Sunday, May 24, 2009

My joy surrounding this week’s haul!

And full of joy it was. Spoilers ahead for Green Arrow Yr 1, Green Arrow/Black Canary #20, Supergirl #27 and #41, Superman/Batman #60 and Battle for the Cowl #3. I have reviewed them in that order so if you don’t want the identity of the new Batman spoiled, just don’t read the last review.

Included as this week’s back up promo stories was a teaser for Batwoman, appearing in Detective comics from June (?). It’s looking interesting. I like Greg Rucka a lot and I trust that he’ll do well with the character. The art is…vampiric, but I’m sure it will grow on me.
Green Arrow Year 1
The reason for this review is that I finally got around to ordering GA yr 1 #4, which I couldn’t get when it came out – that week my comic shop had a box missing in it’s delivery, or something. Anyway, I got this issue and read it, then read the arc in it’s entirety. One of the first things I noticed was it was originally billed as a 4 issue story, then changed to a 6 issue story on # 3. I don’t know the reasons behind this, but it’s a good thing it was extended by 2 issues as the story could well have suffered for being shortened.

The second thing to highlight is the glorious cover art done by Jock, colours by David Baron )I can't find a picture of the cover for number 3, sorry). These covers make it well worth getting the individual issues rather than the trade. Cover #s 2, 4 and 6 are my favourites. Number 2 in particular is breathtaking. I know I rave on and on about anything I like, maybe my gushings seem like platitudes, maybe because I like so much stuff it reduces the import of what I have to say. But, these covers are really really good!
The inside art is done by the same team, and while not as detailed as the covers, it is also well worth referring to it. There is a sense of depth to the art, of layers, yet there is nothing extraneous included. It’s very well put together.

As for the story, well there’s character growth, there’s referrals to future events in Ollie’s life (“I’d rather die than lose an arm” why hello Zero hour!), there’s the creation of the costume and there’s the development of his defining qualities – determination, recklessness, stubbornness, showiness. He starts off as a useless, empty playboy and ends up a hero. In terms of a year 1 story, this does the trick.

With a different art team this may have been an average story. As it is I think it’s a must for any Green Arrow fan. Now, where’s the Black Canary year 1 story huh?

Green Arrow/Black Canary #20
Betcha bottom dollar this issue is gonna be criticised online. Betcha.

Obviously not by me though, I liked it. A lot. In fact I think this is a bloody massive turnaround, considering the rubbish that’s been produced for earlier issues. The cover art is still foul, but does make a bit of sense considering the arguments inside.

The issue starts with Dinah and Ollie in relationship therapy. The idea of them two being in therapy together is a giggle. Ollie has been dragged there by Dinah and is not really cooperating. Well, with an ego like his he was never gonna think it’s a great idea, right? Y’know, this issue actually has them in character. Which is nigh on a miracle. I can see there being an uproar over Dinah having mother issues, but I don’t get the beef. Ok, I’m not very knowledgeable about her history, but I seem to remember reading something, somewhere, about her going into costume just to piss her mother off, and having Ted (Wildcat) train her in secret because her mother wouldn’t approve. I recall another story from when she was a teenager and she found out who her Dad really was. So, there’s a precedent for mother issues. In addition, Ollie has dead parents, so it’s not like he’s getting away with a trauma free backstory. Lastly, in my ammunition for why this is a good sub-plot, is we are seeing Dinah as Dinah, individual person, not Dinah-wife of Green Arrow.

Regarding the secret identity thing, Ollie lost the mask during the Kevin Smith (?) run but somewhere regained it, so I’m assuming he is no operating under a secret identity again. As for Dinah, I was going to come up with an explanation for why she doesn’t need a mask or secret identity. It was going to go along the lines of only ninja assassins know who she is and she doesn’t move in civilian circles. A bit like Lady Shado doesn’t need a secret identity but she still manages to do ordinary everyday things. Then I remembered Dinah is the chair of the JLA and probably most bad guys and civilians do know her name is Dinah Lance.
Anyone else got an idea as to how her hero/civilian identity works?

Onto the action part, everyone has gone deaf. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I learn British Sign Language and so am interested in dDeaf issues. Hence, this plotline holds a lot of interest to me. The last thing to mention is Cupid meeting Ollie. He is correct, Dinah is gonna have a fit.

Supergirl #27
Great cover, shame it’s got fuck all to do with the story. This is another one I missed when it came out, I don’t know why. Like the GA issue, I decided it was about time I ordered meself a copy from Ebay. Only beef with this cover, and a couple of panels inside is that Kara’s skirt is wrong – she’s wearing what looks like a tight lycra esque skirt – think like Linda DanversSupergirl costume . Kara’s skirt is free flowing and hangs loosely.

