Thursday, September 23, 2010

Legacies and Lost Leagues: New Comics Reviews

DCU: Legacies is a ten part series from DC (of course) that takes a Marvels-style approach to retelling the history of the DC Universe, filtering that history through the eyes of Metropolis policeman Paul Lincoln. The latest issue (#5) picks up where the previous one left off, with the death of the first Doom Patrol jumps pretty quickly to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, pretty much skipping the entire 1970's, including the coming of the New Gods, the debut of Black Lightning and the murder of the original Mr. Terrific.  The only events of the period that do merit a mention are the debut of Firestorm and the emergence of the second Doom Patrol.  Aside from those exceptions, writer Len Wein picks up the story with the debut of the New Teen Titans before getting right to Crisis.  Appropriately, the art for this issue is provided by Titans/COIE co-creator George Perez.
This is the weakest issue of the series so far. In my opinion, that's due to the series' "man on the street" approach to the events its chronicling being ill-suited for a retelling of Crisis On Infinite Earths.  Such an approach fails to convey the cosmic scope of the story, and some of the most pivotal events of the narrative are occurences that a beat cop in Metropolis could not be privy to, as they take place in settings such as the anti-matter universe or at the dawn of time. 
This, in a way, was also the problem with the Crisis On Infinite Earths novel penned by Marv Wolfman a few years back, which retold the story through the eyes of the Flash.  By focusing mostly on one character, the novelization sacrificed much of the epic, cosmic grandeur of the original.  The same is true of Legacies' focus on ordinary people in the Crisis.

Meanwhile, in the tenth issue of Justice League: Generation Lost absolutely NOTHING happens.  Really.  It became quite clear a few weeks ago that Judd Winick does not really have enough plot to fill twenty six issues, and now his problems pacing the narrative are becoming painfully apparent.  We're getting a couple of, to coin a phrase, "all-out action issues" followed by an issue or two of pure filler.  This week's edition was one of those filler issues.  Basically, as I said before, ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN' NOTHING HAPPENS.  The characters just stand around and talk for the entire issue.  Winick even brings in characters who aren't even part of the main story, Batman and Power Girl, to stand around the Batcave and talk in what is probably one of the most pointless scenes I have ever read in a comic book.
I've been sticking with this series because I like the characters and because the good issues, which do outnumber the bad, are pretty good.  But as the halfway  point of the series approaches, I am going to have to decide if this book is really worth three bucks every two weeks.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Grimjack: The Manx Cat

The 1980's were an exciting time for the comics industry and for comics fans.  Unfortunately, living as I did at the time in a succession of tiny western Pennsylvania towns without the benefit of comics shops and not possessing a car, a driver's license, or even a geeky friend who did, I missed out on a lot of it. That includes pretty much the entire publishing history of First Comics.  I did come across an issue of Shatter at a bookstore on a rare visit to Erie's Millcreek Mall, but, frankly, I wasn't impressed. The story wasn't that great , and, let's be honest, the mid-80's was too early for a comic with computer generated art. (To see what can be done these days with a Wacom tablet and one hell of a lot of talent, check this out. Trust me, it's good stuff.) It wasn't until the mid-90's that I caught up with Jon Sable, Freelance or American Flagg. And I'm only just now beginning to read Grimjack.  A few weeks ago, I picked up a bundle of the first 16 issues of the series at Half-Price Books, and I just got around to reading them a few days ago,  but  as soon as I was done, I headed back to HPB looking for more.
I've read very few Grimjack tales so far, so I'm probably not the most qualified to judge, but, in my opinion, the best Grimjack story I've read so far is not from the 80's, but was published just last year.  
Grimjack: The Manx Cat was originally serialized online, then published as a six issue mini-series by IDW before being collected in the inevitable trade paperback. In other words, if you want to read this, it ain't hard to find. 
Longtime Grimjack  readers know what the Manx Cat of the title is, or at least they may think they do. The true nature of the object comprises the central mystery at the heart of the tale.  
 Those same longtime readers, especially if they remember the "Munden's Bar" story from the back of issue #5 which revealed the origin of Munden's watchlizard, Bob, may get a strong sense of deja vu from reading the first few pages of The Manx Cat #1. The new story, which takes place before the first issue of the original series, begins with Grimjack's heist of the Cat and rescue of Bob.  From there, John Ostrander, rejoined here by Grimjack's co-creator and original artist Tim Truman, weaves a complex and compelling tale featuring double dealing, astral projection, time travel, reincarnation, ancient gods, and--this being Grimjack, after all--plenty of violence.  Also on hand are many of the most significant supporting characters in John Gaunt's world, such as his old partner Roscoe, his best friend Blacjacmac, Goddess, Gordon the bartender, and, of course, Bob.  Fans of Bob should be especially pleased with his role in the story. 
By the way, if you compare the "Munden's Bar" origin of Bob story with the retelling of those same events in Manx Cat #1, you'll notice several differences in detail between the two accounts.  For those who care, that's actually pretty easily explained.  The older story has Bob falling asleep and dreaming of his pre-Munden's life.  Thus, we can say the earlier version is how Bob remembers those events while the more recent version is, if not how things actually went down, at least how Grimjack remembers them.
As I said earlier, if you want to read this story, you have a few options.  If you pick up the individual issues of the mini-series, however, you'll find something that's fairly rare in comic books these days: A Letters Column.  I miss letters columns, and so, it seems, does editor Mike Gold, and I was glad Gold chose to include one here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hello, Russia!

I was just checking the stats for this blog, including not only how many page views I'm getting, but also what country they're coming from, and how they're getting here--by that I mean what links on what sites they're clicking on.
I am quite surprised to note that the majority of my page views from outside the United States are coming from Russia. (In the last 24 hours, however, the majority of my traffic has come from Indonesia.)
I've also noted that quite a few people are stumbling on this blog, and in particular my series of posts on 90's Comics, when they are searching for information on 90's Comics on Google.  Those are the posts that have gotten the most hits. This doesn't surprise me, really, since these posts, especially the first one, are also the ones that have garnered the most comments. 
Perhaps, then, in order to lure as many unsuspecting souls as possible here, I should try to slip the words 90's Comics into each and every post as many times as possible, whether it has anything to do with what I'm jabbering about or not.