Monday, September 17, 2007

What I Read This Week

All-New Atom #15 -- Ryan gets snatched -- literally -- back from the pages of Countdown and must deal with a pair of daikaiju which are rampaging over Ivy Town. That alone would give this issue the nod, but add to that the substitute heroes of Ivy and you have superheroing comedy of the highest order. It's great to see a series which is set in the present continuity but has its own unique voice.

Detective Comics #836 -- The Dynamic Duo have to shut down the Scarecrow before he pushes Gotham over the edge with unrelenting terror. But they are not dealing with a crazy chemist anymore! I hope this development sticks for Scarecrow, playing into his psychiatry background moreso than his chemical fetish. This makes him substantially more interesting to me, and avoids the same-old Scarecrow cliches of people running mad in the street due to fear gas. Mandrake's art is low-key and expressive, a good pairing for this tale. Batman may get the press thanks to Morrison, but Detective is the better series by my reckoning.

JLA Wedding Special -- AKA Dwayne MacDuffie saves this relaunch. With apologies to Brad Metzler (I liked Identity Crisis, honest!), his JLoA had the cutting edge of a Nerf ball. In this special, MacDuffie not only rips on Metzler, but sets up a storyarc which seems (*gasp*) exciting and lays the foundation for what he wants to do character-wise (it's unsurprising to see John Stewart pop up). DC fans will enjoy this one quite a bit.

JLA Classified #42 -- Woo, Martian Manhunter! In the days before the Justice League, J'onn J'onzz makes contact with another alien outsider -- the Kryptonian called Superman. But with Lex Luthor making a stink about a secret Martian invasion, how will the Manhunter be able to earn the trust of his adopted homeworld? A nice J'onn story, touching n his life on Mars as a child as well as the isolated and lonely time he has on Earth. Again, I know I am more prone because it is the Martian Manhunter, but I thought this was a fun tale and I really look forward to the next chapter. This compares very favorably with the recent MM miniseries, which I am also reading right now; if you were turned off by that, this should be more to your liking.

Superman #667 -- Camelot? Yup, still Falling. But we're coming to the endgame at this point, and honestly, I have enjoyed "Camelot Falls" quite a bit so I am not complaining. Faced with the possibility that he is going to unravel the natural order of the universe, Superman faces an age-old dilemma: Does his actions unnaturally influence the world and the course of humanity? Big Blue decides to take the fight directly to its source, the ancient Atlantean wizard Arion. Busiek handles Superman extremely well, mixing a big, burly brawl with Subjekt-17 with pathos and charm, and the art is grand and epic when it needs to be without being overbearing -- Pacheo throws a couple of full page panels and one two page spread which are perfect for a comic starring the Man of Steel. Busiek has single handedly gotten me re-interested in Superman.

Justice Society of America #8 -- Following the battle with Vandal Savage a few months ago, the JSA are holding a charity benefit for the local firehouse when they are pressed into service at an industrial blaze. But what is the source of this inferno, and what are the consequences of extinguishing it? The prologue to "Thy Kingdom Come" plays like a DC from 20 years ago; the pacing and character bits play like something from the early "Post-Crisis" days. The setup for the next arc is good, but the real star here is the front half of the issue, with the team at the firehouse, which Johns has a ball with and the fans will eat up. Really, really enjoyable superhero stuff.

Trials of Shazam #8 -- Atlas is no more... so who will hold up the world? Freddie has to find another god to take his place, and I hope his name begins with 'A.' Porter's art is as good as ever, and that's a given on this book. And while Winnick -- and this series -- has a bad rep online, I just don't see it in the pages. We've got a good tale here, with an updating of the Captain Marvel mythos which is sure to piss SOME people off, some good conflict and a nice cliffhanger. If you haven't bought into this series yet you are not going to, but at least give it a shot. It's substantially better than you have been lead to believe.

Heroes for Hire #13 -- Yes, I did buy stuff other than DC this week. Hard to believe, I know. Also hard to believe is that this comic went on sale and the world, in fact, did not blow up. The goofy cover notwithstanding, this issue continues the WWH tie-in, with the HFH crew at the mercy of Hulk's alien underlings. The backup with the new Scorpion finishes as well, with a nice twist towards the end. Pretty cool overall, with mostly character sketches carrying the day, including Misty, Humbug, Col, and Shang-Chi. HFH is a consistant book, delivering a good dose of all things Marvel every month. About the only complaint I have is that Devil Dinosaur didn't show up and stomp the heck out of the Hulk, but that's a pretty unlikely scenario.

Nova #6 -- The Nova Corps, reborn? Uh, yeah, let me know how that works out for you. The third chapter of the Annihilation: Conquest prologue is a downer, and with good reason: with Richard as one of The Select, the Phalanx will shortly control the most powerful supercomputer in the universe! It's a harsh survival story for Ko-Rel, Nova 0001, as she tries to avoid both Richard and Gamora on her mission. A:C is going to be absolutely insane. Although, I am wondering, how is this series going to work during it? Jump after? Continue to tie-in? Side stories? Hrrm.

The Pick of the Pile is Justice Society. I know its a cliched pick for me, but the book is just that good. There was a lot of good titles in this batch, so it was close, but the Society won out in the end.

So what did YOU read this week?


rob! said...

while i thought the Wedding Special was ok, i was bothered by all the adults-only material.

i'm no prude, but i think a mainstream DC book like JLA shouldnt feature the word "ass" three times and superheroes(including Batman--BATMAN!!)hiring strippers.

i'd like to see it be a bit more of an entry-level book for readers, since it features the all-stars of the DCU, but this book is aimed only at people like me, overgrown fanboys.

Luke said...

That's a good point, rob, one I hadn't really given much thought to. One title which I look forward to every month is Marvel Adventures: Iron Man, and it is completely and utterly kid-friendly and appropriate without being dumbed down. DC really doesn't have a similar product to offer to younger readers that's not based on a cartoon property. Even the upcoming kids books like Tiny Titans skew a little too young for what I think you are getting at.

There's some titles out there which you could give to a kid. Superman is one, I think, with Busiek at the helm, which has solid fundamental storytelling mixed with a family-friendly tone, typically. But your point is well met: if the Justice League of America is inappropriate for kids, just what is going on here?

rob! said...

yep, exactly. back when i was a teen reading comics, JLA was all ages. but, say, Swamp Thing i knew was aimed at a slightly older audience, and had things in it not appropriate for every DC reader.

now i feel that almost all of the DC books(and Marvel's) are aimed at that older audience.

and yeah, i'm not talking about Tiny Titans, which is aimed at wee kids. i just mean 12-15 year olds. the JLA comic should always be appropriate for those kids.