Friday, January 30, 2009

Comics reviews for the week of 22nd and 29th January 2009

First off, an apology. I am well aware that the writing contained in my last few posts has been fucking awful. I’m not concerned about the Smallville ones - they were only ever about me being filled with glee, but rather the attempt at commentary posts. I have been caught up with a feeling of needing to blog but not having the time to sit down and write a well thought out considered piece. I have been writing on auto pilot without articulating, even in my head, my feeling; without knowing why I’m worked up about something; without knowing what I want to say and without thinking through the subject or providing any sort of conclusion.

So, I’m going to try and rectify that, starting now with some comics reviews. And I’ll make the effort to take time out to think through a post first, rather than hamming something together and hitting publish.

Right, onto the comics thoughts. Spoilers ahead for:

Faces of Evil – Deathstroke
Supergirl 37: Faces of Evil – Superwoman
Harley Quinn – Preludes and Knock-Knock Jokes (trade collection)
Superman 684: Faces of Evil – Parasite
Teen Titans 67: Faces of Evil – Brother Blood

And I have yet another bitch about how women are depicted in comics.
May I start off by saying what the fuck is up with the slug anti drugs advert on the back of EVERY one of my comics? *shudder* I hate slugs, I have this morbid screaming fear of them, and now they are invading my comics? Thanks, anti drugs groups of America, freak me out on a continual basis why don’t you. Not what I need.

Faces of Evil – Deathstroke
A Faces of Evil book that is actually about the villain. My god. Although I guess all the one shots are, right? This is the only one I picked up so I can’t compare what the other issues are like.
I loved this story. I learnt more about Slade, both about his abilities and his intentions and feelings surrounding those close to him. It turns out he really does care about Rose and doesn’t want her to turn into him. The nightmare scenes were genuinely creepy, especially Rose taking out her eye.
Rose has a resolve of steel doesn’t she? She’s so determined and single minded, and angry (I think I make the same observations every time I review her!). The fight between her and Slade was pretty damn cool, ‘whamp’ into a window indeed. She could really do with learning how to fight without her precog though. Maybe the TT writers will develop this? Yeah, as if. Is she even gonna go back to Teen Titans? I doubt it.

The upshot of this issue is that Slade breaks out of prison/hospital, decides that he is no longer going to be a gun for hire, and instead will mete out death to those he decides deserves it. This resembles a religious conversion, and while I think it will make him scarier, because there are no controls on him now, I think I prefer the old hireable Slade - just in it for the money. You won’t know where you stand with him no he’s got a jones on for exacting his own vengeance.
On the very last panel he adopts a new girl protégé – ‘someone I can care for, someone I can love’. Hmm. This seems to be a tired old plot line and not something I care for. We’ll see. I may not even end up buying any issues with Deathstroke in.

Lastly, the art. Done by Georges Jeanty, he who did some Buffy art. I am not a fan.

Does anyone know if there has ever been a Rose Wilson Ravager doll, and if there has been, where I would find it?

Supergirl 37: Faces of Evil – Superwoman
Oh this was good. And unlike the GA/BC and Booster Gold Faces of Evil issue, we did actually see a lot from Superwoman’s pov.
I don’t quite go along with the Superwoman as evil ploy though. She’s done evil things, but that doesn’t make her evil, and she’s being blackmailed by Lois’s dad. She comes across to me like someone who doesn’t have a choice, or who doesn’t feel as if she has a choice, which comes down to the same thing when looking at consequences and actions. I’m not concerned about guessing who Superwoman is, I’m happy to wait and let it be revealed. I’ve read some guesses as to it being Linda Danvers, which I reckon is completely wrong. This woman is too tall. I know, I know, characters can be drawn in any manner, but I’d expect at least some continuity, especially when the plots are leaving clues left right and centre. I also don’t hold with Linda dressing up Kryptonian.
Anyway. Onto the good things of this issue.

I love how on New Krypton Superman’s suit and Kara’s cape doesn’t look out of place, doesn’t look odd. It helps me appreciate the reasoning behind Kal’s suit.*
The art. The pencils and colouring, particularly the colouring, juts look nice. It’s nothing groundbreaking but it fits well with the characters and the story.
An actual real supporting cast, with character traits and everything. Alura, though I may hate her, is 3 dimensional. Thara is very appealing and then there’s Alura’s snidey secretary.
Kara has been given shorts again. I wish they’d stick to that instead of occasionally giving her high cut pants (Final Crisis #6 for example).
Kara wears make up :D I‘m not sure why that pleases me so much, it just does.

I’m still not keen on Alura being mad and evil. And I’m having difficulty squaring Kara’s actions and feelings towards her mother, on an issue to issue basis.
Does anyone know what’s happened to Streaky whilst Kara is gallivanting about on New Krypton? Maybe Cassie took him in.

Overall this series is improving and will hopefully draw in more readers. The cover to the next issue is piercing.

