Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things That Made Me Happy...

…in my comics this week.

Wonder-head-butt!!! I was dumbstruck with awe at the sight of Wonder Woman head-butting a centaur this week. Now we finally know why she wears that tiara (and why it’s clearly NOT a princess-y tiara). It wasn’t just the head-butt itself that was over-the-top fabulous. It was the little smirk on WW’s face beforehand that said, “Heh, if this stupid centaur thinks he can step on Wonder Woman THAT easily, he’s got another think coming, and now I’m perfectly positioned to latch onto him with the vise-like grip of my mighty Amazonian thighs and head-butt the Hades out of him… thank the gods I’m not wearing pants!!!” And, yes, that’s why she doesn’t wear pants – for the same reason she doesn’t wear sleeves. Although she does wear arm-bracelets and a choker that appear to be designed so that she injures herself through any sudden motion. Tough lady.

The team has struck just the right note with Wonder Woman herself. Yes, she is butt-kicking warrior. But she’s also gentle and wise without being saccharine (“I could take that key right out of your hand; but…”); powerful without being overpowering. Honestly, this is first time I’ve read a Wonder Woman comic and thought, “Hey! That’s Lynda Carter!”, and I mean that as a whole-hearted compliment.

Azarello and Chiang knocked this one out of the park. This is how a book with gods & monsters should read; creepy, gory, spooky. The Incendiary Trio of Prophecy, the Rolling Head of Flicka, the Caduceus Key. It was like reading an issue of Gaiman’s Sandman, and I mean that as a whole-hearted compliment.

Bat-computer-linked Bluetooth contact lens with facial recognition and lip-reading software? YES, PLEASE! Look; I love it when Batman bops someone in the head with a batarang as much as you do. But he deserves some post-Australo-Aborginal tech, too, don’t you think? I mean, other than the Batmobile? And those contacts are enormously practical, like a little digital nomenclator sitting right on your iris! PLUS, they allow the author to use them as expositional caption boxes; genius. AND they allow for the whole “Sir, we got an anonymous tip that Grissom’s men are cleaning out Axis Chemicals” routine. You know, Ollie’s stepping up the tech over in Star City – oops, I mean SEATTLE *eyeroll—so Bruce needs to up his game. These contacts and the “CSI gloves” he uses are exactly what is needed.

Batman is Detective. Don’t get me wrong; Detective #1 was certainly… interesting. But it was all “Batman mixing it up with pointy-stabby naked Joker”. If that sort of thing is going to be in a Batman comic at all (and I’m not sure it SHOULD, since I’m fan of Murderous Joker but not of Violent Joker), it should be in Batman and not in Detective. Meanwhile, this first issue of Batman read like, well … what an issue of Detective should be. It had Batman using forensic science on the fly and in the field, Batman making deduction, clues both clever and dramatic, and one HECK of cliffhanger mystery. THIS is Batman comic I REALLY want to keep reading out of interest, not obligation or devotion. And on top of that, an intelligent, civically engaged, outgoing Bruce Wayne with plans to renovate Gotham is honor to his parent memory. THIS is the Bruce Wayne we needed during No Man’s Land. And I mean that as a whole-hearted compliment.

It’s all about Brainy. Ah, the Legion! The one comic that has always prided itself on a continuity-based impenetrability that makes the Iron Curtain of Time look about as solid as the protoplasmic slime that remains after touching Glorith’s hourglass of devolutionary radiation (how’s that for an obscure Legion-history-based metaphor!) . Naturally it makes perfect sense to me. Happy to see the Legion still explains very explicitly the ONE thing that the casual reader is most likely to already know or to be able to deduce: what the Legionnaire’s names and powers are. But that’s okay… because that’s really all you need to know in a Legion story… the rest just kinds of works itself out as you read. The future’s supposed to be a little mysterious and vague, after all. The Legionnaires are efficiently and traditionally characterized. Cham’s about stealth and subtlety, Mon-El is about the power/responsibility equation, Colossal Boy’s about being an oaf, and Brainy is about Brainy Being The Smartest Person in Any Room. As for Ultra-Boy, he’s still a beefy bad boy, but they show him using his vision powers as much as his other ones; that’s good, since those are the ones that keep him from being just a Flying Brick. The new recruits didn’t seem like very interesting additions, but who knows, maybe they’re just typical Legion cannon fodder; I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Dragon-Face (or whatever her name is) get offed. Naturally, the Legion is (as always) “woefully under-manned and under-powered due to our recent losses”, including, apparently, the little-mourned Earth-Man. And I don’t mean that as a whole-hearted compliment.


Bryan L said...

Yes, I'm whole-heartedly (where have I heard that word recently?) on board with the new Wonder Woman, too. Detective left me cold, but Batman was ... right. I'm okay with Legion because I have an inexplicable fondness for them stemming from my youth, but it's basically competent. Nothing extraordinary. But I'll keep buying it.

SallyP said...

Egad, but Wonder Woman was simply fantastic. Scary, brilliant and simply gorgeous.


Hoosier X said...

I was already looking forward to Wonder Woman. After the endorsements here, I don't know how I can wait until the next time I go to the "comic book store" to pick it up.

Mag said...

I can't wait to get to the comics shop this week. A Wonder Woman that's actually interesting. It's about time.

Siskoid said...

Things That Made Me Happy This Week? The return of this Absorbascon feature after a two-year hiatus!

What does it say about me that I understood your Legion metaphor completely?

Swellsman said...

Scipio --

Just left a comment over at Siskoid's place. Like that comment this, too, is off-topic, but I came across what I thought was an interesting article re: how comics treat wealth and accomplishment b/w heroes and villains.

The author is Julian Sanchez (I am not Julian Sanchez, this isn't an example of someone trying to pimp out their work) and I thought it was intriguing. I've been around your site for a while - pretty sure I left a comment here and there - and it seemed the kind of thing you might find interesting.

If you haven't already seen it, the article is at: