The Doomino Effect for the week of Feb 21, 2007

Hello, my little rectangular friends with white dots, and welcome to this week’s Doomino Effect. I don’t think I did one last week, and I would look for my stack of last week’s comics if that ship hadn’t already sailed. But we are now on a new ship – a ship called this week – so let’s roll around on those waves of words we call The Rest of the Blog Entry.

52 is up to week 42 now, and it was time for the big reveal of what’s going on between Fate’s helmet and Ralph Dibny. I was a little underwhelmed that Faust was behind it, but it was still great for Ralph to be in control like that. I can’t say I really understood the complexities of intertwining, counter-acting and conflicting spells that made it all turn out the way it did, nor can I say that I feel like trapping two goons in Fate’s tower was really worth the sacrifice of Ralph Dibny’s life, but Ralph died with a smile on his face, and that’s good enough for me. One side note – I hate Darick Robertson’s art. That guy gets fanboy pats on the back from working on Transmetropolitan, but I can’t stand his art. For one thing, it looks like he inks with a crayola marker. I believe “muddy” would be a good word. But overall, a satisfying issue, and I’ll leave it at that for our good man Doom DeLuise, whenever he decides to do his regular 52 review.

Which leads me to The Brave and the Bold #1, which is our Legion of Doom Book of Doom this week. I’ll save most of my thoughts for that, but for now, I’ll just say that I really enjoy a good superhero adventure.

And speaking of good superhero adventures, that leads me to The New Avengers: Illuminati #2 in which the Illuminati complete Reed Richards’ secret task of reassembling the Infinity Gauntlet. Under the pretense that they are doing it so that it doesn’t fall into the hands of someone naughty, this quite perfectly reflects the elitism and arrogance of the Illuminati, who have granted themselves the authority to make decisions for the good of all mankind. I like how this series has become these little side adventures that have a reason to be previously unknown to the rest of the Marvel Universe – because they’re done in secret. My only problem with this was that good guys reassembling the Infinity Gauntlet with noble intentions could have very well been an interesting mega-event of its own – a nice twist on Thanos for the cynical new millenium – but instead, it was all done in one issue. I’m guessing from the glance we got on Professor X’s face that we’ll be seeing more of the Infinity Gems, but in the meantime, I’m pleased with this further character development of Marvel’s “good guys.”

Which leads me to Civil War #7. Jean-Claude Van Doom didn’t like it, while Doom DeLuise had some kind words. I’ve said my thoughts in a few comments here and there, but I’ll try to summarize here. I thought in some ways that Civil War #7 was a letdown. I was expecting a huge, awesome fight with fatalities and surprise twists. Instead, I got a fairly stiff battle scene with starring roles by some nobodies. References were made to all the casualties, but the only “death” I saw was Fake Thor, and that’s about as much of a death as kicking your toaster. I also groaned at Hercules treating Fake Thor like he was Dan Quayle in the ’88 vice presidential debates, which will be like quoting Napoleon Dynamite in 2015.

But I’m satisfied with the conclusion to the story and definitely with where it leaves the Marvel Universe. While pretending to bow to the will of the people, Tony Stark and Reed Richards have actually anointed themselves kings. They had nothing to lose, so of course they would play along. Meanwhile they’re off handling the “real” stuff with the rest of the Illuminati. Captain America’s surrender was a great Captain America move, and more of a victory than any punch or white flag would ever give. I think for once I actually agree with Joe Quesada from his Newsarama Joe Fridays column:

I think it’s pretty obvious now that we’re done that what we are left with is a level of uncertainty and uneasiness in the Marvel Universe which is similar in feel to the way it was at the time of the universes inception, and early years that followed. Heroes didn’t know one and other, they would meet, fight and then team up, it sounds corny now, but there was something to that. There was an edginess to the Marvel U that disappeared over 40 plus years of continuity and stories and fan familiarity. In those earlier years, heroes viewed each other with a certain amount of caution and uncertainty. ‘I just teamed up with that creepy kid named Spider-Man, but I don’t know who’s behind that mask, maybe I shouldn’t be so trusting and forthcoming with this guy.’

Obviously we couldn’t set back the clock on a lot of what’s happened over the last four decades, many heroes know each others personal lives inside and out, but Civil War was a way of getting that uneasiness and edge back without having to reset everything in a Crisis like event.

I’m pleased with how this functioned as more than just a story – it did what I want big events to do in order to mean anything – it changed the status quo in the Marvel Universe. The power is definitely in the hands of a few superheroes, whether they say it’s with the government or not.

Which leads me to The Amazing Spider-Man #538, which was the last Civil War tie-in for Spider-Man. Talk about a waste of $2.99. I never buy any Spider-Man books, but I figured if I was going to buy one, this was the time to do it. I hear a lot about how great Straczynski is on that book. Well what a load of junk. It was seriously like 21 pages of bad commentary on Civil War #7, in case you wanted to re-read the battle scene with slightly different words and drawings. The jail scene was laughable, with inmates providing generic commentary that either suggests Marvel didn’t know where they were going with Civil War #7 or they didn’t think of putting a “Hey! Read Civil War #7 before you read this issue!” on the first page. It was 21 pages of treading water to get to the last page.

What a waste. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the storytelling either. The last New Avengers was a great example of how to tell parallel stories where the words and action exist independent of each other. This mix of Spider-Man’s thoughts and captioned newscasts came off as stalling.

And speaking of telling a story by way of characters’ thoughts, The Spirit #3 was Darwyn Cooke’s take on The Spirit’s origin through the thoughts of the major characters. And interestingly enough, while Jean-Claude Van Doom didn’t much care for this issue, it was the first of the series that I really enjoyed, and definitely my favorite so far. I enjoyed the changing perspectives (while I do agree that a whole issue from Ebony’s eyes would be interesting) and I also really liked that there was a cliffhanger. It was starting to look like this series would be a bunch of self-contained Spirit adventures, so I’m pleased that there might be something ongoing. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there was just something about the tone and pacing of this issue that reminded me of whatever elements I liked about Eisner’s original Spirit stories.