Sunday, November 05, 2006

More JLA Table Talk, Nightwing Rehabilitates and Naked Bad Guys & Gals?

FanBoyWonder plays ball this week with our reviews of books for the first week of November.

Justice League of America #3

The Upshot from DC Comics: The re-formation of the League continues, and one of the new members comes up against the latest — and deadliest — of the JLA villains: Dr. Impossible. And he's just one of the many sinister forces gathering to bring an end to the World's Greatest Super-Heroes!

When pondering New York Times best selling novelist (and fanboy) Brad Meltzer’s run so far on JLA, we can’t help but think of the time when NBA great Michael Jordan retired (the first time) to pursue his dream and the challenge of playing professional baseball.

We most recall from that period sports footage taken of MJ at the plate but struggling mightily to connect with the fastballs hurled his way from the pitcher’s mound. His baseball experiment a failure, Jordan returned to the MBA.

The lesson: Greatness in one field does not necessarily guarantee greatness (or even a place on the bench) in another.

While we are by no means calling Brad’s run on JLA so far a failure, we’ve seen that a novelist's greatest strengths don’t always fully translate into the graphic narrative medium known as the comic book.

Yet with JLA issue 3, we see Brad start to get his timing. While far from a home run, Meltzer stepped up to the plate this issue, connected with the ball and hit a respectable base hit.

No one should construe our comments as anything derogatory toward Mr. Meltzer. We very much admire him both for his obvious love for these characters from our shared generational standpoint and that his is living out the dream of just about every fanboy with every word he types.

The action with Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Arsenal and Black Canary helped a great deal to get things rolling while we’re fully hooked into Red Tornado’s Pinocchio dilemma after an initial reluctance to buy-in.

The interaction between Black Lighting and Hawkgirl was amusing but we are glad to see Jefferson Pierce treated with respect again.

Most of all we are grateful that for their intrusion into the Batcave. Something to finally get the Big Three—Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman—away from the conference table. Blah, blah, blah…they’re all talk.

The longer and the prolonged roster selection stretches out, the more it reminds us of the “popular’ kids in school deciding who is cool and who is not. Keep swinging Brad, you’ll get there.

Nightwing #126

The Upshot from DC Comics: Nightwing finds himself in the uncomfortable position of trying to save the Raptor from the Police and the mysterious people who are trying to kill him. Plus, Dick Grayson is still having trouble finding a job!

Becoming Nightwing’s new writer following the train wreck radioactive disaster of Bruce Jones’s eight issues post-One Year Later is something of a mixed blessing for Marv Wolfman.

By virtue of just showing up, Wolfman and artist Dan Jurgens have already surpassed the previous creative team in quality. Yet, the bar has been raised pretty high for Wolfman not just to be competent but to return Nightwing to greatness.

Competence we got, but Nightwing #126 demonstrates we’ve got a long way to go toward greatness again.

But we enjoyed Dick’s phone chat with Alfred while on stakeout. It was Dick’s first interaction with “family” since One Year Later and we were wondering if there had been any kind of estrangement.

Jergens art is again competent and a step above anything of the last several months, but he doesn’t seem to have a natural feel for Nightwing. As much as we like Dan’s work, we heartened to hear that former Firestorm artist Jamal Engle has been taped as the book’s permanent artist. Another step in the right direction.

52 Week 26

The Upshot from DC Comics: "How altruistic can you be when you're funded by LexCorp?" Plus, The Origin of Hawkman.

Well we could care less about the Doc Magnus and the Mad Scientists storyline, the Question and Renee Montoya didn’t stick around long enough to make this particular issue interesting and even the Black Adam Family (we refuse to call them Black Marvels) failed to appeal.

We did get to see Steel and his estranged niece Starlight, leader of Lex Luthor’s new Infinity Inc., debate on television but we’re frankly getting tired of this bratty girl run circles around Steel.

It’s one thing to pull your punches, but everyone can see she needs a kick in the arse. The writers have been artificially prolonging this feud for weeks now. Steel is a smart, tough character but he’s being written like a dolt. Time for the gloves to come off now Dr. Irons.

Secret Six #6

The Upshot from DC: The penultimate issue! Sick and tired of being hunted, the Six decide to turn the tables on their mysterious pursuer. Will they succeed, or will this just be a suicide mission?

We missed getting this book last week but we felt compelled to give it a mention this time around. Up until now, we had been panning this mini-series as underperforming—particularly in the art department.

Issue 5 was a dramatic improvement from the past couple of issues. Brad Walker and Jimmy Palmiotti’s art is MUCH crisper and easier on the eye. Whatever they did, keep it up.

Ok so Scandal, the daughter of the immortal Vandal Savage, walks in on Knockout and Deadshot naked doing the beast with two backs and since she and Knockout are supposed to be lesbian lovers, Scandal is pissed. Only writer Gail Simone could write a knock down fight with a room full of naked people and make it seem neither silly nor sexy but deadly serious.

The ensuing lovers’ quarrel, prompts Scandal to return to her father in defeat and honor his wish to give him a grandson and thus withdrawing her protection from the remaining five of the Secret Six.

The best line comes from Thomas Blake/Catman: “You didn’t just screw the redhead Lawton. You screwed us ALL this time.”

As this mini-series comes to a conclusion next month, this issue may have gone a long way to saving what so far has been a disappointment. Stay tuned.


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