(I promise this came out better the first time I wrote it. Trying to re-write from memory in the final 15 minutes of your work day is a royal pain.)
Ugh. I don’t think I’ve read a comic in about two weeks now. A combination of work and Christmas shopping has left me passed out on my train commutes, half-drooling onto my shoulder, but I finally managed to stay awake long enough over the past two days to read the following.
Heroes for Hire #1: Wow. Impressive. I almost didn’t give this one a go. I’d read the last incarnation of Heroes for Hire which took place during Marvel’s Civil War and really enjoyed it, but the pitch for this one felt weak. I recall when my co-worker, Dario, read the solicitation in Previews one Saturday and dared me to guess the lineup. “Who do you think is on the cover?” he said. I wound up getting four out of the five characters right (Moon Knight, Iron Fist, Ghost Rider, Elektra … Punisher eluded me), and that kind of predictability killed my interest a little. When the issue came out (last week? Two weeks ago?), both Comic Shop Dario and Comic Shop Mark urged me to read it. And I have to say, I’m glad they did. The writing on this is stellar, and the opening cast is great. I love the new, unique manner in which Misty Knight is employed—can’t you just hear this smooth, velvety voice saying “Hello, Hero. This is Control. Are you for hire tonight?” Add artwork that keeps up with the script, and you’ve got an entertaining, engaging read, with an ending that should leave you ready for the next issue.
Batwoman #0: I’ve haven’t kept up with Kate Kane despite her recent surge in popularity. I’m not sure why, but I just couldn’t get into the character beyond a couple of issues of Detective Comics. Considering I love the Bat verse and Greg Rucka’s writing, you’d think I’d have been all over that, but I guess there wasn’t enough time in the day, and something had to give. At any rate, no—I’m not a Kate Kane follower … but I might have to re-think my position after this issue of Batwoman. J.H. Williams pulls double duty here as both writer and artist, and he does so with a certain level of panache. The artwork is breath-taking, dynamic, the way each frame moves into the next, each panel transitioning seamlessly to and from the one before, it’s hypnotic, it’s lovely. It makes me write run-on sentences. Against the context of the story—Bruce Wayne spying on Kate and Batwoman alike in order to prove his theory that they are one in the same—I’m somewhat enamored of this.
Superior #2: Better than the first issue; still incredibly uninspired. The only thing that makes this book worth picking up is Leinil Yu’s outstanding pencils. It’s a shame they’re wasted on this. Don’t pay attention to what the front cover says—this is not “the most important comic book since 1938.” Sorry, Millar, but even your tongue-in-cheek is lost on me.
Daken: Dark Wolverine & X-23 #3: Dark Wolverine felt rushed to me this month, and I remain unconvinced that Mystique can be taken down and fooled so easily. Meanwhile, X-23 was a little deeper, and Conrad’s art seems to get better with each issue. Overall, still reading both of these and still enjoying them.
That said, it’s time for this week’s PULL LIST! Here’s mine—what’s on YOURS?
Batgirl The Greatest Stories Ever Told TPB
Birds of Prey #7
Amazing Spider-Man #650
Strange Tales II #3
Uncanny X-Force #3
This book was marketed as “something different”—Millar’s ode to classic super heroes. And so I picked it up with high hopes … but you know what? This is pretty much just more of the same. How does that saying go? “You can put lipstick on a pig, but at the end of the day, it’s still a pig”? My problem with Mark Millar these days is that everything he writes is basically just a script—a pitch, a treatment for a movie. It’s Millar saying “Make me more money, baby,” not “I’m telling a great story, baby.” Why have so many comics gone so far down this cash-seeking pipeline, instead of doing what they SHOULD be doing and what has worked in print for centuries—the method and outcome of simply aiming for good, quality storytelling? I’m sorry, readers, but as of issue one, I’m not confident that this book is going to deliver that. Rather, if you’re looking for cheap, re-hashed ideas and unimaginative writing, this book is indeed for you.
The first issue of what is meant to be Millar and Yu’s creator-owned masterpiece centers around a young boy named Simon who has multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair. The book opens with Simon and his friend Chris watching a movie about the superhero Superior, whom Simon idolizes. As the two leave the cinema, a group of thugs meets them outside and begins to bully them (where have I seen this before? Hmm… Kick-Ass, I think?). Simon goes home and we learn his back-story in the form of outright narration—that is, we learn the entire essence of what makes this boy tick over a mere couple pages. The “show, don’t tell” golden rule of good writing takes a backseat so that Millar can be lazy and crank out this first issue pretty quickly. The issue in a nutshell: a mysterious monkey in an astronaut suit (quite possibly the only saving grace of this title) does some magic voodoo what’s-it and transforms Simon into Superior for reasons as yet unknown—costume, appearance, powers and all. The issue ends with Simon floating outside of Chris’ window, seeking help. It’s 1988 again and we’re watching Big, apparently.
Aside from the monkey, the only other good thing about this comic is Leinil Yu’s artwork. He is absolutely on his game here, and it couldn’t look more lovely or tell the tale any more effectively.
Will I keep reading this? Without a doubt. I want to see if it gets any better, any less maladroit, and any more interesting. Millar’s got me at least until the end of the first arc. As it currently stands—not particularly impressed. Maybe the inevitable movie version will be better.
Publisher: Marvel Comics (ICON Imprint)
Written by Mark Millar
Penciled by Francis Leinil Yu
Inked by Gerry Alanguilan
Colored by Dave McCaig
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles