Wednesday, October 8, 2008
ACTION COMICS #870
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank
MAJOR SPOILER WARNING!
If you've been on the web today, then maybe you've stumbled across CNN.com's review of this very issue. Turns out this is one of those landmark comics where something BIG happens, something big enough to affect the "real" world. Well, here it is: Jonathan "Pa" Kent dies at the end of the issue. And it's pretty hard-hitting.
This is the end of the 5-part "Brainiac" story that's been in ACTION as of late, and we open with Superman and Supergirl incapacitated, the city of Metropolis shrunk to miniature size, and a warhead is on its way to the sun to vaporize the Milky Way. Inside the bottle that Metropolis is contained in, Lois gives her last farewells to Superman, which is incentive enough for him to make one last ditch effort to break free and beat Brainiac. He beats the villain, grabs Metropolis and Kandor, then grabs Supergirl and tells her to get the warhead before it hits the sun. Then he proceeds to place Metropolis back where it goes, and Kandor in a place where it will have room to grow back to normal size.
Johns keeps the tension tight and the issue flowing, and Frank's artwork is spot on. For some reason it isn't as dynamic as it normally is, but that could just be my opinion. When it comes around to Pa Kent's death, it's really tense. Supergirl is diverting the warhead while Superman tries to get Kandor to Antarctica before it grows while Brainiac is making one last attempt to defeat Superman: by killing his parents. See, Brainaic was able to "download" Superman's memories, and as such knows where they live. Pa goes out like a hero, running to tackle Ma out of the way of Brainiac's incoming ship, and in saving her strains himself into a heart attack. It's the next couple of pages, which I will not spoil, which are some of the most heartrending pages I've seen in a comic. Not to be missed.
BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #22
Written by Andrew Kreisberg
Art by Scott McDaniel
I normally loathe and avoid "Stories from (character)'s past!!" comics, but this one I made an exception on for two reasons: Stephane Roux's cover art, and Scott McDaniel's interior art. I love both artists, and thought, "What the hell!"
What the hell, indeed.
The story's kind of a mess. A lot happens for a single issue, and it feels rather forced. We start with two officers discussing how one of them has had personal issues in the past, but his new wife Holly makes him feel like a new man. Then Batman storms in and drops off the Joker. The story being told is the Joker's "first time" in the Gotham PD, so no one's sure what to do with him. One thing leads to another, Joker cracks jokes, burns some of the bums in the slammer with acid, then in the scuffle picks the pocket of Officer Rage Issues, and calls dear Holly, informing her that he's her doctor blah blah blah she has a horrible disease blah blah and she ought to just hang herself and get it out of the way. So then Officer Anger Management runs to his apartment to find poor Holly has done just that. Cut to Batman's shocked expression that the Joker pulled this off.
Cut to me going "What the hell?!"
The Joker is a mad bastard, right, we get that. He's got a morbid sense of humor, yeah, we got that too. But once we were introduced to the stereotypical "angry police officer who's so boring I can't even remember his name" with the wife of gold, I knew we were going to see the Joker kill her at some point; I just didn't think it would be the same issue. In such. A lame. Way. "Hi, I'm your doctor, no really, I am, and guess what, got your blood work done. Hoo hah, you, uh, you might want to sit down for this. Or maybe just hang yourself. Because, as your doctor, I would seriously recommend harming yourself." Even though they don't show us Holly's dead body, I have to assume that she was a blonde.
The story is a stereotypical cliche mess, but the art? If you're a McDaniel fan, look no further than to whet your appetite with some great work (especially in the sequence where the Joker poses for his mug shot). As for me, this one issue is enough for me to leave the rest of this four-part tale at the comic shop.
Overall: 3/5 (+1 for the art)
DETECTIVE COMICS #869
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Dustin Nguyen
SPOILERS AHOY, UNLESS YOU'RE SMARTER THAN THE WRITER THINKS YOU ARE!
This is "Heart of Hush" Part 4 of 5. Previously, in part 3, we saw that Hush had kidnapped Catwoman and removed her heart while keeping her body alive. So in this issue Batman goes after the Scarecrow, who in part 3 had kidnapped a young boy to distract Batman from Catwoman's plight. Now in Arkham, Scarecrow has no idea what Hush is up to, even though Batman electrifies the Scarecrow to pry the info out of him.
Look, I'm no Batman expert, but I'm working on it. Does Batman doling out electric shocks to criminals seem a tad violent to anyone else? The same problem arises later when Batman finally corners Hush, and Batman says "I should break your neck!" Batman is a violent guy, but murderously, torturously violent? Maybe I'm opinionating here.
Anyways, Batman tracks down Hush, Hush explains that he's using Mister Freeze's cryo-technology to keep Selina and her still-beating heart alive, and then Hush hits Batman with a neuro-compound to incapacitate him. Now, before I get to the MAJOR SPOILER, previously in DETECTIVE #848, Selina slashed the bandages on Hush's face, then exclaimed "What? But you're not---" Couple in the fact that Hush, aka Tommy Elliot, is obsessed with Bruce Wayne, and I'm sure you can guess where Paul Dini is taking this.
