Trouble with Comics

Daily Breakdowns 092 - Where’s My Spider-Man Fishing Pole?

…I would have liked one as a kid. Anyway, after a couple weeks off on other projects like my actual job that pays my mortgage, I’ve got a little time to catch up on some floppies.

Predators #1 (of 4)

Writers - Marc Andreyko, David Lapham

Artists - Guilherme Balbi, Gabriel Guzman

Publisher - Dark Horse Comics

I wasn’t really even aware they were rebooting the Predator film franchise until I saw this comic, which sports a terrific Paul Lee cover with great likenesses of Adrien Brody and Lawrence Fishburne. Kind of funny that two talented guys who could use a hit or at least need to keep working are kind of slumming by doing this sci-fi action movie, while two talented comics writers like Andreyko and Lapham are sort of doing the same thing with this miniseries, which, like most licensed comics movie tie-ins has stories that serve as a prequel or flesh out the film. It’s not bad how they do it here, with Andreyko handling the longer main story, which spends time on a solider character whom we probably won’t see much of if any in the movie, as he blacks out during a parachute dive and then comes to during his descent into the jungle, where he joins his squad being rapidly picked off by an unseen Predator or more, and then the badass Fishburne character shows up. The backup has Lapham fleshing out the character of the amoral, mercenary Brody character. The art by Balbi on the main story was just okay—if you squint at some panels you may get a bit of a Guy Davis feel—but Guzman is much more polished on the backup. Although I doubt we’ll get top drawer Andreyko or Lapham here, I enjoyed it and probably look forward to the next issue a little more than the movie itself.

War of the Supermen #1-4

Writers - Sterling Gates, James Robinson

Artists - Jamal Igle, Eddy Barrows, Cafu, Eduardo Pansica, Various

Publisher - DC Comics

I only caught up to some of the New Krypton stories in the past month, and missed the setup for it. Still, aside from an interminable storyline involving Adam Strange that would have taken 10 pages in the ’50s, it was fairly entertaining. Didn’t really do a great job of world-building, and the class conflict stuff was dumbed down and abandoned to make way for this war story, but, well, what was I really expecting? I didn’t dislike it.

This miniseries? Much dislike. This one is a real embarrassment. I wish I knew what happened to James Robinson, and is Sterling Gates a real person and why is he getting so much work? The basic story is crazed xenophobe (and Lois’ dad), General Lane, destroys New Krypton, leaving thousands of pissed-off Kryptonians, led by equally crazed and xenophobic (though he has a point) General Zod coming to wage war on the people of Earth, leaving Superman and Supergirl in the middle. 

Aside from, I think, Igle, who draws an okay Superman and can handle a decent fight scene, the artwork is almost always boring at best, hideous at worst, with Superman at his most anemic, expressionless and awkward, and the Kryptonian army having as much majesty and menace as UPS delivery people—just substitute gray for brown. 

What’s worse is that the writers just seem to be hitting their beats, and haphazardly at that, with no wit and often a seeming disregard for dramatic promise. There’s a scene where an anguished Supergirl is hiding in floating planetary debris when Superman comes to find her. It’s mostly silent, and so I guess a good deal of the blame for its failure is the bad drawing, but some dialogue between the two would have been nice. And what about the missed opportunities when Superman comes back? There’s no Lois reunion scene. No conversation about how she’s feeling since her dad has become this despicable war criminal and her sister is insane. Instead there’s bad scenes like Lois and Jimmy drawn almost like federal agents, before it’s revealed that they’re just dumping exposition on Superboy, Steel and other supporting characters who don’t really serve much purpose here. It’s pretty much a complete botch. 

Hawkeye & Mockingbird #1

Writer - Jim McCann

Artist - David Lopez & Alvaro Lopez

I was surprised to look closer and realize this is supposed to be an ongoing series. I’m not sure there’s an audience, but whatever. The ups for this issue is that both McCann and the Lopez team convey a sense of fun right from the start. These two like fighting crime and are very comfortable with their gimmicks and corny costumes. I also like that the couple are part of a secret government group where they can be the stars, unlike the Avengers. And I like that Hawkeye’s looking out for Mockingbird and that there’s a secret between them that is causing problems. 

My complaints are minor. I think after Ms. Marvel, Black Widow, Agent 13/Sharon Carter, Spider-Woman and I’m probably forgetting one or two, one more screwed up hot former S.H.I.E.L.D. with skeletons in her closet is pretty played out. As is one more covert government special ops outfit—wouldn’t Norman Osborn have shut these things down? And also, not too down deep, I wonder if Hawkeye isn’t more interesting without her. He’s better mooning over someone else’s girl. Not bad, though. You could do a lot worse.

—Christopher Allen