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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in aaron_bourque's LiveJournal:

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Monday, January 9th, 2012
12:29 pm
Often Many Analysts Cry: OMAC
O.M.A.C.

Oh dear God.

This is AWESOME!

I love the old One Man Army Corps, Jack Kirby's demented super-science super-pulp super-series of dullard Buddy Blank gaining ultra-power from the mega-satellite Brother Eye and journeying across the World Of Tomorrow! It's a classic action series, and makes over-the-top seem tame by comparison. It's just Kirby doing what he does best, nearly nonstop action with absurdly awesome premises and the kind of bad-ass protagonist who isn't all that bad-ass, he's just BAD-ASS!!!

Once Kirby was no longer working on O.M.A.C. . . . things never reached the heady heights, and for some reason it was given a loose connection to the Kamandi series (also created by Kirby). And then Batman was put at his most paranoid and created the Brother Mk. I satellite, which was appropriated by a bad guy and turned into Brother Eye and a bunch of "OMAC" cyborg things were sent out . . .

Bad times.

Until now.

Now, the fun is back. The awesome is back. Regular research scientist Kevin Kho gets zapped by Brother Eye and turned into OMAC, and while the satellite has its own agenda and tries to influence Kevin as much as possible, Kevin's good nature still shines through. Add gonzo super villainy and Brother Eye trying to manipulate the world around Kevin as much as possible, and it's a nearly nonstop action ride of AWESOME!!!

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; love it!

Current Mood: amused
12:16 pm
Because The Nightwing Belongs To Us
Nightwing

The biggest change to the Batman mythos is that he started his career a nebulous 5 or so years ago. Which means that Batman had Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne--at the least--as his partner Robin in 5 years.

Which is BULLSHIT of the highest order. It means that Dick Grayson is now 21-ish, started as Robin at 16? Bullshit! Bullshit!

But that doesn't have much if anything to do with this series (except that Dick Grayson's older age means he had a bigger connection to Haley's Circus). Dick has grown up, spent his time as Batman while Bruce Wayne was believed dead, and returned to his own identity as Nightwing.

And then Haley's Circus arrives in town, and Dick is drawn back into the soap opera of the circus life and mystery of how the circus made its money and why its owner was murdered and why he gave the circus to Dick.

And someone's trying to frame Dick Grayson as the greatest assassin in the world.

There's some fake drama with a new love interest I'm not all that interested in, but Dick Grayson is his normal likable self, and the mysteries are interesting enough to sustain a longer story. This one gets my vote.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; despite the red on the new Nightwing costume. What the hell are they thinking with that?
12:03 pm
It's Adventure Time, Come On Grab Your Friends
My Greatest Adventure

This is both a miniseries and an anthology. Three series are showcased, a new Robotman made up more of nanomachines, Garbage Man (a sort of low-rent Swamp Thing), and Tanga--a superpowered valleygirl in a sci-fi pulp setting.

I think the latter two might have been introduced in something done last year, but if so it flew completely under my radar, so I'm taking it like this is their first appearance, because for me? It is.

Robotman, in previous incarnations a member of the Doom Patrol (which made their debut in the original anthology series My Greatest Adventure) is former stunt driver Cliff Steel, who barely survived a failed stunt by being remade into a robot. Hence the name, Robotman. Kind of straightforward. This looks like it'll be a fairly traditional zombie story, with the added twist of Robotman being immune to the typical zombie tricks, and able to rebuild his body after being ripped apart. It's quite fun.

Garbage Man, former corporate attorney Richard Morse, is sort of a street-level Swamp Thing, without any of the mystical or cosmic stuff. This one is the weakest of the three stories, but only because the pace is rather slow (and you probably have to know what happened in his previous story, though you get enough flashbacks to grasp it all), but there's nothing really wrong with it. I'd probably like it better if I read his initial appearance. Oh well. Sometimes you miss comics, it happens.

Tanga is a lot of fun. Imagine someone with Superman's power but the attitude of a typical valley girl from the 80s. Yeah. This is a light-ish story, meant for pure entertainment, and it delivers. She's carefree, and doesn't really understand the circumstances surrounding her, but her power level and attitude is what makes it interesting. Add a cool sci-fi pulp setting (by which I mean, Mos Eisley from Star Wars times at least 100, if not more), and you've got plenty of opportunity for Tanga to show off.

All in all, probably the best anthology series, or at least most fun. Too bad it's just a mini.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; also too bad the Doom Patrol seems to be retcon'd out of existence. Boo.

Current Mood: apathetic
11:41 am
He's Terrific, Thanks For Asking
Mister Terrific

I go back and forth on this one.

On the one hand, it's not good. On the other hand, it is kind of fun. But it's so not good.

One of the big problems is that the series has an over-reliance on really bad technobabble that not only doesn't mean anything, it makes Mr. Terrific look like an idiot. He's supposed to be one of the top 3 smartest people on Earth, and he doesn't use science to solve his problems, he essentially uses fucking magic.

That's the main problem with technobabble. The layman doesn't fully understand science, maybe somewhat, but anything that "sounds" like science gets a pass with them. But technobabble does whatever the hell the writer needs it to do, whereas science--even fakey comic book science--is somewhat consistent, and there are (or should be) actual limitations on what science--even fakey comic book science--can do.

But technobabble, with its inconsistency and "does whatever the writer wants" methodology, masks actual science and makes it so that not only the layman but actual experts in the field don't know what it means, and so it just comes off as narrative fiat, and since technobabble includes "babble," it just pads out the pages with talky scenes in which nobody says anything.

