Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wed. Is Any Day For All I Care #18

Final Crisis #4
Spawn #185
Terror Titans #1
Unknown Soldier #1

Final Crisis #4 (DC, 2008, $3.99)
After lags in publishing and a lull in the story, things begin to pick up in the second half. New artists Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino are consistent enough with the look of additional pages by the outgoing JG Jones, though the effort detracts from their usual panache. The spread of Anti-Life and that Kamandi virus start to coalesce into story elements instead of leftover contrivances from the hilariously awful "Countdown" lead-in. Basically, things finally start to make sense, but it's a shame it took an entire issue of exposition to accomplish that feat. My relief at achieving equilibrium and a sustained dread are writer Grant Morrison's achievements here, but I'm still concerned the payoff will not be grand enough to legitimize the hype.

Spawn #185 (Image, 2008, $2.95)
Well, shit. David Hine was one of the few decent writers still willing to work for Todd McFarlane, but I guess since his run failed to set the world afire, the Toddster decided it was time to really shake things up. Pity the poor sumbich who walks into this bold new direction cold, though. Not a single character is introduced to the reader, and there's no explanation of what's come before, outside of a brief text synopsis on the inside cover. Worse yet, the plot comes to us from the deepest pits of decompression hell, with dialogue so cryptic Keith Giffen would shake his head. It seems like in his desperation to return Spawn to something resembling relevance, the baby gets tossed out with the bathwater, and the big "twist" should leave old and new readers alike cold.

In the book's defense, the aspects of the story and script by McFarlane and Brian Holguin that amount to anything are perfectly readable. It's been years since artist Whilce Portacio has looked this good, though I suspect that has less to do with the highly suspect "digital inks" of McFarlane and more the attractive pencil shading. Hopefully, this all goes somewhere, but if nothing else, I recommend Portacio stick with his present technique on future endeavors. It's leagues better than what he was doing at DC, and puts him back on par with more popular artists he's influence like Leinil Francis Yu.

Terror Titans #1 (DC, 2008, $2.99)
Sean McKeever is fast becoming the embodiment of everything that's gone wrong with DC Comics since "Identity Crisis." If I may make a modest proposal, would it be possible to place McKeever in a gladiator-style death match along the lines presented in this shitty comic? Wouldn't it be great if he, Judd Winick, and maybe Bruce Jones had a spectacularly gory battle to the death? Pete Tomasi could end up fucking the eyehole of one of the losers, before being paralyzed by sniper fire from Tony Bedard? Welcome to Didio Comics! They're not just for sadistic misogynistic arrested development cases anymore! No wait-- they totally are.

In this issue, the new super-villain team (that includes two female versions of far superior bad guys and a resurrected crook previously killed for shock value) capture a bunch of z-list ex-sidekicks/youthful counterparts to kill or brutalize later. The Clock King pretends he's not a douchebag, and a future patricide is ordered. Finally, a heroine is coldly murdered, which will only matter to the five people who read her comic and her original creators, neither party given the slightest thought beforehand. The rest of us are left with either general disgust or disinterest. I recommend that no one with any taste or sense of decency read this trash, and that Sean McKeever should eat a dick (a likely description of his career in five years. See also: Chuck Austen.)

Unknown Soldier #1 (Vertigo, 2008, $2.99)
A solid premise (not a little familiar to fans of Dwayne McDuffie's '90s Deathlok reworking) and appealing art by Alberto Ponticelli carry this book on future promise more than what's actually delivered. Anyone who has followed the travesties in the Sudan will have their buttons pushed, but Joshua Dysart's script failed to really hook this reader into his characters, and the introductory situation played mostly as a Charlie Bronson/Clint Eastwood callback. I expect I'll give this another try in trade paperback, but that's again more due to my built-in interest than what I found on the pages here.

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