Wednesday, February 01, 2017

What I Bought 1/31/2017 - Part 1

It's new comics day, but for now, I'm looking at a couple of books from last month I finally acquired. There'll be a couple more Friday, and by Monday I'll review what I picked up today.

JLA Rebirth: The Ray, by Steve Orlando (writer), Stephen Byrne (artist/colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - I picked this cover because I thought it looked a little cooler, but something's off about how the helmet sits on his head. I think it's that it stops partway on the bridge of his nose. Also, his hand is a little large compared to his head, isn't it?

Ray spent his childhood indoors, away from light, until finally getting fed up and running away from home. He accidentally hurts some people when his powers flare up, so after that he spends years wandering the globe invisibly, until he finds his one childhood friend (who he's been telling this whole story via letters), now a politician, and short an eye thanks to Ray's powers, under attack by some evil so-called patriot with a shield. How HYDRA Cap made it to the DCU will have to be answered another day, because Ray saves the day, and decides to live his life and be a hero. Oh, and he is gay now, which is kind of what I expected after it was announced that would be the case with the version appearing on the CW. It's fine, doesn't alter the core of Ray's character, so whatever works.

I'm going to have to think about whether this version of Ray Terrill has a sadder origin than the pre-Flashpoint version did. The part where he spends years wandering the Earth, forming a negative opinion of humanity while observing it invisibly is definitely not cheerful. On the plus side, no sign of Happy Terrill and his Silver Age Superman style of parenting.

But it might have been good to see more of Ray being a hero and helping people. We're supposed to believe Batman would recruit this guy to be part of a Justice League, after all. Or maybe Orlando intends to cover that in the zero issue of the upcoming Justice League series. The fact Ray takes hope from his friend not letting one awful incident ruin his life, and decides to be an active participant, rather than an invisible observer, is not a bad ending. Ray quoting the Silverblade movie he watched on TV as a kid when he steps up to fight was a cute touch.

Stephen Byrne's work reminds me a little of Phil Noto's in the faces, but Byrne's work has more sense of motion to it than Noto's. The book is colored dark right up to the point where Ray embraces his powers and steps up to save Caden. All the scenes are at night, but even beyond that, shadows overwhelming everything. But Ray is sad, or lost, and either hiding or being hidden up to that point, so it fits. Somehow Byrne made Ray's haircut look even sillier than it did back in the '90s, though, which is impressive. This hasn't decided me on whether to buy Orlando's Justice League series or not, so indecision still reigns. 

Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye #4, by Gerard Way and Jonathan Rivera (writers), Michael Avon Oeming (artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), Clem Robins (letterer) - That's not a bad cover. The giant eye within the world. What's the significance of the two cities on opposite sides, or was Oeming just aiming for symmetry?

Cave and the others explore what's left of the underground kingdom, and then Wild Dog nearly kills himself because of something emanating from behind a door Chloe briefly unlocks. The recovery team in the Mighty Mole Mk. II show up, and most of them promptly get slaughtered by those crazy green guys. Our heroes reach a sanctuary, where Cave gets to tell the in-laws their daughter is dead. Meanwhile, Evil Corporate Guy has people draining a fluid from Old Drippy Fungus Man. I prefer to say draining to "milking", which is the word they use, and which makes me slightly nauseous.

I'm not sure where this is going to go. The mysterious door that causes suicidal hallucinations seems like it will be important later, but given the threat they seem to be facing, I'm not sure how. Paul doesn't seem likely to come to them, and I can't see the people being altered by the fungus juice as susceptible to the effect. Not sure what'll end up happening with Mazra's parents. I imagine things are going to be awkward between them and Cave, and I'm guessing there'll be some expectations they have for Chloe that are going to cause conflicts. But who knows what direction Way and Rivera will opt for? That's a major draw of the book for me, that lack of familiarity I have with the characters, the setting, the writers' tics. We're early enough the possibilities are wide-ranging, and that helps me get excited.

Oeming's art felt variable in this issue. Strong on some pages, weaker on others. Some of the faces were strange at times. But overall he and Filardi are maing a good team. The page of Cave going to explore the reservoir/fountain, where Filardi colors the arc of the glowstick as Cave tosses it looked very nice. I think they might be overusing the bit where at least half of Cave's face is in shadow, and the cybernetic eye is glowing out of it. It is very effective at making it appear something alien that doesn't belong there, though. I did enjoy the very satisfied smirk Chloe gets when she meets some inhabitants of Mul-Droog. And the effect when Chloe releases the lock on the door, and the glyphs on it drift down into the next panel where they start to work on Wild Dog's mind. There's actually a lot of panels and transitions in this issue I like, though there are times I start to lose track of which way to go one the page. Overall, the mixed bag is much more good than bad.

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