What I bought - 17 January 2007

This was a strange week in comics.  I think I must have been in a bad mood when I read my comics, because nothing really thrilled me, even though three books came out that I usually enjoy.  That's weird.  Does your mood affect your enjoyment of comic-book reading?  Maybe I should have waited to read my purchases this week!

Catwoman #63 by Will Pfeifer, David López, and Alvaro López.  $2.99, DC.

This is an example of what I'm talking about.  After getting progressively better over the last six months or so, this issue isn't exactly a step back, but it's a lot of setup to get to the point: the Calculator wants Selina to steal Lex Luthor's snow globe.  Yes, he really does.  Now, of course, that's not the whole point of the issue.  Selina wants him to erase records pertaining to Holly's arrest when she was Catwoman, because of that murder thing and all that Selina has hanging over her.  So we go through why she needs the Calculator instead of going to Oracle.  There's also the cop, Lenehan, who's becoming dangerously obsessed with getting Selina.  In this issue he's told to stay off the case.  Yeah, that'll happen.

There's action, of course, but it feels a bit perfunctory.  Boris and Natasha - Hammer and Sickle, who were last seen before OYL as part of the big gang that was trying to kill Selina - escape custody, and do general mayhem, with more gore than we usually see here.  When Selina visits the Calculator, she needs to fight three neophyte bad guys trying to earn their stripes, and she beats on them pretty easily.  It's a pretty pointless fight in the final analysis.

It's certainly not going to make me drop the book, because I have gained a lot of trust in Pfeifer over the course of the past year or so that he will write a good story.  This was just a dull beginning to what could be a hoot.  I mean, who doesn't want to see Selina steal Lex's stupid snow globe?

JLA Classified #32 by Dan Slott, Dan Jurgens, and Trevor Scott.  $3.99, DC.

Here's another book I was disappointed with, but the good news is, it's the first part of an arc, and I don't have to buy any more issues if I don't want to!  Yes, as a functioning human being, I can make that choice!  Isn't it grand?

I should like this more, shouldn't I?  Slott is a fine writer, and She-Hulk (which also came out this week) is a fun book more often than not.  But in this book, he misses the mark, and I'm not sure why.  I read it, and just didn't care.  That's not a good sign for getting me to come back and find out how the Red King will be defeated.

The first reason I didn't like it is because of my stupidity.  Yes, even though plenty of people around here accuse me of being stupid as if I'm not aware of it, I'm thoroughly acquainted with my lack of intelligence!  I just don't get Darrin Profitt's plan.  I mean, I understand that he goes through every scenario of something and then finds the one that's the best and goes with it, so that's how he's so successful, but I don't get how he creates all these possibilities and then merges them all into just himself.  And I don't get how he keeps getting back into the Materioptikon.  The key, which Dr. Destiny calls a "reality-tether," has something to do with it, but I'm still not sure about the whole thing.  I just don't care about Darrin Profitt's plans, so I don't care when his possibilities dwindle to three, giving him three chances to destroy the JLA.  That's just the way it is.

Jurgens' art has never been my favorite, either.  It's not bad here, but it's not great.  Just like the rest of the story!  So it's not like I'm going to stick around for the art.  It kept bugging me, though, for some reason that I can't understand.  It looks like it always does, but for some reason I disliked it more.  Weird.

Finally, the shoddy spelling of Darrin's name bothered me.  In the first panel where we see his name, it's spelled two different ways ("Profit" and "Profitt").  In the same panel!  On the next page, it's spelled "Proffit."  They finally settle on "Profitt," but that bothered me the rest of the issue.  See what I mean about being in a bad mood?

So that's that.  I thought I'd give it a try, but I have no interest in reading the rest.  Freedom!

She-Hulk #15 by Slott, Rick Burchett, and Cliff Rathburn.  $2.99, Marvel.

Here's another book that I usually like a lot more than I liked this issue.  The idea behind it is sound - Jen gets drafted by S.H.I.E.L.D. (She-Hulk Hits Idiotic Emil Low and Dirty is what it stands for in this issue) and starts hunting down Hulk foes while he's off-planet, but the execution, at least in this issue, is lacking.  Because so much of it is a fight scene, we don't get the usual witty repartee from Jen, and since she's no longer at the law firm, she's lost her interesting supporting cast.  I don't know if Slott plans to return her to the firm, but for the moment, it's a big loss (although, according to the letters page, it doesn't look like they're coming back).  Remember how stale those initial issues of Amazing Spider-Man were when Michilinie cut him off from all the supporting characters?  Don't go down that road, Slott!

As I said, the issue is basically a fight, as Jen is pointed at the Abomination and told to bring him down.  It's a good fight, and I like how she uses psychology to defeat him (and the idea that gamma-radiated beings reflect their self-image is a very neat idea, even if Slott didn't come up with it - did he?) when she realizes she's not as strong as he is.  It's a good resolution to the battle.

However, the entire issue is lacking the spark we usually get from Slott's writing.  There are traces of it while Jen is fighting the Abomination, but it feels less inspired than usual.  And Agent Cheesecake is funny, but less so than a lot of the ideas we get in this title.  Burchett's art doesn't help, either.  I don't have a big issue with his art usually, but this issue seems to need some pizazz, and we don't get that from Burchett's art.  Greg Horn's cover is, astonishingly enough, really nice (except for creepy Clay Quartermain in the background), and it would have been nice if the art inside matched it.  Since we're in Steranko-land here, I would have liked to see the art inside be a little more manic.

