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From the Hoss’s Mouth 8/23/06

Hoss changes up his style a little bit this week, cutting it down to the nitty gritty. A full review, 3 quick reviews, and introducing Loser of the Week.

What should you buy and what should you pass up? Click the link and find out! 

Full Review:

Justice League of America #1
Written by Brad Meltzer
Art by Ed Benes

It’s here, it’s here. The most anticipated book out of DC for that past few months or so has finally made its way out, and right off the bat it’s good. Before proceeding though, I will break the news of a few roster selections so there are some spoilers ahead; you’ve been warned.

What we’re treated with this issue is a very special meeting. One that, at least in this way, isn’t likely to be seen so often. Ever had the misfortune or should I say privilege to “accidentally” overhear some secret conversation? Perhaps you learned something useful, perhaps not, but in the end I’m sure deep down you found some small delight in knowing that you now know something you weren’t meant to. Well latch on that feeling, because that’s just a part of what we get with JLA #1. In this issue we’re privy to the roster selection of the new league. DC’s big three icons, take note that Wonder Woman is Diana and not Donna as seen in her own solo book, carefully select who’s in, who’s out, and tell us what they really think of everyone else in the DC universe. What this leads to is some fine dialogue. What’s Superman got against Captain Marvel? How’s Batman feel about Hal Jordan? What does Wonder Woman think of Vixen? It’s all here in every bit of its guilty pleasure glory.

If listening in on superhero gossip isn’t your thing there’s a whole lot more here than just that. Several of the selections get named in their own little subplots, though the one character I really wanted to hear the selection debate about is markedly absent from that story. Who is it? Roy Harper. Yes, you read that right. The one Titan to “graduate” is the one, in my opinion, that should have been left behind. Roy/Speedy/Arsenal/apparently now Kingdome Come Red Arrow has been given his shot to go to the big league so to speak. For the life of me I can’t figure out why, perhaps it was his less than stellar job leading the Outsiders or his heroin addiction or maybe he’s just going to be a distraction/cannon fodder in case Batman needs more time to prepare. Either way this character is a bold choice for Meltzer but still one I’m willing to go along with. What can I say, I’m easily excited. Plus with a character carrying this much baggage it’s easy to see all the story possibilities both good and bad.

Another little subplot is for the Red Tornado. Honestly I’ve never really found anything enjoyable about Red, but after this issue that’s all changed. There’s a lot of development in his character in a very short amount of time. We learn of his family, friends, and his greatest wish. Not to mention we get a great cameo by Deadman, not the new one but Boston Brand, and there’s a twist to this part of the story that no one’s going to see coming. Oh and there’s a Doctor Morrow and the Metal Men cameo in this plot too. It seems the good doctor really did get the Metal Men up and running again in 52.

Also there’s even more subplots concerning Black Lightning and Vixen not to mention the premiere of a brand new villain, Dr. Impossible, who just might be the brother of one of my all time favorite characters.

Brad Meltzer has picked a fine group of leaguers encompassing both the old standbys and some new blood that’s going to shake up things in the league for some time. You may not agree with every one of his picks but I doubt you’re going to turn away. Another good point is that Meltzer is able to find a voice for each of his players. They don’t talk the same, they don’t act the same, and each one of the major players in this story is etched out with their own individuality. Not a small feat by any means.

Ed Benes is the perfect artist for this book. He’s able to capture each hero and express a fairly wide range of emotion so that you’re never confused as to what’s happening and who’s who. Not to mention he’s graced us with two covers showcasing a good chunk of the DCU. For those paying attention these two covers are also different from the solicited covers we saw earlier. Nice touch DC, I’m sure everyone appreciates the extra mileage Benes put in so as to provide a bit of mystery still. If you’re wondering what’s different, well a lot of characters have shifted places and new faces like Batwoman have appeared instead of the recently deceased Booster Gold and some other members of 52, and for $3.99 it’s nice to see a little extra effort be put forth. Good job Benes.

Verdict: This is a big book; don’t let the $3.99 cover price scare you it’s worth every penny. There’s also no better jumping on point, skip the teaser issue #0 and go right for this one it’s where all the action is.

