Thursday, April 30, 2009

Buy Pile Report

Y'all ready for some overly emotional writing?

If you didn't navigate away from this page after reading "Y'all," then you're in the right mindset for my current sappy state.

I don't think I've smiled so much while reading any comic book as much as I smiled while reading Justice Society of America #26. Not laughed, mind you, or cheered, just smiled. I didn't smile so much while reading "X-Men #30" (Scott and Jean's wedding), and I didn't smile so much for any of the vaunted "Justice League International" issues. Heck, I didn't even smile so much while reading my "Kool-Aid Man vs. Scorch" comic book I got free with my Kool-Aid points. Sitting at my desk in the office, I realized about six pages into this issue that I was smiling like a moron and had to make a conscious effort to stop.

So why was that? Because in his decade or so working with the team, Geoff Johns has succeeded in not only displaying this superhero team as a family, but he also welcomed readers into that family. Maybe it's just that I've re-read the entire run over the past few days so everything is so fresh in my mind, but Stargirl's birthday party in the pages of this issue was truly a fantastic family going away party. Yes, Matt Sturges and Bill Willingham will be taking over the reins shortly, but this issue is the end of an era.

So yes, I grinned throughout this entire family party. From Starman's choice of presents to Mystery Men buying ice cream. From Ted Grant's revelation to Stargirl's "teacher" photo. Given the situation, I even grinned while everyone took a trip to the dentist. I can only imagine the conversation between Johns and artist Dale Eaglesham when discussing that page.

And there are just so many little touches throughout this book. Yes, in that second to last panel, Starman's fourth-wall breaker steals the show. But also in there you can see Tommy Bronson helping out a homeless man, Damage and Atom Smasher talking like brothers, Doc Mid-nite and Mr. Terriffic comparing calculator-looking things and Hourman and Liberty Belle looking at a snowboard shop (remember issue #8?).

JSA #26 was everything anyone could ask for in a finale book, and I strongly urge any fans of the characters to pick it up and read it, possibly more than once. Heck, I bought three just for the interconnecting covers.

OK, the mushy stuff is over, I promise, especially since Legion of Three Worlds #4 was wall-to-wall action. Yes, Starman is also in this issue. And yes, he did get a Gold Star. But this book is not only a clinic in how to write a great superhero event, but also a clinic in how to draw one. George Perez is at top of his game here. In a story with, literally, too many heroes and villains to count, Perez makes each action sequence in this book as clear as day. I would say this is an especially impressive feat, given that many characters have two other legion counterparts walking around, making the clarity of who's who even harder.

Geoff Johns' story is pretty darned mind-blowing to match the art. That's not to say it's perfect, far from it, but there is enough going on here to keep anybody's interest. On the plus side, we get a somewhat intelligent and believable explanation for Bart Allen's "Resurrection," as well as a strong explanation for what Starman's been up to and how you-know-who (should I spoil it? Nah.) show's up at the end. There are even some great teamwork moments featuring Sun Boy and great Brainiac-5 conversations.

But there are definite question marks with the script, as well. For one, whatever happened to that "We need to redeem" Superboy Prime stuff? For two, there's a revelation about Time Trapper in this issue that I, for the life of me, cannot see even Johns making it believable. And my biggest question mark with this series is, for as much as Johns professes his love for all things Legion, this mini is dominated by characters out of the past and characters that, essentially, Johns breathed life into himself. Maybe this series is a little heavy on guest stars?

Despite those qualms, this is still one incrediblly action-packed event book the likes of which "Final Crisis" wishes it could have been. Or rather, we wish "Final Crisis" could have been, namely thanks to the clarity of art.

Which brings me to the one Marvel book I read this week, my ongoing headache, Uncanny X-Men #509. How horrible is Greg Land's art here? I would almost encourage you all to buy this book only to see for yourselves how bad it is. For one, as always with his books, all women look the same, and all with the same smile. Way too many smiling people in general. But the biggest problem is with the action sequences of the book, which FINALLY tried to cash in on writer Matt Fraction's long-term plans with his team of Badgirls.

For as much as I haven't liked Fraction's direction, he at least tries to make things happen here as his team invades the X-Men home, presumably in an effort to kidnap and possess Emma Frost. The only problem is Land's art makes none of this clear. In one scene, Cyclops Northstar and Dazzler are sitting in a living room ready for the attack. In the next panel, Martinique just says "Cyclops, Northstar and Dazzler are going down." What? When did that happen? In one panel Nightcrawler and Colossus enter the fray. In the next panel Spiral moves her sword (with no one else in the panel, mind you) and all of a sudden BOTH X-Men are on the ground. It's bad enough this storyline has made no sense whatsoever, but the art has just made this book atrocious.

Which sounds a whole lot like the name of a Red Lantern. He was nowhere near the fray in Green Lantern #40, but who needs him with Larfleeze (a.k.a. Agent Orange) around to entertain? On the same day that I got to peek at "Blackest Night #0" and became very scared DC is going to blow this whole Black Lantern thing with WAAAAAY too many characters coming back from the dead, Larfleeze restored my faith in DC and Johns. Mr. Orange is the biggest badass since Tim Roth.

This issue not only teaches us more about the Orange Lanterns (or should I say Lantern, singular, since it seems Larfleeze is the only living one left), and shows off more of their Me-First attitude, but it also further tells the tale of the fall of the Guardians. We see both dissension among the little blue ranks and dissension among the Green Lanterns (and not only from the humans, for a change), which makes me very curious to see where that avenue will lead us. All in all, a good read.

Finally, Superman #687 returned us to that holding pattern James Robinson seems to love lately. What happens in this one, you ask? Well ... umm ... Mon-El and the Science police fight a villain and ... umm ... some bad guys watch and ... umm ... Parasite lurks around. Is that it, Mr. Robinson? In the fallout from "New Krypton," Robinson's work has far and away been the weakest, mostly because he's not taking us anywhere. In the same month that Sterling Gates fleshes out Supergirl's resolve and gives us Superwoman's identity, James Robinson gives us a fight with a villain. In the same month that Greg Rucka gave us a near-battled to the death between Chris Kent and his mother, James Robinson gives us yet more shadowy characters watching computer screens.

"Superman" has not worked for me since Robinson took over, beginning with a horrible four-issue long fight with Atlas and now with three different good characters to choose from with Guardian, Mon-El and Steel, Robinson just keeps setting the table without ever serving a course. Well James, we're hungry. And right now the only thing saving your job as cook is the fact that your patrons are already well fed from the other chefs in your kitchen sneaking us snacks.

Wow, that wasn't a half bad metaphor. I think I'm going to have to end on a high note. Goodnight, everybody!

No comments: