Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Week of Nov 17 in Review

The topic du jour seems to be the TSA scanning and groping policy. From my view point there are multiple things wrong with this. First and foremost is that I think it is useless. Total safety comes at a price that allows the TSA to do things we would lock up regular people for and does it really “protect” us? Second let’s get the flock out of other countries and stop pushing our agenda down sovereign nations’ throats and maybe the whole situation would calm down on its own. Third the former head of Homeland Security (so close to being called the Fatherland it is scary) is apparently a major player in selling these scanning machines. Nice to know he is becoming wealthy helping to irradiate the flying public. Finally my guess is the people running the scanning machines have not gone to radiology technical training school and have no clue how much radiation is being used and what it could do to a fetus if a woman doesn’t know she is pregnant yet. I can’t wait until we are all so totally safe that we are afraid to travel at all. The war on terror and drugs are federal job programs that do more to employee people then solve any problems. Common sense is apparently an uncommon thing anymore, guess it needs to be renamed.

I love starting these columns off on a soapbox, after all we all want to be a hero in our own way and expressing my opinion is one way I can try to right what I see as a wrong. Of course this blog would probably kill me for getting a security clearance with the government and now onto the comic reviews.

It was Batman, Batman everywhere with Batman The Return and Batman Inc. You can see a full blown review of Batman The Return here. Batman The Return and Batman Inc. is the same story line with different artists. Grant has made Bruce Wayne over into a man who is now driven by a vision and no longer thinks of himself as a brooding loner with followers. He sees himself as a man who has a vision and he wants to recruit like minded individuals to help fulfill that dream. The change in attitude is obvious as he recruits Selina Kyle to help him in going to Japan to find his next recruit. They appear to enjoy a relationship that includes friendship and a sexual relationship. Bruce would only reluctantly allow himself to every get close to anyone and now he is at ease with relationships of those around him. The story itself demands us to focus on the new characters, but Grant does a good job balancing out Bruce, Selina and introducing us to Mr. Unknown. The art team of Paqueete (pencils), Lacombe (inks) and Fairbairn (colors) does a good job, but I believe do not match up to the dynamic work on Batman The Return and may suffer unfairly in a comparison as they are two different styles. I would have scheduled these books a week apart so the comparison would not be as immediate. I find this book to be done very well and hope that the team can hit a monthly deadline. The end of this issue scared me a little as it harkened back the old Batman TV show of the sixties and I’m not looking for a campy version of Batman. I understand the idea of having a little fun with it, but the Batman TV show is what almost destroyed what I believe is the heart and soul of Batman in that he is a creature of the night and not a smiley goofy guy with a cape. Personally I think it was just a goof and that is fine by me as a fun thing to do as long as the book remains like it is. I’m enjoying what is going on in the Batverse and I’m collecting most of the books. I just wish DC would allow Grant to be the driving force and others would have to follow his lead. By this I mean Grant has ideas for other characters in his book and it seems to be ignored elsewhere (Jason having red hair as a minor example). The whole Insider outfit and the cross-over event from a few weeks back seem to be obvious as not any part of what Grant is doing and to a casual fan it has to be confusing as heck, especially since no one ever explains the inconsistencies. Communications need to be better to give the Bat line more coherence.

We saw the end of Astounding Wolf-Man this week with issue #25 and while the wait between issues was extremely long, it was a satisfying ending to a series I followed from cradle to grave. It is also nice to know that Kirkman has plans to keep this character floating around in his super hero universe and hints at a new series or mini-series for him down the road. It is nice to see an almost happily ever after ending for the main character as his life was torn to shreds over the course of this series. One thing I loved about this book is the character kept moving forward and things were constantly changing. The series always keep you guessing where we were going next, but maintained a logical consistency. So many books do left turns by changing characters to be something they never were and I find that to be a cheat as oppose to inventive. Kirkman keeps us guessing, but in hindsight you can always see where it makes sense given what has come before.

