Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mostly Hits, One Miss

First, from last week, Atom 19.
A one-issue, underground adventure, featuring a bit of cannibalism, and Ryan a hit with another female, a zombie-type female. The story by Keith Champange was decent enough, but I miss Gail Simone's fun take on Atom, especially all the pithy quotes in narration.

Now to the main events. There be spoilers here.

Suicide Squad 5
This might just live up to its name. Double crosses are the name of the game here, and maybe a triple cross at some point? Rick Flag as Eiling's puppet is an interesting plot development. Even when Waller has the right job, stopping a weapons factory that will sell it's deadly toxin to anyone with the money, her methods hardly make her heroic. And her tactics have made her plenty enemies, and one of them, Eiling, looks to destroy any chance of the mission succeeding. I really enjoy all the deviousness here. And with no characters I'm emotionally attached to, except maybe Flag, I don't have any stake in a high survival rate.

Nightwing 140
The best thing about Peter Tomasi's first issue of NW is how he's brought Dick back into the Bat Family without effort. This time, Dick might still be seeking his true self, but there's no whining, no "need to do it all on my own," no sense that he's lost his way. Instead, he seeks the thrill of skydiving that evokes his days as a Flying Grayson. The scenes at the Cave were very nice, and when Bruce tells Dick, Tim, and Alfred that "Plain and simple. We're family. There is no one else in the world I trust and respect more. No one," you believe him. Just to have him say it to them was a treat.

I also liked how Dick decided he needs to know more about New York, so he does some research, at the library of the Museum of the City of New York. How cool is that? And Superman shows up at the end, telling Dick, "We need to talk." There is no more Nightwing needing to stand apart and on his own, with the rest of the Bat gang showing up as rare guest stars. This is Dick, comfortable in his skin and with the rest of his Bat family. I don't read the Batman titles or Robin, but I do like keeping Dick connected to them. So Tomasi gets high marks from me. This is a great start and I wish only that he'd gotten the book a few years earlier, right before Devin began her slide to the total mess she made out of the book would have been the right spot. And Rags Morales' pencils, with Michael Bair's inks are nice, even if Dick looks a bit different than usual. At least there are some nice male butt shots to keep me happy.

Oh, and the story is intriguing. Just so you know I noticed more than the art and the Bat family.

Countdown to Final Crisis 16
Having read the Dan Didio interview in the latest issue of Comic Shop News about how everything's been building up to planned events, culminating in Final Crisis and bringing the DCU into the next years to 2011, and how they realized they'd started too slowly with this while trying to keep pace with the regular monthlies that were coordinating and how they made a mid-course correction, I've got to say, it worked. The last couple of issues have been emotionally gut-wrenching. Jimmy as a soul catcher. Jimmy's eyes bugging out of his head as he stares at a naked Forager. Donna vs. Donna?! The Monitors in a mess. But the best part, the part that made me finally feel something for Jason, was Earth 51's Batman capturing him and threatening to kill him unless he confesses to being a villain disguised as Jason who on that Earth is still dead. Now I can't wait for next week.

Teen Titans Lost Annual 1, Guest-starring Pres. John F. Kennedy
I can't decide what I think about this. I waited a long time for them to release this. And now I wish they hadn't, and not because JFK is in it. In fact, having him off-planet while a shapeshifter, who'd taken his place is killed by Oswald was the best part of the book. So that's what was really covered up. Not a conspiracy about the killer, but the fact that the autopsy revealed JFK was an alien!

Seriously, I know the book used to have some loopy plots, but the whole bit of them being able to locate the planet where JFK was taken (Robin had been in the White House the night it had happened and his shielded costume must've protected him from being frozen for a while during the abduction), then being able to travel there and back via a convenient device in their HQ called a Galacti-Porter. I won't get into the rest of the plot. It's beyond silly. Haney really outdid himself with this. Nick Cardy's cover is nice as are the pages from his sketchbook. But the art by Jay Stephens and Mike Allred, no doubt trying to capture the feel of the '60s, just made it more obvious what an anachronism this is, and how silly. I really wanted to like this, but sometimes, you really can't go back to the past.

And now, the winner of the week (and yeah, I'm surprised, too), Green Arrow and Black Canary 4
A lot of thoughts are still running through my head about this as I haven't quite finished digesting it. Chiang's art was nothing short of amazing in how much emotion he captured in everyone's faces without having the detailed realism of someone like Rags Morales. I can't do a proper review of this, so I'll just make comments about things that struck me.

Ollie's calling for Clark was so perfect, in the why don't other heroes do this more often. And Clark, hearing the fear in Ollie's voice, flies in to get Connor to the hospital.

The title: Please Play Where Daddy Can See You. This set the tone for what the book was about. Fathers and sons. This was a character piece. I suppose next issue, we'll get back to the plot, to the nasty reason for Connor's shooting and the hunt for who's behind it.

Chiang draws a spectacular Wonder Woman. Sexy but not oversexed. Perfect.

