Friday, February 24, 2012

In Which I Ignore Travel and Talk Comics

I am a big comic book guy, still, and have been reading them for way too long. About a half a year ago, DC rebooted their universe (again) and canceled all their titles and restarted 52 new titles in a rather shameless scheme to get people to buy comics because they were released 52 Number Ones! People love Number Ones! Well already they are canceling titles, to no big surprise. Here, I give a brief review of each. Looking for travel notes? Tough! I am altering our arrangement. Pray I do not alter them again.

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