Ahhhh, home...

*Back home, back at full power (or thereabouts)!

*Confidential to Johnny Bacardi: I found that Marvel Graphic Novel you recommended, in the place I mentioned. One dollar. Looking really nice, thanks for the recommendation!

*Surprisingly great re-read of the weekend? The 2003 ninety-nine cent promotional book, Vertigo X, which was a 48-page information/interview/preview pamphlet celebrating 10 years of DC’s famous label. Looking through it on the cusp of the fourth quarter 2005, and from where I stand now as a reader as opposed to 2003, there’s really a lot of great stuff in here. You’ve got Howard Chaykin naming The Band as his favorite rock group, and Chester Brown’s Yummy Fur as his absolute favorite comic ever. You’ve got Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon hyping up City Lights, a series that’s still yet to emerge from development (Ennis: “…we’ve been wanting to do this thing for twelve years; there’s no stopping us now.”). There’s a two-page preview of The Winter Men, which has since moved to Wildstorm and finally arrived on stands the other month (buy it). James Jean praises Chris Ware, and Peter Milligan and Mike Allred team up for an all-new Shade the Changing Man short. I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, but there’s a lot of stuff in here - that’s why I keep promotional materials laying around, certainly not because I’m physically incapable of cleaning.

*Dorian is right - The Punisher: The Tyger is gonna be the highlight of Marvel’s December releases, with Garth Ennis teaming up with the legendary John Severin for some MAX-rated action (not the 82-year old Severin’s first contribution to the line; he also did the art for the infamous Ron Zimmerman-written Rawhide Kid miniseries of a while back), featuring Frank as a pre-teen. Sounds like a recipe for success to me!

The rest of the solicitations are pretty meh (though Marvel Spotlight looks ok, and do note: the Marvel Mega Morphs digest is a mere eight bucks, not much more than the singles will cost together by that point) - apparently we’re getting the rest of Kevin Smith’s Spider-Man/Black Cat miniseries because “You demanded it…” Well yes, people often do demand endings for six-issue miniseries that remain halfway unreleased for over a year after they’ve plugged close to ten bucks in the goddamned thing…

Seven Soldiers - Mister Miracle #1 (of 4)

Another new beginning, even with a few ‘endings’ still coming up. You’ll recall that I found the initial roll-out of Seven Soldiers first issues to get a bit tiring; it didn’t help that the first issues of Guardian and Zatanna were quite easily the weakest of their runs thus far. So maybe the starts here are necessarily slow, introductions and orientations and all; this one, like Zatanna, trades on a significant number of connections to the larger DCU, providing a number of New Gods appearances (nice Jack Kirby creator credit!) and necessarily mandating a small amount of background information as to what the concept means. It’s nothing too distracting; Morrison provides a very quick overview of the New Gods premise, not even naming a number of characters but providing their roles ably. Those who’ve read Morrison’s JLA run might be in a somewhat better position than those coming in cold, but all information needed is there.

But there’s more set-up to get through. The Mister Miracle of the title, Shilo Norman, unlike the rest of the protagonists we’ve seen, is a rich and famous success story at the apex of his powers, a celebrity escape artist (one of the Seven Celebrity Wonders of the World), used to lavish parties and exotic places. But he’s troubled none the less - on a daring stunt involving a black hole, Shilo encounters Metron and his Mobius Chair, and discovers that he and his Motherboxxx have a special role to fulfill, even if as only the subject of a wager between New Gods. You’ll note that, given certain revelations, none of the Seven Soldiers introduced in this project easily fit the predominant superhero race/gender demographic, something that sets them apart right off the bat, but there’s a certain inner clawing that marks all of them, a feeling that something is wrong, that things need to be done, a notion that transcends social and economic positioning. This Mister Miracle is part of that joining, although we don’t learn all that much beyond that in this issue.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the distinct lack of Pasqual Ferry art that future issues of this title will be suffering from; he’s here for this initial outing, though, accompanied by Adam Strange colorist Dave McCaig, who has some fun with the rainbow-hued backgrounds and dizzy light fixtures. It’s just sort of too bad that Ferry only has a few pages to show off his lush sci-fi talents - he draws an attractive-looking Metron, and Shilo seems dynamic enough in costume, but Morrison mostly has the two of them floating around in space, with only a neatly symmetrical double-page spread devoted to action, and even that seems oddly inert, undercranked, with little of that Kirby dynamism; it’s pretty, but doesn’t quite feed into the pulp iconography that Ferry exploited so well in those early Adam Strange issues. And much of the rest of this chapter has characters talking and walking around, with an odd trip to a club, plastic fetish women striking awkward poses, providing the low. I’m sure Morrison had plenty of great images all cooked up for Ferry in the future, and contract issues are contract issues, but in execution, as the book we’re all able to buy, this doesn’t seem like the best use of Ferry, if partially by poor luck.

There’s potential, yes. I think I got to repeating that a lot in that block of first issues. On a whole, the strength of the project shores up the relative weaknesses of this particular issue, and the material is there for plenty of neat stuff in the future. I think it’s in elaboration that this project works best. Introductions - they haven been as grabby as they could be. But maybe they don’t really need to be.