3.08.2007

3.07.07 Reviews - Part 1

Manhunter #29 (DC): Based on the last report I read, Manhunter will come to a close with issue #30. And it's a damn shame. This remains one of the most sophisticated "superhero" books out there. It's a careful, witty, and dare I say, realistic look at superhero activity. This issue hosts a *beautiful* Sean Phillips cover, where he's lost his usual hard angular line, instead capturing the soft majesty of Diana, a Woman of Wonder who is momentarily vulnerable and trapped in the legal position she's currently in. This world is not about right or wrong, it's about the reality of what people will do, the ramifications of those actions, and a behind the scenes look at a world inhabited by superheroes. I miss this book already. Grade A.

Phonogram #5 (Image): This is a tough review. I was really enamored with the first issue. I want this book to be as good as it fondly lives in my memory. But as with last issue, I'm actually enjoying the surplus essays more than the comic itself. I tend to speed through all the magical Phonomancer hoohaa and oblique Britpop musical references, just so I can read a text piece about The Rule of Three as applied to personal fave, Oasis. I mean seriously, any text piece that references the "give me gin and tonic" line from the song Supersonic, I will love forever. But the comic itself, gosh, I feel bad. I tuned out; it's not connecting with me. I can't get a foothold. Makes me want to read a book or collection of essays on Britpop penned by Kieron Gillen, but not necessarily a comic. "Done it with a doctor, on a helicopter... and I'll ride with you, in my BMW..." Grade B-.

Justice League of America #6 (DC): Ok, I actually did enjoy reading this book and thought the battle with Amazo was fun, but it's more of a guilty pleasure type of enjoyment. And there are some nice historical nods with references to Batman & The (original) Outsiders, previous teamwork, and past incarnations of the JLA. And Ed Benes' art is also just fine, it serves the big bang spectacle of this book well. But... I'm going to get nitpicky with the script and characterization here. While Hal and Bruce are "going to work on the homes with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch," it made me wonder why Clark didn't just saw his legs off with heat vision? And would that really stop the Flash? Can't he still tap into the speed force or some shit and vibrate his molecules so fast that he would be untouchable and invisible? Since when does Solomon Grundy use words like "maudlin?" The continuing caption boxes gimmick ("situ... situa... situation") was supposed to emphasize the speed of the encounter, but instead was just distracting and actually kinda' dumb. This story is titled Iron Man? Really? Iron Man? I'm very tired of the concurrent storylines that converge with two different people in two different places saying the same line, previous issues used this trick and it's wearing thin. Instead of making Meltzer's script seem innovative and original, it comes off as formulaic. And lastly, what an odd place to end. Off from a storytelling perspective - darn convenient only if you're writing for the inevitable six issue trade collection. We may have come full circle with Red Tornado going from robot body to human host, back to robot body, but there's no organic resolution of the story with the cast of villains involved. Tornado is stable for the moment, but the real underlying threat hasn't been resolved. No explanation of Vixen's sudden appearance into the fray. No explanation of Geo-Force's involvement. And Bruce suddenly trusts Zatanna tampering with someone's aura/psyche/soul now? There are a lot of illogical huhwhats? lingering beyond the superficial fun this title puts out. Grade B-.

Worldstorm #2 (DC/Wildstorm): I think it's pretty safe to say that the Wildstorm relaunch dubbed "Worldstorm" certainly didn't take the world by storm and is almost a complete failure. I say "almost," because I'm really enjoying Stormwatch: PHD. As for everything else in the line... either the books never ship and are chronically, well, "late" doesn't quite cut it, so we'll go with "non-existent," Wildcats, I'm talking to you - you managed to belt out a whopping ONE issue in like a year, pretty funny for the "flagship" book or... the books that do come out somewhat regularly, like say Deathblow and Midnighter, are just tired retreads of the same weary concepts. And Worldstorm #2 serves to cap off this crapfest by being utterly inconsequential. Funny that I know I bought #1, yet I can't recall a single thing that occurs in it. Didn't even know there was to be a #2. And here we are with a bunch of unfocused drivel. A short story about Voodoo, who was never a strong enough character to warrant her own book and could barely pull off a mini-series or one-shot or two, even when Alan Moore was writing her! She's a cool enough character (yes, I'm a bit nostalgiac for all things Wildcats), but where she belongs is in the Wildcats book, however, if it's not going to publish more than one issue, well, you see the irony and dilemma of this line... the back-up feature showcases Savant (and I'm not sure that people who aren't steeped in Wildstorm U history will even recognize who she is, last seen in the really bad Wildcats: Nemesis mini-series) and Jet (original Team 7 member Marc Slayton's daughter, who in a completely unsurprising way assumes her dad's Backlash monicker). Were fans really clamoring for more Savant and Jet? These are like C-string Wildstorm U characters at best. We also trot out Fuji and Winter for no apparent reason, it's not as if they're going to get books either. All in all, I can sum it up in one sentence: This book has no point. There's just no direction or vision here. It narrowly escapes a worse grade because although the stories and editorial choices are abysmal, there is actually some very nice pencil work here (and nice lettering on the Voodoo piece - take a bow Travis Lanham) from Phil Jimenez and Ryan Sook. Too bad it was wasted on such an awful book. Grade C-.

52: Week Forty-Four (DC): Many scenes of the melodramatic melee in Khandaq that push Black Adam toward vengeance. Then the telegraphed transformation touted for weeks, Renee Montoya as The Question. Your basic snoozefest as we return to the competent, yet curiously complacent pencils of another artistic benchwarmer named Eddy Barrows. I seem to be buying this only out of a warped sense of completion so that someday I can say "yes, I read every single issue of 54; wasn't very good." Best part of this book was the ad for the All-Star Superman Hardcover from Morrison and Quitely. The image of Nightwing's reflection against the case housing Jason Todd's Robin costume is striking as well. But alas, they have nothing to do with 52 44's Grade C-.

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