Two months of writer’s block means I have a bit to catch up on here. What follows below is a look at some stuff that by comic book standards is pretty out of date, but with another DC 52 wave incoming I had better knock out some thoughts on the last lot of number ones if I am to respect my own continuity. I still don’t have my hands on Constantine yet. I’ve heard whispers it’s not much chop, but then it would hardly be the first let down in DC’s “new” stable (and how much longer can the New 52 be called new anyway?). A couple of Marvel Now books have won me over lately too, enough to consider perhaps taking a punt on a couple more. As a fan of superhero comics it’s a pretty good time right now. To hell with the old brand loyalty battle between the big two, I say if you want spandex heroes saving the world you should pick the best of both worlds.
Justice League Of America #1 My first read of JLA #1 didn’t sit particularly well with me, most likely because I was expecting something else, however a second read left me with a better impression. The 52 has done a bunch of team books and few of them have convinced me right away to continue with them. Ths book primarily follows a conversation between Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor about assembling this team with an underlying mandate to take out the (real) Justice League should the need arise. The US government is nervous about all the super heroes popping up and wants a team of it’s own and under it’s control. On the list are Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Catwoman, Katana, Stargirl, Vibe, and most recent (and in my opinion, most interesting) Green Lantern Simon Baz, with Green Arrow certain for a slot on the team too, though this is not a done deal in this issue (he’s on the bloody cover though, hoisting the stars and stripes, I’m thinking he’s safe). David Finch’s shadowy style makes the artwork in this issue quite suitable, and while I thought the team introduction in Team 7 was better, Geoff Johns manages to end this book on a decent enough cliffhanger for Green Arrow fans. JLA will be part of DC’s upcoming Trinity War event, which also ropes in Justice League and Justice League Dark, and that’s enough for me to stick with it for a while.
Vibe #1 Is there really enough interest in a fourth tier character spun out of JLA to sustain his own monthly title? Admittedly, Vibe is okay, but it’s little more than a quick origin story that’s a little difficult to swallow even in a world of super heroes – get in the car, get revenge on that monster, oh look your powers unlocked! Even if your interest in JLA is high, only the most ardent of fans with plentiful disposable income would stick with this. It’s not horrible – the last couple of pages featuring Waller’s “circus” are pretty cool – but if DC really wants me to collect 52 comics a month they need to be fifty cents each, or at least the titles that have lower appeal like Vibe do.
Katana #1 I was ready to dismiss Katana with an identical argument to the one above, but for a second JLA spinoff the two books almost couldn’t be more different. Immediately the striking artwork by Alex Sanchez sets a wonderful tone that’s refreshingly different from anything else in the 52 I’ve seen – the sort of art you wish you could see in sketches before inks and colours are added. This tale of revenge and a sword with an ancient history that captures the souls of those killed by it is balanced nicely with a style that politely nods to the culture on which it is based. And unlike Vibe I think I can care about this character after one issue! DC has been the target of criticisms regarding their female characters, but Katana takes steps to remedy the situation nicely. I like this very much. Just look at the page one artwork below. It's beautiful.
New Avengers #4 The Marvel Now New Avengers wasn’t doing a great job of convincing me to collect it. I checked it out because it looked to be the closest thing I could get to a Black Panther comic at the moment, but the Illuminati angle (not that Illuminati) was played up a little too much for my liking, and when Strange takes out Cap simply for opposing the group’s plan to destroy an alternate Earth, well, I got the shits with it. I would have dropped it but for two things: I realised I’m probably supposed to have a reaction to what they did to Cap as some kind of confrontation or resolution will come later, and Mitch at All Star Comics convinced me I should stick around a little longer. I’m glad I did, because the fourth issue finally got a hold of me. I still would like to see a bit more action from Panther but I like seeing Dr Strange back in his robes and looking like a wizard again. The panel of the statue of Magneto on the other Earth where the Statue Of Liberty should be is a great touch, a is Namor’s accompanying word to Beast, “Admit it Henry… the idea excites you a little, doesn’t it?”. A rule of thumb: give Marvel arcs six issues before giving up.
Thanks kids. I’m off to read through my pile of comics from Free Comic Book Day.