Supergirl No. 41

Hey, check out that cover - that’s fantastic! Who drew that… Joshua Middleton, hey? Way to go Joshua! Astonishingly, this cover seems to depict a short woman in a costume fighting a teenager with questionable fashion sense! Supergirl looks like someone who hasn’t stopped growing yet rather than someone who has had multiple rounds of cosmetic enhancement! Hooray, it’s revolutionary! Also: really pretty. This is one of my favourite covers in a long while.

So, as per last issue, Superwoman is Major Lucy Lane but how that came about isn’t really explored. Is it the costume? Is it wacky super-science? Is it some other theory that I’ll stick in the comments? The “Next Issue” blurb promises “Questions and Answers” so we’ll just have to wait and see. As with a lot of DC storylines recently I was kind of leery of this whole Vast Government Conspiracy Against The Super-heroes plot that’s going on in the Superman Family books right now. I mean, that’s a horse that’s been dead since somewhere between Legends and Millennium, and it’s been beaten quite a lot since then, right? Once more, though, my fears have proven groundless. I keep steeling myself for terrible comic-bookery and DC keeps producing decent reads. Heck, Sterling Gates managed to make me feel sympathetic toward both Major and General Lane this issue, and they’re both complete dicks. Even Cat Grant is showing signs of increased humanity, possibly.

Of course, there’s the issue of a storyline entitled “Who is Superwoman?” leaving you not exactly knowing the answer to the question of who Superwoman is but I suppose that there’s nothing in that title that promises a definitive answer to that. Just wait until they publish “At the End of this Story, You Will Conclusively Know the Identity of Superwoman” - then I’ll be watching them like a hawk.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance No.1 (of 6)

Okay, here goes. So far, the Final Crisis Aftermath series are starting well: Run is an interesting exploration into the super-villain as self-centred douchebag rather than megalomaniac or insane person, while Escape might just be the right flavour of whacked-out craziness to be a good read (and is evidently based on an idea that Jack Kirby had about a super-hero version of The Prisoner, so the similarities are more apt than I had thought). I know that a first issue is not a series, but I’m actually cautiously optimistic about the whole thing - DC is redeeming itself somewhat for all of the really terrible stuff in the year between 52 and Final Crisis. And the Super Young Team are interesting characters, so that’s another bonus. I’ve read some fairly valid critique of them as reflecting a Western “look at the wacky Japanese” superficiality but… well, if super-heroes were an actual part of day-to-day life I don’t know that there wouldn’t be a group of trendy super-powered dilettantes with crazy-ass names and costumes swanning around the Japanese club scene. I guess I’ll reserve judgment until I see how the rest of Japan makes out. Bah blah blah - let’s read the comic.

Hey, not bad! The theme of Dance seems to be super-hero-as-celebrity vs. super-hero-as-hero, with the Super Young Team being in a transitional state between the two. They were famous for no particular reason before Final Crisis and then they helped to save the world during Final Crisis and now they have a big ol’ contract with endorsement deals and a satellite headquarters and a trophy room full of things that they’ve never seen before. It looks like we’re going to see some compare-and-contrast with Japan’s last big super-team, Big Science Action, as well as a look at some of the after-effects of all that Final Crisis craziness (which is good, because I am really unclear on what those might be). All this plus an unfortunately-themed metahuman antagonist!

As with the other Aftermath series, this was a fine set-up issue. We’ll have to wait and see whether the next five can follow its lead and form a cohesive whole. Cautious Optimism: ON.

Battle for the Cowl No.3

Batman Jones! The kid who was named after Batman and thus became a huge Batman fanboy! Did I miss some earlier return of Batman Jones or did someone set out to dig up the most obscure character ever? Either way: fun revival.

Other than Batman Jones, this was a decent end to the cowl-battlin’ adventures of the Batman Family. We got a new Batman (though I’m not quite certain who that Robin at the end is), we got some setup for future plotlines (and I guess that Homicidal Batman was Jason Todd after all, oops) and we got the Squire sassing Damien a lot. Sadly, unless I managed to miss an issue, we did not get Alfred dressed in commando gear or a crazy-looking Two-Face Batman. Maybe these things are going to happen in the future? But then why stick it on the teaser for the series?

