Monday, September 12, 2011

The Week in Review – September 7

DC will dominate the entire month and rightfully so, their gambit will be an interesting one to watch as it unfolds over the coming months. Some of my preliminary views can be seen on the sister blog Why Comics Suck. As always we provide a hyperlink for free. 

The thing that is staying with me regarding the DCU is how strange it feels. I don’t have a feel for what is going on and the entire DCU feels like I ran into an ex-girl friend after 10 years. She is not fat or disgusting, she is just different and the chemistry we once had is so totally gone that the attraction I once had to her seems foreign. I guess I’m not sure if I want to date the new DCU yet. We ran into each other and have now facebooked each other and have plans to meet for coffee or drinks soon. Not sure how this will play out. 

What I read about it was that we would be jumping in five years after the Justice League formed. That means almost every hero has less history then before. Jim Gordon seems younger. It appears Batgirl was never oracle. I think Batman maybe facing the Joker for the first time. Is Alfred a hologram? Ollie is a young punk, apparently ripped from Smallville. Booster Gold appears to be the same as he was before.  Animal Man is spot on the same character. Hawk and Dove appear to have been de-aged greatly, which makes her and Deadman a little May/December thing. Swamp Thing’s history now rivals Supergirl and Hawkman pre-Flashpoint. Each book seems to be handling some of the characters slightly differently. Of course I have no real read on Superman since we have no clue how he goes from the wild child of Metropolis to the greatest hero in the world. All of which is why my reading from this week with DC was just strange. It was jumping into new situations but still reading cues from what I think I know, but I know it may not be right anymore. 

As the weeks progress we will see how this plays out and whether or not I will be committing to a long term relationship. One thing DC was banking on was generating new readers, but did they do too much and piss off long time fans? Some I have talked to feel that way, but let’s face it if you want to read a new Batman story or Superman book DC is your only choice.
Onto some actual reviews:

I almost dropped this book, but I’m glad I didn’t. Cobra #4 continues and while I could care less about GI Joe, the bad guys and all of their plans are interesting. It is not the psychological drama it once was with Chuckles, it is now an examination of many of the top people running Cobra and competing for becoming Cobra Commander as well as a story of the infiltration of GI Joe. This issue focuses on Major Bludd. He is building the necessary apparatus that funds Cobra and includes drug running as a major source of income. The issue focuses on the fact that he figures he will never be Cobra Commander but he is satisfied to have a real life as well as be the force that helps to fund Cobra. We also find out the real traitor at Joe headquarters is not Beaker. I’m glad they resolved this since if he had been a spy he was the world’s worst spy with Cobra material scattered in his room. The explanation was well done and I happy with that part of the book also. The series itself does a good job of telling solo stories while building a bigger story. 

Two Wolverine books came out this week, one was excellent and one was not. Wolverine Debt of Death was excellent. A one shot written by David Lapham and drawn David Aja. This story played with elements that are often the best Wolverine stories. It is set in modern times, but has ties back to his earlier years. An old friend asks Logan for help and we end up with Shinpu attack robots, ninjas, explosions, Nick Fury, family betrayals and more. From beginning to end a well told story that holds your interest and is beautifully drawn by David Aja. Lapham was originally  an artist and I’m guessing he provided direction which helped make Aja’s work better than ever. Wolverine #15 by Jason Aaron and Gordan Sudzuka was very weak. Aaron is an excellent writer but the emotional content he brings to Scalped rang hollow with this work. The story is about Logan is now trying to kill himself by throwing himself off a mountain since he ended up killing his own children. First Logan never knew about these kids and just takes the word of the Red Right Hand that they were his kids. I guess a heretofore unknown animal sense allows him to know they were his kids. So the emotional connection to make Wolverine want to divorce himself from the world feels artificial at best. Second Wolverine is either the hard ass man willing to kill when needed or he is not. Trying to make Wolverine into “emo” Wolverine is just a farce so we can see that heroes don’t just kill, it makes them feel bad too. This series is not working at all and probably handed for my drop list.

As for the new DCU we have a few books to talk about in some detail.

Detective #1 by Tony Daniel as writer and pencils was a good start. I think the visceral feel of the book is what drives it the most as Batman chases the Joker and catches him. At Arkham we have a creepy ending where the Joker appears to have had his face cut off. As long as Travolta and Nick Cage don’t show up next issue I can handle it. Jim Gordon is much younger and Batman’s relationship with the police is not as friendly. Alfred has a strange feel to him and I’m not even sure he is real or a hologram, perhaps Alfred is running the manor and uses hologram in the Batcave or something. When you start to examine the story it is missing a plot. We have no clue who the other bad guy the Joker is dealing with is or what the Joker is doing and why. Still a good book and I’ll be back for issue #2.

Animal Man #1 was a great start. Animal Man is semi-retired and goes out into action. He stops a hostage situation and all of a sudden his eyes are bleeding. No real rationale is found to determine what is wrong with him. In his sleep that night Buddy has a nightmare where he is just a man shaped series of veins with a brain. Three odd creatures appears stating they are the “rot in the red”, “flesh made sickness” “your child’s true fathers the hunters three”. He awakens and responds to screams of his wife who is in the backyard with Maxine who has dead creatures that have come to her. Jeff Lemire crafted a great opening and Travis Foreman’s art has a great indie feel to it. This reads like a Vertigo book, a great start. 

The book I was very curious to read was Batgirl #1. I’m not even sure why they decided to have Babs having been shot by the Joker be still a part of her story. This of course means Joker has been around for some time and then this is not Batman’s first encounter with him (in Detective). Batgirl suffered from a need to explain stuff, but it was never really explained, she just got better. Now she is unsure of herself as a heroine and it appears she was never Oracle. We just went through Stephanie Brown learning how to be Batgirl and gain confidence, so resetting Babs to me serves no purpose. Her moving in with a stranger is odd also as it just causes the unneeded tension of not telling that person your identity. We did get a good creepy villain but the book got off to a rocky start.

The only other book I want to touch on briefly is Action #1. I love Rags Morales art, so the book looks great and Grant Morrison is always interesting, but at this point we got more of a Superboy book with the odd twist that he is enough of an adult to be writing pieces for the Daily Planet. I have no clue where we are going, but I’m signed up for the ride.

Next week brings the next round of the new DCU and is just a big week of books period. The list is American Vampire Survival, Batman and Robin, Batwoman, Deathstroke, Demon Knights, Frankenstein Agent of Shade, Green Lantern, grafter, Legion Lost, Mr. Terrific, Red Lanterns, Resurrection Man, Scalped, Sugar and Spike Archives HC (talking babies – it is great humor stuff from decades ago), Suicide Squad, Superboy, Unwritten, All Winners, Alpha Flight, Amazing Spider-Man, Criminal, Daredevil, Fear Itself, Ghost Rider, John Carter of Mars (from Marvel), Journey Into Mystery, New Avengers, PunisherMax, Ultimate Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Force, X-Men Legacy, Severed, Baltimore Curse Bells, Criminal Macabre, Doctor Solar, Dollhouse Epitaphs, Complete Major Bummer TP, Farscape, Green Hornet Year One, Warlord of Mars (John Carter from Dynamite). Whew, I’m tired just typing this.
That’s a wrap for this week and oh by the way, the Ravens just took a huge monkey off their back by whipping Big Ben and the Steelers like an old mule.

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