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09/23/2003: last week's comics

Arrowsmith #3 (written by Kurt Busiek, pencils by Carlos Pacheco, inks by Jesús Merino)
I like this mix of WWI story with fantasy and magic quite a bit. The universe is very vivid, and this issue Fletcher starts to see the more gruesome aspects of war, the stuff that happens after you get the shiny uniform and flashy dragonets (little dragons from whom they get their ability to fly), and I expect he will loose the rest of his innocence and illusions pretty soon. BTW, I've just now found the eight page prequel that's available on the DC site, so if you want to take a look at the art, or already read Arrowsmith but have also missed the prequel so far, you ought to go there, and check it out.

Batgirl #44 (written by Dylan Horrocks, pencils by Adrian Sibar, inks by Andy Owens)
It's no news that I don't like the art, but well, the art is still there, so I'll continue to whinge about it ;). Anyway, I'm glad this whole Tarakstan arc is over (I hope). It's not that I'm against political messages in comic books as such -- though I maintain that RL international politics and the superhero genre are usually not a good fit -- and the "message" here (don't support corrupt dictatorships for oil) isn't that annoying either (though it could be a bit more layered), but what is annoying is that the reader is bludgeoned with it until she's sick of it, in the most unsubtle ways. I mean, of course Doctor Death's WoMD also had to be oil based and look like oil etc., etc. Just -- gah. And I don't know, the interaction between Batman and Batgirl used to be more than Batman apparently wanting her to stay without a boyfriend until she's at least thirty or something like that.

Batman: Gotham Knights #45 (written by Scott Beatty, pencils by Roger Robinson, inks by John Floyd)
I didn't care for the Man-Bat father/son story at all. It's not that I have something against Man-Bat appearances in principle, though he sure isn't my favorite character. But it didn't feel like it had much to do with the rest. No, let me rephrase that, of course I didn't miss the heavy handed "fathers and sons" theme, it's in the subtitle after all, sort of like an anvil dropping on you. But the storylines didn't really matter to each other, the Man-Bat plot felt just like a filler element with the "same theme" or something, I didn't feel empathy for the Man-Bat characters and family problems, and I don't think they were particularly skillfully interwoven. I liked the social services plot better, but like 'rith, I can't really see Bruce breaking out in tears in front of a stranger, and I don't think he would "fake" an emotional breakdown for a more convincing cover either, not when it comes to Jason's death.

Birds of Prey #59 (written by Gail Simone, pencils by Ed Benes, inks by Alex Lei)
I won't waste time on the cover with Big-Boobs!Babs (at least she doesn't have to wear that outfit in the book, unlike the unfortunate Huntress), it's best to ignore these things and employ advanced visualization techniques to pretend female superheroes were allowed to wear protective kevlar that's actually covering them too. Otherwise I liked the story, especially Huntress and Canary working together, and the build up of the conflict between Dinah and Babs over civil rights, abuse of their power, and the right (and still at least morally if not legally justifiable) strategies for fighting the bad guys. It's certainly an interesting theme. Also Savant's minion was cute (Dinah: "Hey Creote---does Savant know you're in love with him?" Creote: "... He does not.").

Daredevil #52 (by David Mack)
There isn't much I can say about this issue that I haven't already said about the last one. It's still primarily about Echo, not Daredevil (though at least she and Matt have a conversation, so that's more than last issue), it's still mostly introspection, that is flashbacks with internal monologue and not too much happening, but -- and that is a big "but" at least for me -- it is also still awfully pretty. I mean, I just love looking at that art. And it seems as if there might be some plot progress ahead in the next issue, with Echo confronting Fisk and being jealous of Matt's current girlfriend.

Outsiders #4 (written by Judd Winick, pencils by Chriscross, inks by Sean Parsons)
Once again I asked myself, why am I reading this book? Right, it has Nightwing in it, and Arsenal, and in the previous issues there were some funny lines (I was less amused by this one). The good thing was that once again all characters were introduced with their names and powers, that helped, slowly I'm starting to remember those at least, though I still think something with the introduction of the new characters was seriously sub-optimal when after reading three issues I still can only remember the characters I knew previously. Granted, I'm bad with names, but I'm usually pretty good with remembering characters and details, even if I forget names. Anyway, the story is really ridiculous, they are fighting wacky second tier "supervillains," and complain (understandably I might add, I'd be pissed too if I had to fight a brain in a jar, called "The Brain" and some ape thing going by the name of "Monsieur Mallah") about being stuck with those guys, while Arsenal meets with shadowy a informant who gives them the intelligence on these guys. In the end it turns out the second tier villains are all supposed to be connected via some cult in a a monastery which really is a secret underground base, and then they get blown up as a cliffhanger. And I just don't care. Bad comic, no cookie.

Superman/Batman #2 (written by Jeph Loeb, pencils by Ed McGuiness, inks by Dexter Vines)
'rith pointed out some deficiencies wrt plot and villain characterization, and I concede those points are valid, but I don't care. This was the comic I had most fun reading this week. It was well paced and overall the plot worked for me, it had suspense and was engaging, had a great mixture of action scenes and character interaction between Bruce and Clark, and great, funny banter (like when they encounter Alfred in the sewer with a shotgun "You didn't have a spare Mister Freeze ray gun he could use?" "This from a man who uses a dog with a cape to protect his fortress..."). I mean probably the future Superman could have had a more effective plan of delivering his message or achieving his goal than trying to kill the current Superman and Batman, but I figured he really had some issues, and I wasn't annoyed with that or anything. So I definitely recommend this one. It was fun.

Wolverine #5 (written by Greg Rucka, art by Darick Robertson)
It's the final part for this story "The Brothers" and overall I liked the resolution. I like the FBI agent Lathrop, and that she's shown to be resourceful and worked (quite successfully) on freeing herself, though I didn't quite get why there was only one guard she had to overpower when previously the non-brainwashed fellow hostage told her that always two bring the meal. That she is now curious about Wolverine is maybe not the most original jumping off point for the next arc, but it still works, I want to know what will happen next, though the immediate issues are resolved.

Wonder Woman #196 (written by Greg Rucka, pencils by Drew Johnson, inks by Ray Snyder)
As this was the first Wonder Woman comic I've ever read (at least if I don't count the Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman Trinity mini series) I was -- predictably -- confused by all the characters I don't know anything about. However what I got from the story I found quite interesting. It seems Diana has published a book (about Themyscira?) and is widely popular, but a group of people starts a campaign against Wonder Woman, saying that her popularity is idol worship. I'm curious how this setup will turn out, so I'll probably get next months issue too. I really disliked the cover, but the art inside isn't bad (not great either, but decent).

Posted by RatC @ 11:58 PM CET
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