Thursday, June 15, 2006

Weekly Comic Round-Up

It was a good week for comic books. I think I legitimately enjoyed every book on the pull list this time around, which isn't always the case. Of course, there were some big goings-on in the books this week.

You might also note that I have two issues of Superman Returns: The Prequel in the round-up this week. That would be because I didn't notice them at my local comic store last week. I didn't have much time to browse when I went in last week, so I didn't notice anything that isn't a part of my normal pull.

52 Week Six
They're going for a much more focused approach with 52 lately, and I think that's a Good Thing. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of really pressing storylines going on in the book, and I want to know about all of them. But I think I'd prefer getting six pages of three different storylines than three pages of six different storylines.

But that could just be me.

Anyhow, this week in the "missing year" focuses on Booster Gold and his continuing quest for fame and fortune, as well as showing the beginning of the Freedom of Powers Act that Hal was dealing with over in Green Lantern. Interesting to see Black Adam involving himself here. I commented before on the issue of diversity in superheroes, and this weeks' 52 ties into that; why should superheroes be focused in the United States?

Answer: They shouldn't.

Extra special bonus points for the fact that it really looks like the Tangent universe Green Lantern is a part of this international superteam.

We also get more about the disappearance of the "mad scientists", which is an intriguing little storyline. And we get to see Booster visit Rip Hunter and discover that time is broken.

-blinks- Time is what?


Civil War 2
So, I said before that Infinite Crisis worked for me, but struck me as largely being un-needed. Civil War is firing on all cylinders. We're going to watch as every single one of Marvel's superhero teams are torn apart at their seams. (Other than maybe, maybe the X-Men). The New Avengers, obviously, are the most torn apart by the Registration Act, what with Iron Man and Captain America championing the respective sides, but we can already see how the Richards/Storm family is being assaulted as well.

The Young Avengers were in the midst of being captured and taken until they were rescued by Captain America and the underground. There are some surprising faces in this group. We could predict that Daredevil and Luke Cage would side with Cap on this one, but is that Cable I see there? Really? And this is all being aided by Nick Fury?

Lots of good action going on here, with really nice artwork. I liked the suspense of the Young Avengers capture until you realized who was on the S.H.I.E.L.D. transport with them.

Oh, and finally there was a minor announcement made by a supporting cast member of the Marvel Universe.

(Yes, I'm being deliberately coy. I've got a lot of thoughts percolating in my head regarding the future of young Mr. Parker, and I don't feel like cramming them into this particular post.)

Green Arrow 63
Not quite as exciting as last issue, but then, really, how could it compare? Deathstroke turns himself in, somewhat to Ollie's disapointment. It's actually kind of disturbing to see that Ollie hoped that Slade would try to flee and be seriously injured, if not maimed. This of course pales in the disturbance of Ollie's assistant inquiring about the source of Ollie's wealth.

I find it scary to think that Ollie would've been involved in a business deal that shady.

It was also good to see Brick again. Brick, protector of the downtrodden. Bizarre, but acceptable.

And it looks like Luthor's metahuman-creating drugs are still around in the One Year later setting. Luthor may become disgraced again during 52 but it looks like his evil will linger. As it should.

Green Lantern Corps 1
I'm beginning to realize something about my love for the Green Lanterns. And that is: I don't like the Green Lantern Corps. I don't think I ever have.

I like Green Lantern as an idea. I've liked each of the Green Lanterns of Earth, in their own different ways. Hal, Alan, Kyle, Guy, John, even Jenny, they each made interesting and compelling characters. But the whole make-up of the Corps? I just don't find it that interesting.

Maybe it's the overlap of powers. Maybe it's the fact that, as a human being, I identify most with the humans, and want the humans to take center stage, but they really shouldn't. I'm not sure why, but I'm just not that into the Corps.

John Stewart seems to be going off the edge. Guy is angry. Salek is having problems making her ring work against yellow again, and Killowog is the voice of reason and understanding. But none of it is really resonating with me.

I want to keep liking Green Lantern. But I'm having trouble getting into Kyle over in Ion, I'm having problems with Hal in Green Lantern and so far, Green Lantern Corps isn't doing it for me either. Sadness.

Spider-Girl 99
It's time for an exciting new feature here on Underneath the Mask. We've had Predictions I make here which will be proven totally wrong in the future! for a little while now. But now, for the first time, we have the I was right! feature!

So, why am I not excited about it? Oh, because it means that May Parker got herself impaled. Bummer.

The other reason would be that I actually wanted to see the battle between May and the Hobgoblin. Kaine and the Scriers were a side-note I didn't really feel like exploring.

Still, this was a very solid issue. Good development of May's supporting cast, especially with the going-away party for Moose, and the continuation of Courtney's suspicion of May. Normie and Brenda will finally get married, assuming Norman survives next issue. And it's good to see that Peter is going to go back into action. I had sworn off Peter Parker Spider-Man anywhere other than the Ultimates for quite awhile, but his role in New Avengers and then seeing what JMS has done with him has made me start to really appreciate Mr. Parker. If Spider-Girl 100 is really going to be the last issue of the book, at least for awhile, then I'm glad we'll see Peter Parker in the webs one more time (and in a continuity where the world doesn't know his identity).

Superman 653
Big. Badda. Boom.

Metropolis is going to be shattered apart by Luthor and his Kryptonian ship.

I suspect that they're going to break back away from the Superman Returns storyline here, because I suspect that Luthor isn't making a battleship in the movie, but I'd be happy to be wrong.

Not a lot to say about this issue, honestly. It's good, believe me. But it's a lot of action, both physical and psychological between Luthor and Superman. And it is wonderful to watch Superman push Luthor's buttons. Absolutely wonderful.

