Saturday, February 19, 2005

Comic Book Cavalcade 3

Here's the third in an ongoing series (just tell me when you get sick to death of them)...

JLA: Classified #4 by Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire/Rubenstein (DC Comics)

What else can I say to this book but "Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!"

Cliched, sure, but totally accurate. I spent more time laughing while reading this book than I have with any other comic book in a looong time. Possibly since the first issue of Formerly Known As...

In various interviews, Giffen has said that this series is a big thank you to all of us, giving the fans everything they wanted from these old characters, and I think they are off to a great start. It's a total nostalgia trip for those of us who loved the madness 20 years ago (oh my Lord, did I just say 20 years!?!?!) and I can't see it not being entertaining for new readers just jumping on - as long as they show up with their senses of humour intact. The creative team's love for these characters and for this style of storytelling just drips off the pages.

And as for the art, Kevin Maguire outdoes himself in so many ways with this first ish. Watch for the Batman bobble-head on the desk in the Super Buddies office or the little logos indicating who's cubicle is who's? Add that to the usual collection of the best facial expressions this side of Steve Rude and Adam Hughes (remember his run on JL?) and you've got yourself a visual feast. And there's 5 more issues to go!


A slight digression: I got a big kick out of a typo near the end of the book where Max incorrectly refers to Richard Hertz as Mr. Willing. Keith has told me in the past that the original name for the characetr was intended to be Richard Willing (but, please, call me Dick) but was changed for whatever reason to the less obvious (!?!) Richard Hertz. This little editorial slip up was one of the bigger laughs for me in "This Guy, This Gardner", but not for any story related reasons. I just thought I would share.

So, in conclusion, despite some cosmetic changes to the characters' appearance, the JL we know and love are back in full swing, and when you hit that last page, you'll blurt out your own bwa-ha-ha even though you know exactly what's coming. This is the swan song, so reserve your copies today because when they're gone, they're gone (unless you're going to get the trade, that is).

Check out a 7 page preview of the first chapter here.

Teen Titans Go! #14 by J. Torres, Todd Nauck & Larry Stucker (DC Comics)

I love the animated series this book is based on, so naturally when it first came out I had to pick it up. TTG! had some bumpy periods early on with fill-in artists and writers who kind of broke up the flow, but somewhere around issue 10 it seems to have found it's stride. J. Torres does a pretty good job of bringing the characters voices from the show to the comic book page, and while the stories are short and sweet (all self-contained) they follow the same basic format so it's hard to really screw these things up (although the animated JL books seem to do it all the time...duh).

Todd Nauck's art was a home run from the first issue. You always know you're going to get a quality product when you see his name on the cover (at least when it's on a TTG! cover, I don't know Todd's other work, really). His grasp of what makes these characters so...well, for lack of a better word...animated is what makes this book work. So many other artists have tried to do the animated style books but just couldn't pull them off. Some guys just know how, I guess, and Nauck is somewhere in the top 20%.

This particular issue brings Speedy into the comic book fold. The apprentice of Green Arrow has appeared on the TV series before, but never between the covers of TTG!. It's a simple yarn, courtesy of Torres and Nauck, where the Titans have to learn to work together in order to take down Plasmus, who's wreaking havoc in a toxic waste dump somewhere. Sure it sounds kind of simple, but it is fun in its simplicity. Reminds you of those old sixties comics where the moster would appear, and be gone by issue's end. No muss, no fuss. Just good solid storytelling.

Of late, I had been stockpiling issues of TTG! for some reason, doing the buy but not read thing for a few months, so I was actually going to pull this title off my pull list, but after reading #14 (not to mention going back to the longbox and rereading most of the run) I'm going to keep it on there.


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