Weekly Comic Review for 4/9/08

Booster Gold #8

W: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz

A: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund

I’ve liked the new Booster Gold series from the first issue.  I thought it was a great concept: having a character traipse his way through the history of the DC Universe, “putting right what once went wrong.”  A perfect example of this was the earlier issues where Booster had a hand in making sure that Hal Jordan was chosen as the first Green Lantern, or where he had to save the ancestor of Jonathon Kent.  There was a truly twisted issue where Booster’s “boss”, Rip Hunter, had him try to save Barbara Gordon from getting shot by the Joker.  But, since certain things are meant to be, no matter how many times Booster tried to save her, Barbara still got shot.  Over and over.

Recent issues have dealt with Booster finally getting a chance to save Blue Beetle from getting murdered by Max Lord.  I’m happy that Ted is back and he and Booster are teaming up again.  Theirs is one of the greatest friendships in comics.  Plus, the premise of the series allows Blue Beetle to be alive again without negating the last two years of stories.

The only problem I’m having with this current storyline is the obvious and cliched use of the “evil, dystopian present.”  Let’s be fair, once it was used in Back to the Future II, it’s no longer clever (and I liked Back to the Future II).  Upon returning to the present, Booster and Beetle learn that Max Lord and his O.M.A.C.s have somehow managed to conquer the world.  They’ve eradicated most of the metahumans and forced others into hiding.  And, if that wasn’t bad enough, Max Lord has Superman working for him.  Ooooooo.  You know it’s an evil present when Superman is working for the bad guys–even if he’s just a victim of Max Lord’s mind-whammy powers.  Sure, it was fun to see Green Arrow and Hawkman trying to stop their bickering long enough to lead of resistance of third-tier characters.  But, for the most part, we’ve seen this kind of thing about a hundred times before.

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B.P.R.D.: 1946 #4

W: Mike Mignola & Joshua Dysart

A: Paul Azaceta

The bulk of this issue provides background on the final days of the Nazi’s ill-conceived Vampir Sturm project.  Even though the vampire-hybrids were considered too dangerous for normal service–and immediately placed into cryogenic suspension–Hitler decided that they would be the perfect “occult A-bomb” in the event that the tide of war turned against him.  If the Allies managed to defeat the Nazis, upon retreating from Berlin, they would release the Vampir Sturm subjects into the city, unleashing these horrors upon the Earth.  This is a delightfully evil thing for Hitler to propose, and it works well.  What the Fuhrer didn’t count on was the man in charge of the project developing a conscience at the last minute and sealing the vampsicles away rather than unleashing them.

Of course, none of this explains why one hundred of the cryo-tanks have gone missing.  Bruttenholm, Vavara, the U.S. G.I.s, and the Red Army track down the missing tanks to a vault beneath a government building in Berlin.  Their search leads them to one of the greatest characters Mignola ever created–Von Klempt.  Nothing but an insane Nazi head in a jar, Von Klempt embodies Mignola’s gloriously twisted concept of Nazi steampunk science.  Oh, and he has steam-borg ape goons called kreigaffen.  If there’s one thing that embodies a Mike Mignola story, it’s a Nazi gorilla.

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Countdown to Final Crisis 3

W: Paul Dini & Sean McKeever

A: Freddie Williams, II

This issue of Countdown had two things going for it: (1) the prominent role of Darkseid and (2) the art by Freddie Williams.

Darkseid is ready to harvest the powers that he’s been hiding in Jimmy Olsen for the last year or so.  This, of course, leads to an all-out brawl between Darkseid and Superman.  I’ve always liked watching these two go at it.  Since Darkseid’s such a total bad-ass, Supes can really let loose on him–I mean, when was the last time you saw Clark blast someone in the face with his heat vision?  The clash of these titans benefits from Williams’ clean and stylized art.  Williams makes these guys so huge that you can almost feel the earth shake whenever one of them gets bodyslammed.

