Written by: Ron Bricker
The world of comics is complicated, with multiple companies (and universes) to keep track of. Luckily, CC2K has Joey Esposito, our resident expert on all things pulpy and good. Each week, Joey will break down what's happening in the world of comics, so you can pick up right where he left off. Today, admits to the Marvel dominance of team-based books, while still giving the gold medal to his beloved DC.
For its 41st week in a row, Countdown to Final Crisis has delivered another satisfactory, but not overwhelming, installment. I have enjoyed the series pretty thoroughly, but when one thinks about it in terms of an economic investment, paying roughly $160 for this story is nowhere near worthwhile. It was different with 52, as we got an epic story with a satisfying piece being added to it every single issue – not to mention the price was fifty cents cheaper. The reason I bring this to light now, is the recent announcement of DC's third weekly series, titled Trinity.
Now, unlike the previous weeklies, this book won't start until June and will exist "along side" the main DCU continuity, meaning that it won't be tying into the summer spectacle that is Final Crisis, or any of the brewing arcs in store for the flagship books. Dan Didio describes Trinity as a book to explore the importance of the Big Three – Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman – to the DC Universe. Personally, I'm very excited. This time around, the creative team will not be rotating, instead all issues will be handled by writer Kurt Busiek and newly signed DC-exclusive artist Mark Bagley. Each week will feature the main story of Trinity in the first 12 pages, and a backup feature written by Busiek and Fabian Nicieza for the remaining 10.
Although I have recently trashed Busiek's work on Superman as dull, he is a talented writer and it says a lot that he agreed to basically clear his schedule of most other things in order to take on an order as tall as a weekly comic book all to himself. And as for Bagley, there are artists out there that can't even push out a monthly on time, and this guy has taken on a weekly book as his first project with a new publisher. DC is nothing if not willing to take risks.
As far as the books go this week, DC has given us the first entry into the new Booster Gold arc, "Blue & Gold", with issue #0. Yes, the issue has been flagged as a "Zero Hour Tie-In", which disappointingly doesn't deliver as much "tie-in" as I had hoped. For an idea so clever, it lacked a bit of the punch I had hoped for. As usual though, the witty banter between characters far overshadows any issues I might have with the plot. This week we were also treated to the conclusion of new Wonder Woman writer Gail Simone's first arc, "The Circle", which in its short three issues, proved to be better than all issues of the not-so-newly relaunched series. Thank the Gods that Gail has come to deliver this book from comic book doom.
But, once again, DC's underrated mini series Gotham Underground has taken the cake. Issue #5, told almost entirely as a flashback, reeks of artistic perfection and exciting plot developments. J. Calafiore's use of puzzle piece shaped panels in this issue annoyed me at first, but eventually you realize that they are not quite as gimmicky as they seem. Strategically placed they serve as a device to further the mystery of the series forward, even though the issue itself is a flashback serving as a way to fill in some gaps. The whole design is rather clever, I only wish that DC would have given this book a bit more of a push.
And Marvel, with another desperate attempt to get me to follow more of their books, pulled a fast one on me. And honestly, with as much industry news that I follow, this information slipped under my radar until I went to make my pull list for this week. Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch have taken over Fantastic Four . Always a fan of the characters, I haven't read much of the FF's books, aside from some of the Ultimate stuff and some random arcs throughout the main series. But, this seemed to be the perfect time to jump on board and enjoy a great team book, from creators I know I can rely on (quality wise anyway…shipping on time is a whole other problem). As much as I love DC, the one genre they are seriously lacking in is team books. Sure, they publish plenty of team books, it's just that most of them are of no interest. Justice Society of America is astonishing, but one great team book hardly makes up for 10 lackluster ones.
With Marvel, readers are treated to Fantastic Four, Runaways, Thunderbolts, The New Avengers, Astonishing X-Men, X-Men: First Class, plus a plethora of other things that I've never even read, most of them highly praised by critics and fans alike. Millar and Hitch have proven their team book skills on things like Ultimates and we now have them back in the main Marvel U, hooking newbie FF readers like me in for the ride. Issue #554 really delivers, even if it is light on the "action", it proves to be a great introductory book to these characters in their present iteration, and shows the family dynamic which makes Fantastic Four such a unique book. Perhaps team book isn't the proper term; family book may be more suiting.
In other things Marvel, New Avengers #38 picks up right where New Avengers Annual #2 left us, and this time the cover wears the bearing of "Secret Invasion". With this issue, Brian Bendis' new epic starts gearing up for full impact. Although the scale is large, this issue is actually one of the more personal and low key issues of New Avengers as of late. As with FF, action is kept to a minimum and instead deals with a tough situation for one of the toughest characters on the team. In a strange way, this issue reads like an issue of Daredevil. The pacing is such that it is leading the readers not into the next action sequence or splash page, but instead leading them to an emotional climax for the character the narrative is following. However, it can't be left unsaid that this issue is clearly the calm before the storm. Something wicked is brewing over at Marvel.
All in all, an exciting week in strange new ways for comics. Big news, big books, and big expectations as we all look to the future.
This week's must read list:
Gotham Underground #5
Simon Dark #5
Wonder Woman #17
Fantastic Four #554
New Avengers #38
CC2K is currently putting together an official comics section to the site, that will include reviews of weekly books, trades, and coverage of alternative comics and graphic novels. We have plans for convention coverage, comic news, and more! But to do all these things we need devoted, passionate writers! If you have an interest in comics, buy books weekly, and have the writing chops to put together reviews, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You should include a writing sample of your work (preferably comic-related), as well as a pull list of your weekly books and any relevant information you feel you'd like to share. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line. I hope to hear from you all soon!