Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wed. Is Any Day For All I Care #4

DC Universe #0 * Fallen Angel #15-16 * Glamourpuss #1 *
I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space #1 *
Justice League: The New Frontier Special #1 * Legion of Super-Heroes #39-41 * Reich #2 * Runaways #25-28 * Serenity: Better Days #1 *



I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space #1 (Platinum Studios, $0.99) I would like to say I'm disappointed this wasn't porn, but based on execution, I don't see that it would have made any difference. Every single aspect of what gets printed on the page was produced by Megan Rose Gedris, which is less about auteur theory than the necessity of getting published as part of a contest. Yes Virginia, this is clearly amateur hour. For less than a buck, you get 22 pages of story with typically more than a half dozen panels per page, which is damned sure your money's worth. There are a few chuckles and some Lichtenstein retro chic, so you could certainly toss a buck at worse, but don't expect the next indie darling coming out of this puppy.

Fallen Angel #15-16 (IDW Publishing, $3.99) There was a time Peter David was my favorite writer, but I became disconnected from his work, and have yet to find a new way in. As I recall, the last of his books that worked for me was the supernatural Supergirl stories, which ended at #50 and shifted gears to a facimilie of the Superman animated series version. That never worked for me, so when it was announced that DC's "Fallen Angel" would kinda-sorta pick up where Supergirl left off, I gave the first issue a try. That did not work out, as it read more like Munden's Bar, the historically poor back-up series for Grimjack back in the 80's. After the book managed the rare feat of escaping DC's orbit for more indie pastures, I considered giving it a second chance, but I refuse to pay $4 for a 32 page comic book. Seriously, I almost exclusively wait for the trade nowadays. Finally, it was announced a pseudo, and obviously unapproved, return appearance of the "Linda Danvers" Supergirl would take place over three issues of the new series. I again passed, until I caught the final two chapters at a 1/2 price sale. Would Peter Dabid finally win me back?

Nope. The book still reads like Munden's Bar, only with more cussin'. Lots of exposition and well-trod cliche wrapped around flat characters. Where Linda Danvers was a thoroughly adulterated, possibly murderous cultist married to an Earthborn angel spirit through a super-heroine, this "Lin" is just the bland lesser-powered Supergirl from the latter issues of David's run. Squandered opportunity, I'm afraid. Maybe I'll try the next She-Hulk trade...

Legion of Super-Heroes #39-41 (DC Comics, $2.99) Jim Shooter is writing the best monthly series I currently collect... until he leaves the book in a few months thanks to changes wrought by Final Crisis. Thank you DC Comics, from every other publisher who's getting more of my business since you've been driving me away. This book is edgy, thoroughly modern, funny, sexy and smart. It's everything the Legion should have been since at least the 1994 reboot. I continued to be shocked by how much naughtiness in language, underage sex, and such Shooter is getting away with. The characterization is both strong and amazingly concise, allowing for a great deal of juggling the enormous cast, plots, and subplots. I sincerely hope there's time for Shooter to resolve all of this, or else I'm going to have "Unity 2000" flashbacks. Francis Manapul contributes plenty with his slick style.

Runaways #25-28 (Marvel Comics, $2.99) I confess, I'm not a Brian Vaughn fan, despite repeated attempts. For instance, I was loaned the entire first series of "Runaways" in trade paperback plus the first collection of series two. I enjoyed what I read enough to get through them all, but felt no compulsion to continue buying from there. The writing had a tv quality to it, meaning it was good enough to get through for free and with minimal effort, but in no way compelling. I know major characters were introduced or killed off, and that knowledge doesn't effect me one way or another.

On being given Joss Whendon's first few issues as the new writer on Runaways, and I do mean given, I find my opinion hasn't changed much. The premise is solid, and his twist works fine, but I won't lose a bit of sleep if I never finish the story. I do need to point out that these issues represent a career high for artist Michael Ryan, who's been plugging away annoymously for years at Marvel, but seems poised here to becoming a fan favorite.

Serenity: Better Days #1 (Dark Horse, $2.99) What, Whedon again? I confess, I'm not really a fan, despite repeated attempts. The first season of "Buffy" was amusing, but the second seemed like an endless soap opera, and the Angel character does nothing for me. "Astonishing X-Men" was a pleasant return to classic Claremont form, but I haven't read anything since the second trade, because no one has loaned it to me without my even asking.

