Thursday, June 22, 2006

Department of Missed Opportunities

Sure, we're all enjoying DC's weekly megaseries 52. It's clever and self-referential and rewards careful reading by long-term DC fans.

But what a missed opportunity it was to not caption this shot from this week's 52

as "Meanwhile, at Stately Kane Manor..."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Jimmy Olsen's finest hour

Eternals #1ETERNALS #1: This comic is fun. Beautiful artwork by the always-talented John Romita Jr. with the eloquent writing of Neil Gaiman give what would be just another mid-level Marvel miniseries sparkle and cachet. It's an interesting and new approach for Jack Kirby's bombastic Eternals (if not a totally new idea altogether in superhero comics): Makkari of the Eternals has forgotten his powers and his former life and, as physician Mark Curry, lives a life of quiet desperation haunted by dreams of giant Celestials. (Hey, if you're going to have a story about the truth in dreams, who better to write it than Neil Gaiman?) If you've never read Jack Kirby's original Eternals, you won't be lost, because there's a dandy multi-page summary of the mythology and history of the Eternals in the second half of the book. And who doesn't enjoy seeing Sersi as a modern girl party planner and Sprite as a kid TV star? Communists and Deviants, that's who! It's not great art, and it's far from Gaiman's finest work, but it's fun and compelling, and I'll definitely be picking up the rest of the miniseries if it's as strong as this first issue.

52 Week 752 WEEK 7: This comic is fun. Starfire spaces out. Montoya visits an old lover. Booster gets busted. And speakin' of Kirby, is that a big ol' Kirby Apokoliptan guy on the final page? I'm enjoying how this series is spinning various threads together into a tapestry of the post-Crisis DC Universe: grim and gritty, bold and bombastic, galactic and godly, all in one. The more cynical of you will be bagging this comic away in the hopes it will increase in value because it's the first appearance of the future Batwoman, but hey, do yourself a favor and read the thing, especially as bad things are happening to Booster left and right here, and the poop is really hitting the fan in his attempts to seize the future. Booster's veering dangerously close to being arrested for crimes and conspiracy here, which ain't' gonna endear him to his NASCAR-style sponsors. How's it all gonna turn out? Who knows? The joy is, I only have to wait seven short days to get the next installment. Hoo hah! Who says we're not living in the Mighty DC Age of Weekly Comics?

UXMA #1UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #1: This comic is not fun. First of all: put some clothes on, Miss Ororo. I know you're a goddess an' all in Africa, but between this and the cover of recent Black Panthers, we're almost seein' more of you than T'Challa's gonna see on the wedding night. (You are waiting for the wedding night, Miss Ororo, aren't you? Miss Ororo? Miss Ororo?) Anyway, this is something about Storm searching for her family in Africa and running afoul of political insurrectionists. Meanwhile, something similar is happening to the X-Men across country or someplace else, I'm not really certain. Marvel Girl and Psylocke both think at things a lot and Nightcrawler bamfs a bit and some other X-Men do stuff, and really, the confusing factor hasn't ramped down any since Claremont left, has it? Whatever happened to the good old days when an annual, even an X-Men annual, would be a simple clear solid done-in-one like "Nightcrawler's Inferno" or even the goofily-titled "Ooh La La, Badoon!" (And for that matter, why is this X-Men Annual #1?) I haven't read Uncanny X-Men in quite some time and thought an annual might be a good chance to read a story that wasn't mired in contemporary continuity, so I chose this as my Pick Up One New Comic Title I Haven't Been Reading book for the week, but there's nothing in here that's bringing me back to my once-favorite mutants. I wish you all the best in your upcoming wedding, Miss Ororo, and I hope you enjoy the toaster I'm sending you. But your comic isn't much fun anymore.

All Star Superman #4ALL STAR SUPERMAN #4: This comic is fun. Grant Morrison not only "gets" the Silver Age, and all those silly and goofy Jimmy Olsen stories that made no sense but still have a place of fondness in our cold, cold, fanboy hearts—but he can update those Silver Age stories without ripping them off and with bringing them into nanotechnological twenty-first century. At the heart of it, the plot's the same as a Silver Age issue of Jimmy Olsen: Jimmy's in trouble and has to rely on his wits, skills, and knowledge of "What would Superman do" to escape, but what if it's Superman he has to fight against? And yes, Morrison and Quitely even get in the stock Silver Age Jimmy Olsen in drag motif. This comic continues to be a caffeinated roller-coaster ride, and Morrison doesn't forget the fun, awe, joy and even the basic silliness of superhero comics in his revisioning of the Man of Steel for our cynical age. Plus, Black Kryptonite, haiku, the signal watch, "Frankenstein on Ice," Lucy Lane, and Mister Quintum's rainbow coat...all this and Doomsday! (I'll even totally forgive Morrison for the very-British "gas mark five" exclamation coming out of the mouth of the ultimate Kansas farm boy.) But cool concepts and updated icons don't make a comic great or even fun: what sets Morrison ahead of the pack once again is his understanding of the love and fondness we have for these characters and they have for each other, so evident in The Best Line of the Week: "Don't let anybody see him like this!", as Jimmy passionately protects an injured and battered Superman. Jimmy, in this issue you've completely proven that you're totally worthy of the title "Superman's Pal." That's why ALL STAR SUPERMAN #4 is the most fun comic of the week—not just because it's a great comic, but because it reminds us that the best comics make us care about the characters.