Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Comic Book Wednesday: the Allure of an Aptly Drawn Ape

Legion of 3 Worlds 3 of 5. By Geoff Johns and George Perez. In the comic book industry, there are many books that have become nearly legendary simply by virtue of the ridiculous delays between issues. Marvel's Halo series. Kevin Smith's Spider-Man and Black Cat stories. Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk. Legion of 3 Worlds has not reached that rank, but as a tie-in series to Final Crisis that is reaching its middle when the event itself ended last week, there's egg on someone's face.

How is the comic? Well, it's the third in a series, so the ball is already well-rolling. And it's heavily seeped in DC mythos, so anyone without a reasonable background in all three iterations of the Legion of Superheroes should probably sit this one out. The Plot: Superman Prime (the Superboy from an alternate universe, brought forth in Infinite Crisis, which Johns and Perez also worked on) has found himself in the future of the Legion, and has led a cadre of supervillains (from a previous Johns story arc in Superman) to attack Metropolis, bent on destroying a society that idolized the false Superman. Superman and the Legion--the Legion from three different universes-- try to stop him. The art is typical Perez--at its absolute best when depicting giant crowd scenes, and the combined forces of three legions--plus assorted speedsters, Green Lanterns, and Super-men--definitely fits the bill. I enjoyed the issue, but it's certainly nothing like the rest of Final Crisis, and I can't imagine it being fathomable or even likeable to someone without a thorough knowledge of Johns' oeuvre.

X-Men vs. the Hulk. By Chris Claremont and Jheremy Raapack and Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema. This is the first in a series of oneshots celebrating the founding of Marvel, and it features two stories. The first is a peculiar beast: it's a new story, but Claremont is writing the X-Men from the era just after the Brood War encounter. The idea is that, through means not entirely specified, Wolverine has decided Colossus needs testing and arranges him to fight the Hulk. So much for plot. The fight itself is quintessially Claremontian, with thought bubbles and narrative captions. But it's extremely well executed. The art's a little off--some characters, especially Kitty, look like they wandered in from a manga. The second story is a reprint of X-Men 66, in which the X-Men battle the Hulk in order to raid Bruce Banner's lab to find a McGuffin needed to cure Xavier. I know it was chosen because it's the first fight between the X-Men and the Hulk, but I think Marvel misstepped in choosing it. By the content of the story and its use of Claremont as the author, they're definitely signalling the focus is on the X-Men, not Hulk, and I think that could have been further emphasized by choosing a Hulk vs. X-Men story that Claremont himself wrote, which would add a further level, comparing his current work to the original. (In ten some years on the X-Men, he must have written a Hulk story at some point, right?) At any rate, it's a serviceable package, if not exactly notable.

Secret Warriors 1. By Brian Michael Bendis, Jonathan Hickman, & Stefano Caselli. The Secret Warriors, a team of vaguely hero legacy-connected individuals, were introduced during the Secret Invasion. In that series, they were a team gathered by Nick Fury in order to--well, stand around and fight Skrulls, as it turned out, since they didn't really do anything in particular. And in case you want to read more of them doing that, here it is. The "hook" seems to be that Nick Fury created this covert cloak-and-daggers super hero team to shut down the crooked remnants of SHIELD. The first issue is basically the set-up and fight scene, and while many of the characters still remain littler more than ciphers at this point--Slingshot, the Druid, and Stonewall--but the rest are least engaging enough to warrant further reading. The art is good, but what's really spectacular is Daniele Rudoni's colouring. There is an alternate cover of a man in a suit with a chained manticore and a masked man riding a skeletal horse behind them. This scene does not appear in the book. There's also a bunch of extras, including a list of Fury bases, a HYDRA timeline, and a journal from Slingshot--interesting material, if somewhat filler. The issue itself is worth looking into if you're a fan of Fury--nothing too above average yet otherwise.

Later Days.

*UPDATE*: I was originally planning to review Agents of Atlas 1 as well, which is where the title comes from. On account of the team being compose of aliens, atlanteans, robots, and apes. Already sounds more interesting than Secret Warriors, doesn't it?

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