it as "illegal immigration" rather than "immigration" clearly identifies the issue that people are arguing about.

Trinity #9 -- See, i knew Busiek was going to bring in the Crime Syndicate, a la his JLA run. Now all we need are the Qwardians. This issue also features some of Wonder Woman's and Batman's supporting casts. The second story features Oracle, Nightwing, and a couple of Bat rogues. McDaniel does another cool two-page spread in this issue. Like the one from last issue, it isn't just a "splash", but does a lot storytelling. This guy really knows how to lay out a page (or two). There are also more new (AFAIK) characters: a flamboyant and highly skilled martial artist called the Swashbuckler, and a bizarre guy called the Trans-Volitional Man--and what he does is even weirder than his name.

I also got Dynamo 5 #15 and Justice Society of America Annual #1. Both are good. Maybe i'll post reviews of them later, but i've felt kind of cruddy this weekend.