WEEK FOUR

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #1

Written by JUSTIN GRAY and JIMMY PALMIOTTI

Art and cover by MORITAT

40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+

 

I loved Gray & Palmiotti’s Jonah Hex. This was even better.

 

Plot: Someone is butchering prostitutes, Jack the Ripper style, in 19th century Gotham City, and Dr. Amadeus Arkham hires the famous Western bounty hunter to catch him.

 

Do I really need to go any farther than that before you run out and buy this book? OK, I’ll tease out a bit more:

 

* The art is fantastic. Moritat really captures the grime and filth of a post-industrial, late 1800s city.

 

* Gray & Palmiotti wisely do not play Jonah as a fish out of water. Instead, he is a shark dropped among minnows.

 

* Arkham attempts to psychoanalyze Hex in a voiceover, and he’s right and he’s wrong and he’s puzzled. Gray & Palmiotti appear to be having fun with this, as well as doing the requisite first issue introduction.

 

* Hex, as we know, is no dummy. So he comes to many of the conclusions a later Gotham detective does about how evil really operates in this city, and at what level, and reveals it to us at the end – making me want issue #2 right now.

 

I don’t have enough superlatives for this book. If you think you won’t enjoy a Western, think again. This is the genre cleaned of all its clichés and barnacles and distilled to the essence of what made it popular in the first place. Think of it as crime noir in a Stetson, and get ready for a doggone good book.

 

AQUAMAN #1

Written by GEOFF JOHNS

Art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

Geoff Johns takes the jokes about Aquaman by the horns, and sets up a new status quo to discredit them.

 

Plot: A creepy new race rises from the very bottom of the Atlantic, discovering “the above” for the first time. Given their teeth, it does not bode well for us. On the surface, Aquaman stops a stolen payroll truck by exhibiting early Superman powers – he leaps to the crime like the Hulk, tosses the truck around easily, and bullets bounce off him. He puts up with fish jokes from the cops, and goes to a seafood diner where his dad used to take him (seen in brief flashback), and puts up with more fish jokes. Eventually an irritating blogger asks “how does it feel to be nobody’s favorite superhero?” and it’s too much; the Sea King leaves without eating (but gives his waitress a couple of doubloons worth enough to put her kids through college). He goes to his dad’s lighthouse and meets with Mera, describing his decision to become a surface superhero, and she vows to join him. The issue ends with a cliff-hanger, as that new race reaches the surface and puts those ghastly teeth to work.

 

I think this is a very good start. I’ve said since I was a child reading 1960s Aquaman comics – where the titular character was overshadowed by his vastly more powerful wife, and wondered why she wasn’t the star – that Aquaman needs a serious power upgrade to be a viable character. Here Johns takes the idea introduced way back in Justice League of America #111 (first series) that a guy accustomed to the crushing pressures of the depths would be incredibly super-strong and dense on the surface. (One wonders – and doubts – if this applies to Mera, but let’s hope it does.) Do we need another strong, tough guy who takes second or third place to the other powerhouses on the JLA? Maybe not, but it’s better than a guy who swims fast and talks to fish, which is the kind of guy you leave on monitor duty. So a cautious thumbs up, and let’s hope Johns’s brief description of “talking to fish” – that isn’t what Aquaman does – leads to a broader power there, and possibly one more useful on the surface.

 

Speaking of which what about that surface mission? Doesn’t that obviate the cool aspects of Atlantis as well as the dull, boring over-used ones? Yeah, but Atlantis isn’t going anywhere, so Johns can still his toe into it when he wants to. And thinking back, I don’t think Aquaman’s ever been a surface hero full-time, so this is a new road to explore. And the  various flashbacks to his childhood with the lighthouse keeper add nostalgic resonance for the decision.

 

But the best part? Mera. Ever since I was that child in the 1960s I’ve loved Mera. Not in a lustful way (although, when Nick Cardy drew her, occasionally), but because she was a calm, accomplished, powerful partner for Aquaman. Silver Age DC used to have a lot of those kinds of strong, capable women – Hawkgirl, Iris West, even Carol Ferris to a degree – and those were women easy to admire. (They had losers, too, like pesky Lois Lane and self-centered Jean Loring, but nobody’s perfect.) It was when DC decided to turn Mera into a lunatic (literally, although she got better) that I pretty much lost interest in Aquaman and never got it back.

