Friday, October 05, 2007

Snap Judgments: Omega: The Unknown #1, Metal Men #3, Howard The Duck #1, Detective #837

Geekanerd's Snap Judgments gives you Triple-S comic reviews: short, sweet, and spoiler-free.

Omega: The Unknown #1 (of 10)
Gets a A- from Albo
This ten issue miniseries is a retelling of a 70s series which was cut short due to slow sales. From the beginning of the plot synopsis I read on Wikipedia it appears writer Jonathan Lethem (novelist, MacArthur Fellowship recipient, first time comics writer) is sticking pretty tight to that original story. What we have is Omega, a traveler from another world who apparently has crash landed on earth and Alexander, a precocious young boy who learns something very shocking about his parents before lapsing into a coma. The two characters are clearly linked (though to go into how might violate our spoiler rule), but it isn't exactly explained how. Is Omega a dream of Alexander's? Is Alexander a dream of Omega's? The storytelling is deep and sometimes dips into Allred-esque absurdity, but the emotional core of the story is quite grounded. So far. Farel Dalrymple (Pop Gun War) produces art that's a little crude but fits the mood of the story so well it can't be considered a detriment. Anyway, it's a very fresh and original (it's a remake, I know I know) book and I'll definitely be sticking around to see where this goes.

Metal Men, two takes on Howard the Duck, and Detective after the jump...

Metal Men #3
Gets an A+ From AHR
Wow, this was great. The last two issues of this series certainly looked amazing, but the tech talk and ancient alchemy plot-lines seemed needlessly inaccessible, and very separate from the fun and engaging sequences featuring the present-day Metal Men and the flashback storyline concerning Dr. Magnus' early career. But it all comes together here, with a dynamite opening scene in which we find Dr. T.O Morrow having gone from his most recent incarnation in 52, as a cocktail sipping eccentric, back to a full blown mad scientist supervillian, complete with a Snidely Whiplash Mustache and army of "Death Metal Men". All of the elemental explanation about how these radioactive doppelgangers came into existence is easily understood and hugely satisfying; this is a rare book where instead of patiently waiting for the exposition to be over with, I couldn't wait to see what new piece of the puzzle the next page would reveal. Throw in some more sweet 'n' sad relationship drama, a great cliffhanger, and Metal Men has become my new most anticipated book of next month.

Howard the Duck #1 (of 4)
Gets a C+ from Albo
There's not really anything bad about this book. The writing by Ty Templeton (Bigg Time) isn't bad, the art team of Juan Bobillo, Marcelo Sosa and Nestor Pereyra puts some pretty pages together, but... Maybe it's just me, but when you pull a poor-selling third string character with a weak history out of the archives for their own series, you better have a reason. Not even really a good reason, just any reason. The first issue should be a mission statement as to what's different, why it's going to work this time. This book doesn't do that. It's just a straight-forward silly Howard the Duck tale. Fans will likely love it, but if you've never known why you should care about Howard, this isn't the book to convince you.

...but gets a SOLID A From AHR
I picked this up because I loved Ty Templeton's work on Batman Adventures, a series of one-shot stories set in the BTAS universe that shockingly managed to capture the same wit and heart of the series. I've never read a Howard the Duck comic, never saw the much maligned film, and really had no clue what Howard's role in the Marvel Universe is. I still don't, but one thing that comes across in this story is Howard's personality. This issue paints him as dryer-than-toast cynic, with few illusions about the superheroic world he lives in. I was hooked after a panel in which Howard switches off a political radio show with a yawn; "Yadda yadda, Stark is bad, Cap was!" The ish is packed with plot-lines and various hapless human characters, but ends up being largely following Howard as he's chased around the city by quantum physicist duck hunters, who note "We're scientists. We don't know the first thing about ethics." Fun from start to finish.

Detective Comics #837
Gets a B+ From AHR
The featured detective in this story isn't Batman, but the other greatest detective in Gotham: The Riddler (sorry Renee). Now working on the right side of the law as a PI, Eddie is hired by a certain playboy industrialist to investigate some disappearing lab samples. The trail leads to the Athenian Women's Shelter, where Countdown readers know Harley Quinn currently resides. Much of the issue is just a framework for these two re-formed Akhamites to catch-up and drop some hints about what's going on in DCU continuity, Paul Dini being currently in charge of that kinda stuff. It's a good issue for Harley fans, who's character isn't diminished by being reformed since she was never particularly evil to begin with. But Riddler fans (do those exist?) may be disappointed by how little detecting he does. And dumb nerds like me will choke on the idea of Bruce outsourcing his detective work to the Riddler, but as I should have known, he's got his reasons. Sorry for the lapse in trust, Bats.