This Place Is Killing Me: Graeme reviews 4/16

Was it just me, or were this week’s comics kind of… bad? Not even enjoyably so, just very run of the mill and lacking in joy. Maybe that’s a sign that I’m reading the wrong comics (And somewhere, Alan David Doane cheers in agreement), but still. Where are the smiles, people? Where is the awesome?

Be warned: I spoil Captain Marvel’s big reveal under the jump, and the end of Countdown #2. Don’t come complaining to me when you find out what happens to Darkseid.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #12: With the news that Mark Waid’s leaving the book with #16, I kind of despair about the lack of success of such a straight-ahead, basic fun superhero book as this. Sure, it might be missing alien invasions or evil gods winning and crushing humanity’s spirit, but surely there’s got to be something to say about good old fashioned superhero action…? Maybe not; this issue, while still Good, lacks the lightness and ease of earlier issues, feeling more like a rush to hit plot points than a coherent story in its own right. Yes, it’s still old school, but in the sense of an average Justice League of America issue that Tom Katers would make fun of instead of the updated Silver Age-y quality of previous issues in the series.

CAPTAIN MARVEL #5: Huh. I can’t help but feel that the reveal that Captain Marvel is just a Skrull sleeper who ends up going rogue is going to piss as many fans off as it will please others. It feels like a “Having cake and eating it” ploy – You get to have the character back without undoing the death, and all by doing a variation on the clone idea. Beyond stringing along Mar’Vell fans, I can’t see the point of this series in retrospect; pulling the bait and switch right at the end may set up Secret Invasion, but it feels as if a lot of the earlier work was invalidated as a result. Eh.

COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #2: Well, now we’re getting somewhere. It’s just that the “somewhere” is so clearly not going to stick (Ignoring that Darkseid is the main bad guy of a series starting next month, this is, what, the fourth time that he’s died?), and the journey took so long that very few people even really care anymore. Scott Kolins’ art gets appropriately Kirby-esque in scale despite the rushed feel to the inks, and would’ve been the high point of the issue if not for Ryan Sook’s artwork on the two page secret origin of Darkseid at the end of the book. Someone get him on a New Gods series immediately, please. Eh.

DC/WILDSTORM: DREAMWAR #1: Someone needs to tell Keith Giffen that it’s one thing to start a story with a lot of confusion, but you need some kind of grounding and explanation for readers to buy into it. While I get that the DCU characters are appearing in the Wildstorm world without explanation, there’s not really any introduction to the Wildstorm characters or status quo for me to grab onto to understand why I should be bothered… Instead, it’s so clichéd with the “Heroes clash!” scenes that it kind of reads like a parody of a superhero crossover. I’d say that this Crap comic was a wasted opportunity, but I’m not really convinced that there was that much opportunity here to begin with.

IRON MAN: LEGACY OF DOOM #1: Talking of old school (Admittedly, that would’ve worked better if I’d put this after the Brave and Bold review), this is a curious throwback of a book, but an enjoyable enough one if you wished that it was still the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. I’m not enough of a fan of Micheline, Layton, Ron Lim or Iron Man for it to be more than Okay to me, but somewhere out there, fanboys are probably very, very happy about this series.

X-MEN: DIVIDED WE STAND #1: From a business standpoint, this book makes perfect sense – It’s a grab for shelf-space, capitalizing on the revitalized X-Books and buzz that “Messiah Complex” generated. On every other level, though, it’s just confusing; stories that are too short to have any real impact, mired in continuity that makes them confusing for people who haven’t been following the entire franchise for years, and acting as poor showcases for the talents involved (Compare Jamie McKelvie’s wonderful Suburban Glamour to his work here, even with the Matt Fraction script, and you’ll see what I mean). It reads like lots of filler stories all grouped together just to clear out someone’s drawer; Crap, then.

This week: Countdown finishes, and my fingers are genuinely crossed for some kind of climax that makes me re-evaluate the entire series… I won't get it, but there's some value in hoping, nonetheless.