May 17, 2007

Stuff to flip through

Well Superman did go away for a year or so - at least that's the rumor that I hear from the 52 camp - so it's kind of natural for the peeps of the DC world to wonder if the newly repowered Superman is really the Superman that they all want him to be. After all, he did disappear once before and come back in four different versions - none of whom were actually the real thing.

So this trade sees Superman back in Metropolis saving folks, but the people aren't entirely sure that he's the real deal - hence the Superman: Back in Action moniker. The story's entertaining enough - mysterious aliens come down and start stealing our stuff (cathedrals, bridges, superheroes) for some galactic auction by a character (not really a villian, just a gigantic cosmic wheeler-dealer type) who's a true keepr in the Manga Khan mold). Superman has to, of course, team up with a very oddly-matched crue of heroes (The Soldier, Nightwing, Revager, new Firestorm, and a bunch more).

Conveniently the battle is filmed and sent worldwide for all to see the real Superman - which magically convinces everybody that he's the real deal.

The story's cool enough...entertaining new folks to battle against (and outwit rather than outpunch, always a nice change of pace for the Big Blue Boyscout)...but the whole story's only three issues long - not nearly enough for a full trade. So DC has fleshed the thing out with three random issues from DC Comics Presents.

Fun to check out, not nearly worth dropping $15 for in the stores.

And back to the well I go with one of the only two X- series that I'll slog through...

The Astonishing X-Men: Torn sees a number of the plotlines start to come to a big, old, nasty head under Joss Whedon's X-reign.

The Hellfire Club finally comes out of their hiding places.
Danger (Room) returns to smack down.
Ord brings the pain.

And it all goes to hell thanks to the White Queen, herself.

Nicely plotted...nicely drawn...interesting characters shown in fresh ways (check Kitty's accidental phasing down into the tv room, for example)'s all good stuff here, boys and girls.

I look forward to reading Unstoppable

I think you folks've probably heard that I dig on the new Batgirl series, and Batgirl: Fists of Fury has done nothing to shift me away from that feeling.

This volume recaps Batgirl #15,16,21,26-28 - the only drawback to the collection is that there are such large gaps in the storyline that a lot happens between these issues. We miss, for example, the rumble between Cassandra Cain and Lady Shiva, something that is showcased well in the Kicking Assasins collection.

The stories stand alone as good issues but provide just glimpses into various major Batman storylines. We get one issue that bumps almost tangentially into the following three stories: Bruce Wayne: Fugitive, Joker: Last Laugh, and the very beginning of Gang War. The individual tales are well told, revealing more and more of the Cassandra Cain, Spoiler, and even a bit into Oracle.

The stories would fit a little better, admittedly, if in their proper places with the full storylines, but that doesn't mean that they're any less worthy of a read through.

My lord but Nightwing conetinues to stink like month-old fish.

We've gone through characterizations that have had Dickie boy as a mobster, a cop, a jerk, a good guy, a killer in training, a deadman, and injured man, and just about every incongruous possibility that the DC editors can throw at the wall. In this trade, we see Dickie as a slut.

It's a good six pages before we see Dick in bed with a woman whose name he doesn't even know. And lucky us, we find out that she's pretty free, too, as she throws down (in a romantic kinda way, doncha know) with Jason Todd who has been masquerading as Nightwing himself.

Throw in a little villian guy who eats people, throws them into some sort of impenetrable cocoon, and vomits them back up - before he changes into a little, goatee-ed man.

It's just total continuing crap for the series.

Avoid it...

Now that's a weird little thing there - a Batman story set in 2037 that looks almost Victorian in its art style.

Anyone writing a dystopian future Batman fighting against a government gone rogue runs a pretty strong risk of being compared unfavorably to The Dark Knight Returns.

Luckily the path that Batman Year 100 takes isn't in nearly the same grand scale that Dark Knight took. Instead, we see a Batman still near the peak of his powers (something that's never really explained - my one bugaboo with the story, in fact) who is fighting a small scale battle with the government - falling mistakenly into a coup of sorts.

The artwork is a bit off-putting at first, initially not having the distinction in characters that makes things easy to determine who's who at first, but the style grew on me as the story moved along.

The plot works because the story refers back to the old-style Batman storylines (a style that harkens back to pre-60's Batman) with Jim Gordon's son and a Robin who appears to be new - commenting that he's never gotten a chance to put on the suit before he impersonates Batman late in the tale.

For the artwork style alone, this one's worth a read.

Dreck of the week goes to Detective #27, and Elseworlds title that revisits Bruce Wayne not as Batman but as a pawn in a seventy-plus year conspiracy put into motion by Josiah Kerr (get it? get it?). Bruce never becomes Batman, but he does become Detective #27 - the twenty-seventh in a line of super secret detectives that trace back through Teddy Roosevelt and Allan Pinkerton.

It's a little crazy, and it's a little crappy.

The story doesn't just revisit Batman's history, it goes further to rewrite the language of women's sufferage, baeball, communism, World's Fairs, and just about everything of the era. But where a good story will take a modern tale and tell it through the past era, this takes a past era and makes a false pretense of using it.

We get Selina Kyle spouting about women's sufferage like she's out of the 70s.

We get Babe Ruth swinging lumber and talking about being a detective.

And we get the final poisoning of the story with Bruce Wayne's dad being the bad guy.

It's crap...



Oh, wait...maybe the dreck of the week is this one.

The story of Fantastic 4: First Family isn't bad - a more modern look back at the days just after the FF came back from space all superheroic.

If the craptacular drawings were any good at all, this might be worth reading.

Because of the horrific art, it isn't.

G'night, folks...I'll save the music for another time...

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