Friday, December 14, 2007

Five Question Friday

In which I ask five questions I've been pondering since Wednesday, and then provide the answers:

Dear Myself, why wasn't Nova #9 very good?

Simple. Abnett and Lanning came up with a great concept for this new story arc (which began in issue #8)--a strange alien/superhero colony on the other side of the universe, living inside the skull of a Celestial, or something like that. Cool stuff. The "lost in space with weirdos" thing was a bit similar to Abnett and Lanning's Legion Lost series, but still good for another drive around the block. But Dan and Andy must have realized, "hey, wait--we are writing a ginormous EVENT book called Annihilation Part 2, and we're also writing this space superhero book called Nova. We know that Nova was just part of the crossover, but, seriously, we can't NOT have him involved, so let's get him back to the Annihilation action. Now!" Such thinking destroyed any sort of story they were going to tell inside Celestialheadland, but it's kind of like Shakespeare getting to the part in Hamlet where he realized that he couldn't really send the prince of Denmark all the way to England, so he threw in that whole unlikely off-stage pirate action. It's all the same. Onward to Annihilation. Unfortunately, both Act IV of Hamlet and Nova #9 paid the price.

Dear Myself, have you ever seen such disparity between art and story as you see in Green Arrow and Black Canary #3?

No. Cliff Chiang is one amazing comic book artist. I'm sure he's been around for even longer, but I first recall being impressed with him when he was doing the Josie Mac (was that her name?) back-up stories in Detective Comics. I thought to myself, "here's the heir to David Mazzucchelli" (this was before Michael Lark tried to reinvent himself as Mazz junior). "I like this Chiang fellow," I thought. And then he got BETTER. Dr. Thirteen was genius. Now, he's putting his sleek style in the service of a story that...well, let's be honest here--This Arrow/Canary series has been a turd in a teacup. To emphasize the point, Judd Winick writes a chamber pot scene. You know what doesn't mesh with pretty artwork? Scatology.

Dear Myself, is it possible that this whole "Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul" Bat-Crossover will turn out to be worthwhile.

I'm afraid not, gentle questioner. It didn't start that strongly, and although Grant Morrison's one installment was the worst Batman story he's written, it's better than the other chapters, sadly. Take the writing in the most recent chapter, from Nightwing #139: Fabian Nicieza has never been known for his mastery of prose, but he's been a serviceable comic book writer for two decades. Yet, in Nightwing #139 he has the title character narrate in a pastiche of an old, tired cliche: "[blah blah blah]: Easy. / [blah blah blah]: Costly / Having to fight the brother I came to rescue: Priceless." Yes, Fabian, we've seen those commercials for the past seven years. Way to write! But Fabian's not done, for on that very same page, in the very next line of dialogue, Nightwing says, "So, Robin... / ...You think maybe we can hug this out?" Well-played, Mr. Nicieza! A pop-culture reference immediately after another pop-culture reference. Spoken by the relatively monastic Dick Grayson, no less. Poorly written comics don't make for great Ra's al Ghul resurrection stories.

Dear Myself, don't babies need their heads supported when you're holding them?

Not in the "Messiah CompleX"! In X-Factor #26, among other installments, Cable is running around, literally, with the new messiah mutant baby in a little Baby Bjorn carrier. The baby is not facing toward Cable's chest, with his neck supported by the carrier. No, he's facing out, his head bopping to and fro while Cable leaps and flips and dodges lasers and kicks people. Now, I understand that mutants aren't real and Cable's not real and the Marvel Universe doesn't follow the laws of physics, but even in a fake-mutant-civil-war-Cable-world-where-people-have-robot-arms I would hope that they would know how to properly use a Baby Bjorn. Unless that mutant baby's mutant power is a superhumanly strong baby neck. Which is as stupid as it is possible.

Dear Myself, you are grumpy this week. Didn't you read any comics that made you happy?

I did, actually! I read the new issue of Scalped, and I liked Punisher War Journal (which is MUCH, MUCH better now that Ariel Olivetti has moved on to inflict his bad video game poster art elsewhere). I also liked Green Lantern #25 quite a bit. You should all read it--hell, read the whole Sinestro Corps thing. It lagged for a handful of issues in the middle, but the finale and the teaser for 2009(!) more than make up for it. By the way, the Corps of Many Colors is a great idea--and a logical extension of what Geoff Johns has been working towards, but indigo is not really a color of the spectrum. A rainbow is actually just Roy G Bv, no "i." Color scientists classify indigo as violet. Look it up on Wikipedia. It must be true. Either way Green Lantern #25 is awesome. It makes me not grumpy at all.


