Sunday, September 30, 2007

Snap Judgments - Blue Beetle #19, Countdown to Adventure #2, Avengers: The Initiative #6

Blue Beetle # 19

Blue Beetle has been settling into a tidy formula over the last five issues - Jaime fights a guest villain, picks up a bit more wisdom on how to be a superhero, and the book wraps up on a personal note, often with single-tear inducing epilogues. This ish hits all the marks: Giganta is the baddie, and her Kaiju Big Battel style rampage is one of the most exciting action set pieces in months (drawn with gusto by David Baldon, who redeems himself for giving Tim Drake and Jaime the same face last month). Jaimie learns a lesson in horrifying pseudo-science of pressure points, and the emotional moment belongs to his gringa gal pal, Brenda.

These self contained stories work in the same way Paul Dini's recent run on Detective did - the dialogue zips the plot along, the resolutions are smart and satisfying, and it's easy for new readers to pick up. But as regular reader, I'd like to get back into the meat of the alien invasion plot line introduced way back in issue #13. And speaking of 13, rising star Traci 13 shows up for about three minutes in this issue to confirm that she and Jamie are totally hooking up. A- AHR

Countdown to Adventure #2

The only good thing about an alternate earth where Nazis rule the world is that when freedom-loving heroes from other dimensions show up, they have carte blanche to do as many head-severing superpunches as they want without fear of moral compromise. Here, it's Forerunner who gets to do a few laps of nazi-smashin' in the second half of this two-story issue - the first half concerns the dreadfully uninteresting 52 outer-space story, but does feature Animal stomping on a car and Starfire in civvys. I haven't been reading Countdown closely enough to fully understand the Forerunners complicated and tragic back story but I like what I do know: she likes to kick, hit, aaaaand KICK! B AHR

Avengers: The Initiative #6

I'm....I'm blind . Regular Initiative artist Stefano Caselli is MIA on this issue, and the jarring effect of seeing Dan Slott's script interpreted by young gun Steve Uy has caused my neural receptors to refuse the information my eyes attempted to relat. It's not as simple as a case of bad art - what drove me crazy is that the acting in this issue is terrible. Though the stiff body language and flat expressions seen here are not among the worst I've ever seen, artist Uy is at the serious disadvantage of filling in for an artist who has been creating the most vividly realized new characters in mainstream comics. Imagine watching a great movie with a fanatically talented cast, but when you come back from the bathroom all the characters are suddenly being played by first year drama students. The script might still be spot on, but nothing murders good dialogue like bad acting. Some important and surprising information is revealed in this issue, so regular readers may still want to check it out, but don't blame me if you're gripped with the impulse to hurl popcorn at the pages. D AHR

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