Monday, May 22, 2006

New Comic Reviews:
52, Captain America,
All-Star Batman

52 #2

Marvel's big summer event, Civil War may have deep allegorical signifigance and intrigue, but look:52 has lesbians!

It's also having fun with itself. It's not the boatload of pomposity that I'd feared going in. It knows a few things about its characters: The Question has to be mysterious, Booster Gold is an ass, and Rene Montoya likes the booze ("I've got a new job, it's called being a drunk.")

I like the stuff towards the end involving the Kryptonian Super-Religion. Superman as DC's Jesus hasn't been fully explored, not in this direct a fashion anyway. I don't remember ever seeing any image this blatantly Catholic in a Superman comic before. This has to be Grant Morrison's doing. No way Geoff Johns came up with that (if he did, bravo Geoff, there's hope for you yet).
Next time in 52, Black Adam rips off more faces, and Power Girl has breasts.
52 #2: B+


CAPTAIN AMERICA #18

I always liked the Red Skull. He's always been one of my favorite Marvel villains. So when Ed Brubaker killed him in the first issue of his Captain America run, I didn't fret. He's just too good to stay dead.And there he is...kinda. I'm not sold yet on the Red Skull in General Lukin's brain thing yet. I need to spend a little more time with it. But I trust Brubaker, I've loved his run on this book.

Captain America right now lives and dies on Steve Epting's art. He has an ultra-realistic style that works well for a meat and potatoes hero like ol' Cap. Since there's something so basic about what Captain America stands for, it only makes sense to have his world portrayed in the same no frills manner.

That said, the style doesn't always make for an exciting comic. Especially in the fights. When the art seems a bit rushed, it can lead to boring images like this:
But at his stylistic peak, Epting is capable of some truly sublime moments. I love this image,and I love this bad guy, even though I've not been reading Cap enough lately to know who he is. I wouldn't fuck with him, that's all I know. Or his girlfriend.

The main plot, though, with Cap teaming up with British C-list superheroes is more than a bit boring. Maybe it's that I don't know who he's fighting alongside, or their history together that is alluded to in conversation. Maybe it's because the big reveal, The Nazi Supermen at the end of the book, feels like nothing new. But, for any reason, I just didn't fully connect with this issue. It was pretty at times, but never exciting. Just ok.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #18: C+


ALL-STAR BATMAN & ROBIN #4

OK:

Why is Vicki Vale dying, why can't Superman fly, why is Batman such a douche bag to Dick Grayson, and why isn't Frank Miller even trying to make a good book here?

It just keeps getting worse, I swear to God.
On the one hand, Miller clearly wants to do a throwback book: Vicki Vale collapsing into Alfred's arms with a damsel-in-distress sigh, a Golden Age Superman who can only 'leap tall buildings in a single bound', and a murderous perverted Batman.
But then why is Robin the only character who seems to be from a time past the 1950's? He calls things queer, he gives Batman lip, he reeks of Generation-Z.
Is this deliberate?
Is Miller, since he's never written the young Grayson Robin before, having fun with the idea of one of today's back-talking wise asses thawing the heart of the grizzled, gun toting, Golden Age Dark Knight?
Is he pointing out how old-fashioned these iconics figures are?
Or has he just lost it?
And don't get me started the ridiculous six-page fold-out reveal of the Batcave. It's not effective, it's numbing; and not all that impressively rendered by Jim Lee.

I am done done done with this damn book.

ALL-STAR BATMAN & ROBIN #4: D-

4 comments:

uncle sam said...

You're very severe in your judgments, William, but I agree with your relative placement of these comics. I wish I knew how to quit Frank Miller, though, because I think I'm going to buy more of All*Star Batman+Robin. If Miller was drawing it himself, I wonder if the series would magically blossom into the arch, self-knowing, fuck-you minor masterpiece it coulda shoulda been.

I've been reading Ed Brubaker since Low Life, circa 1992, so I'm probably more qualified than 97% of the people on the internet to say that I'm mostly disappointed by his recent Marvel work. Both Captain America and Daredevil come across as SLEEPER-Lite -- and I definitely remember being more impressed by Steve Epting's art on Brubaker's first Cap issue than this most recent one. I think there was more ink. Remember ink? Joe Kubert can tell you what it's for.

52 is plenty fun -- if they can keep it that way for 39 of the 52 issues then they'll be far ahead of the DMCarvel average for the last several decades.

If you'd borrowed that Aquaman issue like I suggested, you'd have been in a better mood.

Matt Guerrero said...

Aquaman? Not until he drops that mullet.

Anonymous said...

What's with the Jim Lee hatred?

That fold out of the batcave was the one good element of a terrible book. But then, I have loved the batcave ever since I was little and used to build LEGO batcaves...

Matt Guerrero said...

Hey anonymous, sorry it took me so long to post a reply. Hope you get to read this.

Anyway: I don't hate Jim Lee. Not at all, dude. When I was a kid, I copied his work straight from the book, I wore out my copy of X-Men #1 doing that very thing. At his best, he's one of the great artists in comics.
I just don't think he's been doing his best work lately. I think a lot of what does work about the art in All-Star belongs to the colorist and inker, not Jim. His composition is cluttered and frankly boring.
So again; love Jim Lee, dissapointed with his recent work. Same with Frank Miller.

ps: I'm more of a LEGO Star Wars man, myself. And those didn't come out until I was 20 years old. The site is called geek USA for a reason.