Monday, April 25, 2005


Getting all the bellyaching out at once, so pull out the ipecac and we'll all feel better when it's over:

BIRDS OF PREY #81.... The first time around, I didn't finish this. I couldn't. After months of Dinah-the-wizened-sage giving advice to little grasshopper Helena, my brain broke at the sudden transformation into Dinah-the-JSA's-favorite-little-girl simpering at Ted Grant. Both are valid interpretations, but they haven't been stitched together well at all and the result is not whole-cloth Dinah, but 'wow, didn't we ditch the split personality chick last issue?' dissonance. If you've never read Mark Waid's JLA: Year One, this might have seemed even more out of left field... if you have, then maybe you're with me wondering where the last decade-plus of Dinah's maturity went.

The issue was a tired plot burdened by clumsy expository dialogue sweetened by Wildcat's-my-favorite-uncle references and what the hoo-hah is Gail Simone doing to Helena? At least we didn't get any more Brainiac!Babs.

HAWKMAN #39... When not even a partially naked Carter strapped down and silenced with a ball gag makes this a fun issue, P&G have work to do. You can't spend the first half of the issue waxing happily about the healing properties of Nth Metal and then expect us to get any sort of worried when you 'kill' off one of the two main characters. As if we really had to worry about any of the main characters right before the Rann/Thanagar war. Or in general. About the only surprise here would be Shiera finally taking over Kendra's body for good -- she got in halfway the last time Kendra died.

As for the continued Flashbacks From the Past fest.... they stand around like so much clutter. I went on last month at a length enough for two issues.

JLA #113... I nearly forgot to read this. And then once I read it, I remembered why. Lots of fighting on lots of planets featuring lots of iterations of the JLA. Flash visits the little shiny people, Batman pretends to be Martian Manhunter and then spends pages among the full JLA-with-reserves without a mask on after sikking the Qward on innocents (and the rest of the JLA), Hawkman sounds like he's being written by Chris Claremont, Green Arrow sounds like he's back in the Kevin Smith run, Diana acts oddly surprised at Batman's actions, and members of the JLE show up and we're supposed to know who they are and what they do. I think rereading my Crisis on Multiple Earths trades would be more entertaining and productive.

SUPERMAN #215... Not even a football team's worth of inkers could save this. I really, really liked the start of Brian Azzarello's Superman run -- it was a far cry better than his attempt at Batman and that was both surprising and refreshing because Azzarello made Clark Kent human in ways that nobody else did. This Supes was so wonderfully human -- he had doubts, moments of pissiness, a sense of humor, and a compassion that could never be mistaken for pity. Azzarello's take on the man and his world is still strong and I still like it a lot -- Lex Luthor: Man of Steel is great stuff.

But this particular story ran off the rails once the pocket universe appeared. The whole 'Vanishing' shtick across the three Superman books (or not; Greg Rucka didn't seem to notice it much over in Adventures of... and I never read Chuck Austen's Action) didn't work. It was confusing and random and every month it was "Well, maybe it'll make sense when it's all over". It's all over and it doesn't make sense. But it was at least ignorable while Azzarello was doing his character work -- until we slipped into the Land of the Lost (and of the Robot Parents). And after that, it got boring.

The summing up in this issue disappointed me. Superman thinks less of the mortal (and dying) Padre for his moment of weakness in letting himself get swept into OMAC -- damning him for what he deems a loss of faith -- and seems to think more of Zod for being willing to 'die' to spite him. Such a conclusion presents an ugly Kal-El more impressed by battle courage than human delicacy: did Superman come to Father Leone because the priest was dying or because he was struggling with his faith (we knew the latter before the former)? Is he upset that Father Leone proved human by giving in to his fears or because he didn't accept that God's plan for him was to die of the cancer? Does Father Leone's remorse count? Apparently not. Zod, however, gets full marks for bravery... If this was supposed to be Kal-El's search for his own humanity and everyone else's... it's still out there, somewhere.

TEEN TITANS #23... This was merely boring -- oh, look, watch the Titans attempt to defeat Dr. Light (now a Weeble; watch him wobble but not fall down) simply by standing around and wondering why he got so hard to defeat -- until it broke off into both the painfully bad and the painfully worse. The bad was the collective stupidity of the Titans for being so inefficient and then for not realizing that Deathstroke and Ravager weren't Batman and Batgirl (Roy's looking a lot better over in Outsiders after this) and the general cluelessness -- yes, they were hobbled by Geoff Johns breaking the laws of physics last issue, but still. Also, the new Hawk and Dove, because they are either the worst batch of stereotypes or Johns is secretly confessing to having watched The Parent Trap too many times. The worse was the Judd Winick Memorial Soapbox moment. Because right after pretty much every living Titan alumni save for Kyle Rayner and Ray Palmer still can't take down Dr. Light in a reasonable timeframe... that is the right moment to announce that you have HIV and why.

Teen Titans has degenerated into nothing but advertising and product placement -- tie-in to Identity Crisis, tie-in to the Prequels to Infinite Crisis, crossover references to Outsiders and Green Arrow and Batman: War Games... what do we have to do to get an actual story featuring the actual Teen Titans?

And this, boys and girls, is why they call me the Shrew....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent column!

ESPECIALLY the last part!

Tue Apr 26, 02:23:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Andrew Burton said...

I am so glad to see I'm not the only person to use the word "simpering" to describe someone in BOP #81.

Tue Apr 26, 11:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger The Comics Shrew said...

For all that BoP is supposed to be a Grrrl Power title, it often translates to not much more than physical strength.

Tue Apr 26, 03:21:00 PM EDT  

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