Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What I Read This Week

JSA Classified #28 -- One of the problems with Geoff Johns' work on Justice Society of America is the huge roster of characters who make up the team. This makes it difficult for everyone to get their face time, sop JSA Classified helps alleviate that, especially in the case of relatively minor characters like Jakeem Thunder and the Thunderbolt, who star here. With the power of a genie at his disposal, Jakeem has the ability to help a lot of people. But where does his responsibility end? The almost-always reliable Fabian Nicieza turns in a nice if fairly plain story, a riff we've seen countless times for Superman and other high-powered characters. But it works well, and Steve Uy's art is quirky enough to stand out, especially in his girlish depcition of Stargirl and the gruff, world-weary GL. Fans of the JSA or Jakeem will enjoy this mag, but others can save their money without much concern.

Wonder Woman #11 -- Such is the strange days we live in: This tale, still connected to Amazons Attack, is by a different writer (Will Pfeifer, with Paco Diaz staying on), and is a new arc (part 1 of 2), but otherwise picks up immediately after the last issue. So I'm already going in a little soured because I liked the way that Picoult was building to Diana's personal revelations. But that gets tossed here, with Pfeifer turning in a somewhat perfunctory action yarn which advances the AA plot and gives the reveal on the Big Evil for those of us not following the main book. I say that the story is perfunctory, and it is, but I still thought it was a fun read all told. We get to see WW flex her muscles, we get a quick visit to Themascyra, and a cliffhanger which has my interest in a miniseries in which I previously had none. I have faith that Pfiefer can wrap this story up and set things in place for Gail Simone to come in, so the next issue should be alright from a payoff standpoint. Still, it irritates me that Jodi was left holding the bag because of DC Editorial's mistakes scheduling decisions. Ah well, maybe she'll get a shot to write the character in a one-shot or special down the road. It's been a bumpy road so far for Wonder Woman, but things are looking somewhat less better.

Marvel Adventures: Iron Man #3 -- Behold the birth of... Plantman! Only Marvel Adventures could produce something this silly and still make it work as straight superheroics. Shellhead must do battle with an insane botanist, who has spliced his own DNA with a vine, enabling to thrive in the harshest conditions. Oh, and also allows him to mentally control it, and produce a suit of armor made of it as well. I can't imagine this is a very popular series -- Iron Man was never all that popular with kids in the first place, not like the Fantastic Four or Spidey -- but for those Iron Fans out there who fondly remember the days when Tony had an actual rogues gallery, this is nothing but enjoyment from start to finish. Sure, Plantman is an absurd character, but by the time he creates a veggie-gown for Pepper Potts, you just grin and go along with it. Comics can be fun without being smug and pretentious, and this is a prime example of it. I'd say to give this comic to kids, since 1) comics are an excellent tool to help kids enjoy reading and 2) I want to create a legion of younger Iron Fans to continue the fight.

Annihilation: Conquest: Starlord #1 -- There must have been a sale on colons the day that the title was picked out for this event. But nevermind that. All you need to know abotu this comic book is the supporting cast: Mantis, Deathcry, Bug from Micronauts, Groot, and Rocket Racoon. Rocket Racoon.

Okay, so I will say a little bit more than that. Of the four prologue minis, this one is my favorite after 1 issue -- Peter Quill, the former Starlord, has to lead a ragtag bunch of expendables into the heart of Phalanx-occupuied Kree space to strike at the heart of the invaders. It's an impossible task -- a suicide mission -- and Quill knows it. But the character who left such a mark for his gloomy heroism is the first Annihiliation shines in the same way here, knowing that he has no other choice other than to save the universe. The group he is paired with is ripe with potential as well -- whether its Mantis and her "Celestial Madonna" nonsense (Giffen is a genius), or the classic Marvel Monster Groot, or, of course, Rocket Racoon, this band certainly qualifies as "misfits." Very much looking forward to their adventures. If you're looking for a good way in to A:C, this is your best bet after the Prologue.

