Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Editor: Your last two articles were about comic books.
The Travel Slob: Well, I drove to the comic book store to get them.
Editor: That's not travel.
The Travel Slob: Sure it is. Just not very far.
Editor: I can't believe I'm paying for this.
The Travel Slob: Quality service! That's what I offer.
Editor: Well, I'm not paying for this. Make a real Travelogue or you're fired.
The Travel Slob: So will I get a travel expense account?
Editor: Use that money I can't believe I'm paying you.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
So rather than talk travel I'm going to review comic books again, because you demanded it! And by "you" I mean "no one". This week, I'm going over the various Super-person titles I've read. Yeah I know, Batman is much cooler, the X-Men are much X-ier, and the Avengers are getting an awesome movie this summer because SHUT UP IT CAN'T FAIL! Anyways, here are my assessments.
Superman -- There's a lot of Superman hate. This guy was one of the originals, and for a while he had so many superpowers (including weird things like super-basket-weaving) that it was a little insane. Or a lot insane. For some time in the eighties, the man (or Superman) could move planets if he needed. Seriously. Planets. There have been repeated attempts to tone that down, fortunately. Since DC hit the "Overcharge" -- er, I mean the "Reset" button on its titles, a few things have changed. Now Clark Kent's love for Lois is unrequited. In issue one she's with some other guy. Superman also has a new outfit, fulfilling the ancient comic tradition: If people get bored with your character, give him, or her, a new outfit. The kick off story, however, was a bit long, lacking, and somewhat confusing. Moreover, the resolution in issue six was based on information released in issue seven of Action comics. DC has been doing things like this more and more, revealing plot points that haven't happened yet. It's not even foreshadowing which is a valid literary device; it's just lazy use of inside baseball facts. Right now, Superman gets a 2 out of 5 whatevers from me.
Action Comics -- Conversely, Action Comics starring Superman takes off for me and doesn't stop. I attribute a lot of this to Grant Morrison, who remains one of my favorite comic book writers in this age. Even if he has a few misses, when he hits it's right on the money. Morrison even states that "Action" is the key word in this title and that's how the writing and art team is playing it. Well done, I say! In issue one; we're quickly introduced to all the important players in the Superman story -- Superman/Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Lex Luthor. We even get a few secondary characters thrown. The portrayal of Luthor is one of the best I've seen since Hackman. Seriously, if future writers want to follow a model of how to write Superman comics, this current run of Action is a prime choice. 5 out of 5 whatevers. Booyah!
Superboy -- After the first Crisis in which DC comics pressed the History Eraser Button (and subsequently gave themselves permission to keep hitting that button), the original Superboy -- teenage Superman was scraped. Well done. Thank heavens. However, in the ill-conceived Death of Superman series and aftermath, Superboy was re-introduced. However this time Superboy was a clone. Well now that DC has hit the History Eraser Button again, they've kept that origin more or less, but have hinted at a little more complex origin than before. Also, Superman isn't dead. Or hasn't died. Or ... who knows. Someone get DC away from that stupid button. Superboy lacks compared to Morrison's Action Comics, but it still rises about the Superman title. His modified origin gives him a bit of complexity, and the progression of his origin story has made for an interesting thread. I'm willing to see more. 4 out of 5 whatevers.
Supergirl -- This was another victim of the History Eraser Button's abuse, and though she was established in the last universe's iteration, like Superboy she is returning to comic books as if she's just arrived. Unlike Superman, she did not arrive nor has not been raised on this world as if it were her own. Thus she's a fish out of water. She's unused to this world and what it makes her. She tries to find her old home only to find it gone. There's even consequences involved in her past that is being revealed. And yes, she kicks major super rear. She only lacks Superman's experience. Time will tell if this story keeps and plays on its strengths. 3 out of 5 whatevers.
The differentiation between the Super-persons has been interesting. Each has his or her own unique story and origin worth exploring. Superman's is probably the most well known and thus lacks some leeway, but the others are decent additions. Well, until DC hits the History Eraser Button again.
Justice League -- Technically this isn't a Super-title, but it has Superman in it. The first six issues are essentially an overextended origin story for the Justice League and for Cyborg who was formerly a Titan. Really I'm only reviewing this title because I have this to say: Geoff Johns is the Michael Bay of comic books. His stories lack, his characters are one or two dimensional. He covers all this up with explosions. He regularly blows up plotlines or plot points as well. And some points are just tossed aside because -- well I don't know. Yes, I enjoyed this title a little, but really it's just not all that great. 2 out of 5 whatevers.
