Friday, October 19, 2007

OML for September, Part 1

I just finished my comments on August comics, and here comes September. I've vowed only comment on those comics that made an impression on me, for good or bad, and to reduce my commentary when I do write. We'll see how that works out.

Category A
Jungle Girl #0
Being a well-adjusted, heterosexual male, I enjoy Frank Cho's art. His writing on the other hand . . . well, I like his writing on Liberty Meadows. I was very disappointed with his writing of the Sheena mini-series from a couple of years ago, though the art was beautiful, so I didn't have much hope for this to be any better, but since it was only a quarter, I wouldn't be out much. Maybe because all Cho did was supply the cover and the plot, but even as a short introductory piece, Jungle Girl #0 was heads and tails better than his Sheena. The story by Doug Murray, the same person who wrote The 'Nam for Marvel, held my interest and the art by Adriano Batista is that clean-line style that I think is best suited superhero and superhero-like comics. I had never come across Batista's art before, but now any book to which he is attached I'll consider buying. I've already bought #1 off the stand and am adding this to my DCBS order.

JSA Classified # 30
Take Doug Murray's and Adriano Batista's work on Jungle Girl, invert it, and you'll get the thick, gloppy mess writer Arvid Nelson and artist Alex Sanchez have produced for the second part of the current Mr. Terrific-centric story. This is terrible in so many ways that I don't even know where to begin. No, that's wrong. I can begin with this, since it shows the trifecta of bad editing, art, and writing:

The first panel is confusing with the poor placement of balloons. Read the first balloon on the left, its speaker not really defined by the balloon's arrow, then move on to Mr. Terrific's. Because Terrific's balloon comes second, it appears that he is responding to the first speaker and that that speaker is Jay Garrick. That then, by the rules of comic reading espoused by Scott McCloud, makes Jay the blobby lug in the next panel where he makes a rather Marvel-esque comment, the bigotry of which is not only out of character for Jay Garrick, one of the traditional nice guys in the DCU, but for any of DC's WWII/Earth-2 heroes who have consistently emphasized that World War II was, among other things, a battle against prejudice.

Now, in fairness, in the panel prior to the first one shown here, Jay is speaking, but I didn't understand that to be the case until I was working with the image. When I first read the comic, I thought blobby lug was Jay and the way the balloons are placed there really isn't anyway reason not to make that assumption. The reason I wanted to post this image in the first place was to show the totally out-of-character comment the blobby lug makes. The comment is more fitting coming from a Marvel character like Magneto. DC's WWII/Earth-2 heroes have never been shown that they consider themselves any different then non-superheroes, yet here blobby lug, who represents Ted Grant, I believe, uses "normals" in the pejorative in what you know is the same disparaging tone some people use when they call a monthly comic book "floppy" or "pamphlet." Character development comes from a consistent characterization, not from a characterization bit dropped in pointlessly.

Infinity, Inc. #1
Not my Infinity, Inc., but the team I'm familiar with hasn't been that team since Crisis on Infinite Earth changed the rules. The first issue wasn't bad, but nothing spectacular either, especially after Peter Milligan's great writing on X-Statix. I've heard at least one person call Max Fiumara's art more fitting for a Vertigo title and I can see what they mean. It is a little dark, but that be more a factor of the coloring. To be honest, in my opinion, the art isn't up to the level of craftsmanship readers expect in a Vertigo title. Still, I'll give it a couple of issues to improve.

Lucha Libre #1
This is not the comic I thought it was going to be and I'm not sure if I liked it or not. It is actually an anthology with stories based around the archetypical character of the Mexican wrestler. I thought the lead story, featuring The Luchadores Five, was going to be the whole book when I ordered it, so I am glad to write that I did enjoy that feature. In concept, it reminds me of the 'Mazing Man series from DC twenty or so years ago, in that the five characters are superheroes, continually in costume, though for the Five "costume" means wearing masks of the type Mexican wrestlers wear and street clothers. None of the Five appear to have access to money like 'Maze did to fund their campaign against crime and injustice; those who have cars aren't driving this year's model and of the homes we've seen, none give the impression of lower middle class. I'm really indifferent to the rest of the comic, and probably would have like Lucha Libre more had it featured just The Luchadores Five and lowered the cost of the comic. Still, being published as a bi-monthly makes the cost more absorable, so I guess I'll stay with this until the lead story ends, if nothing else.

Daredevil #100
Nightwing #136
The art was slightly better than last issue, but not by much. I never noticed Jamal Igle like I should have, but after he was taken off of this comic, I sure notice his absence. Combine that with a lackluster Wolfman story, though you'd think that since he'll soon be leaving Nightwing to write a new Vigilante comic, he'd make the new Vigilante, introduced last issue, more interesting. He doesn't and I'm just biding my time until I no longer receive my pre-ordered issues.

Star Trek: Year Four #2
This is really a rather pedestrian title. Maybe David Tischman is the world's biggest original Star Trek fan, but from the last two issues, I'm not getting that feeling. I guess Tischman deserves some credit for staying within the scope of the stories told on the original, but I'd rather the stories had a little more of the second season flair, rather than the drabness of alien-civilization-as-allegory stories of any season TNG presented here so far. A far greater disappointment to me is Steve Conley's art. I love his Astounding Space Thrills, but where his more cartoony style is perfect for that book, one that he also writes, it just seems a little "off" for Star Trek. Mind you, I'd rather see his style of art than any number of Image-influenced artists working today on any number of comics from Nightwing to New Avengers, but he really doesn't help sell the illusion that the stories are "actual" fourth season episodes. Maybe Conley should start writing ST: Y4 and an artist with a slightly more realistic style be brought in.

Dynamo 5 #7
Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Parallax #1

The Flash #232
I'm sorry, but Danial Acuna's art is not appropriate for conveying speed, at least to me. The way he substitutes color for actual line work might impress some, but it does nothing for me, Yeah, yeah, I know that I supposed to embrace his work because he is bringing a more European style to mainstream comics, but, you know what, there's a reason I'm not buying European comics and pretending to like them. I'm not in high school and I don't have to do things or say I like things because I think that'll make the cool kids like me. If you like Acuna, God bless you, but it isn't for me. Another title I'm giving a few more issues, at least until the alien invasion story ends.

The Immortal Iron Fist #9
The Immortal Iron Fist Annual #1
I need to apologize. Iron Fist really is a good comic book and I only keeping putting it at the top of pile because each month I assume it is going to be a "reimagining" of the character for the more cool modern fan. Then each month I read it and I am impressed with the story and art. It was the Iron Fist Annual, though, that helped convince me that Iron Fist deserves to be more toward the bottom of the pile. I'm a sucker for stories set in the thirties and a sucker for lineage heroes, ala the Phantom, and the annual had everything. Even Howard Chaykin's art was more controlled than I'd seen it in a while. Iron Fist is moving toward the bottom next month.

Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters #6
So, it ends. Every month or so as new issues came out, I read this and it felt I was reading Jack Kirby. Not the Kirby overflowing with ideas, but the Kirby who squirted out concepts for Topps Comics toward the end of his life. Galactic Bounty Hunters might have been better even if late-in-life Jack Kirby wrote and drew it, but having four credited writers and three credited artists (one of whom is Kirby) didn't really make it better. My suggestion is that Lisa Kirby, Jack's daughter and one of the credited writers, turn the whole thing over to Karl Kesel, credited for art, but he had received writing credit on other issues, have him bring in Tom Grummett on art, and let them go to town. With those two, I'd buy the next mini-series, if such is solicited, but without at least Kesel writing, I don't think so.