A disappointing set of books this week

I love Jack Kirby’s post-apocalyptic Kamandi series and I really dug the DC Challenge round-robin limited series (each issue ends on a cliffhanger; the creators of the next issue have to solve it). Combine them for THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE and you get a mess. The story of Kamandi hunting his parents through a post-apocalyptic world of intelligent, evolved animals has many bright moments, like Tom King’s issue (a powerful story with Kamandi stuck in a single room the whole time), but when they get to the end of #12 they apparently couldn’t figure out a solution so they pull a deus ex: Jack Kirby shows up, reveals Kamandi is one of his creations, and that saying his name outloud (“Command D!”) will delete the entire Earth and restore things to normal. What a lousy, stupid resolution that was, the kind that retroactively makes me hate all of it.

METAMORPHO: Two Worlds, One Destiny by writer/artist Aaron Lopresti was this week’s other big disappointment. This New 52 reboot of the shapeshifting chemical freak has him on the run with scientist Sapphire Stagg (this is the first version to give her anything to do besides be beautiful and rich), seeking a cure for his condition but instead winding up on another world. The inhabitants need him to save them, but Sapphire’s corrupt father and the alien tyrant Kanjar Ro both have other plans. This just petered out at the end though, with some disappointing twists and some set-ups not paying off (the implication Kanjar Ro has ties with Simon Stagg just got forgotten). A shame.

DOCTOR STAR and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows by Jeff Lemire and Max Fiumara is a spinoff of Black Hammer written as a love letter to James Robinson’s 1990s Starman series. While I admire the series too, that didn’t make me any fonder of this routine variation in which “Doctor James Robinson” gets so distracted by adventuring he neglects his family and loses their love; a lot of the themes Cat Stevens did better in Cats in the Cradle.

LAZARUS: Cull (following V4, Poison) by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark reveals a great deal about Forever Carlyle’s backstory and secrets (she’s a clone and the family has another one being trained in the wings) while the Carlyles’ battle with some of the other ruling families continues. Like the previous volumes it’s competent, but nothing I want to spend money on.

Switching away from graphics to novels, FAIR FIGHT by Anna Freeman is a historical novel in which the lives of compulsive gamblers, a gambler’s wife and a female prizefighter intersect and interact over the years. I became interested in reading this after finishing A History of Women’s Boxing and the boxing scenes are certainly good. However they’re only a part of the story and historical novels aren’t my thing (which is not a flaw in the book, of course).

#SFWApro. Top image by Jack Kirby, bottom by Sal Trapani, all rights remain with current holders.

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Filed under Comics, Reading

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