Monday, March 20, 2006

Comics Recap

Aquaman #40 (OYL)
Sword of Atlantis
Reeeeeebooooot... Under optimal circumstances the prospect of Kurt Busiek and Butch Guice on Aquaman would be exciting, but I feel they missed the boat here. There is simply no reason to spin Aquaman as a sword/sorcery underwater Dungeons and Dragons. When I think of the seemingly endless fascination an undersea setting has to offer I just don't get why it needs to be "re-imagined" into a genre that's just fine on land. I see what they are trying to do, set up this epic quest for the identity of the (for now) new Aquaman, but I don't see a point. It's probably a great story as it pans out, but go ahead and substitute any new character for Arthur Curry and friends and it all becomes rather pointless.

The misstep is taken right from the start, as a shark king is represented as an anthropomorphic Hercules-type and a mysterious wizard has octopus tendrils for hair and beard. You lose me right there. The wonder, the awe that is the unknown sea is the life that after thousands of years is still alien to us. Why can't a shark king be a shark and why cant an old wizard be an octopus? Hell, why can't it be something new entirely? I don't like to take such critical stabs at creators who's work I admire, but there is a definite lack of imagination at work here.

I come at this from a number of sides. First, the comics side, as I like comics in general. Second from an Aquaman side, I have loved this character for so long and he never seems to get his proper due. I personally would relish the opportunity to write an Aquaman book, is has been a goal of mine for some time. That ties with my final side, my life long passion for all things oceanic. The study and enjoyment of aquatic environs from both scholastic and leisurely perspectives leave no doubt in my mind that Aquaman has the potential to be one of the coolest books on the shelf-- if only it would embrace its very nature. Sadly this latest incarnation appears not to, and they have precious little time to convince me otherwise.

Superman #650 (OYL)
So something happens with this whole Crisis thing. We don't know what it is yet, but it's One Year Later and Superman has not been active for the entirety of that year. It is unclear whether or not Superman has lost his powers, but two facts are presented: In times of peril he signals for Supergirl to take the action, and Clark Kent is punched and bleeds as a result. Very nice art by Pete Woods, and great colors by Brad Anderson.

Superman/Shazam: First Thunder #4
I got this book to follow Josh Middleton's art wherever it goes, but I never expected Judd Winik's story to suckerpunch me the way it did. Previous issues had some nice scenes between Supes and Capt. Marvel, as this series recounts thier first meetings. This last issue really takes it home though. The main plot revolves around the innocent death of a boy caught in the crossfire of a Capt. Marvel scuffle, and the heavy guilt associated with that. But the surprising scene is where Capt. Marvel reveals himself to Supes as the young Billy Batson. Superman in turn actually confronts Shazam to scold him on bestowing such awesome powers and responsibilities on a child. In the end there is a set up where Superman tries his best to become a positive role model-- and friend-- to a distrought but resolved Batson. The whole thing could have come out super schmaltzy, kudos to Winick for playing it on the level. The same for Middleton for illustrating those scenes with genuine emotion. Good stuff.

Bulleteer #4
Aw man, this book... what can I say. It's kinda like that "Grudge Match" episode of Justice League Unlimited. I'm probably not supposed to like it as much as I do. I think Morrison really taps into the mind of adult comics readers, and by that I mean grown ups who still read comics, like me. I've tried to describe this to people before, about the segment of readership who started reading comics as kids, went through adolescence, and became adults with comics still in tow. The fantasy of comics that was instilled as a child remains, but the adult mind firing on all cylinders is in control, therein lies a unique struggle for which side should be appeased. In this miniseries there is a skewering of conventions related to power fantasies, dominance, and sexualization, and the beauty of it is you can take it as a serious reflection of what comics created or you can just go along for the ride. That is where Morrison so often separates himself from other writers. I look at Bulleteer and I love it, but I "get it." I look at All Star Batman and Robin and I feel dirty. Over and under all the Morrison subtext is the crisp, sexy artwork of Yanick Paquette, making Bulleteer an easy favorite of the 7 Soldiers repertoire.

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