This Week’s Haul

  • Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2 of 3, by Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Eddy Barrows, Gene Ha, Tom Mandrake & Ruy José (DC)
  • Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5 of 5, by Geoff Johns, George Pérez & Scott Koblish (DC)
  • Green Lantern #44, by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy (DC)
  • Power Girl #3, by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner (DC)
  • Wednesday Comics #3 of 12, by many hands (DC)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #16, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Wesley Craig & Nathan Fairbairn (Marvel)
  • The Incredible Hercules #131, by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Ryan Stegman & Terry Pallot (Marvel)
  • Immortal Weapons #1 of 5, by Jason Aaron, Mico Suadan, Stefano Gaudiano, Roberto de la Torre, Khari Evans, Victor Olazaba, Michael Lark & Arturo Lozzi, and Duane Swierczynski, Travel Foreman & Stefano Gaudiano (Marvel)
  • Nova #27, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Andrea DiVito (Marvel)
  • Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 HC, by David Petersen (Archaia)
  • Atomic Robo: Shadow From Beyond Time #3 of 5, by Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener (Red 5)
  • The Life and Times of Savior 28 #4, by J.M. DeMatteis & Mike Cavallaro (IDW)
  • Invincible #64, by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley (Image)
  • Phonogram: The Singles Club #4 of 7, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, David LaFuente & Charity Larrison (Image)
Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5 Once again it seems like it’s an all-Geoff-Johns week, with two Green Lantern books and the long-delayed last issue of Legion of 3 Worlds.

At its core, Legion of 3 Worlds is a bunch of what’s today often called “fanboy wankery”: It seems to have been mainly written to reconcile the three incarnations of the Legion of Super-Heroes from the last 30 years, especially to bring the Legion of the early 80s back to being the primary Legion. All of this made for an entertaining romp through Legion history if you’re a Legion fan, but I imagine it’s largely meaningless if you’re not.

Secondarily the story both returned Superboy and Kid Flash to the Teen Titans, both of them having been dead for the last year or two. And lastly it plays out the story of Superboy-Prime, last survivor of Earth-Prime, who’s spent the last couple of years trying to get back to his destroyed homeworld, even if he had to destroy everything else to recreate it.

All of this is wrapped in what is seemingly a Superman story, but by this final issue Superman is pushed pretty firmly to the sidelines, little more than the muscle to hold off Prime until the Legionnaires figure out how to deal with him. The story is one escalating surprise (the Time Trapper is Prime in the future! Unless he’s not!) after another (when in doubt, summon more Legionnaires to do the punching) until things finally get resolved. Chris Sims sums up the irony of the resolution quite well, and honestly it is an entertaining story, with some witty dialogue (especially Brainiac 5’s parting shot), and of course the lovely George Pérez artwork.

I was a little let down by the ending, not so much where Prime ended up, but the fact that the story started out aiming very high by raising the question of whether Prime could be redeemed. The notion that Superman might actually be able to redeem him was morally fascinating, and a tough hill to climb. Unfortunately, it fell by the wayside pretty early and wasn’t picked up even a little in this final issue. While Johns may have redeemed Hal Jordan after his misdeeds as Parallax, he didn’t manage to do the same for Prime here. As it stands, Prime is one of the most badly-handled, least-necessary, and just-plain-un-fun villains in recent comics history, and I hope this is the last we see of him. What little potential he ever had has been well-and-truly explored by now.

All-in-all, a pretty good series. It could have been a lot more, and of course it had nothing at all to do with Final Crisis, despite the name. But you can’t have everything.

Wednesday Comics #3 Am I really going to review every issue of Wednesday Comics? At only a page of story per story per week, it hardly seems worth it. And yet, here I go.

I think what bugs me most about Kamandi is that it’s one teenaged kid – and anthropomorphic tigers, dogs, and rats. No matter how well drawn it is (and Ryan Sook’s art has progressed a lot since his Jenny Finn series for Mike Mignola a few years back) it’s just a strip about post-apocalyptic anthropomorphics. This premise’s sell-by date passed back when I was in grade school.

Oh my god, the Superman strip is just awful. Bad writing, bad artwork, just bad.

While Busiek is clearly having fun with the setting and characters of the Green Lantern strip, it seems like it’s been three pages of basically nothing so far. Indeed, the second and third pages have the same cliffhanger!

I find Wonder Woman to be unreadable: The panels are so dense it negates the benefits of the larger page size. And I find the story impenetrable. Plus, it doesn’t look like Wonder Woman at all! Teen Titans is only slightly better, although I don’t really care about these characters. And I liked the first page of Neil Gaiman’s Metamorpho, but since then it’s been to splash pages in a row. Talk about uncompressed! It’s got the opposite problem of Wonder Woman; neither has found the right balance of story and art for the format.

Flash is still the best strip in the book The art is a nice mix of realistic and cartoony, sort of like Ty Templeton’s. The story is both off-the-wall and moving. The structure is entertaining, too. It’s almost worth buying Wednesday Comics just for this.

It finally dawned on me that in Hawkman Kyle Baker is directly evoking the art of Sheldon Moldoff, who draw the hero in many of his earliest adventures in the 1940s (and whose style I suspect directly influenced that of Joe Kubert, who draw him later, and who draws the Sgt. Rock pages in Wednesday Comics). Despite largely liking the artwork, I still don’t care for the story or the portrayal of Hawkman here. I suspect this will be the second-biggest misfire of the series (after Superman).

