19 March 2005

ménage à trois: 3/16/05

[One Marvel, one DC, both published the previous Wednesday, plus a random indie from whenever I feel like it, each reviewed quickie-style: 1 Minute=bad, 10 Minutes=good. Connections, if any at all, may be forced purely for the experience.]

A healthy week from the Big Two, including several of my regulars, along with a new issue of one of my overall favorites from Arcana headline an unusually expensive week as eBay and Top Shelf added to a heady mix of comic book gluttony. In this episode, the much-anticipated second issue of the new Black Panther is joined by an intense Teen Titans #22 and the stellar 100 Girls #4.

I've spent so much energy the past couple of months defending Reginald Hudlin's spin on Black Panther that I almost feel unable to properly judge it anymore as I really want it to succeed to spite its many detractors. As a result, I have to admit to being a little nervous about this issue, part of me feeling like the stakes had been unfairly raised for it, setting it up for failure. Happily, Hudlin comes through with another solid issue, clarifying somewhat where he's coming from - a retconned Year One told via flashback - while still managing to maintain an air of uncertainty about where he's going. Starting off with a bit of sleight-of-hand story-telling as narrated by Everett Ross, he gracefully recounts T'Challa's origin as the Black Panther before shifting gears to focus on the bad guys and their unfolding plot to infiltrate Wakanda. As decompression goes, Hudlin moves the story along well enough and John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson team up for another visual treat, especially during the Panther ritual that includes several pages of wordless hand-to-hand combat. While the sum total will likely end up being greater than its individual parts, this part holds its own nicely: 7.5 Minutes

If I was Dr. Light, and I found out that the JLA had not only mindwiped me, but turned me into a bit of an idiot and tossed me to the kiddies, I'd be a little pissed, too. And looking for revenge. In Teen Titans #22, that's exactly the scenario Geoff Johns delivers with an intense, badass Dr. Light doing a number on the teen super-heroes who are totally unprepared for his newfound ruthlessness, used to the buffoon of old. Johns actually manages to make Dr. Light come off as somewhat sympathetic, to the point where if you're not necessarily rooting for him, you're at least glad to see him get his licks in. While the appearance of the new Hawk & Dove seems to come out of left field - did I miss something last issue? - the cavalry that shows up at the end is well done. Funny thing is, you're left thinking Light could actually take them all on and win. One of the most consistently entertaining comics every month, keeps on doing its thing: 8 Minutes

It's a great feeling when an underappreciated indie rewards your faith in it, continuing to get better and better with each issue. I was concerned that 100 Girls would begin to slip once it got past its initial storyline that had run previously as a Dark Horse webcomic, but thankfully, I had nothing to worry about as Adam Gallardo and Todd Demong have done it again. Each issue reveals new layers to the larger story while deepening the overall mystery, plus they continue to develop the main characters with appealing shades of moral grey. Sylvia Mark is still on the run, now with two other Girls sharing her head, and hot on the trail of another. At the same time, teams of agents are spreading out to retrieve the other Girls that were abducted from the program. Sylvia gets to kick some more ass, demonstrate a great new power, and locate another Girl who gets an effective three-page introduction to close out the issue, and the intial arc, on a bit of a cliffhanger. If 100 Girls isn't already on your pull list, then you don't really like good comics: 9 Minutes

No comments: