Friday, February 01, 2008

Superman, Interrupted (and other comics I read this week)

SUPERMAN CONFIDENTIAL #11: This comic is sorta fun. Ah, so that's what happened to that storyline. The Darwyn Cooke/Tim Sale "Kryptonite" saga from Superman Confidential #1-5 pops up many months laters, more than a year after it started, and in the main book rather than (as in Wonder Woman) an annual. Is this the first time a story has ever been interrupted by so many regular issues? But then, while this raises serious questions about the effectiveness of modern Big Two comic book scheduling, it's irrelevant aside from pointing out that the momentum and energy of this story has been mostly lost during the interruption, and a story I loved has slipped to merely being interesting and okay. Tim Sale's artwork, which I normally praise, seems sketchy, rushed, and rough in this conclusion, especially (perhaps intentionally) in Kal's hallucination sequences. That said, it'll probably read better in one sitting or as a trade, and there's still some lovely, personal moments here between Clark/Supes and Lois, most notably the final page. Six months off didn't help this story, but there's still gems to be found in it.

FUTURAMA COMICS #35: This comic is fun. Speaking of flashing back to previous stories, Futurama is a callback to the animated series episode "Less Than Hero", which you might remember better as "The One With The New Justice Team." Like Simpsons Super-Spectacular, it's chock-full of classic comic book references: Zoidberg gets turned down for membership in a scene parodying the cover of Adventure Comics #247; the Legion of Doom's secret headquarters pops up next to the Planet Express building ("It creeps me out having that place in the neighborhood." "Yes, yes, but it helps keep the rent down!"). To deflect fanboy criticism of the type "Yes, but at the end of Episode 4ACV04, The New Justice Team disbands owing to the depletion their tube of Miracle Cream," these new adventures are flashbacks thanks to Bender's new memory chip, and while a few jokes fall flat, there's enough of them in here to populate a decent-sized chuckle-fest, and better yet, the density of dialogue and quips means it'll definitely take you more than five minutes to read this comic. Plus, it features The Best Line[s] of the Week: "I think the heat's giving you an irrational hatred of 1980s bands, Professor." "From hell's heart I stab at thee, Duran Duran!"

BATMAN #673: This comic is sorta fun. I love you, Grant Morrison. But golly, I really haven't the slightest of what's going on in this book. A dream doesn't make a story, and this seems to be mostly an extended hallucinatory sequence in Bruce's brain following his heart attack (I'm not buying that health twist in Batman, but hey, whatever). Nice vibrant and energetic art by Tony Daniel isn't a great help in following a non-linear, head-trip story, which has something to do with Joe Chill and Bat-Mite. Maybe it'll read better in the trade surrounded by other chapters, and I like the dialogue and art, but for the moment I still feel like I'm not smart enough to be reading Batman.

THE SPIRIT #13: This comic is fun. The post-Darwyn Cooke era begin for The Spirit (or, as I keep thinking the cover logo says, "The Spirito"). Hey, wait a minute, there's actually a Darwyn Cooke cover on this issue, but it's an anthology special with three separate stories by different creators. It's billed as a "Holiday Special," which seems odd to come out a month after Christmas, but it actually contains a Halloween story (crooks dress up as The Spirit) plus one that takes place in the rain and another in the snow. That last, by Gail Simone with Phil Hester and Ande Parks on art, is by far my favorite of the three: dialogue is told almost exclusively in pictograms inside word balloons (only the final panel has a true word it in), and it's both funny (a freezing-cold Spirit in his underwear is chased through a snooty restaurant) and touching (Dolan laments the apparent second death of Denny Colt). Inventive and clever, without being cloying, in a style I bet Will Eisner would have approved of. Although I'm looking forward to Evanier, Aragones, and Ploog as the regular team starting next issue, I'd like to see Gail and Company sink their teeth into a full-length, fully-dialogued Spirit comic.

JACK OF FABLES #19: This comic is fun. "Americana" continues and Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges squeeze in months of adventure, half-a-dozen destinations and a million and one shady plans by Jack as he, Hillary, Gary, Paul Bunyan, Babe the Little Blue Ox, and a giant cracked egg zip around and about the mythical United States. It doesn't exactly further the storyline tremendously, but it's fun, and that's the most important part, isn't it? In fact, I'll go so far as to name JACK OF FABLES #19 the most fun comic of the week, from its ubiquitous saucy reading line above the cover title to the usual boastful "next issue" plug. Jack's not the only comic book featuring a tiny blue ox with a rich internal fantasy life*, but it's certainly the best.

*Oh wait. Yes it is.


collectededitions said...

I guess the trade off in DC's interrupting multi-part stories is that while the story gets cut off and then restarted, one keeps the same writing and art team all the way through. Which, on the main Superman books, they could probably just use a fill-in artist, but on something like Superman Confidential, there's no choice but to suspend the story if Sale or another artist can't meet a deadline. And as we surmise, DC feels they can get away with it because the story just comes back together in the trade -- as a trade reader, this doesn't affect me much, but if I were a monthly reader I might be somewhat offended.

Love your new logo!

SallyP said...

It's true. Babe the tiny blue ox is my new favorite character.

"O" the Humanatee! said...

That should be "Evanier, Aragones, and Ploog" on the Spirit. And thank God for that - I think Mike Ploog (who is strongly influenced by and worked with Will Eisner) is a far better choice. I really don't want to see Grell's stiff, busy, pseudo-realistic art on the Spirit (and I say that as someone who enjoyed Jon Sable back in the day - but as much despite the art as for it).

I notice, however, that after Ploog's first two issues, Paul Smith (another excellent choice) is doing one. So I don't know how permanent Ploog is.

Bully said...

You're right, "O!" I spaced on that one. Corrected in the post; left here to give you the full credit. Consider yourself Bull-Prized!