February showcased both the best and worst of what the comics industry can offer. The Gary Friedrich/Marvel lawsuit brought attention to the lousy treatment creators received, and sometimes still do, at the hands of large companies like Marvel and DC. If people didn’t realize it before, they should know now that the major publishers are looking to protect the interests of their copyrights first, and creators rights second. Or third. Or fourth. On the bright side, Image Comics came out swinging in their 20th year, announcing a slew of new, creator owned titles by A-List talent in an attempt to take back a piece of the sales pie from the Big Two. At a time when DC and Marvel are increasingly seen as souless, profit driven corporate entities, Image’s ascension couldn’t have been better timed. Time will tell if this gambit will pay off in the long term.
Justice League #6
For all of the large scale action that populated this issue, it was the last page of Geoff Johns, Jim and co.’s main story that stood out to me the most. It was a tag meant to foreshadow some future plotlines, involving shadowy figures meeting on a cold London night, but I was really taken with the delicate linework, strong atmosphere and cool color palate of the page. Jim Lee is at his best when he’s drawing a bunch of handsome, fit super powered people fighting each other, but he’s more versatile than people give him credit for. Of course the inks of Scott Williams and the color of Alex Sinclair made the page as well.
As for the rest of the book…it was fine. Every character got their big moment in the fight against Darkseid, and there were plenty of pretty splash pages from Jim Lee and the rest of the art team throughout. The whole affair felt so predictably dull though. It actually kind of read like Johns’ pitch for a Justice League movie. The story hit all of the major beats a movie film would have, including a triumphant finale and an epilogue that teases out the next installment. But I won’t be reading that next chapter, because I’m done with this book. Justice League is a fine book for newer readers, but it’s not for me. I need to move on to better comics.
Oh, and that backup story with Pandora was utter bull@*@4. “Buzzword, buzzword, foreshadow foreshadow”. I used to get excited by cryptic stuff like this, but not anymore. Garbage.
Angel and Faith #7
I think this was the first issue that really felt like the TV series. To be specific, it read like the slow, expository middle chunk of an episode that comes right before the exciting finish. This was still a good issue though. Drusilla has always been a great character, and it was nice how her new status quo reflected upon Angel and his life. Some of the best stories on the Angel series dealt with how he struggled to do the right thing instead of what might be the easy thing, and “Daddy Issues” definitely falls into the category. Faith’s reunion with her father played out predictably, with a last-page cliffhanger, but I wonder if there are still more twists to come.
Scalped is coming to an end in a few months, and I’ve begun to reflect on the series, and how great everyone involved has been. For example, while reading this story, I finally noticed something about how R.M. Guera draws Dash Bad Horse, and how it informs his character; it’s his posture. Dash always slouches a little bit. Whenever he does that, he looks like the neglected child of a political activist that he was, instead of the nunchuck-waiving ex-FBI agent that he is. Then again up until this issue, he’s never really been able to come to terms with his mother, and that’s always held him back. But that’s such a specific trait, and it’s indicative of the attention to detail Guera and the rest of the team has had for these characters. Every element of the book, from the covers to the lettering, has been top notch, and it’s going to be sad to see everyone move on. But for now, they still have one more story to tell, and it looks like it’s going to be an excellent one.
“Trail’s End” picks up a few months after the end of “Knuckle Up”. Red Crow is in jail, the casino is closed, and Dash has quit the FBI and donated a very generous sum of money to open up a community center in her mother’s name. Things are peaceful right now, but there was definitely a pervasive sense of dread in this issue. Something bad is going to happen before the series ends, and it’ll probably involve Dash and Red Crow. The latter is already answering for all of the bad he has done, but the former still hasn’t.
One of the things I really like about this book is how Azzarello clearly defines the upper and lower classes by the way they speak. People like Orson use a dumbed down language that’s heavy on the slang. Meanwhile, wealthier citizens like Tara talk the way people do now. It’s an easy shorthand that’s indicative of the enormous gap between the haves and have-nots. Still, if there’s one thing that the rich and poor have in common, it’s that many of them are just evil bastards.
In Issue #4, Orson continued to learn how hard it is to do the right thing in a world where everyone is looking out for themselves, as he struggled to keep Tara safe from, well, everyone else. It was a solid story, with the usual excellent art from Eduardo Risso. It’s kind of cartoony, but appropriately gritty for a book like this. I’m looking forward to see how the noose around Orson continues to tighten as he tries to bring Tara home.
Batman Beyond Unlimited #1
I think it’s appropriate for a comic that takes place in the future to have a forward thinking publishing strategy. DC is releasing chapters of this comic digitally first, before collecting them monthly in this series. But while the company may be looking into the future by embracing the digital market, this issue looked pretty old fashioned at times. That definitely wasn’t a bad thing though, as Norm Breyfogle, Dustin Nguyen, and the rest of the artists did a fine job in their respective chapters. I thought that Breyfogle’s soft, elastic linework fit the Batman Beyond chapter especially well. The story was fine, as it had Terry McGuiness deal with an influx of Jokerz into Neo Gotham, as well as some personal drama with on again/off again girlfriend Tara. Meanwhile, in the second story, the Justice League and Batman fought some Jokerz as well, and prepared to confront a teammate possibly gone rogue. With solid writing and art, Batman Beyond Unlimited was a nice, harmless comic that’s, probably, particularly good for newer readers.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #4
Even though I didn’t know much about Lightning prior to reading this issue, I was still moved by his sacrifice. Seeing that Demo was about to kill Dir. Keane, he raced faster than he ever did to stop the madman, knowing that death was waiting for him at the end of his run. Spencer, Craig and the rest of the team for crafting such an exciting, yet somber scene that worked despite my lack of knowledge of the character. The entire issue was really great, and as usual, it ended on a WTF cliffhanger that I’m dying to see followed up on next month. As with Scalped, Im disappointed that this series is almost over, but I’m glad that Spencer and co. are having he opportunity to go balls out in the end.
Next time: It’s gonna be a big week, with new issues of Action Comics, Swamp Thing, and Fatale hitting the stands.