The more free form week in review is working better for me right now so I think I will stick with that. It allows for general themes as well as specific themes more easily and is less restrictive for me in writing this column. It does not mean I won’t force a format in the future, but this is the review format for now.
My friend Rusty talked that he has grown tired of generic artwork and I know what he means. Certain books have solid artwork with good layouts and page design but they lack the zing or something extra to make it unique.
DC had some issues that fit that category this week with The Rise of Arsenal #4 (of 4), Justice League Generation Lost #4, a lot of Superman #700 and Green Arrow #1 was border line in that category. It reminds me of what Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney were in the silver age. Accomplished draftsmen and able story tellers but the art lacked that certain pizzazz to take it to the next level. It makes a pedestrian story even more so and reduces my overall enjoyment of the book. Arsenal can be dismissed as that was a poor series and it is mercifully over now, but Generation Lost is a 26 part series and the art may make me drop this series. The worst part is Joe Bennett is listed as the pencil artist and I have seen better work from him before. Where I think it was a real shame was in Superman #700. Bernard Chang has yet to develop a style that I believe sets him apart and the second story by Jurgens and Rapmund was a flashback story with art that was also more akin to what was acceptable in the 8o’s or 9o’s but is lacking for me today. This criticism is hard for me to make because I can barely draw stick figures but generic super hero art no matter how competent or skilled the artist is, comes across as a little flat or boring to me. Eddy Barrows who did the last story used to be a generic artist, but his work has moved on and has a good realism edge to it now and clearly was the best of the Superman #700 Anniversary issue.
Getting into the actual books, the only thing of true interest for me in Superman #700 was the start of the Grounded series by JMS and Eddy Barrows. My gut level tells me this could be one of the worst ideas ever for the Man of Steel. Having him do a walking tour of America and running a contest on top of that just does not feel like it will be a good idea. It is especially poor timing as we are coming off of a year plus long storyline that had essentially taken Superman out of the mix for the DCU. I enjoy the vast majority of what JMS does as a writer and I appreciate the chance he is taking, but I’m worried going in. I’m not dropping the book or anything as I will give this idea a chance it just sounds very iffy and could really drive down sales.
Getting back to Green Arrow #1 and Rise of Arsenal #4 I have to say that I’m confused how GA can go off a kill a guy and then he gets acquitted and runs off to be Robin Hood of the new magical forest in Star City, yet Arsenal does the same thing and it looks like he will be a bad guy or something. There are some good ideas in both books but the execution is lacking. I mean the Green Arrow Robin Hood thing was beaten over our heads when he stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Again I blame a lot of this is poor editorial control. Green Arrow tried to do too much and was ham handed at times. The story could have been streamlined and focused on why Ollie was doing what he was doing. The plotline about his old business could also have been done and without the overly theatrical villain, she could have just worn sunglasses and a wig and we still would not know who she is. Arsenal’s entire series was a misnomer as this was not a character rising to anything, but falling to his baser instincts. If they are planning on making Roy a bad guy it needed more work. A stronger editor sends the scripts back for rewrites and works with the writer to get it right. Both books are not as good as they could be.
I loved the original run on Dynamo 5 and creator/writer Jay Faerber was nice enough to do an interview with us, but I’m not getting Sins of the Father mini-series past issue #1. I’m not only trying to be more frugal and work at keeping my list down, but generic artwork is going to make me drop books and this was generic art. It is a way for me to demand more from a comic. Plus the whole switching of powers stuff has taken me out of the book. I used to feel like I was getting a handle on the characters and the switch has made the book lack a coherent identity. It was especially hard since the switch was the last issue before a long hiatus. So generic art, the power switch and a $4 price tag takes this book off my list.
Speaking of art, Greg Land on X-Men Legacy #237 is anything but generic. I have been a Land hater for awhile but lately he seems to have reign in some of his excesses and I can now almost tolerate his work. I have loved X-Men Second Coming, but we knew Cypher had to beat the Nimrods and this story has just become too long. Only two chapters left so I’m hanging on till the end at this point.
Skipping around in no particular order let’s talk Power Girl #13. A brand new creative team comes in and wow I’m so close to dropping this book because of all the mistakes they made. Art wise it is a big adjustment, but Sami Basri is not bad at all and I’m sure I can get used to the art. Story wise I’m not so sure. Power Girl was drawn into DC continuity a lot more and they have bankrupted her company. If the continuity nod was just to get the story started and won’t be a constant thing, then fine, because I like Power Girl and want to read about her. She is one of the few characters that still have a private life in comics. If bankrupting her company is a story and ultimately she still runs Starrware Industries that is ok too, but if they destroy the company and her private life I will bid farewell to this title.
Just so you don’t think I hate everything this week don’t forget an excellent book hit the stands with Killer #3 (of 6) Modus Vivendi. My full review can be seen here. Of course reading this type of comic makes me demand more from the other books. It also makes me even more willing to drop other titles as I’m unwilling to settle for certain things because I like a character. Oh I will still hang onto some books too long, but I have been willing to drop more and more books lately.
So let’s do some quick mentions of some solid issues this week with Legion of Super-Heroes #2 getting better although still too many stories and highlighting Earth-Man while trying to re-establish the group is a mistake. Green Lantern Corps #49 was well done with the Revolt of the Alpha Lanterns story being a good one and Joker Asylum II Killer Croc writer by a potential rising star Mike Raicht (and a talent well known to this blog) was a great one shot story that was very well done.
Two books from Marvel and writer Jeff Parker were good reads this week. I enjoyed The Namorita One Shot and the art certainly passed the test of being a solid job and it is not generic. The only downside to this issue was the $4 price tag for 22 pages of story and art. The other Jeff Parker written book was Thunderbolts # 145 with art by the always enjoyable Kev Walker. This issue had a great twist showing us that Baron Zemo was a fake and a test for the new Thunderbolts. So far this incarnation of the T-Bolts is going well.
As you can see I’m skipping all over the place, but this is sort of in the order I read my books. Of course some did not generate any comments from me, but I ended my week with Joe the Barbarian #6 (of 8) and American Vampire #4. I like Joe, but I have a feeling this reads better as a trade and therefore in my view it should have been released as a trade. Morrison and Murphy are producing what has been an enjoyable story, but I’m losing nuances as the story progresses. Reading AV #4 last was on purpose as I wanted to end on a high note. Now the Stephen King half of the book is decent, but the Scott Snyder side of the book blows me away and I’m anxious to get to issue #6 as the book will feature more pages by Scott. When I sit down and read the next chapter of Pearl’s story by the time I’m finished I just want more. Rafael’s artwork continues to amaze. I would have never chosen him for the artist on this book as I was familiar with his Blue Beetle work and stylistically it did not seem to be a fit. He has proven me wrong as his art has shown great depth and he has the ability to push his work to another level. At this point he has put an indelible stamp on the look of this book. Next issue is set up nicely as it appears Pearl and Henry will be taking it to the old world vamps.
Books like American Vampire and Killer are so well done, that marginal super hero stuff really pales by comparison and I find that I crave more of the former and can do with less of the latter. Even if I end up buying less books I think it can be a good thing because we should demand quality over quantity.