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This Week’s Haul

Once again, it’s last week’s haul this week. And once again, it’s a small one:

  • Countdown #47 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Sean McKeever, & Tom Derenick (DC)
  • Jack of Fables #11, by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges & Steve Leialoha (DC/Vertigo)
  • Welcome to Tranquility #7 by Gail Simone, Neil Googe & Stephen Molnar (DC/Wildstorm)
  • Ms. Marvel #16, by Brian Reed, Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan (Marvel)

The blogosphere has been abuzz about Countdown, and the trend doesn’t seem to be good. The Invincible Super-Blog hates it (my preciousssss…), while Living Between Wednesdays thinks it’s okay. Meanwhile, Comics Should Be Good quotes Jerry Ordway on the darkening of Mary Marvel; Ordway was the architect of SHAZAM!’s most recent successful revival, and he isn’t wild about what they’re doing (and I can certainly see his point). Lastly, Comix Experience observes that orders at their store for Countdown are plummeting quickly.

I’m pretty much with Rachelle at LBW: It’s entertaining, it’s not as good as 52. But then, we’re only 5 weeks in, and I don’t reall the first 5 weeks of 52 being any great shakes, either. (BTW, I’ve heard rumors that Countdown will lead into something called Final Crisis, which is alluded to in the current JLA/JSA team-up. But if you think I believe the word “Final” will actually play true, then I’ve got an abandoned satellite headquarters to sell you…)

This issue of Jack of Fables is my last. It hasn’t found the balance of characters and storylines that Fables did, and this issue shows just how thoroughly unlikeable Jack is as a character, and why he therefore can’t really carry the series. Which is unfortunate, since it’s his series. I gave it a good try, but it doesn’t work for me.

It’s slowly sinking in that Welcome to Tranquility reminds me of nothing so much as Alan Moore’s enjoyable run on Supreme from a decade or so back: The old super-heroes in the present day, the new generation, the occasional old-style flashbacks to previous adventures, and the hint of kitsch in the characters’ catch-phrases. A deliberate homage? Hard to say, since Moore’s approach to superheroes and their legacies is pervasive in modern comics, between Watchmen, Supreme and Tom Strong. Tranquility is a little weird since its characters are so mostly pretty far afield of the archetypes we’re used to (well, that I’m used to), so there’s no real sense of nostalgia but there’s a strong sense that there should be.

I’m not really sure what to make of the total package: There are things I like, and things I don’t, and the whole is strange and off-beat, but doesn’t feel fresh or entirely satisfying. Is Simone just nutty in a different way from your typical comics writer (and since your typical comics writer is a man, the answer is probably “yes, and that’s a good thing”), or is Tranquility just an experiment that doesn’t quite gel? Maybe both.

This Week’s Haul

  • Countdown #51 of 51 (counting backwards), by Paul Dini, Jesus Saiz & Jimmy Palmiotti (DC)
  • Jack of Fables #10, by Bill Willingham Matthew Sturges, Tony Akins & Andrew Pepoy (DC/Vertigo)
  • Nova #2, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Sean Chen & Scott Hanna (Marvel)
  • The Secret History Book Two: Castle of the Djinn, by Jean-Pierre P├ęcau & Igor Kordey (Archaia Studios Press)

Countdown kicks off in the wake of 52, and it involves a cadre of Monitors (from wa-a-ay back in the days of Crisis on Infinite Earths in the mid-80s), one of whom has gone rogue and is out to kill people who have jumped between parallel universes. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense – yet. But it’s early going.

Ah, now I remember why I like Abnett and Lanning at their best: They don’t always take the obvious route. Rather than a big fight between Nova and Iron Man (as suggested by the cover of this month’s Nova), instead Nova is brought up-to-date on what’s happened during Marvel’s Civil War, has an uncomfortable reunion with his parents, and learns what happened to his former partners in the New Warriors. And since apparently the other heroes in the Marvel Universe have gone insane and actually support this “Initiative” that Iron Man has cooked up to keep the heroes in line, Nova seems quite reasonable in feeling very uncomfortable with it.

Nova already feels very believable as a young man with the weight of the galaxy on his shoulders, and yet still stuck between being a teenager and an adult, in the sense that he has the sense of responsibility, but not yet the experience to manage it. And given his power level, if he snaps, it ought to make for some exciting comics. Now that I think about it, Nova could turn out to be the series that Ms. Marvel should have been.

Book two of The Secret History isn’t as good as book one: Kordey’s art is still excellent, but I found the story confusing. I’m not familiar with many of the historical references, and I felt like I needed to be to follow the story (which I didn’t in the first book). The narrative didn’t flow as smoothly, and I sometimes had trouble figuring out what was going on in a page. Overall it felt like a lot of running around without much of an outcome, so if there isn’t something sneaky here which is going to inform the series’ eventual outcome, then I’d say this volume felt superfluous.