Week 9 (Nov. 2, 2011)

No, Christmas didn’t come a month and a half early. Reading my DC comics this week I realized that on at least two levels its a Red and Green Week.  Red Lanterns came out as well as Green Arrow.  In the plots of Swamp Thing andAnimal Man Alec Holland as the Earth avatar Swamp Thing is servant to the Green (the collective consciousness of all plant life) and Buddy Baker Animal avatar and protector of what he has up until now called the “morphogenetic field” but now has come to learn is the Red (collective consciousness of all animal life).  That’s two, maybe there are more, but I found this interesting.

  • Action Comics is getting better.  I was invested heavily in the beginning flashback segment to Old Krypton which took a concept that had been done before, but gave it that unique Grant Morrison twist.  Cut to the “present” in Clark’s emergent Superman time frame, Morrison seems to be wrapping up his awkward intro and getting to the bones of what we all want to see.  The tying up of the apocalyptic intro to the present travails in Metropolis really gave this title an urgency that was lacking in the first two issues, and now in the third Morrison has me not regretting the $3.99 price as much as I have been in weeks past.  I really want to see what happens and hopefully Superman will fall in line and be the great character he has been and has the potential to be again.
  • Detective Comics #3 was on the level it has always been.  The Dollmaker’s history is revealed as is the twisted logic behind his actions.  Tony S. Daniel takes it to limit one more time and presents a twisted, dark tale of Gotham and the Dark Knight.  The story is far out, innovative, well drawn, and very nuanced in the interactions between Batman and Commissioner Gordon which draws readers in even closer. Good stuff.
  • Red Lanterns is RIDICULOUSLY good.  The first two issues have established Atrocitus as a warrior-philosopher who fights his battles viciously, but with great thought to the ethics and morality of his actions.  He also questions his place in the Corps he created as his mindless minions slowly spin away from his control.  This third issue finds him raising up the brutal beauty Bleez to a lieutenant-like role by giving her back her cognitive abilities and higher reasoning.  As a result of this the enraged vixen returns to the events that shattered her life, prompting the red ring to choose her.  Through her reliving of those events and her reactions in the present we see how she has grown and how she truly thinks and reasons.  Her style of vengeance also is telling as to her innate persona.  While Atrocitus has up to now been shown to be a warrior philosopher, this issue inaugurates Bleez into the series as a strong, intelligent, resourceful female counterpart to him . . . and perhaps adversary.  Atrocitus’ analysis of Bleez after her transformation is quite telling of what Milligan has in store for her, intimating that even as a mindless savage she still had the cunning to manipulate events to force Atrocitus into doing what she wanted.  Hit out of the park, 3 for 3.

    Benes's beautiful Bleez from the cover of "Red Lantern #3"

  • Batwing #3 also continues to build momentum.  We start with a look back at the past of the African nation Tinasha and the wars that tore it apart. We also are shown a darker side of our protagonist, David.  And through the conclusion of Massacre’s fight with  Batwing and interrupted assassination attempt on former superhero, Thunder Fall, we are shown a darker side of the seemingly altruistic African superhero league, the Kingdom, who ended the strife.  Mystery, drama, dark pasts, iron-willed last stands.  This series is a Bat book of a different color that reads like any other with just as much exhilaration as its American counterparts.
  • OMAC #3 needs little explanation.  It feels like if Jack Kirby were relaunching his OMAC series NOW and doing it all himself.  The story, art, and stylistics of the book itself are all to the height of Kirby-esque.  Really nothing more needs be said.  If it lasts more than 8 issues it will be what Kirby fans should have gotten in the 70’s.  MORE OMAC!!!
  • Swamp Thing #3 read beautifully thanks to the awesome Scott Snyder and equally stunning artwork by Yanick Paquette.  The story of the “Green” is unfolded more and the introduction of the “Black”, or “Rot”, is hinted at further as well as a connection to the “Red”, which hints at a connection to Animal Man perhaps.  Through the intricate storycrafting alludes to the earlier Alan Moore run which makes me want even more to pick up the hardcover collections Vertigo has released of that series.  Just stunning.  And sad to say, its excellence as well as the hinting of a crossover is the only thread keeping Animal Man on my buy list.  That says something . . .

