This weeks reviews are a bit heftier than normal. All told, out of 3 comics, 1 did much better than it would be expected to, and two oth3ers were as abysmal as one would expect. One was so bad that it insprired me to try some script writing. I really think it makes as much sense as the actual comics. Now, without further delay
Brave New World #1
Civil War Frontline #2
Dang. Aside from the emerging problems that became obvious last issue, this is a pretty good series. As the problems are more a function of bad editing than anything else, it is easy enough to look at this as an intelligently written comic working under a bad editorial policy. Tim Seeley draws some interesing parelells between the two franchises, and applies actual ideas to said paralells. So far, Seely has used leadership, loyalty, and now history. There are some off hand continuity notes (apparently, quite a bit has happened between arcs.) The worst thing about this book is that it manages to outshine either of its source franchises, making them seem even worse.
Grade: A The preview art for next issue promises a well handled resolution to this arc.
Brave and the Bold #1.
DC does exactly what I assumed they were setting up for with Infinite Crisis. And, they manage to shock even me with how bad it is. It is a good thing that Dan Didio's editorial explicitly said that this was not "just a preview book", or I would have made the mistake of thinking this was just a preview book (and a bad one at that). The cover bills this comic as wrap-up for the still running "Infinite Crisis", (now being billed as "52"), and the first few pages set up for "the next big thing". (Just think, "Infinite Crisis" has taken 2 years to do nothing, and DC is already looking ahead to the next big story.) The (not just) preview stories range from mediocre to awful. The first few, explication heavy pages set up a "mysterious narrator" type (commonly seen in comics), that promises the "next big thing."
Do not be fooled. Despite the fact that these guys look like the old Freedom Fighters, they are new characters who just happen to look a good deal like the old team, and have similar powers. Oh, and Uncle Sam is back from the dead, and playing mysterious narrator, while not being the same narrator from the opening pages. Yep. Inconsistent narrative is also a big thing in comics now.
OMAC: The best thing about this story is that it was revealed to be a bad dream at the end. It makes a lovely, if unintended metaphor for DC's current editiorial direction.
Okay, not terrible. But, why bother?
Well, DC's latest failed attempt to relaunch a character they acquired following litigation (decades ago) starts off terribly. How do I know this relaunch will fail? Well, if past experience is anything to go by, Shazam relaunches tend to be short and characterized by failure. This story is especially regressive in that it falls back on the old and trite trick of gratuitously killing off 3rd tier characters to show that the writers really mean business this time. (Because, we all now this trick did not get old about 15 years ago.) Of course, even Mary Marvel's death might carry some weight if there was any reason to think it would stick. (DC just brought back a D-lister this month, after said character was dead for about 6 months.) The mystery narrator, seems to explicate here.
Wow. For a reboot, this comic sure reads retro. The ending is especially stupid. Oh, and the Atom narrates his own story, giving our mystery narrator from the begining a break.
Frankly, DC should have left Creeper dead. (How and why they brought him back is still a mystery to me. But, hey, there is still hope for Mary Marvel.) The premise for the series is interesting enough, but DC editorial does not inspire confidence that it will be well handled.
And, our mystery narrator is revealed. The Monitor (an old, obscure, McGuffin of a character who died 20+ years ago) is back, and he is one of many Monitors. A Moniotor Militia if you will. Golly gee, DC's "next big thing" really looks stupid, and the "current big thing" ain't even resolved yet.
My best guess is that the "next, next big thing" will be initiated by a mob of Mary Marvels, with a bit of help from the old Freedom Fighters.
Civil War Frontline #2:
Ugh. For those of you who have not heard, this is Marvel's "event" story. They even call it "A Marvel Comics Event" on the cover. Just like DC, Marvel's editorial policy seems to be pretty flexible. By that I mean, it is pretty derned aimless. I have no doubt that Marvel will get some new readers with this series (especially as it has been hyped on NPR, and in other forums), but I wonder how many readers will stick around. And, frankly, this series likely ain't gonna do much for old readers. All time stupidest plot point: Spiderman unmasks himself publicly. (Because, ya know, that time Green Goblin found out who Spidey was back in the 70s went well, and only resulted in Spiderman's girl-friend getting tossed off a bridge. Yeah, after that, Spidey unmasking himself in public makes perfect sense...um......I guess....)
How did Spidey sell this idea to his current wife?
Okay, here is how I think it went down.
(The Parker family kitchen, MJ is seated at a table, Spidey is in costume, near the window)
Spidey: Honey, I have been thinking.
MJ: I know. Your thought balloons are cluttering this kitchen.
Spidey: Um, yeah. Anyway, I am thinking of unmasking myself, in public I mean.
MJ: (horrified) Bwah?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Why would you do that?
Spidey: (matter of factly) Past experience.
MJ: But, the when the Green Goblin discovered your identity, he murdered your girl-friend, and then, years later, (when we all thought he was dead), he came back, kidnapped (and maybe killed) out daughter, and he kidnapped your aunt. The fact he might still be out there still worries me. ----(shocked) Who the hell are you?!?!?!?!?!
