Jeff’s Comics Review, 7/1/09 releases, Part 1
Captain America: Reborn 1: I don’t have much to add to Mike’s impressions below – this is for all intents and purposes another issue of Ed Brubaker’s Cap, so of course it’s great. If I had any quibble at all, it would be that the mechanism of Steve’s return is just the tiniest bit out of tune with the grounding of the stories Brubaker’s been telling. But he played completely fair – he set this up many issues ago and waited to pull the trigger until the time was right. Anyway, it’s a minor nit and I’m of course on board for whatever Brubaker’s got planned.
Justice League: Cry for Justice 1: Well, that was…interesting. It’s not up to the quality of James Robinson’s current issues of Superman, but there are some interesting ideas in it. I like that Hal Jordan is asserting his authority as a law enforcement officer, but the “proactive super-team” model has been tried before and never seems to stick. In the minus column, all the team members introduced this issue literally cry for justice in one way or another, which is a little too on the nose for me. David Uzumeri at savagecritic.com points out that this was written last year and delayed, and Robinson’s first issues of Superman (the Atlas story) weren’t that great at the time either. Uzumeri writes, “I really think James Robinson was just rusty as hell when he wrote this comic, and I don't really expect the book to maintain this amateur-hour quality level in the long term.” I’m choosing to agree with that, because that gives me hope that this will get better.
Batman and Robin 2: Brilliant. From issue #1, it seemed that this would be Morrison’s “pop culture” version of Batman without much introspection (which I was OK with.) That turns out not to be the case, with all the characters in the book noticing that Batman is a different guy now and Dick having to figure out how to be Batman in his own way. He’s also failing to control Damien, who maybe he shouldn’t be trying to control at all. Surprisingly deep, with pitch-perfect “acting” in Frank Quitely’s art.
Final Crisis Aftermath: Run 3: I like this a lot better now that it’s clear it’s (intentionally) a comedy. (“And the best part is, when he dies, he promised me everything he owns!” “So what you’re saying is that when the immortal guy dies, you get everything. Is that right?” “What’s immortal mean again?” ) It’s not in the same weight class as Secret Six, although it is trying to mine some of the same ground, but it’s entertaining enough.
Fantastic Four 568: Millar and Hitch have helpers on the scripting and pencils this month due to health and family issues which I’m more than sympathetic to, but it doesn’t help the fact that this is going off the rails. I don’t find Doom’s replacement at all scary, just cruel – he kills off a minor but well established character on a whim – which isn’t interesting to me (at least Doom had personality.) It’s also self-indulgent, as Millar seems to think the fact that this villain is connected to 1985 and Old Man Logan to be a lot more clever than I do. On top of that, Latveria’s status here is the polar opposite of how it is in Thor. (Not to mention the fact that Doom’s “dead” here and appearing all over the place in “Dark Reign” stuff.) I know I harp on this a lot, but the big two companies’ marketing plan is to get us to buy all the books because they all “matter” to the ongoing story of the shared universe. I’m holding up my end and all I ask is that they try to be consistent on theirs.
Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth 1: As Paul O’Brien wrote on his X-Axis blog this week, “Because you apparently are perceived to have demanded it, it's a second ongoing Deadpool series.” Well, I don’t think we needed it and I didn’t think it was funny or exciting. Plus, as much as I think the Marvel Zombies stuff is fun, I hate any incursion of it into the main Marvel Universe because there’s no credible jeopardy – we’ve already seen how catastrophic it is for the zombie plague to get loose so there’s no question that never will be allowed to happen to the “real” characters. And Deadpool already has voices in his head that we can “hear”, so what’s the point of him carrying around another copy of his own head?
Cable 16: Much better now that it’s divested of X-Force. Amusingly even editorial seems to be confused about the point of the crossover, because the recap page says “Cable and Hope are reunited” and then they get separated on page one. Fortunately, the separation is more interesting as Hope has to try to apply the lessons she’s been taught by Cable while catching up to him in real time. (Cable’s time equipment is broken and can currently only send him forward.)
Greek Street 1: Vertigo continues their $1 first issue, $9.95 first trade policy so I sampled this and liked it well enough to order the collection. It’s a little unclear so far whether this is a modern retelling of Greek myths, or if it’s supposed to somehow be the actual characters from the myths reliving them. I’m also a little concerned that I might miss things because I have a good but not encyclopedic knowledge of these myths, but as I say Peter Milligan and Davide Gianfelice did well enough here to get me to try the first book. (As Bill pointed out to me over the weekend, most Vertigo titles don’t really get rolling until issue 3 or 4 anyway.)
Green Lantern Corps 38: Starting with a great cover, this is a pretty critical chapter in the run-up to “Blackest Night”. The Guardians are becoming totally ruthless (“The Green Lantern Corps must be all will and no heart if we are to…keep the universe safe.”), two key GLs are relocated to Earth, and the black power rings -- not to be confused with “black power” rings, which are a totally different thing :-) -- begin to spread across the universe.
Strange Adventures 5: I keep hanging on in the hope this will get better, and it’s certainly not all bad, but a lot of it is still Jim Starlin getting all his pieces where he needs them for a chess game that he has so far failed to engage me in. To the extent it works for me, it’s because he’s using mostly characters I really like. (Hint: The Weird is not one of them.) Hawkman has explicitly been written out, so hopefully that means we never again have to speak of the changes in his origin that Starlin implied he was headed for.
Amazing Spider-Man Family 8: Skippable unless you’re reading the Spider-Girl series, which is good as usual. The “Sinister Spider-Man” story is OK but nowhere near as good as his “Dark Reign” miniseries (and not by the same team), Joe Casey’s J. Jonah Jameson story is good but not good enough to sell the book, and the “Why Not” story was not as clever or funny as I know Tom Peyer can be. (The art on that story, however, is intriguingly credited to Stephanie Buscema – I don’t know if she’s John’s wife, daughter, granddaughter or what.) The end of the Spider-Girl story says “the story continues on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited”, which confused me because I thought the digital stories were supposed to get reprinted in this book. (Maybe they haven’t accumulated enough pages yet – I have a Marvel Digital subscription but I haven’t had time to look for new Spider-Girl stuff yet.)