52 WEEK 41: This comic is fun. The all-out action of last week takes a breather for some moments of quiet reflection that're still fraught with tension and significance. Probably one of my favorite strengths of this series has been its ability to do exactly that: shift from action to characterization smoothly without losing my interest. I dunno whether it's the weekly schedule or the tight plotting (how many other creators have fifty-plus issues of their superhero comic plotted out so fully in advance?), but it's definitely what keeps me looking forward to 52 week after week. There's some lovely moments in here: a quiet and subtle guest appearance by Wonder Woman, an "oh, yes!" Green Lantern appearance in the final panel, a lovely and incisive two-page origin of Starfire (drawn by Joe Benetez, an artist I wouldn't mind seein' draw Koriand'r more often), and is that a flash of Gingold that Ralph Dibny is nippin' at? Whoa, lookit that nose go! Nice cover, too. But golly, Miss Montoya, isn't your butt getting cold?
GØDLAND #16: This comic is fun. Week after week Kevin Church slaps me across the face and tells me that if I really am such a big little stuffed Jack Kirby fan, I oughta be readin' Gødland. Stop hitting me, Mister Church! (sob) Well, this week I took his advice to Pick Up One New Comic Title I Haven't Been Reading and checked out the special "hop on board, little stuffed bull with six shiny dimes" issue of Gødland. And ya know what? This is pretty cool! It's one of the very few "the story so far" comics I've read in recent years that actual delivers on dropping me right into the story without feeling lost and not just serving as a glorified clip show. This is big, boisterous, goofy fun that reminds me a lot of one of my favorite miniseries of all time, Alan Moore's 1963. And oh! That wonderful Kirbyesque (Kirbyish? Kirbyatic?) art that calls up memories of the King but isn't a slavish copy. I especially like Kirby tributes that build upon and go in different directions than his creation, and so far what I can see in this issue is 'xactly what I like about comics that pay homage to the King yet do their own thing. I gotta check out back issues or the two previous trade paperbacks to get fully up to speed, but this is one 60¢ introductory issue that actually has gained a new reader. That'll please Mister Church no end, I think...if he's responsible for getting only two more readers on board, he gets the free toaster.
BATMAN #663: Hmmm, looks like I need to come up with a new grade for this issue. I'm gonna grade this issue incomplete. Y'all come back for your final grade when you turn your lovely short story and pin-up art into a proper comic book, Mister Morrison and Mister van Fleet. Naw, I don't wanna get all catty, because I want to reward ingenuity and innovation in comics (who says we must always be bound by panels and word balloons?). And it's very nice to have an issue of Batman that actually takes more than five or seven minutes to read. But this illustrated text short story didn't float my boat: even from the pen of Grant Morrison, one of my favorite comic writers of all time, it's still a fairly pedestrian Joker story, and I don't care for the digital paint style of van Fleet's art at all: it gives us slickness instead of dynamism, and that's never a good thing in a Batman story. More specifically, it's very poorly designed: it sacrifices legibility for the sake of "cool" design by using text that's hard to read, with an oddly bolded font against a colored background and dialogue in italics, and too much text on lines that run the width of the comic. Rule one of any book design: don't make the reader struggle to read it. An interesting innovation or at least an update on that old text Howard the Duck issue...but I wouldn't wanna see this very often at all. Points for trying, guys, but you can do better than this.
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #3: This comic is sorta fun. That's a provisional "sorta"...how the rest of this storyline is handled will probably swing it into the red or the green for me, but it better get going fast: so far it's just stringing me along. On the plus side is a funny first page conversation between my favorite JSAer and my favorite new JSAer (Stargirl and Maxine Hunkel) that features The Best Line of the Week: "Look out, Icicle! It's a gentle breeze! There's also a wonderful two-page spread where the JSA rushes off to do what they do best: split up and have exciting adventures in pairs or three before banding back together for the big finale fight. I'm not usually a fan of internal splashes or two page spreads, but this one is energetic and suits the drama of the moment perfectly. But I'm not very happy with the introduction of Wildcat, Jr.I've only recently come to see how freakin' cool Wildcat is (thanks, Dorian!) and while I wouldn't deny him the blessing of a son, having a son who actually turns into a cat is kind of watering down the character, dontcha think? And oh, please, make those Alex Ross covers stop. I'm really loathing the vogueing poses that have become a trademark cover for this series as well as the last JSA series. Give us action on the cover: excitement, dynamism, something to intrigue and capture our interest to pick up the issue rather than just a salute to careful shaving. You're on probation, Justice Society. Don't drop the ball.
NEXTWAVE #12: This comic is fun. Please join me in my raucous Irish wake for my most fun comic of 2006 as it steps boldly into 2007 and is cancelled. But oh my oh my, if ya gotta go, what a way to go. Not one but two hilarious twists on characters from the most imaginative corners of the Marvel Universe step forward to threaten Nextwave in their final fight: the cutest spitcurled little Baby M.O.D.O.K. ever (see? Didn't I tell you it was the Year of the M.O.D.O.K.?) and a startling revelation of the darkest secret of a Jack Kirby creation you could ever imagine. Oh, actually, no, you will never have imagined this! (Kirby purists might be gnawing their teeth over the revelation, but this little stuffed King fan found it hilarious and fantastic!) There's some great teamwork by Nextwave at work here and everyone has a final moment in the spotlight, and when all the smoke clears and the final page rolls around there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Well, my house, at least. The saga wraps up with the kind of open-ended dénouement that the recent Agents of Atlas did: with the potential and promise for new adventures in the future. But even if we never see Nextwave again, gosh, it was a heck of a ride, wasn't it, and the most fun comic of the week.
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry starry night
You kicked some ass
As heroes often do
But I could have told you
This world was never meant
For one as kickass as you.