Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quick bits

Well, it's been awhile. And it may be awhile again, because I've been some kind of crazy busy. That said, I've also been catching up on various things, and what the hey, let's talk about 'em.

"Justice League" #7 was the first issue I didn't hate, and thus stayed its execution from my pull list for another month. It wasn't perfect or great by any means--the team certainly doesn't act like they've been working together for five years (especially Green Lantern, who seems like a very different character here than in his own title), and the only thing that's developed seems to have been the League's technology and involvement in bureaucracy. It would be nice, too, if the DC writers would collaborate a little; Batman's angry calls to shut down the JLI seem to stand at odds with his complimentary and laudatory comments to Booster in that title. But giving us a viewpoint character in the beleaguered Steve Trevor was a smart move, even if it meant inventing yet another DCU paramilitary organization. Trevor couldn't work for S.H.A.D.E.? The D.E.O.? The Dept. of Metahuman Affairs that Diana Prince worked for pre-Flashpoint?

I'm not sure I'm interested in where Johns is going with the title, and I certainly don't like the feeling he's recently cultivated that we'll take a long time getting there, and then not actually do anything. But at least I don't hate the characters so much anymore.

Though I have to wonder when Hal Jordan swapped brains with Guy Gardner. Seriously, he's cruising for "one punch."

One thing I did hate about "Justice League" #7 was the Shazam backup. Sure, everyone else's complaints about how Dr. Sivana now looks just like Lex Luthor for no discernible reason, and how Billy Batson is suddenly a jerk for no discernible reason, absolutely apply. The fact that the Wizard has been apparently reduced to a kidnapping transient doesn't help. But the thing that strikes me is just how tone-deaf and unnecessary the whole thing is. I mentioned elsewhere that Captain Marvel should be a license to print money. It's the superhero-as-childhood-power-fantasy concept made manifest. It's "Harry Potter" with a superhero, right down to the lightning theme and magic train. The problem isn't that the Shazam Family is confusing or corny, or that it needs to be made somehow more mature. The problem is that it's a property calculated for children's enjoyment, but there's not enough of a children's comic audience to support it. Shazam needs to be a cartoon, or a digest-sized comic available in supermarkets, or a digital comic advertised on Cartoon Network (maybe a gimmick, like "Captain Marvel fights the Monster Society of Evil--and you design the monsters!"), or a series of standalone OGNs targeted at a younger crowd.

What it doesn't need to be is revamped again into a more gritty, "adult" version of what's gone before. It didn't work or take with "Trials of Shazam," and it certainly won't work here, trying to make the character more of a wizard in a superhero comics audience that has, traditionally, not well-supported comics about magic users.

And holy moley, can we stop with this trend of making every superhero a jerk?

I gave "Green Arrow" #7 a shot, what with the transition to Ann Nocenti as writer. I liked the story well enough, but hoo boy the art. Harvey Tolibao is trying to have a Travel Foreman thing going on, but with more cheesecake and less coherent visual storytelling, and I just do not care for it. I might try the next issue, but I'm really not sure.

Also, in the same vein, I gave "Night Force" a shot. Tom Mandrake is one of those few acclaimed artists whose work I just don't care for--there was a lot of "Martian Manhunter" from years ago that looked like someone just smeared the whole image to one direction or another. But this is easily the best art I've seen from him (even above books I liked, like "The Kents"), and it was darn good. Unfortunately, I had no idea what was going on. I'll give it a re-read, but this may be one I wait on, to see how the buzz goes come trade-time. That would also give me the chance to buy the original series in trade.

I saw "John Carter," which was pretty great. It makes me feel bad that I've only read two pages of "A Princess of Mars." But it was the kind of super-enjoyable adventure romp that makes me feel really bad that its terrible marketing campaign and box office flopping will likely prevent the production of sequels.

The official Facebook page for "Man of Steel" is up. I feel the trepidation with Zack Snyder at the helm, and I know I'm the guy who still likes "Superman Returns," but the graphic they have up looks pretty cool. Like, seriously cool. Good or bad, but hopefully good, I can't wait for this movie.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Solicit groanings

The DC advance solicits are out! Time to get upset about books I won't see 'til June!
  • Remember how much I liked the new Power Girl costume?

    Why? It was such a good costume (if a little derivative of Supreme)! Like, has someone at editorial decided that all the costumes need to be equally awful?
  • I really like the name "Vostok-X," but I don't think that's enough to keep me buying Aquaman. I'm just burned out on Geoff Johns constant "let's set up these cool future plotlines" that ultimately fizzle out because he's not paying enough attention to the current plotline. See also: Justice League #6, which gave us a major anticlimax (set up by the last 5 issues) and rushed right into setting up the next big thing.
  • I like the "Firestorms around the world" thing that Firestorm's working with, and Firestorm as an allegory for nuclear power, but I just have no interest in the book anymore. There's too little going on for such a rich concept, and there's been nothing that Firestorm was doing that one of the other government-sanctioned hero books wasn't doing better.
  • Really wish I could care about Superboy, but "Superboy and Wonder Girl without adult supervision, wink wink" is...not what I want. Maybe "Superboy and Wonder Girl fight dinosaurs will make up for it--a similar plot, after all, got me to start buying Power Girl again. Heck, if this issue were just that one but with a find-replace on the dialogue, I'd be okay with that.
  • "Batman: The Dark Knight" looks straight-up terrible. Also, "it's not about [WORD], it's about [SYNONYM FOR THAT WORD]" is pretty terrible, even for solicit writing. Even for solicit writing that credits the wrong Batwoman artist and misspells "Kryptonian."
  • "Red Hood & The Outlaws" finally put some clothes on Starfire. I love the solicit: "RED HOOD learns that STARFIRE is one of the most respected and feared commanders in all of space! Who knew?" Who knew? Certainly not the potential readers who were turned off at the character's one-dimensional sex-object introduction. Man, if only issue #1 had decided to portray Starfire as a kickass starship commander instead of a contorted bikini.
  • I have to remember to drop Green Lantern Corps at the shop this week. "John Stewart just keeps killing Lanterns! The Guardians are bad people!" Ugh.
  • Every cover should be a Brian Bolland cover.
  • I was worried about Frankenstein post-Lemire. Then I read this: "Their first stop is the UNTROPOLIS – an exact copy of Metropolis that floats upside down in the 4TH CLOUD above Superman's home town." That is amazing, and I would like more of that please.
  • If I'd known ahead of time that Cully Hamner was off "The Shade," I would have considered dropping it again. But Frazer Irving is all kinds of great, so I guess I'm getting the whole thing.
  • Bat Lash backup in "All-Star Western"? Drawn by José Luis García-López? That', there aren't words. Crazy.
  • "The Ravagers" does the amazing by making costumes designed by '90s Wildstorm artists look well-constructed and sensible.
Okay, so there are definitely some highlights, but man does that costume redesign put a bad taste in my mouth.