Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wed. Is Any Day For All I Care #6

Booster Gold #9 * Caliber: First Cannon of Justice #1 * Cyborg #1 * Firebreather #1 * Hercules: The Thracian Wars #1 * Judenhass * Legion of Super-Heroes #42 * Nexus' Greatest Hits *

Booster Gold #9 (DC, $2.99) I was pretty ticked with myself for missing out on the resurrection of one of my favorite Titans ever, Pantha. Yes really. Well, I understand she was killed yet again in an alternate timeline and in an even more inglorious manner, so maybe Geoff Johns is right at home with Bloodthirsty Dan Didio. Bastards. Returning focus to this issue, I figured J'Onn's miscolored boots on the cover were some sort of nod to this whole story arc being another "Days of Future Past" retread, and I was right about everything but the boots. Someone just screwed up four months ago, and no one gave enough of a crap about the dear departed Martian Manhunter to bother with corrections. Bastards. The creators continue to insure that despite a touching, humorous, years-in-development redemptive arc for Max Lord, he really was an evil twat all along, and new ways are developed to showcase that. Bastards. Speaking of J'onn, he, like Blue Beetle, is alive again for this JLI reunion story, at least until he they die again in-story, or they're just gone when the timeline is finally corrected. Bastards. But hey, at least Booster Gold, a character I dislike greatly and have fully authorized Didio to kill, will continue on in his own title. Bastards. With a new, likely lower rent writing team joining Dan Jurgens, the man who first ruined the JLI and turned Max out. Bastards, bastards, bastards all!

Caliber: First Cannon of Justice #1 (Radical Comics, $1.00) Okay, I'm confused. I had thought IDW was the new Innovation Studios, what with all its nostalgic, often B-list sci-fi licenses. Maybe they're the new Now Comics, or else Radical plans to handle only the off-brand watercolor fantasy Innovation was also known for. I hasten to note, none of this is a bad thing, except maybe the inherent stiffness of representational painted at, which I've always found off-putting. The story itself is solid, as it sets up an old school western variation on "The Sword and the Stone." The script gets a bit too much mileage out of its "clever" nods to the Arthur legend, and rides a lot of the standard prarie cliches into the ground. All criticism aside, this should be to fans of genre-blenders what a rip-roarin' Bronze Age throwback is to super-hero nerds: embraced for its familiarity, and forgiven much. If nothing else, it is so much better than anything I've read fro Virgin to date. You know-- Jademan Comics Y2K...

Cyborg #1 (DC Comics, $2.99) Mark Sable spends a good deal of time explaining to readers just who Victor Stone is, how he came to become the New Teen Titan Cyborg, and the various complications he's faced over the years. They set up two new circumstances to drive the mini-series: a major development for a long-time supporting character, and a retroactive addition sure to have a major impact on Vic's future. Ken Lashley's art is as dynamic as it's ever been, aided by potent coloring by JD Smith. The only fault I can find here, aside from a confusingly rushed two-page shift back to present catastrophy at the end, is that Vic Stone sucks. I grew up with black kids, and we all read about black characters like Luke Cage, Black Panther, Storm, Roadblock, Stalker, Deathlok, and even a few not from Marvel. Nobody particularly cared about Cyborg. It isn't just that he was a brown dot in the lily-white DC Universe; there just isn't much of a character there. He's a play on the self-pitying, sympathetic man-monster popularized by Marvel, but with none of the charisma. Lip service is paid to Vic's athletic career, both a stereotype and a pale reflection of the Olympic-caliber Black Lightning. His I.Q. of 170 is referenced, but when has the guy done anything more intellectual than work a white sound blaster? Vic had something like a twelve year lead on John Henry Irons, but who's the brilliant black scientist of the DCU? Cyborg doesn't even do his own repairs! What he does do is fall apart, constantly, like NoMan and Vision before him, and a great many who followed. He's Arms-Fall-Off Boy, except you can't call him "boy," or else he'll bluster at you in a tepid Power Man impersonation. The only thing really wrong with this book is it stars a loser.

Firebreather #1 (Image, $2.99) I bought plenty of comics from lots of publishers growing up, but my early fandom centered on some soloists and the X-Men line of titles. I'd lots interest in Chris Claremont's stuff in the late 80's, though, and it took the rise of what became the Image style that brought me back into the fold. I continued to collect X-titles into the 90's, but finally gave up the ghost around X-Tinction Agenda, and never looked back. I was looking for a new focus for my geek obsessiveness, and bought about every Image comic for the first few years. I then proceeded to drop every single one, as the writing just was not there. That's how I ended up buying so much DC, until the Didio Administration.