 

Until now. If a confident, competent, powerful Mera is part of the package, then I’m aboard.

 

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #1

Written by DAVID FINCH

Art by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND

Cover by DAVID FINCH

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

If you liked the old Batman: the Dark Knight, you’ll like this one.

 

Plot: The book opens with Batman racing somewhere, in the process showing us some of his familiar toys (and thereby reassuring returning readers that nothing has changed, while showing those toys to the theoretical new readers). Where he’s going appears to be a social function where Bruce Wayne announces the Gotham Revitalization Plan, an ambitious project to correct problems that beset most cities these days. Two new supporting characters are introduced, a GCPD internal affairs officer determined to find out who in the department is helping Wayne with Batman, and a young, hot, rich chick, who is aggressively flirtatious with Bruce. Wayne is called away due to a riot at Arkham, and he leads Arkham security into the conflict to rescue trapped officers, but he is also looking for Two-Face for undisclosed reasons. He finds him, but there have been some changes.

 

Let me say up front that I love David Finch’s art. He could draw Spongebob Squarepants and I’d buy it, so Finch doing a Batman book makes me very happy. I think it’s that he comes from the Neal Adams photo-realism school, where everything looks functional and normal, only prettier than in real life. (Or grittier, if it’s a bad thing.) His Batman is large, powerful and dangerous-looking.

 

And that’s good, because the story isn’t much. For some reason, Paul Jenkins has been shoehorned into the credits after the ones above were provided in the solicitations, as writer and co-plotter. (Finch is demoted to artist/co-plotter). Is this to improve dialogue? Help Finch stay on deadline? Maybe neither, maybe both. It doesn’t seem to have made the story better. My complaints:

 

1) The internal affairs officer wants to find out who in the department is helping Wayne fund The Batman. That’s a threat to Gordon, so that’s a cool plot twist, but it raises the obvious question about Wayne himself not being arrested. Wouldn’t the more obvious move be to arrest the guy who has publicly admitted to funding an illegal vigilante? Until that’s given an excuse, no matter how flimsy, I’m going to keep wondering why this cop isn’t putting the bracelets on Wayne instead of hanging around grimacing. By the way, is it too much to ask to have a cop character who isn’t a snarling, threatening “I’ll get you some day” type? How about one with the same agenda but smiles a lot? That’d leave you wondering what he’s really after, plus add some fresh air to this cliché. (And, yes, he’s wearing a trenchcoat. How’d you know?)

 

2) Wait, another hot, young, heiress in Gotham? How many are there? Fewer than before, I’d guess, because they all end up dead in the dozens of stories over the years that have started exactly like this. But that’s "Old 52," so let’s leave that aside. Instead, let’s focus on what this new character provides: Let’s see, what could it be … Oh, yeah! Eye candy and sexual availability! Wow, that’s a new twist! [/sarcasm off]

 

OK, maybe I’m just hyper-sensitive after last week’s Starfire debacle, but … no, no I’m not. This girl isn’t a character in the first issue, she’s a 13-year-old male fantasy: zaftig and sexually aggressive. Virtually all of her dialogue is sexual innuendo or double entendre, and her parting comment literally invites Wayne to follow her sashaying caboose. Grant Morrison made great use of this unfortunate cliché in that his hot, young, heiress who sexually pursues Wayne turned out to be (SPOILER!) the bad guy. Would that other writers did the same, and maybe what’s-her-name here will prove to be. Right now all she is a sex doll in revealing clothes. (Wife: "Wow, that's a really short dress.") I hope so, but DC’s track record has me feeling a little pessimistic.

 

3) Batman fights everybody in Arkham again? Didn’t he just do that over in Batman #1 last week? 

 

OK, there is some good news. One is that if the last page is a permanent thing and not a temporary one for the surprise ending, maybe Two-Face (one of Batman’s most boring villains) will become more than an ugly guy with a dumb gimmick. Also, it was refreshing to see the Arkham guards fall in line behind Batman’s lead – regardless of Batman’s official status, those guys would see him as their best chance, and they do. (Another tedious “It’s Batman! Arrest him!” scene would have seriously derailed any forward plot momentum, and also been another clichéd scene in a book with too many already.)

 

And there’s the Finch art. You know, I’d buy this book just to look at the pictures and not read a word of dialogue. Let’s hope issue #2 improves so that I don’t have to.

 

BLACKHAWKS #1

Written by MIKE COSTA

Art and cover by KEN LASHLEY

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

This book has potential, but that potential is buried under clichés.

 

Plot: The Blackhawks are evidently a U.N.-sponsored black ops group that goes after hostage situations, terrorists, that sort of thing. We see them breaking up a terrorist operation in Kazakhstan, and in the process meet a few of them, especially the hot-dogging Kunoichi (who, among all the agents, is the only one without a nickname). They succeed although “Attila” is injured and Kunoichi gets bitten. A U.N. delegate comes to “The Eyrie” to tell Blackhawks leader Andrew Lincoln that someone took a picture of the Blackhawks logo in Kazakhstan, and posted it on the Internet, which is a problem. Meanwhile, a faceless female bad guy in armor contacts one of the terrorists captured in Kazakhstan through microscopic machines called nanocites and uses them to blow him up. Scarlett – um, sorry, I meant Kunoichi – discovers she has been infected with them too, through the bite, and it is causing some physical changes akin to super-powers.

 

So our adrenaline-junkie showoff – every covert team has one, right? – is a female in this series. Sorry, still a cliché! And, oh, she’s sexually aggressive! Where have we seen that before? Attention, DCnU, that’s a trend in your new books, and the Starfire thing is going to infect every one of them. That's just the way it is, so please do better with women in the future, OK? OK.

 

Aside from the usual G.I. Joe clichés, this series had three specific problems that jumped out at me:

 

* First, Kunoichi complained about being bitten two panels before she was. I can write that off as miscommunication between writer and artist, but where’s the editor? And this sort of thing simply shouldn’t happen at a professional comics company, especially a first issue where you’re trying to put your best foot forward.

 

* Second, Kunoichi bails from a plane at 300 mph above a lake, and someone on the radio helpfully informs her (and us, in case we didn’t know) that hitting water at 300 mph is like hitting concrete. Her solution? SHE SHOOTS HER GUN AT THE WATER TO SOFTEN IT UP. Oh, sure, that should work. Firearms are magic, aren’t they? The laws of physics are no match for Kunoichi’s magic guns! Look, when you’re talking about Kryptonians, I can buy a few impossible things. When you’re talking about ordinary people and inertia, I cannot.

 

* Evidently Blackhawks are covert, so an accidental photo of their logo is a serious problem. Then how come ALL THE AGENTS AND THEIR PLANES HAVE THE LOGO ON THEM? You don’t see the Navy SEALs with “NAVY” stenciled on their backs! This is … well, unless there’s a good explanation next issue, this is really quite stupid.

 

There’s nothing here that I haven’t read in a mediocre issue of G.I. Joe, and frankly I prefer the latter – at least that book isn’t pretending to be something it’s not.

 

THE FLASH #1

Written by FRANCIS MANAPUL and BRIAN BUCCELLATO

Art and cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL

Variant cover by IVAN REIS and TIM TOWNSEND

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

As you’d expect, this book moves pretty fast.

 

Manapul doesn’t stray very far from the set-up Geoff Johns constructed in the last Flash series, which is fine. One update is that Barry Allen is dating a co-worker, while reporter Iris West is making that girl (Patty something) uncomfortable with how strong she comes on to Barry to get a story. Meanwhile, the requisite conflict is a robbery of a high-tech device, which The Flash stops, and one of the thieves falls dead, and it turns out to be a childhood friend of Barry’s named Manuel. He investigates, and another, identical Manuel shows up, which proves to be the tip of the iceberg.

 

It’s a good book. It plays out in a professional manner at a pretty good clip, and I have no complaints. I'm not sure it will convert any Wally West fans, but at least Barry's not entirely dull. Manapul does a nice visual bit with the costume being formed out of Speed Force, and, amazingly, the two main females actually look different (Patty is more petite than Iris, for example). The Manuel mystery doesn’t seem very interesting, but we’ll see.

 

No complaints.

 

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #1

Written by ETHAN VAN SCIVER and GAIL SIMONE

Art by YILDIRAY CINAR

Cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

Well, I sure didn’t see that coming!

 

Plot: Jason Rusch (Firestorm II) and Ronnie Raymond (Firestorm I) are both in this book, and they’re contemporaries in high school – Raymond is the football team quarterback, Rusch is a smart kid who writes for the high school newspaper. Rusch interviews Raymond for the paper and their differences are displayed and it gets ugly. Meanwhile, an extremely murderous group are killing a lot of people to attain some magnetic bottles. They torture a scientist at the Hadron Super-Collider and he gives up what these magnetic bottles mean (they are the legacy of the deceased Dr. Martin Stein, a genius who discovered the secret to transmutation at the quantum level), and where the fourth and last one is (guess). Sure enough, it turns out that Rusch has the fourth, because he’s a super-genius (who spends his time writing for a high school newspaper??!?) who’s been in touch with Stein, but when the bad guys attack, Rusch says Shazam "Firestorm!" and both he and Raymond become Firestorms. (Meanwhile, one of the terrorists, a female, becomes something very cold, hint, hint.). Raymond’s confused, the Firestorms fight, then something completely unexpected happens and we learn that “Fury” in the title isn’t hyperbole.

 

I’ve never been a big Firestorm fan, so it takes a lot to get me interested in the character. But I’ve always been a big Gail Simone fan (who is credited as writer and co-plotter, despite the solicitation info above), and that has done it.

 

This book has all her trademark elements, including natural dialogue that reveals character (especially Rusch and Raymond), Really Bad Guys with memorable (if gag-inducing) personalities and the juxtaposition of horror and humor. Oh, and a surprise ending that is really a surprise. In short, lots of fun.

 

GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #1

Written by TONY BEDARD

Art and cover by TYLER KIRKHAM and BATT

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

This is only half a first issue, but I like what I see.

 

Bedard spends seven pages repeating Kyle’s original origin as “the last Green Lantern,” given a ring while he’s relieving himself in an alley behind a bar by “the last Guardian,” Ganthet. Fast forward to the present, where most of that is kinda undone because Kyle himself notes there are many Green Lanterns. Meanwhile, across the universe one ring from each of the various corps abandons its owner, in most cases leaving them to die. A major member from each corps (Fatality for the Star Sapphires, for example) follows the errant rings, all of which converge on Kyle Rayner on Earth.

 

I thought the first seven pages were an odd choice; the parts that are still valid could have been mentioned in dialogue, and there’s a lot of it that isn’t valid any more (“the last Green Lantern”), even in The New 52. So why bring it up? And why waste the pages? And why remind us that Kyle's origin involves urination? Perhaps something will come of it later.

 

The rest of it is just set-up, and I can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen when the seven representatives of the emotional/light spectrum get together. Given the title, they’ll have to work together, but it’s hard to imagine how. I kinda wish I’d had more of a hint of that in THE FIRST ISSUE OF A NEW SERIES, but I trust Bedard enough to give him another issue. Also, the art is from the Green Lantern sci-fi school, and is very nice.

 

I, VAMPIRE #1

Written by JOSHUA HALE FIALKOV

Art by ANDREA SORRENTINO

Cover by JENNY FRISON

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+

 

This was a very, very good book.

 

Plot: “For hundreds of years, vampire Andrew Stanton kept mankind safe from the horrors of the supernatural world, thanks to a truce he made with his ex-lover Mary, the Queen of the Damned. But now that truce has reached a bloody end and Andrew must do everything in his power to stop Mary and her dark forces from going on a killing spree – and she plans to start with the heroes of the DCU!”

 

You know, when you listen to Mary explain why she doesn’t want to spend eternity drinking cow’s blood and working menial night jobs, you begin to understand why she wants refers to her vampire uprising as a “freeing” of her people – in many ways, she’s right. This is driven home when she transforms into a scullery maid for Andrew and offers to clean the latrines or be sold for some pigs. “Oh, don’t refuse me, m’lord!” she says sarcastically. “Without you to tell me who I am, I’m nothing --!”

 

The point is made. Mary lived when women were property or second-class citizens, and now in her un-life, she is unwilling to go back that status. Fialkov’s good – I was feeling sympathy for Mary, and thinking of Andrew as an old-world style male oppressor … until the killings started. Whatever sympathy I had for Mary kinda evaporated when her minions wiped out an entire subway car and filled the street with corpses.

