13
Jan
2011
Chris' Comics Corner
Chris' Comics Corner
Chris
I could have reviewed Casanova tonight, but frankly I need to read it another six times first and I'm not sure I can survive that kind of repeat exposure within 24 hours. It's an awesome, mind blowing book. Buy it. That's your review. Anyway onto business.

Justice League: Generation Lost #17
DC Comics
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Joe Bennett

It's hard not to compare Justice League: Generation Lost with Brightest Day. DC announced both books at the same time, they both ship on a bi-monthly schedule, they both pick up on threads left behind by Blackest Night, and they alternate the weeks they ship on. When they were announced, Brightest Day was clearly the more anticipated of the two. It was going to be written by DC's MVP writer, and one of their rising stars, and featured six of the characters resurrected at the end of Blackest Night. Generation Lost was going to be written by Judd Winick, one of the most controversial writers working in comics today. Not that his work is controversial, fans just seem to hate this guy. I for one always kinda liked Winick, not my favorite writer, but he could always be counted on for an entertaining read. Long story short Generation Lost was facing an uphill battle from day one.

And 17 issues in, I'll be damned if Winick and his little book that could aren't standing tall on top of that hill. Month in and month out, Generation Lost has consistently been a much higher quality read than its sister title. I generally try to stay off of comics message boards, as they truly are the most vile gutter of the internet, but every now and then I like to peruse the comments, and you would not believe how many people post about how Winick has turned them around with this title. Great writing, consistent art, narrative focus, and characters with a lot of heart have made this book a must read for me month in and month out.

The series follows six characters you've probably never heard of: Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Fire, Ice, Rocket Red, and Blue Beetle. Together they are a modern incarnation of the cult favorite 1980s Justice League International era. (If that doesn't mean anything to you, all you need to know is that they took out all of the big name characters and made the book, really, really genuinely funny.) The League's ex-manager turned psychotic telepathic super villain, Max Lord, was resurrected at the end of Blackest Night, and quickly used his powers to make the entire world forget he existed, save for our protagonists, who were at ground zero of Lord's mind wipe.

This issue opens with the new Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, as Lord's hostage. And with one dead Blue Beetle to his credit already, things aren't looking good for the young hero. The rest of the team has followed Lord's trail to Japan, but Max has taken steps to discredit them, most notably, framing Captain Atom for the destruction of several city blocks in Chicago, and no sooner do they arrive in Tokyo when they are attacked by fellow hero Power Girl, who herself is under Lord's telepathic control.

From day one these heroes haven't caught a break, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Winick has done a masterful job of advancing, what is essentially the same story, (The JL vs. Max Lord) in new and exciting ways over the course of the past 17 issues and it still feels fresh, tense, and engaging. Winick has done great work with all of these characters, but this week it is Blue Beetle and Booster Gold who get to shine.

Most heroes think Booster is a vapid imbecile, an image he encourages because it safeguards his true mission as protector of time itself. Booster is a tragic figure, the super hero community doesn't respect him and can never know how many times he has saved them all. But reunited with his JLI friends, Booster is with people who care about him, and have been equally discredited. Over the course of the series, Booster has quietly assumed the role of leader, moral compass, and emotional backbone. Yes, their mission is personnel for Booster, as Lord murdered his best friend, the previous Blue Beetle, but his primary role in this book shows just how far he has come as a character, and Winick should be commended for continuing the great character arc begun by Geoff Johns during 52.

I also have to praise Joe Bennett. Generation Lost is illustrated by a rotating team of three pencillers. With that schedule it's easy to forget that Bennett, like his collaborators have illustrated over 5 issues each in six months, without a drop in quality. This would be impressive for a monthly, but is amazing for a bi-monthly.

This is a great book. With only nine issues left, I wouldn't recommend jumping on now, but definitely pick this one up when the trades hit.

Grade: A-

Ok, my first review was much longer than I anticipated it will be, so I'll keep these short, and save my comments on the recent editorial change at Marvel for next time.

The Unwritten #21
DC Comics/Vertigo
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Peter Gross

The Unwritten is hard to describe to someone who hasn't been reading it, and it's especially hard to describe with any sort of brevity. Essentially, this mature readers comic is about the nature of stories. The lead character, Tom Taylor, was the inspiration for the protagonist of his father's best selling series of books about the adventures of a boy wizard. Tom's was content to live off his pseudo fame, until he began to suspect that he wasn't just the inspiration for his father's character, but actually his father's character come to life. And then things started getting weird.

Currently he is trapped within the narrative of Moby Dick, his only source of information about the mysterious turns his life has taken is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein's Monster, and back in the real world one of his best friends is turning into a vampire. If that doesn't peak your interest then your inner child is dead. This is a must read for literature lovers, but is still a fascinating and engaging thriller for anyone who likes stories.

This book will be the subject of a spotlight feature at a future date, so I will leave the rest of my praise until then.

Grade: A


Heroes For Hire #2
Marvel
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Brad Walker

I picked up this book based on my love for the creative team's last collaboration, Guardians of the Galaxy. Whereas that book focused on the cosmic side of the Marvel universe, this book focuses on street level heroes. The series follows a non-team of vigilantes who are "hired" by Misty Knight. Knight collects information, passes it along to a street level hero, and that hero does the job because 1.) It's the right thing to do, 2.) Misty trades intelligence for services, or 3.) because she pays them. The series is unique in that it is a constantly rotating cast of characters. Sometimes they work together, sometimes different heroes tackle different links in a particular chain of crime (i.e. Black Widow stops a drug shipment, Moon Knight shuts down the guys cooking the drugs, and Elektra assassinates the head honcho) (that was the first issue by the way.)) Heres the twist: Misty is secretly being manipulated by the Puppet Master who wants to control the streets.

Heroes For Hire has a lot of potential, but just isn't there yet. I think it can get there, given time though. The hook is also what's hurting the book. There are only two characters who will carry over from issue to issue. While it is cool to cultivate an atmosphere where anyone could pop in and take the spotlight in a given month, it creates the need for super decompressed storytelling, especially since both issues 1 & 2 have been done-in-one (told a complete, stand alone story). I think this is the kind of book that could really benefit from 2-3 issue long arcs so the writers have the time both to introduce the guest starring heroes, and to make us invested in them.

Grade: B-

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