Monday, February 8, 2010

Wednesdays Were Eventful But I Didn't Care #54

Atom & Hawkman #46
Green Lantern #50 (2010)
The Question #37
Siege #1(2010)

So yeah, I had my own event (sorta kinda,) and all ...nurgh... business got left by the wayside. Here's where I start catching up, even if this month's shitty reviews will be even more fucking late and useless than usual.

The Atom & Hawkman #46 (DC, 2010, $2.99)
One of the gags relating to Blackest Night is that, like the zombified characters running loose, they're unleashing one-off additional issues of long dead series. Fun Fact: The Atom & Hawkman #45 was released in November 1969. Surprisingly, most of the old creative team isn't dead yet, and the writer is even doing another one of these books I'll review later.

The "latest issue" reads like nothing but a modern comic book. It's really an Atom solo story, as he has one of those "physical manifestation of character's history and psychological hang-ups" adventures Chris Claremont used to mess his boxers over. It's made for newbies, so folks down with Ray Palmer on the wayback will have to settle for plush Ryan Sook art and finally dealing with Jean Loring's bitch ass for good. It reads decent, looks hot, and totally sets up the titular characters appearing in a Geoff Johns/Jim Lee/Dave Finch JLA relaunch in 2011. My only complaint is how can neglectful, murderous, torturous, Sword of the Motherfucking Atom Ray Palmer be an avatar of compassion? He should have swapped rings with the Flash, who looks like the fuckin' Atom in that blue get-up anyway.

Green Lantern #50 (DC, 2009, $3.99)
Another fiftieth, another Parallax resurrection, hardy-har-har. Doug Mahnke continues his renaissance as Brian Bolland by way of Kev O'Neill, and it makes me feel tingly all over. The story is another collection of Blackest Night deleted scenes, but they're the kind where you say "dude, they should'a kept that in," except then the movie would run four hours that way. Nice to see the goddamned Aquaman subplot, a personal favorite, finally picked back up after what, four months? I thought Johns was building Mera up for that aforementioned JLA relaunch, but I now suspect that like me he's read too many Post-Crisis appearances to ever forgive her for the hideously trifling psycho shit she's gotten up to. Get ready for Jean Loring 2.0, but damned if her scenes aren't effective as all hell. The Spectre stuff is okay (Hal looks good in black,) but Scarecrow's on my nerves. In summation: it begins, it ends, there's no actual resolution, but it's still alright.

The Question #37 (DC, 2010, $2.99)
The Question was one of the finest series of the 1980s, and a career high for everyone involved.

Greg Rucka is a plagiarist whose work runs the gamut from mediocre to bent dick. Even when I don't know where this bland shit is stealing from, I should assume the worst. For instance, my girlfriend is forcing me to watch the Saint Seiya anime series, and we just got to the part where Dragon Shiryu blinds himself in battle to counter the effects of the Medusa Shield... just like Rucka's Wonder Woman blinded herself in battle (with serpent venom, no less) to counter the effects of the actual Medusa, which seemed really random and excessive at the time (not to mention short-lived.) Point being, Rucka shit all over his and Ed Brubaker's work on Streets of Gotham to turn its lead characters into the latest version of established super-heroes (complete with similar "origins," and missing his own fucking point,) and he shit all over The Question series by killing and replacing its lead with Michelle Rodriguez.

I had no intention of buying this book, since it took a critically acclaimed, segregated mature readers series and turned it into a super-hero event tie-in where the new Question would literally flog the reanimated corpse of the original, better model. That is, until I realized Greg Rucka wasn't writing it alone, and in fact the writer and artist of the original series were returning for a final word.

Denny O'Neil was the Judd Winick of his day-- obnoxious, stupid, ham-fisted, violent, "topical," and leftist to the extreme. It wasn't until the maturity of middle age and survival of alcoholism that O'Neil became the quality of writer his reputation suggested. The Question was his magnum opus, yet decades since its last issue, and years after his retirement, O'Neil doesn't seem to have missed a beat. Even under fantastic circumstances, with a new lead heroine and tons of other changes, the story is so grounded in O'Neil's world that everything feels like it belongs. The clipped dialogue, sophisticated structure, and familiar peculiarities are all there. Home isn't where he left it, but you feel it, and that equals bliss.

Bill Sienkiewicz started out as one of the best Neal Adams clones, before embracing modern art sensibilities and revolutionizing comics by marrying the commercial with the abstract. Denys Cowan started out as a general "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way" sort who later aped Sienkiewicz to the best of his abilities before descending into crude hackwork. Either Cowan finally being paired with his obvious influence elevated his game, or Sienkiewicz is inking his ass off with a complimentary penciler, because this is Cowan's best work in just about ever. John Stanisci is also on inks, a name I haven't seen in too long. He's still good, but I wonder if he's more faithful to Cowan's layouts. since some pages are a lot less... refined than others.

The sole cock-up is when, unlike every colorist that has handled a Blackest Night tie-in, David Baron can't get the emotional-spectrum-Rainbow-Brite shit straight, and just paints everything green. Beyond that, the story is called "One More Question." How perfect is that?

Siege #1 (Marvel, 2010, $3.99)
I try to keep up with what's going on at Marvel, since I prefer the basic plots at that company a lot more than the scripts/execution. I knew pretty much everything I needed to go into Siege as an informed reader. Based on Brian Michael Bendis' sustained tone and left-of-center vibe, I enjoyed the experience. Oliver Coipel has improved massively since the last time I looked at his art in detail.

All that having been said, I remember a friend calling me out of the blue to get the skinny on Civil War after the Spider-Man reveal, and he didn't even read comics. That dude could still pick up a trade paperback and dive into that story if he wanted. Siege, once collected, will be fucking incomprehensible to entry level readers, but they won't bother, because nobody will give a shit about the lame ass premise of Asguardians vs. a rogue U.S. government faction. It doesn't make any sense, has no parallel in the real world, and isn't explained at all well here. Instead, there's a confusing conversation between Loki and Norman Osborne's narration boxes, Volstagg in a pale imitation of the Stamford incident, and the whole series seems to exist to tie-up tired ass plot points that should have never escaped Secret Invasion. All-in-all, this is a non-event that I'm surprised anyone could get excited over.


mathematicscore said...

Not being especially familiar with Atom (aside from the Ryan Choi version) I'm not sure how the characterization fits, except to say the Johns does seem to be separating compassion from love/hope, making it the badass of that side of the spectrom. Also, agreed that Blue Flash= the Atom.

Skipping GL, The Question is another character I like quite a bit but have a far from comprehensive understanding of, O'neil/Cowan era especially. That said, I thought this was the best of the resurrected issues so far. An interesting spin that they can only "see" emotion. The more philosophical aspects felt a lot like the few issues of their run I've come across.
Siege angered me. Seeing Thor owned by a bunch of C-listers (granted with a couple of real heavies) was just handled so poorly. At least the Death of Superman took several issues to beat and bloody the "toughest" hero around. Kill.
If you liked Coipel's work, have you read The recent Thor run? Marvel editorial apparently messed with the ending, but it's a good read and great art throughout.

Diabolu Frank said...

M.C. I'm reading old Atom stories for "Tiny Titan" blog updates, and so far, the compassion holds up in the Silver Age. I'm more familiar with the Atom of the 80s-up though, whose pastimes include living as a barbarian, firing himself through people like a human bullet, and extraordinary rendition. Not much compassion there. I like Johns' take so far-- it's just the Tribe association I take issue with (though I can see why the stretch was made.)

The Question series is winning.

I tossed through Siege #2, but all I remember is Ares getting ripped in half by the Sentry. Did Thor show up, because I assumed his off-camera "defeat" was just a fake out?

I was put off by the Thor relaunch initially, but now that it's verified as a finite run (as opposed to JMS' endless Amazing Professor Spider-Totem Playa Hatah, I might go back and look at it. JMS can do some things really right, and I had no idea Coipel had improved so much since his dodgy Avengers work.

mathematicscore said...

Yeah, I wasn't sold on the first issue (of Thor), but ended up following the whole run. Yeah, Thor is in Seige 2, and there was no fake out, some chick from sheild and a farmer in a pick up truck pull his fat out of the fire. Nice one Bendis. Also, Superman(er...Sentry) is really powerful and all, but ripping the god of war apart? That easily? Not buying it( and incidentally, no buying Seige).

And yeah, Sword of the Atom is AWESOME.


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