Guardians of the Galaxy #16 This also seems to be all-Marvel week, as nearly every Marvel book I buy comes out on the same week these days, including the two ongoing space-based titles. Nova continues to be a very good book, but Guardians of the Galaxy has been thrashing around trying to find its direction. While Nova has the advantage of being primarily about one character, Guardians is about a team, and so it’s been more easily disrupted by the twice-yearly “events” throwing it off its ongoing story and preventing it from spending time exploring its characters. Which is too bad because the first three issues – prior to the intrusion of Secret Invasion – were very intriguing.

This month’s issue of Guardians is intriguing once more, as we learn something about why Major Victory showed up in the present day (coming back from the future), followed by a rather hostile Starhawk. We learn this because half of the team has been thrown into the future, where they meet the 31st-century Guardians (i.e., the original team created back in the 1970s), and learn that the universe is on the verge of coming to an end. The Guardians are based in the last remaining vestige of Earth – Avengers Mansion, floating in space behind a force field. Having the present-day team arrive in the mansion in its form as a historical museum is a neat moment, as is the revelation of what’s going on. Fortunately Starhawk seems to have learned that Warlock is going to do something which will eventually bring about the catastrophe. Unfortunately, there’s only a limited amount that they can do about it, but they give it their best shot, even if they have to die trying.

The issue ends on a big cliffhanger, with a plot worthy of some of Star Trek‘s time travel yarns (whether that’s good or bad is up to you). It looks like the story is heading for a big finish in the next month or two, in concert with War of Kings. Of course, Abnett and Lanning could milk it for a while longer, although at this point I think it would be best to get this arc resolved and to move on to the next one. Because the story’s got promise once more, and I’d hate to see them squander it.

4 thoughts on “This Week’s Haul”

  1. You wrote: This premise’s sell-by date passed back when I was in grade school.

    And superheroes in general didn’t grow stale decades earlier? This seems like a bizarre reason to dislike a strip: “The premise is old.” I maintain Kamandi is the best strip in the collection: best story, best art, most fun. Flash is great, too, though. And I think you’re overlooking how poorly written the Batman strip is. It’s awful.

  2. I think “superheroes” are too broad a subject to be considered a premise. That’s like saying that police dramas are a premise for a story.

    Kamandi’s premise is that of a post-apocalyptic Earth in which Kamandi is “the last boy on Earth”, and all the other sentient creatures are mutated animals or aliens or what-have-you. It’s not just that this feels old, it feels dated, out of place in modern comics except as some sort of “the future the way it used to be” sort of period piece – which isn’t at all what Gibbons and Sook are going for (at least so far). It’s doubly strange here since it seems to be trying to evoke Alex Raymond/Hal Foster type Sunday adventure strips, but as a strip being written in modern times, it seems ludicrous.

    Kamandi’s brand of post-apocalyptic setting dates from the Cold War (since Kamandi was created in the 70s), but the mixing of bipedal animals feels just plain cheesy. I’ve said before I thought Jack Kirby’s DC creations were pretty weak, and Kamandi is no exception there.

    I can’t argue that it’s very well drawn. But my reaction to it recalls a friend’s reaction to the novel Watership Down, which I paraphrase: “This is a very well-written, well-imagined adventure story – about frickin’ bunny rabbits.” (And I actually don’t think Kamandi is very well-written. It seems rather simplistic, even by the standards of Wednesday Comics.)

    As for Batman, you’re right, I should say something about it: I’ve found the story difficult to follow and have no investment in it. It’s just sort of… there. I’m giving it a pass since it feels like the sort of story that could gel part-way in, although it doesn’t seem close to it yet. The art is okay. I have a similar reaction to the Sgt. Rock story.

  3. Come on, Michael. You know what I mean. How about “aliens who arrive on Earth and have extraordinary powers”? That doesn’t meet the same “worn-out” metric you’re using for Kamandi? I’m not saying it’s great literature, but I think it’s just as good a premise as any other comic premise, and no reason to dismiss the strip. Especially since it’s the stand-out strip in the publication we’re discussing. 🙂

    My praise for this iteration of Kamandi stems from one fact and one fact alone: It, out of all the strips, does the best job of conforming to the format. Some of the creators seem to have no clue whatsoever what the Sunday funnies are all about. That’s why we get crap like Batman and Superman and Teen Titans. But others *do* get it, and they’re creating amazing homages to the past while simultaneously appealing to today’s readers. That’s why Kamandi and Flash and, to a lesser degree, Green Lantern work so well.

    Kamandi and Flash rock this format.

    The Wonder Woman team gets it, but it doesn’t matter. Their contribution is indecipherable.

  4. I do know what you mean, I just don’t agree. Kamandi has a fairly specific premise, as I described above. I think it feels tired and dated. Your counterexamples are considerably more general.

    I agree that Kamandi does a good job of working in the Sunday funnies style of strip (although I don’t think it does so better than Flash or Adam Strange). That’s not enough to make me enthusiastic about the strip, though. As much as I enjoy stories with interesting structures for the structure alone, I don’t really find that emulating a 70-year-old structure (and a fairly simple one, at that) excites me.

    Anyway, as far as Kamandi goes, maybe it just comes down to the fact that I don’t care about a half-clothed boy in a generic post-apocalyptic wasteland palling around with talking animals. I shrug, appreciate the artwork, wish Ryan Sook were drawing the Adam Strange strip instead, and move on.

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