Also, the art for the first two issues, was really bad. Everyone looked encephalatic and wall-eyed, which made them look really stupid. And the supporting cast is rather unlikable.

So what's good about it? Well, when the writing isn't overdoing the technobabble, it's actually kind of tight and managed to be thrilling in a couple of places. And the main character actually manages to have at least one heroic moment per issue. The villain for the opening arc was satisfyingly evil and it was very nice to have him get beaten. And it was actually an interesting threat, at first, with him making people super-intelligent but unempathetic, and then stealing their smarts. That was rather clever.

There's also a hint at an overarching storyline, but right now it's just a hint, and an uninteresting hint at that. In all, Mister Terrific has all the seeds to be a great comic book, but is hampered by its own presentation.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; there's also Karen Starr, the secret identity of Power Girl, but she doesn't seem to have her powers so I don't know what's going on there.

Current Mood: sick
11:21 am
We're Men! We're Men Of War! We Roam Around The Forest Looking For Fights!
Men of War

Ah, the war comic. One of the biggest non-superhero genres in comics, and among the oldest. However, since the 80s, it has been almost completely absent in the medium. There have been a few here and there, but nothing from the mainstream. Until now.

The new 52 gives us a war comic, another anthology series. Unlike the others, there doesn't seem to be a central protagonist or star of the series, with other stories filling out the comic. And there's another twist, in that these soldiers going to war have to deal with a world full of super powered people who could wipe out mortal armies with an afterthought. But there are also normal soldiers going into battle and having to deal with much more mundane kind of military threats. The kind you'd get in more traditional war comics from the 40s to the 70s. Although I do hope we get a few more wild stories, like the War that Time Forgot--any comic book with dinosaurs would be worth a look, I think.

I can't recommend this one as strongly, though it is really well written. Why? Because there isn't a central protagonist. I thought it was going to focus on a new Sergeant Rock, but it doesn't look like there will. It's a more traditional anthology, which means that each issue will probably have its own focus. While serialized stories might get stretched over several issues, there seem to also be single issue shorts. So if one issue doesn't grab you, wait a month, maybe the next one will.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; also the Navy SEALs story shouldn't have been as long as it was . . .

Current Mood: frustrated
Friday, January 6th, 2012
12:07 am
How It All Began
Legion: Secret Origin

So the Legion of Superheroes is the most rebooted franchise in comics.

And now that the whole line has been rebooted, it's been rebooted again!

Yay!

I'm not going to get into the whole rigamarole, but in one previous version of the Legion's origin, the first few members of the group got together when they saved the life of R. J. Brande, one of the richest guys in the galaxy. In gratitude, Brande decides to form the teens into a team and becomes their "adult advisor."

In my opinion, it's not the best origin, but whatever. This is the version they chose to go with when they told the rebooted Legion origin. But there's more stuff going on in the galaxy that, if you know anything about other members of the Legion, and various bits of Legion lore, hint at various bits of "future" stories the Legion will have to deal with. But I'm only talking about the first three months of the new 52, and since this is a miniseries, it didn't start until the second month, so there's only two issues to talk about, here.

It's . . . okay? One of the problems that the regular Legion book had was too many characters and not enough room. Well, this mini has fewer Legion members to deal with, but then a bunch of other people get caught up in these events, and the same problem begins. Just to a lesser extent.

One really good thing is that this does have the feel of a historical drama, just in the future instead of the past. I admit I haven't read much historical fiction, but this seems to fit seemlessly with the genre.

There's nothing here that's objectionable, so if you want to learn sort of the cliff's notes of how the Legion got together, pick it up.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; and it builds up Brainiac 5 as the smartest person in the universe. As it should be.

Current Mood: sleepy
Thursday, January 5th, 2012
11:47 pm
One Thousand Years Is A Millennium
Legion of Superheroes

I love the Legion. Love, love, love the Legion. They're a club of super powered teenaged rebels from a thousand years in the future, but instead of being your typical wastoid, self-absorbed teenagers who are too busy whining about their minor problems to do anything . . . they model their lifestyle after the heroic exploits of Superboy and other heroes from more contemporary times.

They are, however, the most rebooted series in comics.

It's not their fault, not entirely. They're from the future, so when the present day stories suddenly do something that terrifically contradicts their previously established "future history," they kind of get stuck in a corner.

For instance, originally, they were inspired to heroism by the career of Superboy. Clark Kent grows-up-to-be-Superman-himself, Superboy. But not historical legends of Superboy, but they actually traveled to the past and had adventures with Superboy and even took him to the future for some fun and adventures.

So when Crisis on Infinite Earths happened and the history of Superman was rewritten and now he was never Superboy, the Legion needed a fix, quick. There have been other things, too, involving the Legion growing up to be adult superheroes, as well has having stories about their contemporary teen-age selves (it's confusing, and I'm not getting into it now because it's not worth it, really), and then when another Superboy popped up, a semi-clone of Clark Kent, the Legion's history was again rewritten to allow him to be a part of the Legion . . . and then came the "Threeboot" Legion, aka the fifth volume of Legion of Superheroes.

