Friday, November 6, 2009

Comics I Read: Catching up, Part 1

Adventure Comics 3: Those of you enjoying “Red Robin” should definitely pick this up. You don’t need to know anything about Superboy’s ongoing story, and the scenes between Conner and Tim have been building in the DCU for years. (A simple “I believe you” was one of the most touching lines I’ve read all year.) The Legion story wasn’t my favorite of the series so far, but it does have an interesting piece of the “Legionnaires in the 21st century” puzzle.

Blackest Night: Superman 2-3: Long-time Superboy fans – I’m talking to you, Shane – should definitely at least pick up #3 because there’s a surprise development for Conner that I think they’ll be pleased about. (It’s referred to in Adventure #3, which may have come out first – I’m not sure about the order because I’m catching up on the whole month at once.) #3 is also a must-have for anyone following the “New Krypton” storyline because there’s a game-changing development. It’s not clear where it fits in the ongoing Superman timeline – hopefully James Robinson will make that clear in “Superman” soon. (None of the Superman books will be able to ignore it, that’s for sure.)

Blackest Night: Titans 2-3: I liked the catharsis that Donna goes through about the loss of her husband and child, but the explicit physical way in which she does it was a little over the top into bad taste for me. (Admittedly, there’s a personal bias at work here, so your mileage may vary.) I liked Beast Boy’s similar story arc better, and he didn’t have to do anything awful to get there. The developments about Dove, and the way they fold back into what we’ve seen about Don Hall in “Blackest Night”, were also good.

Blackest Night: Batman 3: As I predicted, it turns out that Gordon was unconscious in the back of the plane last issue, so he missed everyone’s “parents” coming to visit. (It would have been interesting to see him get a visit from Sarah Essen, but I guess there wasn’t room.) I didn’t quite buy the Deadman/Etrigan stuff, but this is another must have for “Red Robin” fans – the reenactment of Jack Drake’s “Identity Crisis” death scene is absolutely chilling.

Daredevil 501: I take back my criticism about this title’s “The List” special needing to be a regular issue. It turns out that Andy Diggle has crafted his opening issue so well that it works whether or not you’ve read the special. I love the depths that he’s pushing Matt to – though I suspect the “sacrifice” in this issue is a trick – and changing the Hand’s uniforms to resemble Daredevil’s is genius.

Brave and the Bold 28: Boy, this was kind of preachy again so I have to assume that JMS is doing it on purpose. So far, I prefer the more fun stories that Mark Waid was doing, and there are a couple of things in this story that I have quibbles with: I don’t buy that Barry, a police officer, is that reluctant to use a gun, and I don’t buy that Barry, an experienced time traveler, would give as much information to Blackhawk as he does. There’s also a minor art problem: unless there’s a change from “Rebirth” being reflected here, I think Barry’s uniform is drawn and/or colored wrong. Barry’s uniform is supposed to be the one where you can see his eyes, right?

Amazing Spider-Man 608-610: I’ve got mixed feelings about the “Who was Ben Reilly?” story. On the one hand, it’s well written and exciting – Marc Guggenheim always does a great job and I’m sorry to see him leaving the book – and heaven knows it’s easy for anything “Clone Saga” related to turn out to be a complete disaster, which this is not. On the other hand, at the end of the story I don’t think having Ben involved (in flashback only, fortunately) really did much other than to highlight Peter’s heroism, which we were aware of already. It was interesting to see Kaine again – he’s more vicious here than I remember him, but that’s probably because I’m used to the “kindler, gentler” version from “Spider-Girl”. Overall this story was more of a hit than a miss, but it wasn’t my favorite among all the stories that Guggenheim did.

X-Factor 48-50: The end of a long storyline, arguably too long, but on balance I’d say that slowing down the pace gave Peter David the space to do the kind of character development this book is known for. For instance, showing Guido’s reaction to Rictor & Shatterstar’s relationship (and blowing his mind with Shatterstar’s behavior), fleshing out Darwin’s character, making everyone think that future Von Doom was weak and senile, and the stunning revelation of how Layla Miller “knows stuff”. I think this will read terrifically well in trade, and the preview of the new direction – starting with another anniversary issue! – looks great too.

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