Saturday, November 19, 2005

All Stars: Batting .500

This week saw the release of All Star Superman. Much like All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, this is a subtle re-imagining of the character (or characters, in the case of Batman and Robin). I say subtle becuase this is more in line with Marvel's Ultimate line than with Elseworlds. Batman is a little edgier than much of the stuff that you will read with him (which isn't surprising - he is the writer of Sin City, and of some of Batman's edgier tales) and Jim Lee's art is gorgeous. I understand that the name of the title is because it will eventually focus more on Dick Grayson, with Batman being more of a very important supporting character. It is only my affection for the character of Dick Grayson that will have me buying number 3.

I have not, so far, found there to be much to love about this series besides the art. Miller's Vikki Vale is not engaging. And she dresses like a charcter out of Sin City. That is to say, like a tart at best, or a whore at worst. The Frank Miller-drawn cover of the issue that will feature Black Canary makes me believe that her origin can only involve being a stripper, and she wears the same outfit for both "jobs." Needless to say, I am not enthused.

This week, however, All Star Superman #1 came out. I am enthused. I am not typically a fan of the style of Frank Quitely's art, however, I think it suited the book very well. Grant Morrison, who is a man who in my opinion is very hit and miss (I'm currently not picking up any of his Seven Soldiers, although I did try the first issues of the original ones) definitely scored a hit here. It is an interesting interpretation of the Man of Steel, and right from the first issue puts him in a position that we have not seen him in. Not to mention, a cute bit in which he keeps his secret ID safe while saving someone. I really enjoyed this book, and recommend it to anyone who would like to see an interesting new take on the Last Son of Krypton. Assuming in this world he even is the Last Son.

I also went a little more Marvel-heavy this week than I have been of late. Thing #1 came out, as did The Books of Doom #1. Thing #1 had its moments, but overall, didn't do much for me. But then, I never like the idea of Reed Richards treating his friends like guinea pigs, and I got a little of that from his issue. That being said, "Milan Ramada" hiring a Super-Villain to take revenge on an entire party because she wasn't invited is an amusing idea, and it looks like we might see a switch of sides for the constrictor, a villain who I always liked, if only for his costume. I hope there is a spot for him on the Thunderbolts. I'm looking forward to issue #2.

Books of Doom was... interesting. Not much really happens, but it does give a lot of history as to what made Doom the man he is. It was told entirely in flashback, and is during his formative years, so do not look for super-battles to be taking place during this one. I'll be picking up the next issue, but if it doesn't pick up a bit, I will stay with the Marvel Essentials reprints of classic Doom stories.

I also picked up issue #1 of the 6-part X-men: Dark Genesis. It feels to me already like a story that could have been told in 4 issues, but was stretched, as very little happens in this issue, except, as far as I could tell, someone forgot that Cyclops is immune to his own blasts. (As is his brother, Havoc, but that is neither here nor there) Again, a little disappointed, and not sure I'll be seeing this one through to its six-issue conclusion, but I will at least pick up issue #2 before I make that call.

That's it. Good reading.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Impressed? Not yet.

Okay, so Infinite Crisis #2 is out. I bought it (I went with the Perez cover - being the comic geek I am, I loved looking at all the historical images he managed to cram on there) read it, and was not happy. If they turn Earth-2 Superman (Kal-L) into a "misguided villain" type, it'll be a travesty. It looks to me like that is the direction that they are heading. I hope it is just a bait-and-switch, but one never knows. This man was the original hero. Plus, it's a little too "Zero Hour" to have one of the biggest heroes going switch to the "dark side."

I did like his re-introduction, particularly Psycho Pirate's reaction ("... he's here") but I really hope they didn't bring this symbol of what was right with DC out of his well-deserved and well-written retirement to sully his good name.

What I do hope for is the following:
  1. A lightening of some corners of the DC Universe. Not all of them, though. I kind of like my Hawkman a little dark. But superman should be about inspiration and Wonder Woman should be about hope.
  2. A return to a Superman who is both fun to read and who reads like all the other heroes should, and do, respect him.
  3. A Batman (Bruce Wayne, as there are rumors that Batman may die in the Crisis. Of course those rumors exist for all the big characters) who is capable of trusting others. Even if he starts small, with just some of his more regular supporting cast.
  4. A return to coolness for the Joker. Obviously given the scene where he takes out the Royal Flush Gang, they have some plans for him, and I think that the Society might end up regretting their snubbing of him. He's been kicked around a lot lately, and I think it is time he kicked back, and had a return to old form. Back when he wasn't about taking out Batman, but was about being insane, and taking out Batman was a fringe benefit.
  5. The legacy of the Golden Age characters left strong.

Now, I really do believe that Geoff Johns loves these characters, and will try to do right by them. I think that Dan DiDio loves them too. I just hope that love plays out in a positive way.

Also, I think this issue was much more... accessible. I think they did a good job of explaining the back story in this one. I read somewhere that the first issue was intentionally a little overwhelming, and that this one was the real starting point of the story. I certainly felt that way.

Another highlight of this week was Teen Titans. I did not really enjoy Gail Simone's fill-in issues, which is surprising to me - she is one of my favorite writers in comics today and I have always really liked Hawk, Dove and Kestrel- but this issue was really good. A confrontation between Jason Todd (the Robin who was killed but recently returned) and Tim Drake (the current Robin). I like that Todd dropped his "Red Hood" identity and wore a stylized Robin costume for the battle. I liked that it was both an emotional and physical confrontation, and I thought the interaction between the two was well-written, and showed their differences and similarities really well.

I haven't read "House of M" yet (I will be soon, now that it is over) but picked up the first issue of the New Excalibur. The jury is still out, but it was an enjoyable read, and I was glad to see Dazzler back, particularly her brief appearance in her classic "disco queen" costume.

Over all, I found it to be a good week for comics, and am at once both optimistic and pessimistic about where Inifinite Crisis is heading. It looks like however it ends, I will be enjoying the ride, and in the world of comics, that is really all I can ask for.