Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care #39

Blackest Night #1
Captain America Reborn #1
Existence 2.0 #1
Greek Street #1

Blackest Night #1 (DC, 2009, $3.99)
A few months back I read and reviewed the Free Comic Book Day offering Blackest Night #0. It's a shame a retread cost four bucks. I'm all for taking care of increasingly hypothetical "new readers," but I long for the days Jim Starlin could recap years of continuity in a few pages to bring folks up to speed before diving into fresh material. Today, Geoff Johns writes twenty five pages of exposition and set-up for fifteen pages of things actually happening, though without requiring the space provided. To sum it up, this is Johns playing Marvel Zombies straight, i.e. George Romero with capes rather than the Sam Raimi/Peter Jackson vein Robert Kirkman initially mined. Were you aware Mark Millar introduced the premise four years ago, and the zombie revival began twice as far back with the release of 28 Days Later...? Great-- that means you're also aware this shit is played the fuck out. Need I elaborate then? Honestly, your imagination of what's between the covers will either be exactly what hit the page or better.

Ivan Reis almost single-handedly redeems the effort with his gorgeous artwork though, proving he deserves to be treated as a superstar. There's also a highly effective shock hero death that really brings home that this is a horror story. It even sells a resurrected super-being better as an angry corpse than he was ever served as a living hero, but that's about par these days.

Reborn #1 (Marvel, 2009, $3.99)
I liked Ed Brubaker's indie work back in the day, but despite the overwhelming support he's received since taking over Captain America, I remain deeply unimpressed with his mainstream efforts. I'm not sure the acclaim if from a previously untapped market for Jason Bourne in tights or Cap fans relieved to see their hero written competently after Mark Gruenwald's overstayed welcome/Rob Liefeld/Marvel Knights. A year and a half into Brubaker's Cap still read to me as flat and dull as ever, and when I realized he was for serious about this Bucky bullshit, I bailed. Now it looks like Steve Rogers is coming back, and he's bringing tedium with him. I assume having him bounce through time is a way to expose readers to Cap's lengthy history without it reading like a Roy Thomas nostalgia fest from the '80s, but this "Quantum Leaping" is about as dated, and disjointed storytelling besides. The whole debacle is so convoluted and unconvincing, the least they could have done was to keep it in the solo title instead of foisting it upon a disinterested public as an event mini-series. I'm sure artist Bryan Hitch's involvement was meant to put asses in seats, but the embellishment of Jackson "Butch" Guice is so overpowering you can hardly see The Ultimates on the page. Like Blackest Night #1, this is all "how we got here" and barely any "where we're going." Between the original comics, the '60s revival in Tales of Suspense, and The Invaders, I think there's more than enough World War II era Cap stories in print. Is it too much to ask that we have a present and future America to look forward to reading?

Existence 2.0 #1 (Image, 2009, $3.50)
I bought this book based on fast paced preview pages with serious attitude, and I'm happy to say that vibe carried through into the book itself. A thoroughly amoral scientist invents a means to instantaneously overwrite his mind onto others just in time to switch bodies with the ninja stealth assassin who "killed" him. Tarantinoesque jumping through time plays so very much more novel than in Reborn, as clues are followed up regarding who ordered the murder. The only typical turn sees the seeker's heart softened by a loved one in peril, but I guess more lily-hearted readers needed some hook to root for the guy. Nick Spencer and Ron Salas are impressive in their debut bow, and a future trade paperback purchase is all but guaranteed.

Greek Street #1 (Vertigo, 2009, $1.00)
I remember a woman telling a story on NPR about how as a little girl she figured out centrifugal force, but when she tried to explain it to her papa, he was all "duh." The woman still felt she "discovered" the concept, at least for herself, and it led to a life in science and a nifty anecdote. Peter Milligan seems to feel like he's discovered lifting from Greco-Roman myth and recontextualizing it in a modern setting, and I'm all "meh" at his telling. I realize there's no new stories under the sun, but the "twist" of redressing toga plots in jeans is so hoary, it's like the sweat pants of storytelling-- for when you've just given up. Execution could have salvaged this mess, but the characters are wooden analogues that drop in and out of the narrative according to the all-to-visible hands of their scribe. More's the pity that Davide Gianfelice's art is easy on the eyes, especially when the strip club the characters orbit is in operation. I'm happy with Vertigo's new introductory pricing, not only because it leads me into trying solid new books like The Unwritten, but also because it takes the sting out of trying unimaginative outings like this.


wiec? said...

as usual your reviews are spot on.

while i agree with your point about Jim Starlin and his recapping skills i will say this for a DC event Blackest Night #1 was a refreshing change of pace pacing wise.

i know Blackest Night has been slowly building since the end of the Sinestro War but now that it's here maybe it will pick up the pace and tell a straight forward story. agreed zombies have worn out thier welcome but at least the story seems to be going somewhere. unlike some Crisisis (?) i could name.

Frank Lee Delano said...

I tried to pick up a copy of Green Lantern #44 to see about the event's progressive pacing, but the two shops I tried were sold out. I spent most of B.N. #1 going "uh-huh-- okay-- I know-- come on." Once teeth hit throat things picked up, and I liked the brutality of the Hawks kill. I still love zombies in general, but in comics not named "Walking Dead" enough is enough. I will say B.N. is pretty good for an event book, but that's like saying I prefer picking up a solid, well packed dog turd over a runny one. Damning with faint praise. It still hits the all too familiar beats of these things, just with more rotting flesh.


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