The one exception to all this "meh" is the "Firefly" series and the big screen adaptation that followed it. I love top notch genre hybrids, especially with a sense of humor, and that short run delivered in spades. Sadly, based on the previous "Those Left Behind" mini-series and the first installment of this here new edition, I don't think the charm translates to comics. It isn't that the art is bad, but I keep getting "Star Trek" flashbacks from the stiff photo-referencing. The format telegraphs the comedy, and the action is just so comic-booky. I'm not feeling it.

Justice League: The New Frontier Special #1 (DC Comics, $4.99) I enjoyed the original mini-series, but I must admit, the damned thing is mammothly overrated. So much of what excited people about the script was borrowed from more obscure books, making Darwyn Cooke something of a four-color Quentin Tarantino. One of the few innovations, and for me it was very welcome, was the retroactive introduction of a Silver Age African-American hero. While "John Henry" may have been short-lived, he was quite dynamic, and I had hoped we'd see more of him here. We do-- a mock cover for a first issue to his non-existent series. Nuts!

Another thing I liked about the series was its emphasis on newly arrived Silver Age heroes over the big guns. So more of that here? Ahh-- no. The lead story is devoted to the umpteen-jillionth Superman/Batman fight, guest-starring Wonder Woman. Between the three, thirty of the thirty-seven story pages are devoted to the three characters.

Black Canary did get to play straight woman to the Amazing Amazon in a second story, set at a playboy club, with art by J.Bone. Cute, but I'd say the best story of the three featured a drag-racing, slang-talking Robin drawn by David Bullock. I don't think the Boy Wonder ever inhabited the 50's so much as he does here.

Finally, the mini-series featured high quality paper and squarebound cardstock covers. The special is on thin glossy stock on a standard cover, which I managed to accidentally fold and tear with a loose bit of tape within an hour of its arrival at my home.

So was the book ultimately worth the price of admission? On the strength of the gag pin-up and back-ups, yes. Would I be pissed if I had bought the Absolute New Frontier only to see this thing come out a bit later? Oh hell yes...

Reich #2 (Sparkplug Comic Books, $3.00) This edition corrects many of the problems of the first: representational art on the cover, covers more ground, less graituitous sex/dream sequences. Even still, the book barely touches on the concept of orgone, the lead character is an uninteresting cad, and I get more from the footnotes than the narrative.

DC Universe #0 (DC Comics, $0.50) If you're interested in this, you probably already own it. If you're only interested in seeing it dismissed, yeah, I can supply. A four page recap of the various Crisis? Yawn. Three Perez pages that remind me how pissed I am the mini-series being advertised will soon fuck me out of my enjoyment of Shooter's series run? Gnash. Three pages of Morrison slumming like Greg Rucka on another blatant pop culture rip-off? Disheartening. Three pages of prelude to a blah Wonder Woman arc? Where's that softcover of "The Circle" so I can determine my interest, as I glean none here? Three pages of Green Lantern advertisement? Did I fall through a rift in the time space continuum and land a copy of DC Spotlight from 1985? Another two-page Crisis reference follow by a page advertising the Spectre's silly goatee? Somehow, more exciting than the four pages of set-up for the return of Barry friggin' Allen after a quarter century of don't-give-a-shit. Again, thank you Dan Didio for cutting my comic book budget in half!

Glamourpuss #1 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, $3.00) In the early 90's, I picked up several of the earliest issues of a Cerebus reprint series for about a quarter each, a dug the Barry Smith Conan parody. After years of hearing about what a masterwork the series became, I decided to try an arc sometime before issue #200. It was absolutely impenetrable, ponderous, and of no discernable value outside of the letter column manifestos. Over a decade later, I'm giving Dave Sim the first of two consecutive chances to convince me to finally buy one of those damn Cerebus phone book collections. Based on Glamourpuss, that ain't going to happen. The art here is very pretty, but Sim repeatedly cops to it all either being swiped or traced, so there's little merit to be found there. The parody material is deeply unfunny and a total waste of time. That leaves only Sim's lengthy examination of the works of guys like Alex Raymond, Al Williamson and the like, although "lengthy" is only applicable in comic book form, as it would have been better suited to a text article in, say, Comic Book Artist or the Comics Journal. All that considered, the book fails on pretty much every level I attempt to take it at.

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