Heroes For Hire #12 -- I have no interest at all in Planet Hulk -- mostly because between this title and Iron Man (see below), Old Green Genes sounds like little more than a petulant brat throwing a big tantrum. That said, this story about the HFH infiltrating Hulk's stoneship to help Humbug stop the Brood is pretty neat since it focuses on something other than the main plot of the "event." I'm a fan of any time we get to see Shang-Chi look like a badass, so this issue passes muster. The backup, with Paladin and Scorpion attacking each other with an arsenal of Bronze Age weapons is a hoot, even if there's a few errors in there, although they could be deliberate. (Chemistro's alchemy gun, for instance, doesn't turn objects into gold, it transmutes matter into any other kind of matter. Plus, I think it was destroyed, unless this is the second Chemistro's gun... the third built the weapon into his gauntlets. Also, I am a dork.) But only hardcore nerds are going to find fault with it. An enjoyable tale of Marvel's fringe hero club, and it's different enough from the main book to justify picking it up as a tie-in if you are into that sort of thing.

Superman #665 -- A "Countdown Dossier." Translation: Focus on Jimmy "Mr. Action" Olsen. Busiek tells an untold tale of Jimmy's history, at a time when both he and Superman really needed a friend. Some nice character bits for "early" Clark, Lois, Perry, and Jimmy, plus manages to fit in an action sequence and some continuity name-drops (The 10! They're trying to become The 100! Someone call Black Lightning!) as well. As a stand alone issue, this is good stuff, even if it doesn't mean much at all in the grand scope of "Camelot Falls." The Countdown tie-in is minimal, but there is a long tradition of these kinds of stories in Superman comics. Fans of Jimmy and of course Superfans will not be disappointed in this one bit. Still, I am getting a little tired of Jimmy taking over Superman's books lately, what between this and the current arc over in Action.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #36 -- New writer Tony Bedard (only temporary, though) has started a pretty interesting little story here -- by sending 3 teams of 3 Legionaires each to 3 different worlds, all supposedly on a search for the missing Cosmic Boy, the reader can focus on a small group, and get familiar with and start learning about a handful of characters instead of the usual army of Legionfolk. Here, Star Boy, Sun Boy, and Garth Ranzz travel to Garth's homeplanet of Winath, only to discover... nothing. Well noone is more accurate, as the planet is completely deserted. Nice little Legion story, nothing groundbreaking but a good primer on the characters and the different groups kicking around in the 31st Century (The Legion, the Wanderers, Terra Firma, and the Science Police/UP). Bedard is only around for this one storyline, so we shall see where the title goes after that, but as of now, the verdict is "pretty neat."

Iron Man #20 -- More World War Hulk inanity, as Shellhead pulls a Superman and becomes a guest star in his own series. This is mostly about Dum Dum Duggan taking charge in Tony's abscence after the fight in the previous issue, and the tensions in the SHIELD higher-ups which has been boiling since the end of CW. Gage is game, and considering the material doesn't exactly enthuse me, this is certainly readable. And I cannot dislike a mag which saves me from having to spend three times as much on an "event" series to find out what happened to my favorite character. Still, suffers from association with the one-note tie-in. Iron Fans should buy this issue, even though a lot of them won't, just for the interplay between Tony and Dum Dum. WWH fans can pass on it, as can casual Shellhead fans (are there even such things in existance?), and Marvel readers in general.

Futurama Comics #32 -- No one plays the reference game like the folks at Bongo. In this issue, within the first three pages, they successfully spoof Doctor Who AND The Black Hole. It only gets more inane from there. Trapped in the malfunctioning time- and space-travel machine (which looks like a port-a-john) the crew end up being thrown from planet to planet and era to era -- and when Zoidberg is the hero, then you know things are bad. I know the show is coming back in the not too distant future, but for pure sci-fi silliness I'd recommend this issue, and series, to all.

Pick of the Pile is Starlord, and no, not just for Rocket Racoon. This mix of The Dirty Dozen, The Infinite Crusade, and every Toho space opera ever made is entertaining from start to finish, with a star who's seen a little too much in his day to be impressed by just about anything short of a giant alien tree carrying an anthromorphic racoon who is wielding a heavy machine gun.

So what did YOU read?


Rick L. Phillips said...

I haven't been to my local comic shop yet. However, I may have to pick up Superman 665 as I have always liked a good Jimmy Olsen story.
The 10? Well you have to start somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I've got two words for you: Rocket fucking Raccoon. okay, that was three words, but ROCKET RACCOON!