Hey Kids, Comics! 07/07/2001

The Authority #24
Transfer of Power, Two of Four
writer: Tom Peyer, pencils: Dustin Nguyen, inks: Friend & Martin

A new character has seemingly joined The Authority. In a chapel on The Carrier (who knew they had religion?), Chaplin Action, He-Man of the Cloth, blesses what he calls the new, higher Authority, that they may quickly resolve the world’s newest crisis. And a nifty crisis it is. The wealthiest one percent of the world have all been reduced to utter poverty and starvation, as if by magic. Since these are the very same people who destroyed the old Authority and installed the new, the current heroes are very, very nervous.

Oh, and the replacement for the Midnighter, Last Call, is really ticked that everyone assumes he’s gay.

Peyer follows the giant footsteps of Ellis and Millar well. Without bogging down the action, the new team’s personalities quickly assert themselves. Already, too, Peyer has planted the seeds for their downfall, or at least the return of the old team. These “heroes” aren’t at all, which proves that our beloved team could have been far worse in the ethics department.

The art team makes its own stamp on the book while still allowing faint echoes of Quitely’s overly detailed look. All in all, this storyline, though long overdue, fits seamlessly in the overall arc of the book. This issue also includes a preview of The Establishment. Though it’s too soon to tell if it will be worthwhile, the eight pages here at least prove more comprehensible than three issues of The Monarchy.

If you’ve been wondering what the fuss is about, this is a perfect time to jump aboard.

Batgirl #18
Friends
writer: Kelley Puckett, pencils: Damion Scott, inks: Robert Campanella

While tracking down a shooter in a gangland pay-off gone wrong, Batgirl runs into Robin, working another side of the case. He quickly brushes her off after giving her the tools to follow her lead, but they cross paths again, finally agreeing to join forces.

If you can tell by the above that this is a pretty thin book, bravo.

Month after month, Batgirl finds herself in similar situations, with the same ghost of guilt haunting her. With little backstory, she’s rapidly becoming as melodramatic as Kyle Rayner used to be. Puckett has Robin being wary of Batgirl because of her past as a trained killer, but it’s also clear that he’s working for Batman again. We’re working from a false premise. He’s a good soldier (though not a dumb one), and if Batman has gotten over it and accepted Batgirl, then it would only make sense that Tim would, too.

Scott and Campanella don’t help. They seem to have fused a vague manga style with that of Kelley Jones, and the result is just muddy. In a two-page dream sequence that opens the book, it’s almost impossible to understand what’s going on. Yes, it’s a dream. But it should be somewhat clearer to us than it is to Batgirl.

This book and the character have great potential, but they haven’t lived up to it for some time. Though a fan favorite, it’s really only for Bat-completists.

Bone #43
untitled
story and art: Jeff Smith

Gran’ma Ben, Thorn, Bartleby and the Bones continue their trek to Atheia. In their path lies the Dragon Graveyard, which they have been warned not to cross. Bravely, they drudge onward, and we get a little more insight into the Bones’ time in Boneville.

Smith continues producing one of the most charming books on the market. Sorry, there’s really not a better word for it. Though slow-moving, the storyline is captivating, deftly balancing between the classic Warner Brothers’ cartoons and great Campbellian adventure.

This month Smith will be releasing a trade paperback collecting the “Ghost Circles” story arc. Get it, and all of the earlier ones. This book will hook new readers.

Daredevil: Yellow #2
The Measure Of A Man
writer: Jeph Loeb, artist: Tim Sale

For the first time in his career, Matt Murdock goes into action wearing the Daredevil uniform. It’s not the one we know now, but the somewhat ridiculous red and yellow one he originally wore. He searches for the man known as The Fixer, who ordered the hit on Matt’s father. But once justice has been served, what is there left to do for the blind man with something extra?

Loeb and Sale do little more than retell the first issue of Daredevil, fleshing things out with a more modern sensibility. It might seem a little lazy compared to their earlier collaborations, but it works. Though it may clash with the work of Master Miller, Yellow brings a new light (and lightness) to Daredevil, and Sale is producing some of the best artwork of his career.

Overall, this may not be quite as good as Superman: For All Seasons, but to have these guys playing in the Marvel Universe promises some good work for many years to come.

Fray #2
The Calling
writer: Joss Whedon, pencils: Karl Moline, inks: Andy Owens

Unwitting Slayer Malaka Fray confronts a horrendous demon in her apartment. As they struggle, the demon attempts to reveal her destiny, while revealing that he himself may be more than a little out of place. Meanwhile, vampires (or “Lurks” as they are now called) are gathering under the influence of a mysterious unseen master. Don’t worry; Whedon is too good to repeat himself. We’ll lay odds that the unseen master isn’t actually The Master.

In his first official comics outing, Whedon has adapted quite nicely. He writes dialogue as crackling as he does for television, and he neatly enriches the “Buffyverse” without making any overt references to it. Luckily, he also has great artists providing clean work. They owe more than a little debt to Art Adams, but there are far worse crimes (see Batgirl above).

Most television and movie tie-ins end up being a waste of time. But by having the actual creator involved and moving the book into the future, we don’t have a status quo to maintain. And that kind of uncertainty makes this book really fun.

Green Lantern #140
Alpha-Male Bonding
writer: Judd Winick, pencils: Darryl Banks, inks: Rich Faber

Kyle confides his new powers with Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern. After a demonstration of how complete his simulacra are, color Scott impressed. The two join Scott’s daughter (and Kyle’s girlfriend) Jade at a party for Kyle’s assistant, and then agree to meet in a field the next day for a little test of Kyle’s power.

