Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care #57

Blackest Night #7
Demonic #1 (2010)
God Complex #1 (2009)
Ultimate X #1

Blackest Night #7 (DC, 2010, $3.99)
I keep reading guys spitting into their Kleenex over Blackest Night being one of the greatest event comics ever, which just goes to show how beaten down the audience expectation for this type of thing is. Most crossovers range in quality from mediocre to soul raping, so I guess this book really is exceptional through being just okay. I don't think anyone is going to dispute how pretty Ivan Reis' art is, and actually finishing all eight issues on schedule guarantees him superstar status from here on out. It's Geoff Jonns' writing that has often been pedestrian, with whole issues devoted to setting up spin-offs or maneuvering pawns into preordained positions without being interesting unto themselves. This issue was much better than the last, even if it does require a Bachelors in Green Lantern lore, the purchase of many ancillary books, and a lot of accumulated good will to fully appreciate. Personally, I preferred the text piece in the back concerning William Hand's tweenage shenanigans, even if I did guess the obvious "twist" as soon as a third character came into play.

Pilot Season: Demonic #1 (Image, 2010, $2.99)
Speaking of the infernal, what kind of Faustian deal did Robert Kirkman strike up to become an Image partner? He's doing Haunt and pitching in on Spawn for Todd McFarlane, scripting an entire series of Pilot Season one-shots for Marc Silvestri, working with Whilce Portacio on Image United, which is helping relaunch Shadowhawk for Jim Valentino, plus his own line of creator owned books. He even went back to writing some Youngblood for Rob Liefeld, who isn't even a partner himself anymore. I guess Erik Larsen settled for time served and maybe a handjob. He's a good guy like that.

What does all this have to do with Demonic? Well, while he's shown chinks in the armor here and there recently, Demonic represents the single worse thing of Kirkman's I've ever read, and a return to the caliber of writing Image once reserved for its early '90s studio farm books. It doesn't contain a story, but the premise you might use to pitch someone on a book. It's feature length solicitation copy for a comic you wouldn't want to order. Kirkman has professed a love of Marvel's Sleepwalker character, which was once announced as being like Neil Gaiman's Sandman done "right." Well, this is David Quinn & Tim Vigil's Faust: Love of the Damned done "right," with the same degree of drop-off on a far lesser property.

The book is drawn by Joe Benitez, who also seems the be working in the spirit of Extreme Studios. It looks kind of like Michael Turner, a fucking awful but popular artist, yet nowhere near his dubious standards. The "story" is told mostly in kewl splash pages and spreads, with lots of big panels exploiting speed lines, smoke and explosions to avoid actual backgrounds. Our "hero" has a skull face and big ass claws, which he uses to chop up cops in a battle that runs much of the book's length. There are no pornographic sex scenes, but you can see dudes arms get diced into neat little chunks like an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon. All the better to reach a broader audience while gleaning the surface aspects of another property.

Demonic sets a new standard for creative sell/burnout, and reminds that Image can still reach back to the nadir of its existence if it (doesn't) try hard enough.

God Complex #1 (Image, 2010, $2.99)
The fourth issue of this series hit the stands today, which made me realize it was time to get shitting on its debut edition over with already. When the hell did Michael Avon Oeming become a cottage industry? I understand commercially lucrative artists like Neal Adams and the Image founders putting together whole studios of newbies tasked with drawing just like them, but I'd figure the actual Oeming's art would be a hard enough to sell without a stable of lookalikes. I guess I like it alright, in a passable sort of way, but doesn't it really come to trickle down Powers good will?

Anyway, God Complex is another generic "Greco-Roman deity embraces humanity, pisses off other gods" deal you've read dozens of packagings of, most recently as Incredible Hercules. The exception here is that instead of a book written by Greg Pak with a credible Asian co-star, this one is co-written by Some Guy and features Comedy Chink™ , that Offensive Oriental barrel of laughs even the dregs of pop culture gave up on decades back. Humble Apollo just wants to be the beefcake dishwasher "Paul," but he blows his cover defending the random restaurant he works at because of course he does, in part because he's in like with its beautiful owner because of course he is, who isn't at all interested in him and isn't interchangeable with any other random hottie he could push up on, because of course she isn't. When the musings of an aged Long Duk Dong shows the most character development, and the big twist is that the pantheon is now a ruthless corporate board, you just know that's $2.99 you're not getting back.

Ultimate X #1 (Marvel, 2010, $3.99)
I hate Jeph Loeb and I hate seeing Art Adams' glacially slow artistry wasted on stupid shit. That said through gritted teeth, Ultimate X is surprisingly decent. Yes, a Rebel Without A Cause backroad race between American muscle cars and teenage delinquents who roll their cigarette packs into the sleeve of their plain white t-shirt is anachronistic, but the Miley Cyrus whore running around in public wearing her nighttime jammies keeps things current. It's no secret the the blond kid with Hugh Jackman hair is Wolverine's son, and that this book looks to be Ultimate New Mutants, but the nods to Alpha Flight help smooth that over. I'm a child of the 80s, so Adams drawing my generations surrogate four-color girlfriend Kitty Pryde still gives me a kick. It's still retarded at heart, but there's a genuine and understandable warmth to Loebs' exploration of fathers and sons. Don't ask me to stick around until Art Adams' glory ceases to shine upon the proceedings, nor wait for Loebs inevitable return to being a godawful hack, but for this one issue they won me over.

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