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This Week’s Haul

Okay, really last week’s comics, but still!

  • 52 #31 of 52 (DC)
  • Justice Society of America #1 (DC)
  • NewUniversal #1 (Marvel)
  • Robotika HC (Archaia)
  • New Tales of Old Palomar #1 (Fantagraphics)
  • The All-Star Companion volume 2 (TwoMorrows)

An interesting haul this week, starting with a brutal issue of 52 featuring the last days of Captain Comet – the old one, anyway – and a threat that frightens even the Guardians of the Universe. 52 mainly suffers from meandering all over the place, with still no sign of a coherent story yet, but some bits are quite good. This issue is one of those bits.

Another decade, another revival of the Justice Society of America. Nothing’s quite equalled the 1970s run of All-Star Comics, although Roy Thomas’ All-Star Squadron in the 1980s was very good at times. On the other hand, the recent JSA series won plaudits from critics for its strong characterization, which baffled me since I thought the plotting meandered around without really going anywhere, and the characterization was nonexistent. This new series starts out on a better foot: Writer Geoff Johns is not the superstar that DC seems to think he is (he’s no James Robinson, for instance), but he’s pretty good, and he introduces a number of interesting threads, including several rather messed-up characters such as the new Starman, the revamped Damage, and the overexuberant (I presume) young Red Tornado. Dale Eaglesham’s layouts are good, and he has a good sense of form and motion, but as Johanna Carlson points out, his handling of anatomy is pretty iffy. I also think Art Thibert is not a good match as Eaglesham’s inker. Anyway, it has promise. We’ll see.

(I’m an old JSA fan dating back to that 70s series, so I’m willing to check out new series starring the team, but I also have fairly high standards for them.)

NewUniversal is Warren Ellis’ relaunch of Marvel’s ill-conceived and ill-fated New Universe from the 1980s. A White Event grants several ordinary people superpowers, and changing the world. The original titles had very small ambitions and failed largely because of that. Ellis is probably better-suited to squeezing better stories out of the concepts, and Salvador Larroca is a fine artist, so I’m optimistic that this’ll be a good one.

Robotika collects Alex Sheikman’s series about a far-future world populated by cyborgs in which a mute samurai quests for an invention his mistress desires, and then acts as a bodyguard for some travellers and learns something about himself. Sheikman’s art is pretty nifty, like a cleaner version of Jae Lee. His writing leaves a lot to be desired, though. First, the story doesn’t really go anywhere. Second, he tends to break sentences awkwardly between several thought balloons. Third, one of his characters speaks in sentences written vertically, which is so hard to read it’s not really worth it. Besides all that, I think Sheikman was more interested in creating a cool-looking samurai story, while I was hoping to read a cutting-edge posthumanist science fiction graphic novel, and Robotika just doesn’t measure up to authors like Charles Stross and Alastair Reynolds.

New Tales of Old Palomar is a new magazine-sized series by Gilbert Hernandez, revisiting his fictional Mexican city during the heyday of the original Love and Rockets series. I enjoyed the early run of the Palomar stories the best, and going back to those days is a lot of fun. The story is almost a trifle, but it’s nice to visit old friends.

The All-Star Companion volume two adds more information that didn’t fit in volume one, including an index of All-Star Squadron. The first volume is fun reading for fans of the Justice Society, but this one is definitely too much of a good thing; although the art is pretty, I think this is more than I needed to know. Apparently there will be a volume three, but I think I’ll pass.

Wow, I had a lot to write about this week. I bet next week is lighter!

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