Tuesday, July 11, 2006

ScatterThoughts: The Books Of July 6th

When thinking about The All-New Atom #1, I really can't get past the credits. "Based on Ideas And Concepts Developed By Grant Morrison" seems ... insulting to quite a few people, and an unnecessary credit. Don't creators share ideas as a matter of course? Aren't the creative conferences the Big Two hold specifically for that purpose? First off, it to devalues the Gail Simone's work in making this issue hum along like clockwork with well-written characters that provide the foundation for the Morrisonian Big Ideas. Secondly, if DC wants to start giving credit for "ideas" I would humbly submit that they should start with Julie Schwartz and Gardner Fox ... for make no mistake, this "All-New Atom" is as about new as 1961. This isn't a reinvention, but rather a transplant that is completely in the spirit of the Silver Age sci-fi influenced take on the character.

I suppose I haven't been paying attention as well as I could have, as just the idea of John Byrne's rebooted Doom Patrol was confusing enough for me to write off the characters. Is the idea in Teen Titans #37 that the Brotherhood of Evil was also created by Caulder new? I think it's brilliant, and immediately want to see it explored in a new Doom Patrol (mini)series. I'm madly enjoying their appearance in Teen Titans, and particularly relish the way that Johns is integrating Morrison's take on the characters instead of writing it off as a Vertigo mistake. I'm reading the Morrison run in trade paperback now, and realize that though it was dead weird to it's mad heart ... it was also a superhero story that very much honored the team's original concept.

Years ago, I stumbled onto the Cricket World Cup showing on late night digital cable. I had no idea what the sport's rules were, but I sat enrapt in the action as I slowly pieced it together from commentary and action. Supergirl #7 launches Joe Kelly's run on the book, and I'll generally at least give whatever he writes a try. It ended up being a lot like that World Cup. I jumped feet first into the middle of the storyline, and I must say that although we always talk about convoluted multipart storyarcs being a bar to new readers ... it's sometimes thrilling to hit the ground running and try to figure out the story as it happens. I don't really know what's happening - where the characters are, why they are behaving as they do, and what relation this bears to the Supergirl I am reading and enjoying in Supergirl And The Legion Of Super-Heroes. I can't say it's unpleasant, though, as the stakes are so high and the situation so strained that it's damned fun to race at a breakneck speed hoping to piece it all together at the end. Once you get to kissin' cousins grabbin' ass .... yeah, OK, you hooked me. 'Cause whatever I was expecting to find in this issue, that was not it. I'll certainly give the next issue a try, simply because I love opening up a book and actually being surprised. Heck, I'm not even sure I disagree with Graeme. I'm seeing the same lunacy he is ... I'm just enjoying it.

"Not with a bang but a whimper", huh? Is this DC's new editorial policy? Taking long running, successful titles and relaunching them with new #1 issue for no reason whatsoever? And than making sure that the ending arc of the series is written by an editor, is a complicated mess, and completely betrays the excellence the series once had? First we get Bob Harras' godawful JLA swan song, now Paul Levitz' somewhat entertaining run gets co-opted into a piss-poor series finale. I'm not blaming Levitz for this fiasco, however. The cramped, confused nature of this final issue screams editorial fiat, as the end of a complicated arc suddenly needed to be compresses to allow for some pages allowing the series' relaunch in a few month's time. Morrison's JLA and the Goyer/Robinson JSA were great titles that defined an era of DC Comics, and it's a shame to see them both end so shabbily.


Emperor Nerd said...

Titans has been great, and you know that there is a Doom Patrol mini series in the works (I bet it's announced as San Diego), but the lateness of this book is starting to irk me. I don't think it's shipping at all in August.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

I'm still trying to figure out if I liked The Atom or not. On the surface, I enjoyed it, but there's something rumbling underneath that makes me leery about commiting to it. Maybe it's my anti-Morrison gene acting up? I fully agree with you on the crediting thing, though. Bill Finger still gets left off of most Batman-related stuff, but Morrison gets credit for this?

Mark Fossen said...

and you know that there is a Doom Patrol mini series in the works (I bet it's announced as San Diego)
I sure hope so - this was an interesting take on them, and I'd actually look forward to seeing where Johns might go with it.

I'm still trying to figure out if I liked The Atom or not. On the surface, I enjoyed it, but there's something rumbling underneath that makes me leery about commiting to it.
Yeah - same here. For one, Byrne's art just doesn't work for me anymore - it feels dated, locked in time, a perpetual 80's vibe to it all. Also, there's something about the exaggerated quality of the supporting cast and the setup that makes me feel it's not long for this world. I can't imagine ever seeing The All-New Atom #100.

Ragnell said...

I think Atom looks promising, so long as they get Byrne off the book.

Now, IO agree wtih you on JSA. They did it to JSA, they did it to JLA, they did it to Flash and they did it to Wonder Woman. Each had a good final issue, that was actually the end of the second to the last storyline (well, in WW's case the second to the last issue). I don't understand why they felt a need to keep going beyond that.

Mark Fossen said...

Yeah, Ragnell ... I just don't even "get" my problem with Byrne - I used to love his stuff back when comics came on stone tablets. :)

It just feels very out-of-joint with the rest of the issue, particularly the Morrisonian time-hijinks.

And I made the joke with JLA, but start to wonder how far off I am. These series are ending so far afield, I can help but wonder if it's to set up the relaunch: "Thank *** that's over, then! I can't wait to see Johns relaunch this thing!" You can't fix what's not broken ... so they break it. Comparing Meltzer to Morrison isn't going to work ... but he's a damn steup up from Harras.