Something Hasty Is The Soul of Something Funny? Reviews of 8/17/05

Blah, blah, blah, busy…yadda, yadda, newsletter…yak, yak, yak, not nearly as many comics, etc.: Oh, and new Tilting from Hibbs.

BALLAST ONE SHOT: On the plus side, this was a strong enough issue that I want to read issue #2. On the minus side, this is solicited as a one-shot, so who knows when we’ll see issue #2? As a hook to a series (a brutal hitman finds himself forced to do the Lord’s work), it’s very enjoyable. As a one-shot, it’s the first chapter of a book sold as a self-contained story. Which it’s not. So, as the latter, Eh.

BATGIRL #67: Except for the apparently-standard “let me greet you by trying to kick your head off” scene, I liked this. The Bat-family has become a confoundingly large constellation of individuals, but there are times when that pays off, like in the scenes between Barbara and Cassandra here. Exasperations with previous parts of the storyline keep me from rating this Good, so let’s go with a very high OK.

BATMAN JOURNEY INTO KNIGHT #1: Tan Eng Huat’s work is a little more subdued than I remember it, but it suits the story well, and by setting the story early in Batman’s career, Helfer’s witty dialogue doesn’t cut against the grain of the milieu as much as it might. Not a showstopper, but a relatively enjoyable read. Also a high OK.

BIRDS OF PREY #85: The team on this clicks more and more each issue, and I thought this ish was a particularly good read…while I was reading it. But afterward, I felt like it didn’t hold together very well. What’s the point in having a fight with honor if you’re going to cheat? For that matter, if you’re going to cheat, why don’t you just have your buddy Green Lantern come by and sweep all your vicious killer opponents to jail? (A point reinforced by all the superheroes on every other page of the book.) Rather than go for the conflicted Good, lemme once again chicken out with a high OK.

DEFENDERS #2: Although it’s got pages and pages of witty banter, there’s still the sense that something is at stake here and I appreciate that. And if you had to pick a team to turn into a bunch of self-absorbed bickerers, the original Defenders is a pretty good choice. I wouldn’t want every book on the stands to read like it, but I’d call this Good if you have a fondness for the characters.

DETECTIVE COMICS #810: If you were the new crime lord of Gotham, would you dress up as Batman to try and discredit him? I failed my saving throw against suspension of disbelief. Toss in a back-up story gruesome enough to make me search the book for a comics code seal (did DC abandon that, too?) and I guess I’d call this Awful.

GI JOE SNAKE-EYES DECLASSIFIED #1: I read this because, although I have a slight fondness for Snake-Eyes, I don’t really have any sort of emotional investment: hell, make him a former loud-mouthed draft dodger turned silent ninja type if you want, I don’t care. But although the script here avoids any such dynamic reversals, it seems pretty lacking in any dynamism whatsoever. As was the case with Boba Fett, some silent types are better off without any origin whatsoever. Eh.

GIRLS #4: I guess I’m just going to have to accept I’m not getting what I want from this mini and move on. I admire the Luna Brothers for trying something so different from their last project but, four issues in, it reads like a topless version of Gremlins. If something particularly interesting comes from this, I might write about it again, otherwise this disconsolate Eh will probably be my last word on the subject.

GODLAND #2: Making the bad guy a cosmic druggie was funny and, as with last issue, that Kirbyish art really scratched an itch. My hope is the creators can walk that fine line between having fun with the material and making fun of the material. Good.

GREEN LANTERN #3: It’s got explosions and robots and fighter jets and deadlines and superheroes robbed of their powers…so why so dull? Maybe it’s not, maybe it’s just me. But the issue felt less than organic, as if Johns had carefully constructed it to correct for years and years of “wuss Hal.” And there’s nothing wrong with careful construction, Lord knows, but it felt so calculated as to be pat, and pretty unengaging. For me, anyway, this was in the lowish OK range.

LEX LUTHOR MAN OF STEEL #5: Some of the art on this miniseries was terrific and I appreciated that Azzarello’s wordplay strove to do more than call attention to its own cleverness…but I was also pretty lost a good chunk of the time: do the events in the miniseries allude to other Superman stories? Because they seem so heavily truncated as to not stand on their own here, which gave this issue, in particular, a very “glass half-empty” feel. Despite all the talent, I’ll go with Eh.

LIVEWIRES #6: I guess I should feel pleased with myself for figuring out where Warren was going with this ahead of time, but instead it just kinda points out how lackluster the whole miniseries has been. Clever and had lots of the ol’ splodey, but the emotional side of it didn’t work and the end just kinda lies there like a sick dog. Maybe it’ll read great as a trade, but it was a very disappointing Eh to me.

SEVEN SOLDIERS KLARION THE WITCH BOY #3: Ahhhh. That’s the stuff. This issue read like, I dunno, a Goth version of Disney’s Pinocchio or something, and I thought it was great. Nothing more to say here but Very Good.

TOP TEN BEYOND THE FARTHEST PRECINCT #1: Unfortunately, my artsy-fartsy lit snob thing will doubtlessly cloud my critical judgment here: any writer who’s gonna use the first sentence of Gravity’s Rainbow as an issue title is going to get something like a free pass from me. True, it’s not as deep as the first mini, but Ordway does a great job planting all those lovely visual puns in every panel, De Filippo has smarts and wit to spare, and I was happy to see these characters again—I’m fond of them. There’s some real problems with storytelling—confusion as to who’s speaking and the transitions between scenes in particular—but nothing critical. I liked this a lot more than I thought I would, errors and all. Good.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1: Dang, I totally forgot to read this at the store. Was it any good?

PICK OF THE WEEK: No reason you should take my word for it since I read so little, but Seven Soldiers Klarion The Witch Boy #3 was the best of the batch as far as I’m concerned.

PICK OF THE WEAK: Unsurprisingly, Detective Comics #810. “Gee, Al, that Elliott Ness is really hot on your trail!” “You’re right, Johnny! I better dress up like him and discredit him! Much easier than getting you to do it!”

TRADE OF THE WEEK: Would that it would have been Chynna Clugston’s Queen Bee, but I thought the first 30 pages or so were so amateurish (wayyyyyyyy too much telling, not nearly enough showing) I was really disappointed—I’m assuming there were deadline problems or something because this wasn’t up to Clugston’s usual standard of work at all.

It didn’t come out this week, but I took home the ineffably strange Pure Trance by Junko Mizuno. It is blowing my tiny mind.