Friday, January 01, 2016

What I Bought 12/30/2015 - Part 2

Hopefully you had a good night celebrating the new year, or not celebrating if you didn't want to. And hopefully I didn't come down with something from the party I went to.

Harley Quinn and Power Girl #6, by Justin Gray, Amanda Conner, and Jimmy Palmiotti (writers), Stephane Roux, Moritat, Elliot Fernandez, and Flaviano (artists), Paul Mounts (colorist), Marilyn Patrizio (letterer) - It's a good Star Wars homage cover, as those things go, I guess.

The sham wedding of Vartox and Power Girl does not occur, because Harley says something that somehow triggers all three of them being shunted into some weird, artificial location Vartox set up as like a fantasy world where they are married, complete with alcoholic 60s-style domestic Power Girl, and bunch of irritating kids. Much punching in all directions ensues, Peej eventually shames Vartox into just using the ring to send them home without a ceremony, and doesn't even wait to hear his dramatic monologue about the burden of his affections, and that's it.

I was trying to decide how I felt about this mini-series now that it's over, and I'm not sure. It's very much something I read in the moment, but it doesn't leave much of a lasting impression. Kind of just slides off my brain. Power Girl punching Vartox through buildings repeatedly was nice. Vartox having essentially a holodeck fantasy in a pocket dimension seems about right for him. You can almost squint and see it as his practicing to try and be a good husband in the hopes that'll happen some day, but no, it's just creepy and a bad idea all around. I'm curious about the fact they used four artists on this issue. There's no real rhyme or reason to them. It isn't one of those things where they move through several different worlds, each illustrated by someone different. I think Moritat does that page where Peej initially hits Vartox 9and the two before it), and then it shifts to Fernandez when Robo-Kara starts swinging, and I think stays with Fernandez the rest of the way. Either they handed pages off to whoever could get it done, since it's already a month late, or they just wanted to let everyone who'd been involved up to then get a little work in.

Maybe this would have worked better if it was shorter. 4 issues of, "Harley and Power Girl run into some weird thing in Vartox' world. Harley makes enthusiastic inappropriate comments while Power Girl is angry and/or exasperated," was probably enough. Cut some of the chaff with Oreth, or the Harvester of Sorrows (that scene where Harley goes nuts for 5 pages really sticks out as an unusual bit in this whole thing). I was thinking yesterday it was an extended Looney Tunes cartoon, with Harley as Bugs Bunny and Peej as Daffy. Which doesn't seem entirely right, but Harley's the one who seems able to adjust and manipulate the rules of the setting, and Power Girl's the one who is continually frustrated. Which would make Vartox Elmer Fudd? Or maybe the Abominable Snowman that was based on Lenny from of Mice and Men. "And I will hug Power Girl, and squeeze her, and call her George. . ."

Rocketeer at War #1, by Marc Guggenheim (writer), Dave Bullock (artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), Gilberto Lazcano (letterer) - Cliff's right arm looks too small. Otherwise, it's a solid cover.

Cliff turned the rocket pack over to the government when he enlisted, and the government, in its infinite wisdom, promptly put a trained, highly skilled pilot in the infantry (but he also works as a mechanic at an airfield?). Seems sub-optimal. Cliff's fighting in North Africa, and keeping busy, first rescuing a British pilot from a burning airplane (after she'd saved by him by strafing some attacking Nazis). Yeah, Molly's an attractive lady British pilot, naturally. Then he stopped some Nazi agent from stealing a Magnatron Navigation System from an airplane, that doohickey being a key component of the rocket, that's being adapted for use in aircraft I suppose. By the end of the issue, Cliff's reunited with his rocket, because apparently no one else can use the thing without killing themselves.

I notice Guggenheim is going with Howard Hughes as the rocket's designer, rather than Doc Savage. Stevens made it Savage, but the movie used Hughes, and subsequent writers seem to vary. I think Mark Waid was firmly in the "Doc Savage" camp, based on that mini-series he and Samnee did in 2012. Guggenheim's Cliff is less stupidly jealous than Cliff usually is. I expected him to get a little more steamed when his buddies grabbed the photo Betty sent him and started hooting over it. I was a little surprised he volunteered to hand the rocket over. I would have figured him for approaching the government to let him use it to help the war somehow, and them requesting he turn it over, so then he enlists.

On the last page, when Cliff has donned the rocket pack again and takes off, Molly is standing right there next to the general, with some other soldiers looking on. This after the general described things to Cliff as 'the toppest of secrets'. Granted, the project to mass produce rocket packs is apparently a collaborative effort, because there was a Soviet lieutenant present at the test flight at the start of the issue, but it still seems not in keeping with something being top secret, to have the guy zooming around as the Rocketeer in broad daylight in front of all sorts of people.

Bullock's art seems to shift a lot over the issue. Sometimes he's using a very fine line, and some of his faces remind me of Tim Sale's work (though usually more Bruce Timm's). Other times he goes with much thicker lines. I'm not sure if Pattison's coloring plays a role in that. I'm guessing it did on the page where Cliff pulls Molly from the burning wreckage, which I thought was the best looking page in the whole issue. Just some really good work with the lighting and shadows from the flames. It almost looks like Bullock went very sparse on the number of lines, and let Pattison's colors do a lot of the work themselves. Using shading and tone to help the eye infer lines that aren't that, if that makes sense. There's a phrase for that I'm sure, but it escapes me. At times though, the art feels flat, or characters in the same panel don't feel like they're in the same panel. I can't pin it down, but something feels off to me. There needs to be more shading, the lighting being portrayed isn't right. I noticed it more near the end of the issue, like maybe Bullock had to simplify things because he was running behind.

I'm not sure if I'll buy the second issue. There was some dynamic element I was wanting from the writing and the art that didn't appear. It isn't bad, and there's elements I liked, but I'd have preferred they just skipped right to those. Maybe Cliff being in the Army proper will pay off down the line, but why not have him working as an instructor to other prospective pilots of the rocket, and then he has to go on an actual mission? Did we need the sequences of him being a regular soldier?


SallyP said...

No more Vartox for a while then. I am depressed. The Rocketeer book looks very good however.

CalvinPitt said...

The Rocketeer book has a couple of things going for. I'm curious about the Japanese doctor who made the death ray, and the Nazi agent with the glider outfit. Those are things I'd like to see more of.