Monday, August 04, 2008

Stuff I Have Read

The Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day Extra

All you need to know about this comic is that the majority of pages are devoted to giving Hammerhead a grim & gritty revamp.

What, you want to hear more?

OK, there's a couple other innocuous bits of padding, including a legal interlude with Matt Murdock that actually roused a chuckle out of me, and had some art by the guy who did that nice Dr. Strange mini a couple years back. But overall, it all still reeks of flop-sweat, the kind you might expect if you put half-a-dozen middle-aged guys into a room and ordered them to replicate the intangible mood of forty-year-old comics, the actual shape and dimensions of which are consistently distorted by nostalgia.

Plus, the story features a sequence where a good pile of super-people impersonate Spider-Man. One of them is Hawkeye, who is still pretending to be some guy named Ronin. And of course when Hawkeye put on his Spider-Man costume he made sure to put his bulky Ronin ninja armor on underneath Spider-Man's tight-fitting costume. If you can figure that one out, you deserve this comic.

Green Lantern #33

The left-field success of the whole Sinestro Corps storyline surprised the hell out of me, considering that it was pretty mediocre, aside from a few nice moments. The fact that the entire Green Lantern franchise has basically been rebuilt on a chassis built by Alan Moore in the space of a handful of weird off-model Green Lantern Corps back-ups (which were so weird they got buried in an annual, for Chrissakes) is just bizarre. And the fact that Geoff Johns decided to follow up the Sinestro Corps thing - which succeeded primarily because it was big, loud, fast and unexpected - with one of the slowest bits of decompressed flash-back origin retelling filler tales I've ever seen is just straight-up baffling. The real meat here are the hints being dropped for the forthcoming "Blackest Night" story, but these hints could have been covered in a much more economical - not to mention interesting - fashion, i.e., just about any other fashion than a half-year-long retelling of Hal Jordan's origin.(But then, I also suspect that the real reason for this storyline is so that Geoff Johns can erase some unpleasant episodes relating to Emerald Dawn II from New Earth continuity. Which, again, makes me want to die.)

I've been pleasantly surprised by the quality of a lot of Johns' writing lately, but this can't help but seem like a fumble - a story that was obviously planned and outlined months before they saw the sales figures for the Sinestro Corps, because it is so at-odds with the tone, pacing and scope of that storyline. If something succeeds, you do more of it, you don't take a six-month detour into the modern-day equivalent of a fill-in. Hal Jordan just is not that fascinating a character, certainly not as fascinating as these kinds of "in-depth" character studies would have us believe.

(And on that note, neither was Barry Allen, but I'm betting we're going to be hearing a lot about how fascinating he is in the coming months.)

Justice Society of America Annual #1

You know how I said a while ago I was enjoying Johns' JSA? That verdict will change overnight if this twenty-years-stale fan-wank pollutes the main title. Anyone who has ever read this blog will know that I have an inordinate amount of fondness for many backwaters of mainstream superhero continuity, but the whole Earth 2 / Infinity Inc. phenomena is one whose appeal has remained steadfastly opaque. Boo-urns, as the kids say.

Reign In Hell #1

Quite possibly the most blasphemous comic I've read all month, and considering this month also saw the release of a Ghost Rider comic wherein the title character beat a psychotic emissary of rogue angels to death with a Holy Bible, that is saying something indeed. Don't these companies have stockholders anymore?

Skaar Son of Hulk #2

I used to really like Ron Garney's art. I loved World War Hulk without reservation. This, however, is unbelievably bad, the kind of weird anomaly you have to at least give them credit for trying. But it's still not very good. This is a spin-off not of World War Hulk but Planet Hulk, and despite Greg Pak's insistence, the strange alien world of Planet Hulk just wasn't that interesting or original to begin with, and it certainly isn't interesting in the least without the Hulk in it. Imagine if someone had read the collected works of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs and decided to regurgitate them in as unironic and unimaginative a way as possible, reproducing all the weaknesses of the source material while also managing to import a fair number of cliches from other sources as well. Does the Marvel Universe really need a rampaging space barbarian Hulk-lite? The only conceivable direction this can go is basically a redux of World War Hulk, albeit with a far less compelling protagonist / antagonist / anti-hero coming to earth to kick ass over some perceived slight, only to find his lost father and oh isn't that wonderful everything was just a misunderstanding.

Whatever. I guess if you write a huge crossover tent-pole you get to polish your own turds in public.

Superman / Batman #50

So what are the chances of a space-probe sent by Jor-El finding Thomas Wayne on Earth? About the same as this comic not being so bad it makes kittens cry blood.

Sadly, my cat is weeping blood.

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