And best single issue of 2012 goes to…

With only three books on my pull list this week, two of which are annuals and one being a new series, I don’t expect this to take too long. A pity, writing these entries every week is something I look forward to.

The Ravagers spun out of the Culling mini-event, which linked two terrible books, Teen Titans and Legion Lost, with the not-exactly-terrible-but-not-exactly-good book Superboy. So, you take three books with a distinct absence of good, shake, separate, and come up with…dreck. I’m sorry. I’m sorry if you’ve already read this book and are just checking to see what I thought of it. I’m sorry for everyone, myself included, who went into the comic shop hoping that this book wouldn’t suck. Basic premise is this: The kids that survived the Culling and weren’t already on a super-team are being watched over by Caitlin Fairchild, and she’s not doing a great job of it. Current body count as of issue one: five. Not to mention that Beast Boy and Terra decided to hightail it out of dodge as soon as they could. Which leaves Caitlin with a former Ravager named Ridge, and the brother and sister duo of Thunder and Lightning at her disposal. Also, can I point something out? Lightning’s name is Alya. Um. You know, I can think of another girl with lightning powers. Has a Lass at the end of her name. She lives in the 31st century and goes by Ayla. Nice try, though. And yeah, I know her name was revealed in Teen Titans, so the blame lays firmly on Lobdell’s shoulders, but my point stands. Truth be told, I thought I was reading Lobdell’s writing here for a minute. Turns out this book was written by a gent named Howard Mackie, who is a 90s Marvel alum like Lobdell. Well, now I see why DC just had to have him. The art isn’t…well. I have a bias against Ian Churchill for the time he spent drawing Supergirl in her last solo series, but I liked him when he was drawing Titans? He’s just…the expressions he draws are great, but his bodies are lacking. Not to mention that he’s a ‘boobs front n’ center’ artist and on teenage girls, that kinda makes me nope all over the place. What was Brighteyes’ power again? Cleavage? The ability to give bedroom eyes for no reason? Nope nope nope. The dialogue was actually not terrible, if only because it read like real things kids who’d just spent weeks being tortured would say. But the pacing? Losing four characters in one go, then killing off two of said characters, before killing off another three at the end? Left a lot to be desired. My official say on this? Gonna pass. I’ve got no time to spend on books I don’t like. You had a chance, Ravagers, and you blew it.

SPOILER ALERT
I’m attached to few of the Batman villains. Penguin is creepy, Ra’s is even creepier, Joker is fairly dull, and Croc isn’t interesting. But Mister Freeze is one of those guys I can’t help but like. You always root for the villain who has experienced profound loss. Everyone knows that the most popular version of Freeze comes straight out of Batman: The Animated Series. A lovelorn scientist whose wife is cryogenically frozen to keep her alive, until a cure for her fatal heart disease can be found. An accident in his lab caused his genes to shift dramatically, so that he cannot stay alive in any temperature above zero. A tragic story for a tragic villain motivated by love. Not anymore! Now, Nora Fries is actually Nora Fields, the first person to ever be cryogenically frozen. She was never Freeze’s wife, just the woman he’d been obsessed with for years. Oh, and as a child, Victor killed his wheelchair-bound mother by pushing her into the same freezing water that had crippled and addled her in the first place. I actually had to double check to make sure that this issue was actually written by Scott Snyder because while some of it sounded like him, other things…not so much. Turns out the issue was co-written by James Tynion. If you’ve never heard of this guy before, fret not. He’s actually a former student of Snyder’s, and will be writing the upcoming Batman backups. Well. Seeing as this annual was his first ever professional writing gig, I’ll give him a pass. I mean, it’s not like he went and retconned a great Bat-villain’s origin or anything. Oh, wait.

Hello, friend. I’d like to talk to you about Animal Man. I never thought I’d be saying this, but the Animal Man annual is probably the single best comic I’ve read this year from DC. No, really. It’s a stand-alone story, that also ties into the main storyline regarding the Rot. Do you know how cool that is? To find an issue that you don’t have to buy to understand the rest of the story, but probably will anyway because it’s so goddamn good? This is the magic of Jeff Lemire, folks. He’s the kind of master of ‘out there’ writing that Grant Morrison only wishes he could be. Anyway, enough about the Wonder of Jeff. The annual itself is not an actual part of the ongoing story, but rather a story that Socks is telling Maxine, of the last time the Red and the Green worked together. It’s a good, solid story and, while it doesn’t exactly have a happy ending, it also serves as a bit of a warning, in its way. There’s also a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bit of foreshadowing towards what could happen to Buddy’s family if he fails entirely in his efforts to protect them. A word of warning, though, don’t read this issue while eating anything. You, uh, may not be able to finish.

And that was this week in comics! I’m going to do a little bit of shameless self-promotion here now. Aside from the general reblogging of butts and Tom Hiddleston’s antics, I’ve been recently writing more rants on comics at my Tumblr, username touchofgrey37. A warning: while my blog couldn’t really be considered NC-17, it’s definitely a hard R at times. Aside from that, the usual disclaimers apply. Cursing, bad fanfiction, gay sex et-cet-era. Hope to see you drop on by. And be sure to come back next week for even more Animal Man, and the first of the Before Watchmen books!

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