Worth the wait

I hadn’t planned to run more comic reviews so soon, but a recent sick day let me catch up on some reading, including the long-delayed New Teen Titans graphic novel, Games, by series creators Marv Wolfman and George Perez. After all, if it took two decades for the book to finally see print, I figured it would wait until I could read it in one sitting, and I’m glad I did!

I always enjoy Perez’s lush artwork– as detailed as my own is simple– and content-packed pages, though Mike Perkin’s inks here weren’t always the best match for his pencils. It’s been a while since I read a Wolfman script (the 2008 Supergirl/Raven crossover from The Brave and the Bold), but he had written a lot of my favorite comics (Nova, Fantastic Four, New Teen Titans, Crisis) of the 70s and 80s. The pair had worked well together on projects in the past, and reteamed here very smoothly, merging artwork from the original project (read more about the ups and downs of this project here) with newly created art and a fresh script. It was a fast-moving action/suspense plot, while retaining elements of characterization that had made the series a fan favorite during its original run. None of the cast seemed out of character here, and each had scenes of character enrichment to round them out beyond their costumes and powers. Many of the supporting cast and past members made appearances, and there were two particularly moving scenes, one heartbreaking, one redemptive. My only quibble would be that the character’s powers (notably Jericho’s) weren’t always introduced well for new readers … but then again, this book isn’t for them, appealing mainly to 40-somethings who have fond memories of the original New Teen Titans comic of the 1980s. Or it could just be a sign, as Wolfman says in his introduction, of “the style of storytelling” that has changed since they last worked on these characters.

The best thing about this book’s long gestation period is the fact that it freed it from the continuity of the ongoing Titans comic of the time. Able to stand on its own as a single story, Games is able to highlight the best aspects of the characters, such that they still rang true for me, over 20 years since I last read an issue of their comic. While I suspect Games won’t be a big seller for DC, it shows the quality that can be achieved by letting creators loose on characters they care about, freed from a line-wide continuity. Of course if it does, maybe they’ll let Jerry Ordway have another shot at the Shazam! family …

DC’s New 52 … and comics I actually liked!

DC Comics: the new 52Okay, that’s an intentionally provocative title, because I did like some of them. While I may not be that enamored with a lot of DC‘s decisions regarding their (partial) relaunch– more on that to later– their promotional comic from last July did give me a good feel for what they’re attempting, and actually encouraged me to give a few more of their new titles a try. I’ve bought and read three (well, 3 1/2) issues from DC’s new direction; not a whole lot, granted, but more than I was regularly following prior to that. With the first round of new #1s out, I thought I’d join the discussion about them.

Of course, I wanted to see how they were starting this relaunch, so I gave the final issue of Flashpoint (#5, written by Geoff Johns, art by Andy Kubert, et al.) a try. While I’ve enjoyed work by both of these creators in the past, it seemed rather noisy and furious (to paraphrase Shakespeare), with little substance to the characters, and lots of excuses for spreads of heroes posing dramatically. All in all, I don’t think they honored their past– something DC used to do well– as they segued into the future as nicely as was done in the recent Star Trek reboot, but it accomplished what they were after. Plus, it does give DC editorial an out if this new direction doesn’t bring in the expected sustained readership: [SPOILER ALERT] “Flash, run backwards!”[END SPOILER]. I was glad I bought it and read it, but I added it to my sell/donate pile as soon as I was done. Continue reading “DC’s New 52 … and comics I actually liked!”