Friday, June 5, 2015

On the Shelf: First issue fever strikes!

Yes, this week starts DC's newly revamped universe. If you read Convergence, which wrapped last week, you have an idea that DC was trying to correct some mistakes made in the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths era, and make things fun again. What will really make things fun for ye scribe would involve a certain pair of siblings who bear some resemblance to a couple of Mormons, and......!

However, we have a lot on the plate that has nothing to do with DC, as I have just 1 DC first issue to review for right now, and we'll get to that later.

Marvel's Joe Quesada made one of the most controversial decisions in the company's history by deciding to end the marriage of Peter Parker (Spider-Man, of course) and Mary Jane Watson. As part of Secret Wars, Marvel is looking to correct that mistake, which, thankfully, doesn't affect the newspaper strip. Dan Slott revisits this particular era with Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, which puts Peter & Mary Jane back together, and posits that their infant daughter, named Anne instead of May, was never taken from them after all. Peter decides to retire, then gets an offer from the Avengers to move into the mansion for maximum protection. Unfortunately, all heck breaks loose, courtesy of some nut job who now calls himself Regent. Oh, yeah, the original Venom (Eddie Brock) factors into this, too. Worth the investment.

Rating: A.

On the heels of the recent Justice Inc. miniseries, Dynamite has entrusted one of the busiest and most knowledgeable men in the business, Mark Waid, to script a monthly series starring Richard Henry Benson, aka The Avenger. Alex Ross paid homage to DC's 1st treatment of the character from 40 years ago by replicating Joe Kubert's original cover, but another busy guy, Francesco Francavilla (Afterlife With Archie), is also doing a variant cover. Anyway, we're reintroduced to Benson's team, last seen in that 1975 DC series, and it feels like home again. Whereas in the earlier series, it was one-and-done in each issue, Waid has crafted a nice story arc to kick things off. Where does he find the time to sleep?

Rating: A.

I've never really warmed up to Rob Liefeld as a writer, not much more as an artist. He peaked 25 years ago when, while doing X-Force for Marvel, he landed a deal with, I think, Levi's, and was interviewed by an off-camera Spike Lee (who also directed). Since then, his ideas have oft been hit or miss, mostly miss, as evidenced by his recent struggles at DC. Back with Image, Liefeld is trying something different. Retelling a classic Bible story from a different point of view.

The Covenant, as in the Ark of the Covenant from the Old Testament, is set in those ancient times, and focuses not so much on the Israelites, but rather, the Philistines and their false god, Dagon. It's one of two new books with religious themes from Image, and easily the better of the two. What Liefeld aspires to do is put more depth into the story that we've read many times since we were kids, but, as noted, from the enemy's view just as much as the Hebrew POV. With conservative nanny groups whining about Fox's pending adaptation of Vertigo's Lucifer, let's see if they raise a stink over The Covenant, too. Or don't the nannies read comic books at all?

Rating: A-.

Nearly 35 years ago, the Omega Men debuted in the pages of Action Comics (1st series) and Green Lantern (2nd series) before being granted their own series. Writer Roger Slifer came over from Marvel, paired with artist Keith Giffen, before Giffen morphed his art style into what it is today. It's been about 30-odd years since the first series ended, and, as we welcome back Primus, Tigoor, Broot, and the rest, they're reposited as outlaws, after supposedly killing Green-turned-White Lantern Kyle Rayner. The artwork looks like it was painted, and looks great. It'll be interesting to see how the Omegas will be seen by the rest of the DCU going forward. You'd have to read Future's End, I think, to understand where this started.

Rating: B.

I tried out a pair of Convergence tie-in miniseries, just for kicks. Glad I did.

Hawkman benefits from revisiting the post-Crisis series of the late 80's, and this was recommended after reading Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing. Isabella, you see, wrote the late 80's Hawkman series, aided by artist Richard Howell. Given Isabella's issues with DC, it's a question of whether or not that series will be collected, if it hasn't already, in trade paperback. Tim Truman & Enrique Alcatena, who teamed on Hawkworld, do right by the Hawks again, as if there was any doubt.

Rating: A.

Suicide Squad should've been given to writer John Ostrander, who'd helmed the series back in the 80's, and made even Captain Boomerang likeable, albeit as comedy relief. Those of you craving for the plus-size Amanda Waller of the period will be happy. Tom Mandrake, clearly influenced by the late Gene Colan, puts more of a Colanian spin to his artwork here, and, again, it's like coming home.

Rating: A.

You didn't need to read the core miniseries to get into the tie-ins. I have an eye toward getting some more soon.

Hard to believe this last item slipped under the radar (mine, that is) when it first came out, but then, I wasn't that heavy into a comeback just yet at the time. IDW teamed with a smaller independent label to adapt the original 1980's Knight Rider to comics, putting some meat to Michael Long/Knight's backstory, and explaining how KITT got his name. Licensing issues prevented the artists from using the likenesses of David Hasselhoff, Edward Mulhare, et al, and new characters were introduced, suggesting that maybe there were ties to the more recent failed revival, too. Hmmm. Requires more research, perhaps. IDW released the complete 8 issue series in trade paperback, and it's a dandy. The pace is dizzying, but if you know your Knight history from the 80's, you should be fine.

Rating: B+.

No comments: