Recent Superhero Comics: Captain Britain, Hercules, Tiny Titans, Blue Beetle, Terra

Captain Britain and MI: 13 #7

by Paul Cornell, Leonard Kirk, and various inkers
Marvel Comics, $2.99

I kept going after my first try, and I liked it. The challenges are classic — for example, Captain Britain is seduced with his heart’s desire, the return of his wife Meggan (whom I’ve liked since I read those first Excalibur issues decades ago) — but it’s the characters who keep me returning. (And there’s nothing wrong with classic. Things become well-known when they work as premises to reveal the internal motivations of the cast.)

Especially Lady Jacqueline Falsworth, the super-speed Spitfire, who has a secret that requires her self-control, which makes her interaction with new team member Blade troublesome. Meanwhile, Faiza has a crush on the Black Knight, who has his own struggles. I want to spend more time with these characters. Their dialogue is so interesting. Kirk’s art is also classic, easy to read, straightforward, and yet capturing the magical mysticism of the subject matter.

The Incredible Hercules #123

by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry, and Salva Espin
Marvel Comics, $2.99

The Love & War storyline continues with plenty of standoffs, as Hercules, Namor, Poseidon, Namora, and the Amazons battle in the classic style. That made the cliffhanger, set in modern times, even more of an entertaining contrast.

My favorite bit: a blinded Hercules, listening to other characters explain the plot to each other, grasps his face and exclaims, “Oh heavens, no! Not the omphalos! Which is what, exactly?” That allows the cast to continue on with reader exposition while still maintaining the idea of the fiction. Although it seems like ancient gods nattering on at each other about old grudges, it all has a purpose by the end of the issue.

I admit, I like the modern stuff much more than the mythological, but I admire the way the writers weave it together while the artists keep the characters both inspiring and plausible as people. I’m just eager for Hercules and Amadeus Cho to get back together. Keeping them apart serves dramatic purpose but weakens the best part of the series, their interaction.

Tiny Titans #10

by Art Baltazar (writer/artist) & Franco (co-writer)
DC Comics, $2.25

A simple story, well-told. Supergirl and Batgirl are so eager to play with their friends that they forget to feed their pets. But Streaky the Super-Cat and Ace the Bat-Hound are super-pets, so the two team up to find their forgetful mistresses and get their lunch.

There are attributions that only long-time fans will get, but they don’t get in the way of the story, and they’re hilarious. My favorite this issue was Batgirl getting her vehicle (a tricycle) out of an oval-shaped wall opening, just like the TV Batgirl used to.

The animals are adorable, of course, and their quest is simple but understandable. I loved the sequence where Streaky zoomed off on their quest, realized he was missing something, and swooped back for Ace (whose cape is carried in the cat’s mouth).

After reading some of the Marvel comics with twelve names in the credit box, almost half of which were editorial staff, it was also refreshing to see this title’s simple listing: it’s got only two creators with an additional two editors. That’s still half-and-half division, but the fewer hands involved may be why these stories are so directly entertaining.

Blue Beetle #33

by Matthew Sturges and Rafael Albuquerque
DC Comics, $2.99

Using DC’s only prominent Hispanic hero to tackle the question of immigration is a good idea, but the execution is muddled, with too much going on and the requisite injection of a super-villain getting in the way. I’d probably care more about figuring it out if the title wasn’t a lame duck at this point, with only three more issues to go.

I like seeing Blue Beetle interact with the other Teen Titans, which makes it a shame when they show up only to split up. But then, I’ve always had a fondness for teen superhero teams. I hope his character continues on in that title.

Terra #2

by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Amanda Conner
DC Comics, $2.99

Too much teasing, of many kinds. Various hints and references to previous Terras and their muddled histories are confusing to the reader who hasn’t already figured out an explanation for herself (and thus likely won’t be satisfied by whatever patches are slapped on).

More obvious, though, is how often female characters are naked in this book. The splash page has the nude title character, with a peekaboo sheet, climbing off a medical exam table as Dr. Mid-Nite averts his eyes (even though he’s the examining physician) and Power Girl poses like a shy schoolgirl. For the next two pages, she gets dressed as various random foreground objects shield the naughty bits. (It’s like Austin Powers, but played straight. Wait, maybe I should rethink that word, given the overtones of two barely dressed, busty superwomen spatting over their “friendship”. Both have similar costumes, considering it important to cover their shins and calves while their butts and thighs are left exposed.)

That’s just the appetizer, though. After a mystical battle with the Silver Banshee and something called a Hate Caster, we cut to a different set of villains: a fully-dressed man made of diamond and his girlfriend, who spends the whole scene undressed in front of a mirror or in the shower or barely covered by a towel.

If the artist wasn’t a woman, this book would probably be crucified online. They probably know their audience, though.

12 Responses to “Recent Superhero Comics: Captain Britain, Hercules, Tiny Titans, Blue Beetle, Terra”

  1. Joshua Macy Says:

    I’m sure this brands me as hopelessly out-of-touch, but my first thought is “Why on Earth would Dr. Mid-Nite have to avert his gaze, anyway? Is he examining her in the dark?” Though it would be funny if all the panels were black….

  2. Johanna Says:

    Oh, true, true! Although isn’t there some never-ending storyline in JSA about him getting his sight back?

  3. James Schee Says:

    Ooh, I liked the Spitfire character a lot when I saw her in Brubaker’s Captain America. I haven’t been able to find any other appearances with her though. Has she been a member since the start?

  4. Don MacPherson Says:

    The amped-up T&A factor in Terra #2 was quite off-putting, I agree. It’s a shame, because I absolutely loved the first issue.

  5. Johanna Says:

    James: Yes. Since #1 of this series, anyway. I don’t know about the earlier Wisdom miniseries.

  6. odessa steps magazine Says:

    No, she’s not in the Wisdom mini.

    The team in that is: Wisdom, the fairy, John the Skrull, Captain Midlands and another new character who is not with the current team (writing cryptically).

  7. David Oakes Says:

    Comparing the two line-ups, I find it interesting to note that the first mini was basically “Pete Wisdom and a bunch of people we have never seen before”, but the current series is “A bunch of people we have seen before, and Dr. Faiza Hussain”. And as much as it hurts my Inner Fanboy to admit it, I think the book suffers for the change.

    Cornell is getting some interesting hooks out of Spitfire, but I am not sold on the Black Knight. And Wisdom, Captain Britain, and Blade are all playing to their usual stereotype. Hopefully this is just the shake-out period, and when the writer gets a better handle on the boys they will become as fully realized as Jaq and Faiza. But I am worried that it is not just the characters that are editorially mandated, but the characterizations: “You will use X, and you will make sure that longtime readers can immediately identify them as X, so that we will sell as well as X used to.” I like X, I want to see more X, but the past is past, and Q and Z at least have a chance at attracting a new audience.

    (But if “You will include Blade, because he had his own movie” is the price we pay to at least catch the occasional glimpse of Tink and Captain Midlands, well, it’s isn’t the Rulk.)

  8. James Schee Says:

    Great, I’ll have to look for the trade when it comes out. I know nothing about the character, but I just loved her in those Brubaker Cap. issues.

  9. Dan Coyle Says:

    “Never-ending” pretty much describes every single JSA story ever, now and forever, ad infinitum, Amen.

    Just think of the writer Geoff Johns could be if someone told him to just cheer up.

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