The entire JLA, or most of them, at the hospital. And Ollie angry and freaking out. But unlike when Roy was shot and he goes off with the Outsiders to get the baddies who did that to Roy, Ollie stays in the hospital with his family to await the outcome of Connor's surgery.

Hal coming to use his ring power to help heal Connor. Awesome, just like Superman flying Connor to the hospital in the first place.

Batman lurking in the stairwell, telling Diana his presence wouldn't help Ollie and when she disagrees, he says, "that's because you've never lost a son." Wow.

But the bits that are rattling around in my head are from the scene in the waiting room with Ollie, Dinah, Mia, and Roy. Judd Winick has taken a lot of flak for his writing over the years, some deserved, some not, but this time, he nailed it. The understanding that Ollie and Dinah have of each other. How can anyone doubt their love or that they belong together after reading this?

Ollie confessing that he always knew about Connor, then lied that he didn't, even lying by "pretending to be surprised" when he discovered he was Connor's father. Ollie's admitted before that he has guilt about abandoning Roy and not being good with commitment, but this was a full confession. And Dinah tries to help.

And I couldn't help but think about the time Roy had been shot (and had almost died) and wondering if he was thinking about that, wondering if Ollie had been this upset, or worse, if he hadn't been.

Ollie saying he once tried to find Connor, but stopped after he met Roy. And the look on Roy's face, pain that maybe he was partly at fault for Ollie no longer looking for his real son because he had found another.

Mia telling Ollie that Connor had known the truth for years because his mother had told him, and that he'd forgiven Ollie for knowing and for lying about it.

Hal healing the wounds, but not before the toxin he discovered had been on the bullets had spread to Connor's brain, leaving him brain dead.

The last page will stay with me a long time, Ollie with an inert Connor, telling him "Daddy's right here."

This was Ollie stripped of his smart ass self-righteousness and the facade he puts up to protect his feelings. This was Ollie with emotions as raw as when he'd first become GA as per Green Arrow Year One. This was Ollie broken down to his core, reminding me why I love him. Roy is the main character for me, but without Ollie, there would be no Roy there. Ollie might have been written poorly over the years by some writers, but the ones who get him, write him stories like this.

8 comments:

  1. I agree with you completely about GA-BC #4, Shelly. Too often, I've heard comic book readers say they don't like the DC characters because they aren't as "emotional" as Marvel or other heroes. Those same people need to read this issue.

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  2. There were some pretty good books this week. I rather liked Atom with Keith Champagne, but then, I've just started picking it up. It IS a rather charming little book.

    Suicide Squad just has my head spinning. All those wheels within wheels. Is Amanda Waller really that obtuse,or does she have the inevitable plan? I'm beginning to like Count Vertigo for some reason that I can't explain.

    Haven't been reading Nightwing, but I HAVE been reading Tomasi on Green Lantern Corps, and it was a hoot and a half, so I imagine that he can do good things with Dick as well.

    At least there was some action in Countdown!

    The Teen Titans Annual was just...weird.

    I found myself liking Green Arrow/Black Canary a lot more than I expected. Although I'll STILL be ticked if Connor buys it. But the whole scene in the hospital was indeed gut-wrenching. And didn't Roy look sad? The art has been spectacular.

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  3. I'd hate to see Connor die, but this is the DCU so it might just be possible to cure him. However, they'll get plenty of mileage out of this, especially since he is still alive. And they already got great emotion out of it. I think the fears many people, even myself, had about this book have been unfounded so far.

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  4. Comicbook comas aren't really THAT bad. Heck, Guy Gardner used to have one at least once a month for a while. And look at how well HE turned out!

    Gosh, Ollie and Dinah are having a really crappy honeymoon.

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  5. It's the bit about being brain dead that's worrying me, Sally, not the coma. ;)

    And technically, Ollie and Dinah aren't married, so I'm not sure if it can be called a honeymoon.

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  6. Uncle Dunkle1:25 PM EST

    I agree totally with what you said about the TT "Lost Annual". I've been reading comics for a helluva long time (got a photo of me at 5 in '53 with an "Atomic Mouse" tucked under my arm), and was around when the Teen Titans were introduced. It truly offended me that they would own a "galacti-porter" just for the purpose of this story. Silliness prevailed during the '70s, and there was a lot of pseudo-science, but this device, and the plot holes regarding Donna's infatuation and Robin's "maybe it'll work" solution were far and beyond any silver age ridiculousness. Silly stories are fine, but at least have our heroes acting in character. Thanks for the opportunity to vent.
    Uncle Dunkle

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  7. Good job venting, Uncle Dunkle. I'm surprised by all the positive reviews I've read for the TT Lost Annual. I just don't get it.

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  8. teen titans anual awesome art very silly, amazing;y nerdy character designs and jfk looks so goofy in a space suit.

    as for GA wow what a moving issue the dialogue was perfect and i love the way everyone was perfectly in character batman, supes, even roy electing to stay behind with a kind of hurt look on his face. i don't want ga to have to deal with connors anguish for to long

    booster gold is awesome why can't they let geoff johns write every dc book

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