The Doomino Effect for the week of Apr 18, 2007

Hello, my sexy dalmatian feminine Cable sidekicks, and welcome to this week’s Doomino Effect.

This week’s line-up will be free of any thoughts on World War III, because that’s what our Saturday roundtable was for. So let’s get started on the rest of the week that was…last week.

First up is Mighty Avengers #2. I seriously wonder if Frank Cho had it in his contract that he’d work on Mighty Avengers as long as he got to draw a naked woman all the time. What a comic geek’s dream! Fighting, explosions, and a naked upgrade from Janet Van Dyne! The big shock here was that Cho got to continue his career as professional 12-year-old-with-no-internet masturbatory resource supplier but he photoshop-copied some panels! Come on Frank! If you’re a red-blooded lady-loving man and you get paid to draw the boobies, draw the boobies! Don’t copy panels! You never know when people will stop paying you to draw the boobies! Someday you’re going to be like “Nobody pays me to draw the boobies anymore. Now I just have to draw them for myself. If only I had drawn all the boobies in Mighty Avengers #2, rather than copying panels. If I had a nipple – I mean, nickel – for every time…”

And Janet should take some fashion tips from this robot. Beyond walking around naked, the robot displays a much better hairstyle. Janet’s closely-cropped locks make her appear much older than she should. When Janet asks the team “Does anyone think that looks exactly like me with worse hair?” nobody answers her because they’re all thinking, “Not really, Janet. That robot is way hotter than you, and not just because she’s naked. And if a hot robot doesn’t convince you to do something with that hair, I don’t know what will. Your hairdo is so bland and conservative that you bring new meaning to the codename WASP.”

But enough with the talk about naked robots and Janet Van Dyne. I’m getting a big kick out of this book. Bendis claimed he was going to try a different style with it, and I’m not really sure what the difference is (other than thought-balloons). It’s a fast-paced, action-oriented, well-written team book. Kind of what an Avengers comic should be.

And speaking of fast-paced, action-oriented, well-written team books, that reminds me of everything that Justice League of America isn’t! Granted, issue #8 was a huge step up from that centerfolded turd called issue #7, but I still just can’t believe I’m reading JLA! I feel like we’re still just in setup mode. And were issues #1-6 so dull that I have no recollection of where this Trident guy (a.k.a. “Karate Kid”) came from? Or did he just show up on Batman’s dinner table?

As much as I just feel like I’m being hazed before getting to a good story (it’s coming, right?) I actually am excited about this crossover between the JLA, the JSA, and the Legion of Super-Heroes. It’s fitting and exciting to my geekiness that the JLA / JSA team-up has to do with crossing dimensions, recalling the earliest days of those teams crossing paths.

And speaking of people crossing paths and teaming up, that brings me to The Brave and the Bold #3. I expected this series to be fun but I did not expect it to be the festival of awesomeness that it has turned out to be. The characterization of the Blue Beetle managed to capture the anxiety and inexperience of youth without being the ridiculous teenager cliche we always see in “the next generation” of JSA members. And Lobo was written as a tough-talking badass without insulting the intelligence of every comics reader who wishes to suspend their disbelief. Solid superhero action that is fun to read without having to rely on gimmicks or huge events.

But speaking of teenagers who hang out with Batman, that brings me to Nightwing Annual #2. I don’t want to say too much about this at risk of repeating what Doom DeLuise and I already covered in our most recent podcast. Doom DeLuise didn’t like it nearly as much as I did, but I think we can probably all agree that it’s nice to see a writer actually put some thought into the treatment of Dick Grayson. We may disagree on the outcome, but the character earned some creative respect after Infinite Crisis and he sure wasn’t getting it One Year Later. It would have been nice if DC would have just thrown up their hands and hit the reset button and pretended the OYL story didn’t exist, but it does, and this issue does a great job of tying together the events of the last year in Dick Grayson’s life, regardless of how much you approve of those events.

And speaking of lovebirds, that brings me to The Spirit #5. I’ve enjoyed this book for the most part, but I think I’ve finally figured out what it is that has kept me from loving it to the point where I could be enthusiastically raving about it. That is, I’m not sure this book really knows what it’s trying to be. It’s not an all-ages book, due to the sexual themes and the languages. Yet its “Saturday morning cartoon” presentation keeps it from being a gritty crime book. As a reader, you make the unconscious (or conscious) decision to give certain things the benefit of the doubt based upon what a book is trying to be. And with The Spirit, those permissions sometimes conflict with each other, resulting in a book that is a good read, yet neither a great all-ages book nor a great superhero / crime drama.

This is an admittedly unfair comparison, but it’s the best analogy I can draw, so work with me for a minute, but The Spirit kind of reminds me of a bad dark comedy. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about – the type of movie commonly produced by college film students that too unsure of its jokes to be an all-out comedy and too unsure of its meaning to be an all-out drama, so instead, it calls itself a “dark comedy.” So if you don’t laugh at the humor or you don’t get sucked into the story, the creators can say “Well that’s okay, because it’s a dark comedy.”

And speaking of dark comedies, that leads me to X-Factor #18. I would actually, conveniently enough, refer to this book as darkly comedic, but it also succeeds very well on its storytelling merits. I’m sure the “X-Factor is awesome” drum has been beaten enough on this site, but it’s with good reason. This is a book whose success has been built from the ground up solely based on its consistency. There was no big marketing and advertising campaign to trumpet its arrival. It features no big-name characters. In fact, it’s actually a celebration of the ability to successfully use the Z-listers in the Marvel universe and still be a compelling book. And just when I thought “Okay, I’ve finally had enough of Layla Miller,” Peter David manages to both redeem the character, set up some more team-interaction exposition, and put the plot back in motion. Fantastic.