Saturday, June 02, 2007

Emerald Stud, Lightning Slow and Wildcat Tough

There’s been no rest for the weary this week as FanBoyWonder had to jump back into the work week following our two separate trips to New York City for business and that same week down to South Carolina to see Brianna The Girl Wonder.

Yet we did find time to pick up books so for you are faithful readers, here’s our review of the comics we picked up for the week of May 30.
Green Lantern #20
The Upshot from DC Comics: The conclusion to "Mystery of the Star Sapphire!" What is the secret nature of the sapphire and how will it affect Hal Jordan's future? Plus the backup feature "Tales of the Sinestro Corps" by Dave Gibbons!

Oh that Hal Jordan. He’s just so cute. Five, count em five females are chasing after our emerald warrior—well at least two of them are hot (and human)—ex-flame and one-time Star Sapphire Carol Ferris and Jillian “Cowgirl” Pearlman, Hal’s USAF wingman.

The other three wanting Hal’s body are Zamerons, alien amazons who dated the Guardians of the Universe before they had other fish to fry. Getting dumped by little blue men we suppose would turn them against men in general and want to use “love” as a weapon to conquer the universe.

We have to admit we like writer Geoff Johns' concept of the Zamerons seeking out the lovers of Green Lanterns as host bodies/vessels for members of their “Star Sapphire Corps.” We noted last issue we weren’t so impressed with Johns’ take on the Guardians/Zameron connection but we now see where he’s going.

With the upcoming Sinestro Corps storyline, instead of creating just one-anti Green Lantern Corps, Johns is setting up a triple threat with wearers of emerald, purple and yellow power rings having at it. There are signs that writer Johns is starting to come out of his creative coma.

Yet this issue—the conclusion of the three issue Sapphire story arc felt rushed and not just because of the “Tales of the Sinestro Corps” back up feature.

The story pacing has been off for the last several issues and we suspect it’s due to last year’s de-facto bi-monthly schedule due to deadline challenged artists.

Speaking of art, guest artist Daniel Acuna is definitely an acquired taste but his visuals got better with each issue of the three part story. We don’t think his style works as a full-time GL illustrator but we’re glad for the sake of visual consistency that he drew all three issues of the story.

The latest chapter of the Tales of the SC back up story, while visually appealing thanks to the art of Dave Gibbons, fell flat with us. Yet the back up feature served its purpose both to slowly wet readers’ appetite for this month’s Sinestro Corps special and to demonstrate just how much of a dark mirror the SC is to the Green Lantern Corps.

This book under an overextended and distracted Johns has suffered a serious drain in creative energy and reader (at least this reader’s) patience—we’re hoping for a full recharge will come with this next story arc.

Justice Society of America #6

The Upshot from DC Comics: Part 4 of the 5-part JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA/JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA crossover "The Lightning Saga!" Wonder Woman leads Damage and a squad of League and Society members deep into the recesses of the mysterious Suicide Swamp! What horrible evil will rise that will plague the world for a thousand years, and how will the combined might of the Justice League and the Justice Society stop it?

Our first pass at this issue did not leave a very favorable impression. Too busy, too many characters, way too much story and a feeling that we’re 4/5 of the way through this cross-over and left feeling somewhere between confusion and boredom.

Fortunately, this issue was much better a day later on the second read but it is quite dense and it requires the reader’s full attention.

But it’s not in any way friendly to the casual reader who may have just picked up this issue of JSA to check it out. It’s totally devoid of even the briefest of recaps to let the reader know what’s transpired up to this point…or even an editor’s note pointing readers to read Justice League for the previous chapters of the Lightning Saga.

When the trade paperback comes out 4 to 6 months from now, there will be no confusion as readers will have all 5 chapters in front them in sequence all at once. We can’t help but feel annoyed that this cross-over is being written for the TPB reader even though the health and life of a comic book is determined by the monthly sales figures.

The day is coming and soon we think that this industry is going to have to decide whether the primary audience is the monthly book or the TPB buyer (think single broadcast episode vs. full season DVD set)—but that’s a discussion for another time.

Back to the story, there remains a LOT of talking here but writer Geoff Johns does give us some action with as the League and Society reunites to fight what turns out to be an illusion while the time-tossed Legion proceeds with its mission to save one of their own.

Our knowledge of the Legion of Super Heroes is spotty at best but Johns and JLA writer Brad Metzler seem to be working with the pre-CRISIS Legion here.

We’re still annoyed to no end that Superman’s history has been changed (again) so he was a member of the Legion and apparently has strong feelings for them—so much so that they’ve pulled the wool over his eyes so completely as to their real mission here in the 21st Century.