The one big downside of this issue (and the last few issues of Countdown) is the sudden re-evilization of Mary Marvel.  We had our sweet, little Mary back for a while and all was good.  Then, the Big D shows up and offers Mary her evil power again and, in about a second and a half, she accepts.  I just don’t get it.  I hate it.  But, if I understood it, I’d be able to accept it through the hatred.  It’s a shame, really.

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Gen13 #19

W: Simon Oliver

A: Carlo Barberi

I have to admit, I’m torn.  I’ve always liked the Gen13 kids.  For the most part, they were pretty good characters (even if some of them were tragically “Nineties”), and most of them had fairly straightforward powers–okay, maybe not Grunge, but the others.  Then it was announced that Gen13 would be rebooted under the guiding hand of Gail Simone.  A fairly good premise and an awesome writer.  What could be better?

Simone crafted a pretty cool origin for the “new and improved” Gen13.  She had the characters down pat.  She even made numerous tongue-in-cheek references to the cheesecake factor of the original series.

Then, the writing chores were handed off to Simon Oliver.  Oliver crafted a story involving a Gen vs. Gen Real World/Survivor-style reality show that works for two reasons: (1) it ties into the premise that Simone began the series with, that the subjects of the Gen program were being used in creepy-ass internet snuff porn, and (2) it reflects the sad fact that America is pathetically obsessed with Reality TV.  So, I don’t think that Oliver is doing a bad job.  It’s just not what I want from a comic book.  I’m sort of over the shadowy conspiracy pulling the strings kind of stories.  There’s enough of that in the real world.  I want to see the Gen13 kids wandering around and having wacky adventures, fighting super-villains or aliens or demons.  Maybe they could time travel.  Okay, okay…I know, I want Gen13 to be Runaways.

So, no offense to Simon Oliver (who is doing a good job), but if Gen13 doesn’t become more super-hero-y, I might have to call it a day.

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Green Lantern Corps. #23

W: Peter J. Tomasi

A: Patrick Gleason

The aftermath of the Sinestro War continues.  The Guardians are still all hell-bent on tracking down and collecting as many of the Yellow Rings as possible.  To that end, they send a squad of Lanterns, led by Kyle and Guy, into the forbidden Vega System.  The fact that those little blue bastards are willing to send what amounts to an invasion force into a forbidden region of space shows just how the recent War has affected them.  Like any group who claims to be interested in establishing and maintaining law and order, the Guardians seem to think that they, themselves, are completely above the law.

While the Lanterns are searching for the Yellow Rings, our old buddy Mongul is also hunting down Rings.  However, Mongul is collecting them for himself.  It’s funny, if you think about it.  When Hal Jordan went bat-shit and started collecting Lantern Rings to gain more power, it was so he could rebuild Coast City, which was destroyed by Mongul’s father.  So, now Mongul Jr. is tracking down Sinestros and asking them to join him–and, if they refuse, he stomps them into goo and takes their rings for his own.

The issue ends with Mongul capturing two of Kyle and Guy’s team and ensnaring them with the “Black Mercy” plants, that Mongul’s father once used on Superman.  These plants put folks into a coma and show them their greatest wish, which eventually goes horribly wrong.  They are the perfect tool for Mongul to, as he says, “turn hope into fear.”

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Justice Society of America #14

W: Geoff Johns

A: Dale Eaglesham

Once again, JSA–one of the greatest team books on the stands today–does not disappoint.

What begins with a scene in the Justice Society’s headquarters (basically a way to reintroduce all of the characters and re-establish all of the relationships in a book with a rapidly growing roster) quickly segues into an all-out slugfest in New York City when Gog teleports into their headquarters.  From there on, it’s pretty much just a huge battle.  Buildings crumble.  Cars get totaled.  Gog rages at Superman for letting Kansas burn on Kingdom Come Earth.  The issue ends with the arrival of Kingdom Come Green Lantern and Kingdom Come Obsidian, just as Gog is about to dispatch KC Superman and Amazing Man.

