This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 20 June 2007.

  • Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #53, by Tad Williams & Shawn McManus (DC)
  • The Brave and The Bold #4, by Mark Waid, George PĂ©rez & Bob Wiacek (DC)
  • Countdown #45 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, J. Calafiore & Mark McKenna (DC)
  • Ex Machina #29, by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris & Jim Clark (DC/Vertigo)
  • Justice League of America #10, by Brad Meltzer, Ed Benes & Sandra Hope (DC)
  • Annihilation Conquest Prologue, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, & Mike Perkins (Marvel)
  • Incredible Hulk #107, by Greg Pak, Gary Frank & Jon Sibal (Marvel)
  • Boneyard #25, by Richard Moore (NBM)
  • Captain Clockwork: Chronology by Glenn Whitmore (Captain Clockwork)

Aquaman is reportedly on the chopping block. In a way this is too bad, because I’d like to actually read the end of this current story, but it’s been dragging on so long and so aimlessly that I can’t work up too much sympathy.

Gosh how I love The Brave and The Bold: Punchy, funny writing, inventive threats, and plenty of tension. Really, Mark Waid has reinvented the sorts of stories that populated comics in my childhood, but updated them and made them feel less ludicrous. They’re just fun. Now granted, this is one long story (I don’t know how many issues it’s going to run), but it’s pretty much the cream of the crop in mainstream superhero comics today.

On the other hand, Justice League of America ends “The Lightning Saga” in a particularly unsatisfying manner: Not only did the Legion of Super-Heroes have hardly any relevance to the story, but the JLA and JSA didn’t really have any, either! Graeme McMillan at Comix Experience sums up the mess; here’s an excerpt with the spoilery bits removed:

Justice League of America #10 is an Awful ending to the JLA/JSA crossover. […] The fact that we’re seeing an entirely different Legion of Super-Heroes from the ones who have their own series isn’t really given any attempt at explanation (There’s one line of dialogue which kind of suggests that they’re from Earth-2? Maybe?). Why this alternaretroLegion came back in time to […] is given no attempt at explanation, either; instead, we’re given scenes that hint that the Legion had an ulterior motive, but, of course, that’s not explained either. It’s hard for me to say how truly sloppy this final chapter is, even compared with the earlier parts of this story. It’s truly fan-fiction that somehow got published by a real company, with all the entitlement and lack of logic or respect for the reader that that implies. […] [G]oddamn if [DC’s] not making it hard to care with the shitty comics that they’re putting out right now.

“It’s truly fan-fiction that somehow got published by a real company”. That’s exactly right.

Greg Burgas savages this issue in much greater detail over at Comics Should Be Good. If you bothered to read “The Lightning Saga”, you should read his critique. His point about there not being a villain (or any sort of antagonist) in the story is also well-taken, and is another indication that this truly is just fan fiction.

My enjoyment of Nova has not only gotten me interested in last year’s Annihilation event from Marvel (but I’ll wait for the trade paperbacks to come out), but in the new Annihilation Conquest event. The reason I’m interested is that it seems like it’s only an “event” in name, but it’s really just a framework for the creators to play in a separate area of the Marvel Universe (i.e., deep space) within a larger story. That sort of thing can be a lot of fun. Beats the heck out of what’s going on on Earth in the MU.

Incredible Hulk is running a sort-of side story to World War Hulk, involving some occasional allies of the Hulk (Hercules and Angel in this case), and Amadeus Cho, a teenager who’s the 7th-smartest person in the world. It’s more comical than dramatic, and it feels unnecessary other than to mark time in the regular book while WWH is going on. Nice art (as usual) by Gary Frank, though.

Captain Clockwork: Chronology is a trade paperback-sized black-and-white volume starring Glenn Whitmore’s character, who is really four heroes who operate in different time periods, between World War II and the mid-21st century. I reviewed the special a couple of months ago, and this is more of the same; indeed, it collects the special, some earlier-published stories, and a few new ones, in a nice squarebound $12.95 package. The sometimes-befuddling artwork would be fine except that the stories are likewise befuddling: The first three Clockworks all have the same name and all resemble each other (except that the third one has a goatee), and individual stories often confused me, especially in their resolution. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts in that there is a larger story being told, but it’s a loose story and not entirely satisfying.

Overall, I think Whitmore needs to tighten up both his writing and his drawing for this to be a worthwhile ongoing project. I’d consider buying a second volume, but I’d want to see some substantial improvement when thumbing through it before plunking down the money.

This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 14 March 2007.

Actually, two weeks’ worth, since I was away last week:

The Team-Ups volume are really for hard-core Justice Society fans only, really. That said, one of the Atom stories herein is a longtime favorite of mine: Ray Palmer starts aging backwards and Al Pratt has to save him. As Gardner Fox gimmick stories go, it’s pretty good. It’s also interesting that many of these stories are treated as just one more adventure for our heroes, and not the “event” comics that JLA/JSA team-ups would later become.

Wonder Woman #4 ended with a cliffhanger, leading into the final part of the “Who Is Wonder Woman?” story. But #5 doesn’t complete the story, it was released with different content than originally solicited, and the conclusion will appear “at some later date”. The story that actually shipped is a pretty mediocre piece about the impact Wonder Woman has on the world around her, beyond her material deeds. It basically explores in depth what Kurt Busiek simply implies with his Winged Victory character in Astro City, but doesn’t really say anything more. So, shrug.

Fantastic Four: The End concludes the ho-hum series by writer/artist Alan Davis. He sort-of brings a science fictional sensibility to the FF in the future, but it’s really just a standard superhero yarn.

Athena Voltaire #2 actually shipped some time ago, but my shop didn’t get a copy for some reason. So they ordered me one and it arrived this week. Now I can catch up…

Captain Clockwork is a little black-and-white book by Glenn Whitmore about four generations of heroes named Captain Clockwork, who work to save chronology from the 1930 to the 2010s. Whitmore’s plotting and dialog is a little shaky, but his art – though not very detailed – is clean and polished. There’s some promise here, but I don’t think I’m up for “yet another superhero book”. Future installments will need to indicate that they’re going somewhere for me to keep buying. (The web site has a preview from this issue.)

In many ways I enjoy B.P.R.D., but the story has been going on for an awful long time, and with no end in sight. I’d like them to wrap up Abe Sapien’s background and deal with… heck, I can’t even remember exactly what the ongoing threat they’re dealing with is. Or else I’m getting close to losing interest.

Boneyard wraps up their current story with an adorable ending. What a great comic book series.

Evil Inc. is a graphic novel assembled from the first year of the popular webcomic about a corporation run by supervillains. It’s entertaining, maybe even better read in collected form than serially, although I kind of wish it were a more straightforward collection. Apparently there’s already a second volume, but I don’t think it’s yet been solicited through Diamond Comics’ Previews catalog.