Saturday, October 20, 2007

Power Girls, Cyber Show Down and Justice League’s Unlimited Disappointment

Well here we are again at Mom and Dad FanBoyWonder’s but before we go pack to fly home to our Lovey, Mrs. FanBoyWonder, we wanted to give a shout out to Scott at Buried Under Comics in Manchester, Connecticut.

Buried Under was our comic store back in the day as a teenage FanBoyWonder and we were quite hearted to find the store remains there and is going strong.

A special shout out also belongs to FanBoyWonder’s baby brother Joe who celebrates his birthday today. But it was FBW who got the present as we got to play with Joe’s son, our nephew Jack. He’s a cute little not quite 2-year-old with a great attitude and a pout-like expression that the chick will dig when he is older—proving that he does indeed take after his Uncle FanBoyWonder.

With that said, here’s our review of books that we picked up while at Buried Under for the week of October 17.

Brave and Bold #7

The Upshot from DC Comics: Wonder Woman and Power Girl fight side-by-side against a foe who may be more powerful than both of them combined!

This was a team up that we had looked forward to for some time as we can’t recall seeing these two characters together at least at anytime prior to the CRISIS on Infinite Earths.

Yet even after a few re-reads, we’re still not sure if we liked this issue or not. It’s not that the story was bad—writer Mark Waid crafted a perfectly competent, by the numbers team-up tale and it certainly wasn’t the art—penciler George Perez and inker Bob Wiacek

It’s the characterization that we take issue with. We’ve always been fond of Power Girl—especially since her character and its origin tweaked and re-tweaked following the original CRISIS to the point of absurdity. The ONE good thing to come out of the GODAWFUL Infinite Crisis was to finally acknowledge Power Girl’s true origin as the last daughter of Krypton.

But in a more dramatic twist Kara Zor-L isn’t just sole survivor of Krypton but of her entire universe and she’s a kryptonian who isn’t affected by kryptonite. On the character level, we like how Power Girl has ascended to become the Chairwoman of the Justice Society of America. The one-time team hothead is the leader and den mother.

So seeing Waid’s rendition of Power Girl the hothead whose inclination to smash and hit early and often is at odds with the JSA’s leader that we know today.

Yet Waid using Wonder Woman as the reader’s representative to address Power Girl’s inconsistent representation by different writers over the years:

“You sometimes make people…uncomfortable. Calm one minute…angry the next. And no one can predict what will set you off.”

Another word about the art—George Perez displays his masterful sense of visuals—his breakdowns definitely take a by-the-numbers story to the next level. However, it’s his drawing of the female form that sets him apart—all the way back to his days on New Teen Titans and his renditions of the buxom Starfire and Wonder Girl we knew he liked to draw the ladies.

Yet even with the buxom Power Girl he draws her and Wonder Woman without gratuitous cheesecake. Perez is the best example of a comics master storyteller. There are illustrators who have a limited number of tools in the artistic tool box and an even more limited skill set with those tools and they try to compensate for their artistic shortcomings by throwing in T&A shots—then there is Perez. Nuff said.

Birds of Prey #111

The Upshot from DC Comics: Oracle and the Calculator face off — albeit back-to-back — in a virtual war spawned in their COUNTDOWN encounters and setting the Birds of Prey up for big changes.

We were actually quite favorably impressed with this issue. Although we had seen the credits and knew it was NOT the Birds by writer Gail Simone and artist Nicola Scott that we knew and loved—but Tony Bedard’s story and Jason Orfalas’s visuals gave the reader a very good, very familiar feeling story.

We can’t immediately recall if Tony Bedard is the new, permanent Birds writer or if he’s a fill in. We also hope that Nicola Scott hasn’t moved on as Simone has but if so, this is a team we would like to see continue.

One of the few points of contention that we had with Simone’s BoP run was that she had built up the Calculator, a one-time, pre-CRISIS z-list villain into Oracle’s opposite number—information broker for the villains.

The whole Oracle vs. Calculator thing was really building into a great confrontation when One Year Later occurred and the Calculator storyline was dropped like a stone—not unlike many other promising storylines in other books following that clusterf**k known as Infinite Crisis.

We’re glad that Bedard found the occasion to revisit that story line, even if we are disappointed that it turned out to be a one-shot story. We think this could have major potential for much more…but given that DC no longer seemed interested in exploring the Oracle/Calculator plot line, we’re grateful just for this bit of confrontation and resolution.

