The Doomino Effect for the week of August 8, 2007

So that Fin Fang Doom’s tribute to the late Mike Wieringo could stay up a little longer, this week’s Doomino Effect is a little bit late. But now, it’s time.

Speaking of being a little bit late, I’ll start with Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America – Iron Man, the fifth and final chapter in the series. I’m not sure when this came out, but I realized that I had missed it when it did, so I grabbed it last week. In spite of his downward spiral on Wolverine over the past few months, Jeph Loeb did a really nice job of wrapping up this series – another reason I hope Captain America stays dead. Falcon’s farewell speech was done very well, and I especially liked little acknowledgments, like the fact that many of Cap’s surviving World War II friends have already had to go through this.

I’m not on the John Cassaday bandwagon at all, but he did a decent job on the art here. The funeral scenes managed to stay subtle and somewhat understated, while the big battle flashback splash pages were grand enough. The fact that he really only has one Male Face in his artistic arsenal was exposed somewhat, as everyone fronts the same sorrowful expression. But it did what it needed to do, and it wasn’t a disrespectful way to end the series by any stretch of the imagination.

Speaking of Captain America flashbacks and disrespectful endings, that leads me to New Avengers #33, which featured an awesome Cap flashback to Hawkeye’s early days in the Avengers, plus an unceremonious termination of b-list villain The Owl.

Skrullanoia continues to infect the New Avengers, to the point where Luke Cage now doesn’t even trust Jessica. The team is fairly strained and splintered, while a warehouse of bad guys unites under a mysterious new bald guy. A de-activated Deathlok is now at their disposal, and Wolverine has snuck onto their trail.

The bar scene with Wolverine is a great example of one of the things I love about this book. Bendis brings out humor by tapping into some of those “real life” aspects of superheroes – the fact that the bartender hates Wolverine because he’s always trashing the place – without having to hit the reader over the head with some kind of deconstruction of the fascist superhero archetype. It can have those touches of reality’s implications without having to pull you out of the realm of superhero action comics. This book is still consistently one of the best comics out there.

And speaking of consistency, that leads me to Countdown #38. I gave up trying to give up this series, as its awfulness has become an addiction of its own. I mentioned to Doom DeLuise in our podcast that this issue didn’t seem as horrible, mainly because it seemed to be attempting good things and failing, rather than failing in its attempts to achieve repetitive directionless crap. It still ended up at crap, but I think it took a slightly better route.

I think maybe we, as readers, are supposed to have been feeling some rising tension, because this issue seemed like we were maybe supposed to be around M or N on an A to Z action crescendo scale. But there’s been such an onslaught of nothing in the first few months of this series that this drama just seemed to come out of nowhere. Right away, the big guns are fighting off these disasters, apparently some of which (or all?) were brought about by Calculator’s evil hacking. Either I missed the build-up to these earth-shattering events or they just didn’t bother building up to them. Either way, I was not moved.

I was, however, moved by the computer battle. It’s like Paul Dini lost a bet and was therefore forced to write an intense battle scene…between two computer geeks sitting in chairs. It’s a good thing I was already sitting on the toilet when I read that. And Jimmy Olsen’s tryout was so painfully predictable. I’m just wondering, is there anyone on earth who couldn’t have foretold how that was going to go? Although I doubt anyone could have predicted the attempts at humor would be so lame as to make Jimmy whip out his Karate Kid moves.

At least the art was better this week. I couldn’t pick Jesus Saiz’s art out of a lineup, but I like reading his name because I pronounce it “Jesus Says” in my head. “Jesus says ‘Pencils!'” Mary Marvel didn’t tease flashing her lady garden at us this week, but at least she got her top torn to show some teenage cleavage.

And speaking of teenage cleavage…okay gosh, I don’t quite have a good one there, but speaking of girls gone wild, that leads me to X-Factor #22 in which Layla Miller gets taken out by that other girl, whose name I do not know. I always thought Layla Miller was kind of annoying but now I find myself being worried for her well-being! I don’t want her to die! I think maybe I missed an issue because I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but I was immediately able to catch right back up (other than I don’t know who that girl is, but I hate her!).

