Sunday, October 2, 2011

New 52 Batch 2 - Comics Review

Half of this book tells a story I like, the other is some outdated nonsense. Green Lantern opens with Sinestro accepting a green ring(!). I don’t know half of Sinestro’s full story but I know he used to be a badguy and disagreed with everything the Guardians did. Maybe I’m just a sucker for any “big changes”, Sinestro did very little this issue, but I’m digging the feel here. . A pissed-off, very powerful, calculating, mean s-o-b who is given power by a group he detests to protect a place he enslaved the last time around. The guy is going to do whatever he wants and I’m on board with that. There’s load of conflict here that I want to see play out. Sinestro is my ideal Lantern because he will actual change the universe to get what he wants. Not just run around putting out fires with a cute green hose. He’s serious. Though I guess he could play it straight, but with such a loaded conflict, why waste that? This is exciting.

Then Hal Jordan comes along. The way he’s written here, he belongs with Brenda Starr in the Sunday comics. . Every other word is bold and italics. Very irritating and dated. Some boring, dopey, soap opera horseshit going on. . He’s whining about the difficulty adjusting to life on Earth after having saved the whole universe and nobody understands him. … “Did you not just see Sinestro doing work a few pages ago?” I’d be fine with Jordan dying and the book being solely about Sinestro. Jordan is too boring for me to care about. What he does I’ve seen better and before. Teen Hal can’t get a car or pay his rent, and bounces around, hitting all the loser lowpoints. Why should I sympathize with such a dope? I thought he was supposed to be fearless? Only while flying a plane apparently.

 The art doesn’t do him any favors either, the panel where he’s lying on some charming smile is downright grotesque. It alternates from passable, generic comic book fair, to bad.

The strength of Sinestro as a character might have been enough to keep me going on this book, but with a focus on Jordan, and better books calling to me, I doubt I’ll check this out again.

I went back and forth throughout this whole issue. The opening action scene isn’t thrilling conceptually (a prison break. Are there any mercenaries in DC that can stand up to a hero?), but there are some details, such as Red Hood’s disguise, that made me smile. And to be fully up front, I love the Jason Todd / Red Hood character. What he did in Under The Red Hood (both comic and movie) and Battle For The Cowl made me a very big fan. He takes a situation that’s going a bit stale and blasts life into it. The debates he had with Batman won me over completely. He’s hilarious in his taunts, clever in those and planning both, and caps it off with an overall aesthetic I love seeing in every panel. Red Hood isn’t good or bad, he’s coming at this playing field from a new angle altogether. That’s exciting. Though I’m sorry to see him leave Gotham. Especially for no discernible reason. Besides “get Arsenal”, this issue did very little.

Arsenal isn’t anything like Jason Todd. I don’t know anything about him except for what this issue set-up. He wasn’t anything special. A regular dude who used a bow. Jason Todd called him an idiot. I’ll believe Jason.

Starfire / Kori has gotten a lot of attention from seemingly everybody (comic readers and not). I wasn’t sure how to read her. She starts off really into Jason, almost like a school-girl, then switches to the cold “nobody controls me” by the next scene. I like that she’s an alien. Aliens trying to fit into Earth society usually raise interesting questions as what’s taken for granted isn’t by them. They can expose taboos or play with human society in fun or insightful ways. I’m not sure if that’s what she’s doing here. Comics haven’t historically been kind to women, at all, so I’m not sure if Starfire is exploring the concept of sex or just being a cheap fan service tool. She certainly has the backstory to become compelling. Princess betrayed by her sister, sold as slave to prevent war. But here she just throws her body around for a splash page or sex.

The set-up for next issue nailed cliché hard. A group of, thought to be, unbeatable monks who live in a hidden mountain monetary are mysteriously killed. Why does the Red Hood care at all about them? Why does he care about Arsenal or Starfire? Why are they together? How did Jason get over Gotham? These aren’t questions the book raises to make me interested in further reading to find out, these I see as fundamental problems of the narrative. If I do look into issue 2, it’ll be a statement to how much I love Jason Todd, not having much to do with the quality of this first issue.

Every single aspect of this was a gross travesty. Art - Terrible. Characters, none of whom I know anything about, told me nothing in the entire issue. Powers were barely shown and presented nothing of note. The dialogue was by far the worst part. It was the most laughable excuse of exposition. All of it was interchangeable between the characters. The same dated misuse of bold and italics prevalent here as well. The villain is a joke who rails against THE WORLD, and vows to make EVERYONE PAY. Mid-way through I wanted to close it.

I bought this without checking into it at all because I thought Fabien Nicieza was King Shit. The work he did on Cable& Deadpool was profound. I’m not just talking an issue or two. The whole run was brilliant. I’d hold it up as beautiful story-telling comparable to any in any other form. I thought to run a series as well as that means the guy knows his business and can be counted on. Won’t make that mistake again.

I come from reading and liking Warren Ellis’s work on Thunderbolts, so I’ll call this the standard set-up for a villain-pressed-into-squad type of book. Tiny, unremovable bombs, placed on the team to ensure cooperation. Given the sure-to-be-persuasive-choice of rot for all time in jail or work for people you hate doing what you’re good at. I’m not sure there aren’t a few holes there that couldn’t be patched with some more thought dedicated to inventing a better situation. Workable though.

The book opens to all the members being tortured, with the presumption that they slipped up on their first assignment. Pretty inventive opening, and it turns into a solid creative choice to showcase the characters. At first I was a bit worried for the team as Deadshot (my boy) didn’t seem to be handling things so well. As we take a turn around the circle though, we see that torturing psychotics plays to their strength. These people get the shit kicked out of them regularly. So it’s a lot of fun seeing them take control of the situation. It’s showing me the writer isn’t going to treat this like a hero team-up book. The characters involved are fundamentally different here. That’s going to allow for what makes a book of this type to truly capitalize on the concept; the possibility for anything to happen.

I don’t understand the set-up for next issue. It struck me as over-the-top for the sake of being over-the-top. I’m not anxious to see where this goes but this issue was good, so if I can get more of that, have something develop, I’ll be happy with that.

Tough break for this book to feature yet another break-out from Arkham along with another issue-long speech from Bruce Wayne. At this point I just wanted to know how this book was different from the others. It’s better than Detective Comics and worse than Batman is really the only answer I got. The dialogue is instantly forgettable with the exception of the rallying speech Batman delivers to some cops who are about to storm Arkham, but were told not to (for some reason… There’s a lot of cops there though...), but decided to do it anyway… Yeah, it’s trying to nail “tough guys who make the tough calls” without paying attention to reason. Anyway, Batman doesn’t rally anybody. This was wildly out of character. He doesn’t stand on top of a cop car, remind them all about families then charge in.  Plus, like I said, all these guys were about to kick down the front door anyway. It was all needless posturing.

Action didn’t do a single thing unique with Batman. He kicked a guy and head-butted another.  The End.

The ending left me exasperated. This route again? Also, villains calling out their name as some 

introduction doesn’t belong in a modern comic. Good news is there is only one good Batman comic to keep up with, and, how easy, it’s called Batman

This issue was offensively bad. We’re given some really shitty old-school dialogue (“And Gotham is a hell hole, always has been, always will be” “Like hell it will”). Coupled with action that doesn’t need to occur and is just going through the motions for all involved. Nothing new and not done well. I’ll give credit to the team for an inviting ending hook but I don’t trust them to do anything with it.

All images Copyright DC Comics