I want to do a quick shout out to the two Farscape series coming out from Boom. The Scorpius and regular series have built up everything to the coming war with the Kkore and reminds me of how the TV show will lay the foundation for a big story line. The Kkore have been built up as an enemy that cannot possible be defeated. I loved how Scorpy said there is always a random element that can frell up everything and John is that element in this mix. So far John has been relegated to second string status so I hope that changes and I’m anxiously looking forward to the next few issues. I can’t stress enough that if you loved the TV show, that you will love this series. I’m not sure this series could make you a fan of the show, but show fans should be getting these two series.

I have to give credit to Marvel in their efforts to generate more books that have female leads. DC has been the true leader in that category but Marvel is pushing with teen-age girl heroes as we have X-23 and now Spider-Girl. X-23 has been added to my list after three issues and Spider-Girl made it in one. I had no clue of who this character was and find it a little annoying with the retro-con of her Dad being the unofficial official interviewer of the Fantastic Four, but it is a minor quibble and probably well established before this series. This is my introduction to the character and I liked her a lot after reading the book. It was nice to see her have an open relationship with her Dad, in that he knows she is doing super hero stuff. I find it difficult to accept that she has no super powers and was just trained by Steve Rogers and others and that is the extent of her abilities. I think for a long term series and to make her adventures more exciting she needs to be more than an acrobat. Marvel heroes without powers never seem to fair that well as they have no Gotham City to fight crime in. It also reads a little young and that helps keep it light, but it may also make it too light and not edgy enough to build a solid fan base across all ages. For a book I enjoyed I have been harsh, but I see a lot of potential and I would like to see this book succeed as it has good writing and solid art. In order for it to succeed I think she needs some real powers and will need to develop a little edge to her. This book has tons of potential with this title, but also has the potential to go too light and lose me as a fan if it doesn’t ramp up in a few issues.

Every time I read GI Joe Cobra I’m blown away by how much I enjoy this book. For an “action” oriented type of franchise this book continues to explore some cerebral themes about good and evil. We are back to Chuckles finally and he has a show down with Cobra Commander. Now I know nothing of Cobra and the various chains of command, but it appears Cobra Commander is the guy in charge and he convinces Chuckles to sign up with them. It then wraps back to the beginning of the book where we were talking about cognitive dissonance. I have to tell you seeing a comic talk about those types of subjects and work it all into the plot is highly entertaining. GI Joe Cobra is a well written and a type of psychological thriller that is not being done anywhere else.

I was very happy to see Killer Modus Vivendi back on the stands. Archaia has a spotty history at best so I was worried they had gone under again. This deep into the current story it is impossible to try and convey a plot summary, but the story is more complex then the first Killer series and better for it. This issue we see the Killer at work in both the bedroom and the rooftop plying his trade and his moral ambiguity with equal aplomb. I hope the final issue comes out sooner, rather than later.

Warlord of Mars #2 also came out this week and while I agree with the slow pace of the book to help expand the first book of the series (Princess of Mars), I hope it does not put off any potential new fans for John Carter. Right Now I’m re-reading the Chessman of Mars and what I’m finding is how many things ERB was talking about in his books. He was more philosophical then I remember and it is not subtle at all, but still illuminating. The idea of a race that is just a brain and uses headless human bodies as their transports is amusing and give Burroughs the chance to expose his views about what represents the best of humanity. The comic series itself is well done from my view as I love the source material and can’t wait for the next issue when John Carter actually arrives at Mars. I wonder if someone who never read the series is finding this entertaining, I certainly hope so.

Back to Batman, we also got Streets of Gotham #17 and Batman #704. Both I think suffer from overly complex plots, especially with so much going on in the Gotham side of things. At least Paul Dini in Streets acknowledges the cluster flock that was the “Insider” thing being done in the recent cross-over. Also Selina Kyle is now everywhere in Inc, Streets and Batman proper. At least I believe Streets will hold together when read as a whole, Batman I’m not so sure about. Tony Daniel’s last six issue arc tried to do too many things at once and again Tony seems to be doing that with multiple plot lines that may or may not ever come together. Tony’s art is certainly strong and his layouts are better this issue, but the story seems to be going everywhere at once. I still think a co-writer or stronger editor could make Tony into the super star I know he wants to be in the future. This would be especially true if the co-writer is perhaps an artist themselves and can help with page design, which is where Tony will fall down on occasion. Matt Wagner comes to mine for me as a mentor to help push Tony to that next level. Mr. Daniel also brought back Catgirl which I could have done without; let’s see if he can make me care about her at all.

