Thursday, 22 September 2011

52 New Beginnings - Justice League

Captain Atom
reviewed by D Kai Wilson-Viola

A natural disaster threatens an unexpected city, and Captain Atom, whom has in the preceding pages been established as ‘breaking down’ in more ways than one, has to respond. Sounds like a good recipe for a comic right? Perhaps something even marginally ground-breaking?

It’s not all good though - I’m not sure if that was a deliberate allegory to the storyline, or if it was something accidental – but the first read through of the comic made me think ‘nothing special’. Just not till the very – absolute – last page of the first comic. Second read through and I spotted some subtleties I’d missed – but had I not been reviewing, and had that second page not caught me, I think I’d have not bothered again.

I quite enjoyed Captain Atom – like many of the superheroes that we encounter, he’s flawed – damaged in some way – and it’s a refreshing change to see someone that suffers inwardly instead of the tired tropes of being an orphan or other characterisation broad stroke that comics seem to employ. He’s been in a horrible accident, changing him, but this seems to be after his peak of power. Again, very interesting, but again, I found it difficult to empathise. There was definitively something missing from it.

Crisp artwork, mostly in shades that fit the mood that it’s trying to express, with clean, clever dialogue cap off a comic that didn’t go in the direction that I expected – and though I went into it reading something I thought was pretty much average, I came out of it wondering how they were going to run with the story. And what he’d done to create that very last thought, on the very last page.

It has action, and it has a certain amount of charm, but this is one of the comics that I think is going to kick ass on the back story – as well as go forward with what could be a very interesting – and possibly unique – setup.

DC Universe Presents
reviewed by D Kai Wilson-Viola

Amazing artwork with a bit of a cocky swagger to the inner monologue, and I was actually quite enjoying the whole thing until the third page when I got to, "flying through the air with the greatest of ease." Hello cliché. And they didn’t stop there, which is, in my book at least, unforgivable.

Deadman was a trapeze artist. Assassinated, I assume, because he was a bit of an arrogant piece of work by his own admission, he is to reincarnate and continue on to enlightenment. It kinda goes downhill from there. The concept has one touching element – the one thing that could redeem him – that he "had to do something" before possessing his next soul. The whole "cathartic healing of others via possession" concept could have been so much more – Quantum Leap for example did it in a much more interesting way.

Some of the other broad stroke characters that he’s ‘been’ that are dumbed down and expressed in one panel clichés: the priest who’s lost his faith; or the stripper who hates her father, yet cries because she misses him so much; the death wish stuntman (who makes an appearance at the beginning of the narration). All of them are trite and contrived - while I get that it’s supposed to be "just another step" for him and a life changing event for them – one panel just didn’t seem to do that concept justice. The encapsulation and back story dump, with the obvious stereotypes made me feel cheated, and that overshadowed the rest of the comic.

I guess that’s the other thing that bothered me – there was no working for the back story – and by the time I’d gotten to about the eighth panel of "I was once...", I wasn’t interested in his back story, I was bored. And to be fair, once again, that was perfect characterisation – Deadman isn’t enlightened, in the slightest. He’s still the self-centred guy that he appeared to be when assassinated. It’d might be interesting to see where this second instalment goes, but for now, I’m pretty much on the fence. It’s a pity, because the artist is amazing.

Wonder Woman
reviewed by Kate Townshend

Oh Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman! If you're expecting me to manage anything even remotely impartial on this one, then I fear I shall be a sad disappointment. You can’t offer up a gorgeous, wise Amazonian who takes down penthouse-owning misogynists and expect me to be anything other than dazzled.

Even the front cover, which is the most stylised and obviously ‘graphic’ of the DC offerings I’ve seen so far, is a feminist wet dream. She is fierce and sexy and focused, and most importantly, pretty damn well supported by that rather fetching bodice...

And although it doesn’t feel forced, the new writers have pretty much taken Wonder Woman’s status as a bit of a Suffragette icon and run with it. The most obvious ‘villain’ of the piece is introduced early on, and I think it would be fair to say that he might have some issues with his mother...

I worry slightly that other, ‘normal’ women in the series are going to be treated as slightly disposable, which rather undercuts the overall message, but I’m willing to hold fire on that for now. It is at least nice to see a female heroine protecting another woman. This is another one to add to my ‘comics that pass the Bechdel Test’ pile.

The artwork inside this issue is ‘graphic’ in the other sense of the word, and there’s a fair amount of blood being spilled from the word go. To be honest, there might even be a little bit too much going on as it all gets a little bit busy and confusing in places.

Then again, this does add to the sense of instant crisis and chaos that seems to make the pages sparkle with energy throughout. It raises questions, refuses to answer almost any of them and is generally a rather breathless read.

Most interestingly of all, is that although Wonder Woman instantly commands attention in any frame in which she features, it isn’t all about her just yet.

If the writers plan to ‘always leave ‘em wanting more’ of her, then it’s working. On me at least.

No comments:

Post a Comment