Saturday, July 03, 2004


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

Well, no big surprise here, eh? As tautly written and solidly illustrated as ever, picking right up where we left off with V1 12, with Holden Carver perpetually between rock and hard place. This time, after settling in (but not so comfortably) with the "bad guys", he's once again invited in from the cold- but the poor sap is so conflicted that he can't trust the veracity of the mesenger. Like that Stones song and that Replacements song all wrapped in one, he can't get no satisfaction, he's so unsatisfied. Even his nominal "girlfriend" has to two-time him to get her kicks. I gotta believe there's gonna come a point at which Carver will just say ta hell with it and bring everybody's house of cards down...and getting there's gonna be a interesting ride. Unless you have a problem with superpowers stuck in your dramas- caveat emptor, as they say. A

JLA 100
Big drop in quality from Sleeper to this, sorry to say, although this isn't really all that bad on its own terms. Essentially a prelude to the upcoming Justice League: Elite book by erstwhile JLA writer/artists Joe Kelly, Doug Mahnke & Tom Nguyen, this "Elite" is a sort of Authority-lite which strike me as a bunch of rather bland characters who are nowhere near as interesting as Kelly, or DC, would like you to think...especially compared with their counterparts in the real Authority. Makes me wonder why they judt didn't let K,M & N do the Authority in the first place. Be that as it may, there's lots of big widescreen-style explosions, hitting, bloodshed, snarkiness and so on, plus a resolution that evokes a shrug more than anything, just like when Kelly was writing JLA previously. One thing about Joe K- you can always count on him to zag, and then zag twice more, when you think he's gonna zig once in his pacing and stortelling style. Where he excels is in characterization, and I honestly believe he's gonna take these vanilla creations and eventually put them through some interesting paces, so I'll be picking up Elite when it does come out. Of course, the main reason why I'm even here in the first place is the excellent art by the Mahnke/Nguyen team. Mahnke manages the difficult task of taking the distorted, hypermuscled and often grotesque physiques of what most want from the modern super-hero and make them convincing, plus he can lay out a story like nobody's business. Anybody that can make Kelly's convoluted scripts more legible has gone above and beyond the call, for sure. Nguyen lays a beautiful line on top of his pencils, giving his figures a lot of that depth which makes them more convincing. And I don't think I've mentioned it for a while, but I think they draw the sexiest Wonder Woman this side of Adam Hughes. There's just something about the KMN JLA that I like, even though I'm hard pressed to explain why except to take the opportunity to rave about the art. Hopefully this will extend to the new JLA:Elite book as well. B+

The last hurrah, it seems, for the Dini/Timm version of Batman and Co., and like the first two issues it's a wonderfully illustrated, if kinda slightly scripted romp. Dini just can't do satire without coming across (to me, anyway) as heavy-handed...and this issue's Hollywood lark is proof of that. Still, there are one or two chuckles here and there as D & T send up their experiences with studios, more great Timm cheesecake (that guy really is in a league of his own), more Batman this time out, and overall this mini hasn't been a real disappointment. Unfortunately, neither has it been anything to write home about either. B+ Entire series: B+

More and more this series is beginning to remind me of Jack Kirby's Mister Miracle what with its circus trappings, Rude's typically Kirbyesque art, and its hasty pace. As always, my delight in Rude's wonderful art is balanced by the effort it takes to get through 20 some odd pages of Gary Martin's clunky, awkward scripting with its wooden dialogue. Right now, I'm in the mood for Rude 'cause I love his stuff, and Martin's a good enough inker not to get in its way. But my patience is not infinite. B-

It's puzzling to me, given that this title had a wee "best series lately you didn't read" buzz about it after the first limited series came out, that John Rozum chose to script the follow-up in such a low-key fashion that this entire series has barely left an impression on me. He's got great leads, and a imaginatively conceived premise for them, but this LS was just one static scene after another, full of talky conflicts, with much of the actual action (you know, scenes in which things happen) happening "offscreen", between the panels if you will. Frustrating, more than anything, because it reduces most of the drama and tension, something a series like this needs in spades. Rozum's got to understand that if he wants us, the reader, to care, then he's got to make us care, and not just assume we will because we like Julia Kadmon or Jenny the secretary or Magellan or whomever. I suppose we can just chalk this series up to the sophomore slump, because while the first MM series had its share of nits as well, it moved a lot quicker than this one did. I'll keep my fingers crossed for next time, knowing full well that there may not be a next time. Art-wise, Paul Lee did a solid, dependable job- sometimes he was a bit Maleev-ish when it came to the conflict scenes we actually got to see, but he depicted much of this in an imaginative fashion, and I prefer his work to the fellow who did the first series. Better luck next time, I guess. C+ Entire series: C

Yeah, please, go. Whatta gyp. I was fired up for this one because of the appearance of my favorite old Titans villian, the Mad Mod, who made a clever return on the TV series a while back. Problem is with this, though, is that in the cartoon we saw the young, cocky cockney Mod for the majority of the episode, cleverly voiced by Malcolm McDowell, and to me he's a compelling character. It wasn't until the end that we saw him as he really was, a bitter old geezer- appropriate, but not as much fun. In this issue, the only place we get the cool Mod is on the cover- inside, he's a geezer throughout. Writer Adam (Hench) Beechen does a servicable job of updating the Mod's early Titans appearances, by giving us clothes that are used for sinister purposes, and on its own terms it's a readable, if not especially lively, script. The art team of Erik Vedder and someone or something named M3TH (as opposed to MST3K, I suppose, or TVC15) gives us a bland job, trying to ape somewhat but certainly lacking the flair Glen Murikami brings to the animated series. Big disappointment, but then again, I'm not really the intended audience here, am I? C-

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