Time for another graphic novel mini-review roundup, because apparently I don’t what’s good for me. In this edition, I prove I don’t know what’s good for me by making my umptybillionth attempt to find something good in Deadpool (spoiler: failed again), revisit a favourite character, and touch base with one of the most pointless characters in comics. Plus Spiderman.
You’ve been advised.
Deadpool and the Mercs for Money Vol 2: IvX
So. Turns out, the only thing worse than ploughing through page after page of Deadpool not being anywhere near as funny as you’re supposed to think he is, is turning him serious. His team leave him, because why wouldn’t they? He ends up in deep shit, because that’s the only narrative beat that people who write for this title seems to have. And it’s up to Domino and a new group of mercs to save his arse, and sideline him within his own team, which makes pretty decent sense to me. It’s all played straight….. ish, and really just proves why Domino needs her own series, as if we didn’t already know. People who like this sort of thing will like this sort of thing, and may Jack Kirby have mercy on their souls. I promise I’ll never try to review one of these again.
Batgirl Vol. 2: Son of Penguin.
Unpopular opinion: Batgirl is the most pointless character in comics. Yes, including Lady Stiltman. Don’t get me wrong. Barbara Gordon is great. Oracle was fucking fantastic. Batgirl? Her very reason for existing has been usurped by a raft of better, more original female characters. Her entire niche is better filled by a (too) vast range of batsidekicks and teen heroes. The things that make Barbara/Oracle unique would be far better employed ‘doing a Nightwing’ than asking us to believe in a grown woman running around in the equivalent of a Robin outfit. Now, that said: this is a fun volume. The idea that the Penguin would father and abandon a son, and that said son would return to upset the apple cart, is a good one, and it’s played well. I’ve read several of this run, thanks to the local libraries and their bulk-purchasing practices. It’s lightweight, disposable fluff without any real depth. which is fine enough, I suppose. But I miss Oracle. And I wish they’d do something to advance this very good character of Barbara Gordon instead of consigning her to a narrative backwater like Batgirl.
I’ve always loved Nightcrawler. He’s by far the most interesting of the X-Men: the outcast offspring of a shapeshifter and a maybe-descended-from-actual-demons first rank nutbar; a deeply religious man who died and then rejected Heaven; a born adventurer and gallant trapped in a twisted and unsightly form. He’s got narrative potential out the freaking wazoo, and if you want to know just how great he is, get thee back in time and pick up some early issues of Excalibur, because it was absolutely bugfuck mad and he was great. This is a promising volume, dealing as it does with his extended family backstory, and how his return from death affects a crew of characters we’ve never really seen enough of: Amanda Sefton and Margali Szardos in particular. Very few writers have ever handled the X-Men with such deft hands as Claremont: he’s in good form here, and I’ll be interested in seeing where he takes this title once he’s free of the weight of backstory.
Spidey: School’s Out.
Peter Parker gets himself an invite to a Tony Stark-sponsored science camp, and hijinks ensue. This is disposable entertainment of the type that Spiderman does best: some wry smiles, a lot of avoidable teen angst, and everything wrapped up so neatly that the hundred easier ways to solve the problem seem irrelevant. Includes a guest appearance for no real reason by the Black Panther, just to prove that there’s nothing you can’t accomplish with rich, powerful friends, and that, basically, comics now exist solely to help Marvel tie movie properties together.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol 1: Sinestro’s Law.
One of the more enjoyable facets of my long friendship with playwright, author and reviewer Grant Watson is our ongoing debate over just who is the more boring character: Hal Jordan or Barry Allen. The truth, as we both know but will never admit, is that almost all of the Silver Age DC heroes are boring, if viewed in isolation: it’s their villains who define them. And no villain looms larger in Hal Jordan’s rogue’s gallery than Sinestro. As the we-shall-not-think-of-it film proved, if you don’t have Sinestro, you don’t really have (this) Green Lantern. The creators of this ludicrously lengthily named series understand that, and place the Lord of Fear slap bang at the heart of everything. And it works, mate: it works. Sinestro has won. The Green Lanterns have been removed from the Universe, and the Yellow Lanterns are in control. Except, of course, that his obsession with Jordan, and the few remaining Corps members who remain, are going to bring the whole thing tumbling down. This is the sort of thing the Green Lantern books exist for: galaxy-spanning action, with the fate of the Universe at stake, and oor Hal straining at the bonds of both his physical and moral boundaries. Big questions, high stakes, and a dizzying sense of action. It’s fab.