Thursday, October 27, 2005

New comics 10/26/05

Pretty good crop this week, starting with Captain America #11 (written by Ed Brubaker, art by Steve Epting). However, before we get started in earnest, let me just say a few words about Marvel's new ad-saturation policy:

It stinks. (Stinks!)

The first ad in Cap #11 is on page 2, and it's a double-page Honda Civic spread. I know superhero comics would love to be taken as seriously as Newsweek, but having the same ad layout isn't exactly the right way to start. Remember the good old days when pages 2 and 3 could be used for a spectacular action scene, not a sensible sedan?

There are 48 pages between the covers of Cap #11, and 24 of them are ads. (Two pages are devoted to an ad for Dan Slott's new Thing series, Marvel's circulation statement, and the letters page.) Moreover, including the Civic ad, there are three double-page spreads. There are no two-page spreads of artwork anywhere in the issue. In fact, there's not a page of story in this issue that isn't right next to an ad. Is this Marvel's way of getting me to wait for the trade -- not just for the higher price point, but also so it doesn't have to fool with juggling pages to avoid those troublesome two-page spreads? It's a good thing the story works within these hideous restrictions.

And work it does, relating the history of the Winter Soldier between bookends showing General Lukin's and Cap's reactions to his file. I'm not going to say much more, except that Brubaker and Epting have convinced me they'll do right by this character, whatever his fate. It was worth slogging through all the commerce.

By contrast, Defenders #4 (written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, art by Kevin Maguire and Joe Rubenstein) opens with six straight pages of story before the first ad, and it has two double-page spreads. (Then again, it only has 10 pages of ads. Clearly Marvel hates America, or at least its musclebound avatar.) Reading the issue, with its twisted versions of Marvel heroes, you'd think I'd be reminded of the evil Super Buddies from G/DM/M's "I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League," and you'd be right. Regardless, for the anti-team book, it's doing very well, and I'm anticipating the conclusion.

Speaking of anticipating the conclusion, Legion of Super-Heroes #11 (written by Mark Waid, pencilled by Barry Kitson, inked by Mick Gray) finds our heroes split up and trying to regroup after the devastation of last issue. It was good enough to hold my attention for another month, but beyond that I'll have to give the series more thought. This goes into the omnibus-review pile.

JLA Classified #13 (written by Warren Ellis, drawn by Butch Guice) sends the League to Hell, where they fight demons to a standstill, or some other ambiguous result. Meh.

Flash #227 (written by Joey Cavalieri, pencilled by Val Semeiks, inked by Livesay) starts up a new story arc involving a dark alternate future (oh boy) and the new church Wally's in-laws are attending. It's better than it sounds, although I don't know how well Livesay's inks go with Semeiks' pencils. Everything seems just a little ... off. Anyway, I"m sure the alt-future is tied to the church somehow, and it's not a bad beginning.

Adventures of Superman #645 (plotted by Greg Rucka, scripted by Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir, pencilled by Karl Kerschl and Renato Guedes, inked by Wayne Faucher and Guedes) takes place just before Infinite Crisis #1, so there's OMACs a-plenty and lots of Wonder Woman neck-snapping footage. Parasite's with (a) Luthor, Lois is back in Umec looking for her shooter, and Superman learns more clues about Ruin. Good stuff, much like Rucka winding up his Wonder Woman storylines to get them out of InfC's way. The art is also uniformly good, although I wonder -- with so many creators working on this book, the burden seems to be on DC to say the editors didn't change at least half of it.

JLA #121 (written by Bob Harras, pencilled by Tom Derenick, inked by Dan Green) was decent. Turns out I don't really miss the "Magnificent Seven" JLA as long as the lineup contains stalwarts like Green Arrow, Black Canary, Green Lantern, and Aquaman. After an interlude with the Key, the not-the-JLA decides to visit Nightwing and enlist him in case Batman goes really nuts. The issue comes together in ways which are not surprising, but after the past few months' chaos that's not so bad. The art was better this issue too. In terms of angsty JLA breakups, I'd rate this as only slightly more painful than the post-"Rock Of Ages" reorganization.

Finally, I had to laugh upon seeing the cover to the week's best book, Mike Allred's issue of Solo (#7). First DC nixed his Adam West cover, and the Mr. Miracle cover which replaced it (now on the inside front cover) has itself given way to Wonder Girl. The issue is a self-proclaimed "love letter" to DC books of the '60s and '70s, especially Teen Titans, Doom Patrol, and Batman. In fact, I had thought the original Batman cover was 86'ed by DC because they have issues (including legal issues) with the Adam West TV show, but the main story is, in effect, a deconstructed episode of that show, including the actors, sets, and Batmobile.

Cynics will laugh bitterly at the none-too-subtle message of that story, a devastating critique of ... well, everything DC's been doing with its main line of superhero books for the past 18 months. Some may well say that this is DC's sop to its aging fanbase (as opposed to the young whippersnappers who like the gritty), and the exception that proves the rule. However, as an eternal optimist when it comes to these kinds of things, I'd like to think "Batman A-Go-Go" shows that DC is comfortable with even the most diametrically opposed symbol of its current editorial tone. Not that it's perfect, but its heart is in the right place.

The other stories are more superficial, but again, I could tell Allred just wanted to cram as many classic DC characters into his Solo issue as he could. This becomes literal by the end of the last story, which itself is a bit of wish fulfillment. Still, Allred is a great cartoonist, and the focus is on him, not literary merit. Like I said with the Darwyn Cooke Solo a few months back, buy this book.

1 comment:

iamza said...

Wonder if the repetitive reference to "Wonder Woman breaks Max Lord's neck, footage at nine!" is Rucka's attempt to evoke the feeling that Diana's public fall from grace have sent shock waves through the DCU that still haven't quite settled, or if it's purely to provide a continuity tie for all the DC books...

Or both.

Or neither. :-)