The cat and mouse between “Sylvia”/Oracle and “Simon”/Calculator at the computer geek show we enjoyed muchly. We also enjoyed the symbolism of them cyber-fighting while physically just a few cubicles away from each other—so close yet so far away, not unlike many real-life work situations.

We have to admit we weren’t crazy about the ending with Calculator concluding that “Sylvia” wasn’t Oracle but just one of his Cyber-nemesis’ many agents. It makes him seem too obtuse for someone who could and should be every bit Oracle’s match.

But we can’t blame Bedard as there were few other options if he wanted to keep the story self-contained. It reminded us a lot of John Byrne’s run on Superman when in Issue 2 (1987) Lex Luthor’s people logically deduced that Clark Kent is Superman but Luthor couldn’t accept that someone so Godlike would consent to take “mortal” form—whereas he blamed his staff for failing to see what was glaringly obvious.

Great issue fellas. We hope you can stick around for awhile.

Checkmate #19

The Upshot from DC Comics: "Fall of the Wall" Part 2! The White Queen turns to bare-knuckle blackmail to hang onto her job — and Amanda Waller knows everyone's secrets!

All of writer Greg Rucka’s strengths are on display with this issue. While there is some action occurring within these pages, the real battle occurs between the various characters.

Case in point: The virtual cross-examination between Black Queen and the United States’ UN Ambassador (who is allied to White Queen Amanda Waller) as savages her with the bare facts by noting she has lost two Knights—one killed in action, one downed by a sniper’s bullet (thanks to Deadshot, of Waller’s Suicide Squad).

But the real victory goes to Waller when she pulls out her secret intelligence sash with photographic proof of both an illegal relationship between Black Queen and Black King/Mr. Terrific, as well as the existence of Martian Manhunter impersonating a key Checkmate operative.

Why is Amanda Waller trying to consolidate power to take over Checkmate? Well because she’s Amanda Waller…but also because she believes that Checkmate is, or should remain a U.S. agency, not an intelligence arm of the United Nations.

But moreover, Checkmate is part of her plan to gather up the planet’s super villains and send them away via a dimensional portal to another planet (hence the lead up to the upcoming Salvation Run).

Yet we continue to have problems with Greg Rucka’s take on Amanda Waller. The Waller we see here is utterly ruthless without a hint of a moral compass (however skewed) that her creators John Ostrander and Kim Yale instilled in her.

We can accept that Waller has become more ruthless over the years and that perhaps she has lost her way but Rucka’s rendition of the character would make it seem that she NEVER possessed any of the qualities that Ostrander and Yale provided her in the pages of Suicide Squad.

That notwithstanding, we’re getting tired of watching Waller run circles around everyone. She needs a formidable opponent who is capable of beating her at her own game and to prove once and for all that no matter how strong you are, there’s always somebody stronger.

Justice League of America #14

Quote of the Week: “And in the irritating department, a face full of kryptonite has to rank right up there with a cavity search from airport security. ….Not that a rousing cavity search between loved ones can’t be a good time….” The Joker to fellow Injustice League member Lex Luthor.

The Upshot from DC Comics: The League loses a member as writer Dwayne McDuffie turns up the heat in the "Injustice League" story arc! A party has turned very deadly for the World's Greatest Heroes when they find themselves prisoners of the Injustice League!

The quote of the week not withstanding, we were more than a little under whelmed by this issue. While new writer Dwayne McDuffie did manage provide readers some action—something sorely lacking during Brad Metzler’s year-long run, half the issue had Lex Luthor showing Superman and the readers what we already knew—he’s an evil dude.

The second half had remaining Justice League members Superman and Black Lightning flying toward and then blundering into a trap set by the Injustice League.

McDuffie’s witty banter and clever scripting aside, we were expecting a lot more than what he’s showing us so far. So far McDuffie’s Unlimited story arc has been a pretty lackluster, by the numbers league divided and conquered story. Heck, McDuffie told more compelling league stories on Cartoon Network’s Justice League Unlimited.

A word about the art—regular JLA art team Ed Benes and Sandra Hope return after a one-issue break. Frankly, we were disappointed. For all of the flaws of the fill-in art team last issue, at least they didn’t bombard us with the gratuitous T&A splash pages such as in this issue, to say nothing of all of the posing between hero and villain alike.

Come on Dwayne…we’re really pulling for you to succeed but you simply have to produce better than this.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counters
Online Universities