Comic-book TPBs (#SFWApro)

With my energy sapped, read lots of comics this week …
ACES: Curse of the Red Baron by Shannon Eric Denton and G. Willow Wilson has two World War One pilots, both claiming they’ve shot down Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, joining forces to hunt down his supposed secret treasure. Instead, they discover a band of time travelers hoping to make the war so frightful it will truly be the War to End All Wars. This never quite caught fire.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: Origins by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee flashes back to when Earth’s greatest super-heroes were new and seen as dangerous threats by the world, only to all come together in the face of an attack from Apokalips. Johns and Lee give us good character interactions (I particularly like the “You’re just an ordinary guy in a bat-suit?” reaction to Batman) but not much else: the story is nothing but a protracted six-issue fight scene (the creators mocked the Silver Age JLA for its lack of characterization, but they could use some of Gardner Fox’s plotting skills) and Lee’s art (particularly his redesigned costumes) doesn’t work for me. And if they’re going to bring in Darkseid (who gets way overused) having him get his butt kicked this easily only reduces him as a future threat. JLA: Year One did a much better job telling the story of the League’s birth pangs.
HULK: Season One by Fred Van Lente and Tom Fowler, by contrast, does a great job retelling and retconning the Hulk’s origin (it’s far superior to the other Season One books I’ve read). This may be because the Hulk’s origin story (and his whole early run) just doesn’t have the punch Spider-Man’s does, so there’s less to lose, but Van Lente still gets top marks. Bruce Banner struggles to keep his new secret from military officer Betty Ross and her father (I notice Gen. “Thunderbolt” Ross is one character nobody’s ever written as anything but a jerk) only to have a scheming researcher, a drug-using officer and crime rings complicate things. Very well done.
CHANNEL ZERO by Brian Wood is set in a near future where the Religious Right have seized control of all media and news and a few courageous independent spirits are trying to break through the barriers and warn the masses. Unfortunately Wood’s message doesn’t seem to go beyond Don’t Let the Media Turn You Into Sheeple—that may be one reason the fundy takeover doesn’t seem to lead to anything but general dictatorship rather than prayer in schools, reinstating blue laws, and so on (this was a mid-1990s series so gay rights don’t figure into it). Of course, I didn’t read the sequel series collected in this volume, so possibly this got covered there. But I’m still not impressed, though the visuals are good.
LAZARUS: Family by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark is set in a familiar dystopian future where the rich have everything and the masses suffer under the boot and the lash. The protagonist, Eve is the “lazarus” for family Carlyle, a highly-trained enforcer/assassin with healing factor. She has doubts about the merits of her job and no idea about the scheming going on behind her back … Like I said, familiar, but well-done.
BEWARE THE CREEPER by Jason Hall and Cliff Chiang is the Vertigo limited series I mentioned earlier this week. Set in 1920s Paris, it has an ambitious artist eager for fame turn to performance art in the bizarre garb of the Creeper, performing sensational crimes which also get revenge on the corrupt Arbogast family. Well-executed, though in some ways she strikes me as more Dadaist than Surrealist (but that’s me showing off by being picky).

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7 responses to “Comic-book TPBs (#SFWApro)

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