Thursday, August 16, 2007

A short round-up

Every week (roughly) Aaron talks about the comics he reads that he thought were noteworthy. This isn't everything he picks up, just the things that he feels merit discussion - either for being really good, or for having something really wrong with them.

Ultimate Spider-Man 112
Bagley has left us, but Ultimate Spider-Man soldiers on. Fortunately, for me at least, the priority is on the writing, not the art – and Bendis is still at the helm of this ship, something which shows in the plot, pacing and characterization of this issue.

A brief battle with the shocker makes both Peter and Kitty (sporting a new costume) late for class - a class where they get assigned the dreaded Baby Project.

(You know the one, where you have to take care of a faux baby. In my day, it was an egg. Nowadays, it’s usually a doll, sometimes with sensors.)

Even worse, Kitty and Peter get assigned together, much to MJ’s annoyance. Being MJ, of course she tells them to just do the project. Of course, tension will further develop around this project; there’s really no way it could be avoided. And Bendis will make it interesting, engaging, and embarrassing for Peter.

But that’s not what makes this issue noteworthy. What is noteworthy is that Norman Osborn is back. Initially prepared to make a deal with Nick Fury, only to be told that Fury isn’t around, Osborn later breaks free. We don’t get to see anything in this issue, but the cover of this issue as well as next month’s promises a massive battle between the Spider and the Goblin once more.

Booster Gold 1 I’ve never been the biggest Booster Gold fan. I’ve never disliked him, per se, but he’s just never impressed me. Maybe it’s because it’s hard for me to sympathize with his life, or why he wanted to be a superhero. I became marginally more interested in him during 52, especially after he “died” – and then the revelation about who Supernova was. This left me interested enough that I decided to pick up Booster Gold 1, and I’m glad I did.

Booster wants to join the JLA again, and when he calls them in the midst of a battle against the Royal Flush Gang, the reaction among the league is mixed. Many of them dislike Booster and his glory-hunting. But Batman and Superman are both able to point out actions where Booster did the right thing, despite the personal cost. So, the League gives him a week to prove himself without being a glory-hound. And Booster manages it.

Just in time to be told that Rip Hunter wants him to save the timeline. And in order to do that, Booster must keep anyone from ever taking him seriously. No one must ever know of the good that he’s done. And so, right at the moment when the League offers him membership, Booster has to act like a boob.

It impressed me, honestly. I can’t imagine making myself look like a fool to the people I most respect – even if it is for the greater good. Of course, Booster tells Rip that there’s a catch – if he’s going to do this, he wants Ted Kord (the Blue Beetle) brought back. Booster knows it’s possible, and that’s his condition. Based on the preview, it looks like he just may get his wish.

Throwing a wrench into all this is the future of Supernova, Booster’s ancestor, and how he may now be dealing with a version of Sinestro.

-sigh- Fine. They’ve got me. When does Issue 2 come out?

Justice League of America 12
This is possibly one of the best issues of JLA I have ever read. Ever. And I had to double-check that Brian Michael Bendis didn’t write it, because it follows what he does best. We want to see our heroes engaged in epic battles, no question. But if we don’t care about them, it means nothing. So what better way to explore who they really are than by examining how each member of the League (other than the Big Three) handle Monitor duty.

And it was great. We really got a good look inside of the heads of Black Lightning, Black Canary, Red Tornado, Red Arrow, Hawkgirl and Geo-Force. We got to see previews of upcoming issues the league will have to face - Geo-Force and his involvement with Deathstroke and how the Big Three are trying to use him as a double-agent; the inner struggles being faced by Vixen with the loss of her powers (almost) and Red Tornado and the loss of his humanity (almost); and the budding relationship between Roy Harper and Kendra Saunders. Superhero romances are rarely smooth, and these two have serious emotional commitments that will make things even worse than normal. The only real question is who will kill them first; Cheshire or Hawkman?

The not-terribly-unusual framing device for the issue was a nice touch, as we watch J’onn J’onzz and Arthur watching the league. These two have always been outsiders, and the League means more to them to probably any other hero. But what I found most impressive in this issue was letting Black Canary show why she deserves to be the League Chairperson. Dinah has been getting more and more respect in the DCU over the last several years, in the pages of JLA, JSA, Birds of Prey, her own title and Green Arrow, and I can only say “About time.”

It’ll be sad to see Meltzer leave this book, but the issue was about as solid an ending as I’ve ever seen.

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