Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Buy Pile Report

Believe it or not, for as much as needed to be done today, it's been slow here in the office for hours. Believe it or not, that's the bad news, since the only thing I dislike more than work is boredom.

The good news is, I didn't have to be bored for long with all of today's comics just sitting on my desk waiting to be read. Which, leads me to another good news/bad news situation. Nothing was particularly spectacular today. And nothing was very bad either. Am I middle of the road enough for you?

Cable #14 continued the "Messiah War" crossover with "X-Force," and after a action-packed but story-light issue last time around, we finally got the plot moving a little bit here. A good portion of the issue is spent in Stryfe's chamber as he interrogates Warpath. The story takes a turn, though when Bishop has to slightly double-cross Stryfe in order to try and kill Hope. And yes, Bishop did take that shot without much moral trouble, continuing the character's now pretty much irredeemable downward spiral. The highlight of the issue, though, comes with the implications the final page may create, a reveal that I don't care to spoil for any of you, and no, it's not that Stryfe is Cable's clone.

There was also an interesting side-story with Archangel and Apocalypse that didn't amount to anything ... yet. Frankly, this crossover has started to lose a little luster for me, as there just hasn't been enough of a plot. Apocalypse is my hope to be that monkey wrench needed to let this crossover fulfill the weighty promise the first couple of issues had.

Also from Marvel, War of Kings #3 was also pretty good. And again, it was mainly due to the promise for the future. We spend a lot of this issue on Attilian discussing the previously-undiscussed "Uplift Program," a promise Black Bolt apparently made to Ronan to use the Terrigen Mists to evolve all of the Kree. Talk about an idea that could change the landscape of the Marvel Universe ... if Maximus were able to get it to work. And while there is an emphasis here that maybe the Inhumans are not looking out for the Kree's best interest, Maximus drops a side clue as to where this story could be going, saying if the Inhumans can't beat the Shi'ar they could "join them or change them." Emphasis on change. Hmm.

Want more promise for the future? It seems Gladiator may be looking to change teams (finally!). And if that weren't enough for you, this issue is worth buying if only for the teamwork between Marvel Girl and Rocket Raccoon. Yes, a more perfect pair could not be conceived.

Now, I'm sure many of you out there are thinking that if there was only one spectacular book this week, it was going to be Flash: Rebirth #2. Not so fast. (Get it?) There is plenty to like in this issue, don't get me wrong. For one, Ethan Van Sciver's art is absolutely brilliant. Geoff Johns could have let every word balloon blank, and I think Van Sciver's art was good enough and descriptive enough that this issue would still be readable and enjoyable. And there are also a collection of strong moments here, from another cold conversation between Hal Jordan and Barry Allen to a look back at when Barry first met his wife to a look at his previous life as a forensic scientist.

And there was also plenty to be intrigued by. So far, Johns has emphasized the fate of Barry's parents as an unresolved demon in his closet, and we see again how rattled the situation makes him. We also again watched as Barry seemed almost annoyed by Wonder Woman's setting up an alibi with the FBI for his past few years, as if Barry feels he won't be around long enough to use the alibi.

The problem is, so far this all just feels like ground we all have covered before, similar to Johns' "Secret Origins" arc on "Green Lantern." It's entertaining stuff, but where's the payoff? Even the big "reveal" at the end of this issue (and yes, this too makes me intrigued for the future) was entirely too predictable. And so, this issue is just pretty good, not great. But we're still hopeful for the future of the Scarlet Speedsters.

Remember when I said how slow it is in the office? Well, that was four hours ago, when I started writing this post, and then all hell broke loose. That's what I get for taunting a good thing. So where was I?

I'm noticing something disturbing thanks to Superman: World of New Krypton #3. For as much as Superman was an outsider among his own people throughout the "New Krypton" crossover, in these past couple of issues of "S:WofNK" it seems like Kal-El's Earthly ways are suddenly the latest trend on Krypton. Last issue we watched Kal teach his team how to handle beasts without slaughtering them. In this issue, he teaches all of New Krypton the value of discussion over violence and harsh reactions. Heck, even General Zod seems to be coming around to the value of the Clark Kent side to Kal-El.

And while I have no problem with the message that Ma and Pa Kent have a lot to teach people of any planet, it just doesn't feel like this is the same situation we are dealing with outside of this series. Here, Alura seems level-headed and isn't constantly berating her daughter (who played a nice role in this issue too). Here, General Zod doesn't seem like such a power-monger. It all just seems too neat; too reverent to Superman. I am really hoping writers James Robinson and Greg Rucka have a worthwhile reason for all of this seeming lack of characterization, and I trust both enough to stay optimistic.

Speaking of Superman, we end with Mark Waid's tale of Superman ... er ... excuse me "The Plutonian" gone bad. Irredeemable #2 again showed why you have to start buying this series. While Waid's debut issue was heavy on shock value to wrangle as many readers as possible, this second issue gives us a taste of what this ongoing series will be like, and it's tastier than popcorn chicken. And no, I don't know why popcorn chicken was the first food to come to mind.

Waid is telling this story through a series of flashbacks, as the Plutonian's allies are trying to look through the past and uncover information with which to end his reign of terror. As such we again get to see several different sides to the ex-hero. In one page we watch the Plutonian selflessly help out a teammate and then bolster her fledgling confidence. In the next page we get a good view of an entire city he destroyed. In one page we watch the Plutonian charm, wine and dine his own version of Lois Lane. In the next page we get to see just how far he was willing to go to protect his self-interests.

I think the thing that I am most impressed by here is Waid's ability to hold back from going too over the top too fast. Whenever we've seen a flashback in which the Plutonian loses control, we first see a reason and a slight moment of weakness before he overreacts. And where we watched him use his powers to go too far in the last issue, lobotomizing his former sidekick, here we see an even worse side of the Plutonian when he emotionally coerces a group of people into frightened suicide. I'm starting to think Waid is going to be able to find new and creative ways to do this in every issue he writes -- and if so, we're going to have a real classic run on our hands.

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