Friday, December 08, 2006

Random Reading: Justice Society of America #1, Midnighter #2, New Avengers #25, Deathblow #2, Welcome to Tranquility #1, Punisher X-Mas Special 2006

Very much a random reading because I went to local shop here in Windsor wanting two specific comics, Immortal Iron Fist #1 and newuniversal #1, but they didn't have a copy of either. So, I pretty much stood in front of that rack for five minutes and picked various titles, some I'd read before, others just because. So, let's get this under way.

Justice Society of America #1

Didn't World War III happen at the end of Morrison's JLA run? You know, Mageddon gets closer to Earth, every country in the world starts attacking every other country until the heroe step in and shut the ancient war machine down. Oh, I am such a geek it's not funny.

Anyway, never read a single issue of JSA and never really got the attraction to a superteam based around old people who should, by all rights, be pretty easy to kill. But, it got a lot of praise by a lot of people, so what do I know?

I do know this issue is all kinds of mediocre. It's not bad, it's just not great. I'm sure there are all sorts of people who read it and creamed their jeans, but I just didn't give a fuck.

The basic plot is: sometime during the missing year in the DCU that 52 is telling, World War III happened and the JSA saved the day, except the team was broken up or something, so now they need to get it together again, except bigger, better and with more young people because the old guys are really fucking old and can die any second.

So, much of the issue is recruitment of young people, like the angry Damage or the hyper-fan who talks too much or the guy from the future who lives in a mental institution. This is played off against a story about some guy named Mr. America whose entire family is slaughtered because of his connection to the JSA and he uses his dying energy to try and warn them.

See, it's not bad, it just did nothing for me. That seems to my general feeling about most of Geoff Johns' writing. I can see where he's coming from and why some people would like it and appreciate that it accomplishes what it sets out to do, but it's not my thing. It's kind of like critiquing the writing in a creative writing class: you don't comment based on taste, but on what they're trying to do and how to make that better. Johns is doing everything he sets out to do here.

The basic idea that the JSA exists to train and give a sense of connection for younger heroes is good. I was thinking while walking home that the basic idea that's used for the Legion of Super-Heroes where ANYONE can be a member would work really well here. A real Justice Society of America. But, maybe that's where the title is moving.

The only thing I don't like is the last page and the four-panel "preview" of what's "Coming this year in Justice Society of America" because it gives the sense that this issue isn't enough to keep me as a reader interested enough to pick up #2.

If this sort of title seems like your thing, you'll almost certainly enjoy this debut issue. Me, I just don't care.

Midnighter #2

Midnighter is sent back to World War I to kill Adolf Hitler because killing him there will stop him from rising to power, but also not attract any unwanted attention. It's kinda smart.

There's actually not much to this issue. Midnighter is sent back, kills various German and French troops, tries to kill Hitler and is stopped by time-travel police or something. We're also told why Paulus has kidnapped Midnighter to do this.

The art is good, the pacing is fine, the dialogue is solid. Ennis is obviously playing to his strengths by sticking Midnighter in World War I. It's an entertaining issue, but light on plot--which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

New Avengers #25

This is the third straight issue of New Avengers I've picked up. I got the Spider-Woman #23, the Sentry #24 and now Iron Man #25. I mostly picked this up to see if Iron Man is a total fucking dick here, too. Every other tie-in to Civil War I've read has had him as a prick, so in his Bendis spotlight, does he come off alright?

Um, not really.

It begins with a disgruntled employee of his, one of his designers/engineers/armour builders breaks into Avengers Tower and shuts Tony down, pissed off that Stark would use his work like this. Tony argues that he paid for it, so fuck off. The employee, Kenny, tells him to fuck off with that bullshit because he wasn't just an employee but also a friend and he was never told his work would be used this way.

At the same time, SHIELD tries to save Stark.

The thing is, Kenny has an anti-matter generator and he's going to take the entire building out to stop Stark. Except Commander Hill, the director of SHIELD, stops him.

Yay. Day saved.

The end has her suggesting that Tony become the new director of SHIELD because it would piss people off or something.

Stark actually isn't portrayed as an asshole, he just comes off as one through the eyes of Kenny. And I guess it depends on your politics, too. If you're like me and don't think money is a good enough excuse, Stark is an asshole. If you're of the mindset that Kenny got paid, so who cares what he thinks, you'll side with Stark.

Still, a more balanced portrayal than . . . everything else I've seen.

Deathblow #1

If I understand what's going on, Azzarello is doing something very cool with this book. Michael Cray has been presumed dead for six years. That means he's missed the huge shift in global military practices, especially American military practices. And now, he's being caught up through psychological conditioning in the only place that can catch someone up: New York City.

They alter his mind a little, stick him with a family he doesn't remember, tell him his wife he doesn't remember has been killed and wait for him to respond.

At least, that's what I think is happening. I'm definitely going to keep buying this title. Fuck the trades, this issue makes me want to see how Azzarello handles things as quickly as possible.

Like with the first issue, I find the art to be horribly ugly and barely able to tell the story.

Welcome to Tranquility #1

Um, why is it that only, like, two of the characters on the cover actually appear in the comic? And the two that do aren't the young heroes that are featured in the background anymore. One of those design things that annoys me.

First off, the art is passable. It's nothing special and didn't do much for me.

Second off, same goes for the writing.

Some interesting ideas like the elderly Captain Marvel-esque hero who can't remember his special word, so reads from dictionaries of all languages constantly in an effort to stumble across it.

Or . . . well, I guess the central idea of elderly superheroes.

But, otherwise, there's nothing here that interests me. There's the requisite "old hero wants to relive glory days and causes damage" and "new asshole superperson versus old heroes" scenes.

This issue seemed to suffer from the problem with most first issues these days: it didn't feel complete. It felt like that if I'm going to have to pick up five more in order to actually be told the full premise of the book and, fuck it, I don't want to.

I assume those characters on the cover are going to show up, but they didn't appear here and nothing here makes me want to stick around and find out who they are.

Punisher X-Mas Special 2006

I love CP Smith's art. Have since his work on Stormwatch: Team Achilles and he's grown a lot since then. So, the book looks fantastic.

I haven't had much exposure to Stuart Moore except through the titles he edited back in the day.

The story is basic: it's Christmas, which means all of the big mob bosses are surrounded by family and, thus, the Punisher can't kill them because the Punisher doesn't kill innocent people. So, he's left dealing with the lower-end scumbags that he normally doesn't have time for.

In this case, it's Jimmy Nouveau, some asshole who's started his own little new age cult type thing except operates out of a strip club and was tied to the death of a cop and a small boy.

It's a decent enough story. A little cutesy at points with Punisher making a "naughty" and "nice" list. But, the ending is pretty messed up and speaks to his character well.

It won't fill you with holiday cheer, but it's the Punisher, so what do you expect?

Sometime in the next few days, I'll be doing an update where I guide you through the year-end issue of Wizard. It's been five or six years since I've read it, so let's see if it's still the shitty rag it was then.