July's Number Ones Part 3

Completing the exercise of looking at new series and mini-series launched in July to help YOU, kind reader, decide what you should support with your comics dollar.
Supreme Blue Rose by Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay for Image. I've never really read much Supreme, on account of its Liefeldian origins, even if Alan Moore fans swear by it. But while Supreme Blue Rose takes place in that universe (or re-invents it?), it's at a pretty extreme tangent. I'm told it makes references to Supreme, but I can't really see it, except for the couple panels in which we see a superhero's first appearance. The stories is instead somewhere between detective story and art house, as journalist Diana Dane is hired to uncover the mysteries of a certain super, if he exists, for a mysterious employer. This is the most mainstream sequence, with the rest of the issue taken up by surreal dreams and non sequiturs. It's Warren Ellis, so I expect it to evolve into something interesting, and certainly, Tula Lotay's art is beautiful - I don't know what to make of the color scribbles all over this mag, but I like the effect - but the first issue odd to the point of opacity. Lotay's sketchbook tacked on the end actually adds to the mystery, revealing more bizarre ideas to come. So I don't know what to make of it, but I'm into it.
Keep reading? Yes, but I'll save tentatively. I'd like to have a better handle on what's going by the second issue. This may be one for the trade-wait.
Bodies by Si Spenser, Meghan Hetrick, Dean Ormston, Tula Lotay and Phil Winslade for Vertigo. Tulay Lotay on a second book? Part of one, at any rate. What Si Spenser (Vinyl Underground) is doing for Vertigo is actually pretty interesting, though it comes short of the experimentalism I at first was ready to credit him. The 8-issue mini is about a mutilated corpse that shows up in four time frames, each inhabited by a different detective, and each drawn by a different artist. 2014, 1890, 2050 and 1940 also each have their own particular vibe. There's the slick, progressive world of the present, the purple prose of the Victorian Age, the art house sensibilities of the amnesiac future, and the gritty noir of the 40s. At first, I thought the story would feature a single mystery jumping time frames every 6 pages without explanation, an exploration of the genre over time, not to be read literally. Instead, the mystery of the four-times-found body is just that, a mystery. Not that there's anything wrong with that, not at all. It's quite intriguing actually.
Keep reading? Mini-series aren't as tough a sell, though they may make trade-waiting even easier. It's a yes, by the way. A better hook than other recent Vertigo offerings.
New Suicide Squad by Sean Ryan and Jeremy Roberts for DC. I asked for requests and this is what I got, so I borrowed a copy. I hated the New52 series when it came out and only checked in again when Matt Kindt came on as writer. The writing seemed better, and I may yet complete the reading, but it was all tied into Forever Evil and stuff... I was in no hurry. But as a huge fan of the Ostrander series, even Kindt, whose Super-Spy and Mind MGMT I quite like, came up a little short. What are former editor Sean Ryan's chances? Not good. The dialog is terrible, the mission lacks finesse, and the new members, except for Black Manta, are awful and redundant. Jokers's Daughter on top of Harley Quinn? Deathstroke (isn't he box office poison by now?) in addition to Deadshot? Just because Amanda's new co-boss (there's another redundancy) thinks the redundancy is a good idea doesn't justify actually slapping a "New" on the team. These are boring choices, and the only way to actually make me care would be to have killed both off in the first issue to show you mean business. The art is stiff and a little anatomically suspect as well. A big snooze fest. I said of the original New52 series that the Suicide Squad only really worked if you had generated a ton of villains, both cool and lame, over the course of your continuity. This shows that three years on, the New52 continuity is still too brief to have created enough super-crooks to put in the meat grinder. You either know they'll survive or don't care a jot if they die because they were more or less created for the series.
Keep reading? No sir. Another franchise for Deathstroke to kill off.
Low by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini for Image. How many series can Rick Remender write at the same time? Low reminds me of his work on Black Science, a series I gave a thumbs up to, but then failed to follow assiduously. With Low also fall through that crack? I think I like it more, actually. Low is set during Earth's dying days, when the sun has expanded and the last of humanity has fled to the ocean bottom to live in domed cities or nomadic (pirate) ships. The focus is on one city's "first family", privileged but with heavy responsibilities, its last couple is raising twin girls, the end of the line. It's all end of the line stuff. But Remender reveals in the text page that the protagonist here is Stel Caine, the optimistic woman in the group, and so this is to be a story OF optimism. How do we get out of the dark? Or make peace with it? That's an interesting theme. The world Remender creates is detailed, a balance of the alien and the recognizable, and Tocchini's fluid line is perfect for it (though his action scenes could be clearer). It's a sexy comic, with plenty of nudity, but the art avoids exploitation by simply omitting nipples and genitalia. Not hiding it, just not drawing it. It's an affect I think retains the beauty and sensuality of those moments without distracting from them or objectifying the characters. Well done.
Keep reading? I wonder if projects like this are easier to green-light because of the success of books like Saga. In any case, I mean to support those I can, and this story seems to be worth my time.

