BTFT: Do New Comics Suck? Part 2A column article, Bin There Found That by: Chris Wunderlich
Last week I took a look at four new titles I’m currently buying. This week I promise at least 60% less snark—I’m all out of Avengers to complain about. Still plenty of Jonathan Hickman to cover, but I’ll save that for another week. Let’s tackle the last of my “Big2” titles, shall we?
Oh Doop, we used to have a thing, didn’t we? You: the crazy, bumpy green, flying alien blob that crept his way into reader’s hearts. Me: the young, naïve collector with a fresh obsession for anything Peter Milligan and a hankering for weirdness. You were the enigma that kept X-Force/X-Statix bizarre. You were the reason I bought all those issues of Wolverine and the X-Men. Dang it Doop! I miss you so much I decided to ignore the fact that Milligan lost his mojo. I ignored the fact that I’m a complete stranger in the X-woods these days. I even ignored your $3.99 price tag! But you can never go home again, can you?
What I’m trying to say is: All-New Doop is the title I thought I needed. Peter Milligan’s back writing one of his most beloved creations with Mike Allred on covers and the surprisingly suitable David Lafuente scribbling interiors. This is the book I’ve been waiting for right? Well no, not really.
You see Doop works best as a background entity. He’s peculiar, funny and completely unknowable. We aren’t supposed to know what he’s saying. We aren’t even really supposed to know why he does what he does. In issue 17 of Wolverine and the X-Men, Jason Aaron understood this. He told a story where Doop is constantly working in the background, solving problems, keeping things together but never fully acknowledged by his X-friends. Doop has a personality and that’s one of the things we love about him, but he’s a background character that enriches what we read, not a leader that needs developing. He’s always odd, well-intentioned, ultra-powerful (you read X-Statix right?) and he has his own agenda, now doesn’t he?
Now to be fair, Peter Milligan still understands that Doop is the behind-the-scenes weirdo the X-Men still need. In All-New Doop we see Doop shifting between panels, observing main sequences from flagship X-books (I assume; I don’t read those). The problem is Milligan brings Doop to the forefront and suddenly he isn’t all that interesting. I mean there are good ideas here with various X-Men always sort of wondering what’s going on and remaining ignorant to Doop’s panel-crossing presence. The big problem is the plot. This series has, so far, proven to be nothing more than Doop’s attempt to court Kitty Pryde. And giving him the ability to speak was probably the worst (though understand) move this book could have made.
I thought I wanted a Doop book, but I think what I really wanted was another X-Statix. Even if Doop popped into a title I was already reading that probably would have been better than a series focused entirely on ruining his mystery. I needed more Doop, that much is clear, but I didn't want it to be like this.
Yup, I’m buying a new weekly title. Truth be told, I’m loving it too.
Perhaps it’s my sense of nostalgia, perhaps it’s my optimism, but time and time again I keep betting DC will us another series like 52. Remember that book? It was week after week the thing you just had to read. Of course they had a great team behind the title, what with the likes of Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid. That’s an all-star cast of writers if there ever was one. Combine it with Keith Giffen’s layouts, J.G. Jones’s covers and a rotation of solid, dependable artists (including Joe Bennett, Dan Jurgens, Patrick Olliffe, Eddy Barrows and a bunch more) and you’ve got one heck of a book on your hands. But that wasn’t even the best part! They took B-characters like Elongated Man, Booster Gold and Animal Man, tossed in a few newbies like Batwoman and created a completely compelling, must-read title every single week. The stories were many. They moved at a nice pace and they were all worth following! I collected comics on a regular basis before 52, but this was the series that made me a regular in my local shop.
Of course, DC blew it after that. Countdown was their next weekly venture and it sucked. I wanted to like it, I really did but it sucked. The art was decent, the dialogue wasn’t bad, the characters were all appropriately minor, but the story was complete baloney. I stopped buying Countdown fairly quickly, later resigning myself to pick up what pieces I could out of the bargain bin, but you know what? I stopped doing that too. This book just didn’t do it for me, even a $1 (or less) an issue.
I didn’t even give Trinity a try, but when DC announced they were running two bi-weekly series next. I was hopeful. The one-two punch that was Justice League: Generation Lost and Brightest Day satisfied me and proved that DC could still give us entertaining weekly content. They weren’t marvels along the lines of 52, but they were enjoyable. They even seemed to be pointing to exciting new things in the DCU, but all that was quickly extinguished by the New52 reboot. Ah well!
