Booster Gold #8
Blue and Gold chapter 3: Freedom Fighters
Geoff Johns revitalization of the Booster Gold book has been nothing short of miraculous, and barring a few slip-ups here and there – the Barbara Gordon issue, for example – the series has also been fairly critically popular. This, however, seems to be one of the slip-ups. The issue is just a little bit bland. It’s still fairly well-written, the art is still some of Jurgens’ best, and the overall story is still interesting, but the issue is just a little bit too predictable.
As you may see from the cover, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle have to take on Maxwell Lord’s puppet, Superman. The fight is extremely brief, the resistance forces falling apart at the blink of an eye, and culminates in Booster and Ted deciding that they need to reunite the JLI to combat the threat.
Now, this is my biggest problem with the issue. The nostalgia factor. Green Arrow and Hawkman are too incompetent to fight Lord…but the JLI can? There’s fanwanking to Superman’s unwillingness to kill, which is fine, but not at all subtle (for a better view of Superman’s beliefs on killing, read the current arc of Checkmate), and on Hal Jordan’s never ending font of willpower. There are a lot of ‘for the fans’ moments, but that’s precisely what the issue reads like: a loose gathering of things the fans would want to see. The Blue and Gold arc seems to be sacrificing storytelling for fanworship. It’s not bad, but it’s a trend that I hope doesn’t continue for very long.
Wonder Woman #19
Expatriate pt 2
The conclusion of Gail Simone’s second arc, this one wasn’t as enjoyable to me as the first – though that’s largely because of the portions in her first arc introducing us to the Circle, and because Bernard Chang’s art just doesn’t quite do it for me the way the Dodson’s do (though, Chang, +2 points for drawing her like she’s wearing shorts instead of a thong – I’m looking at you, Benes). It’s not bad, especially, it’s just an extremely different style than the Dodsons, and one I’m not used to, and won’t have time to get used to, as a new artist comes on next arc.
The story deals with the Khund, an extremely warlike race known for their genocidal tendencies and trying, once or twice, to conquer Earth. The Khund have a deep reverence for Wonder Woman, seeing her as their ‘Destroyer’, a Khund spirit reborn on Earth. So, when someone turns the tables on them and begins systematically destroying the whole race, they go to Wonder Woman for help. And, despite their villainous tendencies, she’s not so cool with the “let’s commit genocide upon them” vibe going on down on the planet, so she goes to investigate. When she reaches the ship that the Ichor arrived on, she finds that she was not the first to arrive on the scene, and thus does a fight break out: Wonder Woman vs. Procannon Kaa, local Green Lantern!
Much of the issue is dedicated to how Wonder Woman acts and thinks in a deadly battle. Her fight with the Green Lantern is well-drawn and dynamic, and clearly illustrates that, as powerful as Wonder Woman is, even she has trouble with a veteran Green Lantern. It also illustrates that, as much as Wonder Woman is a product of a warrior culture, she has not forgotten her mission of peace. However, while many of the actions of the issue are great, Wonder Woman’s internal monologue is off. It feels false and stilted when it attempts to feel militaristic and worried.
Another flaw in the dialogue, I feel, comes from Etta’s interactions with the Ichor – it’s silly fun, but it isn’t really believable. That she talks the genocidal alien race down is cute, and also puts her above being the hostage-bait she had been previously, it just doesn’t sit right with the remainder of the issue.
Despite those flaws, the issue is quite good. The Wonder Woman/Green Lantern fight was entertaining and dynamic, and the solution to the arc was a lot of fun. Not to mention, a new Green Lantern oath for the first ever Khund Green Lantern…
And traitor’s flight
I stand beside my
Clan to fight
With dying breath
I claw and bite
Beware my power
Green Lantern’s Light!
Doktor Sleepless #6
Mortitian of Love
Doktor Sleepless began as Warren Ellis’ net bizarre sci-fi series, about a man who reinvents himself from the failed boy genius into a cartoon mad scientist, a figure all the more dangerous for the fact that no one would take him seriously. After the first couple issues, however, the series began to lag, and then slowed almost to a halt. An extremely loose release schedule certainly didn’t help, but not enough was happening in each issue.
Issue 6, however, started off good and just got better. Ellis finally gives the good Doktor some motivation, and details a little bit more of this twisted world he lives in. The art remains fabulous, and while there is little action, the dialogue and ideas are interesting as Ellis juggles many of the balls thrown in the air in previous issues.
Ellis has compared this work to his older “Transmetropolitan”, and while it’s too early to see if how this lives up to his most well-known classic, the parallels are obvious. The world the Doktor inhabits is a little more understandable to us, and the Doktor himself is a little less cartoony than Spider Jerusalem, the series still maintains the well-developed sci-fi standards of much of Ellis’ best work.
Newuniversal: Everything Went White
In the 1980s, Marvel launched the New Universe line of comics, where, until the emergence of superhumans, the world was meant to be 100% our world. The New Universe project was, ultimately, however, a failure. Most titles in it died within the year, and even the most popular only lasted three years. Recently, to celebrate the 20-year anniversary, Warren Ellis relaunched the concept as Newuniversal, but with a few changes.
While Ken Connell and John Tensen remain as Starbrand and Justice, Izanami Randall, a Japanese goth girl, has replaced Keith Remsen as Nightmask, and the concept of Spitfire has trained drastically. What we have now is the concept that the emergence of superhumans has a purpose; each unique superhuman (and they are very few and far-between) was created with a specific purpose to move the world forward. The concept is genuinely interesting and well-executed, albeit slow in part.
The art by Salvador Larroca is for the most part quite good, though there are a few scenes with awkward trying-to-be-too-realistic facial expressions. The beginning is slow, but as the book opens up, it slowly illustrates to you to one of the most promising comic settings of recent memory.
This is what the Ultimate Universe should have been. A new, novel concept, with little-known or completely non-existent characters in a brand new setting dealing with interesting, unique ideas for the purpose of super-humans. It’s not a retread, and it stands on its own.
It isn’t without flaws, though. Everything Went White holds the entire first ‘season’ of Newuniversal, and that first season is entirely introduction. It’s a great introduction, with pretty art, good characterization, and a great hook…but ultimately, we’re forced to wait for the story-proper until Newuniversal: 1959 (by Kieron Gillen) and Newuniversal: Shockfront (by Warren Ellis) in the upcoming months. It’s the book’s biggest flaw, and even that can’t hold the book back. It’s a great, small book, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something new.