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21 February 2006 @ 09:31 pm
Comics acquisitions  
Picked up a few comics yesterday. Three trade paperbacks and a pamphlet:

First, the pamphlet: The Middle Man by Grillo-Marxuach and McClaine, series 2 issue 1. I've got an issue from the first series, which included among other things a chimpanzee mobster. I'll be picking up the trade if I can find it. The second series, subtitled The Entering Dragon Conundrum, has a kung fu master in a Mexican wrestler mask. Good indie semi-superheroic fun that doesn't take itself very seriously.

On to the trades. Of the four "official" Infinite Crisis tie-in miniseries, the stand-out was Villains United, written by Gail Simone with art by Eaglesham and Semeiks (the others were The Rann-Thanagar War, The OMAC Project, and Day of Vengeance. The Teen Titans|Ousiders crossover The Return of Donna Troy was not promoted as such but acts a fifth). The story centers around a sort of civil war between groups of super-villains: the Society, led by Lex Luthor and consisting of most of the DC Universe's Earth-bound criminals and assholes, and the Secret Six, a small group of C-listers who declined admission into the Society, led by someone calling himself Mockingbird. There's some good character work in this, especially with Catman, who Simone has somehow managed to turn into something of a badass without glossing over his years as an also-ran Batman villain.

DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore collects all of the work Alan Moore did for the mainline DC universe, with the exception of Swamp Thing. This includes classics like For the Man Who Has Everything (yes, that JLU episode was based on an Alan Moore story), Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, The Killing Joke, and In Blackest Night. Man of Tomorrow is missing the famous opening text, and Killing Joke is missing the front and back plates (which were called for in the script), so it's not ideal, but it's the easiest way to get ahold of these otherwise out-of-print stories. Man of Tomorrow is the semi-official Post-Crisis "ending" to the Earth-1 Superman. The part where Brainiac takes over Lex Luthor is quite creepy. In The Killing Joke, The Joker sets out to prove that all it takes to make a man snap is one bad day, with James Gordon as his experimental subject. It also provides one origin of the Joker (but as Joker says, "If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!"). For some reason, when people talk about the darkening of the Batman comics, they always bring up Dark Knight Returns, but rarely this contemporaneous story, which is pretty brutal and also part of continuity—this is the story that paralyzed Barbara Gordon. Mogo Doesn't Socialize and In Blackest Night introduce us to a couple of the Green Lantern Corps's more unusual members, including in the latter Rot Lop Fan, from a region of space with no light and therefore a species with no concept of green or lanterns.

Finally, Seven Soldiers of Victory, volume one, by Grant Morrison and several artists. Seven Soldiers is Morrison's current big project, a sort of miniseries of miniseries consisting of seven titles—Shining Knight, Zatanna, Guardian, Klarion, Frankenstein, Bulleteer, and Mister Miracle—bookended by Seven Soldiers #0 and Seven Soldiers #1. Each title can in theory be read as a stand-alone story, but each also figures into the metaplot, and they intersect in sometimes subtle ways. The original Seven Soldiers of Victory were a minor Golden Age superteam. Morrison's group is a new, modern-day team—or rather, an anti-team, as they must cooperate to stop a major threat without ever meeting. This threat is the Sheeda, a race of extradimensional aliens who arrive on Earth at the peak of civilizations and wipe them out, leaving only enough survivors left to start building the next. Volume One collects Seven Soldiers #0, the first two issues of Shining Knight, Zatanna, and Guardian, and the first issue of Klarion (the trades group issues according to their date of publication rather than by title or by internal order of events). In 7S#0, an attempt by the mysterious Seven Unknown Men to assemble a new Seven Soldiers to battle the Sheeda has disastrous consequences, and forces them to try a new plan. In Shining Knight, Sir Justin of King Arthur's Broken Table infiltrates the Sheeda's stronghold, Castle Revolving, but the Castle exists outside of normal time, and Justin and his talking winged horse Vanguard are thrown into modern New York City (it's not clear how this fits with the Golden Age Shining Knight, who was also named Sir Justin and was a knight of the Round Table but was pretty clearly not the same person, even though he's shown in pictures of the old 7S). In Zatanna, the magician and former Justice Leaguer has lost her magic powers, and is stalked by a creature that can turn into literally anything. In Guardian, an ex-cop finds new employment as the eponymous "house superhero" of the tabloid Manhattan Guardian, and finds himself on an adventure with an underground civilization of homeless swashbuckling subway-pirates. Klarion, a youth in the subterranean village of Limbo Town (which seems like a colonial New England town, aside from the pale blue skin of its inhabitants, their worship of Croatoan, and their use of zombie-like "Grundies" for labor) breaks his people's laws and sets out to discover the outside world.
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mr_rakshasa on February 28th, 2006 06:08 am (UTC)
I read Killing Joke when it first came out, and my only other real exposure to Batman (I'm British, and mostly read 2000AD and such) was through my dad's silver age stuff.
Needless to say, I am to this day utterly, utterly terrified of Killing Joke. Particularly the cherubs.
Hello!
gwalla: evil mickeygwalla on March 1st, 2006 12:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, the bug-eyed bald midgets are damn freaky.