Saturday, July 25, 2015

Six of one: Walaka buys comics

So, the night I went to see the Ant-Man movie started at a comic shop in my area, and I thought I would actually buy some new comics in honor of the event. Actually, I had my eye in finding the new Prez, but I was in an expansive mood and picked up a half-dozen titles, looking for number ones. Here they are in alphabetical order:

Ant-Man Annual: I bought an Ant-Man special about a year or so ago, I believe, but I could not lay my hands on it for this post. If I recall correctly, in that one Janet Pym was dead, and Hank Pym had taken on the Wasp persona, and he teamed up with the Eric O'Grady Ant-Man, and it ended at a Women's Shelter Pym was funding (that for some reason allowed O'Grady to volunteer there!). In this one, it seems that Pym is dead, and in flashback he teams up with the Scott Lang Ant-Man, and Janet is alive, and in the end Scott quits being Ant-Man to let a new guy take on the job. Scott Lang seems to be acting a lot like Eric O'Grady in this - I thought he was more the rough-around-the-edges, heart-of-gold type, but I missed most of the Lang era. Anyway, other than totally confusing me on continuity, this was a mediocre, pedestrian comic in both art and story.

Convergence Blue Beetle #2: This was a mistake, as I thought I was buying #1, but it probably didn't make a difference. Other than the joy of seeing the Charlton versions of Blue Beetle, Captain Atom (in his multicolored outfit), and the Question, this was another bland offering. I guess in The Convergence Event a bunch of cities from various continuities are jumbled together and the heroes from each city have to fight the heroes from the other cities to see which city survives? Do I have that right? Because it sounds a lot like the little I have seen of Marvel's Battleworld, in which it seems a lot of different continuities are jumbled together and the heroes and villains are fighting each other. Plus Dr. Doom. Anyway, in this comic, the Hub City heroes sort-of defeat and sort-of cooperate with some version of the Legion of Super-heroes that I have never seen before to resolve their combat to the satisfaction of the Looming Bad Guy. But Question fritzes Brainiac 5's brain just by asking a metaphorical, um, question - does that work? And Ted Kord is smart enough to have the Bug teleport? Nice cover, though.

Looking for Group #1: This book aims to join the "D&D adventurers who are self-aware they're in a game" genre of comics that is done so well by The Order of the Stick. It's not a bad effort - the characters are mildly engaging, if a bit predictable, and the story is more complex that might be expected. The art is fun to look at, but the biggest flaw in the work is that the sequencing of the panels is herky-jerky or incoherent much of the time: what happens in the gutter winds up being unclear or indecipherable, and that ruins much of the flow of the story. The artist's reach just exceeds his grasp - he's really trying to cram a lot of characterization, plot, and sight gags onto every page, but the seams really do show.  And there's only so many D&D jokes, really.

Martian Manhunter #1 and #2: Got it for J'onn versus Superman, shown here on the cover for #2. I feel totally cheated. I wade through 21 pages of some rescue action seasoned with angst, some gangly green guy named Mr. Biscuits, a cat burglar from the UAE, and some nasty White Martians in issue one, and then some more of the same in issue 2 before we get to telepathic-illusion J'onn v. the JLA. But when Superman shows up, J'onn disappears (dies?) in a burst of white light. Is Mr. Biscuits the new Martian Manhunter? This comic couldn't make me care about my favorite character. Here's a palate cleanser.

Prez  #1: I really think that writers need to think about starting in media res a lot more. I had high hopes for this comic, as it came highly recommended, and there's a lot to like about it. Its vision of America twenty years hence provides a great backdrop for some cutting social commentary - besides the usual targets, there's a real edge to some of the elements. The art is wonderful to look at and carries the narrative through a variety of modes. The main character - The Girl who Would be Prez - is delightful. But the issue ends before the election is decided, so, the cover notwithstanding, we never get to actually see the Prez in this issue. I'll be back for #2 (first time I have said that in long time!) but I do feel a little disappointed.

Where Monsters Dwell #1 thru #3: Okay, take an old-school Marvel title and make it the brand for new stuff: Nice. Do a modern (read: dickish) update on an old, obscure character - in this case, the Phantom Eagle: check. Biplanes versus dinosaurs: always cool. Gorgeous artwork: always a plus. Narrative that subtly explores gender and power politics by setting the story in a female-dominated society: uhhh... if you've seen the 1974 Gene Roddenberry TV-movie Genesis II (with Alex Cord and Mariette Hartley), you've got it covered.


  1. I've become so inured to the decompressed mode of comics storytelling and the absence of traditional story structure that I just took it for granted in the first issue of the Prez revival. It's not that I didn't notice, but that I expected nothing different. But I'm sorry if my praise for it led you to expect more and I'm to blame for your disappointment. I'll tell you the second issue is complete crap if that will help you enjoy it more?

    Genesis II did mention the matriarchal society in passing, but it was mainly about the city of mutant aristocrats with double circulatory systems and two belly buttons. The female-dominated society was the focus of the sequel Planet Earth, starring John Saxon and Diana Muldaur. (And oddly enough, written by Juanita Bartlett, best known for her glorious work as writer and producer of The Rockford Files.)

  2. Is the second issue actually out already, or are you just trying to make me feel better.

    I was torn between using John Saxon or Alex Cord as my name check, but the image of Cord assuming the "posture of submission" (or whatever it was actually called) is burned into my brain, so I went there. I think the matriarchy idea might have been present more than you remember, or it is just what I remember more.