Monday, December 29, 2008

Pre Christmas comic reviews

The new and the old.

Spoilers ahead for Buffy 20, Terra 4, Manhunter 37, DCU Holiday Special 2008, Christmas with the Superheroes #1 (1988) and #2 (1989), Supergirl 36, Hawk and Dove 6, JLE 7, 8 and 9.

So, first of all, the new stuff, bought the week before Christmas:
Supergirl #36
For some reason I really don’t like the cover on this. I don’t think she looks tense enough, there’s definition missing and not enough pain. I think the artist has tried really hard, but there’s just something missing that makes it not quite work for me.

But onto the issue. Kara sees her dad hurt and is (quite justifiably) overcome with a single mindedness and fury as she runs to her father’s side. Poor kid, she’s just got her folks back, her mother has turned out to be nuts and now her dad is fatally injured. Is she ever gonna feel like she has a space somewhere? I’m really curious as to how this New Krypton storyline is going to turn out. Given that we were granted a fabulous issue where Kara was given a secret identity which made all the fans squeal with delight, I’m really hoping they continue (back?) down that route. Now that her Dad is dead and her Mum is nuts she could quite conceivably refute all Kryptonian authority and go back to becoming Lana’s niece.

I am rather upset by the way that they killed off both Kal’s and Kara’s fathers. It’s a bit ridiculous. I also am completely unimpressed with yet another homage to the original Kara’s death in the first crisis. We’ve seen it used when Kon died, when Peter David’s pre crisis Kara died and now again when Zor-El dies. C’mon, the image is being robbed of it’s impact by overuse – it’s becoming too familiar and the sense of tragedy is lost.

I am very intrigued by this new Superwoman and have high hopes for her. I’m liking her costume too – the hooded cape is a nice touch.

Manhunter # 37
Oh I so did not understand this issue. After reading other blogger’s reviews I gather it must be set in the future as Kate’s son is all grown up (and gay now!), however Kate didn’t look like she’d aged at all. Do not understand.

Terra # 4

Doesn’t Power Girl look great on this cover? I found this kind of an unsatisfying end to the mini, but I suspect that viewpoint may change over time. I wasn’t blown away by the resolution of the crystal/diamond (?) guy’s sub plot. The evolution of the sub-terraneans seemed a bit shoehorned in and as much as I enjoyed Power Girl and Terra going shopping, I think the mini could have benefited from being extended by a few more issues and looking at all the different sub plots in more detail.

Of course this may be a ruse by my brain to justify wanting a permanent Terra series. She’s turning up next in Terror Titans so I’m rather pleased I’m already buying that mini. Rose and Terra in one book? That made my day.

Overall I think it is worth getting for the last half of the issue, because Terra trying on clothes and learning earth customs and Japanese food is very very funny.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 20
Cute. The cover is cute, the art is cute, the flashback to season 2 Buffy is cute. Portentous Giles is cute, Buffy’s forecasts are cute and her reunion with present day friends is cute. It’s cute.
Harmony is in the next issue, with what look like yappy little rat dogs. I suspect next issue will be annoying.

DCU Holiday special 2008

Oh my this had some cracking stories in.
Aquaman – Somewhere Beyond the Sea, written by Dan Didio and art by Ian Churchill, was wonderful. Arthur (or is he still calling himself Orin? I forget) saves a pregnant lady and her husband from a kraken and a pirate. It turns out we are reading a modern day reimagination of Mary and Joseph’s travels.
Batman – Good King Wenceslas, featured some beautiful art by Dustin Nguyen. This guy needs to be used more. The pencils and the colouring were magnificent.
Gotham City – A Day Without Sirens was a really good counterpart to the Aquaman one, the main message being that of hope. If you can provide the good cops of Gotham City and Batman with hope then you’ve cracked it. And it turned out to be down to Kara and Babs! Kara, you did a good thing. This was written by Joe Kelly. I like Joe Kelly.
Huntress in An Angel Told Me was also a favourite. It’s good to see Helena out of costume. I appreciate the lessons and politics that were slipped in - how child abuse cases can take forever to get through court and the disability awareness dialogue from Helena.
Teen Titans – The Night Before Christmas has some lovely colours, they really suit he Christmas theme and look like fairy lights going off on the page. It turns out that Cassie is taller than Tim. That makes sense, what with her being the daughter of Zeus and because I’ve always pictured Tim as a short (5ft 6 or 8ish maybe?) slim guy. Bombshell is as stroppy as always, Eddie is central to the story and M’Gann turns up! I love that Cassie’s jacket matches her new costume and Tim namechecks all those people close to him who he’s lost, and includes Bart.

