Rick Huerta’s BAGS & BOREDS™ – Justice League Begins DC’s New 52… And Much More!

This is the week that the IMJ Nation relaunches and throws all prior previews, Insideman Pull Lists, Mellow Monday’s and Nerdly Possessions out the window! We are starting from scratch and remember, Shhh… Nothing that ever happened actually ever happened. It all ends with this edition of Bags & Boreds #4! Right, Ian? Ian?… Jose?

No? I guess we’ll just have to do the regular old Bags and Boreds thing then.

Flashpoint # 5 (of 5)
Written By: Geoff Johns
Art By: Andy Kubert

This is it. The end of the DCU as we know it. Still, with all the hype DC’s New 52 initiative is receiving, it seems that we’ve all already forgotten that we need to read this book to get there first.

This is where it all starts, people! This is how it all happens. As an unabashed and unapologetic DC Fan, the new Justice League book was obviously at the top of my “to read” stack too– but definitely not before I read Flashpoint #5 first.

I should preface this review by stating my firm belief that comic books are a unique form of entertainment– one that forces readers to use their full imagination to fully experience these stories. You do not get the cinematic enhancement of a film score or the luxury of listening to the emotions a character’s voice conveys when speaking. These are the things that comic creators must somehow give the illusion of on two-dimensional paper– in order to fully sell the reader on whatever their characters are feeling– be it joy, pain, anger… Whatever… And I believe in Geoff Johns‘ ability to do that.

Flashpoint #5 picks up almost exactly where issue #4 ended– on a battlefield full of heroes and villains fighting to the death. The Reverse Flash has Barry Allen and Thomas Wayne at their end points– just as we are punched in the face with the mini-series’ BIG REVEAL.

As Thawne pummels the Flash, he repeatedly asks him, “Do you remember?” The Flash finally yells, “Yes!” But what does Allen remember? This twist was definitely the BEST OF THE BOOK™ MOMENT: Seems the Reverse Flash is not responsible for the alternate timeline we’ve been reading about for the last couple of months– Barry is.

Apparently Mr Allen’s been a bad boy: In his attempt to change the past and save his mother from being murdered, he has created both this alternate timeline and this war on this earth that he’s been trying to stop.

The climax of this book is fantastic. As much shit as Geoff Johns receives sometimes… Among all the corporate duties he’s assumed to the chagrin of some fans… It is nice to see that he can still be a great comic book writer.

In just four pages, Johns has Barry Allen fixing the time stream– while having a gut wrenching conversation with his mother. Somehow Johns also introduces the New DCU Heroes with great ease here too. It is an extremely complicated feat but one the writer makes look easy. Believe me when I say that merely explaining it in words does this sequence NO justice. So if you skipped this issue in your rush to DC New 52– please pick it up and enjoy what I thought was the BEST BOOK OF THE WEEK™.Justice League # 1
Written By: Geoff Johns
Art By: Jim Lee

And here we go… Again.

The most anticipated book of the year finally hit the shelves and the digital marketplace on the same day this week. I truly believe this will be a positive turning point for comics– not only in the way we read the books– but also in how we buy them. What will the final sales figures prove? (The first issue is a hit. 2nd print arrives 9.14.11 -Ed.) Of course, only time will reveal how the whole line eventually performs. I’m a big advocate of digital comics. I purchased my digital copy first thing Wednesday morning. But then I also made certain to support my LCS by picking up my hard copy as well. (Sorry to butt-in again– but enterprising Comic Shops carried the Justice League Combo Pack that featured both the comic AND a download code! -Ed.)

Is this Chris Claremont and Jim Lee’s X-Men #1 all over again? Hardly. Mainly because it’s extremely doubtful that JL will ever surpass the first issue of that X-Men title in sales– no matter how long it remains in “digital print”. And story-wise? I thought Justice League #1 was far better than that old Marvel comic.

I was a bit discouraged when I read J.’s thoughts about the book on the IMJ Open Thread early Wednesday morning– but I buckled down anyay, got my head in the game and jumped into the comic with an open and clear mind. I purposely did not read those early pages (released in the DC 52 promo book), so I could experience the story as a whole. I did peek at the art, however, and well– its Jim Lee. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed Lee’s art. Like most people in my age group, I started reading comics when his aforementioned X-Men was all the rage in the early 90s– and I’ve been hooked ever since. I figured with Geoff Johns writing, this comic would be a sure-fire hit for me– and for the most part, it was.

The story takes place 5 years in the past, at the dawn of the NEW DCU. (And yes, you read that right: I typed D-C-U. I refuse to write that “DCnU” noise if I can help it.) We are introduced to Batman and Green Lantern at the beginning– as local authorities attempt to hunt them down, fearful of what these masked men stand for and what they might be capable of.

