This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 21 March 2007.

  • Aquaman #50 (DC)
  • The Brave and the Bold #2 (DC)
  • 52 #46 of 52 (DC)
  • Justice Society of America #4 (DC)
  • Red Menace #5 of 6 (DC/Wildstorm)
  • Ms. Marvel #13 (Marvel)
  • Hero by Night #1 of 4 (Platinum Studios)
  • Athena Voltaire: Flight of the Falcon #4 of 4 (Ape)

I’m quite disappointed in Aquaman #50. Not because Tad Williams does such a ham-handed job of tying off Kurt Busiek’s dangling storylines – that’s only to be expected, really – but because of Shawn McManus’ artwork. I’ve been a fan of McManus’ art for years, dating back to his terrific work on The Omega Men (20 years ago!): His quirky figures and lush textures have always seemed like a great accompaniment to some of the strange stories he’s been asked to illustrate. I’d have thought he’d be a shoo-in to do some great Aquaman work. But he’s completely changed his style since last I saw him: The textures and use of blacks are gone, and he’s got a more cartoony style employing simple linework, making extensive use of outlines without filling in all the details of the figure, and more dramatic layouts. It’s almost the exact opposite of what I’d been looking forward to.

Williams’ story has some potential, but there’s a lot of thrashing about in this extra-long issue without a lot of progress, so he’s going to have to kick it into gear to keep me interested. Especially since he apparently isn’t going to have my natural enjoyment of McManus’ art as an additiona incentive. What a bummer.

By contrast, The second issue of The Brave and the Bold pairs Green Lantern with Supergirl, and while Mark Waid maybe overwrites Kara’s teenage exuberance, he completely nails Hal Jordan’s reactions to her flirting with him. Waid also pulls out all the stops in envisioning a planet based around gambling and what it would take to keep it going given all the technology available in the DC universe, and of course George Perez goes for broke on the illustrations. After just two issues, this may be the best superhero comic being published right now.

JSA wraps up its first story arc with another Vandal Savage yarn, and it feels just like any number of first-JSA-story-arcs from the last 30 years. Geoff Johns can do better, but it seems like he just wants to write a straightforward JSA series. And y’know, there have already been plenty of those, and at this point they all feel like they’re past their expiration date.

Ms. Marvel #13 takes the interesting tack of showing how our heroine can disagree with Iron Man’s point of view regarding the Civil War, yet still buy into the basic premise of the Superhero Registration Act. Unfortunately it feels like writer Brian Reed feeling uncomfortable with Ms. Marvel buying into the Act, but being unable to do much about it, so it feels overwritten and contrived – despite it being a lot of fun to see Marvel paste Iron Man one. However, after a year of drifting around, the issue does grapple with that fact head-on and thus shows some signs that the series might gain some focus. It needs nothing more, not even new artist Aaron Lopresti’s polished artwork.

Hero By Night is a mini-series about a young man who finds the headquarters of a long-dead hero, and who will supposedly learn the dangers of taking up his mantle. It’s got potential, but the lead character isn’t very interesting. The cartoony artwork isn’t to my taste, either.

I hope to write a slightly longer entry on the first Athena Voltaire series in the next few days.

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