Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Haul From 11/14/07

Here are reviews of some of my picks from this past Wednesday:


All-Star Superman#9:

I admit I was a little confused and disappointed at the start of this issue that the whole Bizarro cliffhanger was apparently solved off-panel, but I still enjoyed this story. It had the feel of one of those late 60's-early 70's "done in one" Superman stories: introduce the issue's premise and unique characters, give Supes a dilemma, give us a whole "things aren't what they seem" scenario, add some Daily Planet/Galaxy supporting character interplay, then have Supes come in to explain everything and solve the problem. Quitely gave Bar-El's and Lilo's looks an appropriate Swan-era campiness, but didn't make them too silly-looking.

Booster Gold#4:

When I first read the concept for this series, I had visions of the book being a real, well, fustercluck. Now, four issues in and, I have to say, I'm glad to be wrong. This book is a blast, and this issue was perhaps the best so far, despite my lack of familiarity with both Time Masters and Booster's 80's book (sorry, Mr. Jurgens). I had no idea of the history of either of the villains, but to the creators' credit, it was still fun to watch them in conflict with our heroes. While this story would have been butchered in the hands of a less diligent writer (*cough*Judd Winick*cough*), Johns (along with cowriter Katz) is clearly channeling his inner Mark Waid here. Having the nigh-perfect art of Booster-creator Dan Jurgens and inker Norm Rapmond doesn't exactly hurt either. One question: If Booster succeeds in his mission, will all my Birds of Prey comics suddenly disappear?


Attention, Peter Tomasi: I have no preconceived notions of how good or bad your Nightwing run will be, but I have one suggestion that will help you with the character considerably: Read this issue. Over and over and over again. This is how Nightwing should be portrayed. Fabian Nicieza nails it perfectly, making Dick uber-competent but still human and relatable, which has been a tough balance for past writers to strike. Even when he gets played, it's in a way that's in character. Since I am not picking up the whole Ra's crossover, I lost some interest when Nightwing wasn't in the scenes, but Don Kramer's art in those scenes kept me involved. Kramer overall was a nice fit, with the exception of his straying into Jim Balent territory with the design of Talia's assassins. And I loved the little touches like NW copping the JLA teleportation code and the fart-smelling knockout gas. Overall, the best Nightwing issue in a while, even better than Marv's run.


While I haven't followed Annihilation or Annihilation: Conquest very closely, I have been enjoying the latest Nova space arc very much. This issue is a bit of a sidetrack from that arc and also features a rookie fill-in artist. All the makings of a "filler" issue. Except it's anything but. The art by newcomer Wellington Alves compares favorably with that of regular artists Sean Chen and Brian Denham, possessing a Stuart Immomen feel and maintaining the spooky atmosphere required for the story. And the story, which places Nova and Worldmind at the end of space exploring inside the head of a decapitated Celestial(??), is compelling in a kind of interstellar John Carpenter way.

Wonder Woman#14:

As one of the most anticipated comics of this last year, this issue is kind of the comic equivalent of the debut album by the Strokes, because the expectations going in were so great that disappointment is bound to occur when you see the finished product no matter what , and yet, upon a second perusal, you realize that product is excellent in its own right. Such was the case with Simone's debut on Wonder Woman. It's always wonderful, especially with a writer's debut issue, to witness that special scene that shows that the writer really gets the character, and Diana's fight and reconciliation with the gorillas was such a scene. Plus, I loved the "flinging incident" reference. I also liked that Nemesis seems to have his IQ back under Gail, and we get to see Etta reintroduced. All in all, a promising new start for a book that has several false ones.

World War Hulk#5:

Although parts of this were hard to follow, it was still a strong ending to the series. I knew there had to be some kind of twist to at least partially redeem Stark & Co., and I was right. As someone who has followed the art of John Romita Jr. since his career started, I noticed he has had different muses over the years. At the beginning, it seemed to be John Sr., while his 90's work seemed to take some cues from Frank Miller. Here, he seems to have a different and very appropriate inspiration: Walt Simonson. He captured the power of the Hulk-Sentry battle, right down to the wrap-up with Bruce Banner. Pak does a great job nailing the essence of Banner/Hulk's character and motivations here.

And now for one I didn't pick up:

Titans East Special#1:

As I've written before, Judd Winick's name on a front cover is generally synonymous with "don't buy me" as far as I'm concerned, but I skimmed this issue. The cover featured the blurb "Who Will Die?". Maybe the blurb should've read "WHAT Will Die?" The answer apparently was "my appreciation of Ian Churchill's art." Putting a shameless boob shot on Page One of what's supposed to be a teen book will have that effect. Also, since when does Cyborg let a stalker and attempted rapist on the team? If it were Luthor recruiting for the Injustice Society I could see it, but this is Cyborg recruiting for a team of teenaged heroes here. Then again, Winick is the same guy who retconned Black Lightning a daughter. Plus, he's one of those annoying writers who sees second- and third-tier characters as his own personal cannon fodder. Rule Number One, Judd: Every character is someone's favorite!


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