- Posted by Johanna on October 1, 2006 at 10:50 pm
- Category: Superhero Reviews
- PUBLISHER: DC Comics; $2.99 US
Lately, DC’s been launching several new series, and to promote them, they’ve been sending out comp copies to various bloggers (as well as other review outlets, I presume). I applaud this, even if I personally am running behind and haven’t talked about any of them yet. On the bright side, that means for these series, I now have the first two issues available for evaluation. So here’s some quick thoughts on how they started.
Martian Manhunter (A.J. Lieberman, Al Barrionuevo, and Bit) — This created a large amount of apathy in me. The scenes that stuck in my head did so because they were clichés — the badass boss killing a subordinate who had bad news, for example, or the Superman-level hero being drawn on by cops because he looks different — and the lead’s narration, meant to establish his alienness, I merely found pretentious.
I like the idea of MM being set apart from heroes like Superman by his unusual perspective, but this just makes him bitter and mean, as well as ruining his unique status by giving him other Martians to fight with. It fits right into the current DC take on its universe, full of murder and pettiness, but it’s not what I’m interested in.
Deadman (Bruce Jones and John Watkiss) — Without the property title, I may have been more interested in this, but I kept trying to figure out what this has to do with the skull-faced circus acrobat. The answer is: nothing. THIS dead man is a slackerish pilot with an overbearing older brother. The brother crashes a loaded jet plane, killing them all, and then guides the younger through a sort of psychological afterlife decision.
It’s all very Vertigo, but I would rather it would have gotten to the point — the guy’s dead but still walking around — sooner, and I really didn’t need to see the page of dead body erection jokes. The dead guy is roaming through different realities, but instead of making me learn more about the character or ponder the meaning of existence or want to know what’s really going on, it only makes me think that none of it matters. After all, even death isn’t permanent in this series, and as soon as you know what’s going on, it all changes.
The Trials of Shazam! (Judd Winick and Howard Porter) — Grimly unpleasant, much like the Martian Manhunter, but even more inappropriate here because of the history of Captain Marvel. Where’s the youthful optimism and fun that should be inherent in the idea of a kid becoming the World’s Mightiest Mortal with a magic word?
Instead, we’re getting the purported explanation of how magic has changed in the DCU. Only widespread continuity “fixes” like that never work, because they’re promptly ignored or misused by other writers. Just tell me stories, and make them interesting. Without maiming the female heroes, as you’ve done here.
The Creeper (Steve Niles, Justiniano, and Walden Wong) — Jack Ryder’s an obnoxious talk show host who gets injected with an experiment to prevent bad guys from getting the medical technology. After he almost (?) dies, he becomes the whacked-out Creeper.
Out of this set, this was the only series I felt like I could participate in without having to have read other comics (current or past) or otherwise bring my own knowledge of the DCU. It’s a promising beginning that looks forward instead of back or inwards (aka navel-gazing), and it’s got a welcome sense of energy.
The second issue is another adventure, and it’s perhaps the best use of a Bat-cameo I’ve read recently, mainly because the dark knight is just passing through. I’m amused by the way the Creeper talks to himself, which freaks out the freaky villain he goes up against. It’s parallel to Batman’s “I will scare the scary men” approach, only the Creeper out-crazies the crazies. As a series, it’s not particularly memorable in the grand scheme of things, but at least I was entertained for a few minutes.
Batman and the Mad Monk (Matt Wagner) — Classic Batman done in a modern style. (For instance, I don’t think we would have seen Batman and a woman cuddled naked in bed in a previous era.)
It’s Batman versus a vampire cult, plus girlfriend Julie Madison is becoming suspicious of his nocturnal activities and Commissioner Gordon is trying to navigate between a corrupt police force and his extra-legal partnership with the vigilante.
Great stuff, but wait for the collection so you can get the whole thing at once.