Friday, September 30, 2011

Comics of the Week - No More New 52

The last week of the New 52 was not as strong as the rest. This week gave us I, Vampire, which I only picked up after some buzz was generated on the webs, and wish I hadn't. Not sure what the story even was, to be honest. Also, Savage Hawkman, which is filled with plot points that defy even a glancing logic and the introduction of Venom into the DCnU. I wish I could say I read Superman #1, but I have yet to be able to finish it. So many words! Many of them redundant. Then there's these 3. . . .

Aquaman may seem like a lame hero, but when you really look at his powers, he's not lame at all. His body is adapted to withstand the intense pressure of the bottom of the deepest ocean, which results in him being nearly invulnerable and super strong when on land. As he points out in this issue, he does not talk to fish, but rather can telepathically connect with parts of their brain to get them to act. This part of their brain is shared by humans, and in past stories he's been able to cause seizures in humans. In short, Aquaman can kick your ass. Easily. Still, he never gets any respect. Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis have put a comic together that manages to address all the jokes and still make Aquaman a powerful, compelling, character. I laughed out loud several times reading this, and each moment lead to another moment that dispelled the joke and showed Aquaman as the tough guy he's supposed to be. I don't know if the humor of this issue can be maintained throughout a series without coming off as one note, but I hope they find a way. This was just fun superhero comics like nothing else I've seen in the relaunch.

Francis Manupaul is an artist with a capital A as far as I'm concerned. His style perfectly matches the kinetic energy of something like The Flash. There's also an element of design in the layouts of this book, particularly in the title page, that tells you he's not just thinking about his figures, but the whole package. This book is beautiful to look at. The story, though, is not that great. The dialogue is pretty clunky and redundant in spots. I really wish that Manupaul was just the artist on this book instead of co-writer with Brian Buccelato, who I am not familiar with at all. With a better writer this book would be special, like the first few issues of the last Flash ongoing series. Instead, it's just an OK story that you can't take your eyes off of.

I happen to agree with the criticisms of last week's Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws as being objectionable representations of women, though I think the point was made and some of the critics are now just overstating their concerns. What's interesting is that one of the criticisms was what would little girls think when seeing naked, blank, Starfire posing and having sex in a book that was rated T for Teen. Valid point. However, there's also violence to consider. This week gave us Fury of Firestorm #1, also rated T for Teen, which opened with a brutal scene in which a young boy watches terrorists slit his father's throat before his eyes. I have no problem with violence in my comics and I hate censorship. However, it's interesting that the violence in this issue, and really in most of the new 52 books, hasn't been brought up by the same critics of the sexuality.  Are they not troubled with that same little girl reading this book? It seems to me there's a double standard when showing concern here, particularly when this book is co-written by Gail Simone, a female creator, and Ethan Van Sciver. The book itself, possibly, has the potential to deal with race issues, but unfortunately, the story seems a little convoluted, at least so far. I still think the potential is there and I hope this book evolves into something more than this first issue, but (and I never thought I'd find myself saying this) I hope they tone down the violence as I think the possibility of having the main characters discuss race relation issues in a realistic way, is one that should reach a wider audience.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I more than noticed the "let's kill a whole family in the opening scene" bit, but its so par-for-the-course in this relaunch that I'm almost numb to it. I guess we're over the post 9/11 dial-back in shock value violence that was becoming all-too-common circa 2000-2001.