Blackest Night #5
Geoff Johns (w), Ivan Reis (p), Oclair Albert & Joe Prado (i), DC Comics
Normally I like to give my “book of the month” to books that I feel aren’t getting the attention that they should (Incredible Hercules, The Unwritten), books that people seem to ignore no matter how great they are (seriously, buy those books). This month, though, I’ll be damned if my favourite book wasn’t the one that will be #1 on the sales charts. After years of disappointing crossovers it was hard not to get a little cynical. Civil War, Final Crisis, Secret Invasion, The Great Fables Crossover… none of them were doing anything for me. Even Geoff Johns’ own Infinite Crisis left me cold, but with Blackest Night I’m finally reading an event book that does what I feel a great event book should: I’m excited. It may not seem that difficult, but somehow, apparently, it is.
There are so many things Johns is doing with this book that I love. First of all, the pacing is great. Things keep moving forward rapidly while still taking the time out for character moments. It may seem simple, but other stories have made it clear that a lot of writers struggle with this. Speaking of character moments, I love what Johns is doing with the characters in this story. It’s a DC crossover centred on Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, and that is awesome. On top of that, he’s giving a lot of panel time to Ray Palmer and Mera. Mera! Aquaman’s girlfriend! Seeing the spotlight shifted away from Superman and Batman is refreshing. The last thing I want to touch on in terms of story is the self-awareness this story (and especially this issue) has. All too often comics are locked into the notion that they either have to be the serious comic or the silly comic. I think that’s ridiculous, as many of my favourite comics are both (Justice League International, and did I mention that Incredible Hercules is great?). Once again, Johns gets that and he lets Blackest Night be ridiculous and over-the-top. Rainbow Lantern Corps? Sure, why not? Is it really that ridiculous in a medium with a Cyborg Superman? Or a blind, crime-fighting lawyer with sonar? And furthermore, Johns writes his characters with enough self-awareness that one of the characters will comment on how silly the whole thing is, because it IS funny. And awesome. And a blast to read. Lastly, I can’t praise Ivan Reis enough for his artwork here. He is such a perfect fit for this kind of over-the-top, widescreen action book. The artwork is badass when it needs to be, expressive and fun to look at.
Wrapping this up, I just want to say please, please guys, don’t mess up the ending. Let this be the fantastic, mind-blowingly awesome crossover I’ve wanted since I got into comics. You can do it, I believe in you.
Sandra’s Book of the Month
So for this month, it again was a toss-up between some of my favourite titles so far. This month I’m giving it to Irredeemable, just for making one of the best messed up superhero turned villains stories. What I love most about this issue is that it just further delves into the psyche of a broken man. Every person has some sort of breaking point and it’s interesting to see what that point was for the Plutonian. Waid simply does a great job at creating a character, that although resembles others in the superhero world, has a completely different place genre. He stands all on his own. The series has been culmination of secrets. The art, at first, wasn’t really doing the story justice, but Krause has been improving and slowly, both have been starting to work more in stride. I really only see bigger and better, and more messed up things in store and that makes me happy.
Greg Rucka (w), Matthew Southworth (a), Lee Loughridge (c). Oni Press.
Well, I called it in my original review. Book of the Month goes to you, Stumptown. As I said before, this book met my extremely high expectations, and that’s not an easy thing to do. I’ve been counting the days for Stumptown’s release and it delivered.
One thing I didn’t get to mention in my first review was the wonderful relationship between Dex (the main character) and Ansel, her brother with Down’s syndrome. They have a really tender and real relationship with each other where Dex treats Ansel with a lot of love and respect. What’s even better is how Rucka handles Ansel by treating him as a character rather than a stand-in problem for Dex. It’s a refreshing and unique relationship — something you don’t often see in comics.
It’s a looking like a great crime story with a bit more humour than the the reigning kinds of crime comics (Scalped, 100 Bullets or Criminal). Which are all great, but sometimes it’s nice to laugh between bullets.
Adventure Comics #4
Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates, Michael Shoemaker (w), Jerry Ordway, Clayton Henry (p), Bob Wiacek, Clayton Henry (i), Brian Buccellato, Brian Reber (c). DC Comics.
DC has a great history of telling stories set in “Earth Prime,” the reality where comic creators have tuned in to what’s happening with their creations and fill us readers in on the details. Though I’d never met Julie Schwartz in real life, I’ve still seen him team up with the Atom to prevent catastrophe before “recording the events” in comic books.
It’s a story that takes an inordinate amount of skill to tell — I know it’s difficult, I’ve tried to write one. It turned into a self-reflexive, recursive loop that didn’t go anywhere and wasn’t particularly enthralling. And of course if it was rough for me, you know it takes something special to pull it off (you can’t see me, but I’m winking knowingly right now).
You get drawn immediately into the story by the real world comic fan details surrounding Superboy Prime — his action figures, posters, paperback collections and stacks upon stacks of monthly issues. Say you only pick up a couple comics every week — well, give it some time, and eventually even that casual comic fan will be able to identify with Superboy Prime in this first page. Which is another neat trick, considering how hard the writers have worked to make us absolutely hate Prime in the past.
This relatability effect is due in no small part to the subtle but effective expressions given us by Jerry Ordway’s art. It’s a classic look, not photo realistic or super stylized, just a clean comic style, which makes sense of course considering the desired effect of being “an everyman” comic.
It ends on something of a cliffhanger, with Prime concerned over what happens next in the book — and we can either find out next month and the story goes on, or we can live in suspense forever — along with a fearful Superboy Prime who desperately wants a happier ending.