Saturday, September 17, 2011

The New 52 Continued and Finally Purpose for the Ultimate Universe

Another Wednesday has come and gone. The last time I picked up comics, especially those from DC's new line up, I had a thing or two to say (see previous entry). Now I'm sitting here with a brand new pile in my lap which consists of a few offerings from good old, inconsistent DC, and two neat titles from another member of the League of Inconsistency, friendly Marvel. I feel that for once most of what I picked up was worth the effort and money.

I only bought a few of the new titles from DC this week (I'm not a 52-whore like some people who are full of collector madness). For the reading I have Batman and Robin #1, Green Lantern #1, Red Lanterns #1, and Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1. So, for starters, we are back in Gotham City guided by the words of Peter J. Tomasi and the crisp artwork of Patrick Gleason. This issue left me feeling more satisfied than Detective Comics #1, but it caused some irritation due to the continued presence of the character of Damien (Wayne) in the world of Batman. This is a character I'm not too fond of but it seems other fans insist that he remains, so the publisher makes sure he does. It started by addressing the terribly unfortunate Batman Inc. idea of pre-52 days and then moved into Bruce Wayne's traditional tribute to his murdered parents. I appreciate that this new numbering begins back where they man, the hero found his beginnings. If only we didn't have the uncaring commentary of Damien to ruin a special moment for the one character in the book that actually matters. Anyway, I'm probably going to be picking up the next issue because of the collaboration of talent on the book and to follow the story line that has piqued my interests (no spoilers).

Then there's Green Lantern #1, a book that pretty much looks and reads like it did before the renumbering. Another title that shouts, "What was the point?" The universe of Hal Jordan, still penned by Geoff Johns with art by my old Darkhorse favorite Doug Mahnke, is the same except it's not. Apparently Sinestro was granted Jordan's ring, something I missed during my period away from DC when they started up Brightest Day. That's definitely an interesting twist except that it leaves our favorite cocky test pilot looking like the rest of America, slave to a stack of bills without any employment or discernible purpose. I guess that means that I'll be coming back next month to see what the heck is going to happen. Though while I wait for the calendar to roll around to next issue I can read Red Lanterns #1. This selection from the new number ones I really looked forward to when DC initially released their teaser promotional art and synopses. It's too bad that it read like it did, even though it was written by Peter Milligan. An entire group of Lanterns based on anger and a lust for pain with Atrocitus as their headman? If only the story could redeem that idea for me. Too bad it didn't. I guess my $2.99 will be spent on something else come the time of next issue.

The last of this week's DC comics I thought worthy of my attention was Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (damn acronyms), or should I say Super-Frankenstein and his merry band of government agent-types acting as Universal Monsters. I picked this up because I really enjoy the writing of Jeff Lemire, who did a wonderful job on last week's Animal Man #1, and in pursuing this new work from Lemire I had the privilege of discovering the artwork of Alberto Ponticelli. This title is cleverly odd from its sci-fi, super hero-world beginning to its monster, JLA-like, combat-heavy end. Frankenstein's history in the DCU is unknown to me, but for some strange reason in the few pages where he speaks or gives glimpse of his personality I find myself liking his character. I also like the idea that the book's resident mad-scientist swaps bodies on a regular basis and is currently a little girl in a domino mask. Then there's the crack team (BPRD-like) of government agents-turned-creatures of the night. Their introduction was silly and made it difficult for me to keep smiling through the rest of the book. To sum up my impression of this title, it's like the Justice League of Monsters fighting other, more chaotic monsters whilst employing the best technology Ray Palmer can throw at them. I'll be back next month for this one for sure.

My search for comics definitely paid off on the Marvel end this week. I picked up Captain America #1, written by Ed Brubaker with artwork by Steve McNiven, and even though I have no idea how Steve Rogers returned from the dead or what happened to Shield, I found this to be a fun return to the way Cap should be. McNiven's artwork was phenomenal as usual and Brubaker's handling of Cap continues to work for me. What will happen to Steve and Nick Fury next? I'll find out next issue.

My second selection from the House of Ideas was one I hope every fan of comics was open-minded enough to buy. Now, I usually dislike the Ultimate books which Marvel has milked since the early 2000s, mostly because they tell new versions of old characters when all I want are better tales from the classic Marvel canon, but Brian Michael Bendis, a writer whose work I don't worship like other Marvel readers, has given us, especially me, something in the Ultimate Universe that is finally worth reading. Ultimate Spider-Man #1, featuring Miles Morales as the new Spidey, was a book that gave its readers the hero stories they crave while introducing a different take on an old character. Finally we have some fresh and non-typical material. I enjoy Peter Parker as Spider-Man, in fact he's one of my favorite characters, but we already have him in the main Marvel Universe doing his thing. Why do we need him in an alternate continuity doing the same? Thankfully young Mr. Morales is on the scene to change stuff up, give us a new take on what it's like for a boy to gain super powers, and finally, in my opinion, justify the Ultimate Universe. I look forward to issue two and have to thank Mr. Bendis for being awesome.

I'll return next week to review more from DC, see if Marvel can continue to entertain me, and ask the questions most elderly, Alsatians are afraid to ask. Till then.

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