Sunday, 2 October 2011

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #148

Jonah Hex: as forthcoming after the relaunch as he ever was

And here we are, the last week of the New 52.

ALL STAR WESTERN #1 - written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with art by Moritat.

Something of a punt for me, this title. I like Palmiotti and Gray's writing but hadn't picked up any of the Hex series from recent years; part of the reason for not getting it was preferring longer stories rather than done-in-one's which is something this title was steering clear of. As it is, this is a solid introduction both to Hex himself and the narrator, Amadeus Arkham, as well as the Gotham City of the 1880's.

The plot's relatively straightforward - a Jack the Ripper style murderer is killing prostitutes and both Hex and Arkham have been hired to help find the killer who may be linked to a society which has most of Gotham's rich and powerful as members. A whore named Belle is introduced whom Hex seems fond of but she becomes the killer's next victim making the case personal.

It's a good start and the artwork is simply gorgeous so I'm glad I took the risk.

AQUAMAN #1 - written by Geoff Johns with art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado.

After years of being a bit of a joke, Geoff Johns attempts to show us why Aquaman is actually pretty cool. On the whole he succeeds as well. Aquaman's introduced stopping some bank robbers (how old-school) in the middle of Boston, far from the sea. He then pops into a seafood restaurant causing much confusion by ordering fish and chips (I thought fish and chips was a distinctly British meal) before being bothered by an inquisitive blogger and walking out. Meeting up with Mera they decide to abandon Atlantis and make a life on the surface world. Bookending this is the rise of some creepy, flesh eating creatures from the depths.

It's an excellent start by Johns who effortlessly makes Aquaman cool, even more-so than Morrison did in JLA. There the emphasis was on Aquaman as royalty while here we see him as an almost normal man. Splendid job.

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM THE NUCLEAR MEN #1 - written by Gail Simone and Ethan van Sciver with art by Yildiray Cinar.

Hmmm, this one's tricky. Cliff Carmichael appears to be working for some shady organisation intent on tracking the Firestorm protocol down and is more than willing to kill for it. Martin Stein is dead and out of the picture. Ronnie Raymond is a high school jock while Jason Rusch is a school newspaper reporter and when he interviews Ronnie, the conversation all-too quickly becomes one about race. When Carmichael and his band of killers come looking for the Firestorm protocol in Jason and Ronnie's school, it turns out Stein sent it to Jason who uses it to transform himself and (apparently accidentally) Ronnie as well into Firestorms - two of them. They eventually combine into a much bigger and meaner being calling itself Fury.

I don't like how Jason and Ronnie are portrayed here - one all too eager to pick a fight over race with apparently little or no provocation, the other an inattentive jock. Still, this is co-written by Gail Simone so I'm definitely going to give it a go and stay with it.

GREEN LANTERNS: NEW GUARDIANS #1 - written by Tony Bedard with art by Tyler Kirkham and Batt.

For those of you just joining us, we get a seven page re-cap and re-do of Kyle's origin. Turns out Ganthet didn't just happen across him but actively sought him out following the events of Emerald Twilight which means, I guess, that in the relaunch DCU Hal Jordan still went nuts and killed a bunch of Lanterns. The rest of the issue's fairly light, plot-wise: a Sinestro Corps member is abandoned by it's ring, then a Red Lantern, then a Star Sapphire, before those rings along with a blue, orange and indigo all find Kyle on Earth. Cue Arkillo, Munk, Fatality and Bleez turning up to reclaim them (I guess Saint Walker and Glomulus turn up next issue) and that's it.

It's certainly not terrible - it just sets things up for the rest of the series, I guess. Darn those new readers demanding to know what's going on - don't they know the rest of us have been reading about Kyle for over fifteen years now?!

THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN #1 - written by Tony S. Daniel with art by Philip Tan.

This seems to be a prime example of what DC's attempting to do with most of their titles - keep what works with a spin on it to make it new. Here Carter Hall fails in his attempt to destroy the Hawkman costume and it ends up basically grafting itself to him so that when needed it simply grows from within. No more rushing round trying to find a telephone booth big enough for him to slip those wings on: now they just grow out from his back. While it may sound a bit like the Venom symbiote thing, it's not a bad idea.

Plot wise, Carter's a cryptographer who's been hired to try and decipher markings on an alien craft found buried beneath the sea. The opening of the craft reveals new bad guy Morphicius who attempts to drain Hawkman of his powers. Much hacking and slashing ensues.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this. The new Hall's still as grumpy and aggressive as the old one and there's plenty to keep me coming back, particularly the gorgeous art of Philip Tan who has outdone himself here.

TEEN TITANS #1 - written by Scott Lobdell with art by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund.

The Titans clearly have yet to form in the new DCU but it looks like Tim Drake, aka Red Robin, is going to pull them together. Kid Flash gets introduced as an impulsive, fame-seeking idiot who doesn't think things through - so no real change from an earlier incarnation. Meanwhile Red Robin (I really don't like that name) has incurred the wrath of the N.OW.H.E.R.E. organisation which is kidnapping super-powered teenagers before escaping from them in an outfit that looks a little like the Ryan Kendall era Black Condor - and that's not a good thing. He then rescues Wonder Girl from N.OW.H.E.R.E. agents before we see the badguys about to unleash Superboy against them.

It's . . . okay I guess. Kid Flash has gone back a few steps closer to his original Impulse persona while Red Robin is clearly being set up as Batman-lite with his huge knowledge and resources - seriously, did you see how many suspended in mid-air, Minority Report style touch screens the guy had, not to mention his whole Batfink moment? Wonder Girl comes out the best so far, coming across as a strong young woman able to take care of herself. The art's good though Wonder Girl's lasso tends to blend in with her new costume a little too much, and I'll be sticking around for a while.

VOODOO #1 - written by Ron Marz with art by Sami Basri.

What do you do when you're an alien shape shifter come to Earth, trying to find out about people and men in particular? Become a stripper. At least that's what Voodoo has done in this first issue which, if last week's Starfire / Catwoman controversy is anything to go by, may get some comments flying round the net.

I didn't read either Red Hood And The Outlaws or Catwoman but did read the complaints about their treatment of the two female leads and so opened this (and started this blog post) with a little trepidation. Marz's story is, like many of the #1's this month, primarily set-up: it introduces the characters of Voodoo and Jessica Fallon, establishes the eponymous character as an alien willing to kill to keep her secret, and leaves on something of a cliff hanger. The art by Basri is clean and while there's a lot of T 'n' A on display it's in context - a large part of the book takes place in a stripclub after all. The glimpse into the backgrounds of the strippers show them as normal people: "single moms, kids trying to afford community college or just pay the rent" rather than the amnesiac sex machine that Starfire appears to have become in Red Hood... which has to be better by comparison at least.

On the whole I enjoyed this and will be sticking with it.

And what made me smile:


1 comment:

  1. i liked this issue. in general i like what DC has done with the Aquaman character (more bad ass) since he first lost his hand which has been something i've never been able to get quite used to. i don't know about the whole bullet proof thing though. as someone who's physiology is adapted for the intense cold and pressure of the deep sea i certainly see him having superhuman strength and durability but not to that degree ya know? like he should be able to flip over a car on his own fairly easy but picking it up off the ground and throwing it might be a bit too much for him.


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