Finally, I'm getting old when I'm bothered by Jen jumping into bed with Clay Quartermain at the end.  The first Slott series began with Jen in bed with a European model, and that didn't bug me, but this does.  Why?  I'm not sure.  It would be nice to see Jen grow up a little bit - I thought that was the whole point of the series.  Yet she jumps into bed at the first opportunity.  She is, after all, still married.  I don't know why it bothered me.  Like I said, I'm getting old.

Oh well.  I'll have to see where Slott goes with this.  A disappointing beginning, however.

The Stardust Kid #1-5 by J. M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog.  $3.50, Boom! Studios.




Here's another book that let me down, even though I liked reading it.  Yes, I'm conflicted.  First of all, it was just hard for me to muster up the necessary caring for it.  Why?  Let's review: issue #1: June 2005.  Issue #2: September 2005.  Issue #3: October 2005.  Issue #4: June 2006, with a new publisher (the first three issues were from Image).  Yes, I wait to read mini-series for this very reason, so I can just sit down and read the whole thing, but it's still a pain that these things happen.

Second, it's a DeMatteis comic.  I happen to like DeMatteis a lot, but if you've read any DeMatteis comics, you can pretty much tell what's going to happen in this book.  If this is your first DeMatteis comic, the only thing that might put you off is the verbosity of the narration, which is immense.  I didn't mind it, but again, I'm used to it.  The story unfolds about how you'd expect from a DeMatteis comic - lots of talk about love conquering all and fear leading to hate, which corrupts the hatee and hater alike, kids learning lessons about family and life, scary monsters that turn out to be not so scary - it's all here!  It's done well, too, but I still have the feeling I've read it all before, and I have.  Like I said, if it's your first DeMatteis comic and you can get past the excessive narration, it's a very enjoyable book.  Ploog's art and Nick Bell's colors help a lot, of course.  Ploog does this kind of fantasy story very well, and the world that Cody and his friends navigate as they try to save the world is wonderfully rendered and beautiful to look at.  Just check out those covers - the interiors are just a nice.

So it's a year-and-a-half wait for the whole thing to conclude.  It's certainly worth checking out, because DeMatteis is one of those writers who could tell a decent story in his sleep.  But if you've read Dr. Fate, or Blood, or Seekers into the Mystery, or Moonshadow, or ... - you get the idea - it might seem a bit familiar.

Ultimate X-Men #78 by Robert Kirkman and Ben Oliver.  $2.99, Marvel. 

Finally, the last of the three books I usually enjoy that disappointed me this week.  This issue was so ... well, boring, I guess, that I might have to drop the book.  Considering I've bought every issue of Ultimate X-Men, that's saying something.

This was until recently my favorite X-book.  So what happened?  Well, Kirkman got off to a decent start on the book, but the recent stories just haven't been up to snuff.  This Cable story has been dull from the beginning, and Oliver's stiff art doesn't help.  Maybe a more dynamic artist would have made what is basically four issues of fighting better, but Oliver's not up to it.  This issue is so inconsequential that Jean, who started off pretty important in Cable's plan, is reduced to a cameo appearance.  Even Xavier, who is the focus of Cable's plan, doesn't do much.  It's just boring.  The last time Oliver drew a Kirkman story in Ultimate X-Men, I blamed the art for the story's blandness.  Now, I have to conclude that the stories themselves are bland.  And that's too bad.

I don't know.  I'll take a look at next issue, but I'm not committed to it.  We shall see.

Finally, the death of a character.  Please.  You notice how an explosion burns away all the flesh on the skull, so that we can't identify the character just by looking at the corpse?  Explosions don't do that!  Which leads me to believe the dead character isn't who we think it is.  Kirkman wouldn't deceive us like that, would he?  This little sleight of hand makes me like the issue even less.  I'm tired of characters "dying."


The Nightly News #3 (of 6) by Jonathan Hickman.  $2.99, Image.

According to the back of this issue, 16 people bought issue #1.  I find that very difficult to believe, because three people at my little comic book store in Mesa, Arizona bought this.  That means almost 19% of the people who bought the book bought it at Greg's Comics (sadly, I don't own the store).  Again, I doubt it.

But let's take Hickman at his word.  That's just sad.  Come on, people, this is a very cool book.  Really wild stuff, unlike anything you can find on the shelves these days.  Check it out!

Omega Men #4 (of 6) by Andersen Gabrych and Henry Flint.  $2.99, DC.

I try to avoid reading about mini-series while I'm waiting to read them to avoid coloring how I feel about it, but I've heard this isn't as good as the first issue would indicate.  That would depress me.  Oh well.  I'll see soon, I guess.  Gabrych, apparently, was named "Hottest Gay Comic Book Writer" by Out Magazine recently.  I didn't read his work on Detective, but I guess he's rising fast in the industry.

Phonogram #4 (of 6) by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.  $3.50, Image.

Apparently a lot of people got this and The Nightly News last week, yet somehow, they never showed up in the fifth-largest metropolitan area in the United States.  How the heck does that happen?

So a rather uninspiring week in comics (well, the mini-series I didn't read might have been great, but I didn't read them).  They come along every once in a while, but I have faith that they will get better!

Remember, there's still time to enter my contest.  You have until Sunday night!  I have some good entries so far, but that doesn't mean you can't swoop in and win something! 

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