- Countdown #46 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Jesus Saiz (DC)
- Fables: Sons of Empire TPB vol 9, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Michael Allred & others (DC/Vertigo)
- Fables #62, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham & Andrew Pepoy (DC/Vertigo)
- Justice #12 of 12, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger & Doug Braithwaite (DC)
- Nova #3, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Sean Chen & Scott Hanna (Marvel)
- World War Hulk #1 of 5, by Greg Pak, John Romita Jr., & Klaus Janson (Marvel)
- B.P.R.D.: Garden of Souls # 4 of 5, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Guy Davis (Dark Horse)
- New Tales of Old Palomar #2, by Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
- Hero by Night #4 of 4, by D.J. Coffman & Jason Embury (Platinum Studios)
I realized earlier this week that Countdown seems to be featuring mostly new artists in its stable. I think the most prominent artist I recognized was J. Calafiore, who’s mainly known for his decent-but-unspectacular work on Marvel’s Exiles. 52 used several artists per issue (until the later issues), which made for uneven artwork, but there was usually some good stuff in each issue. So far, none of the Countdown artists have been duds, so that’s good.
Justice is one of the least-necessary mini-series in recent memory. Ross’ painting over Braithwaite’s pencils was so-so, certainly nowhere near as good as raw Ross. The story was a straight-up classic JLA story: A bunch of villains get together to erase the heroes and take over the world, but the heroes fight back, and one of the villains has a secret plan behind the main plan. Plot-by-numbers, with the additional (and ultimately meaningless) element of the villains knowing the heroes’ secret identities.
The series tries to be different by providing insight into the heroes’ psyches, via first-hand narratives. Frankly, it’s just awful. Somehow Kurt Busiek makes this sort of monologue work in series like Marvels (Ross’ first major work) and Astro City, but it completely fizzles here, sounding contrived and often cloying (which it also did in Ross’ series of tabloids with Paul Dini from a few years ago). For instance, this scene:
[Superman streaks out of the sky, heat vision flashing.]
Superman: No one’s going to die, Scarecrow. Not in your city, or the one that’s sinking. Or in any of them. Not one. Not today.
Green Lantern (internal monologue): There’s fear in Superman’s voice. He doesn’t believe his words. He says them anyway. As if speaking the impossible is the first step to making it possible.
The series was full of tell-don’t-show text like this. Wordy, unnecessary.
If you cut out that stuff, the series is just another Justice League story, with way too many characters. It doesn’t even make me nostalgic for the 70s JLA, it’s just not a good series. But it’s over.
World War Hulk, on the other hand, is a lot of fun so far. Not least because Iron Man and his cronies need their butts kicked by someone, and the Hulk’s a great candidate to do it. I’m not a big fan of John Romita Jr’s artwork but he does have a clarity of layout to make the big fight scenes entertaining. The blogosphere is giving this one good reviews so far, so it looks like writer Greg Pak is going places.
Nova is another side of the Civil War fallout, and issue #3 continues to build on the series’ strong start, as Nova encounters some new enemies and an old friend and see just how messed up the Marvel universe has become. It looks like the series is pulling away from Earth for a while after this issue (presumably because Nova might actually be powerful to take on the Hulk and that would just confuse everything), but hopefully it will continue to be as rewarding. I’m reluctant to bother with any of Marvel’s space-based cross-overs, so I hope the next few issues will be readable on their own.
New Tales of Old Palomar is surreal this month. Disappointing, really. I prefer the character stuff.