Greetings, Bully-backers! I spent the weekend in lovely snowy Syracuse, New York, where I'm certain there must be a comic book shop but I didn't get a chance to look it up. Instead, I had this entertaining and surreal pop-culture conversation with family member Tom:
TOM: Who's that football player...turned actor, had a detective series in the eighties?
ME: Do you remember anything more about the series?
ME: Ummmm...Johnny Unitas, P.I.?
ME: Okay. But I would so watch a show called Johnny Unitas, P.I.
(For the record, it was Fred Dryer as Hunter.)
That's why I didn't get a chance to get last week's comics until today. That's why I didn't review 'em until tonight. Thanks for being so patient!
BART SIMPSON #34: This comic is fun. Bart Simpson oughta be the perfect gateway comic, ideal for introducing fans of the TV show to the medium of comics. Sometimes, however, I'm not certain if the younger audience that Bart seems to be pitched for exists: by the time you're a Simpsons fan, you'll probably prefer the lengthier or more detailed stories in the main comic. That said, Bart provides a good genial monthly dose of giggles, and its three short stories this time bridge the TV and comics market cleverly with plots that might be right at home on Fox: Mrs. Krabappel comes to live with the Simpsons, Willie's secret past as a pop star is revealed (with some dandy Beatles in-jokes), and Homer and Bart battle to create a winning entry in a Krustyburger contest. It's not groundbreaking comics, but by golly, it brings a smile to your face.
JUSTICE #10: This comic is fun. Y'know, I've read enough enthusiastic reviews of Justice, Alex Ross's glossy painted reinvention of Super Friends, to make this book, even so close to its end, this week's entry in my ongoing quest to Pick Up One New Comic Title I Haven't Been Reading. (And no, it wasn't that ultra-green cover which woulda been right at home in yesterday's "Ten of a Kind.") I'm not a massive fan of Ross's painted pin-up covers, but his continuity artwork is dynamic and expressive, and even in a story where most of the Justice League is wearing protective armor, the action is clear and detailed. Sure, I'm coming in two chapters from the end, but it was easy to pick up on the primal action: some villains are doin' bad stuff and the heroes are charging in to stop them. There's a dandy Green Arrow switcharoo in the last couple pages and the story is jam-packed with enough DC Universe characters that this is actually much more entertaining than the sluggish new Justice League of America. I'll be picking up the trade(s) on this series; it's a lovingly-done adventure overshadowed by some of DC's more heavily-promoted "event" comics, and I'm glad I caught it before it ended.
52 WEEK 43: This comic is not fun. Well, I do believe this is the first issue of 52 that actively exasperated me. A pointless fight scene between the Marvels and the Black Marvels (and is Captain Marvel crazy, or not?), followed by the continuing galactic adventures of Animal Man (and I'm not buying that he can reach galactic distances to gain the powers of a Sun-Eater), and finally, a gore-filled shock twist that disappointed me tremendously: not because of the turn of a character I liked (I'm fast learning that 52 loves to pull the rug out from under me) but that it was portrayed with such gruesome violence it actually turns the panels blood-red. It would have been a chilling and compelling twist if it had been hinted at instead of splattered across the pagesuggestion is always more powerful than in-your-face gore, guys. Oh well. This close to the end I certainly won't let a disappointing issue put me off, but it's a definite break from a series that has had forty-two issues in a row that have delighted me.
ETERNALS #7: This comic is sorta fun. Huh. That's it? Neil Gaiman's reimagining of Jack Kirby's big and boisterous cosmic heroes wraps up, and I s'pose I should go back and re-read the whole thing in one sitting, but despite being better than many modernizations of the King, it eventually turned into a fairly pedestrian superhero tale where I expected much more from Gaiman. When I look a little more closely I see the Gaiman touches: a lovely little mundane first-page scene with Midwest tourists contemplating a giant golden Celestial, and a very Sandmanesque final fate of Sprite, but there's still too much of Civil War shoehorned into this for no apparent reason, and I was more interested in flipping quickly to the end than savoring the story. Like Nextwave and Agents of Atlas, it's a miniseries that ends with a definite conclusion but also a "the adventure is only beginning" vibe. But it's telling that out of those three series, Eternals is the one I'm least interested in reading further adventures.
HEROES FOR HIRE #7: This comic is fun. It's pretty telling that a fairly straightforward but still playfully fun comic like Heroes for Hire makes my pull list in an age of "event" comics: I don't apologize for enjoying the series as much as I do, but but I can't imagine this series is gonna be around long, which is a pity: it's a solid and fun adventure comic firmly utilizing some of the b-listers of the Marvel Universe (both heroes and villains), but like The Thing, it's not getting a strong buying audience. Pity. If you're passing this up because it looks like a cheesy T&A book...well, it is that, a little, but it's done with such a light touch it's forgivable. And hey, looks like the HfH might be heading to Latveria in the next issue or so! I'm so totally on board for that, and if Misty speaks the immortal line "Where's my money, honey?" then I'll be in fanbull heaven. Until then we have to settle for The Best Line of the Week: "Do not sing Blue Öyster Cult Songs." For its spirit of the seventies and its refusal to take itself too seriouslyand for blowin' up stuff real good: HEROES FOR HIRE #7 is the most fun comic of the week.