Thursday, January 28, 2010

New format: Weekly Comic Report

As you have probably noticed if you are an avid reader of this blog, the format for posts has changed since the New Year. As such, the old weekly "Buy Pile Report" is no more. Instead, I'll focus my attention on one or two topics which are of special interest each week in the "Weekly Comic Report." (I know, creative name).

There will always be spoilers, so be warned.

First and foremost, what a week this was to be a comic fan, eh? DC delivers several of the more important "Blackest Night" tie-ins plus a couple of big Superman-family books and Marvel gives us more "Necrosha" and the finale to "Captain America: Reborn."

Which leads us to our first topic: Was "Cap Rebirth" -- er... sorry -- "Cap Reborn" the most anticlimactic story in the history of comics? Probably not. After all, us comic geeks have a penchant for hyperbole.

But, oh, let me count the anticlimactic ways: 1) This story did not need to be an over-priced mini-series, it could have simply been the next story in "Captain America" proper, kicking off with issue #600 to make it special. 2) Wasn't "Lost in time" one of the first widely-spread Internet explanations for how Steve Rogers would come back to life? 3) The outcome was spoiled by COUNTLESS other Marvel books before even issue #5 of 6 was released, including the epilogue chapter "Who Will Wield the Shield?" 4) After 50 issues or so of brilliant plotting -- both by the Red Skull and writer Ed Brubaker -- Skull's master plan to inhabit Steve Rogers' body was undone because Skull didn't count on Rogers having the will to fight back?

And that last point is where I find the most disappointment, because we spent four issues hemming and hawing, one issue watching Skull take control of Rogers and then in the space of mere pages, all those issues of plotting and scheming are undone before the reader even gets a chance to be afraid of Skull. Thanks to all the plot spoilers in other books, we didn't even get a moment to wonder if Brubaker was planning on keeping Skull in control of Rogers for a couple of story arcs.

And that brings me back to my first point of anti-climax -- if this story were carefully plotted and slow-roasted like the rest of Brubaker's run, we might have gotten to read the incredible tale of Skull doing some real damage as Steve Rogers for a while. How fantastic a few story arcs like that would have been! And wouldn't Bucky's eventual victory feel all the more rewarding?

Instead, to get in line with all the rest of the happenings with "Siege" and such, "Cap: Reborn" felt like it could not rush us to the finish line fast enough. And really, that's my problem with most of what Marvel has done over the past five years or so, and why I have been reading so much less from the "House of Ideas."

Secondly -- and I won't take as long on this rant, I promise. There have been PLENTY of "Blackest Night" tie-ins (I know, I've been buying most of them). And, I'm sure many of you have gotten so sick of reading the same old stories of "Character A has to watch Character B come back to life and deal with those emotions!" to the point where you've turned off to any of the tie-ins at all.

Well, you should know this: 1) "Green Lantern" and "Green Lantern Corps." are almost always required reading. 2) This week's "Atom and Hawkman" tie-in is very worth your cash, so go buy it.

The Atom's story, which focuses on Ray Palmer much more than his feathered friend, serves as a vehicle to flesh out the powers of Indigo light and allow the reader to understand how it works. Granted, it doesn't give us that highly-desired Rosetta Stone for the Indigo Tribe's language, but the most mysterious of all the lantern powers is now pretty well defined.

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