As stated last time, this was a slow week in comics. Mostly the odds and ends in the comics business, so today’s picks are sparse and padded slightly. Apparently leap day hits the publishing world fairly hard.
First from DC is JUSTICE LEAGUE #6, the long-awaited finale to the series’ first story arc involving an invasion by Darkseid. And just like this week’s picks, the issue is padded. I counted four splash pages and two 2-page spreads during the main portion of this issue. And they still had enough time to include a few pages at the end for a scene with the Phantom Stranger and that mysterious woman who appeared in every first issue back in September. Suffice to say we’re in for potentially great things in future.
I give this issue crap for being padded, but I’m fairly satisfied with how the invasion story ended. Darkseid seems large and imposing, taking up large portions of the panels and the pages themselves every time he appears. And he doesn’t appear to be at all easy to take down; the Justice League had to basically boot him off the planet to stop him. And that’s after sticking long sharp blades in both his eyes. It’s worth noting that every member of the league plays a part in the take-down, so fans won’t feel as shortchanged.
Although, again, I think everyone should feel just a bit shortchanged by this series so far. It’s been the trouble since issue one, as the pace is slow and every part feels padded. Yet strangely, the panels themselves are always visually busy, except for a few exceptions (like in this issue) where it’s deliberately minimalist. None of this is a slam against Jim Lee’s art, which is fantastic and a wonder to behold. I just feel the art direction has so much it wants to do, that I end up not knowing where to look in any given panel. Perhaps Lee wants to make every panel and page into a separate work of art. If so, it’s a noble effort and one that’s succeeding beautifully, but taking it all together into a cohesive narrative comes off overwhelming.
Right now I’m torn as to whether it’s worth keeping on with this book. Ultimately it’ll come down to how well future issues can increase the pace and settle on a more solid visual aesthetic. And as pretentious as that sounds, it would really help me like DC’s main flagship title.
Moving from the biggest series in the New 52 to a limited series, THE SHADE #5 continues the tale of the erstwhile villain turned hero as he meets not one, but two members of his “family”. One his aged and dying great-grandson, the other a kind of adopted daughter and immortal vampire hero of Barcelona.
Once again, the cover is misleading. Yes, the issue does contain the Shade on a ship infested with vampires and saving an infant, but it’s really not the focus of the issue. Nor is it given all that much panel time. It’s a flashback that comes and goes, and the rest mostly sets up a conflict for the next issue. I’m not complaining, mind you. If there’s one thing James Robinson excels at, it’s writing characters from Starman, the Shade most of all. For a while now I’ve been under the impression that Robinson really, really wants to be writing Starman again, and his every effort since that book’s finale has been in service of either recapturing that magic, or engineering a way he can get DC to let him write it again.
He’s kind of like Frank Miller in that respect. He’s an accomplished writer with critical acclaim, who spent a number of years writing a single series, and could never get out of that mindset. At least with Robinson, the mindset he’s stuck in works well if he’s allowed to create his own kinds of stories. Working on, say, the Justice League though, not so much.
I’m pretty sure I’ve had this rant on The Weekly Pull before, and likely will talk about this again.
Finally, for Marvel, I personally bought THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN #678. Since I bought the recent two part team-up between Spiderman and Daredevil, I’ve been trying to get into both series. But when it actually came time to logically write a First Impressions for both, I found the idea strange. I guess the idea of the First Impressions was less of something I just started reading, and more for things that are new, or story arcs that just began (like Venom #13: Circle of Four). So making ones for series that aren’t new seems odd to me. As such, from here on out I’ll just add any long-running books straight into the Weekly Pull.
As for this issue of Amazing Spiderman, some may notice it’s a few issues behind. I resolved to read as many of the back issues as possible that are out right now, or at least all the ones since #677. In the next few days, I’ll be picking up the rest, so as to get up to date. I really don’t have much to say on the matter other than this issue being a pretty cool start to a two issue story that I’m interested in.
Maybe I will do an Impressions for this book, collecting all the ones I’ve bought recently and giving my thoughts on the current writing and art. I’ve been thinking of buying Spiderman books for a while now, and now just seemed like as good a time as any.
The last thing I bought this week is a new series that continues off of an old series that’s based on a great TV show. Next time, we’re looking at BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #1.