Saturday, September 15, 2007

OML Comments for August, Part 2

Continuing with the comic books I received in my DCBS shipment for August:

Category C (cont.)
Captain America #29
There probably isn't a better way to do a Captain America comic book in the 21st. A shame it took killing Cap to get there, but I know--we all know--he's coming back, assassin's bullet or not. The shame is that when that happens, Bucky will probably die for real. Anyway, I love the Epting/Perkins art: clear without being simplistic and with no obvious reliance, to me, at least, upon computer tricks. Brubaker's story is good, too, in its way hearkening back to the mainstream style of the 80s, when stories were presented with some maturity but not so mature as to be dull for a twelve year old.

Super-Villain Team-Up Modok's 11 #2
How could I not have bought this comic book? I loved the Super-Villain Team-Up concept in the seventies and just the sound of "Modok's 11" made me want to buy it. The first issue was more of a comedy, like I'd assumed the comic was going to be, and the humorous moments continued into this issue. However, the last page hints at a possible sinister turn for the story that doesn't feel like a 180-degree turn from what had happened previously. Besides, the title has "Super-Villain" in it, so some bad crap has to go down.

Maintenance #4
If you aren't reading this, you should be reading this. The lead characters are two two guys who work maintenance at a scientific institute and comedy ensues. In this issue, the two are blackmailed into cleaning up a problem one of the scientists flushed down the toilet to show it who was boss, said cleaning up requiring them to be shrunk and flushed down the toilet after it. Trust me, it is a better story than I am describing.

Birds of Prey #109
Tony Bedard replaces Gail Simone with better than expected results. Mind you, Bedard still has an up-hill battle coming after Simone, especially with her farewell to the title, but I thought the characters sounded right. I especially liked Barda getting into Pokemon because it is "a warrior's game." My own complaint is that the cover is a red herring as far as I'm concerned is Barbara and Dinah's conversation regarding the latter's possible marriage. The conversation was far more serious than I thought it was going to be and, considering that the Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special was solicited by the time this comic was being written, the result was a foregone conclusion. Still, a nice set-up for Bedard's run.

The Order #2
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #33
I know that now that Mark Waid has left this title, Supergirl probably isn't long for it, which is a shame since Waid's Supergirl has been the only version I've liked since the (re-)introduction of Kara Zor-El. However, Tony Bedard (again) does a fine job with the writing and I don't even think that I'm not reading a Waid story. Still, Jim Shooter is returning and I have to admit that that does kind of excite me.

Supernatural Law: Wolff & Byrd: The Movie
If only actually being a lawyer was this much fun.

Omega Flight #5
I never read any permutation of Alpha Flight, so I can't really tell you why I bought this mini-series, but I'm glad I did. This was some of the best writing I've ever read from Michael Oeming, but the real star was Scott Kollins art. I was never a fan after seeing his work previously, but I hope that he brings whatever he is doing differently with him to DC.

Countdown to Adventure #1
First, I love the title, calling back to a 1950's science fiction title from DC. It also reminds me, for reason, of the opening narration from The Cisco Kid television show, but that neither here nor there. I'm interested in the story, so far, though I thought I'd read an Adam-Strange-is-replaced-by-another-as-the-hero-of-Rann story in the past, but I could be wrong. The only thing that didn't feel right was Ellen's attitude toward Kory. She always seemed trusting of Buddy and, maybe more importantly, confident about herself so that having an impossibly beautiful, golden-skinned, solid-green-eyed princess from space staying at her home shouldn't turn her into a stereotype of mistrust and jealousy. As for the Forerunner back-up story: eh. I'm not yet sure why Forerunner is so important that she needs her own story, but I'll give DC a chance that, at least in their eyes, she is important enough to spend pages on her character/story. Personally, I'd have liked a back-up akin to the Dr. Thirteen stories that appeared in Tales of the Unexpected last year, stories that fit a "countdown to adventure" theme featuring characters like Space Ranger, Tommy Tomorrow, or Space Cabbie (a personal favorite).

Nova #5
Part of the fun of comic books for me is the nostalgia. I'm not one of those people who demand that when a character returns to print it be a repeat of the previous incarnation, e.g., Erik Larsen's abortive Nova comic from 1999, but I don't want the characters so far removed that the characters and concept little resemble the original, e.g., Jeph Loeb's terrible Challengers of the Unknown mini-series. This Nova comic, however, does it right. This is still Richard Rider, and his Nova lived through his previous adventures, and while this is a different take on the character, I don't think it alienates old fans while welcoming new ones.

Ex Machina Masquerade Special
I like Ex Machina and as I expected, I like this comic. We get more of back story on Mitchell Hundred, this time right after the accident that allowed him to be the Great Machine. In some ways, I enjoy the jigsaw piecing of Hundred's story, it works as well here as it did for Gaiman when he related Morpheus's story in Sandman, but I wonder if such specials like this weren't planned from the beginning because Tony Harris can't keep a monthly schedule.

Avengers: The Initiative #5
This should be the Avengers title I like the best because it is the one not written by Bendis, but I still haven't warmed to it. I hope that Dan Slott hasn't lost the magic that made his writing of She-Hulk and The Thing such fun books. On the other hand, the Marvel Universe isn't necessarily a place for those kind of stories. Let me rephrase that: The MU could allow for those kind of stories, even after Civil War, but I think editorial is second guessing the fans and making everything a little more serious because editorial things that is what the majority of fans expect. Maybe it is, but I hope Ben Grimm will be able to organize poker parties again like he did pre-Civil War. Nothing much really happens, this was a "World War Hulk" tie-in, though we did get some more on Trauma. The art, like so much of Marvel's output these days, had too much computer finishing, but I found it appealing under the digital shine. There were places that Stefano Caselli's work looked like Tom Grummett's art, never a bad thing. Speaking of, is Tom Grummett drawing anything for Marvel these days or was that Baron Zemo mini-series earlier this year his swan song?

Action Comics #853
First off, a terrible cover:

While I give credit to the editor for 1) letting the artist of the comic draw the cover, and 2) using word balloons, had the cover not been this poorly designed said balloons would not have been necessary. When I think of all the covers from the Mort Weisinger era that had a similar theme, ones that would allow a potential buyer to see the character who can beat a villain Superman cannot, I shake my head at this pitiful thing.

Other than that though, I liked this comic, and I've been enjoying the transformations of Jimmy Olsen here and in Countdown. While I would like to see such changes a more common occurrence, that DC is letting us see Werewolf Jimmy, Turtleboy Jimmy, or Elastic Lad in the post-modern, we're-too-cool-to-want-to-see-super-heroes-be-treated-silly attitude that too many writers, editors, and fans exude, should be appreciated. Here's hoping the DCU after Final Crisis continues to acknowledge, appreciate, and display all the goofy, fun that made comic books fun once upon a time.