The Doomino Effect for the week of Apr 25, 2007

I’m all out of ways to reference dominoes while introducing this column, so END OF INTRO.

First up is Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #29. Mark Waid’s run on this book was largely panned by LOSH loyalists, but I always enjoyed it. Even when I didn’t know what was going on or if the drama wasn’t quite hitting me how I thought it was supposed to, I liked the book because it felt so different from any other comic book I was reading. It also felt different than other Mark Waid books. And for a book set in such a different world, I really liked that. This issue, now written by Tony Bedard, just felt like any other comic book. I wish that I could put this in more tangible terms, but I can’t. The issue read faster, it seemed more shallow, and it just didn’t feel as unique.

On top of that, we finally get the explanation for the 52 references. Bravo to DC for managing to tie in 52 with their other books – even those set a thousand years in the future – and managing to time the release of this book with the shutdown of 52 – but that was the tie-in? The Dominators misunderstood Booster Gold’s utterance when he popped in and out of their timeline years ago? On top of being let down, I felt downright insulted as a reader. That might work as a plot setup for an episode of Perfect Strangers, but as the reason for an intergalactic war that cost the lives of billions (if not more)? What a crock.

And speaking of disappointing crocks, that leads me to Action Comics #848. We’re still on the Johns / Donner / Kubert hiatus while Superman is stuck in the Phantom Zone, but while last month’s fill-in issue was great, this one begins a heavy-handed attempt to analyze religious fanaticism and fascism. Fabian Nicieza is simply not cut out for writing stories like these. And remember back when Clark Kent had the hots for Lois Lane for more than just her body? It seems like whenever I see her lately, she’s just a prop for lingerie. Her two page appearance is entirely in a tiny purple nightie.

Nicieza’s attempt at writing a story around the dynamics between politics, religion and authority has the subtlety of a Southern Baptist minister. It’s like when a high school philosophy student first has his mind opened to the subjectivity of “right” and “wrong,” and then he goes around challenging everyone’s beliefs as if he’s the first one to figure it out and as if it’s not really annoying. And the groaner closing line – “This ends now,” might be appropriate for Charles Bronson or something, but this is Superman – who is having a moral dilemma – who has yet to ever speak to this anti-hero yet he’s talking smack to him – and who is standing up to a guy who is protecting missionaries from a bloodthirsty military – doing, saying and thinking all the wrong things. Nicieza is just out of his league attempting to deconstruct superhero authority.

But speaking of a deconstruction of the superhero, that leads me to Astro City: The Dark Age #3. The “Oooh, what would happen if superheroes existed in a more realistic world?” genre has to be the most worn out cliche still used in comics today, but Kurt Busiek consistently shows that a good story is a good story, regardless of any contextual handicaps. It’s a bummer about the delayed schedule of this book, but it’s such a great read, and I love the look into Astro City past.

Speaking of looking into the past, that leads me to Wolverine #53. I sure hope this isn’t leading where it looks like it’s leading – that people like Wolverine, Sabretooth, Feral, Wolfsbane, Thornn and Sasquatch are actually a lupine – and thus non-primate – form of humanoid. On the surface, it’s an intriguing idea, but to actually do that to these characters and the Marvel Universe is just so unnecessary and stupid. First off we have the obvious problem that dogs and cats are not the same thing, and thus to suggest that these lupine and feline humanoids are not mutants but instead descendants of wolves instead of monkeys seems a bit logically flawed. Then we also run into the biological problem that wolf people and monkey people would not be able to procreate, being of such vastly different species. This leads us to the greater problem – why can’t Wolverine just be a $&@#%ing mutant without every writer having to out-cute each other and come up with some huge underlying historical conspiracy to explain why he is who and what he is? Never mind that the mystery was one of the coolest parts of the character – this stuff like being Sabretooth’s son, then not, and his claws were implants, then they’re actually bones, then he’s just part of the Weapon X program, then realizing that X is a number and not a letter, and then he was born in the 19th century as a farmer, except now he’s a dog man…

And why does he have diamonds on his costume? He looks like he belongs on a playing card.

But speaking of having diamonds on a costume, that leads me to Outsiders Annual #1, in which the Outsiders’ missing year is explained. We now know why the world thinks they’re dead, what happened to Black Lightning and why Little Boomerang is on the team. Again, this is how you explain a hole in chronology.

And speaking of holes in chronology, that leads me to Daredevil #96, where Melvin the Gladiator is having memory lapses and doing bad things. I like having Brubaker on Daredevil but I’m starting to get a little worried, because his new stories are all so heavily reliant on Bendis’ previous work that I’m wondering if he has any ideas of his own. Didn’t Daredevil battle Gladiator toward the end of Bendis’ run? Can we get some other villains without having to bring the gentle ogre back? Even with that minor criticism, I’m definitely still on board and looking forward to where this is going.