Sunday, October 08, 2006

Well, that was unexpected

So I stop by the local comics shop just to see if there are any singles that pique my curiosity. Given my recent prediliction for collections and GNs, I'm not expecting much. I'm right -- I only grab three pamphlets -- but surprisingly, two of the three are Marvels, and those are the ones I liked. I can't remember ever purchasing a 2:1 ratio of Marvel-DC in all my days of regular buying, and I have always leaned DC-ward, so this incident seems important. Especially since I liked the comics becasue they were fun.

Agents of Atlas No. 3: Lots of folks have been digging the gorilla and robot action going on in this series, but does anyone else love that it has a spaceman called Bob? The series continues with its alternately whimsical and action-packed story, and although there was a fairly extensive expository sequence filling in Bob's past (damn those continuity issues), the story wasn't slowed down very much. Cool stuff this time around:

A text page!
Jimmy Woo kung-fu in a skinny tie and shoulder holster!
Venus says "Whee!"
An Edsel!
M-11 shows "personality"!
Dumn-Dum Dugan, if only in text form!

And Gorilla-man is rapidly turning into Marvel's Sam Simeon:

This was just fun all the way around.

The Irredeemable Ant-Man No. 1: I remember an extended trip through Europe I took some years back. Whenever we chanced upon an English-language bookstore, I would buy the book that had the most words in it, since the prices were the same whether a book was short or long -- that way I got the most for my pesos or francs. I read a lot of Dickens and Thackeray that summer.

My first response to Ant-Man was similar: it has lots of panels. Aside from a two-page spread of the SHIELD helicarrier (that contains a Steranko hommage) and a pin-up of Wolverine, most of the pages in this comic are filled with lots and lots of little panels, which, I figured, would give me lots and lots of story and character interaction. I wasn't wrong.

Kirkman, Hester, and Parks bring to mind the best of Keith Giffen, both in the art, which is absolutely engaging and energetic, and which stylistically works well in the small-panel format, and in the story, which by turns presents the quotidian, the silly, and the fantastic elements of life within SHIELD equally well.

And the new Ant-Man suit is pretty boss, although it might need a user's manual:

The only issue I have - and this has been brought up by others - is that the lead is truly not very likable. I don't know how a series can be sustained without a lead that the readers will care about, but I'm interested enough to hang around for a while to find out. Besides, it had Dum-Dum, too!

Teen Titans No. 39: Okay, so I haven't read a Titans comic in about fifteen years. I picked this up only because I read that someone called Miss Martian or Martian Maid or Sailor Mars was in it, and I was curious to see how this related to the new J'onn J'onnz stuff.

I have to say, I was completely lost. I could figure out Zatara (talk about your unpleasant characters), and I'd heard of Kid Devil, but had no idea who that Bombshell metal woman was or where the girl-Deathstroke came from. And when did Vic Stone become eight feet tall? And isn't Tim Drake shorter and more compact, rather than looking like an Olympic swimmer? And for that matter, when did Robin go to an all-red suit? Man, I am out of the loop.

Anyway, it seems the Titans are taking a trip around the world to uncover a traitor or something, giving the reader a chance to meet some of the characters, I suppose. It didn't work for me. Most of the people I met in this story were unappealing, without any compensating sense of irony or fun; they really didn't seem to like each other much at all, and I wondered why I was hanging around with them.

The convoluted continuity was actually a barrier as well. I thought this Martian girl was a new character, but she's apparently an old roommate of Ravager, so now I'm not sure. I'm also not sure how to respond to her origin, which seems to make her a Martian version of Supergirl. The existence of a free fellow Martian should be pretty meaningful to J'onn and would be at cross-purposes to his latest series, wouldn't it? So what up?

And while the character herself (M'gann M'orzz, very cute) has some retro visual appeal, she's presented as a cutesy-pie teen, and then transforms into a grim, taloned, martiany monster with boobs. Neither characterization does much for me. As much as I'd like to see J'onn have his own spin-off, I don't think I'll be back for more Martian Girlhunter (as the ad for next month calls her).

So, has Marvel cornered the market on fun these days? Who'd'a thunk it? Maybe I'll look for that Ben Grimm series I've been hearing people talk about...

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