Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I'm a Sucker

No, I didn't pick up the World War III "mini-series" (but if anyone who read them tells me they're any good, I still might).

No, I'm an idiot for buying Justice League of America #8. I had dropped the series with issue 6, when I figured that a Brad Meltzer Justice League just wasn't for me, but then they go and have a crossover with Justice Society of America, which I am enjoying, so I thought, what could be the harm?


This comic pissed me off in so many ways that it's hard to know where to start. As always, the most frustrating thing about Meltzer's writing is that it is has so many good ideas running through it that my hopes get raised, only to be dashed against the rocks of piss poor writing. For example, this issue has a fist fight between BATMAN and KARATE KID! (EDIT: better link here.) Unfortunately, it happens ALMOST ENTIRELY OFF-PANEL so that Meltzer can devote nearly seven full pages to Arsenal being unable to play capture the flag without breaking his neck!

(Update: the fight is actually seen in Countdown #50, which published one month later)

Other things that pissed me off include (but are not limited to):

The cover.

Michael Holt, Mr. Terrific, is, in fact, smart enough to beat BOTH Black Canary and Green Lantern at chess blindfolded without resorting to a trick I learned when I was seven. That's the kind of stunt Robin should be pulling. When the World's Third Smartest Man does it, he just looks like a chump.

That two page spread of the two teams "just hanging" by Shane Davis is just awful. First off, if this is such an emergency that they called in the full roster of both teams in under twenty minutes, maybe they shouldn't be standing around swapping stories and drinking, god help me, espresso out of dainty cups. Then there's the blocking. Though the dialogue suggests they're just milling, they are all facing front and turning awkwardly to talk to each other. If this had just been broken up into four panels on each page, it could have looked so much better.

And then there's the mis-characterization on that page. I know Meltzer has a reputation for "knowing" these characters, but he doesn't seem to here. Why is Stargirl gushing over Wonder Women? They've met before. Heck, they've eaten Thanksgiving dinner together. Twice! Why's Black Canary shutting down her old boyfriend Dr. Mid-Nite? He's giving her a compliment, not hitting on her. Why does Power Girl know Batman's real name? And for the love of God, why is Hawkgirl self-conscious about being at a JSA/JLA team-up? This ain't her first rodeo!

But all of that pales, PALES, in comparison to that last page. (Once again, I lament the lack of a scanner and ask for the aid of someone else in the blogging community. Thanks, uh, Wizard!)

Honestly, it's like a When Fangirls Attack nightmare. Ostensibly, it's supposed to show off the two new chairpersons of the JLA and the JSA, with the kicky awesomeness that both are former Birds of Prey! Yeah, you've come a long way, babies!

But let's face it, that's not the way it plays, is it? First, there's the sub-Greg Land photo referenced faces, which don't match the bodies they're attached to. They're not porn faces, exactly, but Power Girl's come-hither glance and lush, slightly parted lips don't scream leadership either. Black Canary's okay... but she's literally pushed into the background by Power Girl's swinging hips and bulging chest. Are these the leaders of the greatest heroes on Earth, or a couple of party girls?

And then there's the head shots. I know the roll call's traditional, but the five squares with question marks in them makes it look less like a comics page and more like a JLA/JSA fighting game with unlockable Legion of Superhero characters...

... nevermind, I would totally buy that game...

No, what pissed me off was the JSA roll call. Obsidian isn't on it! It's bad enough he was reduced to "wallpaper duty" in the first four issues of Justice Society, now he isn't even on the team? That sucks! Where the hell is he? Where's Todd Rice?

... oh, he's over here in Manhunter. Oh good. Now there's a title that's worth the price!


Blockade Boy said...

Spoilers! Sort of!

You know me; I'm always happy to help (when I find it convenient). So here's the straight poop on the World War 3 tie-ins: they're a colossal rip-off. Unless you're a big fan of the current Martian Manhunter series, in which case go nuts! Buy two or three copies of each one! Really, they don't advance the story in "52" #50 one whit. They expand upon it with more "behind the scenes" stuff but the whole series felt like filler material to me. And the whole shebang is narrated in a stilted, portentious fashion by J'onn J'onzz, in a style reminiscent of Coleman Francis. ("Flag on the moon...") Major plot points unseen in "52"? Supergirl returning to the 21st Century (with no clue of how it happened or what's going on in her head) and J'onn's accumulated 4-issue hissyfit leading to his current pointy-headed bad-ass (yawn) persona. So to sum up: there's not much there you didn't already know about, and what new things are there (a single page of the Monitors chattering to one another in terms about ten times less specific than a fortune cookie) aren't terribly interesting.

Matt said...

I kinda liked the training thing, but I would've liked to see more of the karate kick fight...


izzat said...

I actually liked this issue, but I totally agree about the awful last page. The two teams meet for the big crossover, and the big cliffhanger is that they will...split into two teams.

They probably didn't need to have an emergency meeting to accomplish that, since they already had two teams in the first place. So dumb, it hurts...

Filby said...

Yeah, it was a disappointment.

I don't recall being this frustrated with Meltzer's writing on Identity Crisis. In any case, he needs to learn the difference between writing a novel and writing a super-hero comic book. His pacing needs all kinds of work.

I didn't hate the art, but honestly, until I actually looked at the cover (I had to avert my eyes from the Turner monstrosity when first I read it) I thought it was Ed Benes having a bad art day.

I'm also terribly confused about the Legion's involvement in this. Is this Karate Kid from the present "Threeboot" Legion? If so, how does the pre-Crisis Star Boy/Starman know him? And why does Superman have two Legion flight-rings? I thought his involvement in the Legion was retconned out in 1986. Come to think of it, how does Booster Gold still have a flight ring? The Brainiac 5 he stole it from was the pre-Crisis one, and neither the post-Zero Hour nor the Threeboot Brainies have been back in time.

Oh God, my head hurts.

Well, at least I have the satisfaction of knowing the next part in JSA will be better. Plus I got to read The Spirit immediately after, so that kinda took the edge off.

Filby said...

Oh, and I would buy that game in a heartbeat.

Ami Angelwings said...

The fighting game thing was something I thought of tooo!!! XDDD

You're absolutely right! It's like.. JLA vs JSA II: Ultimate Edition or something XD

Bill S. said...

I haven't read the issue, but what freaks me out is that I could read the interlac on that last page without even thinking about it. It was so instinctual that I actually looked up the interlac to make sure I was right. Once a Legion fan, I guess...

JD said...

Solid points, but I have to disagree with your take on Mr. Terrific and the chess scene. I think it was meant more to focus on Hal and Dinah than on Mr. Terrific, the fact that they were actually playing each other. His goal wasn't to beat them both (and thereby demoralize two important members of the team), but to show each of them how the other approached things, how they were thinking...only without them knowing.

SallyP said...

Well, I enjoyed JLA, but there were a few odd moments. Mainly, I think that it should have been Maxine who was gushing over Wonder Woman,not Star Girl, who has certainly met and interacted with her before.

The whole Obsidian thing, he's having so much fun over in Manhunter.

The chess game. So what if Mr. Terrific was playing Dinah against Hal! Did Batman have to show him up, by pointing it out? Frankly, I think that Beppo could beat Hal Jordan at chess, so I found it terribly amusing.