Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The weekend before Thanksgiving, I asked my Facebook friends which
of two DVDs I should watch at the end of a workday.  Their choices
were the unaired Wonder Woman television pilot helmed by David E.
Kelley or the 1968 Destroy All Monsters.  Some friends.  They voted
for me to watch the Wonder Woman disaster.

I thought the only really good thing about the Wonder Woman pilot
was how terrific Adrianne Palicki looked in both versions of the
costume.  The pilot’s cast also included the excellent actors Cary
Elwes and Tracie Thoms, but the material didn’t give them a chance
to show how good they are. 

The WW pilot was so awful that I almost immediately watched Destroy
All Monsters
to cleanse my palate.  Though DAM is not a good movie
by any stretch of the imagination, it’s goofy fun for children of
all ages.  The human characters are uninteresting and the monsters
are little more than action figures, but it was still better than
the WW pilot.  DAM recalls a kid playing “war” with those plastic
soldiers I used to have in my own youth. 

Here’s a startling revelation: when I played with those soldiers,
I often used them to act out original stories starring the Justice
League and other DC heroes.  My memory is that these were largely
“fight” stories with no character development or wit.  Pretty much
like many modern super-hero stories.  The most dramatic moment was
deciding which plastic soldier would play Wonder Woman.  Lord knows
what happened when he and his fellow troops were put back in their
cardboard box barracks.  But I digress.

I read a stack of DC Comics last week, one of them dating back to
2007, two to the end of last year, and the rest published a month
or so ago.  The “oldie” was All Flash #1 [$2.99] and, given that it
was written by Mark Waid, one of my favorite comics writers, it was
surprisingly awful.  Wally West returns to avenge the death of Bart
Allen, who had assumed the mantle of the Flash. What little heart
the story has is undone by multiple artists and an extended super-
speed battle between West and some villain named Inertia.  For the
big finish, West exacts a vengeance on Bart’s killer that certainly
ranks as “cruel and unusual” in my book of values.  Was the plan to
bring Wally back just make me dislike him?

The two 2010 comics were DC Comics one-shots showcasing members of
Shadowpact.  Nightmaster: Monsters of Rock [$2.99] was written by
Adam Beechen with art by Kieron Dwyer while Ragman: Suit of Souls
[$2.99] was written by Christos Gage with art by Stephen Segovia.
Both were solid done-in-one stories that established the characters
in fine fashion, told a complete tale, and left me wishing both of
these heroes had gotten their own titles in DC’s “New 52.”  Nicely
done on all counts.

I read six DC comics from the first week of the second month of the
aforementioned “New 52.”  Animal Man continued to overlook every
element that could be interesting in favor of more “Vertigo Lite”
gore and mystical bullshit.  Hawk & Dove was even worse than that
title’s first issue with its grotesque art, poor storytelling, and
turgid writing. I can see where Animal Man might appeal to readers
who like that sort of thing, but what do any readers see in Hawk
& Dove
?  I’m baffled.

The promise I saw in Batwing #1 was pretty much undone in Batwing
#2.  Even if I choose not to take its knockoff of Black Lightning
personally, there’s still the unbelievable resolution to the first
issue’s cliffhanger, the emphasis on brutal killings, the seeming
abandonment of the corrupt police force subplot that could’ve been
interesting, and the boring villain. 

When I reviewed Detective Comics #1, I wrote that I liked it better
than I’d expected given my past disdain for the work of writer and
artist Tony Daniel and that Daniel had shown me something different
with the Joker.  Except that “something different” was basically a
last-page shocker that wasn’t followed up on in any meaningful way.
Instead we got some Bruce Wayne scenes that seemed forced to me, a
group of grotesque-for-the-purpose-of-being-grotesque villains, and
other last-page shocker wherein a member of the supporting cast is
used for, well, shock value.  Disappointing.

Green Arrow #2 was also disappointing.  There’s little emphasis on
the qualities in Oliver Queen that impressed me last time around.
There’s great emphasis on typical super-hero action.  I’ll admit I
got a kick out of the new arrow created for Arrow, but that was the
high point of the issue.  Once again, disappointing.

Justice League International #2 was the one comic book of the “New
52" issues I read that delighted me.  Writer Dan Jurgens continues
to present a solid super-hero book with characters I can relate to
and whose interactions, including disagreements, ring true to me.
I especially love his take on the Batman, who fits into the group
without overwhelming it.  Artists Aaron Lopresti (pencils) and Matt
Ryan (inks) are also doing fine work here.    

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.   

© 2011 Tony Isabella

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