Monday, September 24, 2012

Just Sayin'--Random Impulse Buying

In which we blather a bit about stuff I bought recently, because comic reviews would be a novelty at this point, wouldn't they?

 GAMBIT #1--Man, it's terrifying that Gambit's been around for twenty-plus years, isn't it? As with all X-Characters, this means he's accumulated a bewildering amount of ill-advised retcons and continuity wrinkes--everything from being an accessory to mass murder to being *snicker* Black Gambit, and like all X-characters, his function now appears to be a living reminder of the 90's being dreadful, which is funny since things are so good now, right?

 In any event, for this series, James Asmus dials everything back to the base concept--Gambit's a thief with superpowers, stealing stuff in a superhero universe. It's a simple enough storytelling idea, and if it looks familiar, it's pretty much the same engine that drove Catwoman for many a year.

 But it's the first time it's really been done with Gambit, who's generally been too mired in X-Continuity to be allowed to be in anything that basic or -gasp!- possibly possessing a voice of its own.

 But here we get that. By the second page, we've got a mission statement--he's not wearing the pink costume, the accent's not going to be so overdone, he's not going to be a schoolteacher (Huh. That's what he's doing now? Okay . . .)  and he's just stealing stuff. It's sleek, simplistic, easily graspable, and you don't have to know who the hell BellaDonna was, for which I am eternally grateful, because that means I can let that information go.

 I'm a sucker for good caper stories, wherein a heist is meticulously planned, there are complications, and the third act is eluding the resultant blowback. Asmus does a great job of setting that up and the book moves in a way that I was wondering if comics post-decompression really knew how to do.

 BUT, the big thing I wanted to commend Asmus for is on the top panel of the 5th page, which has a bunch of party chatter featuring people talking about collecting insurance when Iron Man crashed into their building, tourism in the Microverse, fair trade stuff from the Savage Land. It's a little bit of business and really only exists to set up some atmosphere, but it's a flourish I quite like, as it ads a layer of verisimilitude (NOT realism) to the book and grounds everything out in a very subtle way.

 I liked this more than I expected, given the lead character's decades of ropey story decisions.

 WORLD'S FINEST #2 & 4--In theory, I should like this a lot more than I do. I like Kevin Maguire, I like George Perez, and the idea of Power Girl and Huntress teaming up as refugees from Earth-2 and trying to make it on Earth-1, but. . .somehow, it's not coming together. I don't know if it's a pacing issue or what but it just isn't coming together some how.

 I don't get the impression that it's due to anyone giving less than their best. I'm just not sure it's gelling.

 EARTH-2 #4--Speaking of that . . .While in principle I like that the book is trying to find new ways to re-make the Justice Society in new versions . . .I'm not sure it works against the backdrop of Solomon Grundy as Nekron, standing around making rotten stuff grow and yelling about "the green champion." It's a threat trying to be BIG, but not quite getting there.

 On the plus side, there's some hints of interesting characters around that--Flash and Hawkgirl have some good chemistry as characters and Nicola Scott is a phenomenal artist. I just wish it didn't feel so static. As it is, in a few issues, once we're past Solomon Nekron, we might be on the way to something.

 TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE #8--Because we should end on a high note and also a very disturbingly hilarious one, I was fortunate to find this on one of my many sojourns out. Featuring a wildly inaccurate treatise on trains, a murder-happy goat-riding Angela Lansbury, and culminating with a wildly inaccurate and somewhat insanely plotted story of Richard Nixon trying to kill the astronauts who landed on the moon which is sponsored by a salad dressing that instigates orgies, this is Michael Kupperman at his dadaist best. It'll be a shame when this book is gone, as it functions as a very effective way to clear the mind. Kinda like peyote, only legal.

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