The regular art team of Dale Eaglesham and Ruy Jose do a bang up job here and help shore up the weak points of Johns storytelling with their trademark close-up facial expressions.
Furthermore, they do a remarkable job of keeping the scenes visually coherent given that between the JLA, JSA and the Legion there are no less than 25 heroes sharing space (and that’s NOT counting Triplicate Girl three times, although we did count both Wildcats—father and son.)

The Lightning Saga hasn’t been a bad story by any means but Metzler and Johns have bitten off WAY more than they can chew here. Given that Johns’ JSA chapters have been the stronger ones of the series, we suspect that Metzler’s conclusion of the Lightning Saga in JLA #10 will be satisfactory but not-at-all completely satisfying.

Countdown #48

The Upshot from DC Comics: The event of the year is here! This brand-new, year-long weekly series features a cast of hundreds where anything goes! With head writer Paul Dini and a rotating team of some of the industry's best writers and artists, COUNTDOWN will serve as the backbone of the DCU in 2007. When a character dies in COUNTDOWN 51, it sets off an unexpected ripple that will touch virtually every character in the DC Universe. The COUNTDOWN is on…so begins the end!

We’re not going to beat a dead horse here and recount our various problems with Countdown’s story as it’s been laid out to date. Suffice to say, said problems remain.

We did, however, enjoy the exchange between previously dead characters Donna Troy and Jason Todd regarding their “borrowed time.”

With the exception of perhaps Power Girl, no single DCU character has been used, abused and otherwise victimized by the consequences of the original CRISIS on Infinite Earths than the one-time Wonder Girl Donna Troy.

We hope that if ANYTHING comes from Countdown that Donna Troy is returned to a place of honor and respectability in the DC Universe.

The sad part is that was already starting to happen during the lead up to Infinite Crisis with the Return of Donna Troy mini-series just prior to IC as it was established that Donna was meant to be the Anti-Monitor’s Harbinger—meaning she was to be a serious player.

Yet that clusterfrak called Infinite Crisis happened and Donna led a team of heroes into space to….do nothing really….then Donna was hijacked into being the replacement Wonder Woman by that Deadline Challenged Hollywood knuckhead.

Meanwhile, a powerless Mary Marvel has found (or been found) by Black Adam who somehow already has his powers back following the events of World War III. Given the black outfit we’ve seen Mary sport in upcoming Countdown solicitations, it seems that Mary is poised to get her powers back….and take a walk on the dark side. Why does this make us feel so uneasy?

Oh yeah, and the New God Lightray dies. (yawn). Argus and Gunfire and the rest of DC’s Legion of Obscure Heroes better watch out.

Teen Titans #47
The Upshot from DC Comics: A Titan dies! Are Nightwing and Donna Troy the next targets?

This is a cross-over with Countdown as The Titans, past and present, take the murdered body of Joker’s Daughter and bury “one of their own.” But isn’t she from that “other Earth” At this point we’re ignoring the Countdown “plot” elements and not try to think it through too much.

The only thing we found compelling about the issue was Wonder Girl and her continued grieving for her lost love Superboy.
We’ve said before that we never realized just how much Kon-El was the heart of this current team of Titans until Infinite Crisis (and current protracted copyright litigation) took Superboy off the board.

Although in the DCU timeline, it’s been more than a year since Superboy’s death, Deathstroke’s use of Match, the bizzaro clone of Superboy, who himself was a clone, opened all of Wonder Girl’s fresh emotional wounds.

We were always hot and cold with Superboy but given the clumsy way he was killed off, we’re glad that SOMEONE remembers, much less mourns him.

From here, look for Teen Titans to be cross-over central until the new line up (and a new writer) takes shape in issue 50. We may or may not drop the book until then but we’re willing to give the new writer a chance—but just one chance.

JSA Classified #26

The Upshot from DC Comics: Part 1 of a 2-part story written by Frank Tieri with art by Matt Haley and Jerome Moore! Wildcat undergoes a journey of self-discovery as he uncovers an underground superhuman gambling ring!

We liked this issue for no other reason because it was a rare spotlight on a vastly underdeveloped character. Writer Frank Tieri shows Wildcat as one of the toughest characters in the DC Universe. Others may be stronger but few are as tough.

While the story itself about gambling on metahuman fights is far from virgin territory—especially given JSA’s many fine go-rounds with Roulette, it’s only a reason to see what makes Ted Grant tick.

Unlike so many of the other original Justice Society members, Wildcat is the odd man out. While most of the other JSAers were decidedly middle-to-upper class, Ted Grant is a boxer, and by definition a tough guy. He sees the world in terms of punches and jabs and gambling offends his personal honor and the boxer’s code.

The art by Matt Haley and Jerome Moore is top shelf. Wildcat has never looked this good and we look forward to part 2 next month.


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