Saturday, May 13, 2006

52 Weeks plus a Nightwing & a prayer

FanBoyWonder has returned from Chicago for our day job. It was right where we left it after our last visit 10 years ago. Upon our return, we made a stop for comics. Since we’re catching up after being out of town, we were glad it was a thin week for books.

So without further ado, here’s our take on the books for the second week of May.

52 #1

The upshot from DC Comics: The story of DC's most eventful year ever can now be told as four of the hottest writers in comics — Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid — deliver an unprecedented weekly tale of death, danger, romance, intergalactic terror and the never-ending, universal meaning of heroism. Joined by storyteller Keith Giffen and cover artist J.G. Jones, 52 features art for the first month by Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, and Jack Jadson.
52: A year without Superman; a year without Batman; a year without Wonder Woman...but not a year without heroes.

We’re of two minds about 52. We admire the fact that DC has taken on this ambitious weekly comic series, the first such experiment since 1988’s Action Comics Weekly, but we’re also wary given the inherent potential for disaster that comes from trying to put out a book every seven days—plus the fact that DC did not inspire confidence in its handling (read: bungling) of Infinite Crisis.

Week One/Issue One didn’t especially blow our doors off but neither did it seriously perturb us. Its main problem, if you could call it that, was that it was too busy with a multitude of characters and numerous plot lines but story setups usually are.

Right now, the story’s other big draw back is something inherent in its premise—it’s designed to fill in the blanks following Infinite Crisis and One Year Later. Since Infinite Crisis was a soulless and artificially contrived “event” (in our often stated humble opinion), 52 can only improve as it moves away from the events of IC.

The main featured players of 52 are Booster Gold, Steel, Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, The Question and former Gotham City police detective Renee Montoya, as well as Black Adam.

This line up promises to provide readers a varied point of view throughout the next year. Booster Gold as the 25th century huckster using his future technology and historical knowledge to be a super hero pitch man hasn’t been this good since the original and short-lived Booster Gold series by creator Dan Jergens in the 1980s.

We were glad to see John Henry Irons, the hero formerly know as The Man of Steel, not only rescued from oblivion in the Superman books (wearing the “S” shield we are glad to see) but this character is poised for greatness Steel takes on Lex Luthor in Superman’s absence during the next year.

Ralph Dibny, as we see, is a shattered man following his beloved wife Sue’s brutal murder during 2004’s Identity Crisis. The Elongated Man was a “C” list hero and he knew it but he was content as long as he had his Sue. With his wife gone, we see him near suicide and this is the beginning of the story. We hope this lost soul is found sometime during the next year.

We see that the Question has taken over for Batman in Gotham City as the Dark Knight and family take a year-long cruise while Renee Montoya promises to be the everyman point-of-view character of this series.

We didn’t read Greg Rucka’s critically acclaimed Gotham Central but we were aware of what he’s done with Gotham City’s best cop outside of James Gordon and we look forward to getting better acquainted with her during the next 51 weeks.

Black Adam, meanwhile, rules his fake country of Kahndaq with an iron fist. Watching him disarm, literally, a dissenting citizen should set the tone of what we can expect from him in the year to come. Lex Luthor is evil—he knows it and likes it. The Joker is likewise crazy. But with Black Adam, the best villains are the ones who don’t believe themselves to be the bad guy…but just doing the wrong things for the “right” reasons.

Stay tuned.

Nightwing #120

The Upshot from DC Comics: Two Nightwings are on the prowl in New York — and one is a murderous madman! Now the twin crime bosses — the Pierce Brothers — want the head of Nightwing, and they don't care which one!

We’re not going to hide our disappointment with writer Bruce Jones’ take on Nightwing so far. It’s only his third issue but this story is spiraling fast into chaos and confusion.

Worse, one of the best things going for this book—the pencils of Joe Dodd and the distinctive way he drew the two Nightwings—was missing from this issue. Paco Diaz’s pencils weren’t nearly up to the task. It’s the third issue of the story arc and we ALREADY have to endure a fill-in artist?????

In a recent Newsarama interview, Dan Didio recently noted that Nightwing was one of DC’s “one-to-watch” heroes for 2006. If Jones doesn’t get his act together soon, the ones who will be watching will be doing so for the wrong reasons. Nightwing deserves better than this.

Captain Atom: Armageddon # 8 (of 9)

The upshot from DC/Wildstorm: With last issue's shocking revelation, it's Captain Atom versus the Authority in a no-holds-barred battle! Nikola, whose manifestation of Void's powers is nearly complete, enters the fray with Grifter in tow. But whose side is she on?

We’ve been enjoying Captain Atom’s jaunt though the Wildstorm Universe but, like Cap, there’s nothing we’ve seen that will make us want to stay beyond the duration of this mini-series.

To paraphrase the man, fanboys will little note nor long remember this series but it’s been an amusing waste of time on a rainy afternoon.
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