JLA - Party Animal. The point of a Secret Santa is that the gift buyer remains secret. Vixen doesn’t appear to know this.

Christmas with the Super Heroes #1 (1988)
Great secret presents for Ollie and Dick there.
I got this and the 1989 one from a friend who’s selling off his old comics. So I read both on Christmas day to keep in the festive spirit. I enjoyed this issue, sometimes in a pained way (Superman being rescued from certain death in the North Pole by Santa’s elves for instance, or the Legion of Superheroes story which was just corny as), but overall it was an innocent light hearted read.
It was also nice to see that 2008’s A Night Without Sirens wasn’t the first time Gotham had quit crime for a whole night. In this issue’s story, titled the Silent Night of the Batman, Batman is called to the police station for Commissioner Gordon thinks that ‘Christmas Eve is not a night to be out patrolling – (instead) Tis the season to be Jolly!’
Batman shows deep scepticism but is nonetheless persuaded to join the Gotham PD’s carol singing efforts for the night. Spliced between panels of Bats singing Jingle Bells, We 3 Kings of Orient Are and Santa Claus is coming to town we see that the petty criminals of Gotham are not so much overcome by the spirit of Christmas joy, as overcome by the spirit of Batman.
Some kids steal a lady’s newly bought presents, open them, find a Batman doll in and are moved to return the toy to her.
A tired looking man with a gun stumbles onto a Batman lookalike, but the lookalike turns round and we see he’s actually collecting for the Wayne Foundation Christmas Drive for the Blind. While dressed as Batman. With a Santa beard.
Lastly, we see a lady who is missing her husband so much, (he’s serving in the armed forces abroad), that she goes to possibly jump off a bridge. Until she sees a batman shaped shadow in the water. She hears a noise, turns round, and her husband has arrived back in a truck! What are the chances eh?
Back at Gotham PD, a ghostly representation of Gordon’s face asks Bats ‘But what is the Christmas spirit Batman -- Might it not I?
I guess the theme of this one is not so much hope but fear. Less uplifting.

Christmas with the Super Heroes #2 (1989)
Man, that is one ugly cover. What the hell is wrong with Batman's cowl and Wonder Woman's..well just her really?
This one was better than #1, and a lot less odd. The first story, Ex-Machina, is a Superman one. A man’s car has broken down on the motorway (freeway?). 30 cars have gone past without stopping, it’s snowing heavily and the guy is freezing. He’s just about to give up and shoot himself when Supes turns up and thaws out the guy and his car. There follows a discussion about what the guy has to live for and why there is generally another explanation for people’s actions. Supes ends up directing him to Ma and Pa Kent’s place where they will put him up for Christmas. This was inspiring.
The Batman and Robins story was about the heroes growing up, finding their place amongst the darkness and the light and their relationship with each other and with Alfred. Very good.
The Wonder Woman story had Diana staying with a family for Christmas, who also had another friend, Sharon, staying. Sharon is Christian, Diana and Sharon compared theology and the similarities between their chosen paths. Sharon ends up comforted and resolves her crisis of faith.
The GL/Flash story was fun, if nonsensical. It featured Barry and Hal showing a depressed guy that Santa existed. They did this by dressing the guy up as Santa and having him deliver gifts to kids and do good deeds. Odd.
The last story was a Deadman one, where he slips into one man’s body and nearly stays in this body for the whole of the festivities, until he realises it’s unethical. Thing is, Deadman feels utterly alone. He has no one, and he just wanted to feel part of something again.

The Hawk and Dove and JLE books were fun, as you’d expect. But I’m out of energy and can’t be arsed to review them now. I will be reading the whole JLE run at some point though and I’m sure I’ll be gabbling enough then.

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