 

And I haven’t yet mentiond Sorrentino’s artwork, which is extremely evocative and nuanced. A book like this needs something other than the usual superhero bombast, and Sorrentino delivers in spades. She depicts this dark, shadowy world in precisely the stylish way it deserves, yet never surrenders clarity or storytelling. Remarkable, and a joy.

 

I, Vampire is horrible, and in a good way. At her core, Mary has a valid point. But like Malcolm X, or Magneto, she’s going about it all wrong. That makes for a terrific villain, and makes my sympathies for Andrew somewhat mixed. My conscience tells me what to think, but Fialkov confuses me on what to feel.

 

Which make this a very, very good book.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1

Written by PETER MILLIGAN

Art by MIKEL JANIN

Cover by RYAN SOOK

On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

Creepy, in a good way.

 

Plot (straight from the solicitation): “The witch known as The Enchantress has gone mad, unleashing forces that not even the combined powers of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg can stop. And if those heroes can’t handle the job, who will stand against this mystical madness? Shade the Changing Man, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Zatanna and John Constantine may be our only hope – but how can we put our trust in beings whose very presence makes ordinary people break out in a cold sweat?”

 

Yeah, it’s a basic “putting the band together” issue, but there’s lots of cool exposition about our heroes, described by Shade as “half insane or … damaged goods. Most of them are a danger to themselves.” And he ought to know: Shade is in the habit of using the M-vest to create simulacrums of his dead girlfriend Kathy to sleep with. Batman describes Zatanna as unstable. Xanadu keeps seeing horrific visions of the future that have her panicked. Enchantress, as noted, is insane, and her insanity is spreading from where she is (trapped in an enveloped on the floor of a remote farm) and forcing people to do terrible things. Meanwhile, there’s the nice mystery of her alter ego, June Moone – or Moones, I should say, since there are hundreds of them, and one is searching for Deadman. (We don't see much of him, but he's got his own book, so who cares.) Plot-wise they’ve gotten the Spandex out of the way early, and now it’s the “damaged goods” who will have to save the day.

 

This is excellent, creepy fun.

 

THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN #1

Written by TONY S. DANIEL

Art and cover by PHILIP TAN

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

Oh, thank God, they’re dumping most Hawk-history. But does the helmet have to be so stupid-looking?

 

Carter Hall wants to stop being Hawkman, so he burns his suit. The suit has other ideas, however, as the Nth metal kinda absorbs him, and he wakes up at home with no idea how he got there. An emissary from some colleague conscripts Carter to come decipher some writing on an alien ship found by this colleague in the ocean, because Carter is apparently really good at deciphering things. Black things come out of the ship and kill people, and Carter discovers the Nth metal is inside him, and manifests his hawk suit. The main black thing kinda sucks that out of Carter, which is the cliff-hanger.

 

Obviously, Daniel is going to beef up Hawkman – who needs beefing up – by using the Nth metal as a deus ex machina. That’s good, if done well, and Daniel has a good track record. And, as I said, thank God they’re taking the opportunity to dump a lot of contradictory and headache-inducing Hawk history – all we know is that Carter Hall has been Hawkman, but is tired of being Hawkman. Not a lot else happens – we don’t know much about the black things, except that they’re extra-terrestrial and hostile, although my continuity-sense expects they are this reality’s version of the Shadow Thief – but maybe next issue will be forthcoming. I’m not dying for that next issue, and this was really on the beginning of a set-up, not the whole enchilada. It's not much of bite, but it's chewy enough.

 

Still, did the helmet have to be so stupid-looking? "Dear Hawkman: Aztek called, and he wants his hat back."

 

SUPERMAN #1

Written by GEORGE PEREZ

Breakdowns and cover by GEORGE PEREZ

Art by JESUS MERINO

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

Maybe I’m spoiled by Action Comics #1, but I was bored by this.