I am going to put Gigantic Disaster in Gotham City on the list of way-overused story elements. Seriously, that town’s been blown up and burned down often enough that there shouldn’t be two stones left on top of one another, let alone lots of vintage Gothic architecture all over the place. Man, given the fact that this is all happening in Comic Book Time, they should still be rebuilding from No Man’s Land. Let’s have Batman versus Criminals for a while instead of Gotham City versus Explosions. Please?

Mysterius the Unfathomable No. 5.

This issue contains: an incredibly creepy cult leader, a trip to Burning Man (well, Blazing Man), super-cool flashbacks and a dramatic reveal. And girls in bikinis, if you like that sort of thing. Man, I would definitely buy a comic based on the early adventures of Mysterius, particularly if they feature lots of crazy magic globe-trotting. Of course now I have to go back and look for things in prior issues of Mysterius, thanks to that dramatic reveal. Curse you, Parker! I’m a busy man, and a lazy one! Your clever writing has inconvenienced me slightly for the last time!

The other special aspect of this issue is a preview for a tepid-looking Starcraft comic, along with a little notice of such slapped just under the title. I know that there’s probably one of these on every Wildstorm book this month, but bleah. Seriously, are many readers of Mysterius the Unfathomable likely to pick up a Starcraft comic based on this preview (assuming that they aren’t also Starcraft fans, I guess)? It’s not like it’s terribly clear what’s going on if you don’t already know the plot, after all. Likewise, is a rabid Starcraft fan going to snatch up issue 5 of some series about a magician just to see what a Firebat looks like in a comic book? Bah, I say.

The Complete Dracula No.1 - This is nice! A pretty darn faithful adaptation of Dracula into comic book form. They tacked the short story "Dracula's Guest" onto the front as a prologue, so at first I, who have never read said story, thought that they were making up new stuff. I like Dracula, so I'll be picking up the rest of these, I think, if only to see how they draw Van Helsing and the bat-Dracula and such. Everything is looking pretty great so far, particularly Harker, Renfield and Dracula himself, who is doing that cool thing where he looks like complete shit at the beginning of the book and gets more presentable as time goes on. And on the cover he looks like Vincent Price!

Invincible No. 61 - This is just as nice-looking as it always was, and it's as fun to read, but as my friend Brad observed, things have changed on the Invincible scene in the last 20 issues or so. Maybe it's just that I read a lot of the earlier stuff in trade form but it seems like the amount of plot per issue is on the wane and the number of characters on the decrease (often violently). Ah well, it's still a good time.

Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen No.5 (of 5) - All done. A decent enough series, and I don’t get enough Stephen Colbert in my day-to-day life, but I’m not sure that Tek Jansen on paper measures up to a Tek Jansen voiced by Colbert himself. The main story, wherein Tek fights to stop a war that he is responsible for starting, wraps up nicely in this issue and my favourite lil’ guy Meangarr gets his chance to shine, but as usual I liked the stand-alone tale on the flip side best. Plus: great covers.

Caped No.2 - Augh! My eyes! This was a bit of a jarring experience, I must say. Issue one of this comic introduced Jimmy Lohman, an aspiring reporter who ends up as the personal assistant to a superhero named Edge. There was a neat look at the extensive support structure behind the average super-hero, with budgets and paperwork and crazy crap like that, and I was looking forward to the rest of the series. The storytelling’s gone way downhill with this one, however - it’s like they abandoned any desire to explore the world that they have established and so the story is just whizzing by without a whole lot of context. The story feels about three times as fast and one-third as interesting as it should be. Bah.

The Brave and the Bold No.23 - Eh. This was an okay comic. The problem with The Brave and the Bold is that the first story arc was fantastic and that since then it has been merely all right - it’s suffering by comparison. The specific problem with this issue is that I haven’t been paying attention to Justice Society (for no good reason) and so my knowledge of Magog ends at Kingdom Come. Ah well - there was some word a while back that the Impact characters or the Milestone characters or both were going to be introduced in this one, which might just be worth checking out. Otherwise… my interest has dwindled.