Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wednesday is Almost Over For All I Care #102

Brightest Day #22
Outsiders #37 (2011)
R.E.B.E.L.S. #26 (2011)

Before I ran a shop, I wasn't a part of the Wednesday comics scene, and I don't even buy my comics from a brick and mortar shop anymore. I've been running a countdown toward the point where I finally stop buying monthly since about 2009, and despite an Aquaman series on the horizon, I believe I'm almost there. I think I'll trade-wait from now on, which should explain the return of regular "Dirty Trader" reviews around here, and a marked decrease in "Wednesday" floppy reviews in the coming months. For instance, I've only got three cycles of three buoyed by two very dated reviews and a reprint on that last week. FCBD 2011 should be my final blow-out in terms of keeping this column above bi-weekly publication status.

Brightest Day #22 (DC, 2011, $2.99)
One of the least interesting features drawn by the worst of the book's artists was surprisingly decent when it dominated the issue. Perhaps it was helped by better features drawing to a close, and a lack of direct comparison to them in the same issue?

Scott Clark does Anti-Monitor some justice in a two page spread, but the good will is undone by a terrible Firestorm splash page and the decision to reveal that under his helmet, A-M looks like Garv from L.E.G.I.O.N. by way of a poor man's Dormmammu. This guy's star has fallen so hard since Crisis, he might actually qualify as a Firestorm villain before it's all said and done. Six of the twenty story pages are full or dual page illustrations, plus a seventh half-splash, so you can really take in how shoddy the computer effects are and how little story your getting for the $2.99 line holding.

The story itself rides the short bus. I get that the White Lantern allowed itself to be stolen so that it could bushwack the Anti-Monitor, but why did it go to so much trouble, and wouldn't it be nice to tell the readers the point of all this? Did the White Lantern, the Anti-Monitor, or a third party create the new Black Lanterns? If it was A-M, why would he creaste insubordinate jackasses when Shadow Wraiths could do the job without involving the father figures of troublesome super-heroes? What good would fire, no matter how explosive, be against the Anti-Monitor? Why was the Professor released from the Black Lantern Firestorm matrix? How could Stern move fast enough to shield Ronny, and why would his scrawny ass take all the blast, unless the whole thing was engineered by the White Lantern? How did ol'salty managed to hang on for three pages of dialogue? Who was impressed with Firestorm's final moment of "triumph," considering the White Lantern was the deus ex machina that did every bit of the plot carrying, including saving Jason's dad in a tossed-off bit of dialogue? What makes Johns and Tomasi think serving heroes shit, then allowing the supporting cast or White Lantern to save the day, inclines anyone toward buying the inevitable solo series?

Outsiders #37 (DC, 2011, $2.99)
I'm probably the only person who bought this book specifically because Keith Giffen was the solicited artist. Keith wrote a pretty harrowing Doomsday riff for Erik Larsen's Freak Force back in the day, plus the influential Despero rampages for JLI, and he's just really good at depicting mashed bones jutting out of steaming entrails. Unfortunately, Phillip Tan returned to draw the issue as super-hero shit with obtuse visual storytelling and entirely too many unwanted subplots.

The short version of Dan Didio's tale is that one team of Outsiders led by Geo-Force sided with the Eradicator and New Krypton, became pariahs, and now the nation of Markovia is in ruins because of it. The other Outsiders team, led by Black Lightning but manipulated by Amanda Waller, are out to take down the first group. However, that's just a five page distraction from the "Reign of Doomsday."

For those who have not read a Doomsday story, the way they work is that this raging monster comes out of nowhere, beats the hell out of teams of c-list super-heroes without managing to kill anyone, has a protracted battle with sturdier b-listers, and then is finally defeated by Superman. The variation this time is that Doomsday is taking out Superman clones, and is here for the Eradicator. Doomsday has to go through the Outsiders to get to his likely fakeout "killing" of the Eradicator. The Outsiders have contrived, Bronze Age personalities with dialogue to match, which they spout before losing. There basically isn't a thought in your head right now that does not directly parallel or far exceed what made it to the page. I'm sure that this relatively bloodless (in all respects) could have been improved by some Giffen meat pie (at least Looker, right,) but it lies down narratively as readily as this garbage team does textually.

R.E.B.E.L.S. #26 (DC, 2011, $2.99)
As mentioned in the header, this was the series that kept me buying at least one title every month, and its status is lame duck. Two more issues and out. We've had our ups and downs, but I expect to enjoy it until the end. Daniel Hdr draws the first half of this issue, but for the most part it looks enough like Claude St. Aubin's second half that you wouldn't notice the difference. I guess the congratulations go to inker Scott Hanna on that save. Starro the Barbarian begins downshifting to the punk ass I always took him for, Lobo bes Lobo, and their's a mid-book splash with enough of a visceral punch to deserve taking the indulgence. I could have done without the umpteenth Lobo origin revision, which will never make me forget that the dude debuted in The Omega Men wearing an orange and purple leotard. It did kind of bug me that the legend now goes that the Czarnians were an isolationist warrior race who all had facial tattoos, unless the whole point is to sucker people by having Lobo's clones turn out to be the hippie peaceniks Lobo supposedly killed off.

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