Sunday, January 9, 2011

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care #93

Captain America & The Korvac Saga #1
Halcyon #1
R.E.B.E.L.S. #23 (2011)
Widowmaker #1

Captain America & The Korvac Saga #1 (Marvel, 2010, $2.99)
The Marvel all-ages line has been on this kick lately where they reinterpret classic epics into concise, new reader friendly mini-series. It's not as funky of an idea as it may sound, since beyond the sound and fury and tie-ins, most comic book odysseys are simplistic good versus overwhelming evil pap. In fact, it strikes me that these spins have an opportunity to inject more plot and character into these things retroactively. Bad remakes may plague Hollywood, but when the Coen Brothers decide to tackle an old John Wayne vehicle, you might want to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The problem with revisiting "The Korvac Saga" is that it was already a funny, clever story with solid character moments, fantastic art, and an epic scale. Let's not oversell it and say it's like Army of Darkness, a beloved goof that had better have someone brilliant attached if it ever got remade. Well, the new "Kovac" has got Ben McCool and Craig Rousseau, and neither brought their A-game or any indication of an affinity for the material.

For starters, McCool should be banned from writing Captain America ever again. The Star-Spangled Avenger is written here as Batman on steroids. Arrogant, demanding, pig-headed, endlessly simmering... a total jerky control freak. Cap is constantly frowning or grimacing, and his poor handling of anything that comes his way in this story is essential Anti-Cap horse shit characterization. There's even a hideous two page spread with brown coloring slopped all over it where Cap whines about being a man out of time, right up there with Bruce Wayne crying over his fucking parents as things no one wants to read anymore.

Something this book has common with this week's other Marvel review is that there isn't a single likable character in the script. The only villain with significant lines is obnoxious, and the other Avengers don't have much to do. Their appearances can't coast on Rousseau's art, which is uncharacteristically rough and cluttered. Even the coloring is a fucking mess. I guess the letterer gets a pass, but the rest of this book is for the lose.

Marineman #1 (Image, 2011, $3.99)
When I have to reach back to hazy memories of the Tandy Computer Whiz Kids comics Radio Shack used to give away in the '80s as a basis for comparison to your brand new creator-owned comic: daiyum. I feel bad for pointing out how boring this infotainment is, because the poor damned thing is such an obvious labor of love for Ian Churchill. He devotes two pages to his childhood fascination with marine study (including family photos,) his creation of the title character in 1977, and desire to offer a more positive comic to the market. There's a pin-up and a sketch gallery and a feature on real world "Oceanaut" Peter J. Mumby, a professor of Coral Reef Ecology, and zzzzzzzzzz.

I'm one of those twats who defends Aquaman's potential, because the ocean is like the jungle, but even more dangerous. It can be such an exciting place to set stories, or it can be about some prettyboy playing with fishies. Usually, that second bit would be dismissive hyperbole, but seriously, Marineman just plays with fucking fishies. Allow me to illustrate:

Page 1: A splash of empty computer generated ocean and a couple square inches of boats surrounded by eighteen dialogue balloons simulating a radio talk show discussion of diving techniques.

Pages 2-3: A mysterious diving incident, narrated by the same slow news day NPR broadcast.

Pages 4-5: Marineman in his ugly costume swimming with oodles of fish.

Page 6: Marineman discussing his cable TV show at a convention panel.

Page 7: Marineman flirted with at a signing.

Page 8: Steve "Marineman" Ocean yakking with Jake Clearwater (seriously) in a jeep about nothing in the style of Brian Michael Bendis (but with less substance.)

Page 9: A splash of the Ocean Point Aquarium and Oceanpoint Institute for Marine Research (yes, twice) while the guys discuss a fart over eight dialogue balloons. I wish I was joking.

Page 10: A tour guide offers trivial Discovery Channel nuggets of wisdom about sharks.

Page 11: Marineman introduced again, in a tank with the sharks. It occurs to me that Ocean's top-heavy bodybuilder physique is incongruous with most swimmers. Wouldn't he use up a lot of oxygen to move that excess bulk?

Pages 12-13: Marineman puts a shark in "tonic immobility" by petting its nose for the crowd, as demonstrated through another splash page.

Page 14: Marineman dries off, chats with the tour guide, and signs a copy of his DVD for a kid.

Pages 15-18: Characters tell each other their personalities, allude to an underwater super-hero, remind you how famous Steve Ocean is, and restate pages 2-3

Pages 19-21: Marineman enters a top secret, hi-tech Navy base inside an underground cavern. Of course there's another splash.

Pages 22-24: Marineman chats with his scientist dad, and a new hot black Lieutenant is introduced at the base.

The End. That's it. Clearly, Churchill lacks the most rudimentary understanding of pacing, plot or a need to hook readers with a debut issue. This wouldn't even work as a #0 issue down the line. Nothing happens, the characters are voids, and the only time the dialogue isn't completely pointless is when it's informational or (only vaguely) expository. Further, fans picking this up on Churchill's name will likely be disappointed that he's experimenting with a cartoon style that somewhat recalls what Mike Norton's been doing lately (only with dodgy anatomy on the guys and more titillation on the girls.)

All that having necessarily been said in a critical review, I still feel lousy, because the project is so optimistic, anti-commercial and well-intentioned. Regardless, it's a vanity project by a fellow that should be forcibly removed from a keyboard, because he's paved a road to one hell of a lousy read.

R.E.B.E.L.S. #23 (DC, 2011, $2.99)
This has become one of the least focused book I read. Most of this issue felt like it was aiming to revive Green Lantern Corps Quarterly, with John Stewart as the name anchoring the vignette and the rookie Corpsmen of the Vega System starring in an isolated short story. Once again, the team formed in this book got a panel or two appearance, while Vril Dox and Adam Strange managed a guest cameo presence. It isn't bad, but it definitely feels like an ancillary title. Unfortunately, it looks like the thing that might tighten to book back up again is the return of Starro, an overlong story arc that's rushed conclusion always teased an inevitable, dreaded continuation.

Widowmaker #1 (Marvel, 2011, $2.99)
I read somewhere that the final issues of the canceled Hawkeye and Mockingbird ongoing had been repurposed as a mini-series. Reading this, I can see why the ongoing ended at about the same length as a mini-series. All the characters are bitter assholes, with Hawkeye offering to be obtuse and extra mouthy for flavor. The main antagonist appears to be another iteration of Ronin, who like DC's Hush is a failed concept creators keep trying to redeem with unwanted, futile continued appearances. There's a bunch of cloak and dagger shit which allows costumed heroes to beat up faceless soldiers in a bone dry script. The art by David Lopez is nice, except that his Black Widow looks like an aging junkie. The most exciting thing in Jim McCann's script is a guest appearance by a version of the Supreme Soviets. Make of that what you will.


Nick Ahlhelm said...

While the first issue was pretty weak, Marineman #2 does take a giant step up. It's still somewhat Fathom-esque, but a bit stronger read.

Diabolu Frank said...

Good to hear. I usually enjoy roasting a comic, but performing the autopsy on Marineman just made me sad.


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