The last book I wish to comment on is Green Lantern Corps #54. Tony Bedard is doing a bang up job on this and Rebels. I enjoyed the fistfight between Kyle and Sinestro and it was only appropriate that Sinestro won as he has been build up to be one of the best GLs ever before he went too far. Then Kyle goes back to OA to gather up some friends to rescue his girl friend Soranik from the Qward weaponer. Tyler Kirkman has certainly brought some extra power to the artwork and Tony has written the story to give him some big panels and a double page spread to show off his prowess. All in all GL Corps and GL Emerald Warrior continue to outshine the regular Green Lantern series.

A good week for comics in general, a very strong week for DC and wow did we get a lot of Batman. So far, so good with all the Bat stuff but I worry that we are pushing to too much with Batman. Thankfully it is split up with a lot of characters which makes it a little more palatable.


  1. Jim, you're killing me with this "light" stuff regarding Spider-Girl. Isn't Thor Mighty Avenger light? But, we all agree that it's an excellent title. Is that really why it's not selling well?

    Don't a lot of your marvelous HCs contain some "lighter" material -- you still enjoy them (or at least enjoy looking at them). :)

    I'd still like to see specifics on what would make this book edgier for you. Darker colors...Anya purchasing monthly feminine supplies...What?

    I disagree that it's as light as you and Greg say it is, but even if it was light -- so what if you enjoy it. I can appreciate the music of Air Supply and AC/DC (not the lyrics on the latter though and not all together on the former).

    Hopefully, you'll change your tune (as you often do after we've all dropped our books based on your initial opinions sometimes) that you're 100% behind it now.

    Since her original powers involved the Spider-cult -- I don't want them back, but I suspect she'll get them back sometime and all havoc will ensue. She could ruin her shoulder and then go to PT three times a week -- that would be realistic.

    This is not a Marvel Adventures book and Paul said he had no qualms about going "darker". He's going to put her through the ringer and it's going to be an exciting character driven ride -- with bright colors. :)

  2. Matthew - I'm not saying I didn't like Spider-Girl, just that it reads more like a younger book. If I owned a store still I would be 100% behind this book but I would worry because of what has happened to Thor The Mighty. There is a good portion of the comic crowd who automatically steer away from what I would call more classic style comics. For Spider-Girl to survive it needs to read a little edgier and maybe darken the coloring hue a little bit. With the ending of this issue perhaps Paul is going to take it that way.

  3. Air Supply? Liking Air Supply should be grounds for deportation, even if you were born here.

    As to the scanners at the airport, get over it. First off, there's more than one type and more than one company involved. Chertoff is just involved with one company. Why shouldn't a person with expertise in a field be involved in a business in that field? Should we prevent ex-military from working in security? Should we ban scientists who worked for the government from ever going out on their own in industry? That seems like rather heavy handed government interference, don't it?

    One of the type of scanners uses radio waves, not x-rays. If the x-rays are used at a low enough level, there shouldn't be an issue for pregnant women, but if that's really a concern a woman has, she can either go through a radio wave machine or the pat down.

    I love how the right (not that you're on the right, but these are among their talking points) was all over Obama for not doing enough with underwear bomber boy to prevent him getting on the plane with the bomb, but now is all over Obama for doing something about preventing it in the future. The politics of the objection is almost as transparent as Bristol Palin's inability to dance (sorry, had to through that in gratuitously; never actually watch the show).

    Have you seen those scan pictures? There's no way a foreign object on a person is going to be unseen, barring a distracted worker.

  4. Thomm,

    I didn't say I could listen to a whole album of Air Supply at a time -- that would be like assisted suicide. However, in the context of the radio tunes of my youth -- I like it.

  5. Nooooooo! Air Supply is one of my top most despised musical acts. Part of it was a week long camping trip where the only available radio station was a top 40 station that seemed to play only 10 songs, over and over and over again. Juice Newton, Air Supply, that pitifully sappy "Endless Love" duet; it was all too much for my young mind to handle.

    Probably didn't help that my parents were on the verge of separation that would lead to divorce about 6 years later. But, even without that, those songs were just abysmal.