See, there was this crossover with the Teen Titans coming out of that, a new version of the Legion appeared. Once again, they were teenagers in the future who had superpowers and used those powers to help people. This time, they weren't inspired by any single superhero or the like, but were, in short, comic book nerds. They patterned themselves after the goofy comic books that had survived to the 31st century. This version of the Legion is my favorite--everyone has their's--because a) it really feels like a fully developed setting, b) it's inclusive, c) the characters are simply but effectively portrayed so that you feel like you know these guys even if you've never read the series before, even if you've never heard of them before. It was after I got into this version that I looked into the Legion and became a huge fan. So partly, it's familiarity and partly it's appreciation that this is my favorite. Whatever the reason, I still think this version of the Legion is the most accessible.

Which brings us to the current volume of the Legion of Superheroes. This one kind of had a similar issue where I felt disoriented after reading the first issue, but not to the same degree. The main problem with this version is that there are so many characters, the issues zip through them so quickly, you just feel like you've almost caught your breath before being inundated with a half dozen other characters. It settles down relatively quickly, but the Legion has had better stories. This just feels mediocre in comparison to other, better stories.

Which is the main problem with the reboot. I might have mentioned.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; oh, and the Legion was created before Star Trek, and went farther in the future than it did, meaning it was more optimistic, during the Cold War! . . . Sure . . .

Current Mood: sick
11:18 pm
Maybe It's BECAUSE The Legion Is Lost That It's So Disorienting
Legion Lost

And audience lost, too.

There's a storytelling device known as medias res, where the story begins in the middle of the action, typically explaining the context later or as the drama unfolds. As a struggling writer, it's a device I have used myself, as well as being used in plenty of notably things you'll have actually heard of. The point is, it's done a lot, and it's usually not a bad idea. It gives the audience a nice jolt to get into the story, and clues them in that they're in for a bit of a ride.

But when it's done badly, it can leave the audience completely disorented and off balance and not sure of what the hell they're getting into.

So, there's this fugitive from the future, who has infected himself with a virus that causes people to take on the characteristics of various alien species. And it's up to a team from the Legion of Superheroes--teen heroes from a thousand years in the future--to try to catch the patient zero guy and prevent an outbreak . . . and barring that, contain the epidemic.

This is probably the most improved series of the new 52, because the first issue? Was unbelievably balls. You get the impression that there was a bunch of stories leading up to the first issue, but no*. It's a completely new story, not really related to anything that has gone before.

I'm a fan of the Legion. I enjoy stories of future guys coming to the present and the culture shock and the advanced technology gadgets and everything. Time Trax (anyone remember that?) Time Cop. This has been done lots of times, and it's generally a pretty good version of the tale. So this should have been a great contender for a series, to me.

But that first issue. I always try to give a new series a couple, three issues before completely writing it off, but after Legion Lost #1, I was dreading reading the second issue. Because it was not a good introduction to the characters, the story, the setting . . . I actually felt physically disoriented after reading it. I'd recommend skipping the first issue, and picking up from the second, because it does a much better job of introducing those elements. It's not a perfect introduction, but it won't leave you physically ill.

Or at least, it shouldn't.

*Well, sort of. There are no previous issues to read to prepare you for what's going on in the first issue, but writer Fabien Nicieza (whose name I will never know how to pronounce) did some promotional text pieces viral marketing stuff. They don't help. I'm sorry, I really like Nicieza as a writer, but he dropped the ball with the first issue of this series.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; also, their mission is doomed from the get-go, and I enjoy heroes struggling against impossible odds, which actually isn't easy with super-powered characters.

Current Mood: determined
Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
11:10 pm
Are You Afraid Of The Justice League Dark?
Justice League Dark.

So most of the heroes on the Justice League are science based. Or, well, more SCIENCE! based. But what do you do when the threats are more magic based?

Well, according to Justice League Dark, you throw a bunch of sorcerers and mystical-themed characters at them and hope for the best.

So far, this seems more a loose coalition than a real team, but maybe that's just because the team hasn't officially formed? Madame Xanadu has decided to up her enigmaticness and is guiding the mad witch known as the Enchantress into doing something dangerous. What, exactly, we don't know. All we know as that it involves her split personality, known as June Moone, manifesting an independent body for herself, and Enchantress wants it back. The interference or perhaps separation anxiety, is causing magical, mystical backlash across the globe, and various people are investigating.

So far, it's John Constantine, a low-rent British wizard-for-hire, his onetime girlfriend Zatanna, a powerful sorceress and practicing stage magician, Deadman Boston Brand, and Shade the Changing Man, but the version that was revamped by writer Peter Milligan for the Vertigo imprint, which was a mature horror/independent creator imprint published by DC Comics. I'm not a big fan of the Vertigo Shade the Changing Man, or any of the Vertigo versions of DC characters (except for Swamp Thing and Sandman, but they don't really count, as they were DC characters that were shunted to Vertigo with little to no change, not recreated for Vertigo with lots of changes). I just prefer the original Steve Ditko series, a short-lived but high concept frenetic romp of comic book adventure with more untapped potential than this version of the character.

Partly because of that, and partly because the team hasn't met yet, I'm not feeling very strong about this series yet. It's not exactly mediocre, but it's certainly not wow-ing me.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; also, Zatanna isn't wearing her familiar fishnets, and that's just disappointing.
10:50 pm
Heroes Without Borders
Justice League International.

Now this here is a good introduction to the team. First, it gets the whole group together immediately, and sends them all against a mysterious threat.

