Scott Reviews The New 52 (And Other Stuff Too!) – 11.16.11
I really need a new name for this column, I think.
So apologies for skipping last week, but I was out of town with only my phone connecting me to the outside world, and I just can’t get the hang of Comixology for Android. All you need to know from last week: Just go out and buy Batwoman, it’s the most beautifully drawn comic I’ve ever seen and it’s filled with complex and realistic characters who are in a world that’s trippy and surreal. It’s just awesome. People have been asking me to review other things on my pull list besides DC, so last week I was all set to add my thoughts on Avenging Spider-Man (AWESOME!), New Avengers (a totally disappointing rehash of the Dark Avengers) and Point One (I have no idea what’s going on here but I think I’ll buy Scarlet Spider if it ever comes out). This time, I’ll throw Deadpool #46 in there since I read it every month and never see reviews for it anywhere, and Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X #3.
One thing I really like about Marvel is that they have the little recap at the beginning of the issue, so that even if you’re picking up a title in the middle of a run you can catch up really quickly. In this case, Deadpool was being stalked by a crazy doctor who kept his old body parts in her freezer, and they banded together to regenerate into an EVIL DEADPOOL. And there you go, all caught up. In a more general sense, I really like Deadpool as a character because it captures a lot of the fourth-wall breaking and general zaniness of Ambush Bug while sticking closer to the usual superhero tropes. It’s a good combination and it’s a really easy comic to pick up and start reading. This issue sees Wade trying to outsmart himself and failing spectacularly, as the two Deadpools want to engage in a fair firefight with bigger weapons, but neither can figure out a way to sneak around to the good stash without the other knowing what they’re doing in advance. I particularly enjoyed Evil Deadpool blowing up Deadpool’s favourite chimichanga stand because it seemed like the EVIL thing to do. As far as comics go, this is all very low-stakes stuff (and really, Deadpool is in no danger of actually dying or being harmed, so it mostly dispenses with the false suspense over his fate should he be, say, shot in the head point-blank) but it’s comfort food for me, like a psychotic Looney Tunes cartoon. Recommended!
Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X #3
I have a friend who works for Red 5 Comics, but I’m happy to pimp this title anyway because it’s just terrific. It’s got the fun, loose feel of the glory days of the Giffen Justice League, with nice bright clean artwork that’s easy to follow. The story so far: Atomic Robo gets lured into space by a false distress call from NASA, and blown up. Now he’s searching for the organization with the ability to pull it off, as well as a giant house-sized supercomputer that provides the only clue to what they’re looking for. The only problem is that the house (the Station X of the title) has vanished into thin air, which gives us a hilarious sequence with the finest nerds that the government can produce trying to figure out how. The chalkboard gag in particular (
Glitch in the matrix REALLY LARGE TRUCK) is a nice bit of subtle humor that actually leads into a plot point when they discover how close to the truth it was. Unfortunately, the light-hearted tone has an unfortunate turn when Robo cracks a joke about the “genius” who designed an Iphone not thinking about someone with metal hands like his, as the comic was written well before Steve Jobs died. But that’s minor and out of their control. This is just a fun, straight-forward action-adventure comic starring a wisecracking robot, and you should buy it. Also recommended.
On with your regularly scheduled New 52. As threatened, I dropped Nightwing, so no review here, I’m afraid. As you’ll see, there’s another couple of titles on the bubble as well as I really start to thin out the herd…
Justice League #3
This is of course the flagship of the new DC, and thankfully the origin story is starting to pick up even more, with Wonder Woman coming to man’s world and kicking man’s ass. The Flash-GL relationship continues to entertain (“Dibs”) and in the span of two pages Victor Stone goes from near-death into Cyborg. Having T.O. Morrow and Professor Ivo hanging around with Vic’s dad was a little cutesy for my liking (although a nice callback to Justice League history), but the JL cracks wise and blows up parademons real good, leading to the last major piece of the puzzle on the last page. And I’m getting my $4 worth out of this book at least. It’s still not a classic or anything, but the art is wonderful (until Jim Lee stops being able to get stuff done on time…) and I’m wanting to know what happens next. It still feels too decompressed and I’m wanting things to just move to the damn present already so they can add all the other characters you know they’re going to, but I’m still liking it and will continue on.