Friday, February 24, 2012
OMAC -- This title had only moderate promise. Though the action has been reasonably paced, the story has not, and in some ways the storyline lurches forward in ways that seem to leave huge gaps. The art of this title has been reminiscent of the Jack Kirby New Gods storyline of DC. In all, however, the characters aren't interesting. The main character isn't all that interesting when he's not OMAC, and isn't all that interesting when he is if there's not enough face smashing going on. Brother Eye has its own motivations, but the computer is such a manipulative jerk I found I really could care less what they were, I just wanted him to leave the poor guy alone.
Personal Title Run: 4
Mister Terrific -- I didn't read this one, but honestly I followed some JSA a few years back and he never was an interesting character then. How they picked Mr. Terrific for his own title is beyond me. I'll be honest here, too: The cover art for this line has blown big chunks. The cover is what draws the buyer in to try the title, and the art just made me want to pass it over. Remember, I actually bought an issue of OMAC so my standards are low, here.
Personal Title Run: 0
Hawk and Dove -- How does Rob Leifeld still get work? There are people more talented than him in this industry. He's more talented than I am, sure, but I'm not applying for a job as a comic book artist. He did the art for this, and the story didn't help either. Hawk and Dove is to DC what Moon Knight is to Marvel. Every so often some editor green lights a few issues of these characters, and every time the title fails. There's no surprise that this one failed here. Let the characters go, already. Shame on me for actually buying an issue.
Personal Title Run: 1
Blackhawks -- So the original Blackhawks were a World War II title about this super elite team of fighter pilots. This worked great until, unexpectedly, peace were declared. Suddenly they had less to do. War titles overall haven't fared well outside their time. Attempts to do otherwise have proven faulty. This most recent attempt made them a multi-national force for some reason and put them up against some enemies that I'd never heard of before. Character relationships and personalities were horribly set up in that first issue. I couldn't even bother to read another.
Personal Title Run: 1
Static Shock -- I watched the TV show for a bit on this one, which was kinda goofy but hey, it was a superhero show and I wasn't going to complain (too much) despite some of the bad stereotypes you'd expect from Hollywood types. I never was interested in the character enough to pick up the title. In all honesty, I couldn't say one way or the other on its merits. Probably like Hawk and Dove, the character will stick around in other titles until someone convinces the editor to let him have another go at a title. Maybe that person will get it right that time.
Personal Title Run: 0
Men of War -- Here's a title I wish they'd done better, but am not surprised they didn't do well enough to keep it going. I doubt putting it under the $3.99 price tag with more pages helped its chances much either. It's one thing to pull that with Action Comics or Justice League; people know those titles well. It's another to pull off with an unknown. Moreover, they split the issue into two stories, every issue. This comic was essentially a revival of old combat comics under the same title from earlier days, as well as the return of Sgt. Rock. The Sgt. Rock story lines were being done halfway well -- the concept of American soldiers being pit against a rise of Super Powered beings. Unfortunately that had too much going against it.
The first flaw is that they split the comic into two stories. The Sgt. Rock was their strongest piece and they always led with that, but the later pieces were always weak. If Rock was stronger, maybe we'd forgive that, but once they split the comic in two, his story was weakened to allow for the weaker story. If Sgt. Rock had more paper, maybe he'd turn out better. However, I doubt it thanks to ...
The second flaw: which is America has been war weary, something even I can admit but reasons why are a completely different discussions altogether. In any case, I can imagine it's hard to take new or revamped soldier characters and excite an audience into embracing them when there's so many who just don't want to hear about it any more.
The third flaw is the flaw of the New 52 altogether: Here's all these superheroes that many of us readers have known since we were old enough to read comics and watch Superfriends. Re-introducing these characters and pretending the world is surprised by their rise takes the skillful hand waving analogous to that of a stage magician. We know what we're seeing isn't the case, but man we're enjoying it entirely. Instead, with the new 52, we're seeing all the wires and strings while the magician says, "Pretend you don't see this." The new 52's relaunch was clumsy and poorly done, and we're supposed to pretend it wasn't. And we aren't buying.
Personal Title Run: 6