Alright, I’ll admit it. Countdown is a mess. The rotating creative teams create more discontinuity than the snatches of story you’re getting. It’s only a week between each issue and I’m occasionally left scratching my head as to what’s going on in a particular storyline.
Mary Marvel: You know what really gets me? The characterization of Black Mary and Zatanna. Yes, we’re on another week where I’m not digging the Mary Marvel story. Here’s the thing, Mary’s schtick is that she’s an innocent. Yes that’s been played as more and less of a joke over the years, but she’s a nice girl. She doesn’t have to be “aw shucks”ing around all the time, but Mary is ostensibly a sweet girl who gets all A’s, participates in sports, volunteers her time reading to the elderly and doesn’t think that any of the above is odd.
I understand the point of this story is all about the disparity. Seduction of the Innocent; The Goodest Girl Gone Baddest; blah blah blah. Yeah, that’s lazy is what it is. Having characters do complete 180’s is just lazy. Robbie Robertson going from Speedball the Bouncing Queerbait to Penance the Disjected Emo is lazy. Oh it’ll work on some people, but most of us know that this is the most lethargic brand of character development. “Hey, you know character Z? What if they were character A instead!?” This type of storytelling has its place, and that place is called “natural progression”. If Speedball, Damage or Mary Marvel (to get back on topic) were gradually becoming their own opposite number, I could get behind that. But, no, Mary gets Black Adam’s powers and now she’s uber and crazy. (sigh).
Here’s the second thing I hate about this. That infers the powers themselves are Evil. Black Adam isn’t just an immature jerk with medieval morality and anger issues. No, his powers are themselves corrupting. Yeah, I know Eclipso takes responsibility for Mary’s brat-like behavior, but consider Eclipso only discovered Mary a few weeks ago, and she’s been a jerk for longer than that. It’s not all Jean-Loring’s-partner-in-crime’s fault. Parallax anyone? Mary Marvel has had unbelievable power all her formative-years. It’s hard to believe she’s suddenly this psycho. I think DC thinks they need to assert as loudly and clearly as possible that the Shazam gang are tops in the Magic circuit just so they don’t overlap Superman.
Granted, I hated Ralph’s story in 52 more than once; I all-but threw issues featuring the Booster Gold arc across the room in rage. I allow for the possibility that this might all turn out really cool. But you can only pull off the “Buy Comics We’re Making You Hate for the Supersweet Pay-Off” trick so many times. Caveat.
The Challengers: Meh, should be more interesting next week. I want to say that I’d read a whole series of this, but they kind-of have two of these: The All New Atom, which I recommend well above Countdown. And the upcoming Mini-Series which will be written by Ron “Of Course Donna Troy Would Like Kyle Rayner” Marz, so, I don’t recommend that already.
Jimmy Olsen: Nice, Supes, you brought your Nerd-friend, Jimmy in front of your Jock-friends, the JLA to get laughed at. That’s real cool.
Trickster and Piper: Piper is immune to Poison Ivy? Awesome. Trickster pulls a nice trick. Awesome. Posion Ivy is easily fooled and working with/for Slade for any reason at all? Sub-awesome.
Karate Kid and Una: On the other hand, watching Karate Kid kick the Alaskan King Crap out of any metahuman gets better and better every time I see it.
Countdown needs to find a way to get its act together. I hate to hate on any comic, and I’m finding at least one or two moments each week to justify the purchase, but seriously, I can believe I’m the only person buying this comic. B/c of the above-caveat.
Birds of Prey #109
Okay, I’m done with bitching about comics this week. Let’s get into Tony Bedard steering Birds of Prey. Even though Tony penned this week’s Countdown which I’ve already balked at, he is, like, my new favorite wordsmith at DC. Filling in Gail Simone’s shoes would (and will) be tough for anybody. I can only hope McKeever does the job as ably as Tony did this month. I daresay you couldn’t tell the difference at all. I think that goes a long way to impress how iconic Gail’s representation has been for these characters and this book.
Babs being the Angel on Dinah’s shoulder was nice. Somebody had to say it and I’m glad everyone agrees it should be Barb. Also that DC made the right choice of Maid of Honour.
Wrapping up the Secret Six (presumably) was done very well for –again- someone stepping in for the creator. The way it tied into Countdown and the </i>Death of the New Gods</i> thingy was really great. Knockout’s last moments were both pathetic and heartbreaking.
Barda got to be the runaway star of this book. Her interest in Pokemon was classic:
I contend that comics do not get any better than this
Her worried phone call to Scott at the end was a nice exclamation point.
Great comic, albeit very crossover heavy. Not a single one of these stories started in this book or will end in this book. Not recommended unless you know what’s going on in any of them.
Blue Beetle #18
Man, I wish I knew what it was, but there is still something awkward about the timing in Blue Beetle. It has these narrative jumps that throw me off. It’s a lovely comic that everyone should be reading, but sometimes I feel like I’m missing a panel, or I turned one page too many.
That said, man this comic is too good. Really fun stuff. It was nice of the Teen Titans to stop by, but I absolutely adore that Jaime’s book and characters came first. I think that’s important. Plus it paves an in-road for Beetle to spend some time in Teen Titans, and that’s cool.
Some examples of why and how this comic is so great below:
I love Paco.
Ask a lot of artists to draw a hot blonde girl and they will draw this chick. Now ask them to draw two, and he’ll quickly ask “Er, can she have curly hair… or, like, sunglasses and a scar or something?” This is why.
This whole exchange deserves a medal.
It’s all true too.
All books should have a supporting cast like this. No Marvel-angst in this title. It’s cool to know a superhero.
Did I mention I love Paco?
Seriously, I give mad props to this supporting cast.
In an unrelated note:
I made this point during WWIII and I’m making it now. Ravager and even Robin have no business rushing Lobo (or Black Adam or anyone else who could fight Superman). Here’s why…
They’re standing under an igniting rocket engine, btw
This is his first move, btw. Grab one of the fragile ones and watch everybody stop. I understand these are superheroes, even the purely mortal ones, but seriously, you should be last in line or field marshaling and waiting for an opening.
Marty’s Pick of the Week
Astonishing X-Men #22
This series takes so long to come out I often forget about it. But it’s worth the wait every time. This is why Joss should have directed the X-Men; why he should direct Wonder Woman; and why he should be writing more comics.
It is so easy to hate Cyclops. He is a cipher most foul. Joss not only makes me care, he makes me care a lot like Faith No More.
This is my favorite Cyclops panel of all time.
Scott makes a decision that he knows will kill him, and he does it because it’s the right decision. He does it without the simpering and self-doubt that we get so much of in Marvel. He blackens the eye of evil using his corpse as a weapon in a way that only he and Captain America could pull off.
Don’t you love that first panel? Scott marches to the gallows b/c he’s the casualty of least consequence to the teams overall strength! That’s hardcore Summers! Let no one tell this man he ain’t got balls.
I’m sure he won’t be dead or something, but for just now --this very moment-- I would like to appreciate this as the great death scene it is.
That’s my comic story, and I’m sticking to it.