At least these work pretty well as standalone issues. After the fight with Superman in the second issue, Kara decides to fly off looking for her Kryptonian pod, only to meet 28 year old trillionaire Simon Tycho. In a nice bit of plot device, the US government has decided to abandon space to the private sector, so Tycho builds his own space station and runs our heroine through a series of torture tests to determine what he’s dealing with. This is all very elementary stuff, which is weird because you think people would know who Supergirl is and wouldn’t need three issues of what her powers are and the effects that Kryptonite has on her. It’s interesting from the standpoint of seeing the story through the eyes of someone who is learning about those powers for the first time, but it just doesn’t feel like the story is proceeding anywhere yet. I think this title is done for me.
Man, this comic just keeps chugging along at a high level, and I love it. I still think they should swap Batman titles and have this one be Detective Comics, because Scott Snyder really has the feel of a Batman engaged in detective work rather than mindless asskicking. But he’s got that too. Gotham is being targeted by a mysterious group of owl-worshipping assassins who date back to turn-of-the-century Gotham (I feel like there’s a Jonah Hex crossover coming here soon), and have somehow managed to infiltrate super-secure Wayne Tower to make an attempt on Bruce’s life. So after taking out five gangs of thugs in Gotham’s subway system (small question: How the hell do the Whisper Gang members eat or even breathe?), Bruce goes hunting for owls, and the reveal of their secret is really creepy and effective stuff. Obviously there’s some homage to Nite Owl of the Watchmen here, and again penciller Greg Capullo has fun with the medium, doing a POV shot through Batman’s cowl to great effect. What’s also great is that this is about BATMAN, and Robin is nowhere to be seen because there’s already a “Batman and Robin” title out there. And it’s a pretty good comic, too, by the way. In fact, with the exception of the lumbering and stupid Dark Knight title, all the main Batbooks are at least worth picking up right now. That’s a pretty good batting average, but this is the star of the team.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #3
As I believe I mentioned last month, I’ve given up on this trainwreck of a book being good in the conventional sense of the word, so now I’m more hoping for “entertaining crap” status out of it. And in that, it’s starting to succeed. Because hey, if you can’t be good, at least you can be batshit insane. Pardon the pun. I should point out that we’re three issues in and we still don’t know why these three people are together or what they’re after or much of anything, but here they fight a giant spiked dragon of some sort while hunting for a snow globe in a Himalayan fortress controlled by a creepy monk who reads their memories to provide the reader with backstory. Now THAT is committing to your artform, my friends. If you’re gonna be stupid, go all the way with it. Honestly, I still have no earthly idea what’s happening in this series at any given moment, but all the ridiculous faux-hipster dialogue and meaningless action more than compensate by making Red Hood one of the most unintentionally hilarious comics in a long time. I will keep supporting this endeavour of madness until it gets cancelled like it deserves!
Birds of Prey #3
I wasn’t feeling issue #2, but the third one, with the complete Birds team chasing after innocent people who have bombs planted in their head, is a tightly-paced little thriller that feels like it’s over too soon. Plus the ending is a nice twist and kick in the head as well. I’m not a huge fan of any of the team members so it’s hard for me to care overly much about the fate of anyone, especially since it’s essentially a hard reboot of all the characters anyway. That being said, while it didn’t blow me away, the story continues to impress and carries this one to “above average” territory, and that’s good enough to keep it on the pull list.
Blue Beetle #3
This would be the conclusion of the current story arc, and it’s pretty exposition-heavy. It’s mostly an internal dialogue between Jaime and the suit, and he tries to talk it into letting him go so that his family knows he’s alive and well. Meanwhile, government baddies are after him and the scarab, and the Brotherhood of Evil is getting involved as well. This one’s really on the fence for me and the character isn’t enough of a draw to keep me coming back to a comic I’m not totally enjoying.
We’ll see how I feel next month, I guess.
This week’s winner: Batman! But also pick up Atomic Robo for totally different reasons.