Unlike my painful efforts at novel-reading this week, most of the TPBs I browsed were pretty good). Starting with the bad stuff—TEEN TITANS: Child’s Play by Sean McKeever and Joe Bennett is mostly by-the-numbers as the teenage heroes battle assorted villains and feud internally, making it readable, but forgettable. What sinks it to sub-par is McKeever’s continued handling of Ravager, the team’s cynical bad-ass, as if she were an A-lister instead of a cliche. Of course in a super-hero team book, having cliche cast members is forgivable, but Rose is a really dull cliche who does not deserve the spotlight McKeever (or his editors) keep shining on her. And badassery actually isn’t a super-power—I’m heartily sick of badass characters who can win simply because of being so badass.
INHERITANCE: The Cemetery Girl Trilogy is a more surprising clunker as it took the combined efforts of Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden (with art by Don Kramer) to create it. This reads like a TV pilot in comics form: amnesiac murder victim hides in a cemetery, finds the ghosts of the unjustly killed begging her for help. Then her one friend in the world is murdered … The premise is hackneyed (you can see variations of it in iZombie, Tru Calling, Ghost Whisperer, Medium) and the writers do nothing to redeem it, or raise the execution beyond a poor Law and Order episode.
THE WAR AT ELLSMERE by Faith Erin Hicks (cover by Hicks, all rights with current holder) would have worked better for me if I hadn’t just read a couple more of Hicks’ graphics (here and here) so I’m slightly overloaded on her style. And this tale of a scholarship student at a prestigious boarding school locking horns with the Queen Bee is more routine than Hicks’ usual. Still, I did enjoy it.
Given how much I hated Kieron Gillen’s Rue Brittania, I was surprised that I enjoyed YOUNG AVENGERS: Alternative Culture (script by Gillen, art by Jamie McKelvie). More so as I’m clueless as to the backstory of most of this (Kid Loki, the new Miss America who can break dimensional walls with a kick) A mysterious figure garbed as the former Young Avenger Patriot lures the team into an adventure jumping across worlds. What’s Loki’s angle? Should Hulkling have to worry his boyfriend Wiccan is manipulating Hulkling with magic? What if the mutant Prodigy tries to beat Wiccan’s time? I look forward to reading more of these.
Although I’m not a Spider-fan particularly, my favorite of the week was SPIDERMAN: Death and Dating, by a variety of artists and writers. These issues came out several years ago and there were some that didn’t age well—the tragic backstory of newbie super-hero Jackpot is pretty forgettable. On the other hand, the introduction of Jonah’s father during a story involving a subway cavein and Spidey leading a group of passengers to safety is riveting, an outstanding job by Mark Waid. Otherwise we have Betty Brant trying to get Peter a girlfriend (I have no idea where this falls in relation to any of the post-MJ girlfriends he’s had), Harry curing the Molten Man (his former brother-in-law) and a lot of backstory filling in how the magical reboot that ended the Parkers’ marriage (blast you Quesada!) also rebuilt May’s old home and resurrected Harry Osborne. A fun job.