Sunday, September 03, 2006

Reviews: The smirk of Luthor

She-Hulk #11SHE-HULK #11: This comic is fun. The third or so issue in a row that I don't loathe the cover on, which tells me Greg Horn is maybe better painting light moments or comedy than cheesecake. (Although is it just me or does his Man-Wolf remind me less of this guy and more of this guy?) Anyway, this one's a solid mix of action, exposition, and a dandy "to be continued" moment that sums up what I like best about this book: it's a fun read from cover to cover but if you put it in context of the issues that have gone before you get a lot more out of it. In other words, it fulfills both the promise of the best of Marvel Comics (a compelling shared universe with a logically linear history) and fun comics (you like it and you wanna read more). I'm just a little bull stuffed with fluff so it took me up until about three pages before the revelation of why all the love-stuff has been happening to suss it out, which means good things for Mister Starfox, I guess.

52 Week 1752 WEEK 17: This comic is fun. Okay, okay, maybe I'm indulgin' my lowest-common denominator comics fun here, but I kinda like Lobo. There's something to be said for a DC Universe that contains not only nicely-nicely do-gooders but a few action-oriented tough guys who are in it for money, beer, and their own good. That's the joy and wonder of superhero comics to me: the diverse and often divisive range of characters in a shared universe. I'm more a fan of, say, the Superman: The Animated Series style Lobo than the Alan Grant Lobo, but this Lobo's got an appeal and it's fun to see him run into characters he hasn't interacted with before. (Although if I remember, didn't Vril Dox take away his "regenerate his entire body from a single drop of blood" power waaaaaay back in L.E.G.I.O.N.?) And who says a Lobo with "religion" won't be interesting to read...Jay and Silent Bob in Clerks II were a hoot and a half, too, without compromising their basic premise. As Lobo himself says on the cover (you gotta love a meta-Lobo), we're one-third of the way through the series, and next issue's blurb (Detective Chimp! Dr. Fate!) shows that with the addition of new characters to the mix, we're starting to ramp up phase two of 52. I'm still hooked, but it does get me wondering: is it all going to pay off? There's a lot of balls in the air; I'd hate to see any of them drop.

X-Factor #10X-FACTOR #10: This comic is fun. Best cliffhanger ending this that's how you get me chomping at the bit to read the next issue! Renato Arlem's artwork is a wee bit scratchy and murky, but I think that fits the mood and tone of this book, so I won't whine about Ryan Sook's departure. And, have I mentioned that I can handle Layla Miller much better when she's not proclaiming in every issue "I know stuff." (Leave that to Siryn this issue, although it's a funny setup). A quiet and plot-driven mutant book that has action but doesn't depend on it for its sole entertainment is okay in my book, and this issue gets a new storyline off to a good kick-start.

Snakes on a Plane #1SNAKES ON A PLANE #1: This comic is fun. Aw, c'mon, now what grade did you expect me to give this? It's big, it's dumb, it's goofy, and its has a higher ratio of sound effect captions that go "ssssssssssss" than any other comic published this week. The comics adaptation leaves out a handful of decent lines but otherwise keeps the set-up moving right along, although the real snakey action isn't really coming until next this probably would have been better served by being a double-sized comic complete in one issue, and certainly would have sold better if it had come out the same week the movie had. I could quibble that the comics version of Sam "Motherloving snakes" Jackson is less convincing than that in The Ultimates, but hey, what do you want from a movie-to-comic adaptation? These things (comics adaptations, not snakes) are rare beasts these days: they made more sense in an age before home video. But you can't fault it for being exactly what it is: a comic called Snakes on a Plane. For that, it's what it is an' nothing more: fun.

Solo #12SOLO #12: This comic is fun. All hail and salute Solo in its final issue, one of the best recent anthologies from the Big Two...okay, okay, the only recent anthology from one of the Big Two, but all the more to be praised for its creator-centric focus. Last up in this final issue is Brendan McCarthy, whose psychedelic art reminds me a little of Ralph Steadman crossed with Jamie Hewlett—fantastic, pastelly, hallucinatory stuff that crosses the slim wavy line back and forth between metafiction and superheroics in stories that get the patented Bully head-scratching but sheer admiration at the same time. In other words, it's that gut feeling that "I'm not certain if I know what's going on here but by gosh and golly, I like it!"...not unlike the 1970s era-Jack Kirby, f'r instance. Many of McCarthy's stories in Solo are concerned with not just comics heroes but the sheer art of creating comics themselves, and in the end, it's an appropriate theme for the final issue for a series that celebrated creators and the concept of creation: a very rare duck for DC. Not every issue was my favorite, but every single one had something that appealed to me. I'll miss Solo, and I think the comic book world is poorer for its passing.