In some ways, this comic is like the Super Hero Real World, because the inter-personal drama and who’s-sleeping-with-whom is just as important as the punching and stuff. But Peter David manages to make it still seem compelling and still find a way to tie it in with a much bigger propelling story arc. In this case, this Mr. Huber guy wants to make mutants an officially registered endangered species to basically trick the government into protecting them. I somehow suspect that his motivations are not as pure as he wishes to make them seem…

And speaking of purity, that leads me to Green Lantern #22 in which that yellow-impurity known as Parallax still has its grubby claws inside Kyle Rayner. You know, I agreed with Paperghost when he was guest reviewer on Green Lantern #21 that DC’s Villain Recycling Program, on its surface, appeared to betray a lack of any new ideas. But as far as the Sinestro Corps goes, I have yet to see those fears become reality in the execution. There’s no denying that Johns is using characters from the past, but so far, I am completely satisfied that I’m getting some familiar building blocks creating something new.

So far, Superboy Prime, Cyborg Superman and the Anti-Monitor are nothing more than menacing threats as we await to see how they’ll be used, so there’s still time for a substantial part of the story to be fictional retreading. But at this point, they seem to be small parts of a much bigger foundation that Johns has laid for wherever this story is going. And I like it. And Ivan Reis’ art is still amazing.

I apologize for the overuse of this segue, but speaking of green people, that leads me to Green Arrow: Year One #3. Ollie’s been spending his life living on an island paradise, only now he discovers that they’re growing opium there! Not only that, but that traitor Hackett is involved too! From Ollie ending up on that very island where the guy who dropped him on the boat happens to be working, to finding all the supplies he needs to survive and become an expert with the bow, to Hackett just happening to be where the big tree fell, a lot of what is propelling this story is awfully convenient. It’s getting to the point where I think things need to stop being so extremely convenient or I’m going to rapidly lose interest and respect.

And speaking of convenient, that leads me to Ghost Rider #14, in which that busty trucker Dixie apparently makes herself available for bedding by Blaze whenever he wants it! Hot diggity dog! My intuition paid off, when I suspected that the past two issues of this series suffered in quality due to the awkwardly forced World War Hulk tie-in, as it’s now back to being the darkly funny yet addictively spooky quest to hunt down Satan in all of his scattered pieces. I particularly loved how the devil-possessed cop tries to talk the suicidal guy into jumping from the roof – “Kyle, I’d like you to do something for me, okay? I’d like you to jump. Because I think it’d be awesome!”

I’m also glad to see Mark Texeira return to the finishes. I wonder if these little side-steps from the main story are partially done to give him a little time to catch up; it seems like he’s had some problems in the past with maintaining a monthly schedule. I kind of see this series as living on borrowed time, appropriately enough; Way’s writing and Texeira’s art is just a perfect storm for Ghost Rider. I can only imagine it’s just a matter of time before Tex is off the book and we end up with Andy Kubert or something.

And speaking of artists who are perfect for a book, that leads me to Daredevil #99. Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano are just so blasted good at maintaining the artistic tone that Alex Maleev created for this series. If you look at the art side by size, you can see definite differences between the two styles, but the drama and mood conveyed is pitch-perfectly the same. Colorist Matt Hollingsworth probably deserves a lot more credit for that than he gets.

Story-wise, Milla appears to be the latest victim of The Matt Murdock Lifestyle, while a guy in the subway was the splattered victim of Milla’s frustrations. I kind of like Milla, but I’ll be danged if Brubaker didn’t write her in a way to where I’m going to be glad to see her get what’s coming. Causing someone to fall to their death because you’re a freaked-out jealous wife is not cool. It’s an interesting twist, because usually in Daredevil, when a good guy faces a legal challenge, it’s something you want them to wriggle out of; Milla would probably deserve what was coming to her, if she gets that far. I’m not sure if that foreboding line of “I know your wife” in the last panel suggests she’s due for a world o’ hurt, or if she’s some kind of planted double-agent.

And speaking of intrigue for the next issue, that leads me to Batman #667. I loved this issue! Batman and Robin and a bunch of other superhero has-beens are all assembled in the mansion of John Mayhew. Somebody has killed Mayhew and plans to kill all the entrapped heroes too! It kind of reminds me of the premise of that movie Clock Stoppers or Time Watchers or something like that, with Christian Slater and Val Kilmer and LL Cool J and Johnny Lee Miller. In some ways, it seems so simple, yet I’m just really excited to read where this goes. Maybe Grant Morrison is just demonstrating that even a somewhat simple premise can be a great story – a call to arms for writers to get back to basics and shed convoluted gimmicks. Maybe not, but I like to pretend.