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The Non-Marvel Action Hour – 10/14/09

DC December Solicitations and important news for Secret Six fans. Reviews of Books of Magic, new Wonder Woman and Secret Six, and more Books of Magic.

[Editor – we’re a week behind with this.  Sorry, Snowglare!]

DC December Solicitations and important news for Secret Six fans. Reviews of Books of Magic, new Wonder Woman and Secret Six, and more Books of Magic.

News

DC Comics December Solications

The last three Blackest Night miniseries begin. The Flash by the familiar team of Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins wants us to believe Eobard Thawne was Barry’s greatest enemy. Yeah… no. James Robinson and Eddy Barrows go for a hero vs. hero slant with JSA. And DC find a way to hook me for part of this event with the double whammy of Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott on Wonder Woman. It’s still DC Zombies, and the fake Max Lord’s in it, but it might not be terrible. If nothing else, it’ll be gorgeous.

Adventure Comics, Booster Gold, Doom Patrol, R.E.B.E.L.S., Superman/Batman, Teen Titans, The Outsiders, and JLA continue their Blackest Night tie-ins. The solicits aren’t clear, but they appear to all be two-parters. They also have every indication of being skippable if you aren’t already reading the series.

JSA All-Stars – Clearly not worried about the JSA brand post-Johns, DC will split their two-man team across two ongoings, with Bill Willingham staying on JSA and Matthew Sturges moving to this spinoff. Somehow, I missed this being announced at SDCC in July. The roster for this one, according to Sturges is “Hourman, Stargirl, Power Girl, Magog, the younger Wildcat, Damage, Citizen Steel, Judomaster, Cyclone, and King Chimera.” Or, you know, everyone on the cover. No one else, including Liberty Belle.

Secret Six – The downside to Scott drawing Blackest Night: Wonder Woman is she’ll be too busy to draw this. Peter Nguyen will fill in, presumably for a three-month stretch. Judging by his DeviantArt page, he’s a bit rough, but not bad. Inker Doug Hazlewood should be able to clean him up.

Starman Omnibus Vol. 4 – The last one worth buying, collecting the final Tony Harris issues along with miscellaneous one-shots and crossovers. Due out in February.

The Unwritten – The first trade, due in January, collects five issues for ten dollars. In a way, that makes the $1 first issue look like a better deal. If you buy that and don’t like the series, you’re out $1. If you buy it and like it and wait for the trade, you save $2 vs. $3 by only buying the trade. If you like it and buy all the single issues, you don’t get the best deal, but you save $2 on the first issue compared to a normal comic. Anywhere from $1-13 for 1-5 comics. Vertigo pricing is pretty consistent, so I guess there’s not much of a drawback to the $1 #1s. They’re not necessarily must buys, but it’s much better than the first issue of other comics you don’t know anything about, especially Marvel’s absurd $4 #1s.

Blackest Night skip month

With the main series skipping January in order to rest penciler Ivan Reis and add pages to the final issue, DC felt there was room for yet more tie-ins. So they’re resurrecting eight cancelled series for one month, sometimes with the old writer returning. All the issues take place in the present so the Black Lanterns can be involved.

The Power of Shazam! #48 by Eric Wallace
The Question #37 by Greg Rucka
Suicide Squad #67 by John Ostrander and Gail Simone
Phantom Stranger #42 by Peter Tomasi
Catwoman #83 by Fabian Nicieza
The Atom and Hawkman #46 by Geoff Johns
Weird Western Tales #71 by Dan DiDio
Starman #81 by James Robinson

The big one for me is Suicide Squad, guest-starring the Secret Six. Must buy.

Reviews

Employee’s Pick

Books of Magic 55

[DC] Books of Magic Vol. 2 #51-56
Writer: Peter Gross
Artists: Peter Gross (layouts, issues 51-56; finishes, issues 51, 53, 55 & 56), Temujin (finishes, issues 51-54), Linda Medley (issue 55)

So far, Rieber leaving is the best thing to happen to this series in years. Gross starts his run with a clear purpose, given Tim a direction for the first time… well, ever. Rieber had him vaguely positioned as potentially the most powerful magician in the world. Tim would wander around reacting to whatever happened to pop up. Gross sends him back to school and gives him a clear threat in the form of The Other.

overdue lecture

Previously, it was believed that every Opener – Tim being the current one – had an Other, who would teach him how to use his vast power. They’re like soulmates in that it takes some luck to find yours and there’s only one to find. Gross doesn’t ignore what’s been established, but instead of Molly being Tim’s Other, as was strongly hinted by Rieber, Tim is Tim’s Other. That is, one of the alternate Tims from one of the many worlds Tim created without meaning to learns about the other other worlds and, because he’s evil/power hungry for some reason, sets about killing all the mirror Tims and stealing their magic. It makes sense in context. Once Other Tim kills all the dupes, he’ll reach Opener Tim’s world for the final showdown.

