Flash #233, LSH 31C #7, X-Men First Class #5, She-Hulk #22, Catwoman #72, Vinyl Underground #1, Brave and the Bold #7

The Flash #233 — A writer as experienced as Mark Waid should know not to write stories picking at the scabs of superhero conventions. No good will come of examining the fraying fabric “realistically”. As soon as the Justice League says “we’ve come for the kids”, I laughed. The people who hung out with Mia and Wonder Girl and Robin are trying to tell a real parent how to raise his babies?

Flash points this out to them, along with a grim message of potential death for the young ones (because Sim forbid that having powers could be FUN), and they all back down. Watching the Justice League stand around like chastised schoolchildren is even worse than their hubris to start. Eh

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #7 — The Legion, much as I love them, have a long history of boys vs. girls stories with questionable (at best) gender politics. This falls right into that tradition with a firm splat.

Princess Xenobia (hint! hint!), heir to New Themyscira (aka Paradise Island, in less enlightened times), is missing. Some of the Legion girls go to investigate and promptly get captured by the bitch queen Circe. She turns them against themselves with a few well-placed snipes, and the girls instantly become so insecure and jealous over various boys that they’re easily captured. So the boy heroes (mostly Superboy) get to go rescue them.

Who approved this Crap? We get to see the future Amazons, only to have them turn out to be harpies and the girl heroes shown as ineffective hostages? It plays into just about every gender stereotype out there … and the boys don’t show up well, either, drooling over the idea of visiting the “Planet of the Babes”. I will admit, though, the idea of Bouncing Pig was funny.

Teen Titans #54 — I think Sean McKeever is a terrific choice for this book and group, but I refuse to read this, his debut story, because it’s full of too many characters and alternate future versions. I look forward to trying a less person-packed tale.

X-Men: First Class #5 — Kid mutants go to find the Hulk. They go up against him one by one, until Marvel Girl takes care of him. Which rocks! It’s only temporary, though, because we’re reading the classic fight-then-team-up structure, or at least “misunderstanding becomes uneasy truce”.

The difference between these kid mutants (the young, original X-Men) and all the many other kid mutant teams that Marvel’s also published is a significant one… this one doesn’t have the baggage. There’s just the few characters, and their tentative encounters with the classic Marvel universe, instead of seventeen hundred spinoffs and variants. The feeling is purer and more innocent, not in a naive way, but in a “focused on the core of the concept” way. Jeff Parker continues to surprise with the depth of his talent. Very Good

She-Hulk #22 — Peter David’s first issue. I understand the desire to do something different from Dan Slott’s run (which had become only a pale shadow of itself by halfway through). This isn’t it, though, or at least anything I care about. The last page says “Next issue: More hitting!” Which I think is supposed to be funny hip, but I just found pathetic. That’s not what I’m interested in reading, and there’s too much of it here.

Jen’s become a bounty hunter instead of a lawyer. There’s more characterization given to the villain than her, though, and the cliffhangers are artificial. Sure, I want to know the explanation behind the division and the not-really-dead return, but not in any kind of involved way, just a slight curiosity towards which comic gimmick he’s going to attribute it to. I’m not affected, and I’m going to forget what happened long before the next issue. Eh

Catwoman #72 — And creators wonder why readers don’t believe they’re really going to do anything different… this issue reverses everything that made the recent run of Catwoman so interesting and unusual. Baby? Given away. New identity? Lost in a drunken haze. Stand-alone stories? Let’s truck in Zatanna and yet another Identity Crisis reference. Life in her neighborhood? Blown up with a convenient bomb. Complicated morality? Replaced with a vengeful vow to quit being a good guy. Looks like next issue, we’re back to a simple anti-hero with no family ties and nothing complicated. Borrrrrrrring.

Oh, and at her turning point, Catwoman in the Batcave stares at the costume of a dead Robin, talking about how their lives aren’t safe for kids, at the same time she’s ignoring the live one babysitting her daughter. Why is absolutely no one in the DCU optimistic any more? I don’t want to rate this, because I get tired of marking most superhero books Eh, but that’s my overall take on them. They don’t aim for much, and they achieve it.

The Vinyl Underground #1 — I liked it. I found the characters interesting, I liked their interplay, the look and design is well-suited to them, and I want to know more about what’s going on. It’s got a cheeky attitude towards sex that suits our culture, permeated with it, and the London setting is necessary for avoiding American puritanism. Good

The Brave and the Bold #7Excellent superherodom. Wonder Woman and Power Girl interact as two women with similar powers but very different personalities (a really basic quality of good writing that many many genre writers manage to completely ignore). Mark Waid is at the peak of his very talented long game here, and George Perez’s art is perfect for the detail and obsession inherent in the tales.

Wonder Woman accidentally finds out that Power Girl has been brainwashed to kill Superman. The rest of the issue is finding out how and when and by whom, made more difficult by PG’s recalcitrance towards self-examination or needing anyone’s help. There’s also an odd little bit woven in there about being willing to destroy a repository of world-changing knowledge if it means saving a friend or a hero (I’m not sure which is more important). Great action, high-flung adventure, creative threats, and even things to think about once the story’s done.

(This review originally appeared at the Savage Critics.)

6 Responses to “Flash #233, LSH 31C #7, X-Men First Class #5, She-Hulk #22, Catwoman #72, Vinyl Underground #1, Brave and the Bold #7”

  1. Charles RB Says:

    “this issue reverses everything that made the recent run of Catwoman so interesting and unusual.”

    That’s depressing. Teasing a New Direction and then reversing it is an old tactic of work-for-hire superhero comics, but bringing in something as significant as parenthood and reversing _that_? Why bother even bringing it in at all if you’re not going to bother using that in the long-term?

  2. Jim Perreault Says:

    I was actually disappointed by the WW/Powergirl team-up in Brave and the Bold. It is a shame he used the JLE Powergirl and not the JSA Powergirl, because I find the later more interesting. PG is simply not as single minded as Waid portrayed her.

    But what really disappointed me is that it did not touch upon what I find is the key difference between the characters: their takes on feminism. I suppose the radical feminist Powergirl of the 70s is a bit dated today, but I do wish he had addressed the issue some way.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Charles, I don’t recall how long this run has been going, but it’s possible that they felt 2 or more years were pretty long for a superhero story approach… and I can’t disagree with that.

    Jim, I think the distinction between the two powerful female heroes was quite subtle. I was impressed to see it handled so effectively.

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