And I guess we're already well into August, and the summer is still producing new titles so... See you soon.


Anonymous said...

About "Suicide Squad". I was reading a review somewhere that made this case for Deathstork and Joker's Daughter, and I'm not saying this justifies the addition of those two, but it probably speaks to what they were aiming for. People like Deadshot and Harley Quinn, so Deathstork and JD are amped-up versions of the two, and that may give readers more of what they want. Another possibility is that the amped-up versions give Deadshot and Harley Quinn something to play off of, to show where their limits lie.

Personally I have no love for either Deathstork or JD, but if they can make Deadshot and Harley more interesting, good for them.

SallyP said...

I refuse to read this precisely because it has Deathstroke in it.

I mean, I love Lawton, but still, I have SOME standards!

Siskoid said...

Lawton isn't well written, so you didn't miss much, Sally. He has this big jealous fit because there's another assassin on the team.

Anon: I get that. There are no bad ideas, in a sense, just bad execution. And this is bad execution. If it actually exposed something in Deadshot and Harley, or if the contrast was interesting, maybe. It's not. Just the new guys being jerks to the old guys, and some bristling. It adds nothing and makes the reader resentful.

It's a perfectly legitimate tactic later, once the book is established. As a first issue, jumping on point? Nope. Because even if the point is to make you love Deadshot and Harley more, and jettison these posers in some kind of third act badassery, it's presented as the new status quo. I have no patience to wait the arc out, not with the series' other weaknesses.

Siskoid said...

And I'm also frankly displeased that a book I loved so much (and the last Ostranger mini-series showed he and it still had what it took) has taken such a turn for the worst post-Flushpoint.

Neither New52 series works as a replacement for either the original or SS or its spiritual successor Secret Six.

Madeley said...

Looking back at your other Number 1 reviews, what are the ones that you kept reading, and what were the ones that appeared promising that you ended up dropping for whatever reason?

Siskoid said...

I've been meaning to compile that very thing! Let's do that now...

I'm still regularly reading Black Widow, Magnus Robot Fighter, Dead Boy Detectives, The Saviors, Deadly Class, EGOs, New Warriors, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, The Fuse, Loki Agent of Asgard, Magneto, Ghost Rider, Secret Avengers, Silver Surfer, Moon Knight, Headspace, Doctor Spektor, Tiny Titans Back to the Treehouse, and Armor Hunters.

Feeling a little borderline about Captain Marvel and am way late on it. I'm also super late on Stray Bullets, Translucid and Lumberjanes but they have nothing to worry about. Also borderline on The Auteur and Veil.

I finished and enjoyed these minis: Hacktivist, Juice Squeezers, Revolutionary War, and The White Suits. Late on Black Dynamite and Big Trouble in Little China, but have every intention of finishing them. Of course, the more I wait, the less likely I am to ever do so.

I haven't really read much more than another issue (sometimes none at all) of: Skyman, Turok, The Mercenary Sea, Worth, Sovereign, Evil Empire, Rai, Shutter, Iron Fist, Southern Bastards, Caliban, Mars Attacks First Born, and Angry Birds.

I've officially dropped Aquaman and the Others, Conan the Avenger and Figment, but that last list are all on the chopping block.

Any series not mentioned is either because there hasn't been a second issue yet, or there has, but it's still too early to tell.

Siskoid said...

Which reminds me, I should do an official culling soon.

I just don't have the time to follow half of what I think I should follow.

Unknown said...

About Supreme Blue Rose:

For Diana Dane, read Lois Lane.

For Darius Dax, Lex Luthor.

And I'm still surprised you never considered Supreme for your Reign of Superman feature -- either him or Love and Capes.

Siskoid said...

Supreme is Reign #389: http://siskoid.blogspot.ca/2011/11/reign-of-supermen-389-supreme.html

Love & Capes'll get there one day.


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