Flavor # 7:
Justice League International
This one is a tough read, even for a superhero comic veteran such as myself. After being spoiled by some superhero comics at the turn of the century (The Authority, Stormwatch, Wildcats 3.0, among others) reading old-school-ish superhero comics is very hard for me to do. Comics that don't push the superhero narrative in its various forms and functions into new levels. I had to stop reading this comic, find the credits screen and learn who wrote it. Upon that information, I wasn't surprised. Dan Jurgens.
Most of you know who Dan Jurgens is without knowing his name. In the mid-1990s, DC Comics did a MASSIVE COMIC BOOK EVENT THING regarding the Death of Superman. You remember it, don't you? I was there, Superman was there, Doomsday was there... Dan Jurgens wrote that comic, I do believe, and drew it, too. Wikipedia says I'm correct in that belief. I'm not a big fan of Dan Jurgens, but not because of the Death of Superman storyline EVENT THING, but because he was the guy on writing duties for a horrible comic called "Supmerman/Aliens." Y'know, the H.R. Giger designed monsters that gestate inside you, then erupt violently from your chest like a maniacal birthing sequence that had two really great films under the directive fingertips of Ridley Scott and James Cameron. Yeah, those. It's a superhero comic book oddity, the crossover thing -- although it didn't begin with superheroes, nor is it limited to superheroes.
Continuing: The book begins like something ripped out of WildStorm Production's past with the United Nations piecing together a superhero team of their own. I'm supposing these guys are getting paid for their heroics, like the original Stormwatch, while everyone else does it for the GREATER GOOD. Like the old folks from HOT FUZZ. The book loses me when Batman shows up, after the team is assembled, and basic superheroic stuff goes on. Y'know, fighting big monsters and such. It's not the kind of superhero comics I like to read unless it's being done in a manner that blows my brain apart and then reassembles it from scratch. This is the first comic that hits the definite removal from my brain like a cancerous tumor pile.
Flavor # 8
I'm not too familiar with the character of Animal Man. I know that Grant Morrison wrote him in the 1990s at one point, and did something pretty interesting with the character, but I've yet to read those comics. Animal Man is a guy that can tap into a THING which has a name, but I'm forgetting it, and he can take his superpowers from animals attached to that THING. It's kind of a quirky little skill that could make for some humorous situations and doesn't seem like it would be all that interesting to read about.
But the catch is, Animal Man doesn't really play into the costumed heroics that other superheroes play into all that much. There's one instance in this first issue where he kind of does, but it's very different. Animal Man is an animal rights activist instead of the costumed vigilante thing, he's also married with two kids, and is having an independent film made about him, which makes for some very interesting drama in the book.
And it's good. Did I mention that, yet? No, well there it is! Animal Man # 1 is really good. There seems to be a minor section of the New 52 that read more maturely than the rest of the line does, and it seems that they're still closely tied to the incarnations of the books that were published through DC's mature readers/creator owned label, VERTIGO. Animal Man is one of them, Swamp Thing is another. These are the kind of superhero-like comics that one could read if they cannot man up to their juvenile fascinations with Godfigures and Heroes (like the Greek Age) and are embarrassed by reading comics with bright colors, funny costumes, and crazy situations. Of course, I'm not one of those people, but YOU MIGHT BE. This is a comic for you. Animal Man gets into the dark and twisted sort of superhero storytelling techniques towards the end of the book that give it a very ominous tone. It's a fantastic read that comes highly recommended from me.
Flavor # 9:
This is another comic that just isn't for me. Oliver Queen is a rich character in the name of a Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, that dresses up like a modern day Robin Hood, equipped with techno-gadgetry in the tips of his arrows to fight crime in his spare time. My only familiarity with the Green Arrow character comes from a brief appearance in Frank Miller's THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, and in that book he was a bit different than what I'm reading here.
This one gets the ax from me just like Justice League International does. Uninteresting, bland superheroics that don't differentiate itself well enough from the comics of the past that were just as bland and uninteresting to get new people excited or interested in what's going on. Less drama, too much over the top comic book action with lots of talky-talky going on during. Sometimes I wonder if some of these comic book writers have ever been in a fight. When a fight is going down, there's no time for discussion. Yet, regularly in comics, there's full on conversations going on while someone's getting kicked, punched, or shot through the hands with super-arrows.
Green Arrow is a dull arrow-tip launched at a new crowd from a limply crafted bow, entirely missing it's target.
Flavor # 10:
Hawk & Dove
This one is a weird one. I'm only familiar with the Hawk and Dove characters because I know that's where Rob Liefeld got his start in comics a long time ago. Before his Marvel work, before New Mutants and X-Force. Before he stamped my brain with the images of Cable and Deadpool. Before he, and several other popular artists, left Marvel Comics in search of greener pastures with their own creations and formed Image Comics. Rob was just a penciller guy on a series called Hawk and Dove. I never bothered reading it, 'cause it's taken me a very long time in nerd years to get over my nerd dislike for DC Comics' characters.
This one begins with some bland superheroics going on. The Hawk and Dove characters are stopping a cargo plane filled with zombie-like monsters from crashing into the Washington Monument, an act of terrorism concocted by some deranged mad scientist character, then boils down into some basic drama type stuff that's actually pretty interesting. The drama unfolds with the two characters discussing their partnership with other individuals. Hawk's talking about his dad -- and we get a brief flashback of the origins of Hawk and Dove -- and Dove is talking to her boyfriend which happens to be Deadman. What an odd person to be in a relationship with. Over the span of the pages, we get some mysteries floating around that are interesting enough to come back for a second issue, that culminate in the arrival of a tan-and-brown costume wearing character that looks a little bit like Hawk who has some obviously bad intentions towards the heroes.
Be warned though, the book is pencilled by Rob Liefeld and if you've never been a fan of Liefeld's work, this probably won't get you started as one. Me, I've always had a fondness for his anatomically incorrect, teeth-gritting comic art, so I'm perfectly fine with it. You may not be however. The book is worth a look, though.
And that concludes part three. It would've been up sooner had I actually written it last night, but I really could not pull myself away from reading a few trade paperbacks that I added to my library recently. Alan Moore's Complete WildC.A.T.s, Wildcats Volume 4: Battery Park, Wildcats Version 3.0 Year One, and Wildcats Version 3.0 Year Two. I was completely wrapped up in them that I forced myself to stay awake while I made it through the last volume. More on those later, I imagine.