This crossover story with Kingdom Come still kicks as much ass as it did with the first issue.  It could have gone horribly wrong, but Johns is a pro and Eaglesham’s art never fails to please.  In addition to being a good story, I also feel like this is an homage to the early pre-Crisis crossovers between the Justice Society and the Justice League.  Since the JSA and JLA now inhabit the same Earth, there’s no reason for dimension-spanning team-ups.  But, with the return of the Multiverse, Johns was able to pay tribute to those earlier team-ups by having his JSA interact with the Kingdom Come heroes.

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Serenity: Better Days #2 (of 3)

W: Joss Whedon & Brett Matthews

A: Will Conrad

There’s a lot going on in Serenity: Better Days #2–and the mini-series as a whole–and, I don’t mean that in a bad way.  If there is one person alive who can ably handle layered storytelling, small character moments, cliffhangers, and big reveals, it’s Joss Whedon.

The small character moments come from the crew of Serenity discussing what they’re planning on doing with their share of the giant haul they scored in the last issue.  Jayne is going to become the captain of his own ship (the “Radiant Cobb”); Wash and Zoe would buy a luxury cruiser to raise a family on as they fly around the ‘Verse; Kaylee would open an aircraft design and restoration shop with her dad.  Then, they arrive on the resort world of Pelorum, where Jayne tries to hire a Companion and we get to see all of the Firefly gals in a giant hot tub (thanks, Joss…that meant a lot to me).

Of course it’s all not just fun and games here.  Better Days is adding to the overall Firefly mythos, particularly in the form of the “Dust Devils.”  After the Alliance crushed the Browncoats in the Unification War, some folk didn’t feel like laying down arms.  These rebels among the rebellious continued to use terrorist and guerrilla tactics against the Alliance, earning the name “Dust Devils.”  It’s been hinted that someone on Serenity was one of these Dust Devils.  Sure, the obvious suspects would be Mal or Zoe.  But, when has Joss ever been obvious?  Could it be Book?  Could we finally get to find out what his big secret is?  I really do hope so.

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Titans #1

W: Judd Winick

A: Ian Churchill

I’ve always liked the Teen Titans.  I don’t need much of an excuse to read a book with the Titans in it.  But, one of the things I do need is a group of characters I actually know and care about.  I liked the pre-52 roster: new kids like Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Superboy and seasoned pros like Starfire, Cyborg, and Beast Boy.  That was fine.  Than, 52 and “One Year Later” happened and Kid Flash was now the Flash, Superboy was dead, Beast Boy was leading Doom Patrol and the new Teen Titans included Ravager, Kid Devil (seriously?  what the fuck was he about?), and Miss Martian (pretty hot as green chicks go, but still not for me).

That being said, I’m pretty excited about DC’s new Titans.  The basic premise: someone is offing Titans from past and present.  That brings together what I think might be the greatest characters to ever call themselves Teen Titans: Nightwing (Robin), Donna Troy (Wonder Girl), Beast Boy, Starfire, Raven, Flash (Kid Flash), and Red Arrow (Speedy).  Judging from the cover, it looks like Cyborg (who’s currently in drydock) will be joining their little party soon.

Churchill’s art is pretty decent.  Details like the shards of glass stuck in Nightwing’s costume for the entire issue after he’s blown out of a window by an explosion on page 2 or the numerous quivers that Red Arrow has strapped to his person show that Churchill’s got talent.  The only criticism I have is that all of his female characters look identical.  He has some got characterization on Starfire early in the issue, but for the most part all of the females in this book look like they came from Michael Turner-land.

I just hope that Winick can keep gay rights out of this book.  I’m all for gay rights, just not in my comics.  And Winick has a habit of beating people over the head with a hammer when it comes to this particular issue.  He did it back in Green Lantern, so I stopped reading Green Lantern.

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Quote of the Week:

“Say hello to incomparable pain, ya tub of crap!”–Guy Gardner to the new Sinestro of Sector 2828, in Green Lantern Corps. #23.

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2 responses to “Weekly Comic Review for 4/9/08

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