Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Comic-Book Night - 3/19/14

Finally, despite continuing wintry weather, I have managed to make a second trip in a row to the comic-book shop, actually on new comic-book night.  Instead of being a regular thing this has started to become an exception, owing almost entirely to week after week of icy weather and hazardous travel conditions.  It's been since early January that I have been able to make regular trips.

But, the weather was unremarkable today, and so I was able to make it.  I picked up four brand-new comics and a back-issue.  The new comics are Supergirl 29; Thor, God of Thunder 20; Lazarus 7; and Ghosted 8. The back-issue is the 1990s Power of Shazam 18.  This series is one that I have mostly complete, but I have a few gaps.  Out of the forty-seven issues, seven (after getting 18) remain.  My goal is, over the next couple of months, to slowly fill out the collection until I have every issue.  Then, next year, after I finish my regular reviews of Rom: Spaceknight, I will swap over to doing 47 weekly reviews of Power of Shazam.

Below, I will briefly review each issue.

Lazarus 7 - Rucka and Lark hit it out of the park again, which at this point is nothing new. This seventh issue continues to develop the background of our main star, Forever, and also follows the story of the Barret family, waste survivors who are trying to get to Denver and become elevated to Serf status.  The Barrets have a tough time of it, getting into a gunfight with bandits. One of their number is killed, and another wounded. Meanwhile, Eve investigates corruption in the Family, and offers serfdom to a captured female spy in exchange for information.  As usual, the art is fantastic, and the story is engaging. The dialogue crackles with energy.  Rucka and Lark are doing a spectacular job month in and month out, and my only complaint is that they do not seem able to manage to keep a regular monthly schedule on this book. But when it comes out, man do they produce some special work. Once again, full marks - 10/10.

Ghosted 8 - This book has had its ups and downs. I don't like this story arc anywhere near as well as the first one, mainly because there are not enough interesting supporting characters. I'm still not sure whether I like the ghost of Anderson hanging around, although I do enjoy her sarcasm. There are some good twists and turns in this story.  I was actually toying with dropping this title, and I'm still on the fence about it. The art, since Sudzuka left, has been decidedly poor -- very sloppy looking. I'm not a fan of sloppy art.  I'll keep with this book for the rest of this arc, and if the story stays decent, I will wait and see if another artist comes on board soon. But if by issue 12 or so we don't have some better visuals, I'm probably going to drop it.  This issue was better than any since the end of the first arc, though... so 7/10.

Thor, God of Thunder 20 - Another outstanding issue from Aaron and Ribic, this story continues the theme of Thor both in the present and future trying to save the earth.  The future-Thor storyline features Galactus -- always a great villain to have around. Galactus looks old and tired here, thanks to the great artwork of Ribic.  The present-Thor story is good as far as it goes. However, I could do without the preachy elements of the story regarding environmentalism and capitalism.  Fortunately it looks like we're going to get away from the standard "rich guy raping the environment without any care for the consequences" mode, since the head of Roxxon has some... well... special talents we are just starting to discover.  Overall, another solid performance. 9/10.

Supergirl 29 - Tony Bedard turns in another mediocre story in the ill-conceived "Red Daughter of Krypton" plotline.  Billed as a way to get Kara "through" her rage period, all that seems to be happening so far (3 issues into it) is a continuation of the mindless-rage plot.  This issue feels largely like filler, since we are told at the start that it takes place before last month's issue of Green Lantern/Red Lanterns 28.  Given that we already know what is going to happen to Kara (she ends up flying through space babbling incoherently and getting Red Lantern juice all over everyone), there is zero suspense here. It feels like they weren't ready to get her past that part of the story so they wrote this unnecessary chapter.  Also, there is a clear hiccup with Supergirl's continuity in the New 52, as Bedard shows us scenes between Siobahn and Kara that could not possibly have taken place. For example, he shows them deciding to be room-mates. When did this happen? It could not have occurred before #13 (Kara is speaking English, which she learned magically thanks to H'el in issue 14), and since #13, Kara has not been on earth long enough to do anything other than rage a little bit. This is basically a retcon, and makes the story in this issue even less reasonable.  That is, to get the story, which is just filler, to work at all, Bedard had to invent a history for Supergirl that never actually happened.  Without that, the story would be even more obviously empty filler. On the plus side, the characterization of Siobahn, at least, was decent. That's about the only positive thing I can say about this story. 6/10.

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