Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Comic-book Night - 6/26/13

It's the final week of June, and a fairly decent week for getting new comics as well as some older ones.  This morning I had to turn back the keys to my apartment, and the c-shop is much closer to that than to my new home, so I stopped by there after bidding the apartment complex farewell, and before heading in to work.  Hey, it's summer, and I don't have any classes to teach...

I'm also not saving up for a house or trying to keep my bank balances flat due to lender credit checks any more, so that means I was able to un-clench the wallet a little bit, and pick up one of the last few Supergirl trades I've been wanting.  Actually, the next trade in order for the Supergirl series (volume 5, or series 4) that I'm currently working on should be "Who is Superwoman?" but the comic shop didn't have that one, so I picked up the next one in the sequence, "Friends and Fugitives." That one collects issues 43, and 45-47, but not 44, which was part of a different story arc (Superman: Codename Patriot). I don't want that whole other arc, just the Supergirl story, so I picked up issue 44 as well.

In terms of new comics, there were three this week. One currently residing on my pull list (Justice League), one that's been teetering on the edge of being on or off the pull list (Justice League of America), and a brand new issue 1 release (Batman/Superman).  And so, all told, I bought 4 comics and a trade today.  Below, I will summarize the three new comics -- Supergirl 44 and the trade must wait until I get the "Who is Superwoman" trade so I can read the stories in order.

Justice League 21 - The Justice League series has had a persistent Shazam! backup story featuring the retelling of the origin of Captain Marvel (I refuse to call the character "Shazam") for about a year now, but this month, Billy Batson takes center stage.  His arch-enemy, Black Adam (the first to wield the Shazam! power) has tracked him down, and now threatens Mary Bromfield and Freddy Freeman, along with the other foster siblings Billy has joined since being taken in from the orphanage.  Adam tells Billy/Captain Marvel that he can "transfer" the Shazam! power, and Billy gets the idea (aided by a magical genie that keeps appearing in reflective surfaces and giving him advice) to transfer that power to his foster siblings. And suddenly we have the good old "Captain Marvel family" of yesteryear roaming the pages of the comics.  I greatly enjoyed this sequence, because I've always liked Captain Marvel, Jr. (Freddy) and especially Mary Marvel, who is one of my all-time favorite female superheroes (right behind Supergirl and Wonder Woman).  Mary defends the city against the physical embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins while Billy/Captain Marvel battles Black Adam.  The action in this issue is strong, but there's also plenty of heart, and there are some wonderful nods to nostalgia, including a nod to the old "Mr. Tawny" character.  Johns did a great job on this issue, and proves that the Marvel Family absolutely deserve their own series, rather than to be relegated to guest stars of Justice League.  I hope Cap gets a permanent position on the team soon, and I'd love to see Mary and Freddy rotate in as subs on occasion.  The art by Gary Frank is, of course, phenomenal, but then it always is.  This is a great issue... I'd say "JL is back" but I know it probably isn't, since next month we start another of DC's gawd-awful "events" (Trinity War) -- sigh. But for this issue, 10/10.

Justice League of America 5 - Last issue's manipulative ending, which showed a clearly impossible event (Catwoman having her brains shot out) really pissed me off about this series, and the overall story was not as strong as the first three.  I had been considering dropping it if things did not get better this issue, but they definitely did.  We finally see the JLA fight as a team here, and work together to defeat the Secret Society of Super-villains.  The victory is more like a stand-off, with the SSV vanishing, but two of their number captured.  We get to see Star Girl really unload on a few of the villains here, which I greatly enjoyed -- I love her youthful energy and heroism.  Star Girl is proof that people who insist that all teenagers must be portrayed as recalcitrant bags of angst is just plain wrong. The art's a bit better in this issue as well. As a result, I give it an overall score of 8/10, and it remains on the "maybe" category -- maybe it will make it onto my pull list.  Once again due to Trinity War, I am going to have to wait... it may be October or November before I make up my mind, since I will be sitting out the entire DC line in September (right after Trinity War ends) over my objections to "Villain Month."

Batman/Superman 1 - Since the days of the original World's Finest Comics, the tandem of Batman plus Superman has always been exciting for readers. These two characters, who have such different styles and powers, can, when written well, truly complement each other.  Therefore, I picked up issue 1 of the newest version of World's Finest Comics, Batman/Superman, with great interest.  I'm sad to say, I was highly disappointed.  This story is typical of DC issue 1 offerings in the New 52 -- the writer and artist seem to have as their main goal, making the reader think "What the heck?" over and over again.  Honestly, I have know idea what the hell is going on in this issue. Many panels depict scenes that are simply incomprehensible.  The story doesn't make any sense, and it's clearly not supposed to yet.  Here again we have the annoying motif that I am expected to wait half a year or more, and shell out $4 per month while I wait, to find out what is going on (and whether I like what's going on enough to keep reading).  Sorry, DC, but that is not going to happen. I will give Batman/Superman another month or two, but if it doesn't become penetrable, and I mean post haste, I'm gone.  Which is a shame, since I like these characters enough that I really should collect a series about them -- but so far nothing offered for either Bats or Supes makes me want to spend my money.  My score on this one is 5/10, and that's being generous.

I also had a chat with the owner of my comic shop about my decision to sit out the whole of Villain Month, and he said that I am not alone. Many of his customers are adopting a "wait and see" attitude toward it.  For me, I'm not even doing that. I will not be picking up any print copies of DC titles in September. Instead, I will use September as "sample independent titles month," and if I like a few of them more than I like what DC has been putting out, I will be dropping some of the maybes, like Batman/Superman, The Movement, and possibly JLA.

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