Time Enough At Last: Late Reviews from Latey McLaterson...

This shows you how behind I am. I actually wrote my original opener: "So much time and so little to do!

Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it."

three days before Graeme wrote his similar opening, and now of course it'd just looks foolish if I tried to use it.

A lot has been going on, however, some of which I should be able to fill you in on by the end of this week, but while the wolves have stopped clawing at my door:

52 WEEK #52: Despite having so much stuff that typically drives me crazy (time travel! expositionitis! arbitrary plot turns!) I ended up enjoying this very much. In fact, it ended up making me wanting to sit down with all 52 issues and read it all in a go--which I assure you is something I never even conceived of in the previous 51 weeks. I also dmired the elegance of having actions moving backward in time run right to left while the play of time runs left to right (like that double-page spread of Supernova chasing Skeets) which is such a natural use of the comics form it seems completely intuitive reading it. I don't know, maybe I've been won over by all the ass-kissy interviews over on Newsarama, but it really does feel like a big old goofy valentine to the DCU and a triumph of professionalism. (So all the weirder that Dan Didio's DC Nation page thanks everybody BUT the creative team, right? Plus the special thanks to Kristan Morrison, which you just know has gotta be one helluva juicy story, and it gives you an idea of that while DC can do this sort of thing--make a weekly comic and a huge sprawling year-long story--it may not be able to do it without talent, editorial and production ending up at loggerheads or something.)

So, yeah, I'd go with a Good for the whole experience, I guess? It was fun.

ALIEN PIG FARM #1: First issue promises this book to be Dukes of Hazzard Meets Alien which sounds just so crazy it might work. But after getting burned by City of Others #2 (among the more stupid acts of fiscal optimism in my comic buying history), I'm even less down with Steve Niles' patented brand of lazy-ass horror fiction than before. I'll give this issue an OK (it's certainly the best comic co-plotted by a B list celebrity I've read in the last year) but fully expect this to be the zenith of the series.

ALL NEW ATOM #11: Maybe if we'd seen Ryan carrying the torch for wassername since issue #1 this storyline would've worked, but...uh, nope. Just didn't work at all for me. Eh.

ASTONISHING X-MEN #21: Plenty of people whose opinion I trust (Paul O'Brien, Hibbs) are pretty underwhelmed but I could put this stuff on stale crackers for a whole year and still consider myself Lord of the Feast. (Yeah, I dunno--I'm channeling bad faux-Shakespeare through my fillings or something.) Pretty pictures! Clever words! Grown-up Kitty Pryde a million times sexier than that hideous "Coyote Ugly" thing Claremont was going for! If you liked early X-Men (and I mean, Claremont and Cockrum early) where half the pleasure is the trip, you'll think it Very Good. Obviously, I did.

AVENGERS INITIATIVE #2: Slott's either working the "I'm going to make you come to admire characters you hate" or the "I'm going to make you come to hate characters you've come to admire" angle and it's telling that I still can't tell which one. Sadly, it's not because he's being super-subtle or anything; I just think the whole thing is a badly staged mess. The take on the military here is both too cynical and too optimistic simultaneously to really work--you gotta buy that the higher-ups would try and cover up a death in training, for example, and unless a recruit died being tortured in a hazing incident gone wrong or something, I don't think that would happen. It's interesting that American comics have this ongoing interest in the military and I can't think of a single writer who is able to convey any interest or experience with the military whatsoever (apart from, of course, Garth Ennis).

As is the case with most comics, all of that would probably be forgiven if the art was kick-ass, but there's a very lame double-page spread of "all out war!" that's just six people climbing on top of three jets that shows how overwhelmed or disinterested the artist is. As you can tell, I found the whole thing deeply, deeply Sub-Eh.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #3: The art felt rushed here, which really puts the kibosh on the "unlimited budget" thing comics brag about from time to time (there's an enormous undead quadrille taking place and we don't get to see it once?) and the script had at least one big gimme that could've worked a little better. But really my biggest complaint is the story is wrapping up next issue and it feels like it's just revving up. Good stuff, but not quite as good as last issue.