The plot is that some guy in the U.N. is jealous of the success of independent super-teams like the Justice League, and wants to get some international heroes under the banner of the U.N. as a hybrid public relations stunt/actually useful team. Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, Rocket Red (a member of a Russian team who wear powered armor, like Iron Man) Guy Gardner Green Lantern (Guy Gardner: the only name a hero needs), Vixen, August General in Iron, and Godiva make up this team, with Booster Gold chosen as the leader, because he's the most photogenic and the U.N. guy thinks he'll make a great figurehead. Guy, being Guy, quits in a huff when he's not chosen as team leader, but eventually comes back to try to show that without him, the team would be nothing. They're sent to investigate a missing team in what is hoped would be a softball introductory mission, but a couple things go wrong with that.

First, Batman hitches a ride for his own reasons. Second, the missing science team stumbled upon a network of alien giants who have just woken up and are ready to do . . . something to the Earth. Booster shows he's more concerned with the safety of the team than looking good, and signals a retreat and regroup, but only a temporary one, and then--when it becomes obvious the U.N. is more interested in good headlines about the team--formulates a plan involving the team splitting up and taking down the various worldwide giants.

This is a fun book, and my favorite of the Justice League books. The disparate personalities play off of each other in surprising ways, but that still make sense, and it's great seeing Booster play a more straight hero than he usually does. Also, Batman's on the team, self-appointed as a sort of unofficial supervisor, and he manages to give Booster really good advice. I just like it when Batman plays nice with other heroes. I say, until the next arc of Justice League anyway, focus on this series, unless you prefer more mature fair (then read the next Justice League book, which will be discussed in the next article).

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; Godiva is kind of a weak link, as she doesn't add much to the team, but she knows it and doesn't try to be more than she thinks she is.
4:50 pm
Note To Self, Batman
Justice League.

Ah, the Justice League.

Ah! The Justice League.

Argh, the Justice League.

Justice League was the first of the new 52 comics published, all on its own one week, an attempt to let everyone know what they were going to be getting with this reboot/relaunch thing. And in a way, it was a complete success.

Justice League is not that good.

It's not entirely the creative team's fault. Well, except for Jim Lee, he's not as good an artist as most people consider him. I will for the life of me never understand why he's considered such a high profile artist. His rendering is too stiff, he's characters always look like they're smirking or scowling, he's too in love with hash-marks, and he has a stupid tendency to draw Batman with his ears sticking out too much through the batcowl.

In short, I don't like him. Well, his art, I'm sure he's a nice guy.

And for some reason, he has redesigned practically every superhero in the relaunch, giving them new (sorta ugly) costumes. And he's the artist for the unintended flagship, Justice League.

The writer is Geoff Johns, the guy also writing Aquaman and Green Lantern. Johns actually got his start on a team book, the previous version of the Justice Society of America, a group of heroes from WWII-era teaming up to mentor and train a new generation of heroes. He did a good-to-great job on that series, and it was because of that job that he got other, higher profile work, revamping older heroes. I've talked about that already.

The League is supposed to be the heavy-hitters of the DC Universe. That has not always been true, but when people think of the Justice League, they think of guys like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, etc. This version will be like that, but with Cyborg, too, for some reason. Cyborg, Vic Stone, is a long-time member of the Teen Titans, originally made up of sidekicks of the DCU, and then of those of contemporary age. There's a push to make Cyborg high profile here, and a power boost, to boot. Plotwise, the pace is slow, and it's telling the story of how the League got together, so they start off as a group of independents who need to work together.

It doesn't work. There's too much decompression going on, and the threat (I don't want to spoil things), is one that you shouldn't use for an opening arc. I mean, where do you escalate from someone who wants to destroy and/or enslave all of reality? Sure, it's a suitable threat for the League, but it's too soon for them to be going after a threat of this level.

And the interplay between the team members ends up making everyone (except Batman) look like a boob. Oh, well, not Wonder Woman, either. She's just a battle-happy bruiser who lives for conflict. I don't know what it is about Wonder Woman or Geoff Johns, but he's never been able to write Wonder Woman properly. There's a cute scene with ice cream (we all scream for cute scenes) in the third issue, but the rest overshadows that one brief glimpse.

Another problem is that the team is taking forever to form. Not just gel, not just work together as a team. Just for all of the members of the team even appear all together! By the end of the third issue, it still hasn't happened, argh!

So this arc is disappointing and slow. It's not bad, so much, as just not being any good.

. . .

Maybe the next arc will be better?

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; and Hal Jordan somehow looks like an even bigger dolt than in his own title!
4:11 pm
I Do Not Drink . . . Wine . . .
I, Vampire.

Again, I'm going to talk about the original version of a character: Lord Andrew Bennett, the titular vampire, was a british gentleman who got turned into a vampire and decided to use his vampire powers to fight against vampires. Because, as a gentleman and landed lord, he felt it was his responsibility to help and protect the common folks. He made one mistake, though, of turning his lover, Mary Seward, and that would come back to . . . dammit, bite him later. Andy was also a rather brooding, Byronic character, with an affectation to still dress in periodwear.

He was basically what would happen if Count Dracula were an out-and-out good guy, and British.

The new 52 only makes one change, it seems, and that is in making Andrew more emo/Twilight looking vampire, while still remaining a traditional vampire. It's only in looks, so if you hate Twilight, don't worry, he doesn't sparkle in the daylight.

So Mary Seward wants to raise an army of vampires and conquer the world, and Andy wants to stop her. They're old vampires, and so very, very powerful vampires, and Mary? Had a head start. There are armies of vampires rising in cities across the globe, and Andrew has just found out about it. Now he's playing catchup, gathering a few old friends to help him in his impossible quest, and one way to end it all is to kill his old lover.