I actually found this Green Lantern tolerable: He’s witty and likes to back-talk. An obviously younger version of what we’ve been used to lately, this Hal Jordan acts like the cocky fighter pilot of his early days. I really enjoyed his back and forth with the more serious Batman. The “newness” surrounding these characters makes the first issue a genuinely fun, quick read… As the two heroes go in search of Superman, hoping to figure out who (and what) he is. The two men are very intent on assessing the flying man’s threat level too. At the end, we are left with a quick introduction to Supes– as he tosses Hal around like a ragdoll… Leaving Batman to look on in disbelief.

I felt like a twelve-year-old again– reading my favorite characters. Add that 90s-style art I loved so much as a kid (and still do) and I couldn’t help but be “In-Like” with this comic. The Justice League of America has literally been unreadable for the last 5+ years… So this book truly feels like a new beginning. If you’re reading this, you probably bought it, so now…Ultimate Hawkeye # 1
Written By: Jonathan Hickman
Art By: Rafa Sandoval

The second series of the newly revamped Ultimate Universe is oddly a Hawkeye book. It also marks Jonathan Hickman’s second whiff at the fastballs Marvel has been throwing at him with these Ultimate Comics assignments.

Ultimate Hawkeye #1 is so confusing that, as I sit here in front of my laptop, I can’t decide whether I can confidently critique it. I’ll need to check the stat sheet but since I have started writing this column for Inveterate Media Junkies I’m almost certain that Hickman has been releasing some pretty bad stuff… With exception of his Image comic The Red Wing. Maybe his creator-owned titles carry enough of the weirdness I want from my Indie books. What I do not want, however, is to be lost at the end of a simple superhero story… Like I am here.

Let me summarize what I think this book is about: Clint Barton and Nick Fury are conducting a conference call on Marvel Skype– when some unknown super human beings blow shit up and interrupt their conversation. We then jump a few weeks into the past, where the leader of the SEAR Empire and a few scientists are discussing their newly perfected serum– designed to completely eliminate the X-Gene within a few months.

Not only that (this is where the story becomes tragically convoluted)– but it seems they can also generate super human strength and unique power sets based on who is injected with the same serum… Or is it a different serum? (Who knows? I really didn’t really get it.) The scientists assure the SEAR leader that these super humans can be controlled. The book then cuts back to the fighting in the present. Hawkeye essentially kicks the shit out of these super humans using broken glass– yes, broken glass– from the floor. Then Fury tells Hawkeye to bring in the serum.

I understand that mainstream comic books are a bit more detailed than they used to be. I actually love that they can carry a complex story like any novel… But can we please just get some decent writing that makes it easier to understand these plots? At the end, I just placed this comic in my longbox and sat there feeling a bit confused and shrugging my shoulders. If I were a kid reading this issue, I would either A) Not buy the next one or B) Think, “What the fuck was all that about?”

I’m obviously exaggerating (a little) when I write that I didn’t understand the plot… But I am really getting tired of “The Bendis Effect” creeping into these books– where pages have more word balloons than art. To me, this is no bueno. If you haven’t guessed by now, I didn’t enjoy this comic– which would make the current Ultimate Comics line “0 for 2″ for me.

or, if Ian & Jose prefer

Spider-Man # 668
Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: Humberto Ramos

You’d agree that there’s a difference between comics and cartoons, right? Although you expect the two mediums to be somewhat similar, you can usually tell the difference between written comic book dialogue and Saturday morning dialogue. Sadly, this story feels very much like one of those Saturday morning cartoons, sharing many of the same characteristics in the way it is written.

In this continuation of the Spider-Island story arc, the FF and the Avengers are still fighting off the civilian population in NYC– which have somehow been infected with Spider powers. The previous issue left us in an exciting place: The Avengers and FF were kicking the shit out of Peter since they couldn’t know who was who in the zoo. That cliffhanger sincerely left me wondering how they would tie up that part of the story. I was even hoping that Slott would explore it a bit deeper.

Instead, the cliffhanger gets addressed and nearly forgotten within the first two panels.

In typical cartoon fashion, Parker quickly comes back to his senses– managing to lead an entire army of “civilized” Spider People to victory. Mind you, this ALL happens within MINUTES. C’mon!

Obviously you need to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy many comic book stories– but this crap was just a bit too “kiddie” for me. With each turn of the page, I half-expected to hear an announcer scream, “We’ll be right back… After these messages!” Lame issue, lame story, boring plot… Who cares about the Jackal and all of these D-List villains anyway? Simply out: There are far too many characters and women in Peter’s life to really ever care about anyone or anything that’s going on. Prime example: Carly Cooper (Peter’s current girlfriend) couldn’t be more annoying. Worst of the week. Rack it as such.