Now Futures End, right, right. So far this series is rocking my world. What did I love the most about the New52boot? Frankenstein, OMAC and Stormwatch (yes, at first it was pretty cool), each of which have come back with significant stories in Futures End. We also get some Mr. Terrific, Batman Beyond, Firestorm (who brings this book down, unfortunately), Grifter, Deathstroke, Lois Lane and a handful of DC mysteries. The pieces of broken, rebooted books are all picked up here, and I’m more than happy to see most make the resurgence. My fingers are still crossed for Resurrection Man to pop up too!
So a great cast of beloved B-listers—we’ve got that. How about the all-star team of writers? Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen—good enough for me! Joe Bennett is back, Aaron Lopresti is on board (with a strange new style) and Patrick freaking Zircher draws an issue every once in a while! The art is consistent, cohesive and right up my alley. DC even remembered great covers and got Ryan Sook for the job!
The story so far is pretty solid too. There’s a lot going on, and while some threads are amazing (Frankenstein, you’re still doing good buddy) some are falling flat (Firestorm, I’m looking at you). I’d say I’m solidly invested in at least 80% of what’s going on here, which isn’t bad considering how much ground they are covering every week!
I tell ya, there’s nothing quite like a summer with a great weekly title. I can walk to the comic shop every week and pick up the next chapter of Futures End, and so far I’m finding it incredibly enjoyable to do so. I don’t imagine everyone will dig this book, but it seems tailor-made for me to relive those great 52 feelings.
Justice League United/Canada
Alright, I’m a sucker for Canada-themed heroes. The first series I ever tried collecting was Alpha Flight and every time I find an old Captain Canuck I get giddy. When I learned that Jeff Lemire was taking Animal Man over to the Justice League, I was already sold. When I learned that it would be Justice League Canada I was wooed. Add in my favourite Leaguer, Martian Manhunter, put Mike McKone on pencils and set half the book in space—well it just doesn’t get any better, now does it?
At first, I was hoping it would get better. Things started quite disjointedly, attempting to introduce a new Cree super hero while reintroducing Adam Strange into the DCU. There were space scenes with Hawkman and a stupid looking Lobo (I’m partial to his early, beardless, chainless look, but this one just seems wrong) and a villain I wasn’t familiar with (Blight? Sorry I didn’t catch those issues). Nothing seemed to really gel. Fortunately, Lemire seems to have it all planned and by the latest issue, everything has come together nicely. I wasn’t sold at first, but I’m really starting to warm up to things.
Mike McKone has long been an artist I felt I could trust. His work on Exiles practically raised me as far as comic book reading is concerned and his Vext solidified my opinion of him. Oh, and did I mention he was one of the regulars on 52? I’m usually thrilled to see Mike Mckone’s name on a book, and at first this series was no exception. When I finally cracked the book, though, things seemed very strange. McKone’s style seemed … off. Things were smoother, perhaps less detailed (though not to a critical degree) and characters all seemed too young. I’ve since gotten used to this new styling, but it’s not my favourite McKone work. Solid, but not what I was expecting. Perhaps inker Dexter Vines has something to do with it?
Now that the team is set and Lemire has teased about some other great character reintroductions, I’m pumped to read this title month after month. The “Canada” bit might turn out to be gimmicky or irrelevant altogether, but this is a team of (mostly) awesome B-listers forming a Justice League with decent art and able (if not a tad basic) writing, and that’s enough to keep me buying.
Infinity Man and the Forever People
Now this one I can’t say much about, as I’ve only read the first issue. It was a fine issue, I suppose—nothing breathtaking but enough to convince me I didn’t waste my money. I’m usually weary of Dan Didio’s name in the writer’s slot, but his team-ups with Keith Giffen tend to be decent. I’m also a huge Fourth World nut (like I haven’t written about the Fourth World enough) so seeing the Forever People make their way into a new ongoing is exciting.
First impressions? Keith Giffen draws a good looking, stylized book. He’s got his own vibe with enough Kirbyness to make it all fit. He did wonders with OMAC and I’m happy to see his work here again. Honestly, Giffen is one of those guys that has been around forever (or so it would seem), and yet he always seems on the cutting edge of things. That’s got to be, at least, the fifth time I’ve written that. He seems to pop up in almost every book I buy (just read the last few entries).
Dan Didio wrote the first issue well enough. There isn’t much excitement yet in terms of plot, the characters weren’t very clearly defined and I wasn’t really sure what was happening until the very end, but I enjoyed the read nonetheless. I’ve got hope.
I can’t say if this new comic will suck or not, but right now it’s okay by me. I won’t jump ship till things really go awry.