Sunday, May 6, 2012

Yesterday Was FCBD 2012 For All I Care #145

I bought a box of these things this year, so it'll take me a while to dole out reviews, even four at a time. I decided to knock out the four most bland, obvious, mainstream releases first.

The New 52! #1
DC Nation Green Lantern/Young Justice Super Sampler &
Superman Family Adventures #1

FCBD Avengers: Age of Ultron Point One #0.1
FCBD Spider-Man: Season One #1

DC Comics - The New 52 FCBD Special Edition #1 (DC, 2012, Free)
I really have to applaud DC for giving away a free comic book featuring their biggest names. Shame it's so cheesy. The first four pages are drawn by Ivan Reis. We learn that the Phantom Stranger is probably Judas, that the Question is probably now a mystical being, and that the actual Pandora is the mysterious anti-heroine who was shoehorned into all the New 52 #1s. Together, they form the "Trinity of Sin." It's nice to see Geoff Johns rebel against Father Moore by hewing closer to a competing story by Father Levitz, but these are all still terrible ideas. To be honest, after reading Geoff Johns' screwy take on creationism vs. evolution in Christian vs. Oan theology, I began to form the impression that he was maybe not the brightest guy. Having 8th century B.C. Pandora being tried alongside thirtysomething A.D. Judas and Rorschach by a bunch of Crossgen sigil-bearers does not dissuade me from that nagging doubt. You may chalk it up to "comics, folks," but I can't help the distraction of the voice narrating the comics in my head sounding like Kirk Cameron.

Kenneth Rocafort drew pages 5-6, and I wish that hadn't happened, because I didn't like looking at them. They were preoccupied with trying to convince me that Cyborg is a worthy addition to the JLA, while simultaneously reminding me that Vic Stone is a jock-o homo whose dad is brilliant and mourns the loss of his son's technology more than the dickweed himself. These pages also offer a preview of how awful Earth-2 is going to be. In a word, "very."

One of the only good things to come out of the New 52 so far is the comics community finally collectively forgiving Steve Trevor for being such a tool before large segments of it were even born and allowing him to become a productive member of the DCU again. As Nick Fury. Or I guess Nemesis trying to act like Steve Trevor: Super Soldier. Still, it's better than limbo. Tracie Thoms is his sidekick, which is way better than being Fat Vegas Cary Elwes' secretary in a failed pilot. What bugs me is that we have another black character born out of assuming the role of a white character, insuring that she will never fully own her own identity. What's stopping Etta Candy being a funny chunky honky gal who has misadventures (Didio's "No Fat Chick Allowed" TV shirt,) while Tracie Thoms plays a completely different character from Etta Candy, which she was doing already? These Gene Ha pages were my favorite, because I enjoyed looking at bith his style and what he was depicting. Well, except for Pandora's Box being Despero's skull cast in gold, because what the fuck?

Finally, there was a flash forward to the future drawn by Jim Lee, which was so disconnected from the main narrative that you know this is literally pages Jim Lee has already drawn for a script a year in advance because he doesn't want to blow his deadline (spoiler: he'll blow his deadline.) I've been over Jim Lee a damned long time now, and dual gatefold battle scenes that are sparsely populated by action figures amidst lazy props/backgrounds (wooo, nondescript pillars and rubble) had a lot to do with that. It foreshadows "The Trinity War," which is about how the Puerto Rican guy, the African American Green Lantern, and the Asian Atom aren't as good as their Caucasian betters, while hurling unjust accusations at the Anglo-Saxons Supreme. Oh, and Cyborg (eyes roll...)

Twelve pages of back matter reprints incomprehensible excerpts from the New 52 Wave Two titles ordered at a fraction of the levels of Wave One books. Even Captain Atom.

DC Nation FCBD Super Sampler/Superman Family Adventures Flip Book #1 (DC, 2011/2012, Free)
The Green Lantern Animated Series tale is the best. It introduces a bunch of characters efficiently, then uses them to tell a complete story. It was no great shakes, but it's made for kids, so it's alright.

The Young Justice section reprints five pages of a story that only had dialogue on two, involving Artemis and Robin working with their mentors. It's deeply unsatisfying filler junk.

Art Baltazar is the finest artist I've seen so far on the new Superman costume, mostly because he draws the old Superman costume without the dumb briefs they should have done away with years ago, plus a v-neck collar. The story is a lot like an issue of Tiny Titans, but less funny and decompressed. I guess that's where the New 52 influence really sinks in.