And since killing a siring vampire kills all of the vampires spawned, another way is for Lord Andrew to die, too. But does he know that?

This is a really cool, brooding story with the best parts of vampire stories: blood sucking, dangerous lusts, and questioning the morality and superiority inherent in being a vampire. The main problem, aside from the new look--seriously, put a shirt on, people. And some shoes!--is the art for the series, by Andrea Sorrentino. In my opinion, there's a distance, a coldness to the art that puts me off. Sort of like the worst of otherwise brilliant artist Jae Lee.

However, the art doesn't put me off enough to dislike it, and the writing is strong enough to keep me hooked. This is definitely not one to be overlooked.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; plus, shapeshifting vampire battles. Hell, yeah.

Current Mood: awake
3:33 pm
Pursuing The Most Dangerous Game: Common Criminals!
Huntress.

This is the first miniseries I'll be talking about. It's not technically a part of the new 52, but it is part of the new rebooted DC Universe, so I'm counting it. The miniseries didn't come out until one month after the new 52 launched, so there's only been 2 issues of Huntress out (until today, the day I'm writing this, but I haven't read the third issue yet, so I'm not going to talk about it. I'm only talking about the new 52 books through November, no matter how long this little project takes).

I'll be honest, it took a long time for me to like the character of Huntress, and there are two reasons for this. Huntress is Helena Bertinelli, a mafia princess who is disgusted with the crimes her family has committed over the years, and decided to dedicate her life to punishing criminals everywhere because of it. Originally, this version of the character was a mean-spirited revenge-seeker who got upset when anyone else called her on her violent actions, despite being raised strict Catholic and having some difficulties reconciling her thirst for vengeance and "thou shalt not kill" upbringing. If that was all it was, I would have just waited for it to get better, but they then made the mistake of making her a foil for Batman, and Batman has a very strict no-killing rule. So the two of them argued. And argued. And argued . . . and it always seemed like the writers agreed with Huntress, or at least, they never presented a good reason for why Batman and other heroes shouldn't kill. That's for a different post, but basically, it boils down to Bruce honestly believing that doing so wouldn't be Justice, for a variety of reasons that I'm not going to get into now, because we're talking about Huntress.

So, yeah, she was presented in a way that I didn't like, and that was the first reason it took me a while to like the lady. The second is that I've been reading comic books long enough to have first-hand knowledge of the awesome character this version of Huntress is a revamp of: the daughter of the Golden Age Batman and Catwoman, Helena Wayne. Helena Wayne was basically the best parts of those two characters in one package: smart, sexy, cool, capable. She was a bit harder-edged than her father (yes, even the Golden Age Batman, who was more likely to pull a gun than any other version), but a hero, not a villain like her mother (even though she did reform later in life).

So knowing the history of the character and seeing a (at first) less-than respectful revision of her irked me. I like her fine, now, though. Her stint in the old Birds of Prey by Gail Simone helped immensely. Her brief time in the Justice League under Grant Morrison (him, again!) was also good, until she was forced off the team. Ah, editorial mandates, when will you stop getting in the way of cool stories?

Never, that's when.

Anyway, this mini will show Huntress going against some human slavers, and it's a return to her being smart, sexy, cool, and capable, like I mentioned above. I'm digging it so far, but again, two issues, but hopefully it'll continue to pretty good.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; although they are trying to push her sexiness a bit too far, which might lead to some problems . . .

Current Mood: cheerful
3:01 pm
Good Art Can Make A Meh Story Better. Bad Art Can Make A Meh Story Bad
Hawk and Dove.

Oh, good God.

Okay, the original Hawk and Dove was a Steve Ditko creation. You know, the guy who co-created Spider-Man with Stan Lee? It was originally about two brothers with very different opinions. One was a militant conservative (the hawk) and the other was liberal and a pacificist (the dove). Ditko originally wanted the two sides to be given equal weight in the series, but being a pacifist doesn't really work in super hero comic books, so Dove kept being sidelined and shown to be ineffective, and eventually he even died and the series lay fallow for a while. There've been a few attempts to revamp the series, of . . . varying quality. One of the more well remembered revamps, with the Hawk and a young woman named Dawn as the new Dove, was also the first comic book work by Rob Liefeld. To be fair, this was before he started most of his more infamous excesses, and he actually showed a modicum of talent.

So for no good reason, the relaunched Hawk and Dove in the new 52 chose to use Liefeld as the artist.

. . .

I don't get it, either. Maybe it's charity. But if so, charity shouldn't hurt those not contributing to it. Namely us.

The first issue of Hawk and Dove was fairly average, except for the art. The art was merely unfairly average. Rob Liefeld, over the years, has stopped doing a few (not many, but a few) of the things that are terrible about his art. But he's still doing a lot of it. Too many teeth, too many hashmarks, dead-eye expressions. However, it wasn't eye-bleeding, yet. Issue two's art was worse, and issue three's even more worse . . . er . . . est. And the bad art drew the fairly average story, about evil versions of Hawk and Dove who somehow know more about how they all got their powers than the heroes, down into worse than mediocre, and I had to drop it. And until Liefeld remains on the series, I'm not coming back.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; Sterling Gates, the writer, deserves so much better.
2:08 pm
Con Game, Con, Scam, Grift, Hustle, Bunko, Swindle, Flimflam, Gaffle, Bamboozle
Grifter.

