Sunday, July 09, 2006

New comics 7/6

The All-New Atom #1 (Gail Simone/John Byrne, DC)
Of all the series launching out of DC's Brave New World post-Infinite Crisis event, this to me seemed the most promising. I've heard a lot about the quality of Simone's writing, and the only thing I've read from her was the One Year Later issue of Birds of Prey, which was unimpressive. This is much better, a fun little superhero story with a few offbeat touches thanks to being based on ideas by Grant Morrison (one assumes - that's a little vague). I'm not really familiar with the original Atom, so it doesn't bother me to see someone new take his place, and Simone does a good job of tying things in to the original character without getting bogged down in continuity (unlike the headache-inducing first issue of the new Flash series - ugh). It's not brilliant, but it's got plenty of potential and some clever writing (I like the bit with the famous quotes in footnotes, but I could imagine it getting old really quickly), and as long as it doesn't get mired in DC's dense ever-present continuity, I just might keep reading.

Batman: Secrets #5 (Sam Kieth, DC)
Kieth wraps the series up a little anti-climactically, but he's not exactly the right guy to write or draw a huge fight scene between Batman and the Joker, so I don't mind. In the end, this was one of his typical stories about buried childhood trauma surfacing in the form of some superhuman manifestation (i.e., dressing up like a bat and fighting crime), but the new event he grafted onto Bruce Wayne's childhood never went beyond feeling forced. This is still the best mainstream story that Kieth's done in a while (certainly better than the muddled Scratch), and the Terry Ammons character is another one of his fascinatingly damaged females; I'd love to see a whole series about her someday.

Beyond! #1 (Dwayne McDuffie/Scott Kolins, Marvel)
I picked this up because it looked like a fun superhero story with some little-used characters that hearkened back to old-school crossovers. Which it is, I guess, but it's so incredibly generic and dull that I can't possibly imagine caring enough to read even one more issue. It was nice to see both Gravity and the Hood get some more face time in a comic, but the cast is filled out with a couple of second-rate Spider-Man villains, cast-off Avengers and, most pointlessly, Spider-Man himself, who certainly doesn't need any more exposure. McDuffie's writing is serviceable superhero stuff and nothing more, but his cliffhanger ending, which actually involves killing Spider-Man, is mind-numbingly stupid. If you're going to build a cliffhanger, it has to be at least mildly believable. Add in Kolins' rough, globby art, and this is not something I'm going to be following, no matter how much I love Gravity.

Detective Comics #821 (Paul Dini/J.H. Williams III, DC)
Thanks to DC's seemingly random choices of what to send in their publicity packages, I ended up with two or three issues of James Robinson's run on Detective and Batman, which thoroughly unimpressed me, and assumed this was another when it came in the mail thanks to the Simone Bianchi cover that looks just like all his other covers. Luckily I took a second look, because this is actually the start of Dini and Williams' run on the book, and anything Williams draws is worth checking out. I was greatly disappointed that he left Desolation Jones, so it was a treat to see him do equally stunning work on something so mundane as a Batman story. Not that it's a bad story - Dini crafts a perfectly entertaining little done-in-one tale, and I like that he's not going for big arcs or complex plotting. There's so little continuity in this issue that it reads like a Legends of the Dark Knight tale, but for someone like me tired of dense DC continuity, that's perfect. As long as Williams stays on the art and the stories are self-contained, this looks like a pleasant and welcome surprise.

Y the Last Man #47 (Brian K. Vaughan/Goran Sudzuka, DC/Vertigo)
Yet another self-contained "origin," this time for Dr. Mann, and while again I don't see these flashbacks as providing any blindingly new insights into the characters we've been reading about for so long, it's still a good story that held my interest. The framing sequence, though, with a great bit of misdirection, really got my attention, and the issue ends on a fascinating cliffhanger to which I can't wait to see the follow-up.

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