Sporadic Sequential
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Cranky Comic Comments

Back in April I placed a pre-order for a bunch of manga with DCBS. Since I still had a couple bucks to go before I hit the dollar limit for the lowest shipping plateau, I broke down and ordered a couple superhero comics that were being offered at 75% off. Last week, a shipment from DCBS arrived ... with no manga and all the superhero comics I'd ordered. OH CRUEL FATE!!! Oh well, at least I can try to salvage some enjoyment by sharing my pain snark with you, dear reader:

(volume 3?) #1: So does this mean Dr. Psycho is wearing leopard-print boxers? And interesting that Dodson depicts Giganta as the only female character without ginormous breasts. What could it mean???

Behold! The League of Villainous Leopard-Print Fashion!!

BRAVE NEW WORLD: Not bad for an 80-page anthology that only cost a buck, but it didn't do anything to convince me to buy any of the series being advertised. Let's run them down one-by-one:

Martian Manhunter: I've always had a soft spot for the character, especially since the early days of the Giffen-era League, but this just looks like heavy-handed gritification of a character I find more interesting when he's the well-adjusted counterpoint to all the other unbalanced personalities around him. The art looked fine, but the scene with J'onn arguing with a cardboard cutout of himself was painfully bad. I don't want to read the adventures of J'onn J'onnz, the Angstiest Alien Alive; I want stories of a grounded Martian Manhunter using his fantastic abilities to help his adoptive siblings.

OMAC: Some nice (if inconsistent) European-looking art can't really cover up this segment's utterly dull plot and incredibly clunky scene transitions. I suppose one could argue that the "it was all a dream" ending explains the awkward panel jumps, but that simply trades one problem for an even larger one: revealing that the events depicted didn't actually occur invalidates the entire story and negates any interest readers may have developed in the characters. We're basically left with two panels of "real" characterization, neither of which does anything to flesh out the main protagonist of the upcoming mini-series.

Really, this installment is such a mess it's almost impressive just how much wrongness Jones manages to cram in in only eleven pages. Here's a bit that at least provides a little unintentional humor: In this scene, Mike Costner is on the run from a pack of OMACs that nearly killed him and a woman claiming to be his girlfriend. But even though his life is in imminent danger, our hero can only think of one thing when the female character lands in his lap:

For males, Sexual Drive > Self-Preservation

"Look, I know this isn't the time... (Don't let her know you're staring at her ass! Don't let her know you're staring at her ass!!) ...but you're the first person who's ever tried to protect me..." What a putz.

Uncle Sam and The Freedom Fighters:
Whoa! Look at the size of Phantom Lady's ta-tas!! And talk about a great costume design! What a brilliant idea to update Phantom Lady's already suggestive costume with two little glowing arrowheads highlighting her naughty bits!! Hey, fanboys: Here's where to direct your male gaze!! Erik Larsen must be steaming that he didn't come up with this trend-setting design for any of his female characters!

I think I remember this character from an issue of Penthouse Comix.

The Creeper: I've always loved the concept of the Creeper, but there haven't been many stories that have done much to make the character genuinely, well, creepy. Andy Helfer and Keith Giffen's retelling of the Creeper's origin in Secret Origins #18 probably came closest in my book, but (as far as I can remember) this revamp was never followed up on. (I seem to remember hearing several times that Giffen had plans for The Creeper, but nothing ever materialized aside from a brief guest appearance in JLI.) I purchased the 90s Creeper series (by Len Kaminski and Shawn Martinbrough) but I honestly can't remember anything about it. (According to Wikipedia, that series tried to tweak the Creeper's origin yet again, suggesting that the involvement of Dr. Yatz was an implanted memory.)

As for the take in this book, it's a bit uneven but it has potential. I actually like the idea of Jack Ryder using his TV soapbox to publicly denounce his alter ego in an effort to throw the detective suspicious of Ryder's connection to the Creeper off track: it's like compressing the J. Jonah Jameson and Spider-Man / Peter Parker dynamic into one character. What doesn't work for me is Ryder's internal narration about how the Creeper persona is motivating him to be a better person. What exactly about the concept of the Creeper inspires altruism?

At least the art by Justiniano works to visually reinforce the off-kilter nature of the character: Titled panels, unusual angles, and a judicious use of shadows help convey the sense that things are unbalanced in the Creeper's world. I only wish he'd come up with some other facial expression for the Creeper: with that rictus grin and green hair, the Creeper looks like a yellowed version of the Joker.

The All-New Atom: What the heck is up with that one guy's eyes? Are we supposed to assume that he's insane? Because I'm pretty sure that "dark patches under the eyes" look is how Byrne has signified madness for characters like Maximus and the Joker.

"Stare into the very face of EVIL!!"

The Trials Of Shazam! Why does everyone look like they've had too much to drink? I know colorists are really fond of all the fancy tricks they can do with today's technology, but the over-coloring of characters' faces often makes them look inebriated. "Jussh one more >hick< drink and I'll go back to being Billy Bashin!"

ETERNALS #1: You know, all I really remember about this a couple days later is how odd John Romita, Jr.'s people look. And it's not like his style suddenly changed for this book, but for some reason his "big heads and skinny necks" characters look really weird. Maybe it's the different inker. As for the story, feh. Again, nothing stuck with me so I won't be sticking with this.