Good Book Readin'!

Here is were I will be reviewing a variety of comic books in my own inimitable style. Which hopefully is good.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Green Lantern Corps #4

written and pencilled by Dave Gibbons
inked by Michael Bair

The moment I've been waiting for since Gibbons wrote the Green Lantern Corps: Recharge miniseries last year: He also draws the cover. And just to one-up my expectations, he throws in fully pencilled interiors to boot. Wotta guy! I do have to say that Michael Bair is not quite as fitting an inker for Gibbons as I had expected, but he's a long haul from terrible and the book looks great.

I've been enjoying this series quite a bit already. Seriously: alien space cops with magic rings and ginchy uniforms; what's not to like? Ever since I discovered the Corps as a youth, I've kinda preferred the crazy variety of critters, weirdoes, gewgaws and googams to any earthman who's slung the ring. Of course, since the GLC as a whole rarely rates higher than a third tier character, they tend not only to be frequently unused but oft times disbanded and lightly killed. At this point, I've gotten used to this happening to my personal favourites, and am able to appreciate it that much more when some kind soul or copyright loophole brings them back from various states of oblivion. So a quick little "thank you" to everyone responsible this time, from Geoff Johns to Dave Gibbons to any of DC's lawyers who might've had a nudge in there as well.

Now, on to the issue at hand. Glad as I am to have Dave Gibbons drawing this one, I really want to take the time to talk about his writing. The man will probably always be known first and foremost as an artist, and a great one, but he's quietly and steadfastly produced a respectable volume of comic script work over his career. From Captain America to alternate versions of Superman to Aliens (like Sigourney Weaver hangs with, specifically) and even his own creation The Originals, he's cracked out a pretty penny of corking crackers. Even alongside all of that, this may very well be his highest profile writing gig to date, and he's doing a bang-up job of it. His delicate balance of deep space cosmic adventure with squad room chitchat evokes elements of Alan Moore's Top 10, while easily avoiding any semblance of pastiche. The character work is solid as well, with pre-existing and brand new Corps members alike all deftly handled and well-rounded. This is a large part of this issue's fun. Guy Gardner may be a jackass, but when writers know how to use him that's his greatest strength, and Gibbons' pitting him against Bolphunga the Unrelenting is a delicious recipe for entertainment stew. Eagle-eyed readers may remember Bolphunga as the rather ridiculous bounty hunter from Alan Moore's Mogo Doesn't Socialize (also illustrated by Gibbons and currently available in the DC Universe Stories of Alan Moore TPB), and while I certainly wasn't clamoring for his return, it's nice to see him again indeed. Gibbons doesn't forget those who helped him get where he is today. The issue also follows up on a few ongoing plot threads, which will hopefully encourage those who only picked it up for the art to stick around beyond this arc. I, for one, think you could do a lot worse.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Martian Manhunter #2

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: In this issue, Martian Manhunter remarks, "Of all the human emotions I have observed . . . revenge is the only one not foreign to my people." The only one. Which means Martians do not feel love, hate, anger, joy, sadness, or even, say, ennui. Funny, because I've seen J'onn J'onzz himself express at least some of these over the course of these first two issues. I'm just saying. Also, revenge? Not an emotion. So I'm gonna come right out and call that lousy writing. I mention this not just to point out that A. J. Lieberman is a lousy writer, but also to question Matt Idelson's editing. See, most of this review will be heavily biased by my own opinion, and the book's team may simply share vastly different views of the character from myself, but that line is just plain stupid and honestly should never have seen print.

Now here comes the heavily biased part of the review. Which is to say, I absolutely hate this book. Honestly, nothing good to say about it. I suppose the art isn't terrible, but that's neatly offset by the densely unimaginative re-imagining of DC's Martians' true Martian forms. Frankly, I can only assume this book is insulting to any long-standing Martian Manhunter fans, and at best disappointing to newfound ones. It reads like a dour '90s Image comic featuring an angry, miserable protagonist fighting a faceless, unscrupulous, government-esque agency. Still, I like to have a positive aspect to my reviews, so I'm going to forget about it and guide you in the direction of some good Martian Manhunter comic books.

Sadly, the best one is currently out of print, but if you can track down all three issues of Martian Manhunter: American Secrets by Gerard Jones and Eduardo Barreto you shouldn't be sorry. Easily some of the best work of both creators, it's a deft blend of hard-boiled detective, cold war paranoia, and science fiction, with a dash of comic book history for good measure. If, however, you can't locate that one, there are trade paperbacks available of both Justice League: A New Beginning and Darwyn Cooke's The New Frontier. Both of these are fantastic comics, and both prominently feature everyone's favourite Manhunter from Mars. I couldn't possibly recommend either of them highly enough. And hopefully this will tide us over until the next six issues are done and J'Onn can get back to his old quietly affable, cookie-loving self again.

Next up, I'll be taking a look at Green Lantern Corps #4 as well as Dark Horse's War of the Worlds sequel Scarlet Traces.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Coming Soon!

Well, here's my comic book review blog! However, I do not yet have a comic review to put in it. Come on back soon for my intense deconstruction of the geo-political themes of A.J. Lieberman and Al Barrionuevo's Martian Manhunter #2!