Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday Is Brightest Day For All I Care #65

Adventure Comics #11/514
Blackest Night Director's Cut #1
Brightest Day #0
Titans: Villains For Hire Special #1




Adventure Comics #11/514 (DC, 2010, $3.99)
Thanks to 20/20 hindsight, I get it now. Kill Pa Kent to get Clark in an emotionally vulnerable place. Bring back a version of Kal-El’s lost world of Krypton so that he can become deeply invested. Develop the most familiar and popular interpretations of Brainiac, General Zod & company along the way. Blow up New Krypton to restore the pathos Superman lost Post-Crisis, hitting the reset button on a lot of valuable attributes lost since the mid-80s.

Perhaps if the story had remained in the Superman books where it belonged, it would have been better received and allowed to resolve itself at its own pace. Instead, DC got greedy, trying to launch a new take on Nightwing and Flamebird, as well as fix the Legion of Super-Heroes continuity left irreparably damaged by the Superman editorial office for twenty years. Even with two separate mini-series and a multi-book crossover dedicated to resolving the mess, a bunch of loose ends got dumped in the Superboy/Legion bifurcated title that’s been a hash all on its own.
If you’re wondering what the point of Jemm, Son of Saturn turning up a few months back was, here it is. If you’ve been reading R.E.B.E.L.S., a story point that launched that series winds up here. The motivation for Legionnaires running around in the present lately gets covered. That year Mon-El spent subbing for Superman was motivated by issues relating to the character for decades. This book will bring closure to plenty of tired old fans, assuming they hung in this long. Coupled with solid scripts and good art, the only real complaint is that you have to buy Adventure Comics to wrap a bunch of other series.




Blackest Night Director's Cut #1 (DC, 2010, $5.99)
I’m a movie buff, so I spend a lot of time going through the special features on my DVDs. Like double dipping a home video release, this is the comic book equivalent of such a cash grab. The reason to buy it is the thirty pages of design art related to the series, mostly by Joe Prado, as he reworks a few hundred different characters. A shame the editor in his finite wisdom stamped “UNUSED” in giant red letters over one design that never saw print anywhere else. The showcase is informative as well, seeing as I wasn’t even aware some of these characters were dead, and considering the editor neglects to mention the exact circumstances surrounding a few, I’m not entirely sure they all were, prior to being used.

There’s a gallery of all the covers related to the series, in which the rarest variants are typically cropped sideways or otherwise obscured for your viewing frustration. There are a couple of “deleted scenes” which were never drawn. As is typical, they were mildly interesting but inessential. An unpublished Greg Horn variant cover of Black Lantern Kilowog stepping on Kyle Rayner reiterates art as the primary virtue of the book. A heavily visual two page look at the production of Blackest Night action figures, followed by a two page spread of the figures produced to date, is just a thinly disguised advertisement.

The two primary elements of ballast are a “commentary track” and the script for the first issue. In this modern age of mixed caps and computer lettering, I’m surprised the ancient method of indicating emboldened text THROUGH WRITING IN ALL CAPS is still being employed. It’s like how in the olden days, every sentence had to end with either an exclamation or question mark. I figure most people read comics in an internal monotone, so I fail to see the point of using bold words to direct line readings. Beyond that outmoded curiosity, there’s nothing in the script you couldn’t be better served reading off the comic page.

In my experience, good commentary tracks usually involve candid directors, writers and/or producers getting into all the fine details of a film’s production. Bad commentary tracks often involve a circle jerk of actors talking about how much fun they had working together, when not going silent to watch the film. The commentary here falls into the latter category, with everyone blowing one another, or making the most banal “observations.” Ultimately, I recommend the book, but you should probably skip all the text unrelated to the design gallery.




Brightest Day #0 (DC, 2010, $3.99)
Oh shit, it’s Brightest Day! When this thing was coming out, I was hot to read it. Then I did, and promptly forgot to review it. You see, it turned out the zero issue was just an extended trailer for this and other series. The art by Fernando Pasarin is really nice, and I guess everybody deserved a breather after the big event book, but this is a preview of foreshadowing, y’know?




Titans: Villains For Hire Special #1 (DC, 2010, $4.99)
Mike Mayhew is 2-0 in killing prominent Asian characters in the DC Universe this year. Dr. Light better watch her ass, and I mean literally. The way Mayhew drew the lustily over-endowed Cheshire, he might be inclined to give her the Sue Dibny special on her way out.

Setting aside the whole shitty snuff mentality at DC these days, at least Eric Wallace’s script honors its hero with a worthwhile last stand that offers nods to the character’s history and supporting cast (at least as far as I know.) Deathstroke is a bad mother-fucking scumbag, and always has been, so he’s exactly the right kind of villain you want for your murder. Also, if you’ve been waiting for a comic to finally weaponize a twat, this book is for you.

The comic has two other artists besides Mayhew, and between their all looking great and the structure of the story involving numerous flashback sequences, it works. Still, why are these event massacres suddenly jam vehicles? Oh well, fuck it-- welcome to poorly edited and slowly drawn modern comics, right? If I wanted integrity, I’d stick with creator-owned work.

2 comments:

mathematicscore said...

You know, while it's a bit of a leap from the original mini, Jemm's role and characterization felt pretty right here, and I enjoyed him holding his own in the cliche hero punch up.
Also, I actually kind of enjoyed Adventure's loose feature lineup, in sort of a throw back to older times of anthology titles and the like...
Nostalgia for a time I wasn't even born.

Diabolu Frank said...

I have reservations about Jemm becoming so aggressive after his trademark passivity from his mini through to the Rings of Saturn arc in Martian Manhunter. I figure J'Onn fucking his fiance and generally making him look like a limp dick might have been the drop that spilled the wine. On the other hand, so far Jemm puffs up, then totally caves to the demands of every superman he encounters. Maybe its part of his therapy?

Also, it looks cooler for a red guy to be pissy, and I like the pointed head and ears. At one time he could have been a DeMatteis hippie Manhunter proxy, but he's shaping up to be an O'Neill idiot ragehead Manhunter proxy instead. I guess either path serves a role.

I like anthology titles in principle, but the execution usually involves good characters in bad stories and vice versa, plus lots of ballast. One of these days, publishers may use anthologies to keep slow producing talents busy again, instead of as a try-out book/trademark rest home.

...nurghophiles...

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