Free Comic Book Day 2012 (Avengers: Age of Ultron Point One) No. 0.1 (Marvel, 2011/2012, Free)
Shit like this is how DC is eating your market share, Marvel. Anybody who gave a fuck about this book bought it a year ago for $2.99 when you called it Avengers #12.1. I liked Bryan Hitch's rougher, less "precious" art here, aside from everybody having idealized bodies. I just don't believe the Mad Thinker or Red Ghost are manorexics, y'know? The story was retarded from top to bottom, though. I haven't read a Marvel comic with any regularity in years, but I know what S.W.O.R.D. is, yet Steve Rogers has to have it explained to him slowly like learning grandmama about the intrawebs. I love how Brian Michael Bendis takes his time to clue me in on a bunch of irrelevant Spider-Woman minutia written by Brian Michael Bendis, but he can't explain who the main villains are and why they've gathered together. See, other people wrote about those guys, so they don't matter as much. There's this guy called Protector in the book who I thought was from those '80s Keebler Teen Titans anti-drug comics, except now he was Kree. Thanks to the internet, I learned that Grant Morrison's Marvel Boy. It doesn't matter to the story, but it would have been nice to know and easy to convey with a blurb somewhere. I miss editor's notes.

There isn't any actual characterization in the story. Steve Rogers is senile and Wolverine is ornery and Ms. Marvel is Spider-Woman's friend and Iron Man knows about technology and pessimistic thinking (not mentioned: good scotch.) There are two villain types in the story; the one who says "let's do this," and the one who says, "no, let's not" immediately after. For a group of super-geniuses, they're too dumb to in any way prevent themselves from being tracked and raped by the Avengers. They're like "lets take this object with a perfectly unique energy signature, do nothing to conceal it from guys who we know have radiation GPS, and we'll even kidnap one of the heroes to insure we absolutely cannot possibly get away with this shit... and we call ourselves the Aristocrats!" Not that the Avengers are exactly stunning here, as they only had to follow a trail of breadcrumbs to M.O.D.O.K.s house, and their battle plan consists solely of "hit."

One thing I've heard bitching about with regard to Avengers vs. X-Men is that everyone is afraid of the Phoenix Force arriving on Earth, it's the sole motivation for all the fighting, and yet Phoenix was a member of Excalibur for a decade without anyone getting their panties in a wad. The surprising villain reveal (spoiler: it's Ultron) leads to gnashing of teeth and rending of Lycra over humanity being doomed to extinction. Because Ultron's back. The same Ultron Daredevil beat that one time. The Ultron the Avengers have beaten so many times I can't count them on my digits, even if I use my genitals to add three. I just looked at my dick on account of the accounting, and it was still limp. By the way, if you're going to cause an explosion that destroys a city block and is rendered in intricate detail, at least singe somebody's costume. When the non-powered vigilante Moon Knight is standing around in a clean pure white costume, it's unintentional comedy.

Free Comic Book Day 2012 (Spider-Man: Season One) #1 (Marvel, 2012, Free)
Not only is this another reprint, but it's only an excerpt from a graphic novel. Worse yet, J. Michael Straczynski's Smallville graphic novel made a bunch of money, so Marvel tried to cash in with about a dozen Marville books, failing to notice that what made Smallville commercially viable was turning Superman into Spider-Man. Spider-Man is already Spider-Man. Don't mean shit if he's Spider-Man for more pages targeting bookstores, especially without wooing that powerhouse Babylon 5 audience with "star power." This book is written by Cullen Bunn, which I think is what I ate with my Starbucks cappuccino this morning. It's drawn by Neil Edwards, who in terms of name recognition makes Shane Davis seem remotely famous comparatively by comic book standards.

The story is Spider-Man's origin. Again. We know Kim Jong-un is a comic book fan, so I guess Marvel figured the people of North Korea would finally be allowed access to a Spider-Man origin story. If you're in Pyongyang, and can't reach Half Price Books for an unsold copy of those Ultimate Spider-Man tomes, I guess this is the book for you. It's basically a reprint of a xerox of Ultimate Spider-Man, which tells an origin story that's been translated into probably every earthly tongue and was adapted into one of the biggest box office hits of all time. It's slightly more fresh than the origins of Superman and Jesus Christ.

Besides being utterly unnecessary and provided by journeyman talent, this version of the story is either terribly paced or had pages taken out for space considerations. I really needed all those pages of Peter Parker getting hit with balled up paper and running across rooftops. Those were AMAZ-ing. Such gripping insight into the character, with the being a nerd and thrilling to his powers, which was a revelation. This was needed by exactly nobody.

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