10/13/2011 week in reviews

Zatanna's post-Flashpoint costume. Art by Mich...
*Sigh* – I never really promised timely, did I?

Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest (3/5)
#1 of 2
title – “The Devil Does Not Jest”
writer – Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
artist – James Harren
colorist – Dave Stewart
assistant editor – Daniel Chabon
editor – Scott Allie

Mignola writes a reliable horror/mystery story, and I never get tired of it. Arcudi seems to be of the same cloth, but this is the first of his work (in any shape) that I’ve read. From the first page we know Abe’s going to get into some trouble, so from there it’s only a matter of waiting for the mystery to go pear-shaped, and finding out how Abe gets himself (or doesn’t) out of it. We get the first part here – Abe looks into the disappearance of a favored researcher, a cold case 50 years old, when the researcher’s grandson contacts the bureau.

The set up and Abe’s narrative position are more traditionally Lovecraft, with this being unofficial business and Abe being a fan of the missing researcher’s work. Granted, Abe has a lot more agency and is better armed than a lot of Lovecraft’s protagonists, but we know from Hellboy that this isn’t always a good thing.

Teen Titans #1 (3/5)
title – “Teen Spirit”
writer – Scott Lobdell
penciller – Brett Booth
inker – Norm Rapmund
colorist – Andrew Dalhouse
assistant editor – Katie Kubert
editor – Bobbie Chase

Nice character intro to Kid Flash – enthusiastic and thoughtless, but his heart’s in the right place (kinda). The same detail given to the introduction of Red Robin – broad strokes of his basic character type (Bat-ish, slightly creepy, and technologically advanced). I like the implication of larger geo-political consequences to a lot of teenagers ending up with super-powers, and clandestine operations are always a huge draw. I hope N.O.W.H.E.R.E. ends up being a more interesting antagonist than their name.

While I was never an X-Man fan, per say, the possibilities of that tension between human authority and superhuman action that soaked that book are attractive on a deep level. I’m happy to get some of that here in the DCU. It’s nice to see a teenage superhero team come together in response to a threat to themselves, not as a bored extension of their mentors’ alliances.

Birds of Prey#1 (2/5)
title – “Let Us Prey”
writer – Duane Swierczynski
artist – Jesus Saiz
colorist – Nei Ruffino
editor – Janelle Asselin

I was a Birds of Prey fan before – so trying to figure out what was different this time around was really distracting. I think a new reader might actually have an easier time getting into the story – which is a first for the New 52 books I’ve read so far. There’s a lot of situational-exposition and explanatory flashbacks that serve to introduce the Birds, but not a lot of what you might call “plot” yet. Still, the intros are a lot of fun.

From what I gather, the Birds are a group of women on the wrong side of the law, even further than the basic fact that they’re vigilantes. The book opens with them confronting a bunch of bad buys in silver suits (I didn’t realize that the bad guys were supposed to be invisible until the second reading. That makes a lot of the action much more sensical than it was on the first reading). The bad guys have gotten a journalist to follow the Birds as a sort of reconnaissance agent doubling as bait.

The last pages indicate that the Birds are being used as delivery device and scape-goat organization for something much bigger, so the story set-up works really well for making us care that the Birds in turn are being set up.

Superman #1 (2/5)
title – “What Price Tomorrow?”
writer – George Perez
artist – Jesus Merino
colorist – Bruce Buccellato
associate editor – Wil Moss
editor – Matt Idelson

This is more like the animated Superman, in terms of the type of story being told. We’re back into news, and trying to figure out what came before, as the Daily Planet becomes part of a Murdoch-style news conglomerate. Lois Lane is awesome, proving that her skills translate from getting the story to producing a news broadcast. I miss being able to ignore the weirdness caused by her not knowing Clark’s secret identity, and them constantly butting heads because they both have strong opinions, and he can’t tell her the full truth of the situation. They were a good team when they were married, and I’m not looking forward to the situational hijinks that are surely coming up.

Justice League Dark #1 (3/5)
title – “in the dark part one: Imaginary Women”
writer – Peter Milligan
artist – Mikel Janin
colorist – Ulises Arreola
editors – Rex Ogle & Eddie Berganza

Based entirely on premise, I was looking forward to this title.  Some of that was curiosity as to whether the things I really like about horror comics (HellboyMadam XanaduHellblazer, etc) could be fused with the main DCU.

I think I’m getting what I wanted? A book full of broken people, doing broken things, because the world can’t afford to lose the real heroes?  Madam Xanadu does drugs to bring herself peace from precognition, Shade (someone I’ve never read before) disintegrates the girlfriend he made with magic when she wants to leave him (or she disintegrates because the magic can’t hold her together if she leaves?), John Constantine is a con man, and Zatanna gets advice from Batman, then decides to sacrifice herself in the battle rather than take him with her, because he’s too important.  The danger? A mad-woman with incredible magical powers.  The majority of the book is introducing us to those characters, and the weirdness of the world.

Enchantress is turning the world weird (“The local power station threatens to explode when it is imbued with consciousness…. and gets bored”), a trio of heroes (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg) move to restrain her, and have their assess handed to them. Batman is working on Plan B with Zatanna when she decides to do things her way.

It’s even odds whether this is going to be interesting or a slap in the face.

Buffy, Season 9 and Madame Xanadu

Buffy appears in literature such as the Buffy ...

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I haven’t written about comics in ages, but am considering this the first tentative steps back into that world.  Comics are a high-maintenance medium to be involved with.

 

Buffy: Season 9 – #1 (3/5)

I am reminded of the beginning of Season 8, before it went off the rails (see: Twilight arc climax, pun intended), which makes me glad that the book has returned to those sorts of stories, while I am simultaneously eyeing the rest of the “season” with trepidation.
There’s a lot of the humor, silliness, and angst that I liked so much in the tv series, and the sense of life passing Buffy by, because she has one purpose in a lot of ways, and trying to be something other than she is doesn’t tend to end well, but I always root for her when she does try.
Madam Xanadu #29 – Final Issue (4/5)
A good closing bookend to the series, bringing explanation and closure to the threads, while leaving room for the stories of Madam Xanadu that have already been written (in the Silver Age, I believe).  I like the team of Wagner and Reeder best – it was a signing with Reeder that caused me to pick up the series in the first place.  The art here is gorgeous, and her sense of age and wistfulness comes through clearly.
– I re-read it in anticipation of Justice League: Dark #1, which is among the most interesting premises coming out of the reboot (to me)