Adventure Comics #518
Brightest Day #9
Brightest Day #10
Green Arrow #4 (2010)
Adventure Comics #518 (DC, 2010, $3.99)
Fuck! Good! About time! I was a serious Legion of Super-Hero collector for about six years, and I like the Atom well enough to have a blog devoted to him, so I figured giving this series a shot couldn't be all bad. Turned out that was three issues worth of the worst stories I've read from either franchise, and I highly doubt I'll ever give another $4 book that kind of benefit of the doubt again. This was my last pre-ordered issue, and I don't know what the fuck Paul Levitz was thinking on his lead story.
You've got a nice hook on the cover with Superboy learning about his impending death against Doomsday through a museum exhibition piece. That story should write itself, but instead it gets two pages of Superboy saying, "brr, I don't want to know about that. Good thing Saturn Girl is totally going to mindwipe me on my way back to 1953." Instead, we get this totally generic Legion story about the pursuit of some random asshole, and a subplot involving a ghost haunting Legion headquarters (Mon-El?)
There's a silent one page pin-up moment that sums up the tale perfectly. It's a handful of Legionnaires tearing at the skin of a starcraft. And? Kevin Sharpe doesn't have the chops to sell it as art porn, and who gives a shit about the actual content? It's like the old saying about how your story sucks if you could swap out any hero as your lead without altering it much. In this instance, any super-team could be breaking any bad guy's shit, and it would have the same or potentially greater impact. Robotman lacking fringed boots and Elasti-Girl not wearing a pink costume could only be an improvement.
The Atom back-up sucked way less than the previous special and chapters. This time, the weak link is artist Mahmud Asrar, who used to do good work when he handled one book, but looks crap now that he never says no to any assignment. Some panels look like Bachalo wipes, and others Bagley, so forget stylistic consistency. One page started with a panel of digitally cloned atomic symbols, and continued into three panels of one illustration manipulated through different filters and aspect ratios. This one page, Ray looks about 65 in the first panel, and in the last has an asymmetrical head that seems to have taken a shovel to one side.
The writing on the Atom remains below par, but not in the double digits this game. Ray's still second-guessing himself like a titty-baby, but at least he schools some amateurs and pulls a nice all-ages donkey punch from some dude's behind. Also, a couple of guys explode into pools of gore, which is good thinking. Sword of the Atom taught us that shrinking alone doesn't sell nearly as well as doing so while stabbing fuckers in the mouth and similarly hardcore maneuvers. Unfortunately, a mischaracterized Oracle is still doing all of the heavy lifting, and why the Atom wouldn't pass along the coordinates to an enemy base detected by the DC Universe's high mistress of communication to his JLA buddies is beyond a reasonable lapse of discretion. Never mind that he wanders around their HQ at full size like a mo-ron. Goodbye, Jeff Lemire. I look forward to avoiding your future super-hero work.
Brightest Day #9 (DC, 2010, $2.99)
The Vision is way cooler than Red Tornado, but they're both always going to be losers. You see, they're robots, which means writers can break them at will, and they will. It's the same reason magic comics don't sell: when you can do anything, and you do, nothing means anything. You have to have firm rules, so that when you break or even just bend them, it turns people on. That's why guys dig Catholic school girl uniforms more than standard slut gear, and in fact you fear for your peener when it comes to the latter. My point being, the Martian Manhunter will never rise above the b-list, because when he shoots his own hands off with heat vision, you know he'll just grow another pair. Worse, everyone already knew this, so besides the lack of impact, there's the head shaking over J'Onn J'Onzz not being able to handle his shit better than that. Somehow, Superman could manage to regrow his hands, but he doesn't have to worry about that, because Men of Steel don't literally shoot themselves in the foot.
I want J'Onn J'Onzz to do well, but he's already traveling down failure road before he even lands his next doomed solo project. He's got a brutally murderous opposite who gets up to all kinds of gruesome shit, but without any motivation besides it looking kewl to kill a grocery store full of people and stock bits of them on freezer shelves. Further, he's retaining water, and when it looks like a job for the Green Arrow, you're approaching Red Tornado levels of suck. It doesn't help when your artist is obviously overworked, cutting every corner short of Snowbird vs. Wendigo in a blizzard. There's a two page spread in which there isn't a single character image that isn't cheated by using a silhouette, an aerial view or an extreme close-up to avoid drawing anything but shapes. I could knock this out myself. The writing is no better, with one sentence in one word balloon using the words "me" three times and "I" once. Oh, and that thing where J'Onn tries to do something good and ends up generating an unintentional body count, leading to a total reversion back to the status quo of unpopularity? I read that story a few times already.
Brightest Day #10 (DC, 2010, $2.99)
I officially like Blaqualad. The tat's cool, the powers rock, and his section gets drawn by Ivan Reis. Having Black Manta as a daddy has got to suck, but there's humor to be found in those fishing line barbs he keeps firing. Save that for the badazz Fisherman revamp, guys. Besides that, the Aquaman & Mera feature looks gorgeous, totally suits the characters, has scope, and is totally relevant to the cannon.
Firestorm? Less so. Scott Clark steps up his game to compete with the third rate work of Pat Gleason, so he's now only the second weakest link on the art front. The feature is still damned ugly and raw, but I guess the sheer amount of pages present and the amateurishness of Gleason's work last issue have beaten me into submission. I also can't get excited about Firestorm's new extinction event level power. I mean, Damage literally ignited the Big Bang to restart the DC universe after Zero Hour, and that didn't save him from being physically deformed and murdered by relatively minor villains (both times at Geoff Johns' command.) If the threat was that the unchecked power of Firestorm could kill more random DC women and minorities (R.I.P. Gehenna,) then that would be something to take seriously. Run, Doctor Light, run!
Green Arrow #4 (DC, 2010, $2.99)
You know what I love? Buying a comic book I don't normally follow because of a guest appearance/tie-in, only to spend the ten relevant pages reading a near panel-for-panel reframing of the exact same sequence of events with similar dialogue as another book. There was a time I bought new DC monthly comics by the dozen, but years of this kind of stupidity means I am currently subscribed to one title. That's strategery!
The rest of the book involved continuing subplots for stock characters introduced within the last three issues. There's the investigative reporter secretly helping Oliver Queen in his campaign against Isabel Rochev, the evil Russian entrepreneur whose nickname of "The Queen" surely means something. There's also the activist love interest, which is funny, because I could have sworn Green Arrow was still married to Black Canary. There's also the crazy Galahad guy who takes the labored Sherwood Forest parallel even more seriously than the book's writer. I guess this is better than what Winnick was doing, but sixty years is a long time in to still be casting about for a motif beyond "Batman with arrows." That's all the character is on Smallville, and it's worked out pretty well for him there.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
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