This Week’s Haul

  • DC Universe 0, by Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, George Pérez, Doug Mahnke, Tony Daniel, Ivan Reis, Aaron Lopresti, Philip Tan, Ed Benes, Carlos Pacheco, J.G. Jones, Scott Koblish, Christian Alamy, Oclair Albert, Matt Ryan, Jeff de los Santos & Jesus Merino (DC)
  • Action Comics #864, by Geoff Johns, Joe Prado & Jon Sibal (DC)
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #41, by Jim Shooter, Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan (DC)
  • Ex Machina #36, by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris & Jim Clark (DC/Wildstorm)
  • Glamourpuss #1, by Dave Sim (Aardvark-Vanaheim)
DC Universe 0 DC Universe 0 is the prologue to the upcoming Final Crisis, and is – sorta – the bridge from Countdown to that series. But I think Valerie D’Orazio is right when she says it’s really an ad: It’s a 50-cent advertisement for upcoming storylines in the DC universe, such as Final Crisis, “Batman R.I.P.”, and stuff I care about even less (and honestly my level of caring about those two stories isn’t very high).

This comic is basically a series of vignettes each illustrated by a different art team, with a disembodied narrator sorta tying it all together (but not really). So there’s not really a story here, just the hints of several different stories. The art is generally strong, but of course it changes every few pages. The overarching portent is that evil is somehow on the verge of winning the day over good, a notion which hearkens back to Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing, but which is too abstract to have any meaning to me as a reader.

Overall this issue feels completely unnecessary. In years gone by, other writers might have managed to cover this ground in 2 or 3 pages, but DC seems bent on drawing things out as long as possible these days. So we end up with stuff like this, which seems destined for the recycle bin.

Action Comics #864 Despite its problems, I enjoyed “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” enough to keep buying Action Comics for a little while, although promos for upcoming issues make me worry that it’s going to be one big event after another, which will probably drive me away.

Anyway, this issue is also a sort of introduction to Final Crisis, specifically a lead-in to the Legion of Three Worlds mini-series, which intrigues me since I’m a longtime Legion fan, having read all three of the Legions which will be involved in that series. This issue opens with Batman visiting Superman’s Fortress, where Superman is talking with Lightning Man from the Legion, reminiscing about old times. Batman and Lightning Lad get on like oil and water, especially once the bodies of two Legionnaires – who were killed in Countdown – turn up. We also briefly visit with the JSA’s Starman, who’s also a former Legionnaire.

The more I read of Geoff Johns’ writing, the more it seems like its hallmark is putting in as many nifty ideas as he can come up with – especially of the “mining DC’s past” variety – but not really plumbing any of them in depth. Mark Waid went further with the “Batman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” idea in one issue of The Brave and the Bold than Johns does here. Really, one could probably do a good 6-issue story with such an idea. So this issue ends up feeling like no less an advertisement for an upcoming series than did DC Universe 0, which is too bad, because even as a bridge between two Superman arcs, this could have been a much more insightful story than it was.

It was better than DC Universe 0, though, if for no other reason than the scene in which Lightning Man wonders aloud how Batman would have turned out had the Legion contacted him in addition to Superman back when they were teenagers.

Glamourpuss #1 For those who don’t know, Dave Sim is the creator/writer/artist of Cerebus, the longest-running self-published comic book in history. Originally a parody of Conan the Barbarian, Cerebus evolved to parody many aspects of popular culture, and later became a platform from which Sim proclaimed his social and political opinions at great length. The pros and cons of Cerebus are outside the scope of this review, but in short I’ll say that it produced what I think is one of the ten best graphic novels I’ve ever read (Jaka’s Story), and a whole lot of near-unreadable claptrap.

Glamourpuss is Sim’s first comic since Cerebus ended its 300-issue run in 2004.

And it is, frankly, a really bad one.

Sim is still an excellent artist: He reproduces a variety of glamour magazine photos in linework, and also reproduces many panels from the comic strip Rip Kirby. Even if the work isn’t original, it’s still impressive in its attention to detail. Sim can really draw.

Unfortunately, this is a comic book without a story. Rather than assembling a story to which he can apply his prodigious artistic skills, Sim strings together a series of unrelated panels and adds text which is nothing more than a monologue in which he discusses his intention to do a book of “cute teenaged girls in his best Al Williamson photo-realism style”, and goes on to talk at some length about his love for Alex Raymond’s and John Prentice’s art on Rip Kirby.

And boy, I couldn’t care less.

I have some interest in the analysis of comic art, to be sure, but this is little more than navel-gazing; a couple of cheap gags, but otherwise nothing really entertaining. I’d much rather read a prose piece about the strip with some key illustrations, with more historical context about Raymond, Prentice, and the strip itself. But Sim’s thoughts about his admirations for the artists and his striving to emulate them are not worth three dollars, or even the time it took to read this issue.

I keep wondering who exactly Sim’s target audience for this series is, or how long he expects it to keep going. I even wonder if he’s chuckling to himself as having ‘put one over’ on his readership. Probably not. I think this is a perfectly earnest effort to express his admiration for this art style, to have some fun flexing his artistic muscles, and figuring that there are a few thousand people out there who will find it all as interesting as he does.

And he might be right, but I’m not one of those people, and I won’t be back for a second issue (though Jog apparently will be).