Uatu the Watcher: I am the Watcher.
Spidey: Hey big guy. What brings you here.
Uatu: I am the Watcher. I watch, doomed to observe, but never participate in the great drama of.....
Spidey: Sure, we get it.
MJ: What the hell are you doing here?
Uatu: I am watching.
Spidey: Why us?
Uatu: I am here to observe a matter of cosmic import.
Spidey: I suppose the outcome of our arguement is really critical.
MJ: I'll say it is. Where were we? Oh, yeah, the Green Goblin kidnapping and killing family members.
Spidey: Yeah, but think how well all that worked. I married you. Our daughter might sort of be Spidergirl (unless her book gets cancelled, and she dies), and Aunt May is back. And, I think Green Goblin is dead again.
MJ: That does not make any sense.
Spidey: Exactly! None of this does. Events here at Marvel stopped following a logical sequence about 10 years ago.
MJ: Is that 10 years of our time, or real time? (suddenly looks at Uatu) Will you get the hell out of here? Can't you watch something else? (Uatu dissappears)
Spidey: Who cares! I am off to the press conference!
MJ: (frantic) Wait!
Spidey: (annoyed) Calm down. What is the worst that could go wrong?
MJ: Well, I could find myself confronting one of your enemies, not to mention every whack-job in the world. I could be raped and murdered, maybe not in that order.
Spidey: (dismissive) Ah, and how long would that stick for? Now, I really do have to go if I want to make today's newscycle. (goes out window on web)
MJ: I hope this marriage does not stick........
(voice from off panel: No need for that kind of talk.
MJ: Uatu, get out of here!
(Joe Qesada walks in)
MJ: Who the hell are you?
JoeQ: Hi, I am the editor of Marvel Comics!
MJ: What are you doing here? First that creepy Uatu....
MJ: Are you still here?
Uatu: I never left. Never stopped watching! I just turned invisible.
JoeQ: He can do that. If you had read out handy-dandy Handbooks to the Marvel Universe, you would know that. (pulls out handbook, and flips through pages) See, right here. It says so.
MJ: Shut up Uatu. The more you talk to us, the less you are watching. And, can't the fact you just appeared in my kitchen be seen as a violation of your sacred Oath to observe? (grabs handbook and points to a page)
Uatu: Read the rest of the entry. I break that rule all the time, usually for purposes of explication, providing a McGuffin, or just to let readers know they are reading something really really superduper important.
JoeQ: Se how useful this book is? (turns to readers) It helps you sort out all of the minutia about comicbook characters, especially obscure ones that we put in cross-overs like this. And, you can get your very own copy. Ask your local comic retailer!
MJ: What does this have to do with my husband rushing off to put my life in jeopardy?
JoeQ: Drama! This is all just a way to boost sales for the quarter/
MJ: Boost sales for the quarter?
JoeQ: Yup. And, when they trail off again, we can boost them again, maybe by publishing a comic with you in gratuitous danger. With all of the people whowill be gunning for you, that should be easy.
MJ: Um about that......Comic sales have been plummeting for the last decade, right around when you guys really started pulling this stuff.
Uatu: Yes, I saw that. I watched it happen, powerless ot reverse*
JoeQ: Cork it Uatu. And, while we are talking about history, let me also say that people can read all of those great Green Goblin stories in other reprinted volumes from Marvel Comics! You can read about Green Goblin tossing Gwen Stacy off the Brooklyn Bridge. Maybe it was the GW Bridge, Dom is not sure.
MJ: Who the hell is Dom?
JoeQ: Dom is the penname of the guy writing this script. He sends out reviews to his friends through email, and then copy/pastes them to various boards, like alleyviper.com for others to read.
Uatu: I know of alleyviper.com. Allyviper.com is the place I go to read about toys and comics, but never to post, for I am the Wat*
MJ: Will you shut up! Why are you plugging alleyviper.com? Oh, god, I just plugged them........
JoeQ: And, you see how natural it sounded? Look, this whole sad spectable is about how Marvel Comics is just hyping its books for short-term gain, even though it alienates readers. So, a self-plug is appropriate.
MJ: So, is Dom forcing us to talk about alleyviper.com an ironic statement, or a shameless plug:
Uatu: Truly, that is a mystery, even for one such as I, who watches, and reads all. Why has Dom given such prominent mention to alleyviper, but not the other boards he posts at, like bwtf.com and sirstevesguide.com? Who can say? Not I, for I am the Watcher, and I only watch, and read, and explicate, and.......
JoeQ: Okay, I think they get it. You can read more about Uatu and the cosmic events he observes in various Marvel books. Ask you local retailer.
MJ: Who is "Grade"?
JoeQ: Nobody. Dom always grades the comics he reviews. The skit is over. But, there will be more reviews in a week or so.
Uatu: Until then, I remain...the Wat*
MJ: Get out of my kitchen!