Thursday, February 08, 2007

Solomon! Hercules! Atlas! And the rest!

Detective #828DETECTIVE COMICS #828: This comic is fun. Paul Dini's Detective stories are reminiscent of an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, right down to the faintly-reminiscent font used for Batman's narration-stories skewed for a slightly older audience, but you can still hear the definitive voice of Kevin Conroy behind each speech bubble. I'm really enjoying the done-in-one tales Dini is bringing to this Bat-book, with the added bonus of a running sub-plot: the Riddler as private detective. I'm, make that betting...that Dini has a great payoff for Eddie Nigma's storyline. For a bonus, there's a lovely quiet moment where Bruce admits his affection for Alfred, Dick and Tim. That alone is worth the price of admission: a Batman who realizes he needs a family. He does rather illogically pass up the possibility of help from Aquaman while investigating a shark-attack death...but that's all forgivable, as it leads Batman to be what, before Dini, he hasn't really been over the past couple decades: a Detective.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #17FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #17: This comic is fun. You know, I haven't the faintest idea why Spidey is "back in black" or where Mary Jane and Aunt May are or even if this is all s'posed to take place after Civil War has ended, but it don't really matter, because even without an explanatory intro text page, this comic hits the ground running with Spidey pursued by police and on the run from the law. That's all you really need to know, isn't it? But what tips that usual Spider-Man theme into fun overdrive for me is the portrayal of Flash Thompson, a man who once gave the word "bully" a bad name but who now seems intent on making up for past sins by befriending and helping out a down-on-his-lucky Pete. he? And bonus points for a fun and quirky "Franklin Richards" backup in which the son of the genius accidentally de-evolves the members of the FF into hilariously-downgraded heroes and ends on a silly moment with a happy Richards family. That's is the FF I like.

52 Week 4052 WEEK 40: This comic is fun. Now this is more like it! If you're like me, you've been twiddling your thumbs and ho-humming at the needlessly-extended John Irons/Natasha/Lex Luthor subplot bubbling away in 52 since week 1. Well, surprise! 'coz it explodes dramatically this week in all-out action as Doc irons storms LexCorps swinging that big-ass hammer and decked out in the old-style, Reign of the Supermen-era Steel suit, complete with S-shield. Aided by the Teen Titans—most of whom I didn't recognize, including Raven (hey, thinks I, is that Batgirl?), Steel takes down LexCorps, rescues Natasha, and Luthor? Whoo boy, he gets what's comin' to him. A stand-up-and-cheer victory here with a wonderful triumphant splash page towards the end. (But did we really need to hear about John Henry's fecal matter leaking? No, we did not.)

Justice League Unlimited #30JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #30: This comic is sorta fun. Oh dear, oh dear, I do love this book, and it's so much more entertaining to me than Justice League of America, but why must so many of its stories involve self-doubting heroes learning a lesson at the end? Speedy's our reluctant Afterschool Special star this issue, and he's paired with a Booster Gold who seems oddly different than the Booster in previous issues or on the JLU cartoon: a Zen master of history is a great idea for a character; I'm just not certain that character should be Booster. Dynamic art and decent action against Polaris do salvage the issue, and as if anticipating my jokes a couple days ago about the uselessness of Hawkeye against Magneto, the Speedy versus Polaris battle addresses how an archer can overcome a master of magnetism. I do wish this book would go more in the direction of Batman Adventures or Superman Adventures and give us solid and fun adventures minus the moral lessons, but it seems to be the trend much, if not all, the time for this title.

Action Comics Annual #10ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #10: This comic is fun. This return to DC Annuals harks back to the era of the go-go checks and multiple stories, with a gorgeous Silver Age-homaging cover (even though they seem to have accidentally dropped the Monster Mash-fonted captions from two of the panels). There's only the sliver of a continuing story in this annual that features several short pieces illustrated by a lot of artists I really like: Art Adams, Joe Kubert, and Eric Wight are among the illustrators exploring an updated version of the Mon-El story, a Superman: The Motion Picture-esque retelling of the Phantom Zone Criminals' origins, and best yet, a two-page spread diagramming the Fortress of Solitude! It's light on substance but high on both fun and nostalgia factor, proving that yes, DC can recapture the magic and adventure of its heyday while still telling ultra-modern stories. If this sort of approach is the legacy of Infinite Crisis, then, well, I'll gladly gobble down this fine omelette made from those broken eggs.

Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil #1SHAZAM! THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL #1: This comic is fun. Oh. Oh my. Ohhhh, my. Jeff Smith gets it. Hello, Judd Winick? Read this. Because Jeff Smith gets Captain Marvel. I've been waiting for this for months and months until it could not possibly live up to the expectations I was putting on it, and guess what? Totally did! This is a wonderful intense, surprisingly dark, startlingly imaginative, and utterly respectful updating of the Captain Marvel origin story and myth, highlighted by Smith's bold and moody artwork, expressive lettering and sound effects (some of my favorite in the business after Dave Sim and John Workman), and a story of magic, wizards, heroes and an orphan kid that will appeal to long-time comics readers as well as fans of (natch) Bone and Harry Potter. Jeff Smith adds some different twists to the story I don't remember in earlier versions: Captain Marvel existing previously to Billy Batson, or a scene where both interact together (or the upcoming younger Mary Marvel)...but it's done with obvious affection and attention to the spirit of the original character without being a slavish copy. If I wanted to point to one part alone, I'd tell you the hot dog scene is worth the price of admission all by itself, but every page has beauties and terrors and the promise of adventure round the corner. I hereby speak the magic word: FUN! Because SHAZAM! THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL #1 is the most fun comic of the week!

(Seriously, Judd. Read this comic.)


Anonymous said...

I read three of the five books you reviewed this week and you are spot on. I couldn't believe that Jeff Smith's book actually exceeded the expectations I'd built up over the past couple years! Between that, 'Tec and especially the Action annual, it was a very good week! (By the way, did you notice the late 70s Legion statues in the Fortress of Solitude layout? Between that and the reestablishment of a more secretive Superboy in the wonderful Mon El story....well, you have a happy Legion fan here!)

SallyP said...

It WAS a pretty good week all in all.

Runmentionable said...

"I'm off to see the wizard".

There won't be a better line this year.

Anonymous said...

My joy would be complete if DC release a trade of the original Monster Society of Evil series when they collect this.

Shamus said...

The Shazam! comic was the most enjoyable superhero comic book reading experience that I've had in years. I can't wait for the next issue which is more than I can say for most comic books sadly.