Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Comics Stash

Yes, this week’s Comics Stash is late because of the Adventure of the Big Box, but it was a light week as well. This review process has been very interesting (to me, at least) because it’s shown my own comic-book habits as well as an idea of what’s going on in the industry.

So, the Spoiler Light is on, and we move into this week’s (well, last week’s) Comic Stash.

Let’s start out with Shining Knight #1 of 4. This is part of Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers project. This is the first payment on the creative promise written in Seven Soldiers #0, and is pure Morrison – visceral, cerebral, and sometimes obtuse. Young Sir Justin witnesses the harrowing of Camelot by the hero-hunting alien Sheeda. He’s the junior member of Camelot’s version of the JLA. He also has a flying, talking, horse who at one point pulls out a green lantern (continuity alert) to drive back the bad guys. Boy and horse end up in 21st Cent. LA as a result of the battle. Yep, it’s a first issue, and a very interesting one at that.

Once upon a time the Golden Age heroes of DC lived in Earth-2, and the Modern Age ones in Earth-1. Now if you want to do a teamup between the two you have to do time travel, and that’s what JSA #71 does, sending the current JSA into the 50's to convince their old counterparts to put the band back together. It’s a time-travel that has spent the past five issues or so gathering the players together, and now they’re finally after the big bad, a Time Traveler out to kill the President.

Thunderbolts #6/87* uses the hook of a bunch of second-banana Marvel villains who try to turn heroes. Its got tons of characters zipping about, so you need a scorecard, but that's not the interesting thing in this issue. What amazed me in this issue was that the Big Bad, Baron Strucker, set off nukes in Manhattan. Yeah, its so Radioactive Man (the original, green Chinese supervillain, not the Simpsons character) can absorb the blast, and the Speed Demon (I told you these were second banana bad-guys) could run the last bomb into New Jersey, but the idea of such offhand mass violence is a sign that the comic book universes are finally recoveringfrom the trauma of the Towers’ Fall.

Speaking of massive municipal destruction – over in the DC Universe they sunk half of San Diego and turned its inhabitants to water breathers (this is what happens when you have a major Comic Book Convention in your town, I guess ). This “sub-Diego” has been the thrust of Aquaman #28, who was a mystic hero only about two years back, so is definitely looking for his "niche". This is a transition issue in the series – Aquaman has a female sidekick who he doesn’t consider a sidekick. A new potential sidekick, a mutated shark man, shows up to “help out”. Aquaman gains a reporter contact. Atlantis shows up again. And it turns out that a corporation has put the patent of Aquaman’s DNA. It’s all setup, but it underscores the lack of foundation the character has had in the past and need to give him some grounding.

No comics stash is complete without a mention of Green Arrow, who appears in his own book, Green Arrow #48, with his team of three other archers (former sidekick, long-lost son, new sidekick). They are fighting robotic cowboy, which is every bit as stupid as it sounds, and ends up with blowing up a building. Again I note that the comic books have recovered to the point that massive destruction is once again a good thing.

Adam Strange is a favorite silver age character – one of the great science heroes, who, like John Carter of Mars, goes to another planet to become a hero. Adam Strange’s adopted planet was always threatened by weird things like flying magnifying glasses and tornado men. There have been a couple attempts to resolve his story, but none of them have taken. Adam Strange #6 of 8 has him back on the science trail, finding out where someone has stolen his planet. The series has also been a tour of the present-day DC aliens and space teams, with Thangarians (Hawkman’s people - militaristic fascists), the Omega Men, and the LEGION (which is not the Legion of Superheroes, but does have a modern day version of Brainiac 5) all showing up

Ultimate Fantastic Four #16 is a reinvention of the original team. In this universe the FF got their powers much earlier, in teen-genius Reed Richard’s teleporter experiments. The Thing is a jock, not a war hero. The Invisible Girl is as smart as Richards. The Human Torch is still a weenie. And in the Negative Zone, they still meet a guy named “Annihulus”, and they still don’t get a clue that he’s a bad guy (well, the Thing does, which is why they bring him along).

And lastly we have the Fortean Times #194 – Huh? What’s that doing in the stash? Well, Bookworld ,where I get my comics also carries the magazine out of the UK, so I make it part of my stash. It’s a collection on the interesting and weird, UFOs and Bigfoot, and in this issue, they cover EVP** (in connection with the now-forgotten White Noise movie), and Foaf-tales (Foaf = Friend of a Friend). The most stable part is the reviews, which cover a large amount of popular weirdness.

More later,

*Remember I talked about Marvel’s strange numbering system? Well, this comes out of that, but in this case the first T-bolt book died a messy death, then came back as this one.
** Electronic Voice Phenomena - the dead want to talk to you, and they are willing to use AM Radio to do so. Insert dittohead joke here.