This Week’s Haul

  • The Brave and the Bold #15, by Mark Waid & Scott Kolins (DC)
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #44, by Jim Shooter, Sanford Greene & Nathan Massengill (DC)
  • Madame Xanadu #2, by Matt Wagner & Amy Reeder Hadley (DC/Vertigo)
  • Sparks #2 of 6, by Christopher Folino & J.M. Ringuet (Catastrophic)
  • Invincible #51, by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley (Image)
Legion of Super-Heroes #44 I haven’t been much of a fan of Francis Manapul’s artwork on Legion of Super-Heroes: The faces all look the same, the stylings are too Image-like for my tastes. It’s readable, but pretty blah.

This month’s issue features art by Sanford Greene & Nathan Massengill, and they’re a step down from Manapul’s art: Hardly any detail, sketchy renderings, generic faces which somehow also manage to be inconsistent from panel to panel – it’s not good, and not appropriate for the Legion, which ought to have a high-tech look, not a sketchy, rough look. What was the editor (Mike Marts) thinking? I hope they’re just a one-issue fill-in (maybe because the Dreaded Deadline Doom was creeping up and Marts just needed someone to get the job done) and not the new regular art team.

Meanwhile, Jim Shooter’s story continues to teeter between moments of embarrassing dialogue and sitcom-like scenarios, and decent action with decent characterization. It feels like if he just tried to be less hip and instead focused on making likable characters then it would be a fun adventure book. You know, like the Legion he wrote 30 and 40 years ago. Sure, the book’s moved on since then, but writing heroes doing heroic things isn’t really a dated idea.

Madame Xanadu #2 I was unimpressed by the first issue of Madame Xanadu, and the second issue is – surprise! – 100% better! The first issue was pure set-up, instilling in me a fear that we’d be in for several more issues of languid set-up with an uncertain payoff. Fortunately, writer Matt Wagner sets things moving in the second issue, with the fall of Camelot, Neume’s betrayal of Merlin, and her own downfall as a result, which makes me considerably more interested in seeing what happens next issue.

Why the heck can’t comics writers these days just jump right into the good stuff and fill in the set-up later? Isn’t that part of Storytelling 101? Wagner could have basically left out issue #1, or compressed the first two issues down to one. We’re still just covering the backstory of the character here, so the loss of dramatic impact would have been minimal, since the key point is to keep things moving.

Anyway, despite the misfire of a beginning, I’m not curious to see how it will play out. I hope it won’t turn out to be a “Madame Xanadu through the ages” sort of story, but that it will fairly quickly get us up to the present day and move the character forward rather than playing around in the past. But we’ll see.

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