Matthew E said...

indigo is not really a color of the spectrum. A rainbow is actually just Roy G Bv, no "i."

But if that was so, then the Rainbow Raider's real name would have to be Roy G. Bvolo. And it isn't. Therefore you're wrong.

Chad Nevett said...

My roommate and I had a 15-minute argument over Johns using indigo as one of the colours instead of violet. We obviously have too much time on our hands (especially as neither of us read Green Lanter but were just discussing some recent comic news).

Timothy Callahan said...

Matthew: I, too, think about the Rainbow Raider whenever I contemplate anything involving the spectrum of light. Maybe it's because I knew his real name (from diligent reading of Who's Who in the DC Universe) years before I learned that Roy G. Biv was a mnemonic device for the colors of the visible spectrum. I remember learning that fact in middle school and laughing at the joke that I hadn't gotten for years. Nobody else in the class seemed to find it funny, shockingly.

Chad: But Johns DOES use Violet (they're the Star Sapphire peeps), and also, who won the argument?

Marc Caputo said...

Oh yeah, the physics of the X-universe are wacky, no doubt. It's like they're not even trying to reflect "reality" as much as define what their "reality" is like.

Which is wacky.

But it's funny how I'm more willing to overlook certain things when I like other components of a storyline. For instance, I'm enjoying "Messiah CompleX" - don't forget to cap that X! - for its momentum, for its sense of hunger - both editorially (Avengers are hot now) and in-story and for its nostalgia factor - the last time I came back to comics was during "X-tinction Agenda" and that was followed by "X-cutioner's Song" - that was a good time for me, so I read the new one through those eyes. But "Sinestro Corps" is awesome for other reasons, which I want to get at at length down the road.

Timothy Callahan said...

Hey Matthew and Chad and any other regular readers/bloggers: Marc Caputo mentioned doing a Best of the Year cross-blog event thing. Do you guys want to get in on that? If so, e-mail me ( and let me know. We'll figure out the logistics and the categories and stuff. Sound good, Marc?

Marc Caputo said...

Sounds good, Tim!

I'm thinking the obvious ones - Best (and Worst) Writer/Artist/Team/Book/... yada, yada, yada.

I was also thinking "Worst Way to End an Already Infamous Run" and "Worst Way to Abuse the Deus Ex Machina", but who would people vote for except Straczynski? (besides me, of course.)

Chad Nevett said...

I think the argument ended with us both going "It's Green Lantern... who cares?" Him because he can't stand anything DC, me because I've given the book a few chances to wow me and it hasn't.

And that cross-blog idea sounds good.

Matt Jacobson said...

Actually, I was just wondering why the baby wasn't dying of exposure, being naked to the elements in the arctic. He didn't even bother to put a shirt on the poor kid. I loved the little official x-men baby carrier, though.

Timothy Callahan said...

Yeah, Matt. It's all about the X-Gear! I wonder why he had that Baby Bjorn just laying around, now that you mention it. Then again, Cable is from the future, which makes him awesome at everything.

James said...

Re: Ariel Olivetti - you crazy.

Anonymous said...

Hi, first post here.

I just wanted to say that Olivetti is the man. His slick painted art, combined with the (prop-like) photo backgrounds, on the Punisher (the goddamn Punisher!!) all screams hilarity to me.

I´ve loved his art ever since that excellent JLA one-shot with Millar, the one revolving around that angel chap. Back in the day Morrison kept Millar on a leash, and it showed.

When he (Olivetti, that is) is under deadline pressure -- e.g. during his run on Daredevil-- his work suffers for it a bit, but otherwise he´s pretty great.

Not that his replacement is a slouch. He has worked on Kirkman´s "Invincible", hasn´t he?

The Ra´s business in the Bat-books is a pity, really. The story --or the glimpses of a story we have got-- has all the ingredients of a fun, pulpy romp: hidden mystical cities, undying and/or undead villains, tons of ninja cannon-fodder...and yet everybody is going through the motions.

Timothy Callahan said...

I enjoy Olivetti's pen work--and yes, that Paradise Lost mini was quite good. But once he busts out the Photoshop, I not only lose interest, I find myself insulted by his cheap attempts at collage. You'll look back on his computerized stuff ten years from now and it will look as bad as Batman: Digital Justice looks to us now.

And the Ra's stuff is absolutely a pity. Everything about it could be perfectly good. It's just not.