Saturday, August 02, 2003

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What I bought and what I thought, week of July 30

Let's face it: Mark Millar has one story to tell, and this is a textbook example. He did this during his Authority tenure, in almost exactly the same fashion: set up a formidable, seemingly invincible menace, place the protagonists in a position in which it seems impossible for them to triumph, then a-ha! Pull something out of the blue. Again, as with the Authority, what makes this formula storytelling interesting is the attention paid to the characterizations. Many don't like these less than noble portrayals of the classic Marvel heroes, and I'm sympathetic; but to be honest, I never was all that attached to them anyway (OK, maybe Giant-Man, but it's not like this spouse-abusing version is an innovation or anything) so I'm just fine with it. For me, many of those grand Marvel stalwarts lost their appeal due to lackluster scripting and bland art over 30 years ago. So I still like this book, and I'm looking forward to the grande finale, whenever it comes out. A-

More deja vu. We've seen Johnny tripping and talking to the Aborigines before, but it's been a long time ago and I don't really think Conjob's somewhat confusing little nightmare 'shroom trip was the point of this tale anyway. Mike's trying to acquaint us with new girlfriend Angie, and he's succeeding in rounding out her character, all the better to set us up for some sort of major role I'm sure she's gonna play before this arc is over. OK, fine with me. I also hope that artist Marcelo Frusin stays on this book a long, long time. B+

Well, we're four issues in to this five-issue arc, and I'm sorry...I just can't get caught up in it. Too many diversions, digressions, catastrophic events that only evoke shrugs, and red herrings. This whole thing has been oddly paced and there has been less than no suspense at any point in the proceedings, nor is there any reason to believe that the Legion won't persevere in the end. Perhaps Abnett and Lanning should read a few Mark Millar comics to get an idea about how to set this type of thing up. Anyway, this particular ish merely seems to be an excuse to get the two missing Legionnaires, Karate Kid and Ferro, back into the fold...and frankly, I didn't miss them all that much in the first place. This being said, at least we've had excellent art throughout by the Chris Batista/Mark Farmer team, so it's not a total loss. Of course, after next issue we get fill-in artists. B

I think the earlier announcement that artist Cameron Stewart is leaving after #25 tempered my enjoyment of this diverting heist tale somewhat. The artists slated to replace him just don't seem to be a good fit with the current direction of this book, and it makes me apprehensive, based on the pinup I's big boobs and spandex all over again. We'll see, I guess...writer Ed Brubaker says that the pinup isn't indicative of what they'll do when their tenure starts. Anyway, Stewart isn't at his best here, especially compared to last issue...his Captain Cold looks too young and he doesn't have the visual flair to bring off the humorous aspects Ed's script hints at. This isn't a disaster, but it's the first disappointing Catwoman issue in a long while. B

I still think this is a poorly scripted and unimpressively drawn failure, but I will admit to liking a few things this time around...the Creeper's flaming statue performance art and the Josephine Baker-as-dressed-by-Ditko cameo were fun. C+

JLA 83
Gotta give Joe Kelly points for good intentions, and I'm down with his message. But his normally sharp characterization is nowhere to be found, and the twist ending is a groaner. The fill-in artist, helped a lot by regular inker Tom Nguyen, is OK. After four straight issues of heavy-handed, thinly veiled political allegory, I'm ready for some doomsday-scenarios-that-only-the-combined-might-of-the-JLA-can-avert type stories again. C

A very definite valley in this up-and-down series. Someone actually pulls someone's arm off and beats him with it, ha ha, and this whole story is actually a set-up for a punchline that lands with a thud. Not badly drawn, for what it's worth, but the coloring is excessively dark for no good reason. Bloody predictable, bloody formulaic, bloody bloody, and bloody awful. D