Saturday, February 8, 2014

New Comic-Book Night 2/5 - a little late

Unlike last week, during which we had a snow storm, this week I was able to get to the comic-book shop on New Comic-book Night (Wednesday). I picked up both this week's and last week's comics as a result.  This two-week sampling included three items from the pull list - Lazarus 6; Suicide Risk 10; and  Thor, God of Thunder 18.  I also violated my rule against picking up titles only for the crossover, and purchased Green Lantern/Red Landerns 28, a "flip book" issue (two stories printed upside-down from each other in two halves of the book) that represents part one of the new Supergirl story arc "Red Daughter."  I'll explain why I violated my anti-crossover rule in my brief summary below.

Because I usually reject crossovers, the comic-shop owner noticed GL/RL 28 in my purchase stack and expressed surprise.  As we discussed it, he said something quite interesting and undeniably true of Supergirl -- that he can't even express to people who she really is or what her comic is all about. "Peter David's earth-born angel stuff was easier to explain than who this character is," he stated.  And I could not disagree.  Kara Zor-El has been such a mess since the H'el on Earth arc (and really, since long before that -- basically since issue 8), that the character has come to seem directionless and, frankly, pointless.  Frankly, if it weren't Supergirl, I'd have dropped her book a long time ago.  The only good arc in the entire thing so far was the first arc.  After that, it went completely off the rails.

But that is a rant for another time. For now, I will give my brief thoughts on this week's sample, and head off to do my house-work for the weekend.

Lazarus 6 - Greg Rucka and Michael Lark continue to amaze me in this series.  Once again he and the creative team hit the ball out of the park with another outstanding issue. He gracefully inter-cuts the story of the present day with flash-back moments of Forever's past.  The big question hanging over the series right now is whether or not Forever really is part of the family.  A mysterious stranger keeps sending her text messages telling her "they are not your family." Is he (or she) right? Who is the stranger? And even if it's true, why is he telling her?  Forever 's doubts slowly surface as she tries to do her job as family enforcer.  This is another home run from a team that keeps delivering. 10/10 (as usual).

Suicide Risk 10 - The art takes a bit of a nose-dive in this issue compared to the work of Elena Casagrande, since she doesn't draw the interiors, but the story continues to be strong.  We learn for the first time a little more about Jed and Hailey, the two crooks with the "P-Wand" who are going around handing out powers like they are dealing drugs.  Mike Carey shows us where they got the wand, explaining some while leaving us with even more mysteries. Two agents of either the future or another dimension are following Jed and Hailey, trying to track them down and get the P-Wand back.  Where the P-Wand really comes from, and what will happen when the agents get it back, are left unanswered.  This is another strong story, although as I say, I don't like Jorge Coelho's art as much as I like Elena's. 8/10.

Thor, God of Thunder 18 - After 17 fantastic issues, writer Jason Aaron throws a gutter-ball this month.  This is an interlude story between the last arc's final issue, which happened last month, and the upcoming arc that will start on issue 19.  Ordinarily, I like one-shot "recovery" issues that let the reader take a break from the longer story-lines, but Aaron just does not have the stuff this month.  This is a story about Young Thor, from the days of the vikings, and ordinarily I would like such a tale. But I found the dragon to be uninteresting, and I did not sympathize, really, with any of the characters. The viking women Thor was helping were generic and poorly characterized. The premise of a dragon exiled by his people for refusal to eat humans is potentially interesting, but the reason why he changes his mind is, well, lame. I won't say anymore to avoid spoilers The art was also most definitely not to my liking. 6/10.

Green Lantern/Red Lanterns 28 - I bought this issue because it is part 1 of a new Supergirl story-line. Now, I have ignored crossovers like this before, but this time it is a little different, because this crossover is actually about Supergirl, and is purported to be intended to have a strong effect on her as a character.  The rumor is that, when the smoke clears by April or May, Supergirl will have grown to be more "normal" -- more as one would expect her to be, rather than a tantrum-prone spoiled brat (as she has been since issue 8 of her own book).  This is in contrast to stories like "Krypton Returns," which have nothing really to do with Supergirl and in fact interrupt the storyline of her own book just to promote a gimmick. Since this story will supposedly have a strong impact on the future direction of Supergirl, and since, at least as far as the solicits are telling us, the future direction is one that sounds like it may be more agreeable to me than the present, I was willing to take a shot.  And I was surprised by not being completely disappointed.  The story had very little to do with Supergirl herself, and she has only one line of dialogue in it, because apparently when one first gets a Red ring, one becomes a drooling barbarian incapable of doing more than raging with powers and grunting.  I thought this was a rather poetic way to end the first phase of Supergirl's existence in the New 52, since it is just a slightly exaggerated version of what she has already been doing -- i.e., being mindlessly violent.  The actual story among the GL/RL characters was surprisingly easy to follow despite not having read any lantern books before, and both stories were reasonably well written.  The art was passable if nothing to write home about. 7/10.

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