Time for another Retrospective! Issues 55-78. For the few who have kept up with my Retrospective, I’ll be going at these issues a bit differently. Mostly I’m going to try to go through each arc rather quickly. This is mostly for the next few arcs I didn’t find that enjoyable.
Looking into issue 50-54. Issue 50 is a collaboration between McKeever, Johns, Wolfman, and Dezago. This is also Johns’ last work on Teen Titans and after this issue, McKeever takes over by himself for a while.
Batman #680 (****)
Supergirl #34 (****)
Terror Titans #1 (*)
Hey, yours truly is on this week’s The Pull List, featured on the VsRealms homepage, wherein I help review these three books. I posted my star ratings, but to get the full reviews, go listen to that podcast! Go now! And then leave them a review on iTunes and stuff, they deserve it!
…and if you’re super lazy like me, you can download the episode at this link. DING!
Sean McKeever, why must you confound me so? Your abysmal run on Teen Titans is unreadable, and that’s putting it kindly, yet your Birds of Prey has been a complete joy! Did Simone leave a plot outline to follow? Did Johns throw you to the wolves? Is that the difference? Am I close?
Anyway, enough whining, regardless of your track record on other books, this one’s a clear winner. In lieu of a proper review, I’ll instead list the Top Five reasons why I love Birds of Prey.
Number 5: It’s funny!
Number 4: Inadequately vague sexual innuendo!
SHOW ME YOUR HANDS! SHOW ME YOUR HANDS!
Number 3: The best in cheesy villains!
He shoots bullets from his mind? Tenacious D fans give thanks and rejoice!
Number 2: The charmingly disarming Misfit!
I know you didn’t create her, McKeever, but you’re doing a bang-up job writing her nonetheless. Thank you, Sean!
And the Number 1 reason why I love Birds of Prey: These girls are seriously tough!
These aren’t your basic dudes masquerading as women, these are fully realized female ass-kickers! This is due in large part to Simone’s contributions to the book, but McKeever excels here as well.
Hey Mandy, why aren’t you reading this book?
5 Stars: WARNING: Best of the Best!
4 Stars: Almost Perfect.
3 Stars: Adequate.
2 Stars: Lots of Bad.
1 Star: Return It.
Action Comics #862 (*****):
Wow, five stars for a DC book!?! Ever since we ditched the Kubert brother and Dick Donner and picked up Gary Frank, this book has been on my “first read” list. Okay, confession: I hate the Legion of Superheroes. Hate them. Their weirdo costumes. Their lame names. The stupid United Federation of Planets Starfleet Academy BS… BLARGH. But this… the way Johns writes them… just, WOW. I am now convinced, more than ever, that Geoff Johns could write just about any DC book. Ever. He is just that godly. Ok, enough gushing. Check out this panel. Oh Brainiac, don’t be jealous. Other people can be smart too, it doesn’t make you dumb. Chlorophyll Kid is it? I died laughing. And what a spectacular last page. Earth Man, you just got your ass kicked! Seriously, this arc has been a fantastic read. Highly recommended.
Birds of Prey #115 (****):
This issue of Birds is as good as McKeever’s Titans was bad. It’s hard to believe the same guy writes both books. And what’s even more astonishing is how well he blends comedy and suspense… in the same very same issue! The plot for this episode splits in two directions. First, we have the introduction of another teen sidekick in Black Alice. Misfit doesn’t take kindly to this goth chick horning in on her action and decides to take matters into her own hands. She confronts Black Alice and hilarity ensues. What I like best about the sequence leading up to that last page I showed you, is that it feels so real. So reminiscent of what it was actually like to get jealous of a sibling eating up a parent’s attention. This is “teen sensibility” is very surprising, given that Teen Titans, a book filled with teens and even has the word “Teen” in it’s fricking title… is so horrendously mediocre. The second half of the book concerns itself mainly with Huntress and Lady Blackhawk and their search for some old school shark themed villain from LB’s past. McKeever not so subtly implies that Shark-Guy used to routinely drug LB and force her to dress up as “Shark Queen” and perform any number of depraved acts. During the pursuit, the girls end up underwater and the Huntress almost drowns. Reading this scene, I was actually afraid for Helena’s well being. Which from a hardened critic like me, is a pretty nifty compliment. And the dialogue didn’t feel cheesy at all. Not at all like that melodramatic garbage Winick wrote in Green Arrow/Black Canary from a few months ago. I’m on this book for as long as it remains above average. As soon as it veers off toward Titans territory…
Black Panther Annual #1 (*):
I don’t even understand why this comic exists? I love me some alternate history stories, but this one is too ridiculous. The assumption that Thor or Silver Surfer would get involved in Earth’s politics in the way that is portrayed in this book is ludicrous. In fact, almost all of the heroes in this book act out of character. I usually like Hudlin, and I have enjoyed the Black Panther ride (the infinite golden frogs story being the lone exception) as much as anything else I read, but this book really rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn’t figure out why until I reached the part where Luke Cage is revealed to be the future president of the United States. Oh, that’s what’s wrong here. The entire issue plays like a what if? tale. “What if Africa became the dominant socio-political sphere and overthrew the United States and the European Union? And what if that happened in a superhero book?” Well, obviously we would get peace on Earth and good will toward man, right? How presumptuous. I commend what you’re trying to do here Hudlin, but to me, it is just as inherently racist to assume that the world would be a more civilized place if it was run by Africa, as it is to assume the same about the US or the EU. Yes, in our reality, loads of westerners wrongly believe that the white man is the ultimate civilizing force. And they are ignorant and racist. The more educated among us know that and we know that assuming the opposite is wrong as well. And really, it doesn’t actually take that big a leap in logic to get to this revelation. I’m not the smartest guy I know and even I got there! Why can’t this utopian dream that Hudlin has envisioned come about as a result of Western and Southern cooperation? Isn’t that a nobler paradise to dream of?
• Conan #48 (***): Kurt Busiek has left the building; I think I may follow him out. The story was fine, it just wasn’t engrossing the way I’ve come to expect.
• Checkmate #23 (****): And so begins the final arc of Greg Rucka’s stupendous Checkmate. This one started with a bang and I’m sure the loudest one is still forthcoming. I’m not sure I’ll read this once, Rucka leaves. We’ll just have to ait and see.
• The Order #8 (***): FINALLY… the plot. Too little too late here. Ugh, Stane? Really? REALLY?!
• The Programme #8 (**): Last issue was cool, this issue was confusing. I like the art style, but it’s heavy shadows really makes it hard to get into the story.
• The Ultimates 3 #3 (**): I was actually entertained when I read this. Loeb’s shameless retconning aside, this was an epically bad read in that good way. Unlike the last few issues that were in that bad way. One thing though, Jeph, overtly calling attention to the incest… not working for ya’ here.
• The Zombie: Simon Garth #4 (***): This installment of the Simon Garth saga manages to re-tell the exact same story as the last one, with less gore and less likable characters. The art may actually be better, seeing as how the artist is also the writer this time, it’s not hard to imagine that he tried a bit harder. Really, only for those that like zombies.
• Ultimate Iron Man II #3 (**): What happened? The first mini series was so good! Why is this one so boring?