Thursday, July 29, 2010

What's Next Is A Buck For All I Care #75

Action Comics #858 Special Edition (2010)
Detective Comics #854 Special Edition (2010)
Flash: Rebirth #1 Special Edition (2010)
Jonah Hex #1 Special Edition (2010)

“After Watchmen” was an initiative of low priced introductory comics that could be placed in the hands of all those people that bought the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons opus in the run-up to the movie adaptation. The demand for blue pricks may not have been as great as hoped, but DC has continued to put out dollar comics regularly under the heading “What’s Next? Great Graphic Novels You Should Be Reading, “ and this is my review of a selection of such offerings.

Action Comics #858 Special Edition (DC, 2010, $1.00)
After an overly long “pre-title” set-up to something of a joke, Geoff Johns begins worshiping at the alter of the Richard Donner Superman movies by presenting Clark Kent as a schmuck. Peter Parker and his ilk can pull that that shtick off in 2010 because their super-heroic guises are the put-on, but the Man of Steel pretending to be a dork is just grating-- not to mention inviting about half a century of armchair psychoanalysis. Then there’s a flashback to that scene from the first Superman movie when Clark’s all put out about not being able to play sports or get laid on account of being so goddamned powerful. Poor bitch breaks up his pity party with a first visit from the Legion of Super-Heroes. I’m glad to see them back in continuity, but their now having appeared before Superboy’s debut insinuates their flamboyant costumes influenced Superman’s, which irks. This all leads to Superman getting acquainted with the revived Levitz-era Legion in their newly dystopic future, with a cute Silver Age twist. Geoff Johns’ writing is reliable, and I really enjoy Gary Frank’s art, despite the wonk eyes, overbites, and age lines on teenaged faces. I wanted to keep reading, so good on them.

Detective Comics #854 Special Edition (DC, 2010, $1.00)
Woo—the Barbara Gordon Batgirl is back as a full grown fetish queen with Dita-pale skin and cute little red bats on the soles of her boots. The panels are all deco’d out with lighting bolt gutters and central pin-up images in double page spreads that will sell great on the original art market. This book is so damned pretty and stylish and WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU PEOPLE DOING?!?!

Who is Batwoman? I think I got a first name somewhere in this story, but definitely no last. What is the significance of the lightning bolts? Why is most of the issue devoted to the heroine beating up street thugs for information on some “church of crime” that goes unexplained? Which Batman is that, and why can’t the great detective figure out the chick’s wearing a wig? Was the heroine’s lesbian lover a new character, and if so, why was she introduced to waste two pages on establishing Batwoman as a lesbian? That space might have been more useful giving her origin, motivation, story to date, and a proper introduction to a single character in this entire book. When did Batwoman get stabbed in the heart, why, and how did she survive? Does Greg Rucka actually know any lesbians, because I do, and the “flannel” remark makes him sound ignorant? Reference mullets or shaved heads or tats or piercings— something relevant to the 21st Century dyke. Is that military guy Batwoman’s dad, and if so, what’s his name? Why does the lesbian super-heroine need her daddy to arm and oversee her operations? Why are there so many worm’s eye views of her pointy plastic tits and vinyl hugging twat, particularly the spread of her kicking dozens of random hood in the face? If it the same reason Bat-Gina gets her own girl Joker in the form of the Carroll-quoting Alice, and shouldn’t she be the Red Queen or Queen of Hearts, and do I need her costume to present a constant crotch flash of the camel-toed sort? Isn’t Harley Quinn already the girl Joker, with less vexing/pretentious dialogue? I know the answers to many but not all of these questions, including Alice’s being Batwoman’s long lost twin sister (really,) but what a nice big “fuck you” this vague as shit book is to the uninitiated. If only it weren’t so fucking beautiful to look at.

There’s also a back up where an unidentified female vigilante (psst—also a lesbian) has an older male work her computer and direct her actions without actually introducing anyone or explaining anything beyond the basics of a ripped-from-the-headlines story. Didn’t I just read this? Where are the design heavy layouts that interfere with the storytelling, though? That is the Question!

Flash: Rebirth #1 Special Edition (DC, 2010, $1.00)
Seven pages viewed through the eyes of a killer mowing down forensic scientists before reenacting the origin of the Barry Allen Flash. Two pages of single panel reactions from Flash rogues to Barry Allen’s return. Five devoted to fellow heroes speaking in hyperbolic praise of the man amongst themselves. One for the wife. It’s a good thing this issue runs thirty pages, because Barry himself doesn’t turn up until halfway through and a bunch of jibba-jabba. Now we can get down to… six more pages of Barry bitching about being a man out of time like he was fucking Captain America on the ice floe. Earlier on, Bart Allen was running down his resurrected grandpa, acting as proxy for fans miffed that Wally West has been sidelined after almost a quarter century as the Flash. This gave writer Geoff Johns the opportunity to metatextually address these critics, forgetting that the best defense is to show them their error, not lecture at them. I hate Wally West because he’s a judgmental prick handed a swell life on a silver platter, where Barry Allen was an agreeable stoic and accomplished professional who earned the wings on his running boots. Here though, he’s such a tense obsessive douche bag, he’d give Batman a run for his money. Barry’s such a bitch, he makes Hal Jordan look calm and rational by comparison. That simply will not do.

Not content to just have a classic hero chase after rogues, we’ve got the usual Johns foreshadowing through violent imagery, plus a tragic childhood involving daddies brutally murdering mommies. Ethan Van Sciver packs in the detail, but Wally West has always struck me as the pretty boy in need of a polished artist, where Barry is more geared for a Scott Kolins type. The book’s not bad, but it doesn’t feel essential, either.

Jonah Hex #1 Special Edition (DC, 2010, $1.00)
What a perfect introductory story! You’ve got a Clint Eastwood-style western anti-hero in the Josie Wales/High Plains Drifter mode whose actions are as fucked-up as his face. Hex follows a pre-Noahite moral code and applies Old Testament punishment to all transgressors, be they friend or foe. He’s an expert bounty hunter and an exceptional killer of men, all established through a four page scenario. A whole new story starts afterward, which introduces all the characters you need to know, follows a three act structure, and comes to a satisfying conclusion. There’s thrills, horrors and tragedy, all in eighteen pages. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray show how it’s done, with the only caveat being that the formula may wear over time, since this is basically Frontier Punisher. Under a fantastic Frank Quitely cover is the lush art of Luke Ross. It’s obviously heavily photo-referenced, but much more fluid and lifelike than contemporaries like Mike Mayhew. Total package here.

1 comment:

LissBirds said...

But Richard Donner Clark Kent is such an adorable schmuck!

The crime bible/church of crime was so stupid, and I wish that had gotten forgotten after 52, but, alas, it did not. Batman can't figure out she's wearing a wig because it's Dick Grayson Batman and he's not that smart and he was too busy checking her out at the time. But you're right...for all the confusion (and retconning), it's just too darn pretty not to read.

And re: Batwoman nipples...where are the fanboys who complained endlessly about the Bat-nipples in the Batman and Robin film now?


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