 

The main action is that Superman fights a mysterious fire monster. During the course of it, we see references to his new status quo. The Planet (and WGBS) has been bought out by a Rupert Murdoch type figure, and Lois is making the best of it, aided by her promotion to Executive Producer of Nightly News Division and Executive Vice-president of New Media. Clark Kent objects to the paper answering to this scalawag, and everyone knows it, but he keeps his job because he’s so “lucky” as a reporter. We see Perry White still in charge of the Planet and Jimmy Olsen a loyal friend to Clark and Superman and has chops as a reporter. Lois shows shows her chops running the coverage of the fire monster, and Clark gets “lucky” with an exclusive with Superman. He goes to Lois’s apartment to patch things up, but she is already celebrating doing the sexy-sex with her boyfriend. Lois and boyfriend don’t realize it, but we readers realize Clark is pining for Lois.

 

This could have been a standard Superman story from the early 1980s, with the added bits of exposition explaining the new status quo, most of which we already knew from interviews and other books. To be honest, I found it pedestrian, and I wanted more from a first issue.

 

TEEN TITANS #1

Written by SCOTT LOBDELL

Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

Cliches are us.

 

Plot: A speedster in a home-made costume calling himself Kid Flash botches helping out at a fire by hot-dogging it. The media says rude things about him, while helpfully informing us he is not connected to The Flash. Switch to Tim Drake, who calls himself Red Robin, and is secretly investigating the disappearance of super-powered teens around the world. He is attacked by agents of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. (meaning undisclosed) but is ready for them and escapes (using functioning wings that are also bullet-proof). He attempts to recruit rich, beautiful heiress Cassie Sandsmark, because he has deduced that she is the character the media is calling Wonder Girl since she has evidently picked up super-powers after a visit to Greece, and figures N.O.W.H.E.R.E.  has figured it out, too. She resists, but N.O.W.H.E.R.E. attacks and she realizes she has no choice but to go with Red Robin. A final page reveal repeats the last couple of pages of Superboy #1, so we learn nothing new, except confirmation that he will be a cast member. The other three Titans that appear on the cover do not appear on the inside.

 

I appreciate that Lobdell is starting over from scratch here, and I don’t mind that. What I do mind is that I saw nothing here I haven’t seen a thousand times before, not only in various iterations of Teen Titans, but also Runaways, Cloak & Dagger, Harbinger, Next Men, New Warriors, on and on. They’re teens on the run! They’re snarky and rebellious! They’re being chased by a mysterious organization! Yawwwwn.

 

(And N.O.W.H.E.R.E.? Really? Is it the 1960s, by G.E.O.R.G.E.? T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents can get away with it, but otherwise the whole acronym thing is mostly used for parody in Archie Comics. And, come on, if you’re going to have an acronym, you should explain it. If you don’t care enough to do that, it’s not likely we will care much, either.)

 

Maybe the second issue will give me a reason to care, but I doubt it.

 

VOODOO #1

Written by RON MARZ

Art and cover by SAMI BASRI

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+

 

Ron Marz tweeted once that if the readers aren’t shocked by the second issue, he’s not doing it right. He’s doing it right, and he’s ahead of schedule.

 

Plot: Our title character is a stripper, and a good one, given the honorary name “Voodoo” at the Voodoo Lounge. Two people in the audience (male and female) are arguing – they’re not here by chance, as they’re two agents assigned to keep an eye on the stripper (from an unnamed agency, and we’re led to believe it’s extra-governmental) and the male wants to do it as a customer, because he’s kind of a lech. The female gets disgusted and storms out – only to be attacked by several men on the street whom she handily dispatches, demonstrating she is not to be trifled with. The guy pays the stripper – Priscilla “Voodoo” Kitaen – for a private dance, where he reveals that he thinks she’s an alien, probably a shapechanger, that she’s spying on our superheroes and our military, and that he wants her to turn herself in or he’ll turn her over to the military for experiments. She takes this revelation … poorly. A second surprise ending promises things aren’t going to go well for the female agent, either, who will likely prove to be the book’s POV character.

 

OK, you’d think after all the grousing I’ve done about Starfire that I’d have nothing good to say about a character whose book opens with the protagonist as a stripper. And, to tell you the truth, I was having a little trouble holding my dinner down at first, even though (IIRC) Voodoo was a stripper in her previous incarnation. But by the end I’d forgotten all that. There was a good point to all this, and if nothing else, the final pages turns cheesecake into horror, titillation into terror. Marz gets you to let your guard down, and BAM!

 

That’s good writing. And I’ll be here next issue to find out who – or what – Voodoo really is.

