R.I.P. Alex Toth. If nothing else, he played a big part in getting so many of us to read superheroes through his work on the "Super Friends" shows. Of course, he was also a fantastic comics artist with a dynamic style.
The 50 Best DC Characters post is done over at The Great Curve, so please check it out. There has been some controversy already, which I accept, but I am pretty proud of the writing and the pictures nonetheless. Equal parts labor and love, I would say.
A few weeks ago, DC announced a Terra-themed Teen Titans paperback out for the fall, so the pressure's on for me to get through "The Judas Contract" before then -- hence, the "Runaways" post below. I also intend to finish the Star Trek series, especially after seeing Patrick Stewart in the new X-Men on Friday night.
Speaking of which, I saw it with our neighbors and their kids (the Best Wife Ever is out of town this weekend), and afterwards the youngest boy wailed, "That was the dumbest movie! Just a buncha naked women and kissin' and making out!" The children are our future, Brett Ratner! For shame. For shame.
The cover of 52 #3 (written by the Gang of Four, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencils by Joe Bennett, inks by Ruy Jose) advertises Lex Luthor, but the inside's more about Black Adam and his new "pre-emptive" approach to governing. I like Black Adam more as a villain, so I hope this plot takes him further down that path. Still, it produces a couple of very grisly moments (one involving a "SPLORCH"), which I thought were behind us. More wackiness with Booster and Skeets, Luthor employs a strategy last seen when Waid (appropriately enough) guest-wrote an issue of Action about nine years ago, and Steel is in a couple of scenes too. Part 2 of Dan Jurgens and Art Thibert's History of DC focuses on Earth-1 and Earth-2, confusing me even more about whether a post-Crisis Crisis ever happened. The main story's still good, though.
One question about Supergirl and the Legion #18 (written by Mark Waid, pencilled by Barry Kitson and Adam DeKraker, inked by Mick Gray and Drew Geraci): how many people did Waid expect would get the "Rol Purtha" joke at the end? Do that many of us have D&D backgrounds? Good issue overall. Supergirl is a fun addition to the team, maybe because she has Homer Simpson moments where she doesn't take the 31st Century that seriously. The plot is a nice mix of robot fighting (the fighting of robots, that is) and interplanetary incidents fueled by Brainiac 5, and DeKraker is starting to mesh well with Kitson's layouts.
I liked Checkmate #2 (written by Greg Rucka, drawn by Jesus Saiz) probably more than #1. This is an intermediate issue which advances the plot without feeling decompressed. Much of it is character moments involving Sasha Bordeaux, so it feels more focused than #1, and the political discussions made me feel kinda smart, for whatever that's worth. The art seemed better this issue too -- there was some Kevin Maguire in Saiz's faces, I thought -- and I could tell people apart more easily.
I want to like Hawkgirl #52 (written by Walter Simonson, drawn by Howard Chaykin), and I have a feeling that Simonson and Chaykin are going somewhere with these dream sequences, but right now it feels like they're turning Kendra into a combination of Nancy Drew and Mary Tyler Moore. This issue concerns a blackmailed patron of Kendra's museum and features a bewildering cameo by Bruce Wayne, who shows up for a couple of panels and then disappears. I know that's his schtick, but usually writers don't play the Bat-card so subtly. Maybe next issue. Anyway, what can I say against Chaykin art? (Although it is pretty cold, apparently, in St. Roch these days.) The writing's bringing down this series.
Green Lantern #11 (written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Ivan Reis, inked by Oglair Albert) was fun. Hal goes to Oa to get permission from the Guardians to track down the ex-GLs who want him dead. Hal and Guy get into a bar fight with current GLs who want Hal dead. Hal and Guy fight a planet full of Manhunters, only to encounter a formerly-annoying Superman villain at the cliffhanger. I am looking forward to next issue, because I am going to enjoy Hal and Guy's beatdown of this particular character.
Secret Six #1 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti) picks up well from Villains United. Our intrepid band of anti-heroes break one of their own out of North Korea, and then take care of personal business before being stalked by the remnants of the Secret Society. Walker and Palmiotti bring a slightly different style to the art -- more like Tim Sale in spots, although the figures have the weight of a Paul Pelletier. I was going to wait for the paperback of this, but I'm glad I didn't.
Batman #653 (written by James Robinson, pencilled by Don Kramer, inked by Wayne Faucher) is a Two-Face spotlight detailing his selection by Batman to be Gotham's vigilante for oh, about a year. I like this storyline, but I have to say, in the longer view this appears to be yet another Bat-plan gone horribly wrong, and I hope Robinson shows us the Bat-Backup (the Question, for instance) in the next couple of issues. The issue itself is fairly decent, and concludes in a pretty gruesome fashion that makes up for its being otherwise predictable.
Finally, I was pretty disappointed in Fantastic Four: A Death In The Family (written by Karl Kesel, pencilled by Lee Weeks, inked by Robert Campanella and Tom Palmer). I know not to trust Marvel's hype machine, but in hindsight it was really trying to sell a story which might have otherwise only been fit for a Secret Files-type special. Oh, wait, there are Who's W-- I mean, OHOTMU pages in the back! It is a Secret Files-type special! Anyway, there's also a Franklin Richards backup by Chris Eliopolous and Marc Sumerak, and a reprint of John Byrne's FF #245, featuring the adult Franklin. An odd mix of stories that feel crammed together under the pretense of a Big Event. Silly Marvel -- we know what the events look like by now!