And that’s just what he does in Gross’ sixth issue. Tim, of course, is unprepared, having learned of The Other’s existence shortly before his arrival. Tim’s only ally, at least for the moment, as Tim conveniently forgets all his other friends, is newly introduced Thomas Currie. His goal? Help Tim kill The Other, or, if Tim can’t man up, kill him, erasing everything Tim’s created, including The Other and Currie himself.

disturbingly disturbed

The one part I didn’t like was the brief return of Molly, wheeled back in so she could be more thoroughly written out of the series. Even that wasn’t poorly written or entirely objectionable to a Molly fan like myself. I wish she were allowed to come back, so there’s no good way to tell me she’s not.

New-Type Books

Wonder Woman 36

[DC] Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #36
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciler: Aaron Lopresti

I should probably stop reviewing this series. I’ve lost all objectivity and can only see what does or doesn’t please me. I squeed all the way through this issue.

Giganta will fight no more forever

The amount of plot this issue varies depending on how you look at it. Diana and Tom finally talk things out, but I’m not sure we learn anything more than what Genocide said a few issues back. Diana doesn’t love Tom, but she thought he’d make a good father, yadda yadda, biological clock. If I’m reading this right, I have to say, it goes along with why many people don’t like Wonder Woman. If she’s incapable of romantic love as defined by Western civilization, she’s practically an alien. The Amazon version isn’t altogether unlike love, but it’s different enough that it’s hard to identify with. Most people wouldn’t marry and have kids with someone they know they don’t love when there are no circumstances conspiring to trap them. Diana’s reasoning is so cold and logical, if it weren’t for her respect for Tom’s feelings and her apparent affection for her hypothetical daughter, I’d think she were like unto a robot.

I think romance is one thing I’ll have to do without in this series, at least as concerns the title character. I’d love to root for her to find happiness with a special someone, but that simply isn’t possible. To be fair, that’s the same thing you deal with if you’re a fan of Batman, who is incapable of love for different reasons. Superman’s lucky in that regard, one of a precious few A-list heroes with a steady marriage. Still, with Batman, like most others, you can entertain the possibility that he’ll get over himself and find a nice woman (or Catwoman) to partner up with. Or that he swings the other way and society demands he never make that too clear. There have always been hints that Diana is not heterosexual, but if she met a gal and began what appeared to be a whirlwind romance now, I’d consider it doomed from the start. Not because of editorial, though that could easily be sufficient reason, but because there was never any feeling there. Physical attraction? Commitment? Sure, but not love. Love is messy and crazy and often stupid. Maybe Diana’s too honest for it. She can’t lie to herself, so she views love in the clinical sense, a combination of attraction, procreation, and protection. She doesn’t need anyone, and she knows it, so she doesn’t want anyone. Unless she can protect them – as others need her – or her body has needs, or to help her people live on after her. She might as well set up an Amazon Adoption Agency.

Secret Six 13

[DC] Secret Six Vol. 4 #13
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciler: Nicola Scott

Oh, so that’s who that is. I should’ve recognized him from the two panels he appeared in over in Wonder Woman. Silly me.

every post is crossdress post

Sometimes I forget the Six are supposed to be villains, but helpful reminders are never far from hand. I find brutality bothers me less when it isn’t dressed up as heroism. This issue, the Six are awful, bad, downright mean, and a little bit good. Strange bunch. There are a couple groaners in the dialogue, and much of the violence seems needless, the concern artificial – especially the continued pretense that the quasi-immortal Scandal Savage is in grave danger whenever a normal person would be – but all in all it’s a solid issue. Scott’s art forgives many a sin.

Jeannette 1

Back Issues

BoM Annual 2

[DC] Books of Magic Annual #2
Writer: John Ney Rieber
Artist: Jamie Tolagson

Set during the time Tim had run away to America, he meets someone whose reasons for running away dwarf his in the way a pampered, obese person’s momentary hunger between meals is dwarfed by that of a starving child. Despite that, he comes off better in this story than the others in that time period, acting like a genuinely good person who cares about other people. I miss that Tim. There’s also a parallel story with the Minotaur of Crete, the theme of this issue being child abuse and how it affects the victim.

It’s a bit afterschool special, but a good read. Like the first annual, it’s not essential to the main story, just a side adventure. Pick it up if you want a good story where Tim assumes more of a heroic role, as he did in the early issues.

Truncation

Books of Magic – The best six-issue block since the teens.
Wonder Woman – So, so good. Maybe too good.
Secret Six – Not the best issue. Still great.
Books of Magic Annual – From the John Bolton cover to the final page, a step above the later issues in Rieber’s run.

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