Views: 520

Comment by Rich Lane on September 29, 2011 at 10:10pm

On I, Vampire:

The point is made. Mary lived when women were property or second-class citizens, and now in her un-life, she is unwilling to go back that status. Fialkov’s good – I was feeling sympathy for Mary, and thinking of Andrew as an old-world style male oppressor … until the killings started. Whatever sympathy I had for Mary kinda evaporated when her minions wiped out an entire subway car and filled the street with corpses.


I loved this issue for the same reason I loved The Sopranos and I currently love Breaking Bad.  That is, I love it when the writer(s) make you root for the bad guys until you are forced to recall what horrible monsters they are or have become.  If this book vacillates continuously between Andrew and Mary, showing us both sides and making us feel for Mary's plight then occasionally smacking us with the fact she's an inhuman monster, they'll have me long term.

 

Comment by Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) on October 2, 2011 at 10:47am

Cap, I totally agree about All-Star Western. It was one of my favorite first issues that came out. Another thing I really liked about it was that it also reminded me of the good "buddy cop" films. Just in a different setting. My only problem was the coloring which was too muted for me.

 

I also picked up The Flash since I only had one comic at the store. I liked it well enough, and I didn't read the last series at all. The writing was better than I expected. It hasn't made me forget about Wally at all, but I'll give it a chance.

Comment by George on October 2, 2011 at 7:38pm

Re "I, Vampire": With all the vampire mania in novels, TV and film, it's about time DC dusted off this property. I plan to give this one a try. Maybe it will prompt Marvel to revive "Tomb of Dracula."

 

I also plan to give "All-Star Western" a try ... though I expect this book to be short-lived (alas).

Comment by George on October 2, 2011 at 7:48pm

Two questions:

 

Anyone know when and where the original "I, Vampire" series ran? I assume it was in one of DC's mystery books like "House of Secrets."

 

Also: Has DC ever collected the original series in trade paperback form?

Comment by Captain Comics on October 2, 2011 at 8:34pm

It was in House of Mystery in the early '80s. The Grand Comic Book Database shows it beginning with issue #290 (Mar 81). It was "I ... Vampire" then, no comma.

 

And lest my reviews not bring this across, I think I, Vampire and All-Star Western are two of the best of "The New 52," easily in my top 5, if not my top 3. 

Comment by Figserello on October 2, 2011 at 8:50pm

All-Star Western was sold out in my LCS, which is a good sign, if annoying to me.  Of course DC and the comicshops would have expected to sell less of it to the usual fanboy Wednesday crowd, but perhaps the people drawn back to the comicshop with the promise of a fresh start were more open to a well-made grown-up looking comic in a non-superhero genre?

 

If so, I hope DC is able to pick up on such possibilities quickly.  They have become expert at selling to the 18-35* male, continuity obsessed segment, so it'd be a big stretch for them.

 

*I think when people write 18-35, they really mean 25-55!

Comment by Captain Comics on October 3, 2011 at 2:01am

I'd like to believe your suppositions are correct, but I'd guess the reverse. If All-Star Western was sold out at your LCS, I'd guess it was because your LCS owner didn't order very many, expecting it would not sell.

 

At my LCS, my guy told me straight up that he orders according to how strong the Spandex factor is. Even so, he over-ordered on Men of War by ordering 1/20th what he ordered on his lowest superhero title.

 

This is not the LCS owner dictating the comics. This is his customer base. And it's a boutique customer base. If any publisher wants to sell non-superhero books, they're going to have to build a distribution base from the ground up, and expect losses for years. That's the only way that books for young girls, or war or Western fans, or horror or suspense fans, will be introduced to comics of that nature on a long-term basis, where it will become a normal and welcome part of their milieu.

 

All-Star Western and I, Vampire are two really good comics in search of an audience. They won't find them in a comics shop.

Comment by Figserello on October 3, 2011 at 2:40am

Bah!  I can dream, can't I?

 

The fact is that they underestimated the popularity of the series, by whatever margin.  Not all the #1s in my comicshop were sold out.

Comment by Captain Comics on October 3, 2011 at 2:44am

Which ones weren't?

 

Comment by Figserello on October 3, 2011 at 5:56am
Can't remember.  Ones that caused my eyes to glaze over, presumably.  There wasn't a big frenzy in the store any time I was in there.

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