All of my experience with much of Wildstorm's comics comes from the WildC.A.T.s cartoon in the 90s. The only things I remember from that were that it was not any good, and it had Grifter in it. The only reason I even remember him was because in a team of isolated douches, he stood out as the most isolated and douchey. He was the lone wolf character, for Pete's sake.

But other than that, I never cared overmuch. So imagine my surprise when the new 52 Grifter is actually not that bad a series. It's not brilliant storytelling, but it's engaging enough to keep me interested.

Cole Cash is a grifter. He and his girlfriend/partner just got a payday, and are trying to get out of town, separately to throw off pursuit. And then Cole is abducted by aliens. He manages to escape, and he learns a couple things: he can read the alien's minds, and several days have passed without his knowledge. Cole ends up freaking out on an airplane when he discovers the aliens are still after him, and no one believes him (the aliens are able to change forms). He actually jumps from the plane, and when he lands he finds out his actions on board have led to him being labeled a terrorist, and his girlfriend doing what she can to distance herself from him.

And a military unit led by his brother (and he himself used to be a member of) is tasked with taking this dangerous terrorist down.

See? It's not brilliant or groundbreaking or anything, but it's perfectly serviceable, and it delivers satisfying comic book action. I don't really look forward to it every month, but I'm glad that it's there. Hopefully, its quality doesn't drop as it continues, because it's actually kind of tricky to keep the momentum and tension of an alien conspiracy story going, when you've got only one main character. But I think I'll actually be a bit disappointed if or when it falters. So, yeah, if you've got some money to burn, and want some decent action, Grifter doesn't disappoint.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; also, I hope they do some more with him being a con artist, that's kind of interesting.
4:13 am
The Cosmic Saga of Roy G. Biv!
Green Lantern: New Guardians.

When Kyle Rayner first showed up, it was after the character assassination of Hal Jordan, and also he was promoted as just the best thing ever. It took a while for a lot of people to warm to him, and oddly it wasn't in his own title, it was in the pages of JLA by Grant Morrison (him, again). However, Kyle did eventually get his audience and fans, and there are plenty of people for whom he is "their" Lantern. So when Hal Jordan returned, there was plenty of fear that "their" Lantern would be pushed aside and forgotten. Well, he wasn't forgotten. At worst, the focus just shifted away from him. And now with the new 52, he's headlining his own team of other ring-bearers.

Other ring-bearers? Yeah, when Hal Jordan came back, a great big metaplot kicked off about ringwearers of other colors: red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo, and violet, each tied to a different emotion or concept. And black and white, too. There was this big war between them all, and they had to team up to defeat at least one big threat. So there are now seven kinds of lantern corps running around the universe.

And for some reason, one ring from each corps has decided to hitch themselves to Kyle.

After a brief retelling of Kyle's origin (in an alley one night, a guardian gives him a Green Lantern ring when there are no other Green Lanterns he can use, sort of the cosmic equivalent of being thrown in the deep end and told to use the nuclear missile as a flotation device), we fast forward to the modern day, and Kyle is a lesser known but still accepted Green Lantern. And one member of each of the other corps dies and their rings fly through space to choose Kyle as their new bearer.

And several members of the various corps follow, some in anger, some affronted, some just wanting answers. And so does Kyle. He goes to Oa, the headquarters planet of the Green Lanterns, and tries to ask the Guardians what's going on, while dodging or fighting back against the other corps members. The Guardians are busy lobotomizing themselves so they feel no emotions, and aren't all that interested in Kyle's current predicament. Right now, we're still not sure exactly why the rings chose Kyle, nor why, at a pivotal point in the most recent issue as of this writing, they abandoned him. It's implied that it might have to do with fan-favorite Larfleeze, the sole real member of the Orange Lanterns Corps, and the greediest being in the universe, but that might be a red herring.

Overall, this series kind of started off the weakest of the Green Lantern books. We don't really gain any insight into the various corps members who will presumably be the titular New Guardians, and we has as much clue as to what's really going on as any of the characters in the book. Which is to say, none. The third issue was the best, with bit about the Orange Lanterns, and they're always entertaining, and next issue promises more, so yeah I'm going to keep following this one. However, it still has the Guardians of the Universe as major league douchebags, and it has one member of the Green Lantern Corps lose coolness points for defending them. So there's that mark against it.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; Larfleeze and the Orange Lanterns are the best part of this "spectrum of lanterns" story idea.

Current Mood: listless
3:08 am
In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night
Green Lantern Corps.

So the Green Lantern Corps is a pseudo-army/police force patrolling almost the whole universe. There are about 7200 of them. And they patrol the whole universe.

Now, they do have the power of the Green Lantern ring on their side, a extremely powerful weapon that, as long as it's charged, will generate energy constructs of anything the wearer can imagine for as long as they can concentrate no it.

Insanely overpowered? Considering their jurisdiction, not really.

Green Lantern Corps focuses on the other members of the Green Lantern Corps, obviously, and in the introductory arc, Green Lanterns Guy Gardner and John Stewart begin by reminiscing about their time as Lanterns, before being called to an emergency meeting on Oa. There's a mysterious threat out there that can overwhelm the power of the Green Lantern ring, and this enemy also seems to be using green energy constructs, too. However, the Guardians of the Universe, the being who created the GLs in the first place, are becoming more insular, paranoid, and despotic, so the regular Lanterns have to figure out how to deal with a powerful threat while their leadership becomes less and less trustworthy and caring about individual members of the Corps.

