A Little Late, A Little Early: Jeff Wraps Up His 3/14 Reviews.

This is where the funny would go, if I wasn't up and writing this before six in the god-damned a.m. TEEN TITANS #44: As long as we get an unfucked-up Batgirl out of this, they can totally get away with the "fortunately, I have the antidote in my utility belt right here" trick. Hell, Robin could use a syringe full of Magic Wishing Juice and I'd go for it. I'm surprised that Hibbs didn't like this as I thought it did a great job of giving each Titan their opposite number, which is very Silver Age. (I know he wasn't happy with all the torture, but that's, you know, Claremont's X-Men which was the inspiration for the Wolfman-Perez revival in the first place, right?) My only real problem with the book is that it always feels like it's been three months since I read the last issue--which speaks to either a bad publishing schedule or how little I really care about the title. But I'd give it a low Good, at least.

THUNDERBOLTS #112: That one page with Stan Lee just about made me laugh myself sick, which tempts me to bump the whole book up to Good, but why does it feel so formulaic after, what, three issues?

I don't quite agree with Hibbs, by the way: although Suicide Squad is a cult fan favorite, I don't get much of an impression anyone at Marvel is even aware of it. (Was Joe Quesada even in comics when Suicide Squad was being published? Was Ellis?) The presence of all their "A-list" supervillains (as opposed to the Squad's more expendable C-list makes me think they're taking their inspiration from elsewhere (although if it was pitched as "It's like Identity Disc, but written by Warren Ellis!" that'd be really sad). And I think maybe they are gonna be messing more with these characters (I think Venom will be around for a while but poor ol' Mac Gargan won't) than Hibbs might think.

And yet, after making such a spirited defense, I have to admit the whole enterprise feels like a car that's already running on vapors, coasting down a long hill at a pace steady enough to avoid all the stoplights, in the hopes there's a gas station down there in the valley somewhere.

WONDER WOMAN #5: What happened on that last page? The guy killed himself by exploding? His ex-wife killed him? Wonder Woman pulled a Maxwell Lord? And the rest of the issue seemed really weird to me: "Once I saw a woman flying, even though I myself cannot fly, I knew I could accomplish anything!" suggests to me that mainstream media in the DCU has more difficulty with powerful women than the media here. I may have been especially resistant to this issue because (a) not reading Newsarama, only Hibbs informing me in advance kept me from expecting the wrap-up of Heinberg's story; and (b) I kept imagining Dave Sim making fun of all the women in the issue but I thought this was cheaty Awful stuff. As Hibbs would say: Foo.

PICK OF THE WEEK: BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #1: less filling, but tastes great.

PICK OF THE WEAK: GHOST RIDER #9, or maybe JLA CLASSIFIED #36, depending on what you hold dear in your life and would thus account for which book you find more blasphemous.

TRADE PICK: Yeah, JAMES KOCHALKA'S AMERCIAN ELF v2. The garish color thing is rough--it's like reading a book printed on Fruit Stripe gum--and keeps you from reading for an extended period of time without your eyeballs literally throbbing, but so far the content is exceptional--touching, funny, insightful and deeply human. Although I was worried baby Eli might tone down the Kochenanigans, there still seems to be the right balance of profanity, drunken weeping, observational humor and child-like wonder to keep the reader delighted. Excellent stuff and worth hunting up, but find your sunglasses first.