Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Lightning Round!

Incognito #1

I missed out on Sleeper because it didn't seem like my thing. I have kept away from Criminal for the same reason - I just don't like crime stories all that much, even done well. And here we are with Incognito, which . . . well, do you think Brubaker is being serious here? Because, honestly, for all the praise that gets thrown in the direction of the Brubaker / Philips team, this is some seriously weak sauce. I've heard people say this series is some kind of attempt at commercial appeal, doing a superhero project in the vein of Criminal in the hopes of bringing a larger audience back to Criminal. I really hope so, because this mish-mash of been-there-done-that noir superhero cliches isn't gonna win any awards on its own. Does not make me very interested in any of the duo's other books.

Fantastic Four #562

There are two Mark Millars: the crappy, sensationalistic thug who paces stories like epic masturbation sessions, a series of climaxes paced between nonsensical passages of interstitial detumescence; and then there's the sweet, humble Millar who used to write such nice Superman stories and had a fantastic run on Swamp Thing. The former Millar has been in the drivers' seat for so long it has become harder and harder to remember the guy he used to be.

Although his run on Fantastic Four started off really poorly, somewhere around the halfway point it started to click. It's not perfect, but he's finally got a better handle on the characters' speech and behavior, and the second story arc seemed far more in keeping with the series' premise than the first - a laughably poor "giant robot so powerful he can destroy the world and even demolish the Sorcerer Supreme in a giant crown scene" tale. Again, the second story - featuring a band of future terrorists ostensibly trying to take over present-day earth - was hardly original, but the resolution was very nicely put together with the kind of "Reed saves the day because he's just that much smarter than everyone else" twist that Bendis just couldn't manage to sell in Secret Invasion. This iteration had came with the added bonus that the ostensible antagonists were actually counting on Reed being smart enough to defeat them. I don't care for the fact that Dr. Doom was essentially used as a prop - and there's something seriously wrong with your structure if Galactus dies off-panel - but there was more right than wrong, finally.

So, the first issue of the last arc of the twelve-issue run has come, and picks up on the previous issues' strengths. Dr. Doom is back in the drivers' seat - let's face it, between being used as a prop in the last arc, played for a fool in Bendis' Mighty Avengers and a patsy in Dark Reign, it has not been a good year for the Greatest Super-Villain in Comics (you cannot dispute what is indisputable). He's in jail in this issue, facing execution but waiting any minute to be freed (which, because we read Dark Reign, we know is imminent, but regardless), and then for whatever reason drops some weird non-sequitor about the imminent arrival of the "first super-villain", a creature so depraved he makes Doom blanch. It's so odd and seemingly out-of-character that it can only be the first salvo in some kind of really bizarre scheme on Doom's part - at least, if he has any understanding at all of these characters, that's what it is. Although Millar burnt my last shred of patience many moons ago, the set-up is promising enough that, based on the last two or so issues, I will extend him further leeway. Maybe it's just because it's the Fantastic Four that I'm willing to me more generous than I would in another situation.

Doctor Who: The Forgotten #5

So . . . the Doctor's mirror-universe evil twin has a goatee. That made me chuckle.

And yes, I am disappointed with the announcement of the new Doctor just like everyone else, but I at least will give him a fair shake. I didn't like Tennant at first but he seems to have had a strong run. It is going to be extremely bizarre to have a Doctor who is significantly younger than myself.

Justice Society #22

Remember a few months back when I said that the Gog storyline could be really interesting if it turned out that the all-powerful, benevolent Gog actually was as benevolent and kindly as he wanted everyone to believe he was? That such a twist would actually be far more interesting than the inevitable revelation that Gog was just an evil demigod after world domination after all? Well, this is the issue wherein the omnipotent evil demigod is dispatched with surprising alacrity considering how effectively he was built up as unbeatable. All the thorny ethical and ideological questions of the past six months are wrapped up in a dismissive "oh well, he really was evil after all" shrug. Geoff Johns' recent Superman work was strong enough for me to actually think the story held some promise, but it's all thrown away rather mechanically here. At least, on the very last page, they finally managed to answer the question of what just Earth the post-Zero Hour Legion actually lived on, but if an answer to a burning fifteen-year-old nugget of fan-wank trivia is the best you get after closing the book, the story was pretty much an epic FAIL.

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