The first and third issue of this arc were the best, with good characterization (in the former) and good action as a small band of reinforcements fight a holding action against this green horde (in the latter). However, having the Guardians become more and more dickish, a trend that has been more and more common since Geoff Johns revitalized Hal Jordan, and it's one I really dislike.

No, wait. That's not strong enough.

I really fucking goddamn hate it.

The Guardians are supposed to be wise but alien, protectors of the universe, the good guys for crying out loud. Unfortunately, a cheap way to force tension is to have the regular troops be at odds with their superiors. It's lazy writing, and it's even lazier writing to make the superiors so obviously evil.

However, I still think Green Lantern Corps is the best of the GL books in the new 52. I just wish the Guardians weren't being even more villainous than the nominal threat of the opening arc. Also, I want more focus on the actual Corps, rather than just a few main characters. Maybe that'll happen later on.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; also, the Green Lantern Corps shouldn't be the universe's police officers, but more like knights-errant under a centralized organization.
Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
7:08 pm
Green Is Not A Creative Color
Green Lantern.

All right. When I started reading comics, Hal Jordan wasn't Green Lantern. John Stewart was, but only briefly. Hal returned swiftly, and remained for a long time. So, yeah, Hal Jordan is "my" Green Lantern. But I don't have a favorite Green Lantern, any more than I have a favorite Doctor Who. I like 'em all: Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, and that's just the base human GLs. There are thousands of Lanterns out there, ranging from superintelligent smallpox vaccine, to a sentient planet. Yeah, I love the Green Lantern Corps, too.

But for a while, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps had been ruined to the point of unusability, just to give the concept a whole new spin for the new guy, Kyle Rayner. Hal Jordan had been turned into a villain and destroyed the Corps, and it seemed there was no way to ever bring him back as a Green Lantern. They tried another idea, giving Jordan an almost redemptive death, and made him the new host of the spirit of vengeance, the Spectre. But eventually, Geoff Johns decided he wanted to revive Hal Jordan as a hero, and came up with a somewhat silly way to bring him back to life and retcon his turn as a villain so that it wasn't his fault. This was the strange cosmic fear entity known as Parallax, and this one thing led to multiple cosmic entities, the various corps of other Lanterns, and a bunch of roaring, epic sagas about the truth of the DC universe.

Green Lantern and GL-related books, like Batman, are getting the softest reboot, so the story line follows directly from the pre-reboot storylines. This can make it a little difficult for all new readers to get in. Basically, a big cosmic life destroying thing was out there, and threatened to destroy the Guardians of the Universe (the beings who instituted the Green Lantern Corps in the first place).

Yes, this has happened before. No, nobody cares.

A bunch of stuff happened, and Sinestro, a former GL who turned bad and tried many times to destroy the Green Lantern Corps became a GL again, and Hal Jordan killed the bad guy, a former Guardian who had turned bad and tried many times to destroy the Green Lantern Corps . . .

This freaked the Guardians out--that a Green Lantern could kill a Guardian--and promptly fired Hal.

. . .

And that's where we find ourselves as the new Green Lantern series starts.

Hal Jordan is no longer a Green Lantern, and is finding it hard to reintegrate back into normal human life. Which is kind of dumb, because he's lost his ring before, and he's never had trouble finding new work as a civilian. Hal Jordan has the most varied resume of almost any comic book hero, ever, and that's even just if you stick to normal jobs: air force pilot, civilian test pilot, toy salesman, trucker . . . the man's done all sorts of shit, he wouldn't have a hard time integrating back into human life, he is more than the ring.

But not if you believe this series. This series is contorting Hal Jordan almost as bad as when he was a villain, just so that he'll be in a position to accept Sinestro's offer: do a job with me and I can make you a permanent Green Lantern again.

Now, remember: Sinestro was a former GL who has tried to destroy the Corps many times in the past, and was almost always opposed by Hal Jordan.

Hal Jordan? Would not work with Sinestro.

There are even characters in the comic itself that state outright that Hal would never work with Sinestro.

And yet he's doing it.

This series isn't bad enough for me to drop outright. Other than the forced tension of having Hal team up with his most hated enemy for poorly justified reasons, the writing isn't bad, but Johns is doing a much better job with Aquaman. Maybe the well of creativity is starting to run dry with regards to Green Lantern stories? I don't know, all I know is I'm not enjoying this story very much. Maybe it'll pick up after the initial arc. That's what I'm waiting for, anyway, so I don't really recommend it. If you like seeing Hal Jordan verbally abused by Sinestro, though, this series is for you!

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; it seems like the new series should just star Sinestro, except that Sinestro is totally evil.

Current Mood: envious
6:10 pm
I Shoot An Arrow Into The Air, And Where It Lands I Do Not Care
Green Arrow.

Ah, man.

Okay, look, I'm probably more right than most anyone who would be reading this, politically, but I still like Green Arrow. Oliver Queen was once the poster child of liberal superhero. Happily, better poster childs appeared, since Ollie was well-meaning, but full of himself. That's sort of the charm, though. He was a loud-mouth, opinionated doof-ball who's better at spouting off politicial ideas than actually holding them. But he spouts them off with conviction! And regularity. Yeah, he's not always wrong, but he's still a giant doof.

And that's one of the reasons he's so loveable. His character is fun to watch, even if you disagree with him. His heart's in the right place, even if it's just on his sleeve.