Thank heavens for Marvels. It opened the door for this kind of story. Despite this month’s dramatic cover, the fight between Alan Scott and Kyle Rayner is good-natured sparring, and reveals the pride that Sentinel has toward the newest Lantern. You just know that these two guys should be friends, and it’s good to devote an issue towards exploring that. Of course, it’s also a particular strength of writer Winick, who also reveals that Kyle hasn’t had to recharge his ring for months. Judd, please – we like a powerful Kyle, but bring back the oath!

Sorry. Geeked out for a moment.

Once again, Banks and Faber provide solid and expressive art. Rumor has it that Banks is leaving. Though it’s likely that DC will bring in someone good to replace him, he will be missed.

Without warning, Green Lantern, the book about cosmic adventure, has become one of the most warm and human books on the stands.

JLA: Our Worlds At War #1
A Date Which Will Live In Infamy
writer: Jeph Loeb, pencils: Ron Garney, inks: Mark Morales

Okay, can we stop with this paralleling stories with famous literature about war? Writer Loeb runs FDR’s famous (or at least a month ago, popular) speech about Pearl Harbor alongside images of the JLA getting their butts kicked by the forces of Imperiex, and it just does not work. Unlike Pearl Harbor, this attack had plenty of warning. And though FDR’s words are stirring, the trick has become tiresome.

On top of that, the story opens with the singularly grotesque image of J’onn J’onnz floating through space with one of his eyes dangling from its socket. And the image just keeps repeating. Basically, the JLA falls one by one in this battle outside the atmosphere, though all survive. Superman joins the fray late, after witnessing the damage to Topeka. Aquaman screams for Batman, and then discovers that Atlantis is under attack.

Luckily for his honor, the relentless force that is Imperiex politely waits for Aquaman to reach Atlantis, make peace with his wife, and don stronger armor before deigning to destroy the city. Sadly, this book teems with even more unbelievable elements than usual. If you were fighting in outer space, would you consider Plastic Man all that useful? Oh, sure, he talks a good game, but please – he’s best at espionage, not hand to hand combat. However, several traumatic events do get hinted at, so the story will definitely have the long-promised heavy repercussions.

The good run of these extra special issues has come to a halt, and with the book that had the most promise. Granted, this month’s storyline is “All-Out War,” but this could have just as easily been handled in an issue of Superman, and in fewer pages. Garney provides dynamic art, and the extra page count serves as an excuse for him to provide a few pin-ups.

We’re stuck in the middle of this story, so yes, you’ll probably buy it. But you don’t have to like it.

JSA Secret Files & Origins #2
various stories
writer: various, pencils: various, inks: various

Unlike last week’s Secret Files book, this is what these extras should be. Every story here lays seeds for future plotlines, while filling in important background information. And all of it gets told in a clear, concise manner.

The opening story checks in on each member of the team. Black Canary and Wildcat join up with Nemesis (hey! A character from Planet DC! Who said they’d never appear again?) to track down the Ultra-Humanite. Meanwhile, the newly reborn Hawkman confronts his reincarnated son, the new Dr. Fate. And the Star-Spangled Kid tests out the cosmic rod recently bequeathed to her by Jack Knight. It all flies by, and gives the reader a chance to catch up and familiarize himself with the different aspects of the team.

The second story fills the background of Mr. Bones, the leader of the DEO. Since he had disappeared from the DCU years ago, this story may have been long overdue. And finally, like last year’s JLA Secret Files, the last story sets up a storyline with a lot of promise.

Unfortunately, the timing on this book is a little unkind of DC. It only obliquely references Our Worlds At War, and so it could have been scheduled in a month not so heavy with the added expense of a cross-over.

Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Batman
Batman
writer: Stan Lee, artist: Joe Kubert

Oh, we knew this was going to happen. Anyone who has read the daily Spider-Man strip knows that Stan Lee hasn’t apparently stepped outside of his golden bubble in at least twenty years, and this book reflects that. All hype aside, this book is one of the most cliché-ridden things to appear in years. Rob Liefeld could have done a better job writing this thing.

Stan Lee’s Batman reads like a parody of the Silver Age of Marvel. Bits and pieces of Luke Cage, Daredevil, and even Spider-Man blend together to create this totally groovy with-it hero with an axe to grind against crime. Wayne Williams gets framed for murder, thrown in jail, and vows revenge on the gangster that set him up, even though his sainted parents (now dead) would not want him to pursue violence. Upon his release, he discovers that the world of professional wrestling will provide him with easy money, because he’s so strong no other wrestler can defeat him. As a wrestler, he dons the identity of Batman, taking after the only true friend he made in prison, a pet bat.

Any resemblance to reality whatsoever is purely coincidental.

To be fair, Joe Kubert’s art is lush. The man has giant stature for good reason. And historically, this may be the first time he and Lee have ever collaborated (anyone know differently? Please, write in. PLEASE. WRITE. IN.). If you’re a fan of Kubert, this book is almost worth the price.

But Stan…please. You re-energized the industry years ago. You’ve served as a great face. But this project would have been better served had you brought in other writers and just been a creative director. Please. Get help.

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About Derek McCaw
In addition to running Fanboy Planet, Derek has written for ActionAce, Daily Radar, Once Upon A Dime, and The Wave. He has contributed stories to Arcana Comics (The Greatest American Hero) and Monsterverse Comics (Bela Lugosi's Tales from the Grave). He performs with ComedySportz San Jose and ShakesBEERience, in addition to occasional screenwriting and acting jobs. If you ever played Eric's Ultimate Solitaire on the Macintosh, it was Derek's voice as The Weasel that urged you to play longer. You can buy his book "I Was Flesh Gordon" on the Amazon link at the right. Email him at editor@fanboyplanet.com.