Monday, July 16, 2007

What I Read This Week -- DC

(Okay, there's a Wildstorm in there, too.)

Detective Comics #834 -- Wrapping up Dini's little two parter Joker/Zatanna story, one gets much more of a "Joker" vibe here than from Morrison's recent take on the character in the junior title. There's no way to rectify the two that I can think of, but you know Morrison, he gets a free pass. Be that as it may, this comic is quite nifty, with Batman using his detective and punching skills, Joker concocted a depraved and insane plot, and Zatanna casting spells and wearing a top hat -- so pretty much everyone is covered. While the deal with the Joker was entertaining (including revealing how he got from here to there, so to speak), the more interesting aspects of this story to me was the damaged relationship between Batman and Zatana. As I said about the last issue, whatever you may think about Identity Crisis, I really like seeing the fallout from it being directly dealt with, rather than just through subtext and innuendo which less-intense fans not scouring boards and blogs would miss. Here, Dini lays it all on the line, and more over, even lets the characters grow from the betrayl and start the healing process. All in all a very solid Batman story, and if Dini wants to stay on here (even with the fill-ins) for the long haul, I for one will be a happy reader.

The All New Atom #13 -- Sword of the All-New Atom? Why not! I mean, Bug-Eyed Bandit showed up last issue, so all bets are pretty much off. As Ryan Choi gets dumped off by Chronos in the deep, dark, and undeniably tiny section of the South American rainforest which hosted Sword of the Atom, he becomes embroiled in a political and spiritual crisis made all the more difficult by the fact that he has no idea what anyone is saying. Amidst the natives, fantasy weapons, and "giant" repitles, is there any chance of, you now, actually finding Ray Palmer? A lead-in of sorts to "The Search For Ray Palmer" proper, I have a sneaking suspicion that this was more entertaining than the actual "event" will be. Simone continues to weave the Atom's (dubious) history into these new tales, creating a sense of depth to the stories which helps the reader identify more with Ryan. The fact that this is also a very funny comic book works in its favor, too. Hopefully the upcoming Countdown tie-in/crossover won't hurt the momentum too much, though I am torn as to whether I would prefer the plotline about Palmer to be resolved over in Countdown, which I don't read, or here. On the one hand, it would be nice for Countdown to truly be the "spine" of the DCU, but on the other hand, I actually would like to read the story and see how it plays out in the title which is most effected by it.

All-Star Superman #8 -- A Bizarro Bizarro? That's just one of the problems Superman has to deal with while stuck powerless on Bizarro-World. Nevermind the Injustice League of America, or trying to get the masses of this strange backwards world to even understand what he is saying! Pretty enjoyable, but not as fun as early issues in this series. The reader has to work too hard to comprehend what any of the Bizarros are saying to really ever get into the story, unfortunately. Quietly does a good job rendering this backwards and backwoods planet, but I have maintained from the start that his people are too poofy (a criticism I leveled at his work waaay back when New X-Men was first being hyped all those years ago). If you're collecting A-SS, then by all means pick this one up, but if you're just casually into it, then you can pretty safely pass on it.

Justice Society of America #7 -- First all the uproar was because, ohmygod, Citizen Steel has a penis! And we all know that comic book superheroes cannot have penises. It's not allowed. So the issue finally hits the stands and now the brougha is, ohmygod, "They" got rid of his penis! "They" are always doing things like this, you know. In any event, it's not true; the only difference between the piece of artwork solicited and the cover is the lighting. The colors on the cover seem darker and more muted compared to the art DC originally provided, but the shape and form are identical. So yes, Citizen Steel still has a penis, as do the majority of people freaking out over it. Your penis is your friend, folks.

Anyway, with all that said, this is a pretty righteous piece of comic book fiction right here. Johns gained some notireity during his run on Flash for breaking up his bigger arcs with single-issue "Rogue Profiles" focusing on characters like Captain Cold and Mirror Master. He takes the same approach here, only focusing on a hero for a change. The two previous Steels (before John Henry Irons, anyway) had pretty crummy lives, and this one is no different, but in the span of 22 pages Johns makes us feel for the isolation and pain of young Nate Heywood, then shows us that deep down he is a lot braver than we all figured. Power Girl shines, too, and it's not for her cleavage this time, either. Eaglesham's art is uneven; at one point while reading this issue I thought there were two pencillers. A rush to make the deadline perhaps? In any event it's not too distracting and doesn't take away from a very solid and very well-constructed story. All this, plus Johns also follows up on "The Lightning Saga," and lays the groundwork for upcoming stories in other series, namely Action Comics. All in all a real pleasure.

Friday the 13: Pamela's Tale #1 -- Take a stroll down memory lane, as we visit the time around the very first Friday the 13th -- and earlier. Turns out that Pamela Voorhees, who we all thought was just Froot Loops from the "death" of her son Jason, had a little help before that. It's not canonical, but it's pretty fun for the old school F13-heads out there like myself. Honestly, I have no idea why this was spun into a miniseries instead of being ongoing, unless the issues were in the can when the decision was made and this is just a way to get the material released. Which, now that I think about it, is probalby pretty accurate. This is the kind of stories I thought we should have gotten in the ongoing: shorter tales exploring different corners and aspects of the F13 world (same goes for NOES, which did a better job of it). I'm always on the lookout for horror comics, and while this licensed fare is not perfect, it's satisfying enough for 4-color gorehounds.

Pick of the Pile for the DCs is Justice Society of America. Between the great insight and origin of one Citizen Steel to the setups for the future to Starman and Superman eating sloppy joes, this comic book has it all. Highest recommendation.

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