Writer: Darwyn Cooke
Artist: Tim Sale
The story of the infant Kal-El as he rockets towards Earth is once again retold, this time from the perspective of the kryptonite that accompanied him to this planet. The (sentient?) xeno-mineral crashes in the Himalayas and expresses feelings of loss and isolation before the locals drag it to a temple. Back in Metropolis Superman fights the Royal Flush gang just two months into his career as a superhero. At this point he doesn't yet know the limits of his powers, so every new experience, in this case being frozen by liquid nitrogen and falling from a great height, may be the one that can actually harm him. Straight from the fight Superman takes Lois Lane on a date at the top of Eiffel Tower, lamenting that with all of his other responsibilities he cannot give Lois the attention she really deserves. Back in Metropolis (again) Perry White has a job for Clark, Lois and Jimmy. They are to investigate Anthony Gallo, a rich industrialist who manages to convince the city council to let him open a huge casino on the waterfront. Perry is convinced that Gallo is crooked and used his wealth and power to buy enough influence on the council to get his way. He sends Clark, Lois and Jimmy to investigate because he knows that they cannot be bought. While Clark and Jimmy set up surveillance equipment Lois tries to worm her way into Gallo's confidence.
Every generation seems to have a definitive Superman artist. Curt Swan in the 60s. John Byrne in the 80s. This period of time will likely be known as Superman's Tim Sale era. His art is the epitome of elegant; simple, clean, but always striking. On a book that is tasked with telling stories of Superman's early days he is the perfect choice to provide the art. (Sale does all of the in-show drawings for NBC's Heroes) Darwyn Cooke does a very good job capturing a young Superman. I don't know if I've ever read another book where Superman was still scared that he could be hurt. Cooke also gets Perry White down better than any writer in a long time. While I like the manic Perry that most Superman writers portray this version of Perry a little more grounded and realistic; The classical American newsman rather than a nicer J. Jonah Jameson. While the art and characterizations are top notch, the story leaves a bit to be desired. Clark, Lois and Jimmy acting like real reporters is nice, but the story they were assigned to didn't grab me at all. I realize you can't use Luthor in every story, but the apparent villain of the piece, Anthony Gallo, is too much of a blank slate to really be interesting at this point. I also couldn't tell if the kryptonite meteor itself was sentient or there was something inside of it that was narrating the opening scene.
A tremendous character piece that unfortunately doesn't have a story to match
3 out of 5
Irredeemable Ant-Man #2
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciller: Phil Hester
"Shock & Awe"
Present day: Ant Man meets Beth, the woman whose life he just saved, for dinner, telling her he forgot his wallet so she is forced to pick up the bill for their date. She asks him how he became Ant Man and...Six months ago Eric O'Grady, the SHIELD agent that stole an experimental Ant-Man suit from Hank Pym last issue, is still wandering around the Helicarrier, stuck at 2 inches tall. He has no idea how to work the suit and even worse his best friend, Chris McCarthy, is trying to make time with his girlfriend, Veronica. After wandering around for days he stumbles upon a firefight inside of the carrier. A horde of mind-controlled supervillains have attacked in an attempt to secure the still mind controlled Wolverine (as seen in the Enemy of the State storyline from Wolverine last year). Eric uses the Ant Man suit to subdue a couple of the villains and finally figures out how to return to normal size just before he finds his friend Chris hunkered down in his room. They go to escape the carrier but Chris pushes ahead of Eric. At that moment Eric takes a shot to the head from another enthralled villain, killing him. A distraught Chris takes the suit and flees just as the carrier crashes. Back in the present Chris, after telling his date a much more interesting origin story involving Doctor Doom, is invited up to Beth's apartment. Back on the street Chris is being tracked by his former supervising officer Mitch Carson, who now blames Chris for the massive deformity he now sports over one side of his face.
As origins go this new Ant Man's is pretty good. He's a bit of a sleaze, but still feels a lot of guilt over what happened to his friend Eric. I really dig the redesign of the Ant Man suit, complete with an extra pair of arms and a jet pack. He hasn't actually communicated with any ants yet so I don't know if that's still part of the gimmick. I love how Kirkman (Walking Dead, Marvel Zombies, Invincible) tied the origin to the great Enemy of the State storyline in Wolverine last year. In the big picture it doesn't really change the character much, but it's refreshing to see a writer use continuity instead of changing it to fir his/her needs. Kirkman has also laid down some very neat little mysteries for the readers to ponder, the big one being: how did Chris's supervisor, Mitch, get half of his face burnt off and why does he blame Chris? Hester and Parks (Green Arrow, Nightwing) are one of my favorite art combos. Their style may be a bit cartoony for some, but for a book about a dude that shrinks and may or may not talk to ants it fits beautifully.
I'm still not certain that the character has enough legs (get it? Legs? Ants? Haha. I'm funny!) to make it as an ongoing series, but this is a promising start.
4 out of 5
Blue Beetle #8
Writers: Keith Giffen & John Rogers
Artists: Cully Hammer & Casey Jones
Jamie (the new Blue Beetle), his friend Brenda and the mysterious Peacemaker are taking a road trip to seek out one of the former possessors of the scarab, Dan Garrett. What they find is Danielle Garrett, granddaughter of the first Blue Beetle. She loved her grandfather and has been studying his life, but she never saw any indication that the scarab was alive. She tells Jamie the story of how he became the Blue Beetle and how Ted Kord took over the mantle, sans powers, when he died. Meanwhile a big zombie has been following them, looking for Jamie. He kills a priest and begins tearing through the nearby town. Just as Jamie, Brenda and Danielle are about to start questioning the Peacemaker on his connection to the scarab, it alerts them to the zombie's rampage. Jamie, armored up, fights the monster, but it regenerates so quickly that he can't damage it. The whole time it is rambling on about how Jamie is the angel of death and the harbinger of the apocalypse. Now that it is close to the scarab it knows the name of the danger. "I have dreams, of armies from the heavens. They call, The Reach is Coming, and they bring doomsday." The zombie is finally taken down when Peacemaker hits him with an anesthetic nerve gas that he formulated from household cleaners and rock salt. Danielle Garrett gives them the rest of her notes on the scarab and Jamie and Brenda head out of town, determined to hear the Peacemaker's story.
This book has a very pleasant learning vibe, much like the early issues of Spiderman. Jamie is an extremely likable character who suddenly has to deal with the burden of powers that he doesn't fully understand except that are potentially very dangerous. Giffen and Rogers have built up a wall of enigmas around the Scarab but instead of hoarding every nugget of information (*cough*Lost*cough*) they reward the reader by doling out tidbits regularly. It also seems like DC is positioning Blue Beetle as a possible player in the major events to come in the near future, by tying him into the chalkboard from 52 (references to the Reach and the Armageddon). This issue in particular has a little bit of everything that makes this book fun: a little more light is shed on the scarab and what it can do, we meet a link to the character's past and we cap it off with a big fight scene. Is it a revolutionary concept? No, but it executes everything well and in the process crafts an endearing story.
A book with mysteries, humor and action that is more than suitable for all ages.
4 out of 5
Justice League of America #3 - Where we see a Canary kick major ass, a machine with pointy ears, and the most threatening piece of seafood ever.
Detective Comics #825 - This story sucked. Alfred read like a 9th grader trying to do Monty Python. At least Dini will be back next month.
She-Hulk #13 - Slott spends an entire issue explaining away a continuity gaffe. Unfortunately it was a gaffe he himself wrote...in the last issue. Weak.
Monday, November 06, 2006