Omac # 8 ( of 8 ) — Writer: Bruce Jones; Pencils: Allan Goldman; Inks: J.J. Marreiro
Boy, this turned into a depressing mess — too long by half, and the ending is just stupid and pointless. Let’s see: The guy with the Omac ability (which turns him into a ten-foot-tall metallic engine of destruction, controlled by an orbiting satellite called Brother Eye, but really, don’t ask) has sex with the girl, somehow infecting her with the same ability, and also getting her pregnant, after which the satellite eventually takes her over, sterilizes her, killing the embryo, and then eventually kills her, too. Huh. Beats getting killed by radioactive spider-sperm, I suppose, but not by much. Oh, and the satellite has Superman trapped with Kryptonite, which is not only damned convenient but apparently causes his cheekbones to be badly drawn. It’s OK, though, because Superman uses “thought projection” to warn the hero about what’s going on. Oh, and after they defeat the satellite, of course they leave all the bits of machinery floating around up there, even though that’s how it put itself back together after the last defeat, so at the very end not only has the girl died, and there’s all that destruction, but the bad guy isn’t really defeated, after all. Bruce Jones has been around a long time, and should be able to do a lot better than making the 8,000 or so people who actually bought all eight issues of this feel like complete suckers.
Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes #6 ( of 8 ) — Writer: Joe Casey; Pencils: Will Rosado; Inks: Tom Palmer
This isn’t horrible, but its whole reason for being is to try to explain a stupid plot point in the Thomas-Buscema Avengers of the 1960s (why, when Yellowjacket first showed up, no one figured out who he was, and everybody was OK with him marrying the Wasp). This took an issue and a half in the original, and worked because it rocketed along and, anyway, was meant for 12-year-olds. It’s not improved when it now becomes an eight-issue series that does backflips and pirouettes, and still makes all the Avengers look like idiots (which isn’t helped when they spend much of the story standing around saying, in effect, “Why are we all acting like idiots?”) The people this is targeted to are, likely, those aging fanboys who have fond memories of the original story. I’m one, but unfortunately for the Merry Marvel Marketing people I just don’t see the point; I’d much rather go back and reread Avengers #59 and 60 instead, and forget about this shiny new retread.
Wolverine: Origins #11 — Writer: Daniel Way; Artist: Steve Dillon
Way continues to channel Garth Ennis (besides having Dillon as their artist, both are good at writing clever scenes featuring people acting like cold-blooded bastards), but the overall plot is just depressing. Wolverine, the ostensible hero, is only in the first third of the book, and mostly gets pushed around by events; the rest is devoted to showing what an emotionless badass his kid is, and setting up the next issue’s characters, a farm couple and their cliched big-strong-mutant-kid-with-the-mind-of-a-five-year-old (“D-uh, gee, Lenny, I killed the mousie. Tell me about the rabbits.”) It’s worth the five minutes it takes to read it, I suppose, but not the $3 it would take to buy it.
Exiles #91 — Writer: Chris Claremont; Penciller: Paul Pelletier; Inker: Rick Magyar
Claremont shows an affinity for Morph, and there’s a decent Sabretooth/Psylocke fight, but somehow it’s all just pieces being moved around on a gameboard. Maybe it’s me; I’ve read so many of these Claremont stories that there’s no possibility for freshness. That’s as much my fault as his, I suppose; I just know that the point when a character used “flamin'” as an adjective (something that people in real life don’t do, but that people in Claremont books do all the flamin’ time) was the point where my eyes glazed over. Readers who haven’t read a thousand of his stories might have a better reaction, though.
Tales of the Unexpected #5 — Writer: David Lapham; Penciller: Eric Battle; Inker: Prentis Rollins (Spectre story); Writer: Brian Azzarello; Artist: Cliff Chiang (Dr. 13 story)
You’d think someone like Lapham, whose Stray Bullets has always shown such a sure-footed flair with offbeat crime/noir elements, would be a good match for the Spectre, but this doesn’t quite gel into anything compelling. Maybe it’s the art, which is OK but never quite recovers from an ugly first-page splash, and doesn’t communicate the big Spectre’s-revenge set-pieces very well; it’s hard to follow the action, because there’s not much narrative flow to the layouts. Maybe it’s just too much ambiguity about the Spectre’s motives — he’s a hard character to get just right. Maybe it’s simply that Lapham, who clearly has talent to spare, just doesn’t do that well with superhero stuff (his long Batman storyline didn’t exactly set the world on fire, either).
The Dr. 13 story almost makes the book; it’s one of those meta stories about forgotten characters (although: dude, the Haunted Tank is not a forgotten series!) that gets in some sly digs at the superhero comics industry.
Green Lantern Corps #9 — Writer: Keith Champagne; Penciller: Patrick Gleason; Inkers: Prentis Rollins & Ray Snyder
The problem with spinoff books like this is that they take a concept like the GLC, which is cool as an occasional story element in the regular Green Lantern book, and try to blow it up into its own self-sustaining series. This requires lots of space opera and Big Galactic Developments, with potential for Earth’s destruction and powered-up Dominators and faux Darkseids running around, but because it’s still just a spinoff book, with B-level characters and creators, we all know in the backs of our minds that nothing important is really going to happen. Sometimes there’ll be a breakthrough artist, or a writer with something new to say, but here it’s all just…competent; that’s not bad, but it isn’t enough, either, unless you’re a big fan of the Corps, or of Guy Gardner, or of space opera. For me, that’s three strikes, so I’m out.