Well, I've been casting about again, and the more I try these newfangled, curiously readable Image super-hero titles, the more I like 'em. I praised the underappreciated Astounding Wolf-Man last week, and this time I'll do the same for Firebreather. I never gave Invincible another shot after the weak first trade, but it seems my response to Firebreather is in line with that book's following. Duncan Rosenblatt has spent his young life trying to be as normal as he can, but the scaly orange skin probably set him back in a pretty major way. You see, he's the son of a 300 foot dragon, but his human mother has custody, and the U.S. Government regularly has to step in to negoiate post-divorce circumstances. This is another coming-of-age hero book, but the premise alone would set it apart, though it doesn't have to. The scrpt by Phil Hester is so much smarter than most, allowing the outrageousness of the premise to springboard a wealth of innovations that seem imtent on being played out for highest entertainment value. A very impressive entry-point for readers like me who missed the mini-series from three years back, and a guaranteed trade purchase in the near future.

More please... I've got a hole the size of the DCU to fill in my reading...

Hercules: The Thracian Wars #1 (Radical Comics, $1.00) I really appreciate the high production values, literacy, and cheap introductory issues of these new Radical books... I just wish they were more to my taste. Steve Moore spends nine pages setting the stage and explaining who Hercules is before the character actually appears. That works out well, except that at the same time, those past adventures were related through verbal sparring between Hercules' men and a barbarian horde. Then, five more pages are devoted to the two groups ragging on each other. By the time blood started to spray I hated everyone so much I wanted them all dead. Hercules' team are a bunch of nagging bitches and nutjobs, so their ultimate victory meant nothing to me. The turnabout at the end left me hanging, but I suspect I'm a Wiki away from solving the mystery, and haven't yet bothered. Being much better than Virgin, Devil's Due, DC, and the rest of the bargain trial club just means I feel worse when I turn them all away as underwhelming.

Judenhass (Aardvark-Vanaheim, $4.00) On the one hand, there is no real difference between the presentation and production of this book and Glamourpuss, which saw an industry scratch its head or wipe its ass. On the other hand, it's substantially superior, in that there's, y'know, substance. Images of the Holocaust are an easy route to affecting emotion in an audience, but what makes this a powerful and important work are the many biting quotes that, taken as a whole lead people who damned well ought to know better into atrocities no being should endure. Presumptions, prejudices-- you should have heard the conversation I caught today between two ignoramouses questioning how any white man could possible support Barrack Obama. Reasonable arguments can be made to deny the man the presidency, but framed in those terms, reason is not a serious concern. How many people in this country actually know a Jew, or a Muslim, or an African-American with an Ivy League education? How many would assume that since I referenced Islam and Obama in the same sentence, one has anything to do with the other? Above all else, "Judenhass" makes clear the importance of education, and the recognition of where it ends and understanding too often fails to begin.

Legion of Super-Heroes #42 (DC Comics, $2.99) Even before I knew Jim Shooter had quit DC, again, I knew this book was too good to last. Like Christopher Priest, Shooter is too hip, too talented, and possessed of too much vision to survive in modern comics. He never kissed ass and he was too bust producing quality books to develop an online cult of personality. Seeing titles like this consistently fail was one of the many reasons I quite retailing. What does it matter if I can get a book to sell decent numbers in my little shop? I live in Texas and plan to vote for Obama. Same thing, but I've only got to see my vote come to nothing once every couple years, not on a weekly basis.

Nexus' Greatest Hits (Rude Dude Productions, $1.99) Nexus was one of those titles I dallied with before I was mature enough to appreciate, then never managed to return to. I decided to rectify the overssight with both this low-cost sampler and the purchase of "Nexus: The Origin," which I believe has recently been reprinted. "The Origin" is where it's at, introducing many of the major characters, the premise, and telling a satisfying story of its own. "Greatest Hits," even after having read "The Origin," was a random, disorienting collection of out-of-sequences pages from prior runs with rambling commentary. I pity anyone who made "Greatest Hits" their first exposure to Nexus, and urge anyone who bought it to give the title a second pass. I'm not saying I'm rushing out to buy those pricey Dark Horse hardcover collections, but maybe if a reasonable Omnibus came along...

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