In which the World continues to Storm.

*52 Dept: For some reason I was kind of taken with the washed-out colors of the Richard Dragon sequence this issue; I guess it stands out more in 52 since the book isn’t known for all that much overt stylization on the color level.

This week features a few intermittently good bits, and at least one bit that works well in theory: an Election Week glimpse of future Creeper Jack Ryder’s You Are WRONG talk show, complete with Steel and Natasha arguing about things. Unfortunately, the steel grip of the plotline drags everything down into dullness fairly quickly. Most of the burden of fun is thus carried by the Sivana Family and their dealings with the Black Marvel Family. Corny jokes abound, even as we glimpse the Sivana patriarch on Mad Scientist Isle, and young Osiris makes a new friend (I did like how he’s already halfway stuffed a small animal into his jaws when we first see him - kind of cuts down on the trust no matter what). Kind of dull on the whole.

The Midnighter #1

Hey gang! Did you know Midnighter is gay?! I do believe I recall hearing that at some point but I wasn’t 100% sure, so I’m really glad writer Garth Ennis took the time to draw attention to the fact over and over in this new Wildstorm relaunch ongoing series thingy. Hardly a character passes by this issue that doesn’t acknowledge the fact, which the hero himself sees fit to indicate on page one. The pointed epitaphs and barbs fly, with one particular utterance of the word ‘fag’ interrupted by Our Hero jamming his mighty staff into the fellow’s mouth (oh dear); there’s even a good old-fashioned AIDS joke! Oh Garth, what junior high edge won’t you dance upon?!

Please excuse my tone; it’s really kind of silly to fault the comic for having a 12-year old’s sense of social grace on particular issues, considering that’s the prevalent tone of the book as a whole. It’s almost like this comic sensed the presence of Grant Morrison’s and Gene Ha’s icy, unmoving revival of The Authority proper and decided to run screaming in exactly the opposite direction, as fast as it possibly could. This is a remarkably silly, haphazard concoction, though a lot more diverting then the well-heeled clichés of John Woo’s 7 Brothers, or the blueprint-badass burdened bore that was The Boys #1. There’s just something to be said for comparatively enthusiastic, unapologetic juvenilia.

The Midnighter (and yes, the legal indicia mandates two words) kicks off with the title character mercilessly slaughtering soldiers in Afghanistan, booting tank shells away and knocking heads off of shoulders. There’s at least one good laugh, where a bloodied technical advisor attempts to give Midnighter the finger, only to discover the finger has tumbled off into the palm of his hand, and much cackling from the title character about efforts to stabilize the region (“Ha ha ha, what utter excrement.”). But Our Hero’s pompous nature is soon deflated, as he’s kidnapped by villainous types, his powers nullified and his body beaten, all for a temporarily shadowy purpose that turns out to be so ridiculous I’m halfway anticipating the next issue already just to see where Ennis goes with such a thread.

One comes away with the feeling that Ennis is operating largely on autopilot, even as he brings a greater sense of play then usual; it’s tucked away somewhere in the ‘oh who cares?’ nature of the done-a-thousand-times plot, which even leaves room for a teasing Kev joke involving the writer’s affinity for special forces killers. Oh: Chris Sprouse (pencils) and Karl Story (inks) haven’t forgotten how to draw or noticeably damaged their hands, and this isn’t the sort of book that supports much visual analysis beyond that.

Well, more peppy than other recent Ennis debuts. Hopefully we’ll eventually see a team-up with Johnny Ryan’s The Gaytriot, just to add some sophistication to the mix.