Friday, August 14, 2009

Quickie short reviews: sloppy seconds

DOOM PATROL #1 (DC);

I reviewed the 5-page preview of this previously and didn’t like it then. Nevertheless I decided to give the first full story a chance, and I also wanted to check out the Metal Men second feature.

I still don’t like this book but I respect it more after reading the full story. It’s not so bad and worth your time to investigate, especially if you like this team from past volumes. Two team members don’t survive the mission here and Keith Giffen uses that to make his point that there’s a reason they’re called the “Doom” Patrol and also explain some of their cold-hearted reactions to losing some members and then making light of it. Although it doesn’t quite ring sincere to me and the whole thing comes off a bit heavy-handed and inconsistent. Matthew Clark does a fine job on the art - -nothing special but it does show some promise in certain panels.

Giffen lays the humor on even thicker and heavier in the Metal Men feature and I found it to be very annoying. I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s probably impossible to write an interesting or enjoyable scenario around these characters - - they’ve always been sappy (I was just more tolerant of that back in the day) and nobody can write anything a little more serious involving them without trashing the entire continuity and back-history.

I will not be returning to this book.

THE RED CIRCLE: THE HANGMAN One-Shot (DC):

Seeing J. Michael Straczynski’s name on the cover plus the eye-appealing artwork of Tom Derenick inside prompted me to pick up this book. I like this re-vamp of a former Red Circle hero as outlined by J.M.S. (Since I’m not familiar with the original hero I can’t determine how much is created by JMS and how much is borrowed or re-written). A doctor working the Union med tent in the Civil War gets separated from his division and captured by Confederate forces who sentence him to hanging as a spy. Just before he crosses the life/death line, a mysterious wispy figure (like Spawn in a concealing trench coat and hat) offers to keep him alive for a price - - - determine the guilt or innocence of the accused and treat them accordingly through salvation or punishment. It’s not clear who is being served - - the Devil or God - - a nice touch. The Hangman will serve this mission until he is destroyed or until the end of the world arrives. Cut to present day and he’s still working his night-time gig and serving as an emergency room doctor during the day. Apparently, there is a continuing thread or storyline that runs through all the Red Circle books. This is continued in INFERNO.

THE HANGMAN is well-scripted. The art is good. This book has promise. Hopefully it will generate the appropriate sales response to prompt DC to put out a regular title or mini-series. If J.M.S. is the writer I am there. If not, all bets are off.

THE RED CIRCLE: INFERNO One-Shot (DC):

In the concluding pages of THE HANGMAN, the sole survivor of a cruise ship explosion is wheeled into the emergency room mumbling a name. He’s sort of an average kind of guy and when he wakes up he suffers from amnesia but criminal investigators are sure he knows something. A professional hit-man arrives at the hospital to kill him, and this triggers his metamorphosis into Inferno, a walking fireball with the body of a Russian-looking mustachioed bald-headed muscleman. The Hangman trails him, then befriends him, and they work together to stop another shipyard explosion. Continued next week in THE RED CIRCLE: THE WEB. Also scripted by J. Michael Straczynski, I’m liking this one less than THE HANGMAN simply because I find that character more interesting. But J.M.S. is doing a nice job here with a very moving story and the art by Greg Scott is equally good, reminding me of the 2000’s THE LOSERS series artist (who I can’t remember).

ULTIMATUM #5 of 5 (Marvel):

This finally wraps up The Ultimate Universe, version #1 and paves the way for the upcoming re-launch of some key Ultimate titles (Spider-Man, Avengers, Iron Man).

I love the art by David Finch. I love the art. I love the art - - and that’s reason enough to get this book. The story is very dramatic and violent / bloody with major characters dying but I’m not shocked or upset for two reasons.

1) A major benefit for comic publishers to have alternate universes with slightly different versions of well-known and liked characters is that they can do awful things to those characters in the alternate universe without suffering a major fan back-lash / revolt. For example, Earth B mirrors Earth A in many ways. We can safely kill an Earth B character because fans can still read that character’s adventures in the Earth A books.

2) And here’s the bigger reason why I’m not upset. Knowing the above, the only way I’m going to invest in Earth B books is for superior stories and/or art. The Ultimate titles started out great and then tapered off or became as complicated as their regular Marvel Universe counter-parts. Since I haven’t been reading them for years, I’m just not vested into the Ultimate Universe so I could care less who they kill off. I haven’t been made to care for any of these Ultimate characters. Over the course of Ultimatum approx 33+ heroes have died (most of them major, major players) and 3 (including Spider-Man) are missing in action, presumed dead. Mutants may not be who they think they are and one character manipulates another to cause events that cause them to manipulate someone else to cause events, to . . . doesn’t matter. It’s over. Let’s see if they can do one better in Version #2.

1 comment:

  1. THE HANGMAN is well-scripted. The art is good. This book has promise. Hopefully it will generate the appropriate sales response to prompt DC to put out a regular title or mini-series. If J.M.S. is the writer I am there. If not, all bets are off.

    Actually, two Red Circle ongoings have been green-lit. The first is The Web with a Hangman co-feature. The main feature is written by Angela Robinson, the co-feature is written by John Rozum (with Derenick returning for art duties).

    The second one has a more well-known name attached--The Shield, written by Eric Trautmann (who co-wrote Checkmate with Greg Rucka, and is currently writing the JSA/Kobra miniseries). He excels at the political/military stuff, and I think he's an excellent fit for this book. The co-feature here is Inferno, written by Greg Scott.

    So, no, JMS isn't attached to them, but personally, I'm willing to check them out.

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