Quick Reviews:

Astonishing X-Men #16: Ord and Danger, Danger and Ord, whatever, they’re back and they’re coming for the X-Men in case last issue didn’t tip you off. I loved this book, JLA took the full review spot but this was the best book of the week. It’s worth the cover price alone to just read Wolverine recant his ordeal with the Moose Beast. We get more mystery, way more, and one very good encounter between Kitty and Emma in this issue. Whedon’s been known to excel at character dialogue and with interaction like this it’s easy to see why. The Hellfire club continues its mansion rampage looking for something very secret Xavier’s stowed away. Not only that, we also find out which X-Man is the destroyer of Breakworld and who the mystery Hellfire member Perfection is. Let’s just say the latter will blow your mind but not in the way you might think. Art is again stellar. Cassaday’s stagings and mood enhance already wonderfully penciled characters.

Verdict: Best book of the week, even non mutant fans should be able to appreciate it. Grab it and the rest of the back issues for this arc if you haven’t already.

Batman #656: Gather round and take a cup of the Morrison Kool-aid as I’m about to tell you (again) why Grant Morrison might just be the best writer DC’s had in the past few years. Morrison, never one to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors, has managed to do the unthinkable. He’s made Batman human again. Gasp! DC’s Dark Knight has finally remembered what it means to be a man instead of some dark brooding invincible god. Embracing the Bruce Wayne persona is a breath of fresh air and Morrison’s having a lot of fun with it. There’s a ton of action here too. Batman wastes no time in laying on the hurt to a bunch of Man-Bats, Ninja Man-Bats at that and they in turn put the hurt right back on him. Also for those really paying attention Morrison has thrown in his very funny and characteristic in-jokes, in one quote of Bat’s narrative, “If there’s one thing I hate…it’s art with no content” and in one panel of action Bats knocks a Man-Bat into an art exhibit labeled “Population Explosion” which just seems to fit the current scene with all the Man-Bat shenanigans. Oh and the son plot is progressed as well. We get Andy Kubert on art; it’s just as good as last issue, which means it’s great.

Verdict: You should have already been buying this series with #655. Here’s another opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and experience some of the best Morrison has to offer.

New Avengers #23: With a few exceptions, a Jessica Drew stand alone issue. Wondering where Spider-Woman stands in the Civil War conflict? This book will enlighten you. Drew, minding her own business, finds Civil War waits for no one. Without giving away too much of the plot I will say this, why on Earth does anyone need spies when everyone, and I do mean everyone, knows who they are. Compared to the Luke Cage stand alone, this book is a lackluster attempt. There are three great places for action and we’re treated to none. The dialogue out of SHIELD and Iron Man is nothing that hasn’t happened elsewhere in Civil War. On the bright side, by the end of this issue you may just feel something for poor Jessica and the odd chain of events she’s been pulled into as the last page carries a lot of drama. Coipel’s art is good, there have been a lot of fine artists on this series and he’s not my favorite, but for this issue he definitely gets it done.

Verdict: If you haven’t been reading New Avengers or Civil War then there’s no reason to grab this. If you just want a good story in a similar fashion then go pick up last month’s New Avengers #22 where Bendis and crew were in much better form.

This Week’s Loser:

Flash #3: It pains me to do this, but in a week with a lot of standout titles this one quickly faded to the bottom of the pile. Normally I give a book a full arc to prove itself, but this one is going nowhere. I love the Flash, I even see the potential in Bart, but the story is just lame filler. Please someone pump some blood in this title and get it started before the Flash dies of being too slow. For this one Bart continues to run around as the Flash, never mind the supposed absence of the Speed Force and a new villain is introduced, his obnoxious roommate Griff. Griff calling himself the Griffen has decided to play the hero. Who cares. Let’s get down to the Flash business already. Where’s Barry? Where’s Wally? How did Superboy Prime escape? What happened to the Speed Force? Why did Bart age? Where’s Linda and the twins? What the hell is going on? These are questions that need answering and more importantly those possible plot lines are way more important that watching Bart’s roommate make an ass of himself for twenty pages and $2.99. I never had the…”privilege” of watching the Flash TV show by the very same authors of this book but with an issue like this I don’t need to watch it to know why that show got canned. On the bright side, and yes there is one, the art on this issue is amazing. If I didn’t have to read the plot it would have been even better. Drop the writers, spare the artist.

Verdict: It’s this week’s loser, what do you think?

What have we got: There were a lot of really good books this week that didn’t make the cut come review time. Namely 52, Wonder Woman, Exiles (Awesome!), Daredevil, and The Walking Dead. Of the big books, mentioned above, Astonishing is the best. JLA is the most important, and Batman’s well… the best Batman book in a while. I firmly recommend these three books and hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.

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