Thursday, September 3, 2009

Buy Pile Report

I shouldn't have to sing the praises of The Mighty #8 and Irredeemable #6 this week. Both books were again must-read material for anyone who loves a good anti-hero, and both added a lot to their respective storylines. Alpha-1 hinted heavily at an extraterrestrial background while Cole flirted with insanity. The Plutonian reveled in what seemed to be his childhood, and later found his former allies hiding place. If you haven't been reading these series, I doubt I will ever get through to you.

So I will simply move on to a couple of very pleasant surprises. The first of which is Justice League: Cry For Justice #3. Yes, nobody has criticized this book more than I have, so there is a better than even chance I am confusing mediocrity for quality, given how low my expectations were going into this third issue. Still, despite three pages opening the book which reached new depths of crapiness, the rest of this issue actually managed to stop throwing the word "Justice" long enough to get a coherent storyline flowing (I know, three issues in and we finally get plot -- a miracle!).

Writer James Robinson who, by my estimation, encountered a talent-sucking alien during his time off from writing comics, manages to somewhat salvage his monumentally bad mini-series in two ways. 1) While everyone (literally everyone) except Green Arrow is written in the most cliched and out of touch way possible, Oliver Queen is as entertaining and genuine as ever. 2) Robinson actually manages to paint Prometheus in an impressive light here, even managing to catch me very off guard.

This series is still in serious danger of joining the ranks of the historically awful minis of all time (I don't think I'm ever going to get over two whole issues of characters simply saying they want "justice" over and over again, and Supergirl's motivation here is ridiculous, given the events of her own book), there was enough positive in this issue to give us some degree of hope. James Robinson just better pray there are a lot of Blue Lanterns left out there to keep buying this crap.

The second pleasant surprise in my Buy Pile this week is Magog #1. Keith Giffen wastes no time painting a clear picture of who, exactly, Magog is for us readers. The entire issue is spent inside of the former David Reid's head, as Giffen explains swiftly his take on Magog's current motivations, his relationship with the JSA, his cast of supporting characters, his new hometown, and, most importantly, his system of values. This issue is a masterpiece in entertaining exposition and characterization, something which is invaluable to making a new character catch on.

And I have to admit, I really like the world Giffen is painting. If the veteran scribe set out to write the story of who Magog was 10 years before "Kingdom Come," I believe this would be spot-on. And I really like the sort of tagline this character has adopted for himself:

"Where are all the Heroes? Give Them an Alien World in Need and they're there in a flash. Give them a country in need and they turn a blind eye, start bleating about national sovereignty and exerting undue influence ... basically the same tired litany of excuses for not doing what they know is right. Sorry ... not my style."

OK, that was much more than a tagline, but you get what I mean. This is a man on a definite mission, a human mission, and he does seems to have a chip on his shoulder regarding the meta-human population. I was sold even before a brilliant piece of characterization when Giffen showed us how Magog deals with a friend's abusive boyfriend (you can read it for yourself, I don't want to spoil ALL the story beats).

That said, my biggest question right now is how much discussion Giffen had with JSA writers Matt Sturges and Bill Willingham because, as far as I can tell, this isn't the same character I have been reading for the past year or so. In these pages, Magog is openly hostile toward the JSA, whereas in the team book, he loves the squad but wants to improve it. And while this Magog stinks of "Kingdom Come," I thought the Magog in "Justice Society" was supposedly on a different path, especially following the events of "Thy Kingdom Come." I sincerely wonder if these two takes on the character are going to mesh, because it sure seems Magog will be playing a central role in the JSA for a while to come.

No comments: