Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Friday, January 07, 2011

things comickal

-- things comickal -- recently read, dc gets weird edition

In which DC begins its month of text-logo-free covers.

Reign of Doomsday: Steel #1 (one-shot; Steve Lyons/Ed Benes/Blond; DC)

Warning: this issue is about to be RELENTLESSLY SPOILED WITH SPOILEROUS SPOILERS EVERYWHERE. Not that there's that much to reveal, because there's just not much story.

As the first issue of the lead-ins to the big summer event in which Doomsday kills everyone -- again -- this issue is problematic. We have no idea whatsoever what Doomsday is even doing there; he just suddenly appears to wreak havoc, as supervillains do. The last we knew of him, he was stranded on the moon; I suppose the destruction of New Krypton must have released him somehow.

Any road, this is basically just an issue long fight sequence, at the end of which, it appears that John Henry Irons has been killed by Doomsday. The last panel echoes the cover of the Death of Superman issue from 20-odd years ago, scraps of Irons' cape blowing on the handle of his hammer. However, given that Doomsday carries Irons off when he flies away, one can but assume that Irons is still alive and ... well, OK, not alive and kicking, exactly, but not dead.

According to Lyons, the story we get in Steel was not in fact the story he was initially hired to write, or the story that he in fact initially wrote. I can only imagine what it would be like to have completed a script, handed it in, and then suddenly get told, "No, we're not going this way. Instead, you're going to write the first issue of our big summer event! And instead of Metallo, we want Doomsday! So can you fix it up a little?" Supposedly, the aim of this issue was to remind people of the essential qualities of Steel; I guess it mostly did that, but it didn't actually tell you anything.

OK; No recommendation, but hopefully it will actually turn out to mean something to the event.

Starman/Congorilla #1 (one-shot; James Robinson/Brett Booth/Norm Rapmund; DC)

An issue that exists purely to explain why Starman and Congorilla aren't helping out the rest of the JLA during their encounter with the Crime Syndicate. That said ... it's kind of fun, and manages to do something surprising.

We start with Congorilla finding Mikaal after he's gone on a drinking and sex bender. The story is quite direct about what he's been doing and whom he's been doing it with. (Unfortunately, since I didn't read Cry for Justice or JLA, it was the first I'd heard that Tony, Mikaal's partner at the end of the Starman series, had been killed.) Congorilla is understandably concerned about Mikaal and what he's doing to himself -- given that Mikaal's apparently been doing this for a couple years now, concern is quite understandable -- but they've got bigger fish to fry; Washington, DC, has been cut off from the rest of the world, trapping everyone, including the JLA, inside some sort of energy dome. The only way they can break the dome is to find Malavar, a gorilla scientist from Gorilla City who was doing work in transdimensionality. However, Malavar is off trying to help someone who was held captive with him by Prometheus, so they need to track him down. To track him down, they wind up involving Rex the Wonder Dog (no, really), as well as Animal Man (to talk to Rex the Wonder Dog, who no longer has the power of speech).

The story winds up involving a Lazarus Pool in a thoroughly unexpected place, and a truly profoundly unexpected resurrection. All I will say about that is that it will make some fanboys happy. (And the vast majority of them will be truly upset, which in this case will be a good thing.) I must admit, I do hope they don't go in the direction implied by the ending. (I'm vaguely tempted to read JLA to find out, but I shall resist manfully.)

I liked the story itself. However, and I know this is purely a matter of taste, I really am not fond of Booth's art style. The human characters are far too thin and angular for my taste. It's not badly done -- in fact, I think the art is actually very well executed. It's just not for me.

Good; Recommended

Azrael #16 (David Hine/Cliff Richards/Tomeu Morey; DC)

And on the third day, he rose.

Seriously, that's ... pretty much what this issue is. Michael's Suit of Sorrows had been drenched in Lazarus Pool chemicals, and they had been slowly infused into his body. It operated more slowly but just as surely as an actual Lazarus Pool. (Incidentally, the quite strong implication from previous issues is that the Shroud of Turin had also been soaked in Lazarus Pool chemicals, accounting in part for the resurrection of Jesus. I do love the way this story just goes headlong for the heresy without flinching.)

We get a few pages of Michael in purgatory as he walks toward the gate he needs to reach to take his suit back and wind up back in his body. He has to make his way across this space followed by all the people that Azrael -- all of the Azraels -- have killed. Those people don't really do anything; they're just ... there. Oh, and the still very flayed Father Grieve, of course. (Why the poor man would be condemned to purgatory without his skin, I have no idea.) We also get the background of what really happened to lead to Michael's "death". (Of course, once we see it, there's the utterly baffling question of why Batman and the Gotham police seemed to think, for even a brief moment, that Michael crucified himself. The forensics would have been very different. But I digress.)

In the meantime, Bruce and Dick are watching Ra's al-Ghul's place, where Michael's body rests. Knowing that Bruce is there, Ra's invites him in to see Michael's resurrection. Turns out that Bruce is a messenger designated by prophecy. (What prophecy, you might be asking. Hadn't the Book of Thomas, which guided the Order, ended with the flaying of Father Grieve, leaving the order without further guidance? Why, yes. Yes, it had.)

Once Michael rises again, it turns out that the Suit of Sorrows no longer speaks to him; the voices that drove him insane are now silenced. It now belongs to him alone. Which also means that he's the descendant of Jesus for whom the suit was meant. (But do not think for a moment that Michael is now sane, oh no no no no NO.) Bruce, for no reason that makes even a tiny bit of sense, tries to get Azrael to sign on for Batman Incoporated, and Michael refuses. Then there is ... an Event, let's say, that allows Bruce to see the message that he's meant to give to Michael.

Reportedly, there are only two more issues left after this. Issue 18 carried a "final issue" notice in Previews. What they've got left to do, I'm sure I don't know. He's back, he's bad, he's only slightly less insane, and he's a direct descendant of the only begotten son of God. What's left to do?

No recommendation, but man, it's fun to watch Hine and the artists working with him just head for the crazy with such dedication and commitment.

Purely a side note: the sneak preview DC's putting in everything for the comic they're making of DC Universe Online Legends makes it look like The Stupidest Thing EVER. I mean, in the first few pages, we have Lex apparently killing Superman, then being stunned and surprised and even hurt because Brainiac, who made that possible, has betrayed him. I ask you, does that sound like any recent version of Lex Luthor that you've ever heard of? The Luthor currently toplining Action Comics is neither stupid enough to ally with Brainiac for anything important, nor would he be surprised at being betrayed. It really looks awful.

Questions? Comments? Cigars, cigarettes, Cigarillos?

Posted by iain at 02:26 AM in category things comickal