Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wednesday Reaching Flushpoint For All I Care #110

Flashpoint #1 (2011)
Moon Knight #1 (2011)
R.E.B.E.L.S. #28 (2011)
Static Shock Special #1 (2011)

Flashpoint #1 (DC, 2011, $3.99)
DC Comics have been releasing information on their BOLD. NEW. DIRECTION. for a week or so now, which looks to have been a cut and pasted from the Image Comics section of a 1994 Diamond Previews Catalog. Scratch that, some Image pages, but a lot of stuff going past Marvel into the cesspool of off-brand bandwagon super-heroics. Anyway, this causes me look back at the event that will set the dominoes falling toward DC Implosion 2013, a book so funky I decided to pass on the remaining issues despite offers of getting them for 50-75% off cover price, Flashpoint. It isn't that the book is bad, just overwhelmingly middling. The art is by Andy Kubert, of Los Brothers Kubert, whose omnipresence at Marvel in the '90s made it that much easier to steer clear of the line. The Kuberts have a gift for taking the coarseness of papa Joe and giving it a smooth Image veneer, stripping it of all its soul or individuality. Now there's a Kubertbot for each company, which is appropriate, since we've spent a decade under Dan Didio experiencing Marvel Comics and Lesser Marvel Comics.

Geoff Johns used to be one of the shining exceptions at DC, but it seems at some point he sold his soul to become a wheel, and now he's just churning the worst kind of pandering shit out. Blackest Night had its moments, but I can't think of a point in time since his first run on The Flash that Johns has actually impressed me. Fuck you fandom, but Green Lantern: Rebirth was a pile of pretty shellacked shit, and I've set my historical record for squatting on Brightest Day in this very column (if something some fuckwit writes irregularly on a free blog qualifies as such.

Anyway, for such a big deal, the first book is rather flat. Five pages are wasted bringing me up to speed on Barry Allen in as oblique a fashion as possible, so that even though I know this stuff, I still feel like I'm missing something. Barry just wakes up in Scumbagville, assuming this even is Barry, because I understand lookalike Professor Zoom is behind this mess. It wouldn't be his first amnesiac episode. It doesn't matter, because the whole issue is devoted to barely introducing characters who will turn up in dozens of spin-off mini-series until the implosion of the entire universe (in text as the Post-Crisis status quo, more broadly as DC's publishing line by 2013.) I give it a year before the rapid back-peddling and forced resignations begin, and it'll all stem from this tepid little number right here. This is sort of like the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which only lit the fuse toward Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the true birthplace of modern Japan. Tumbling tumbling...

Moon Knight #1 (DC, 2011, $3.99)
I'm no thief, so one of my regrets in this life was pretty much strong-arming and stealing a bag of Moon Knight comics from one particular friend. I don't know what made me do it, and I got my comeuppance when another friend line shelves in his room with comics stolen from me around the same time, but the deed remains one of my black marks on the big scorecard in the sky. I loved Moon Knight's costume so much I stole it too, for a series of illustrations about my own highly derivative "creation" produced when I probably should have been paying better attention to sixth grade as a whole.

My point is, while I have some irrational fondness for Marc Spector dating back decades, he is himself a rip-off of the Bronze Age Batman with added eccentricities, which is why he rarely commands top talent or lasts very long in series form. This time, the MPD super-hero drew Brian Michael Bendis, who moves units, and Alex Maleev, who moves Bendis' jock without the faintest hint of tooth. I'm not exactly a fan of either, but Maleev does manage to evoke Bill Sienkiewicz. Unfortunately, it's the hacky Sienkiewicz as inker on corporate bullshit, as opposed to the Bill Sienkiewicz who used to offer a bitchin' aping of Neal Adams before getting just experimental enough to impress the fanboys. That was preceding New Mutants, when he started drawing faces with a ruler.

There are two "what a twist" moments in the book, neither of which are remotely surprising or effective. No one, especially a Moon Knight fan, should ever be deluded into thinking the Fisting of Khonshu matters in the grand scheme of things. What that leaves is an ugly, obvious, massively decompressed book that can be read in full in the time it takes to unzip and release your manhood, much less the actual duration of pissing. Who'd have thought anyone, especially Benis of the gratuitous dialogue, would ever beat Jeph Loeb in a race to minimize your time/dollar ratio in comic?

I don't know why this book inspired so many dick jokes in this review. I guess I just did it to entertain myself. No one else was going to do it, apparently.

R.E.B.E.L.S. #28 (DC, 2011, $2.99)
Woo-hoo! The one monthly title keeping me a DC Comics reader is finally canceled! From here on out, look forward to random hit jobs, rather than a slog like twenty-eight reviews of the same tired fucking title. R.E.B.E.L.S. just never came together did it, even after over two years? The book cycled through about two full casts, with Vril Dox the only constant. It took two men to write a character as clever as Dox for most of his L.E.G.I.O.N. years, so it's no wonder Tony Bedard was never fully up to the challenge. What paints him a fool is the addition of a second Dox, Lyrl, whom he completely ruined by simply rewriting a second below par Dox (meaning both Doxes were Suxy, not that Vril was any better or worse than Lyrl.) There were only a few solid issues where I felt like Captain Comet, Adam Strange, Lobo and Starfire got a chance to shine, and at least I can credit Bedard for finally talking me into halfway appreciating that last one. As has become a staple of the series, the conclusion was a rushed affair involving stuff you either saw coming from a mile away or totally bullshit deux ex machina. Strings are hanging everywhere, and even the art of Claude St. Aubin seemed less polished than usual. It's all spilled milk now, and the series left the DC cosmos in a better place than it was found. Bygones and be gones.

Static Shock Special #1 (New England Comics Press, 2011, "Free")
I was never able to get into the Milestone Universe, like Milestone characters are still having trouble getting into the DC Universe. It isn't for lack of want, but there are some reservations, and some things just don't work out. Static also is a lovable teen hero, and archetype that's never resonated with me. That said, this issue's story is more about Static's wrongfully imprisoned uncle, and how people move on with their lives after an injustice. It's a good little tale by Felicia D. Henderson, with some of the best art I've seen from Denys Cowan I've seen in years, no doubt aided by able inkers Rodney Ramos, Prentis Rollins and John Stanisci, each of whom have proven themselves noteworthy in a thankless profession over the years. There are also some sweet bonus materials, including a comic story eulogy for Dwayne McDuffie by Matt Wayne & John Paul Leon, text ones by Michael Davis & Derek T. Dingle, plus a visual one by Eric Battle. There are additional pin-ups by Keron Grant, Jamal Igle, Derec Donovan, and amusing construction paper job by John Rozum.

Bound in the middle is an eight page "35mm Special Issue" advertising the movie Super 8 with its own faux Alex Ross cover on the appropriate stock, with interiors by Peter Tomasi and Tommy Lee Edwards. Taken as a whole, this project is so packed with goodness, it should have been on everyone's pull list.

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