That snit over, this is a good story. It takes place in the middle of the saving Thomas arc. Within the book Kara is nearly assassinated and then transported to the future. Apparently in this future timeline she has saved Thomas but then goes about changing humanity to improve us, resulting in humans not being human anymore. She is later transported back to our time with a request that she not save Thomas, in order that future humanity be saved from her good intentions.

There is a wonderful statue of adult Kara in the future, it’s very Grecian in style, I think. I will try and scan a picture and post some images later this week.

Supergirl #41
Well fuck me sideways I didn’t see that coming. Superwoman is dead. Kara killed her, seemingly by ripping the suit to shreds. Obviously Kara didn’t mean to kill her, she was trying to reduce her powers by ripping the discs off, then she ripped the S off declaring that Lucy doesn’t deserve to wear the emblem. Lucy then melts, into a bubbly pile of goo. Next panel is a distraught Kara on her knees wondering if she’s just killed Lois’s sister. We’ve gone from some very colourful scenes, all purple and bright primary colours to a darkened scene which suits the mood exceedingly well. There are talented colourists on this title.

I figure this can go a few ways. The dead Lucy is not the real Lucy and we find this out over the next few months. The dead Lucy is the real Lucy and this has ramifications for Kara and her reception within the Kent/Lane family. I mean, Lois is rather alone at the moment. Clark is off planet and can’t visit with her, she doesn’t really speak to her Dad, and her niece (great niece?) has just murdered her sister. This isn’t going to go well. Regardless of whether Lois likes Lucy or not, whether she approves of her actions as Superwoman or not, she is going to be pretty devastated. She’s got Chris Kent back but he’s got to hide from the authorities – headed by Lois’s father. This is going to be a complicated 6 months.

The last thing I want to note is the way in which Superwoman is legitimately part of the House of El – as Lois married Clark, she became the sister-in-law of Kal-El, and therefore related to Kara and Alura. This is not something I had registered before, and now I’m thinking what would General Lane do if he knew he was firing on his family?

Superman/Batman #60
Fabulous cover. Real moody and detailed, and relates to the story inside. Amazing. The inside art is done by the same team – Francis Manapul and Brian Bucellato.

Kal and Bruce have found themselves in a parallel earth. Metropolis and Gotham have been combined, as have the superheroes. We now have the Justice Titans, (battle cry: Justice Together) and the heroes have been amalgamated too. Starfire/Black Canary (this works surprisingly well), Aquaman/Cyborg, Hawkman/Beastboy, Nightwing/Green Lantern (Hal), the Flash (Wally Allen, blonde hair), Donna Wonder (she has sparkles in her hair!). the bad guys are Deathstroke/Doomsday, Brainac/Catwoman, Penguello (Penguin and who?), Jimmy Two-Face (they can’t mean Jimmy Olsen surely?), and Lex Joker.

I’m really really loving this title. It’s not following any other continuity, it could be set at any time in DC history and it’s just downright fun. As it doesn’t have to relate to the other Bat/Super titles they can send the characters to any time, space, dimension they want. It’s great.

Battle for the Cowl #3
I haven’t read the previous two issues in this mini and I picked this up purely to find out who the new Batman is. As such, I was rather excited by it all and enjoyed most of the story,, but it was self induced excitement, not necessarily story induced excitement. Still, I liked it. You want my reactions you say?

Well, what on earth was Tim doing in the Bat suit? After the incident with the evil future Titans I’d have thought he’d never have gone near the Bat suit. He’s had a lot of shit thrown at him over the years, but he remains optimistic. He’s a gentle soul and being Batman would destroy him.

Dick on the other hand, he’s got the hardness in him, a bitter angry edge that could be put to good use as Batman. But it will probably fuck him up. When Bruce comes back there’ll be one hell of a power struggle between them – I’m thinking back to the time when him and Bruce weren’t speaking and Dick created the Nightwing identity.

Damian is the new Robin. I have no feelings either way except that Damian seems rather ridiculous and petulant. I’d be very surprised if Dick likes him.

Now that Damian is Robin, the cover of Red Robin #2 makes more sense. That would be Damian fighting Steph, and hopefully Tim as Red Robin. Red Robin’s costume looks like a golden age creation, I do not like it. But, as this looks to be Tim’s own title and as Steph appears in it I expect I’ll be adding it to my pull list.

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