Sunday, August 27, 2006

The New JLA, Black Adam & Black Alice

FanBoyWonder had a rough week last week but we still managed to get to the comic book store. Here’s our read on what we picked up.

Justice League of America #1

The Upshot from DC Comics: It begins here — a bold new era for the World's Greatest Heroes by New York Times best-selling author Brad Meltzer and superstar artist Ed Benes! It's Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman...and the true roster of members who will become the new Justice League of America. Join us as we head into "The Tornado's Path."

Our initial impression of Justice League of America #1 following our first reading of the issue was that it somewhat reminiscent of former JLA scribe Grant Morrison—and not in a complementary way.

Our often repeated description of the Morrison Justice League era was that he was “all wind up and no pitch” meaning that the idea and build up always started well but the execution or articulation would be flawed.

Following the confused and busy-in-the-extreme from last month’s JL of A preview zero issue, we had higher hopes for the official start to writer Brad Meltzer’s 12-issue run.

While issue # 1 doesn’t cut back and forth and back again between past, present and future and there is but one art team throughout the entire issue, Meltzer was trying to do too many different things at the same time and thus didn’t do much.

To be fair, we had a much more favorable impression during the second and third readings of this issue but it’s asking a lot of the reader to have to work that hard to get where the reader is trying to go.

The roundtable meeting between the Big Three—Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman—was cute at first but it quickly got to be overly sentimental for the sake of sentimentality. Ditto for the Red Tornado storyline.

Another thing that got old fast between the Big Three was the persistent “off camera” dialogue boxes. It frankly got hard to determine who was saying what, especially when they went down the list of candidates of would-be JLAers—all of that talk and at the end of the issue we still don’t have a final role call.

But here is who is on deck so far—The Big Three of course—Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Also, Black Canary, Green Lantern Hal Jordan (Come on Brad, would it have killed you to give John Stewart the nod!) and Arsenal. This last pick we are especially pleased to see hero formerly known as Speedy, move up from the sidekick’s table to sit with the grown ups—it’s about time.

Power Girl appears to have been given the nod by the Big Three but we hope she turns them down, since she belongs with the JSA. Also, in interviews, Meltzer has hinted that not everyone will want to join a Justice League with Batman given the distrust of his recent actions—we hope so.

As for the art, Ed Benes did a decent job but frankly, we’ve seen better from him. However, if he can manage six consecutive issues on time without a fill-in artist needed, his stock will not fall with us.

52 Week 16

The Upshot from DC: Celebrate the nuptials of Black Adam and Isis in WEEK 16, illustrated by Joe Bennett and Ruy Jose! Plus, the origin of Black Adam by Waid and J.G. Jones!

Ok Black Adam gets hitched to Isis. We’ve seen this coming. What we didn’t expect was to see the whole Marvel Family standing up to attend the ceremony. More than that, Captain Marvel “officiated” the wedding by calling down the magic lighting asking the Gods to “bless” the union.

When last we saw Captain Marvel a couple weeks ago, he was teetering on the margins of sanity as he coped with taking SHAZAM’s place at the Rock of Eternity and with the voices of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Worse, Mary Marvel (in her original red costume--what's that about???) was playing Maid of Honor, with Captain Marvel Jr. and Mr. Tawny the talking tiger (??????) working crowd control. Last we heard, Black Adam and the Marvel’s had an uneasy truce…now they are all buddies in a wedding party.

That seems to be the symbol of what’s been wrong with 52…despite the weekly “real time” format, we still feel like we’re missing part of the story from week to week.

Birds of Prey 97

The Upshot from DC: Concluding the 2-part story arc "Headhunting!" Black Alice is torn between good and evil. For which side should she use her magical abilities? As the Huntress and Black Canary pull her towards the Birds, powerful others are influencing Alice's darker tendencies.

There was both more and less to this issue than meets the eye but all-in-all we liked it. Black Alice is one of the more original character’s we’ve seen in a long time. Writer Gail Simone really captures the angst of Black Alice as someone who wants to be left alone but she possesses such incredible power that it is too dangerous for her to be left alone.

Both the good guys and the bad guys want her on their side or they want her “controlled” either way, it’s not good for Alice. More than the character, we love her ability to replicate the powers of magic-based beings from the Spectre to Wonder Woman and everyone in-between.

Meanwhile in Gotham City, the “return” of Batgirl continues to intrigue and since we haven’t seen Barbara Gordon/Oracle together at the same time, we sense a plot thread to be resolved in the upcoming 100th issue.

The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #3

The Upshot from DC: Who's giving the Flash a run for his money as the new hero of Keystone? Illustrated by guest artist Karl Kerschl!

There is so much we want to say about this New Flash but we have so little time at the moment. We will speak to this in detail at a later time but suffice to say, Bart Allen as the new, new Flash doesn’t work for us. What also doesn’t work for us is that it takes two writers—Danny Bilson and Pal DeMao—to produce such a mediocre story.

Worse, it’s only the third issue and there’s already a guest artist. We didn’t like Karl Kerschl’s art at first but upon further inspection we realized it was just the dramatic shift on art styles that threw us. Once we got past the style, we could see that Kerschl is actually more skilled at visual storytelling—we wouldn’t mind him staying on.


Anonymous Capitol Ideas said...

Awww ... c'mon Fanboy, the Red Tornado storyline was actually quite touching. And, I, for one, am delighting in the sibling-like interplay between The Big Three. It really does suggest that lessons have been learned from ID Crisis, and each has learned a lesson from their time alone during the events of "52."
And I'll defend Morrison's tenure on "JLA" even unto death. He's still one of my favorite writers, and I really dug his run on JLA.

And, of course, welcome home, Brianna. I'm looking forward to meeting you.

1:20 PM, September 06, 2006  

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