The Doomino Effect for the week of September 19, 2007

Well Tuesday is almost over, so there’s just a little bit of time to get a Doomino Effect in on schedule, so here we go.

Speaking of almost over, let’s start with World War Hulk #4. This was the first issue in this otherwise enjoyable series where I felt like it drug a little. It makes me think maybe they had about four and a half issues worth of story and this was the issue that had a weak story stretched out to fill the book. It was just a lot of fighting, which has been the case for most of this series, but this time nothing really seemed to escalate. The rising action plateaued here, and the unfortunate part is that the resolution will apparently come by way of a battle with The Sentry. I’m tired of Marvel’s repeated attempts to legitimize this character that nobody cares about. Maybe Hulk will fully establish himself as The Greatest Hero in the Marvel Universe and kill the Sentry. And I could’ve sworn that this conversation between the Sentry and the president already happened.

One thing I did like about this issue was the testimonials from people whose lives had been adversely affected by the heroes Hulk sought to punish. When other humans side with the Hulk, not out of morbid fascination or anti-social tendencies, but from the same hurt and thirst for revenge, it adds to the moral ambiguity that drives this series.

Speaking of moral ambiguity, that leads me to Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special #1. As far as the wedding specials go, I liked it a lot more than the Justice League wedding special from last week, but it’s pretty unfortunate – as Fin Fang Doom pointed out – that DC editorial doesn’t seem to mind that their wedding specials completely contradict each other.

Countdown has been telling us for weeks that the big baddies in the DCU were rearing up to attack the wedding, and they did, except they did it in two completely contradictory ways as if they’re in two separate universes. So…are they lazy…or they actually happening in two separate universes? Either way, it’s horribly unimpressive. If we are supposed to be relying on The Multiverse as the culprit for what has appeared to be several months of blatant continuity contradictions, they really need to hint at that. Otherwise, it makes readers think that their creators are being sloppy, thus discouraging an emotional investment in the creations, thus encouraging readers to stop buying.

Independent of the tangential disasters this issue creates, it was an enjoyable stand-alone issue. I won’t get into the flaws too much, because FFD did a good job covering those, but I am glad that Green Arrow is still in Judd Winick’s hands. He really nails that sharp-witted, lovable arrogance in his dialog.

Speaking of a writer renowned and hated for his sharp dialog, that leads me to New Avengers #34. It actually came out last week, but my shop was sold out so I got it late. I’ve become a broken record on this series, continuously talking about how great it’s been lately, and this latest issue was no different.

The New Avengers have all decided to regroup, apparently willing to put their trust issues aside. Dr. Strange casts another spell, supposedly revealing each person’s greatest desire. We get a few interesting revelations, such as Hawkeye wanting to be Captain America (which I would be totally okay with) and Luke Cage apparently longing for his 70s wardrobe. I apparently don’t know enough about Dr. Strange to catch what his secret desire was referencing.

At this point, my money is on Dr. Strange being a Skrull, but I also think he’s most likely the red herring. But what’s so excellent about the writing in this series is that the ambiguity and the mystery is acknowledged by the characters. The characters are serving as representatives of the readers, letting us know that it’s okay for things to not make sense, because we’re all in this together.

I wanted to bring up a comment Jean-Claude Van Doom made in his review of the book, in which he mentioned “…the single page with three breaking-the-fourth-wall comics culture references: Spider-Man and his clones, Mxyzptlk and Wolverine being everywhere at once.” I want to mention it because of how completely I disagree – not only because I don’t really see how those break the fourth wall, but I think it’s those acknowledgments of the less-logical elements of the Marvel Universe that make this Skrull story so fascinating.

In the build-up to this story, Bendis is doing precisely what DC has done in their better-executed Crisis events, and that is to take the weaknesses of continuity past, acknowledge them instead of pretending they didn’t exist, and then taking those weaknesses and turning them into storyline elements. Those references to the spider clones and Wolverine’s omnipresence are part of the context of paranoia that these guys are in the middle of. They’ve built this Skrull storyline out of apparent creative blunders, and embracing those blunders and making something out of them is a big part of why I think this series has been so brilliant of late.

Speaking of creative blunders, God Countdown #32 was crap. It’s just stupid now to the point where it seems like they’re not even trying. Piper and Trickster escape all these security levels, and they break into the bachelorette party where pretty much every superheroine is, but apparently no one decides to stop the escaped murderers. No, because teenage girls just want to drink. And everyone else just wants to dance or something. And I thought Lois Lane was supposed to be all hot and stylish, but she’s wearing what looks like an orange sweater and a purple cheerleading skirt. It’s just amazing how completely awful this series is, particularly when you consider the expectations for it.

And speaking of books that fail to live up to expectations, that leads me to Madman Atomic Comics #4. At this point, I find this series so bland and devoid of the charm that endeared me to Madman for so many years that I just hope that Michael Allred is enjoying making it. I hope that this is just what he had to do to stay interested in the characters he created, and that he just had to go this route to find the same joy in continuing this universe. Because as a long-time reader, there’s no joy in consuming it.

Let me tell you how much this new series has soured me on Madman. I had ordered the 847 page Madman Gargantua hardcover back in March. The book kept getting delayed and delayed and delayed until finally it shipped a few weeks ago. Well, in the time since I had ordered it, I had moved, but I hadn’t updated my address with Amazon. I got an e-mail from Amazon that they had shipped the book via UPS, but since I didn’t live there anymore, it was returned and I could have my money refunded. I had been super pumped about getting this, but I decided to just take the refund. I think my love of Madman might be dead and in the past.

And speaking of people from the past maybe being dead, that leads me to Captain America #30. This comic is so good I just don’t even think about the fact that Captain America’s not even in it. I am actually glad, though, that they haven’t changed the title to “The Adventures of Bucky, Falcon, Sharon, Black Widow and Tony,” although that might be kind of funny for a month or two.

Anyway, Brubaker is pacing this story really well. It was to a point where something really needed to get moving, and something did. Tony has started connecting the dots, but he’s just a little too late to do anything about it. Sleeper Sharon has been activated, much to the discomfort of Black Widow and Falcon. I find it a little difficult to believe that someone like Black Widow could be taken down so easily, but I’ll accept that she just had no reason to suspect an attack from that direction.

I just hope that if Hawkeye becomes the new Captain America, Brubaker continues to write the series and that they don’t start over with a new #1 again.