Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Double Articulation Digest #6

A very grumpy Reverend over at Newsarama preached quite a sermon about the latest issue of Simone’s Wonder Woman and its “laundry list of offenses” in the Best Shots column this week. I share his irritation with the art pastiche, sorta—if I had my druthers, the Dodsons would be chained to Wonder Woman for life, along with Simone. Nevertheless, Ron Randall was a good choice to fill in the missing Dodson pages and the story of Hippolyta’s zealous personal guard and a Nazi invasion of Paradise Island continues apace. Simone is staging a confrontation between two paranoid groups with Diana caught in the middle. The Nazis and the personal Guard (led, significantly, by a skinheaded Amazon) are essentially purity fetishists, so WW’s ape army is a clever reversal of Nazi propaganda about “unclean,” “lesser” races and their supposed evolutionary handicaps. Great issue.

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I needed a comic fix a couple of nights ago, but the comic store was closed, so I hoofed it down to the nearby mall to check out the selection of comics at Coles. Unsurprisingly, it consisted of a bunch of major event trades (X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, vols. 1-18—no thanks!) some prestige projects (Superman: Red Son, etc.), and a variety of things that don’t much interest me (various “Ultimate” titles, reprints of silver age DC material). I was almost tempted by DC’s Man of Steel trades, which are reprinting the John Byrne/Marv Wolfman relaunch of all the Supertitles, in sequence. I’ve picked these up and put them down about a dozen times in my comic store. Did the same thing here. I loved this stuff at the time, but the Superman stories that I really find myself wanting to reread from that era are not in print yet: the Eradicator story in particular (Superman in space) and all the Kerry Gammill/Jon Bogdanov art that followed. I liked that so much better than the Byrne-illustrated Supes. All of which is to say, that I ended up getting Superman Batman: Absolute Power instead. Not half bad! I haven’t been reading the series, but I couldn’t resist (yet another) alternate history tale drawn by Carlos Pacheco. Seriously. Avengers Forever, the Camelot Falls epic in Superman, and now this too? The plot was fairly slight—just an excuse for Loeb to animate some of DC’s distinctive characters from various eras, but it was fun all the same. Its cast resonates nicely with current happenings in the DCU: the presence of the classic Legions (of heroes and villains), Kamandi, Darkseid, Ra’s, the revival of various Western heroes, etc. I enjoyed it more than I expected to.
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Also in the category of enjoying it more than I expected to is Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente’s The Incredible Hercules # 112 and 113. Tapping into Herc’s mythological roots and teaming him with bratty boy genius Amadeus (“What do you say to you and me spending our summer vacation totally destroying S.H.I.E.L.D.?”) Cho makes for a hugely entertaining read. Herc’s renaissance is superficially inspired by the Spartan success of 300, perhaps. But, in addition to being hairier than any of Sparta’s lunkheads, Herc turns out to be a more interesting lunkhead too, with a tragic past that gives the character more depth than you might expect. Along with Ellis’s Thunderbolts, this is a deeply satisfying remedy to the rest of the company’s post-Civil War, OneMoreDaygate world. The art by Khoi Pham and Stephane Peru attractively channels the styles of Oliver Copiel and John Romita Jr. Covers by comics legend Arthur Adams.

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