All Star Superman #5ALL STAR SUPERMAN #5: This comic is fun. Okay, speaking of the art of creating comics, here's this week's Bully DIY art project: Get yourself a Post-It note, ask your parents to use scissors and cut it into a vibrant and energetic starburst shape, and then write on it: "Warning: Superman does not appear in this issue!" And then write below that, in smaller letters: "But you won't care!" Because yes, this is an all Lex and Clark issue, and (aside from a handful of ads) Superman absolutely does not appear in this comic book, but his presence is so felt he's practically a third party in the dialogue between Lex and Clark. Part of the fun is the way Luthor addresses his rants to Clark but they are truly directed to Superman; only we (well, and Clark) can realize how effectively he's communicating to the Man of Steel. It's a wonderful synthesis of words and art: both Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are firing on all cylinders here, from the slumpy, pudgy-lookin' Clark who is only obvious to us as a slouching Superman in a poorly-fitted suit, to the welcome reappearance of my favorite element from issue #1, Clark using his bumbling and stumbling to hide his super-skills in saving people. As a Marvel fanbull I still consider Dr. Doom to be my favorite villain, but Luthor's a close second, and if he were written like this all the time or even half the time he'd be pushing old Doomsie off that #1 pedestal. Witness his sharp reminder to Clark that Ma Kent is dead but only being concerned with the fact that Clark knows a skill (shorthand) that Luthor doesn't...and Luthor's determined to add it to his repertoire, even though it's genuinely pointless for Lex: he just needs to know everything. That's the fun in this issue; Lex proclaims his gospel throughout the issue, confident in his knowledge that he is aware and comprehends everything: everything, that is, except exactly who that is standing before him. (And who else but Grant Morrison's Lex Luthor would draw on his own eyebrow so he can give an evil glare?) Golly, I loves me some All Star Superman, and if this series and more specifically this issue doesn't get major awards by the end of the year, there's no justice in the comics world. I'm also awarding it The Best Line of the Week, and for the first time, it isn't even a line: it's Luthor's smug, self-satisfied smirk on page 3 as he's sentenced to the electric chair. Sure, it's not a line, except in Morrison's script. But look at the panel before that, and look at that panel, and a chill runs up your spine. That's the effect that Lex Luthor should have on you. And me. And humanity. And Superman. Best panel of the week, oh yes. But I'm not awarding it the Most Fun Comic of the Week. Why? What could beat Clark Kent?...

Action #842ACTION #842: This comic is fun....the most fun comic of the week, to be precise. I've told you how much I'm enjoying Batman and Detective, and now Action has become a favorite. I didn't like what I saw of Infinite Crisis, but if this is the aftermath—DC's flagship characters become fun and exciting again...then I'll forgive a little Pantha head-rolling. Not only that, but this is a Bully favorite that I woulda missed if it weren't thanks to a little help from my friends...friend Steven over at The Roar of Comics, to be precise, whose passionate praise of this issue ended with "GO. BUY. NOW. It's great!", resulting in one of my very few return trips to a comic shop between new issue day, just to pick up Action. Steven says it all so well himself that I won't blab on and on and say much the same stuff he did except not as well, but I'll just tell you how nice it is to see a competent and well-trained Nightwing at work and a Superman who can use psychology as well as his fists. Plus, a Simpsons crossover! This one passes the ultimate Bully-test of a fun comic: a sense of awe and wonder and that gotta read the next issue rush. I haven't read any Superman comics regularly since The Millennium Giants story made me drop the whole Super-line, but I'm back on board with Action. Thanks, DC! Thanks, Kurt Busiek, Fabien Nicieza, and Pete Woods! Thanks, Superman! Most of all, thanks, Steven! Awe, wonder, fun and the compelling need to read the next issue: isn't that what good comics are all about?

1 comment:

Steven said...

No, no mon frère vache,

thank you!