Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Sunday Open: Last Week of March

Do you know what today is? Yes, that's right, it's Wrestlemania. That has nothing to do with comics, really, but it's still awesome.

All-Star Superman #10

Things begin to wrap up here as Superman prepares for his death and Morrison revisits old ideas. Now, writers often revisit the same ideas over and over again, but they do it in different ways, which I don't see from Morrison here. The metafictional aspects of the issue are not much different from anything he's done before, which is rather boring. An enjoyable issue that didn't really wow me, which is pretty standard for this book (aside from that second Bizarro issue that everyone else--except Jog--seemed to hate). One of the problems is that this is the book that Morrison has been gearing up for his entire career... resulting in a lot of the same ideas and concepts being used here in much the same ways. You could call his book "Grant Morrison's Greatest Hits" and not be too far off the mark. Which is fine, I guess.

Gravel #2

This may be my favourite comic of the week. It's nothing that special or that different from what we've gotten with the character before--but I do enjoy seeing the different types of magic Ellis and Wolfer give us. As well, the weird politics of the major seven and minor seven is very interesting, as Gravel is looked down upon/feared for things the other members are more than willing to do. There are suggestions that because he's working class that he doesn't belong--that he's just a thug--but he also continually out-thinks his fellow magicians because of his thug-like qualities. The fight being fought isn't one of skill or power, it's of the ability to kill other people and William Gravel does that for a living, making him much better at it. I really enjoyed how he turned the horses against the woman here. Not a brilliant book, but very solid with no major flaws.

Star Trek: New Frontier #1

I have never understood why Paramount hasn't given Peter David a lot of money and had him head up a TV series with these characters. I've been reading this series for years (although missed a few books during the past few since I read library copies--I really should go back and buy the ones I don't have) and it's always impressed me and seemed like the next logical step for the franchise to take. Enterprise was a stupid idea, because who wants a series about the future's past? You can do that for an episode every once in a while, but as a series? Who gives a fuck? New Frontier is a mix of new characters and minor characters like Robin Lefler, Elizabeth Shelby or that female Vulcan doctor that would occasionally show up on Next Generation. The basic concept was that the Thallon empire has collapsed and the Federation is sending a ship in to make sure things don't get too out of hand. The captain is Mackenzie Calhoun, probably the best captain of any series--the guy is fucking crazy at times. For example, in the first story, the ship comes across a broken ship and takes on the passengers with the intention of dropping them at a Starbase or something later. They come across a planet that offers to take on these refugees and Calhoun has a bad feeling, tells them not to go. They refuse and go to the planet, at which point the government tells Calhoun that if he doesn't turn over some lovely Starfleet weaponry, they will kill the refugees. He tells them to go fuck themselves because he told the refugees not to go down, they didn't listen, so fuck them, too. In fact, fuck everyone, fire quantum torpedos at the planet--the government official says go ahead, because the rulers are deep underground and Calhoun will only be killing civillians. A few hundred feet before impact, he blows up the torpedos, seemingly giving in to the government... but then broadcasts the entire exchange, causing the civillian population to rise up and overthrow the government. He always seemed like the sort of captain Warren Ellis would write.

A dozen books later, we arrive here at the second comic series (well, Wildstorm did a graphic novel) featuring the characters. The issue begins with Admiral Jellico stealing a new experimental time-ship and the Excalibur being tasked with having to find it. Not much happens beyond that, but it's a good set-up issue and catches everyone up to speed on where the characters are. It's weird to see some of these characters drawn, though, since I'm so used to just reading about them. Damn, I really need to complete my collection of New Frontier books and go on a reading-spree. Even if you're not familiar with the series, maybe check it out as it's the best Star Trek stuff I've ever encountered... seriously, New Frontier is better than anything Trek-related I've seen.

Oh, and the art is by a guy named Stephen Thompson, who does good work. His style is kind of sketchy at times, but in a really good way. I'm particularly impressed with how he handles characters that were played by actors as they resemble those actors enough, but aren't photorealistic. Robin Lefler, for example, was played by Ashley Judd and there's only one panel that really looks like Ashley Judd, the rest just look like someone similar to Judd--which I prefer. I look forward to seeing how he does on future issues.

Transhuman #1

Jonathan Hickman's third series features him on art only. Like the other books, it's more about ideas than characters. There is a lovely two pages mocking the X-Men a little here. The form is mockumentary. The art is alright. I will continue to read.

Ultimate Human #3

An engaging issue that tells the story of Ultimate Pete Wisdom, secret agent man. I am a staunch opposer of all things military, but I felt for Ultimate Wisdom here. Wonder how the series will end next month.

Global Frequency: Planet Ablaze

Read this when it came out via my dad. Six self-contained stories in this issue tied together by the Global Frequency, 1001 people dedicated to making the world a better place by stopping bad thingsfrom happening. All good done-in-one stories that explore pet themes of Ellis with great art by the likes of Garry Leach, Steve Dillon, Jon J Muth and David Lloyd. I need to get the second trade.

JLA: Kid Amazo

Holy shit, Peter Milligan has produced an amazing Justice League story here on the nature of man and machine while deconstructing the League. Now, it wouldn't be out of line to say that some of the characters seem out of character, but that's not the point. Milligan is operating with a set group of characters that he uses to explore themes and ideas, while critiquing the concept of the group. Kid Amazo thought he was a normal college student until he learned that, no, he's a weird combination of human and... Amazo. The JLA observes him in the hopes that he will not become villainous, but the interference of the group is what turns him "evil." As the group has no real leadership and no hierarchy, each member acts alone on their instincts, which is how things get bad for the group. I mean, the only way to defeat Kid Amazo (who has the added power of being able to put himself into the mindset of each League member, down to every part of each's pscyhe) is to fight amongst themselves and, basically, beat up a schizophrenic man. The JLA are bad, bad people. This book is an answer to Morrison's run on JLA that explores why the team can't work and why superpeople have adverse effects on the world. Very, very good. Except for the art, which is done by Carlos D'anda... I am not a fan.

Sorry for being so brief in places.