This week’s comics! In brief!
Oh, my. While I’m a bit disappointed that the current Powers case (the murder of the Golden Ones) has resolved less through detective work and more through sheer unadulterated batshittiness… I am rather enthused at exactly HOW batshit things got this issue. And (without getting into big wet spoilers) pondering the long-term ramifications for the series as a whole is actually pretty exciting. Yes, this issue loses points for feeling a little rushed, and for Our Heroes becoming little more than snappy-dialogue-spouting puppets in the face of the massive plot info-dump that makes up the bulk of the issue. But I’m still super-excited to see where it all goes next. And, as always, Mike Oeming makes the whole thing look fantastic. So not their best work, but… holy shit!
It slowly dawned on me while reading this issue that it felt an awful lot like events were coming to a head, and the final page verified that, yes, next issue will be the last. At first, I thought that Smith was wrapping things up too quickly, but I suspect that a re-reading of the series before that final issue hits the stands will remind me that he’s pretty much covered all his bases. In the meantime, however, this was a nice issue. It features an exciting resolution to last issue’s Mexican stand-off cliffhanger, an even more exciting barroom gunfight, and lots of great weird Jeff Smith artwork. Good sci-fi funnybooks, as it’s been all along.
Ay-yi-yi. I knew that Sam Humphries would be taking this book over from Jonathan Hickman, but I’d assumed that Hickman would finish his story first. That doesn’t seem to be the case, however, because this issue was quite obviously not written by Hickman, and also quite obviously not as good. I’m sure the plot was at least partially his, but the writing itself seems considerably dumbed-down from what’s come before, and the dialogue has sort of a pidgin-Bendis quality to it. Which is say that it’s snappy in places, but in a tired, paint-by-numbers kind of way.
The army of artists employed to complete the issue on time doesn’t help, either. While there’s a certain bland sameness to most of the pages, the art still feels uneven and, more damningly, entirely uninspired. After the quality of Esad Ribic’s work on the majority of the previous ten issues, this issue is quite a visual let-down, even moreso than the previous fill-ins.
So, bleh. Just bleh. This is not a trainwreck of a comic by any means. It’s not bad, per se. It’s just really, amazingly, disappointingly… average. A cookie-cutter piece of corporate spandex grunt work, cranked out production-line style to meet consumer demand by its assigned release date. I don’t hate it. But I’m sure as shit not gonna pay four bucks for it, either. Looks like it’s time for me and the Ultimates relaunch to part company.
Dumb, but inventive. That pretty much sums up Mark Millar’s post-Ultimates work, I think. There was an intelligence and complexity to that series (and much of his work before it) that he’s traded in for the sort of glossy sheen that attracts Hollywood interest the most. There have been exceptions, of course (I’d argue for the early days of his Fantastic Four run), but for the most part… Dumb. But Inventive.
That description also applies to Supercrooks, his current super-villain heist comic. Which… That right there should make it a cinch for Hollywood. Super-villain heist comic?! Sold!
I like heist stories, personally. The mix of criminal skills, the colorful personalities, the planning, the things that inevitably go wrong… Good pulpy entertainment that’s just a little bit smarter than your average chest-thumping action crap. How’s Supercrooks stack up? It’s not much of a heist story, to be honest. Millar’s put together a group of colorful personalities with diverse skills, certainly. But the intricate planning endemic to the genre doesn’t seem to be anything he’s all that interested in. Still, I like his use of telepathy as part of the scheme, and having a guy whose only power is apparently the ability to make people’s heads explode is pretty hysterical. Of course, since he’s the guy they’re stealing from, it’s also kind of terrifying. Which is also good.
So there you go. Supercrooks is… dumb, but inventive. Not that I expected anything else.