Grotesque Anatomy
Friday, October 03, 2003
  Everybody Was Cos-mic Fighting
OK, as I promised before I went on vacation, here are the details on the BIG CONTEST to promote this blog:  Simply go to the forum and respond to the question of "Marvel or DC?" by October 15th.  Yeah, it's rather open-ended, but that's how I want it.  Interpret the question any way you want.  Answer however you see fit—one word, one thousand words, one image—I don't really care.  Whoever comes up with the response that amuses me the most wins.

So what can you win?  10 trade paperbacks, 5 from Marvel and 5 from DC:  The Punisher: Army of One by Ennis and Dillon; Inhumans by Jenkins and Lee; X-Men: Mutant Massacre; X-Men: Days of Future Present; X-Men: Inferno; Batman: The Long Halloween; The Joker: Devil's Advocate; JLA: Year One;Young Justice: Sins of Youth; and Superman For All Seasons (HC; all others are SC).  All books are in good condition, if that kind of thing matters to you, although I can't vouch for the quality of each book's content.  I'll cover the cost of shipping the books to the winner, although I'll chose the slowest method possible to save money.

So why am I doing this?  Well, to be honest, the reasons are somewhat selfish.  I've already mentioned the goal of promoting the blog, but I'd also like to encourage people to register to post in the blog's Delphi forum. (Yes, you have to register, but a Delphi Basic membership is free.  And I know people complain about signing up for sites, which I admit is a nuisance, but there are tools to help you deal with such tedium.  I recommend RoboForm.)  And since the goal is to get people to use the forum, I'm afraid I'm going to be insistent on that point:  Entries via email or other methods will not be accepted.  Finally, I'm just looking to clear up some space in my office.  I suppose the fact that I'm getting rid of these books could be taken as some indication of my opinion on the books' respective quality, but I believe several of these books have been fairly well-received by others, so don't let my lack of attachment to these books dissuade you from trying to win them.  If you win these books and end up liking them, then I think we'll end up with one of those "win-win" situations here:  I accomplish a little Fall cleaning and you give the books a good home.  And since I'm always accumulating more and more comics (much more than I can neatly store), I'll probably be running similar contests in the future, so stay tuned.  I've already got an idea for another contest, this time involving some books I really do like...

Next, in the spirit of Marvel vs. DC (and big things that turn out not to be so big after all), I thought I'd weigh in with a few thoughts on JLA/AVENGERS #1.  Yes, I finally got my monthly fix of comics this week, so I'm slowly making my way through last month's books.  I realize everyone else has probably already said everything there is to say about this book—heck, even Jess Lemon has already reviewed it (a sure sign that a book is "old" by most fans' standards)—but, hey, I'm the egomaniacal despot running this blog, so I get to write about whatever the hell I want, regardless of how far past the expiration date that topic might be.

Robin as GL?
"Batman will never guess that it is I, Tim Drake, disguised as Green Lantern!"
I'd been trying to avoid reviews of JLA/AVENGERS #1 until I'd read it myself, but even so I've managed to pick up on a general sense of "Meh" regarding this comic.  My sense of things is that most gripes have revolved around the story, but I haven't picked up on any complaints about the art.  Which surprises me, because the art was what disappointed me the most.  It's not bad, but there are some elements that I found distracting.  The first thing I noticed (which was kinda hard not to notice, since it's plastered all over the cover(s)) was that Pérez's faces seem sort  I think it's something to do with the proportions; in several places characters seem to have too much chin and too little forehead.  And one character consistently looks like another character to me:  Pérez's Green Lantern is so baby-faced that I kept mistaking him for Robin.  Finally, (and this is unlikely to be Pérez's fault) but the art often appears blotchy in places:  Lines look jagged, scratchy, pixelated.  I'm guessing this is something that happened in the printing process, but I found it annoying (especially in a "prestige format" book).

As for the story, I'm somewhat conflicted about it.  On one hand, yes, it does feel overly familiar in places:  Universes dying (Crisis); random pairings of various concepts from the two universes (DC vs. Marvel); a cosmic scavenger hunt pitting teams against each other (Contest of Champions; Avengers vs. West Coast Avengers 1987 annuals; The Silver Age); Grandmaster and Metron acting all aloof and mysterious (pretty much every "cosmic" comic Marvel and DC have ever put out...)  On the other hand, it feels fitting that this project invokes the structure of similarly-themed works that have come before it.  Maybe it's an elaborate justification for the fact that I did enjoy the story overall, but I'm not sure I see how using a familiar format is in and of itself a strike against the book.  Sure, I acknowledge that the execution of this structure might not work for everyone (I do sympathize for the Jess Lemons of this world—real or imagined—who struggle to make sense of who all these colorful characters are and what their motivations might be; and I know there are many who find Busiek's writing overly expository, or Pérez's art needlessly cluttered), but I guess the selfish fanboy in me doesn't really care:  I know who these characters are, and I'm enjoying the ways that Busiek and Pérez are employing them.  (So much for my ambitions of being an objectively critical reviewer.)

Bottom line:  I think on some level everyone knew what a Busiek/Pérez JLA/AVENGERS project would be like.  This isn't to say that I think it's obvious how the story is going to turn out (although it may very well be obvious to more astute readers).  But I do think it's a bit disingenuous to buy a big, cosmic superhero team-up and then complain when you get a big, cosmic superhero team-up.  (With an obvious exemption for Ms. (?) Lemon because brother Andy wasn't there to guide her selection in this instance.) 
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Iron Fist

by John Jakala

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