Monday, August 29, 2005

Comics Recap

Ultimates Annual #1
An over-sized book with Steve Dillon on art is something I always like to see. The story was an appropriate yarn expanding on some of the underlying fiction of the Ultimates world, but there were a couple details that threw me. With The Ultimates Millar strives to contemporize the world and the characters, which I always find to be a fuzzy line. On the one hand he may be allowing a broader audience to relate to the fantastic characters and settings steeped in Marvel history, tho I think there are some sacrifices being made for its longevity as stand alone fiction.

One references the state of the world specifically after the attacks on September 11th. I remember when the Marvel Universe decided to recognize it (not very well IMHO), I don't read that many Ultimate Universe books so I'm not sure how they handled it. But in The Ultimates book, the hard edge of the stories and characters doesn't really lead me to think such an event would have gone by without far-reaching world repercussions. It was a minor mention to an obviously major event. I can only wonder how such a thing is abstracted in a world of super heroics.

The second thing, which really bugged me, was a throw away line that mentioned the Matrix movies. This dates the book and the story, something that, in a pseudo-near-future with aliens and insanely sophisticated technology, should be avoided by an author whenever possible. It's not the dating that's bothersome, it's the ignorance of the extrapolated fiction. Back in The Ultimates series 1, that whole issue with Hawkeye and Black Widow as they raid the office building of aliens, that was The Matrix. In a world with Iron Man, the Hulk, and architecture like the Triskelion, it is doubtful that a movie like The Matrix would have even been made. The movie represents cyber-punk escapism in -our- world, any counterpart that would exist in The Ultimates would be drastically different. Using that logic one could say that there is no specific mention of what their Matrix was, so whatever. But really I think it's just a cheap ploy to grab as many readers as possible with "Oh, The Matrix, I know what that is, it's cool he mentioned it." The Ultimates is a damn cool world already, Millar could do with losing the pandering.

Day of Vengeance #5
This slowly became my favorite Crisis tie-in. The story is a tad over-scoped but still manages to get everything across. I attribute that directly to Bill Willingham's skill with words. The characters are cool and readable, the art is great, the coloring (this ish stands out) is fantastic. Kudos to Justiniano and Chris Chuckry.

Man this is some crazy shit. From what I can gather, and it took a while, OMAC is actually a nano-virus that is wide spread across the globe. In some sort of prophetic action, Maxwell Lord infected one of his lieutenants in Check Mate with a special strain of the virus that would not be under control of Brother One. Brother One is of course the satellite that Batman constructed to keep tabs on all the heroes and villains. Max wrested control of the satellite and in effect the OMAC virus, which transforms it's host into a killing machine. Max got killed last issue... the OMACs were activated this issue, as well as the "special" OMAC that undoubtedly plays a key role in probably everything Crisis-related. Oh, and there are like over a million OMACs. So much for the "One Man Army Corps" concept.

That's all just dandy. Here's what just doesn't fly: There is an OMAC kicking the crap out of Martian Manhunter and Rocket Red. Some old Justice Leaguers come along to kick ass and chew bubblegum. It's Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, and Fire. They are all from a previous incarnation of the Justice League so it is no real surprise to see them together (they even met up last issue). But there's someone else with them, Mary Marvel. WTF??? So when was the last time we saw her hanging around with Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, and Fire??? It was a little book called "Formerly Known as the Justice League" and it's sequel in JLA Classified. Which also featured a non-dead Blue Beetle and non-Checkmate Max Lord, in some weird almost-congruent continuity sometime around/before Crisis. Confused yet? Fuck yeah you are. Sure, maybe Mary Marvel just happened to show up with these guys, but when OMAC deactivates her powers, she's in the same god-damned overalls and t-shirt she wore in JLA Classified! That is like, screwy.

I also want to point out that the big fight that takes up almost the entire issue supposedly takes place in Russia. There is one panel in the opening that at least suggests Russia, but there are no backgrounds at all for the rest of the battle. One panel has the corner of a building when Booster flies away, which could have been anywhere. I have no need to knock any artist's skillz, but come on man.

Rocket Red dies in this issue as well. This is probably so some hot new team can totally revamp him down the road.

JSA Classified #2
Power Girl has had a few different looks over the years, as heroes in the funnybooks tend to have. In the 1990's Justice League she first wore yellow and white (pictured here from issue 60, that last Giffen/DeMatteis for a while):

A bit down the line circa issue 89,the Justice League, as a team and as a book... declined, one could say. Kara leaned a bit more to her supposed Atlantean heritage and started showing some cleavage:

Why the fashion show? Because Geoff Johns is making Power Girl's wardrobe choices a component to his story. Okay, okay, people stare at her huge rack all the time, I get it. Hell, I stare at her huge rack, like, all the time. I am okay with this. Power Girl has a huge rack. Drawn best, she's thick. She is one of the few characters in the DCU where that aspect of physicality is inherent to the design. I mean Catwoman can swing from a lithe acrobat to a double D stripper depending on who draws her, editorial isn't gonna care. Draw Power Girl as some whippet-thin runway model and there'll be a phone call. Anyways, so then I read this:

Um, excuse me, no fucking way. I was unable to find my issues of Justice League Europe (who knows) to scan the panels, but I definitely remember when Power Girl updated her costume. Crimson Fox even said something like "Nice window." There were other comments about it being a great distraction for her mostly male enemies. She was open to many pot shots by the likes of Guy Gardner, which, as should be, were usually met with a proverbial kick in the balls. Written best, Power Girl is a cool, ballbusting, headstrong hero who is unapologetic about being an attractive woman. But now Kara goes on to drone,

And finally,

What have you done, you bastard? Power Girl finally gets her own book and it's so she can espouse pathetic Dr. Phil rhetoric? I don't care if Kara needs to grow as a character, that's great, but why does it has to be at the expense of her self image? Isn't her lack of origin enough to worry about? What this says to me is that if she does not have an identity to wear on her chest, she must substitute that by exploiting herself sexually, and that is bad. Because of course, we can never have a female character who is proud of her femininity and sexuality, you big wuss. I know criticizing another writer to a degree has alot in common with career suicide, but this pisses me off. As I am exposed to more of Johns writing, which if you read DC you pretty much have no choice, I am noticing some common elements as to how he handles certain characters and subjects. What I am beginning to conclude is that Johns is steadily apologizing for everything in the DCU that he didn't write. I am on to you, Johns. I. Am. On. To. You.

Not all is wrought with frustration. Conner and Palmiotti excel on art, and whatever is at the core of Power Girl's distress looks to be interesting. Psycho Pirate shows up, Crisis is mentioned, so something big is in the works.

Comment Challenge! Am I wrong about Powergirl? Is my JLE reference incorrect? Is she portrayed differently in JSA? You should totally call me on it, I genuinely want to know.

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