Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wednesday Is New Fifty-Blew For All I Care #141

Aquaman #7 (2012)
The Huntress #6 (2012)
Stormwatch #7 (2012)

Aquaman #7 (DC, 2012, $2.99)
I'd pretty much already decided this last month, but I'd like to make it public after reading this issue: the countdown to drop has begun. The art team (including Reis, Prado and a different Reis) are so pretty I want to tongue-kiss their work, but I'm officially over Geoff Johns' bullshit. Nine pages of a chick running through the jungle, seeing a vision of her demise, then getting a variation of it. 94 words are uttered, most monosyllabic, across 39 panels. The book in total has 34 silent panels, 21 panels with five-or-less words, and there are four splash pages (1/5th of the issue.) That offends me as a person who enjoys reading stories, as opposed to a collection of scenes.

The woman who dies? A Muslim super-heroine, killed by the only important black guy in the series so far, and he's been retroactively disfigured to boot. He also "cleans" her like a fish and states his intent to do the same to her family. That's not over-the-top in a cool or funny way. That's just being shitty. Anyway, off the unique heroine in a burka, but spotlight the generic jungle girl with power over the beasts. At least she's vaguely "of color," although I'm not sure which, given her Caucasian features and gray skin tone. All this offends my basic sensibilities.

Finally, there's the plot. It's ten little Indians all the way. There's the old squad Aquaman was tight with back in the day that we've never heard of before. The new characters aren't very well designed or differentiated from one another, one's already dead, and the rest have artifacts that line them up as future victims. Maybe Black Manta was "The Operative," or maybe that's the Racer-X of the lot who'll survive, but I kind of don't give a fuck. I'm glad Aquaman is finally getting the respect he deserves, and looks great doing it, but the stories have wasted the opportunity by being such thin, trope-happy tripe. Dropping Aquaman when he's on a career high offends me most of all.

The Huntress #6 (DC, 2012, $2.99)
I enjoyed this issue more than any since the first, probably because everyone involved knows this shit is done. While still played subtly, we can now safely assume the Huntress will murder bad guys, months after Superman and Wonder Woman have been violently rending beings limb from limb. Big whoop. The Italian police and underworld have linked Helena to the Huntress, so she's constantly being pursued from all corners. That's certainly more exciting than another issue of the heroine spying on people from afar. The exposition-aiding reporters are around only long enough to reveal that they can't help any longer, though that's a semi-important last bit of exposition. Huntress beats up some more stupid guards in the most lame manner yet, unfortunately. The Big Bad is already dead, so the Little Bad gets to play a twist that's rather groan-worthy. After these sixteen alright if rote and slightly padded pages, the main story effectively ends. The last four are an epilogue that reveals the whole mini-series to be a backdoor pilot for a team book that I won't buy because I have to assume the disparity between great art and lousy storytelling will be that much more pronounced. Ultimately, this was a one-to-two issue inventory story for an anthology titled drawn out to exasperation. Where's Ivory Madison when you need her?

Stormwatch #7 (DC, 2012, $2.99)
My first reaction to flipping through this book was a major pushback against new artist Ignacio Calerro. Despite issues ranging from plagiarism to toes that looked like the back of Charlie Brown's head, I liked looking at Miguel Sepulveda's modern, digital-happy work. Calerro is very much a throwback to Wildstorm in its Image days. I spent a lot of brain power trying to spot esoteric influences from that period, like Liam Sharpe, Ryan Benjamin, Dale Keown, and even the late, little seen Nick Manabat. I kind of hated it at first, but it grew on me as I read the story.

Paul Jenkins seems to take his cues from the early Ellis material-- it's all Soviet radiation cosmic technobabble body horror type stuff. It's about gravity mining, which is downright metatextual, because this story has the density of a dwarf star in comparison to anything else in the New 52. I really felt like I read something when I closed the book. The plot is boilerplate and the characters are thin, but they bounce off one another in a fun way, instead of the constant bitchiness/creepiness of Cornell's issues. I especially liked Martian Manhunter's interaction with Jenny Quantum, which played very comic book mentor-pupil, and made it feel like he was bringing something to the team beyond being the green guy in the background of the Apollo & Midnighter show. Plus, if Jenkins is going to script him as Mr. Spock, he needs a foil like Jenny to take the piss out of him. There's also a kinda nifty/kinda fucked-up scene with Jack Hawkmoor and three cities.

As I was saying, my enjoyment of the story glossed over some of Calerro's rough spots, but he has his good points. Is Jenny supposed to be Asian? If so, this is the first I've been able to tell visually. Not to be crude, but Angela Spica finally has some spicy Latina badunkadunk that I approve of, and her interface with the sentient ship appears to be labia with a cyberclitty on top. There blessedly wasn't a lot of Martian Manhunter x-treme in the actual '90s, but I get a nostalgic kick out of him finally getting a good quality grade riff on that fashion here. That hi-top fade of flesh and bone needs to get sanded down, though.

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