Thursday, September 16, 2004

Quick Reviews

JLA Secret Files; Adventures of Superman; Youngblood Genesis; Hawkman; Flare; Terra Obscura

JLA Secret Files 2004
by Joe Kelly, Doug Mahnky, John Byrne & Tom Nguyen; Kurt Busiek, Ron Garney & Dan Green
The lead story highlights the differences between the classic JLA and the all-new JLE, and serves as an able reminder of why I decided to not bother with the Justice League Elite series. The back-up story by new JLA writer Busiek fares much better, setting up his upcoming arc by reintroducing us to the Crime Syndicate of America. Busiek also has some fun by reimagining the villains of the JLA's world as defeated heroes of the CSA's. My only concern is for the art; while I'm mollified somewhat by the improvement in layout under a plot from Busiek over Austen's plots, Garney's art still seems a bit sloppy and a step back from what he used to produce. I believe he's changed his style and, from this reader's perspective, it's not for the better.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Adventures of Superman #632
by Greg Rucka, Paul Pelletier & Rick Magyar
Superman seeks emergency treatment for Lois, but aside from flying her around really fast there's nothing he can do but put her fate in the hands of others, putting his in a rare position of weakness. It makes for an effective story, which when contrasted against what Austen is doing with the Clark-Lois relationship ove in Action makes the later seem rather facile. Pelletier resurfaces from the CrossGen disaster and turns in an able performance, although Superman isn't necessarily the best showcase for his strengths.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Youngblood Genesis #1
by Kurt Busiek, Brandon Thomas, Chad Walker, Eric Walker, & Rob Liefeld
Apparently this comic first came out over a year ago at the SDCC; why it is only now making its way into comic stores is a major marketing mystery. In fact, the background machinations of producing the book (including Busiek's attempts to distance himself from the whole thing) prove to be far more interesting than the content, a retlling of Youngblood's origins. A capable but standard plot from Busiek is weighed down by an uninspired script, amateur pencils, and ugly inking. But hey, at least there are five different covers! As far as I know, the past year has not seen the production of a second issue, and I doubtful it ever will. Which, really, won't be a big loss.
Rating: 2 (of 5)

Hawkman #32
by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Joe Bennett & Ruy Jose
It looks like this will be my last issue of Hawkman. It's not that it's so bad--the story is an okay pulpish done-in-one with Hawkman and The Atom discovering a secret old Nazi Antarctic base and fending off an alien invasion, and Bennett's art fits with the pulp atmosphere nicely. It's just that I don't care that much anymore, and with next issue feature a crossover with a title I don't follow (Monolith) it looks to be a perfect jumping-off point.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Flare #1/20
by Wilson Hill, Gordon Purcell & Terry Pallot; Steve Perrin, Wilson Hill, & Henry Martinez
After many years, Flare finally returns! Um, yeah. I have only vague recollections of the original Flare, mainly that it was a spin-off of The Champions which itself was spun out of the super-hero role-playing game of the same name. So, Flare has light powers and a complicated backstory which is only alluded to in this first issue, although a four-page 'featurette' after the main story helps to hit some of the hilights. Anyway the whole package has an 80's-retro feel to it, which is helped along by Purcell's art.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Terra Obscura vol. 2 #2
by Alan Moore, Peter Hogan, Yanick Paquette & Karl Story
Captain Future's spaceship has mysteriously returned after a 45 year absence, and as Tom Strange prepares to go and investigate, he and the rest of SMASH are visited by the SMASH of WWII. In grand comics tradition, a fight breaks out. No, it's not to the level of other ABC offerings like Promethea, Tom Strong or Smax, but Terra Obscura is a good old fashioned super-hero story that doesn't feel old.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

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