- Justice Society of America Annual #1, by Geoff Johns, Jerry Ordway & Bob Wiacek (DC)
- newuniversal: 1959 #1, by Kieron Gillen, Greg Scott & Kody Chamberlain (Marvel)
- Thor #10, by J. Michael Straczynski, Oliver Coipel & Mark Morales (Marvel)
- Girl Genius: Voice of the Castle vol 7 HC, by Phil Foglio & Kaja Foglio (Airship)
- Project Superpowers #5 of 7, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger & Carlos Paul (Dynamite)
- Locke & Key #6 of 6, by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Justice Society of America Annual #1 is just a big tease.
In the currently convoluted DC continuity, Power Girl comes from an alternate Earth, the “Earth-2” from before Crisis on Infinite Earths. In this issue, wonderfully illustrated by Jerry Ordway (one of my favorite artists), she’s been returned there by the powers of Gog (the main plot element in the ongoing series), and she catches up with the Huntress and the rest of the Earth-2 Justice Society, who have continued to live their lives since the first Crisis. The Huntress is dealing with the last few villains of her father – the deceased Earth-2 Batman – and the JSA has undergone some significant changes, with most of the original members having retired. It’s good stuff, with convincing characterizations, and some effective revelations about these old friends. It doesn’t really deal with the fact that the characters here would be pretty old by now – the members of Infinity Inc. would be in their mid-to-late 40s, and Robin would be pushing 70 – but I’m willing to chalk that up to artistic license.
The books real problem is that it’s just a lead-in to another plot thread in the ongoing series, in which Power Girl finds herself on the run in a world that might be what it seems – but might not. So it’s not a complete story, which is especially frustrating given the tradition of annuals to be complete or to be the climactic wrap-up of a longer story. It’s just another cog, and it left me feeling cheated.
The art sure is lovely, though. Ordway’s best stuff in years.
|newuniversal: 1959 is a prequel to Warren Ellis’ newuniversal series, highlighting a few extraordinary individuals in the late 50s and the arm of the government which investigates them. It’s a pretty good story, although it basically just fills in the details of what’s been described in the regular series. So it’s not essential reading, but I enjoyed it anyway.|
Girl Genius is still one of the most entertaining comics going, and I’m happy that it’s had so much success as a webcomic, since it looks like it’ll be sticking around for a long time. Meanwhile the family Foglio are still collecting the series more-or-less annually in both paperback and hardcover, and I sure hope that that continues, as I’ve been happily snapping up almost everything Phil Foglio’s done as they print it in hardcover.
I was somewhat disappointed in volume 6 since it turned away from Agatha, the main character, and had a convoluted story which didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Volume 7 is a return to form, as Agatha and her allies arrive in Mechanicsburg so Agatha can claim her position as the heir to the Heterodynes. Of course, the badly-injured Baron Klaus Wulfenbach and his son Gil have gotten there ahead of her. Moreover, claiming her heritage is harder than it seems, since she needs to be recognized by the sentient Castle Heterodyne, but the castle isn’t intact and people who enter it tend not to come out again. Plus, another claimant to the position has turned up and entered the castle with her own schemes. Finally, word of Klaus’ injuries have gotten out, which means people who want to overthrow or supplant him are showing up heavily armed.
The book is full of action, adventure, and rampant silliness, all of which you expect from a Foglio story. There are also some nifty glimpses of the Heterodyne past – I love poring over the pages in the vaults below the castle to see what jokes and suggestions the Foglios have thrown in there, whether or not it directly impacts the story. Plus Agatha’s chat with one fragment of the castle is not to be missed, and Gil has his own test in trying to protect his father.
Perhaps Girl Genius‘ pace has slowed down a bit too much with the shift to webcomic form, as it often seems like things move along a bit slowly, with this volume ending on a cliffhanger. A paradigm shift in the series is going to occur sooner or later since Agatha is going to have to grow up completely and become a major player on the continental stage in the fictional world in which she lives, and I wonder whether the Foglios are finding it difficult to get past Agatha as the still-somewhat-innocent foil for her more experienced companions. Maybe that’s what’s holding the story back a bit. Or, maybe they just want more scenes like Agatha building an industrial-strength coffee maker (which are cute, but just intermissions between “the good stuff”). Nonetheless, this is great stuff. I read it on-line every week, and you should too.
|Locke & Key finishes its first mini-series this month. It’s been pretty good, but also disappointing: It ended up being little more than a straightforward “being stalked by a lunatic with a gun” story. To be fair, it does set up the premise of the series, but I’d hoped for a lot of sense of wonder and a lot less routine suspense and horror schtick. The ending suggests that future series will be a little more fantastic, and I hope they will be. I’ll come back for the next mini-series (starting later this year), but if it’s more of the same then that might be enough for me.|