Horseradish Ketchup: Johanna Tries to Get Current

Following Graeme's lead, here's quick takes on the superhero books still sitting around from weeks previous. (And yeah, Graeme, really weird week here, too. Very mood swingy.) Stormwatch PHD #10 -- It surprises me to realize this, but this title is probably my current favorite team book. (Although statements like that say as much about what else is available as the quality of this title; and the last time I said something like that, it was about Power Company, so we see what that's worth.)

Anyway, the strength of this title is characterization, as the plots so far have been pretty simple "bad guy team infiltrates, then attacks" or "someone is attacked, find out who did it". The roster's huge, with new characters and returned-from-the-dead from previous title incarnations and, in this issue, faux historical characters. Someone is killing retired Stormwatchers, which gives writer Christos Gage reason to create yet more superheroes. I don't mind, he's good at it. Ghetto Blaster? New Romantic? Not only are they on-point concepts (summarizing powers and look succinctly), they capture the sense of a particular era.

(I don't mind simple plots for superhero titles, actually. They're easier to remember month-to-month. There's a reason they're classics. And the fun comes with the details put around the edges.)

The characters are why I enjoy the series, especially since Gage has come up with two of my favorite new superhero women. First, Gorgeous, a former moll whose power is manipulating people. I find her an insightful comment on the roles women are forced into and how they subvert them from the inside. She's a classic version of the streetwise sexpot who's got the upper hand because she knows a lot more about people than they realize. All they see is body and blonde. Think Harlow with a psychology master's.

Second, Black Betty. She's got generic magic powers, but she's so inspirationally cheery that it's a pleasant contrast from the usual version of those types of characters. Unfortunately, she isn't given any distinctive dialogue this issue, so you'll have to take my word for it. I also like the way these characters have relationships -- marriages, flings, and everything in between.

Artist Andy Smith does sexy superheroes (WildStorm's reason for existing) well, in the classic exaggerated "realistic" style, although he sometimes makes people appear generically interchangeable.

This was Good. So much for brief, hunh? Let's see if I can move more quickly.

Gen 13 #11 -- Waste of paper. Tries to do something clever with meta-commentary on previous versions and multiverses, but way too many characters means the reader is quickly lost in forgettable interaction. The concept's time is over. Bury it. Awful

Hawkgirl #66 -- Didn't read the series, mainly because when this latest version relaunched, I didn't care for Howard Chaykin's nipple-tastic art. So why am I praising the final issue of the series? Because Walter Simonson shows how you should close a title in a shared universe.

The big premise, the Hawks' cycle of reincarnation, is resolved; there's a big fight with the big villain, who's defeated; the love story recurring subplot is given a happy ending; Kendra's psychological problems (stemming from mystic schizophrenia) are fixed; and the two Hawks fly off together into the sunset. The characters are put back to the way that works best for any future writers, and readers get as much resolution as you can have in a never-ending superhero universe. Good

Supergirl #20 -- Hey, we put a new writer and a new artist on Supergirl, and there's lots of online buzz about new readers being interested in trying the title, so let's make their first issue tie in with the illogical Amazons Attack! That'll annoy the continuity fans following the crossover who don't like change AND the new readers who have no idea what's going on and don't care! Idiots running the ship, I swear.

Turns out it was all bait and switch anyway; Bedard and Guedes are only on for three issues until the real new creative team takes over. Right. Fool me once...

No rating because I was so annoyed I didn't read it.