CITY OF OTHERS #2: Last issue, I was caught by the "narrative voice" and the "dream-like nature" of the narrative so I signed up for the book, figuring I should reward Steve Niles for trying something a little different and man was that a HUGE mistake. This issue cranks up the retarded hack factor by about a billion, as it's revealed that the last of a race of vampires are fighting an army of zombies built by a mad scientist named (God help us) Chunx and only mannequin/protagonist Bludowski can turn the tides. The whole thing is similar to Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson's visit of classic horror archetypes in Swamp Thing--and by "similar," I mean "a sad, pathetic farce compared to." My only hope is that Mr. Wrightson is getting enough cash from this to build a solid gold statue of himself. Awful, awful stuff.

DETECTIVE COMICS #832: I was three steps ahead of this thanks to the shout-out to film classic The Third Man, but how can you not love The Terrible Trio? I had some quibblage but it was pretty OK, overall.

GREEN LANTERN #19: I was flipping through that Wizard Commentaries book on Friday, and reading Geoff Johns', Ethan Van Sciver's and (I think) Pete Tomasi's commentary on the making of Green Lantern: Rebirth was pretty telling. It went something like:

JOHNS: It used to drive me crazy that they kept having Hal travel cross-country to find himself. The first time was fine, but then they kept having him do it over and over and it made no sense to me. Hal Jordan knows who he is: he's a bad-ass.

SCIVER: Totally. Part of why I was so excited to work with Geoff on this project is that we were bringing back Hal Jordan, bad-ass.

TOMASI: In fact, when Geoff first turned in this scene, we had a long talk about whether Hal seemed enough of a bad-ass, and Geoff went back and tweaked a line or two so that Hal was two times badder, and at least three times assier, than before. And it turns out that was just what the scene needed.

And that probably explains this whole issue where Hal Jordan, bad-ass, must save his old girlfriend while not giving into the Cosmic Vagina Trap of his new girlfriend. (Now that I think about it, if this book had just had that classic Neal Adam cover of Green Arrow dramatically hollering, "Green Lantern, NO!!!! If you put your penis in Star Sapphire's vagina, the EARTH is DOOMED!!!" it'd be awesome.)

Nice art, though. And that Sinestro Corps back-up was great. So, OK.

INCREDIBLE HULK #106: I keep forgetting that World War Hulk is its own mini, so I was surprised and bummed that instead of "Hulk Smash!" we got "I Was A Teenage Tao," part 1. Pretty decent as far as set-ups go, but can we get to the smashing, please? OK.

MARVEL ZOMBIES ARMY OF DARKNESS #3: Nice little resolution of the cliffhanger, and thanks to the amusing cameos (Hey, Nextwave!) I ended up reading it with an amused grin on my face pretty much all the way through. Considering I find reading a comic book recreation of a Bruce Campbell character as innately beside-the-point as listening to a Playmate of the Month read an audiobook, that's quite an achievement. Highly OK if you're a Marvel nerd.

MIDNIGHTER #7: A very cool idea and truly awful execution make this an interesting misfire of a book, as Brian K. Vaughan tries to tell a Midnighter story backwards in order to show...what? Even if you can buy the change in Midnighter's powers (from being able to see every move in a fight and pick the best possible outcome for himself to being able to do that, apparently, all the time), it really doesn't seem to have any point other than an initially amusing splash page. (Maybe it's a veiled critique of how formulaic Midnighter stories are?) If you read the story from back to front (forwards in time) it's not even really a story as much an extended opening scene. To make matters worse, it seems like BKV only had the time or inclination to think about how to make the first and last three pages resonate as pieces to be read either forwards or backwards and the rest seems just tossed out there with maybe half an effort made for some resonance, if that (characters at the top of a page saying, "that's disgusting!" are reacting to a comment by Midnighter when read in one direction and, uh, something disgusting in the other direction).

Nice art by Darick Robertson and maybe BKV couldn't have pulled it off if he had really put his back into it, but man, was it disappointing to seem him not even try--this may be the most dashed-off lazily ambitious piece of hackwork I've seen from a major comics talent since the last time I read a Steranko story. Awful.

PUNISHER #47: The story of the discarded mob wife who's back for revenge would make a perfectly fine crime story even without our man with the skull chest--and that's just the kind of thing this book needs to make it a Very Good read. I'm enjoying this arc a lot.

Damn, I had just a few more reviews but they're never going to get finished the way work is dogpiling on me. I'll try to wrap this up tomorrow.