Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wed. Is Any Day For All I Care #31

Batman: Battle For The Cowl: The Underground #1
Buck Rogers #0
Destroyer #1
R.E.B.E.L.S. #3

Batman: Battle For The Cowl: The Underground #1 (DC, 2009, $2.99)
For the most part, I've chucked deuce on the DCU, and it goes without saying I've given the latest Batman megacrossover a pass. Still, this came my way cheap, and it should be able to stand up to criticism as a one-shot, right? But of course, it can't.

The story opens midstream, with a bunch of stuff having gone down before I arrived involving the latest "death" of Batman and the 73rd mass escape of Arkham inmates. The Penguin orders the Riddler to uncover the identity of the current Black Mask, as the previous model was assumed dead. Exposition gets dealt out lightly, so it will help if you're at least vaguely familiar with the last six or so years of Batman family comics.

From there, a bunch of Batman villains brush up against other Batman villains. A new Batman for whom the 2nd Amendment is dear shows up to try to kill Catwoman, even though she's currently on the side of angels. Things get hinted at, but not one single goddamned thing gets resolved here. Besides adding "color" to the crossover, there's an anorexic-thin set-up for the upcoming Gotham City Sirens series.

Despite the whole affair being pointless, Chris Yost's script didn't bother me. The art by Pablo Raimondi had a wonderful, sleek, European mood greatly enhanced by the coloring of Brian Reber. Raimondi is a great fit for the characters and scenery of Gotham, so it would be wise to keep him working in that town on future books.

Buck Rogers #0 (Dynamite, 2009, $0.25)
In a bid to offer some steak with the sizzle of the low-low introductory price, writer Scott Beatty offers a script taking place in the final moments of a very important adventure. Beatty tries valiantly to make me give a shit about the character and plight of Not Flash Gordon. Whether it was the skew toward action, the silly villains, or Buck Roger's unoriginal voice, the story didn't quite do it. It wasn't bad, as far as that goes. The art's by Carlos Rafael, and compliments the quality of the script. The all-star here is colorist Carlos Lopez, who gives the book a pop the other elements lack. Next time out, I'd recommend leaving the jodhpurs in the closet, though.

Destroyer #1 (MAX, 2009, $3.99)
DC Comics launched Vertigo in the early '90s as a mature readers line for '80s Goth fantasy geeks. It seems to me Marvel Comics launched its MAX imprint in the early '00s as a mature readers lines for 80s aging action hero fans. Instead of Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood and Chuck Norris, MAX has offered Fury, The Punisher, and now Destroyer. This is sort of like DC's '80s vigilante riff Wild Dog worked over by the Mark Millar School of Writing. It's so cartoonishly violent that the gore has no dramatic impact, but not funny enough to play for yucks, either. Falling in between is a problem throughout the book. The premise is that a superhuman geriatric badass prepares to die by taking on every bit of unfinished business he can think of. You could take the mournful, human interest route of Kurt Busiek, and writer Robert Kirkman tries that, but neither long nor deep enough to hook emotions. Kirkman then goes back to wiseass brutality, but lacks the space for momentum to build. Aside from Irredeemable Ant-Man, Kirkman's Marvel work has always seemed watered down and gimmicky, this being no exception. Cory Walker's art suffers through the script, giving Kirkman what he asks for, and as a result feeling inconsistent.

I expect the main problem I have is that even though I'm fairly youthful and energetic for my age, I still feel the years on my body. The Destroyer would have to be three times that, but wrinkles aside, he still seems more capable physically than your average super-type. The character could have been thirty and dying from a slow-acting poison rather than aging, and the only real change would be to the art. Kirkman's main hook is squandered, so why bother bringing it up?.

R.E.B.E.L.S. #3 (DC, 2009, $2.99)
The gloriously detailed and nuanced art of Andy Clarke is more than enough reason to buy this book on its own. Thankfully, Tony Bedard's script is solid, and Vril Dox remains a delightful bastard. I confess that I'm beginning to tap my fingers at the still progressing gathering of the team, whose members aren't exactly bowling me over besides. There's also a laughable old school villain in use, making me worry the book might be taking its time because the destination ain't such a hot spot.

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