Servant of the Bones #1
Based on the Anne Rice Novel
Adapted by: Mariah McCourt
Art by: Renae DeLiz and Ray Dillon

Every now and then a sleeper book comes along and knocks my socks off. That is exactly how I felt after giving IDW’s Servant of the Bones a try.

The comic was released last week but I wanted to review it now in case some of you were still on the fence– wondering if you should try it… And before we go any further, I should also admit that I am usually a sucker for comic book adaptations of novels like The Dark Tower or The Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy.

As I read this first issue, I attempted to distance myself from everything I knew about Anne Rice and her novels (and the movies based on her novels). Since I’m not a regular consumer of her works, I didn’t want to somehow flavor my experience with any outside influences… And I was really hoping this adaptation would be a refreshing break from the superhero books I’ve been reading lately.

Thankfully, it was.

Even though Servant of the Bones #1 was a basic introductory issue– the narrative packed enough of a punch to get me excited about its’ multiple plot turns moving forward. We immediately get a murder mystery– which deftly introduces both the main character and a mysterious figure. SotB is both dark and intriguing– giving me exactly what I want in a crime story with an occult bent. Simply put, as I got closer to the last page and realized the book was getting thinner– I didn’t want it to end. Pick this up today!

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5 Responses to Rick Huerta’s BAGS & BOREDS™ – Justice League Begins DC’s New 52… And Much More!

  1. philbyday says:

    The similarity between Flashpoint n JL is Johns, the dif is the artists. I like both Kubert n Lee, but the dif there is…I like Lee much more than I dislike Johns, so JL is a p/u 4 me. Kubert’s just gonna have 2 ally himself w/ a more favorable writer.
    Spider Island; Slott’s okay. Ramos’ okay. Spiderman okay Spider Island: Sounds like this gen’s clone saga (which technically I shouldn’t say as a dig, since I didn’t read but a cpl of those issues, but still…. )
    Anne Rice No opinion, I care 2 share 8)

  2. Locusmortis says:

    I’m guessing from your JL review that your a child of the 90’s? As a child of the 80’s I have rather different expectations from a comic book I guess and especially from a #1 “origin” story. It was very underwritten in that fuck all happened. This is just another tease for a 6 issue decompressed written for the trade origin just like New Avengers #1. I guess the one improvement over NA #1 (I guess I should say NA #1 vol 1 as I didn’t touch the last NA #1 with a fucking bargepole) is that at least the characters didn’t all use the same snarky voice and they had some individuality.

    Just to make sure that I wasn’t posting just from a rose-tinted memory I re-read New Teen Titans #1 and as an origin story it was so superior to JL1 that it was unreal, the whole team (including an entirely new character) gets introduced and brought together and see off their first foe all in one issue plus a new villain gets teased, thats the way to do it. I dropped Justice League after this issue because I’m not going to wait around for 6 issues for something that should have been done in one.

    As for the Marvel stuff, I was never into the Ultimate stuff anyway but it sounds like Hickmans talents are being completely wasted churning out corporate crap, he sounds like he’s really phoning it in these days. If I was you I’d be putting Ultimate Hawkeye # 1 on ebay and flog it to someone else or give it to a charity shop. As for Spider-Man, he’s dead to me since OMD.

    • Rick Huerta says:

      Another good example of a team intro is Giffin’s Justice League International. I definitely got my start into comics in the early 90’s, but have read books from various decades including most of the 80’s. That said, in this case I think that a decompressed story is a good route to take for a “new” status-quo. Remember, we have 51 other books coming out so taking their time to introduce these characters is a creative route that I can definitely respect.

      • Locusmortis says:

        I respect your opinion man but I disagree fundamentally, I think going slam bang straight into it would be a better tactic, get people excited and knowing that they’re getting bang for their buck. Decompression is fine for manga where you have 20/30 pages per week but is ill suited to American comic books where you have only 20 pages per month, its something which has overall hurt the industry over the last 5-10 years and should be eliminated as much as is possible in my opinion.

  3. Rick Huerta says:

    Remember, the first overall story arc isn’t meant to be a knock down drag out fight. John’s stated that he wants to tell the story of how the JL met 5 years in the past of this DCU. If thats the case then a slow burning arc showing the “how we met” parts are the most crucial and not the big action. Although I could understand the opinions of those who dont want that type of story and prefer the big action, which I’m sure we’ll get to.

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