John Buys Comics, Fights His Way Back From Alternate Timeline, Defeats Evil Self

I’m… I’m going to put my Blackest Night review at the end, okay? Just read the first part if you got enough of that last week.

Mysterius the Unfathomable 

Yep, this trade totally came out last week, but I got it yesterday. I don't know if I missed it or it was on a slow comic delivery boat or what. Maybe I'm just a terrible person.

Mysterius the Unfathomable is simply a delightful comic. It's full of fun characters and crazy monsters, big-bellied men and hippy women (and women who are hippies), and a plot that worked well when it was told in individual issues and even better as a unified whole. Every event in the story ties back into the main plot, but not obviously, not insultingly, and even better: in a way that is explained early on in issue 1. 

So, yeah, this is an amazing comic. It looks incredible, rewards careful rereading, features a main character who is a Bastard With a Deeply-Buried Heart of Gold (one of my favourite archetypes) and has a sidekick/conscience who isn't just a horrible whining guilt-tripper (also good). Plus, Seuss-analogue-as-demonologist Dr Gaust and his cadre of Hellmoggin are the most entertaining antagonists that I've encountered in a very long time.

It's just pure good times, is what it is. 

Astro City: The Dark Age Book 4 No. 3 – Holy moley. The Dark Age is over as of next month. While I am completely sure that the world is divided up into people who have read the whole thing and people who couldn’t give a dang, I’ll probably write a lot about the whole thing next issue. For now I just have to say that the payoff on being an Astro City fan is enormous. The Pale Horseman was mentioned in “Confession", what? Twelve years ago? Just one line from one angry old hippy way back when and now he’s on a cover, and I’m dang certain that Busiek had at least part of this planned out when he was writing that hippy’s dialogue. If you’re a continuity junkie but are disenchanted with Marvel and DC: here’s the book for you.

Adventure Comics No. 9 – Man, the retro cover design that this book has been rocking doesn’t really work with every art style, does it? Especially with that child-frighteningly hideous Superman in the middle of things. Bright and clean folks, bright and clean. As for the inside of the book: meh. It looks okay and reads okay, but it’s partially the Legion in the 31st Century, partially Superboy and the Legion Espionage Squad on New Krypton in the 21st Century and partially Project 7734 bullplop. I’ll be interested to see what’s done with this comic once the Superman Family books calm down, but until then it’s necessarily going to be tepid, as only a book that has been shoehorned into an event but has no actual stake in the event can be.

Blackest Night No. 8

Look, I’m going to spoil this, okay? I’m already breaking last week’s promise not to do this any more, so why not go whole hog?

So, Blackest Night happened. A big ol’ crossover, yup. And man, was it terrible.

Not that the ideas behind it didn’t have merit: why do people keep coming back to life? (wasn’t it because Kid Eternity was jammed in the door to the afterlife?) What are the consequences of all of those people coming back to life, other than Kid Eternity being uncomfortable? Why can’t we set up a page where we make a huge unintentional joke about how most of the DCU super-heroes are Caucasian?

Heck, a lot of the thing looked really pretty, and the weird aliens were suitably weird (although there was no panel that featured the just-a-big-head guys from the Red and Green Lantern Corps standing next to each other, and that made me sad) and I like the possibilities inherent in the various Lantern Corps. 

But this was interminable and about two-thirds of it was full of gut-wrenchingly, melodramatically awful writing - Green Lantern Corps was fun throughout. It may have been due to the fact that whatever Johns had worked out ahead of time and meticulously set up was smeared across the entire DCU instead of being confined to three series, but looking back on the whole sad shebang the overwhelming impression is of forced improvisation, like he had a starting point and an endpoint and was just filling pages until the requisite number of issues were scripted: an issue of characters figuring things out, one of gathering up Deputy Lanterns (and how supremely helpful they were!), tiny victory, huge setback, tiny victory, huge setback etcetera etcetera etcetera ad nauseam barf.

Actually, I was going to say something about how it was like the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths in that regard, but on further reflection I realized that this series was actually opposite of that one: the universe is now much more complicated, some super-heroes have come back to life and the Anti-Monitor is on the loose. Sadly, it lacked the two elements that made Crisis worth reading: Perez art and novelty. Oh, and necessity, or at least perceived necessity. Even the caveat at the end about how people won’t be coming back to life any more essentially means nothing, because the very fact that people were brought back provides a reason for every dead character ever to no longer be so: they were White Lanterned. Ralph and Sue Dibny won’t be coming back and that’s it.

And there were just too many stupid moments: the Black Lanterns’ dialogue. The Deputy Lanterns, (except for Scarecrow, but exactly how necessary was he?). Having most of the event happen on Earth. Bringing back characters (Martian Manhunter, Captain Boomerang) in idealized, not-at-all-what-they-looked-like-when-they-died form. Bringing back Reverse-Flash at all, since that a) undoes the end of just-finished, written-by-the-same-guy Flash: Rebirth and b) Implies that Flash actually killed him at the end. Or maybe c) this takes place before that series and Barry Allen is going straight from this incredibly life-affirming moment to a period of awful, whiny angst.

But of course the stupidest thing is the entire concept of the White Light of Life and the White Lantern Corps. People have been making jokes about White Lanterns for about two years because it’s the most dumb, obvious end to this story imaginable. Especially because the second most obvious end, which is Hal Jordan putting on all seven rings and using them to generate white light and smash Nekron, would actually be kind of cool. Heck, it would at least justify the Hal Jordan lust amongst the various Corps.

*looks at cover* Oh, hey, Sinestro wears his ring on his left hand. Clever!