Monday, December 05, 2005

Another Not Very Timely Update

Slowly, I'm working through the stacks (there are 2 now, because the one pile was too tall and was starting to sway). Here's what I've read the last 2 nights.

Catwoman 49
Again, nice art. Very different than the look when the book was relaunched which is what hooked me, but a nice fit for Selena. Of course, the book is clearly moving in new directions and where Catwoman will be in the DCU after the latest Crisis remains to be seen. But she's really on the edge now (nice bit of faking her death) and we get Zatanna next ish. DC's female characters are definitely sharing, if not taking, center stage.

SOLO by Michael Allred
This was just weird. The Hourman story, in which our hero takes a Miraclo pill and then discovers there's no one needing saving and he has to burn off the energy punch for the next hour, is rather funny. "Doom Patrol vs Teen Titans" is a throwback to the '60s without the true innocence of the time. A send-up from that era, with art to match, it lays things on a bit thick for my taste. "Batman a-Go-Go" was surreal, using an age-old technique that soap operas are so fond of: the conk on the head and the events that follow which may or may not really be happening. In this case, it was Batman's head that was conked and what transpires, namely the rapid downfall of Robin, carries a real element of suspense and reality and I was disappointed to discover it really was a dream. I'd been hoping for something a bit more daring. The other 2 bits weren't of interest to me, so I didn't read them.

JSA Classified 1-4
Focus: Power Girl. Finally. If ever a character has deserved special treatment, it's Karen Starr. This takes place after Kara-Supergirl's return and leads into Infinite Crisis 2. Geoff Johns continues to impress me with his writing, both for plot and characterization. His dialogue sizzles, and rings with truth and reality as we'd like to see it. But the words, for me, were secondary to the art. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti were in fine form, reminding me how much I've missed Codename: Knockout. With very cartoonish styling, they convey so much feeling in the facial expressions and evoke the best of the comics I read growing up in the '60s. The full page of PG (why don't they number pages anymore?) against a blue background toward the end of book 4 is stunning. And in a way, I'm glad I stupidly read this after the first two Infinite Crisis books because this has Psycho Pirate telling Karen the truth about herself and I much preferred reading that first coming from Superman's mouth.

Which brings me to:
Infinite Crisis 1-2
Wow. Comic art doesn't get much better than this. A lot of love went into this story and I hope I'm in a better place for this now than during the original, Crisis on Infinite Earths. At that point in my comic reading, I couldn't abide the loss of favorite characters, namely Supergirl. I think now, my curiosity as to how things will turn out, will keep me reading. At least, this time, I'm reading as they come out, albeit with a delay here of a couple of weeks. Last time, I skimmed and when I saw Kara die, I never did read the thing and stopped buying comics for a decade. I have high hopes for this. I know the world is a dark place and I have no problems with comics reflecting that. But one thing I love about comics, and the DCU, is the underlying awe factor. Not just hope, but the sense of something greater. I'm not spiritual and I don't believe in a deity, but I do value ideals and comics can elevate ideals better than any entertainment medium, IMO.

In book 1, when WW tells Supes and Bats that "I told you the world doesn't need Diana. The world needs Wonder Woman," I could feel a line being drawn and crossed. The entire exchange, Diana saying she had no choice in killing Max Lord and Bruce saying "There's always a choice for people like us," countered by Diana's "No, there isn't. Sometimes there is no other choice," and so on (I simply cannot type up two pages of magnificent dialogue here) puts forward some basic truths. All three make valid points and in their own way, all 3 are right and wrong. Supes who has the noblest ideals and the unwillingness to impose his power or will on humanity, Bats who tries so much to do the right thing, to protect everyone that he can't see that he's crossed a line as much as the JLAers he's vilified for the mindwiping that went on, and Diana, who is right that sometimes, you have to cut out the cancer, even if it's in human form and yet, once that line is crossed, you can't go back and the urge to continue on that path is too strong and too tempting and really, who appointed her god of the universe?

Book 2 tho is where things shine. The villains are getting yet more villainous, but (and here, I'd read about Earth 2 Supes coming back, so it wasn't a surprise, but it sure was welcome), a nod of the hat to my beloved, and long-gone multiverse (I've been a big fan of parallel time stories since I was a kid, in comics and in science fiction, along with alternate histories), and finally, the explanation of PG's existence when she shouldn't exist and how Supes and a few others survived that first Crisis. The last page of book 1, when he bursts through with his "This loks like a job for SUPERMAN!" I actually got chills.

My hope is that the older, wiser, Earth 2 Supes will inject the awe and hope to go with the ideals of Superman, the wisdom and wherewithal to do what needs to be done while still upholding those ideals. I am holding out hope that when the dust settles and we're in one year later, playing "52" catch-up, that the DCU will have regained its glory. Don't get me wrong. I've been enjoying many books in the last decade, especially BoP and JSA, and of course, The Outsiders. But this is the chance for something special. DC is daring to break some molds, and a lot of literary eggs. Characters have already been killed. Others will be changed. I'm ready for it this time. And if the change is for the better, I'm okay with it.

Just as long as I still have Kara SG, Roy "Arsenal" Harper, and the women of BoP to read about when that dust does settle, I'll be happy. I don't mind grit. It was the ugliness that followed Crisis in Titans that left a bad aftertaste back then. I don't want my comics ugly. I want heroes, with theire human or alien flaws and foibles, to still be heroes. If they have to struggle against their baser natures, that's good; it can make for great reading. But under it all, they're still the folks people should be able to count on. I don't think that's too much to ask.

4 comments:

  1. Wow, great write up!

    I'm so glad you're reading this new Crisis...

    I just finished reading the original Crisis....
    It really did help me appreciate Infinite Crisis a lot more.

    It was a great read, DC at it's finest.

    well, ttyl
    H.

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  2. Hi, H,

    I've thought about going back and actually reading the original Crisis, but keep thinking, no. I know what happened, so that will have to be enough.

    So, what do you think about the new Crisis?

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  3. Hey Shelly, nice site. I just discovered it. Your pull list is very similar to my buddy and I who run http://comic-reviews.blogspot.com.

    I'm loving IC. I don't have any of the angry fanboy backlash that some over on the CBR boards seem to have.

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  4. Thanks, windbreaker. I think this is an exciting time for mainstream comics .

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