Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care #53

Black Widow & the Marvel Girls #1
Empowered Special (2009)
Super Friends #23 (2010)
Vampirella: The Second Coming #4 (of 4)

Black Widow & the Marvel Girls #1 (Marvel, 2010, $2.99)
This was a bit of an oddity. The cover looks like mainstream Marvel, with a grim story about imprisoned children being used as cannon fodder, and the general appearance of mass killings. In the midst of all that is an Enchantress appearance that's kinda creepy and would bug the shit out of me if it were in continuity. However, the book is written by Paul Tobin, mostly associated with the Marvel Adventures line, and it's ads are entirely kid friendly, and mostly targeting same. Oh, and the same argument goes for artist Salva Espin-- too light for the material, yet drawing fucked up shit. So basically, as a throwaway not-at-all-all-ages story, it's pretty alright, but if it's intended for adult fans and part of cannon, it's kinda slight and irritating.

Empowered Special "The Wench with a Million Sighs" (Dark Horse, 2009, $3.99)
I loved the first volume of this straight-to-trade series, but I took my sweet time reading the third, and I haven't even taken the shrinkwrap of 4 & 5. I guess you could say my enthusiasm is waning, enough so that I jumped into this introductory "floppy" one shot without being terribly concerned about spoilers. Nothing to fear, as the story doesn't betray any developments since the first trade, though it shares the same flaw as the second on. Empowered works best in small doses, and when stretched to book length, the jokes get really stale. Much of the story is running commentary from the Caged Demonwolf, who I used to find as hilarious as Borat or Yoda. See where I'm going with that? With repetition, what once amused becomes an icepick to the brain. Meanwhile, Thugboy comes off more shallow and stupid than in the trades, and Ninjette barely registers. The only portion that worked for me was Empowered A-plot, and that's because it played more as a straight super-hero tale with some humor, instead of the belabored bits from the other characters. It's nice that they used shiny paper stock to bring out Adam Warren's inks (or at least enriched his pencils to appear inky,) but it seems wasteful not to provide color as well. Ultimately, it seems representative of the Empowered material being produce, and decent fun, but far from the heights of the first volume.

Super Friends #23 (DC, 2010, $2.50)
I enjoyed the preview for this series that ran in Johnny DC titles two years ago, but this is the first full issue I've read. Sholly Fisch's story clearly targets very young kids, but is amusing in its simplicity and use of normally violent DC super-villains. The art by Stewart McKenny is smart and adorable, with some neat design work on Despero, Mongul and Queen Bee. Also, the book features a swell batch of activity interstitials called "Super Friends Super Stumper" with art by Ty Templeton that add a lot to your value for the dollar. Good stuff.

Vampirella: The Second Coming #4 (Harris, 2009, $1.99)
I was enthusiastic about this series going in, but just four issues in, I'm like "aren't you over yet?" The writing is okay, but it's too pretentious with its psycho-spiritual mumbo jumbo. Isn't treating a heroine as a symbol of femininity what makes Wonder Woman so goddamned boring, and isn't it especially ill-fitting on an inherently cheesecake character? Al Rio continues to ape Bryan Hitch, and it's a damned sight better than the style he's best known for, but still to cartoony to work with the script. It's solid Vampirella art saddled with the wrong story. Speaking of which, boy, does this thing ever jump the shark. The future of this misbegotten revamp looks pretty bleak, and the tale seems likely destined to be filed "under rug swept."

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