Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Meanwhile, on Earth-Comics...

RIP Will Eisner.

Legion of Super-Heroes 1 – Yeah, the logo is boring, but let's all get over that, shall we? Anyway, this issue is mostly (and inevitably) set-up for the new Legion status quo. It's a bit early to form any concrete opinions, I think, but I think this is off to a good start (I suppose it helps that I'm a relatively recent convert to Legion fandom and don't have that devotion to decades of prior continuity weighing me down). A lot of people are saying that the "generation gap" theme is a decade or three behind the times, but I think that's precisely what Waid is going for here. The story, the themes, the look of the characters - it's pretty clear that he's trying to re-imagine (or at least recapture) the Legion of the 1970s, a period many fans consider the strip's zenith (Great Darkness Saga not withstanding). I think it makes for an interesting new take on the “retro-futuristic” approach, myself – instead of the Shiny Chrome Gee Whiz 50s vision of the future (which we already got from Waid the first time around), we get a Late 60s / Early 70s approach; the optimism has been exchanged for the desire to change the system (given the current political climate and the resentment felt by young America today, this idea isn’t as outmoded as some people think). If the first reboot was the Archie Legion, this is the Wild In The Streets Legion, though "Eat it, Grandpa" is a poor stand-in for "14 or fight!" I think there’s a lot of potential, and I'm very curious to see where this is heading. I'd also like to know if the new Sun Boy's resemblance to Prez Rickard is purely coincidental.

Adam Strange 4 – What can I say about this that I haven’t already said about the first three issues. Of the comics I am currently buying on a regular basis, this is far and away my favorite right now. If DC could pull a Reverse Marvel and retroactively declare this book an ongoing series, I’d be quite happy.

JLA: Classified 2 – Since this is a Grant Morrison book, it seems like everyone on the Intermanet is dissecting every single word and drawing in the hunt for deeper meaning and, yes, Mad Ideas. I, on the other hand, think that people are spending way too much time deconstructing this. Sometimes superheroes and robots fighting evil, man-eating, superintelligent gorillas are just superheroes and robots fighting evil, man-eating, superintelligent gorillas, folks. I could be wrong, but I think that this time, having come off of stuff like Seaguy and The Filth and We3 and whatever else, Morrison just wanted to bring the fun. Kind of like how David Lynch went and made The Straight Story after years of headscratchers like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Lost Highway, you know? Even Mad Ideas get a little old sometimes. Anyway, this story continues to be good, Ed McGuinness’s art is as fun as always (if there was a guy born to draw superheroes and robots fighting evil, man-eating, superintelligent gorillas, it’s him), and I’m really digging the character of Beryl and would really like to see Morrison do something else with her in the future.

Astonishing X-Men: Gifted – I have one big gripe here. Marvel promoted the hell out of Joss Whedon’s involvement on this book, hoping that the reputation he earned with Buffy, Angel and Firefly would translate into new readers. The problem, though, is the same as it ever was: a heavy reliance on pre-existing continuity. Whedon knows his X-History, and that’s great. But he makes little or no effort to explain that history when he draws upon it, so as usual, any new readers lacking degrees in Marvelology are most likely going to be quickly discouraged, and then they won’t buy the book. Same as it ever was. All that being said, though, I am a geek well-versed in Marvelology, so I did actually like the story quite a bit. Whedon writes the group dynamic about as well as, if not better than, anyone in film, TV or comics today, and there are plenty of great character moments that would’ve fit in well in any of his TV shows (and yet didn’t seem like they were lifted directly from those shows, either). And though John Cassaday has never met a deadline that he could… well, actually meet, his draws him some right purty pitchers, don’t he? So in short: recommended if you’re already an X-Fan, but not so much if you aren’t (unless you know someone kind and patient enough to explain the old-school continuity bits to you).
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