Thursday, May 04, 2006

New Comic Reviews:
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man &
Infinite Crisis


It great to have Mike Weiringo back on this book, it's really not the same without him. He adds a gentle, humorous touch that carries the lightweight stories well.
Friendly Neighborhood is carving out its niche as the 'Twilight Zone' Spidey comic, one or two issue tales with twists at the end. I just wonder if this book is in a bit of trouble, since this is the second storyline in a row that I just can't quite get behind.The issue starts with a twist, actually, a re-creation of Lee and Ditko's first Spider-Man tale, except--wait for it:Yes, Uncle Ben survives and Aunt May dies, by simply falling down the steps as any typical old woman could do whether or not her nephew had just been bitten by a radioactive spider.
Peter learns no responsibility from this experience, but he still has that 'great power', so he becomes an insufferable prick: first hiring Uncle Ben as his manager (in this story, Spidey continues his wrestling career, something David is clearly hung up on); then firing him when he becomes inconvenient.It's an interesting take, but a bit too 'Behind the Music' obvious.

Luckily this is all an illusion, a mind game being played on poor old Uncle Ben by The Hobgoblin of of the Year 2211. Y'see, I want to like that idea, but I just freaking can't. It's a fun thing, sure, but it's also more than a bit lazy. The whole issue, in fact, doesn't stand out. Maybe because it doesn't play to Ringo's strengths: slam-bang action. But, for whatever reason, it's just sort of there.

And, I know every time I come upon an Iron-Spidey sighting I bitch about it (I'm not even buying Amazing until they dump that shit); but it's a giant artistic handicap:Artists from Ditko on have managed to turn a faceless character into one of comic's most expressive. But the blank golden eyes of the new suit betray no emotion (especially in an issue where he has been reunited with the man he loved most in his life).
Anyway, we're promised some craziness and great art next issue, so in the meantime this issue did give us Spider-Man with a lightsaber:Which is really more than enough.



Holy Double-Page Splash, Batman!
Yes, the two-page spread, when you just don't feel like writing anymore.
I liked Infinite Crisis 7, it did what it had to do. It was exciting, it wrapped up the main story, it even kept the door open for a sequel(!). But a lot of it felt like a Michael Bay film: jumbled and disorienting. Confusing composition and action with little time for story or character. Where to look? What's going on? Is this person dead wait, there he is...but...

Infinite Crisis should have been subtitled 'Superman Grows a Pair', because finally he does so in the conclusion, beating raging teenager Superboy-Prime senseless ("You won't let me be Superman, so I'm gonna blow up the whole universe! Nyah-nyah! That'll show you!").I love that self-destructive race to the center of the Universe with Superboy and all the flying members of the DCU.
And we finally get some clue into Alex Luthor's motivations, in a single panel, tiny and locked into the middle of an action sequence.We got so much of Superboy-Prime's backstory, but hardly anything real with Alex. He was, and he dies as, a cardboard villain. There's no excuse for Johns not developing him more. None.

Along the way there is a dreadfully confusing bit with the Flash:Long story? We got time, junior. Explain yourself. And he stands de-powered at the end of the issue, handing over his gear to old Jay Garrick, who had previously been de-powered in issue 4. Oh, whatever.

By the way, is Dick Grayson dead?
He sure as fuck looks dead there. That's the red, red vino spilling out of his skull there, all right. Man, DC has not been very kind to poor ol' Dick lately: first Frank Miller turns him into a mass-murdering pederast in Dark Knight Strikes Again, and now this.
So he's dead there, and we have a Nightwing in the great big hero spread at the end, but no Robin. Not that I could find, anyway. Does that mean Tim Drake takes on the role of Nightwing? But what sense does that make? And if Dick is ok, why not a moment with him saying as much?

But, there are many things that work in this issue. Batman's attempted murder of Alex Luthor is intense, but I didn't get the whole thing with Wonder Woman afterwards, Did she break her sword on purpose, to send a message to Bruce?
And the all-Superman showdown was bloody fun, but since Superboy was drawn exactly like the other two, it was very hard to tell who was hitting who, until our Superman ripped the "S" off of Superboy's chest.
And, since we still have Alex to deal with, the most hideous figure in the DCU takes care of him for us: But, really, why wasn't the Joker in more than two scenes for the biggest DCU event in 20 years? He's the creepiest, baddest villain they've got.

The epilogue, with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, deciding to walk away from their heroic alter-egos for a year (I believe Superman has no choice, since he flew through so much Kryptonite he has no powers for awhile) was boring and dreary.
In the sum of it, Infinite Crisis was entertaining at most, brilliant at times, awkward at worst. It was not the awe-inspiring event it should have been. The inconsistent art is a big reason, but the wishy-washy story is a bigger one. What it did give us, though, is a 'Break Glass in Case of Emergency' all-purpose Super Villain.Which is more than I had expected it to do.



the2scoops said...

"Yes, the two-page spread, when you just don't feel like writing anymore."

I felt they rushed this issue to make the deadline, since so much on the DC publishing schedule depended on this one issue coming out. Any page with that red background, like over the pencils on that first two-page spread, were difficult to read or to see what was going on. I think they laid down pencils and then did that red wash to save time on inking and colouring.

I thought Dick was dead too, but Alex wasn't at full power, just enough to bloody him and wax his chest ("Kelly Clarkson!"). I don't quite get it, maybe they answer that in OYL or 52. That, and how the hell is Green Arrow walking around and making a run at Brother Eye when his series pre-OYL ended with him being impaled hard.

Matt Guerrero said...

Every issue of Infinite Crisis from #5 on felt rushed and overly busy. Can you imagine how junky 52 will get four months down the line? Ugh.

As to Green Arrow, clearly they just can't keep track of it all. Or they're not trying.