Friday, May 4, 2012

Comics of the Week - They Can't All Be Winners

I'm going to call this proof that being a successful novelist does not make one qualified to write a comic book. I've never read a China Mieville book, but I've heard the name and a big deal was made about him writing Dial H for DC. I also never read Dial H in its previous incarnations, but the premise is something that seems interesting. Characters dial the word "hero" on a phone and are randomly turned into a hero with bizarre powers. Well, I guess if I really want to explore this idea I'll be going back to the older versions, because this one did not work for me. The writing on this seemed to be all over the place, tonally and structurally. I got the sense that maybe the writer wasn't taking the story seriously on some pages, and maybe too seriously on others. If not for the art, by Mateus Santolouco, even the sequence of events would have been lost. This may get better as it goes, but it's not for me.

When DC announced that they were introducing Earth 2 into the new universe, I wasn't sure the time was right. We haven't gotten to know the new versions of the characters in the regular universe well enough yet to introduce alternate versions. All that being said, I was still going to read it because, soon or not, I'm a sucker for alternate universes. Here we have a book that I guess takes its cues from the new Justice League series, and twists the details. On this Earth, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and I guess all the heroes, fought Darkseid's forces later in their careers and while they manage to save the world, let's just say sacrifices were made. By the end of the book, we are introduced to Jay Garrick and Allen Scott (the original Flash and Green Lantern in the old continuity) and the last page gives us a provocative new origin for one of them. This series looks very promising. I only read some of Robinson's work on JSA, but I did like what I read. He wrote those versions of these characters well, so it will be interesting to see how he develops these new versions as we go on. Nicola Scott makes this book look enough like Jim Lee's Justice League to bridge the gap between the two Earths, but I hope his style changes a bit as we go forward. Either way, I already like it more than I liked the few issues of Justice League I read. I'm on board for now.

Along with Earth 2, we get Worlds' Finest, staring Huntress and Power Girl, who used to be Robin and Supergirl back on Earth 2, but are stranded on our world for reasons we don't yet know. This picks up right after Paul Levitz' Huntress miniseries, which was pretty good. This book was a lot of fun and looks to be a good way to reveal some of the history of Earth 2. A bonus is that we have some more strong female characters here. I think this book can easily become one of the top titles of the new universe as it goes on. I'm excited to see where it goes and what happens when the ladies meet some of the other heroes of the DCU.

I think my excitement for this book was based on how much I've liked most of the new creator owned books Image has been putting out. I didn't really know enough about the premise going in and the only other thing I can think of that I read of Jim McCann's was Return of the Dapper Men, which I did like. Mind the Gap is basically about a girl who is attacked(?) and winds up in a coma where she meets several other disembodied coma patients. She was apparently involved in some sort of experiment and there are mysterious characters doing mysterious things. Basically, there's a mystery here. I'm just not sure it's one I care to solve. There were moments here that reminded me of Morning Glories, which I enjoy, but I don't think I want to be on board for another slow burn mystery book like that. The thing about Morning Glories is that the characters carry the thrust of the narrative so that I'm now invested in their stories, regardless of the greater mysteries involved. But this book, while it did have some interesting character moments, also had some things that seemed a little forced and took me out of the story. Maybe it's because this first issue was too long and not enough really was revealed for so many pages. Maybe we should have gotten to know the coma patient before she was in a coma. Either way, this was not for me.

Young girl assassins are their own genre at this point. I would trace this back as far as La Femme Nikita, but it possibly goes back even further. In recent years, the girls have gotten younger, with Hit Girl being the youngest I can think of. But there are common elements, even if they all don't share them. There's an older man who trains the young girl. There is often some sort of amnesia that may or may not be the result of brainwashing. The young girl is usually operating on instinct. And, of course, there's vengeance. While all these things have become cliched, I still picked up Epic Kill by Raffaele Ienco, because, well, why not? I guess the twist in this story is that the revenge the girl is seeking is against a man who is now the President of the USA. Nothing groundbreaking here, really, but the book was entertaining. The action moved along well. Although there wasn't much character development, that's OK since I wasn't really expecting there to be much. But I suspect that Ienco, who is writing and drawing the book, is well aware of the archetype he's working with, because in the back, there were several pages of pinups where he drew his main character, Song, as various other female assassins from comics and movies. So this could turn out to be a fun exploration of the concept, if it's not taken too seriously.

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