You got it. Hush's master plan is that he's changed his face so that he looks like Bruce Wayne and is now going to pretend to be Bruce and collapse Wayne Manor and tell everyone he's giving up being Batman.
Overthinking this, much? Can't just kill the guy? Gotta go change your face and then go see his friends (who're gonna know, trust me) and say "Fuck this, I'm done being Batman, I give up!" I mean, seriously, just kill Batman. Then there will be no more Batman. It's less convoluted and it actually makes sense. Instead, you've kidnapped Catwoman, got her and her heart on life support, you've got Batman incapacitated so that he'll watch her heart beat its last just before HE dies, and then you're going to assume his identity in order to get rid of the Batman? I mean, shoot, double-tap to the back of the skull. But that's just me, personally. He's right there. Just shoot him and say "Fuck it, I'll head out now."
Paul Dini. He's a smart writer.
What saves this comic is Dustin Nguyen's slick, stylistic linework and awesome cover. Scroll up and look at it again; man, that's some impressionistic nightmare imagery.
I'll keep picking this book up because DETECTIVE is my favorite comic title of all time, and mostly because it's been hinted at that Dini won't be on the title much longer.
Overall 3/5 (+2 for the art)
GREEN LANTERN #35
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis
Aaaaaaand "Secret Origin" ends it's seven-part saga. Good. Now we can get back to what Hal Jordan is doing right now instead of in the past.
Oh? Did you want a real review?
The short: Hal questions the Guardians, Sinestro questions the Guardians, and the Guardians say "You guys are right, we'll go along with what you suggest." The end. I love Johns' work in total, but to capstone the whole story with an entire issue of that seems a bit padded to me. Granted, we've just seen six parts of AWESOME, so padding is okay at this point, but it's basically giving us GREEN LANTERN: YEAR ONE according to Johns. After the recent SINESTRO CORPS WAR, this feels incredibly dull, but I digress; it's necessary info in light of the coming BLACKEST NIGHT storyarc, which kicks off this month with RAGE OF THE RED LANTERNS, and boy I can't wait to get into that. Once again, Ivan Reis delivers sturdy lines and great action, elevating the bland story above the semi-tedious end of the arc. Not THE BEST GL issue ever, but hey, it's been worse, and considering where it's going, it's a nice little break.
Overall 4/5 (+1 for art)
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #29
Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason
GLC has been my fix for all things Green Lantern with the GL title proper being stuck in flashback mode for the last seven months, and this issue delivers again. Tomasi keeps it smart, showing us exactly what we need to know and leaves us hanging for more.
The Zamarons have just built their Star Sapphire power battery and are recruiting. A young woman whose husband was killed in front of her is the first (seen) recruit, and the effect is awesome. That's her on the cover. Anyways, the Guardians are a little concerned that the Zamarons are showing off as much as they are, considering that the Zamarons used to cohabitate with the Oans back in the day. What are the Guardians to do about this rising source of power?
Well, Guy Gardner has his own problems: basically being a dick like he always is and ignoring what Ice is trying to tell him. She likes him and all, but she's not ready to move in with him, especially since he's living on Oa, and she doesn't want to leave Earth yet. While this is going on, Kyle and Natu are on their way to track down a Sinestro Corps officer named Kryb, who steals Lantern babies. And finally, as revealed last issue, Lantern Saarek is using his ability to speak with the dead to track down the Anti-Monitor's corpse, which we know is the energy source for the Black Lantern battery. He gets a lead and takes off. Then Guy gets the call as Ice leaves for Earth to escort the Guardians on a diplomatic mission to Zamaron.
Tomasi is setting up the pieces for what's to come: Kyle and Natu doing their thing, Guy and Ice doing their thing, and Zamarons. Word and solicits state that the Guardians are going to put a ban on Lanterns feeling love, so should that come about there's going to be some interesting ramifications. As it is, Tomasi as me wanting to know what's gonna happen at this Zamaron conference, and what Saarek is going to run into.
SIMON DARK #13
Written by Steve Niles
Art by Scott Hampton
The solicits describe this as a special "stand-alone" issue to introduce you to Simon and his world. Come on in, everyone! Meet Simon Dark!
Truth be told, I didn't feel that this was strong enough story-wise to warrant a good introduction to Simon Dark (and I LOOOOOVE Steve Niles). Do yourself a favor: go out, buy SIMON DARK: WHAT SIMON DOES, the first trade, and read that. It's a much better intro. It's $14.99, but you get your money's worth. I love Steve Niles, I like Scott Hampton, I reeeeeeally like Simon Dark, but this issue was really bland, and aside from telling us a little backstory about one of the characters, it's just....there. I wish I could gush on the flaws or something, but it's just....there.
Go buy WHAT SIMON DOES. You'll thank me for it later.