Special notice should go to Jimmy, both for heroism and stupidity, when he tries to protect Superman from the Kryptonite beam. I applaud the heroism, but Jimmy should know by now that there is incredible heat associated with that kind of blast. He should also know that Kryptonite radiation is dangerous to anyone, not just Kryptonians. It just works faster on Kryptonians. But it is the reason that Luthor died the first time around. And Jimmy should know that.

Superman Returns Prequel 1
We've seen this story before. Several times. We've read it in any number of retellings of the Superman mythos. We've seen in it animation, on Lois & Clark and in Superman with Christopher Reeves.

Who cares? It's worth seeing it again.

Singer retells the story in a fashion that is remarkably close to the version we saw in Donner's movie, and the art is clearly based on Brando. But it's beautifully done.

It also includes key statements and elements that are an essential part of who Kal-El/Clark will become, especially his statement about the responsibility of his power, and the neccessity of restraint with his powers.

Nothing new here. But still a beautiful comic, and worth including in any collection.

Superman Returns Prequel 2
The second part of the prequel is much more moving than the first. We know the story of Jor-El and how he sends away the child, but the story of Martha and Jonathan Kent is often overlooked.

John Byrne made them a big deal with the post-Crisis Superman relaunch, and this was picked up by the creators of Lois and Clark. Obviously, Smallville has continued to include Martha and Jonathan as major story elements. But despite this, when one thinks of the Superman supporting cast, one usually thinks of Lois, Perry and Jimmy. (Or Lois, Lana and Chloe if you're a Smallville fan.)

It's nice to see the story of Superman through Martha's eyes. It's even nicer to see how this woman deals with the disappearance of Superman. Superman Returns is going to focus on how the world deals with the departure of the Man of Steel. It will also, undoubtedly, focus on how Lois deals with the departure of the man she loved. But this comic gets to deal with the loss of Martha Kent's only son.

Thunderbolts 103
Having the Thunderbolts track down the rogue supervillains while the Avengers get the resisting superheroes may make a lot of sense. After all the Thunderbolts are "reformed" supervillains, and sending them after the resistant superheroes would really send a weird message.

Doesn't change the fact that I really was looking forward to seeing it.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows, and this issue is clearly indicative of that. The tension between Zemo and Iron Man was absolutely tangible, even through the pages of a comic.

Now, the fun factor of watching the Thunderbolts take apart the old Beetle armors was quite high. That said, I'm tired of seeing Abe be the punching bag of the team. Abe is possibly my favorite member of the T-Bolts, and he doesn't deserve this abuse. The man created the first Beelte armor while he was a mechanic. No advanced degrees, no theft of Stark technology, just his own inborn ability and know-how. He deserves more credit then he gets.

And who was surprised to see that Zemo is actually up to something more devious? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

Ultimate X-Men 71
Two different storylines at work here, so we'll tackle them separately. The first is the straightforward battle between the X-Men and the Brotherhood at the High School dance. Nothing really of note here, other than the fact that the Magician is really showing himself to be a dangerous glory-hound. Powerful. Attention-starved. Dangerous as hell.

I'm glad, though unsurprised, that the X-Men won. It'll be nice to have them be in the favorable side of public opinion again - this will be a Good Thing for the ongoing romance between Peter Parker and Kitty. And it was nice to see them follow-up with Kurt's discomfort with Piotyr's homosexuality. This is something that shouldn't be ignored, I think.

But Phoenix... hmmm. I wasn't a big fan of the "Phoenix is just an alternate personality of Jean" element in X-Men III: The Last Stand. When they pulled that out here, I was less than thrilled. But I think I can get behind the idea that the Church of the Shi'ar are willing to lie to her about really being Phoenix, and letting her think that she's crazy, while in truth she really does have the Phoenix-force within her.

Now, we just need to figure out what those frickin' goblins around her are...

One more week down. We'll talk some more about the Civil War aftermath and Peter Parker revealing to the world that he's Spider-Man later, I promise.


Anonymous nico said...

I'm with you on the Corps. I think the GL Corps is a group that has always had potential and never been handled well, except when used as a backdrop. Partially this is because I don't think the Guardians have ever been handled well, period.

My bible for the GL Corps would be that the Guardians should still be aloof and mysterious, they should explain that they don't tell their Lanterns everything for a reason, and they should very rarely be seen to act. This has been done in the past.

Where I think the Guardians have been mishandled is that they should rarely be wrong. The whole losing touch with reality in their ivory tower thing never worked for me, they should be more in touch with reality than we can imagine and we should get the sense of that. Too often the Guardians come across as brutally flawed and ineffective, so ineffective that it's a wonder the Corps has listened to them for this long. They need to be worth respecting.

They also should be terrifyingly powerful. The idea should be that the Corps acts for them because if they act directly terrible things happen. At times this has supposed to have been the idea but far more often the Guardians don't seem that powerful and while we hear of the costs of their direct involvement we don't see much of it.

If I were to do a book about the Lantern Corps I'd mostly have them working alone and do different stories with each. End a Killowog story and slide into a John Stewart story. Have some small team ups but the only time to have a group of Lanterns together would be a real momentous situation. That wouldn't preclude interactions and relationships being built between them, but Lanterns should mostly work alone.

As to Ultimate X-Men. Goblins? Is there another red headed female lurking around in the current story?

10:46 AM  
Blogger Chana said...

wanted to stop by for a well deserve wish to a great and happy Father's day. have a fun one.

1:18 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

In reply to Nico's post:

No, Madelyne Pryor has not shown her face in the Ultimate Universe yet and hopefully never will (especially since Ultimate Sinister is completely redesigned and clone stories always give me headaches).

11:14 AM  

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