Superman 684: Faces of Evil – Parasite
I don’t know much about the Parasite so this was interesting and we got to see a lot from his pov. The stuff with Mon-El was good.
The Guardian becoming head of the Metropolis Science Police was…commanding. I’m very intrigued by Nightwing and Flamebird meeting with Jay Garrick. If that becomes a regular thing I may have to start buying the Flash books.
Now Supes on New Krypton. I’m pretty sure that when Alura made New Krypton she banned Supes. So why is he visting and Alura not siccing the police on his ass? It’s almost like she’s invited him. Have I missed an issue somewhere? Can anyone confirm?
The art on the last few pages was particularly good, (pencils by Jesus Merino, colours by David Curiel). Kal’s shock at Alura releasing Zod, Ursa and Non and Alura’s own high and mightiness came across really really well.

Teen Titans 67: Faces of Evil – Brother Blood
Again, a lot told from Brother Blood’s pov. Some of this tied in with Reign in Hell, so I’ve started dithering about whether I should buy the mini. Anyone else read it? Is it good? Is there much Linda in it?
This issue was pretty standard Teen Titans fare – lots of characters and lots of fights – which in my eyes is a good thing. Kid Eternity and Misfit were good inclusions and Cassie took on her leadership role very well. She’s most definitely the boss. I’m excited about the next few issues as we get to find out who the new team members are.

Harley Quinn – Preludes and Knock-Knock Jokes
Trade paperback collection of Harley Quinn issues 1 to 7.
This was fun. Having not read any Harley before I was surprised by the strong romance theme running through it. The stories were all fun, harley springs the Joker out of prison, he dumps her, she pairs up with Two Face, has a girly sleepover, meets the Female Furies, forms her own gang, gets a couple of hyenas, has a run in with the Riddler and meets Big Barda. The Big Barda issue ruled, very funny.

The art in this is pretty fantastic 95% of the time. The majority of it is done by Terry Dodson (pencils), Rachel Dodson (inks) and Alex Sinclair (colours) and they manage to convey a Harley who is innocent and playful. The only problems I have is with the blatant fan service shots, e.g. Harley is bent double displaying her ass, twisted to show ass and tits at the same time, or the two women at the girly sleepover who are wearing jack-all. Granted, those two might be established characters who have always dressed that way but by god it rankles.

It’s really not that difficult to imagine a universe where the women are human beings and not rendered in such a way that their *hot* bodies become the defining feature of them, overriding everything else. It’s the fact that there’s so little non sexualised stuff out there which is a problem. It implies that women only exist for men to look at, that they’ve always got to be pleasing to the male gaze, that no matter what else we do, being hot is the most important thing. No matter our other achievements, no matter our skills or character traits, we wil only be made visible if we're hot. We have no place in these stories unless we're hot.

I know I’ve said all this before, and I’m sure I’ll be saying it again. I’ll keep saying it until this all pervading atmosphere of hot hot women stops. Manhunter wasn’t sexualised, the Huntress mini wasn’t sexualised, even that new JLA line up, with Supergirl and Green Arrow in, that wasn’t sexualised. So I know it’s possible. It’s just gotta sift through the strata and the layers until I find the good stuff. And keep reminding myself that one day this crap will stop.

Which reminds me, I found a delightful underwear catalogue for men, which does exactly for men what has been done for women over the decades. Pictures will be posted.

This week I also bought Final Crisis #7, Final Crisis Revelations #5 and Green Arrow Showcase volume 1. As the FC titles are the last issues I plan to read the full series’ in one go and digest the story properly, then come back and squeak about it.
In regards to the Green Arrow Showcase volume, I am a total sucker and it'll probably mash my brain when I read it. 1950s and 1960s stories, 500 pages of madness. I shall be having a look on the 3 hour train journey to the boyfriend’s Dad’s place we are taking this weekend.

See you all in a few days when you get to read exciting updates concerning my spending patterns.

*I’m half assedly developing a theory that all superheroes suits make sense and aren’t ridiculous, with the exception of Batman’s.


Anonymous said...

Hi, sorry for not commenting for a while...

I've started up picking up TT myself, I quit at 55 and found nothing to draw me back until 66 which I picked up solely for the Steph, Misfit and Traci 13. And was SHOCKED to find somehow the title had gotten decent again. And Cassie as leader!

I basically share your feelings, it wasn't a fantastic issue, it wasn't bad. And I'm down as long as I get to see Cassie being a good character and leader.

I liked what I saw of Deathstroke Special thing on s_d, which also surprised me, though like you, I wasn't impressed at random teenage girl pickup. He collects them now, doesn't he?

And my joy is great at how good Supergirl has gotten. And the shorts are for the win.

nevermore999 said...

Oh, and Wonder Woman was my weeks best read. I see it's not on your list, I'd reccomend it, Gail is rocking Diana.

Saranga said...

Hi nevermore. In an effort to maximise shelf space and reduce my spending habits I am intending to pick up the WW trades instead of buying the monthlies. It's a case of me noticing when they are out in paperback and getting round to buying them.
I read the last 6 or so issues of Gail's run on Birds of Prey and found the plot too slow to follow in a monthly format, which is another reason to wait and pick up the trades.
Once I buy them I shall be sure to leave my thoughts about them.