And that's the main problem with this new 52 version of Green Arrow. He's not loveable. He's not a loudmouth. He's not a great big doof. He's a brooding anti-hero.

And. It. Does. Not. Work.

The only time it has EVER worked was when there wasn't a Batman around to show the audience how it was done. Smallville, Mike Grell's Green Arrow run (which had no one else in costume), and so on. But this is the mainstream DC Universe, new 52 or no, which means Batman is around, and when he finds out what Ollie's doing, I really hope he breaks down in uncontrollable laughter.

There's a gang of disaffected youth with superpowers, who host a sort of fight club-like underground fighting team, which they record and broadcast over the internet. This has given them a small bit of fame and infamy, which has gone to their heads, and they're escalating their super powered fights, and endangering civilians, which is where Green Arrow comes in. He, alone, goes up against this gang of supers without morals, and does all he can to shut the whole thing down.

Does that sound cool? Does that sound like a neat superhero story that has a lot of potential?

Well, too damn bad, it wastes that potential by making the lead character interminably dull.

They try. Oh, they try. They give him beard stubble, for chrissakes. Beard stubble automatically makes a guy interesting!

No, Oliver Queen here comes off as an entitled jerk who can't even be bothered to handle his civilian corporation, which leads to some higher ups wanting to take it over out from under him. That sounds like it could be interesting, too, maybe? Corporate boardroom politics, whoo! Yeah, its not interesting, either. Not even the support staff that Ollie has gathered around him, a nonlethal weapon designer and a computer expert, aren't even interesting. They're just flat.

This comic series isn't bad, by any stretch, it's just mediocre. It's so mediocre, it's not even worth getting passionate about. Which is why I've written so much about it . . .

The creative team is changing soon, next issue I think, and so I'm gonna give that a try, too, but right now I just can't recommend this one. The art by Dan Jurgens is nice, I guess? Maybe that's enough of a selling point? No? Oh.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; and he was never the surrogate father to Roy Harper, which could have added some much needed depth to this dull pie.

Current Mood: annoyed
5:28 pm
Fire, Bad!
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

I read the original Frankenstein, A Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley when I was 11 or 12. It didn't really make a huge impact on me, but I always knew it was an important book, a book that created the genre of science fiction. A year or two before I read the book itself, though I read a comic book adaptation of the book; it wasn't called a comic book, it was called a young reader's book or something. So my first exposure of the monster was in sequential art, and when I learned there were all sorts of comic books about the monster, called Frankenstein, I wasn't really surprised. I was kind of confused, though, because the doctor was Frankenstein. The monster never really got a name. Maybe someone could argue that it's the family name. You know, the doctor made the monster, so as the doctor's son, he'd be a Frankenstein, too.

Only, the monster isn't Frankenstein's son. He's a science experiment. Maybe he should be Frankenstein's son, and the plot of the book could be argued to about a deadbeat dad being pursued by an abandoned child, who's trying to get the father to accept responsibility. But . . no, that's not what the story is about at all. It's a story about the limits of mankind's role in the universe, about a man trying to supplant God, and realizing that, imperfect as man is, he has no place trying to supplant God. Is it a good moral? Not really, but let's not get into that here. The point is that the monster is not Frankenstein's son, and he shouldn't be confused for one, that messes up the whole message of the story.

Grant Morrison--I've been mentioning him a bit, haven't I?--not too long ago wrote a sort of "anti team book," called Seven Soldiers, and one of the soldiers would be the monster, and the title of the mini would be Frankenstein. The mini was about the immortal construct to become a Byronic Hero, affiliated in some way with a weird science secret agency called S.H.A.D.E. (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive), and it was a rollicking ride of whiz-bang spectacle, and the monster--okay, all right, I'll start calling him Frankenstein, because that's what they call him in the series--Frankenstein fights monsters and aliens and time traveling humans from millions of years in the future.

It was weird, compelling, and ultimately style over substance. I wasn't really impressed, so when he was given his own title, I wasn't expecting much.

But there's two things that make this new series worth reading. The new Creature Commandos, and AWESOMENESS.

The Creature Commandos were originally a World War II hero team made up of people who had been disfigured or in some way become reminiscent of classic movie monsters . . . (and Medusa). Putting them together with comic book Frankenstein would be brilliant! . . . if there weren't already a member of the commandos styled after Frankenstein's monster. Whoops.

But, wait! The universe has been rebooted! We can do it now!

So we've got a team book masquerading as a solo, and the addition of these new Creature Commandos does a lot for me. These Commandos are inexperienced, and headstrong, and unlike Franky, perfectly happy to be freakish abominations of science and flesh. Contrasted with the monster, who has been around for over a hundred years, has been fighting monsters pretty much the whole time, angst about being a mockery of man, and is pretty much indestructible. Oh, he could probably be killed, but he's ridiculously tough and has so much experience at fighting monsters, not much, conventionally, can kill him.

And the result is a brilliant, hysterical, awesome whiz-bang, doo-dah action adventure, with depth involving Franky shepherding and mentoring the Commandos, whether he wants to or not. Impossible odds, unbelievable heroes, weird science, epic cheese, all presented really, really well. And so, even though I think Franky himself is not a huge asset to the series, this is great fun, and you should definitely pick it up when you're in the mood for awesome fun.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; however, I do think Frankenstein's bride--er, ex-wife, is a great addition to the team.

Current Mood: amused
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