Friday, February 1, 2008

Bullet Points

I should have mentioned before my previous post that I'm coming to these reviews "fresh," in the sense that I haven't followed a title regularly for years. Consequently, the only information I bring to current storylines is what I've gleaned from comics news on the internet. So, if I ever seem to harp on about accessibility, it's only because I don't know what the hell's going on.

  • Countdown #13: "Only a human could believe such nonsense."
Well, suffice it to say that this series didn't turn out to be the critical darling DC might have hoped for. Slow-moving plotlines that haven't intersected have resulted in a LOT of online criticism (which doesn't necessarily translate into sales terms, of course, but...). This issue's story focuses on the final fate of Earth-51, about which I know next to nothing, other than that Superboy-Prime ("Shut up! Shut up! I am not a boy! I'm a man! A man! I'm--I'm SUPERMAN!!!!" -- Sure is a lot of exclamation points, Superb--uh, Superman, sir.) is pretty peeved that Monarch has popped in for a visit, rolling out heat vision and whoopass rather than the welcome wagon. A lot of bombastic dialogue follows, and Red Robin gets his Punisher on. What should take maybe 10 pages fills an entire issue. All I'm sayin' is, maybe this countdown could have started from a lower number, like, say, 12? Art: serviceable.

Grade: C

  • Countdown to Adventure #6 (of 8): "I love it when the sexy ladies talk tough..."
You know what? So do I, and plenty of sexy ladies (Alanna Strange, Starfire, Ellen Baker, even little Aleea Strange--OK, so that last one's not sexy, but...) get to do exactly that in the lead story. There're some crowd-pleasing one-liners in this book ("Step away from my husband or I will end you." "Bye-bye, Mister vicious son-of-a--"), and it's a reasonably satisfactory action romp. Writer Adam Beechen makes all of the characters sound remarkably similar, though. This is the worst sort of contemporary television writing, characters drawing from some kind of weird collective unconscious rather than channeling their own personalities. Nothing to get too excited about. (Though I always love me some Starfire.)

Excitement seems to be the name of the game in the Forerunner backup, however, as the titular character takes Golden Eagle (and I mean takes) as a lover. It feels the teensiest bit prurient. (Not that I'm a prude or anything...oh, who am I kidding, I'm a total prude.) Not much idea what's going on here, though Adam Dekraker's solid inks over Fabrizio Fiorentino's pencils provide a little more kick than the polished but bland art in the main story. I'd be most happy if this book actually counted down to a new launch of Adventure Comics. It'd be a blast to have a solid anthology title set in the DCU.

Grade: B-

  • The Death of the New Gods #5 (of 8): "Now that indeed is a sad and long story."
And so Kirby's most well-known DCU creations rage, rage against the dying of the light. You ask me, it's about time, really. More well-known creators have tried to revive this moribund franchise (without much success) than just about any other set of characters. Without the insanity of Kirby's astonishing inventiveness and take-no-prisoners artistic approach, Orion and the gang have had a hard time of it in the DCU. We'll always have the Fourth World epic, but it may truly be time to let most (if not all) of these characters go. Some new wrinkles regarding the Source seem to be at the heart of this particular installment, and a match between guest star Superman and Apokoliptians Kalibak and Mantis (love that costume) serves as the title bout.

It's always a pleasure to see Jim Starlin's work, here taking on DC's cosmic mainstays, but this story, like Countdown, also feels like it's suffering from the bloat.

Grade: B-

  • Green Lantern #27: "I trust the Guardians as much as they trust me."
The little blue dudes are batshit crazy. Who watches the watchmen, indeed? It's about time someone takes out these little fascists. At the moment, Green Lantern, in his role as interstellar cop, serves as an interesting counterpoint to what Marvel's doing with Iron Man. Both men are representative of the power of an institutional establishment, an establishment that may be more interested in order than it is in justice. In any event, there are some interesting questions underpinning this character, and it's clear that Johns has no intention of shying away from the complexities while still delivering an action-packed adventure tale.

I'm not totally sold, however, as it's the details (Scarecrow's near-brush with the Sinestro Corps--not sure what's happening with his clothes on pages 4 and 5, though; Sinestro's chilling presence, also noted as a high point over at the Absorbascon) that are more compelling here than the actual plot itself. I'll be interested to see exactly what the Alpha-Lanterns are capable of.

Grade: B

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