    Interior art of "Swamp Thing #3" drawn by "Yanick Paquette

  • Justice League International is a great title for a Dan Jurgens fix.  He doesn’t do the artwork (unfortunately), but his writing gives us who read his Booster Gold series religiously something to look forward to.  Its a lighter upbeat Justice League of misfits that somehow work together despite the odds and succeed through will and charisma.  The threat looming on the horizon is well thought out and ominous in its magnitude which bode well for the title’s future.
  • Hawk & Dove #3 isn’t stellar, but accomplishes a few things: explores the relationship between Dove (Dawn Granger) and Deadman, gives Deadman a series outlet as a guest star until, DC willing, he gets his own series, a look at how Hawk and Dove operate post  Blackest Night and  Birds of Prey, and mostly just Dawn Granger in general.  I also never thought I’d say this, but I kind of like the 90’s retro-ish feel of Rob Liefeld’s artwork.  Somehow it lends itself to the title as most of the previous issues I have seen are from the 90’s. Looking at this issue where Hawk and his antagonist Condor are in the foreground and Dove and her antagonist Swan are in the background out of focus, I was struck by Liefeld’s old Image and Wildstorm issues I had seen.  Kind of nostalgic. I liked it.
  • Green Arrow #3 . . . Oh boyeeee.  Not good. The Dan Jurgens layouts and George Perez and Ray McCarthy finishes are great.  J.T. Krul co-wrote this with Jurgens which means he is distancing himself from it, and next issue he is completely off the title with Jurgens and Perez writing.  Time will tell if the problem was him, but I’m guessing the problem is the character.  Krul wrote Ollie so well and so poignantly in the past that I think he is distancing himself because the character’s past has been poisoned by DC.  Its just awful.  I’ll read the Jurgens and Perez run, because I respect both and hope that they will do right by Oliver, but I am guessing its going to be the same shit sundae.  Gross.
  • Animal Man #3 remains weird.  The artwork is surreal and creepy. Maybe that’s the point, but it distracts from Jeff Lemire’s writing. I can’t tell whether its good or not because the fucking artwork is freaking me out.  There seems to be an interesting story with the “Red”, but again I can’t concentrate.  Although with the nightmarish imagery depicted I think that any artist’s take would be grating. I dunno, but I keep reading to see the possible connection to Swamp Thing. Other than that, just not really hitting the same highs as Lemire’s previous work.
  • Avengers: 1959 is an interesting series that follows an unfamiliar Avengers team that predates the team we are all aware of, who came together in the early 60’s.  This Avengers team is is a motley crew brought together years earlier than this series’ start by Nick Fury to combat Nazis.  They include Victor Creed a.k.a Sabertooth, Kraven the Hunter, Dominic Fortune, Princess Namora,  and the Blonde Phantom.  I got it mainly because I am a huge fan of Nick Fury, but also because I am a fan of the writer/artist Howard Chaykin. It has a lot going for it and I can’t wait to see what that last two issues have in store.
  • Green Hornet is a Dynamite Entertainment series I have been reading for almost two years. Dynamite’s revival of Green Hornet as a   franchise has been great.  Matt Wagner’s amazing Green Hornet: Year One has already wrapped, but that was a phenomenal series that took place in the 30’s with the original Britt Reid and Kato, and the main series does an equally good job of presenting a modern take with Britt Jr and Kato’s daughter Mulan donning their fathers’ costumes and kicking ass.
  • Warlord of Mars finishes off a three issue arc that links the nine issue interpretation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first Mars novel, Princess of Mar with the upcoming rendition of the second one Gods of Mars.  This issue’s interior storyline was good, but detracted a bit from the surprises of the second novel, revealing beforehand that John Carter, the main character, has a son, and the nature of the white skinned Therns.  Other than that, the series in general is pretty sweet. The writer, Arvid Nelson, who is a favorite of mine, does an incredible job adapting the books to graphic format.
  • American Vampire #20 took a break from the 20th Century to take a trip back to the Indian Wars of the 1880’s to tell a story about the American Vampire himself, Skinner Sweet, prior to his transformation in the 1890’s.  This story was amazing in that it tells about the original American Vampires, and of course I am referring to the vampiric “First Nationsmen” who branched off the Shoshone tribe in Wyoming.  Reading Scott Snyder’s stories in American Vampire feels like reading established mythology in the way he casually invokes nuance and minute details of his subject material while also stepping outside the common conceptions of his readers and introducing innovative aspects; such as vampires that can walk in daylight, but are weakened and strengthened by the phases of the moon, or vampires immune to wooden stakes, but highly vulnerable to gold, etc. And while he has established myths depicted in retrospective cutscenes, he also constantly evolves his mythology as he constantly evolves his vampires in Darwinian displays of the mixture of species and the effect of the modern stimuli on the vampires in a survival of the fittest situation that spawns new species with new abilities, strengths, and vulnerabilities.  Good stuff.

 

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Swamp Thing #3: Art by Yanick Paquette, Colored by Nathan Fairbairn

Red Lanterns #3: Drawned by Ed Benes, Colored by Nathan Eyring, Inked by Rob Hunter


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