Quick Hits: Reviews of Unwritten #31.5, All-Star Western #3 and more…

Unwritten #31.5

Unwritten #31.5: Every day it seems I get more and more interested in memetics and the power of narrative. Why do some stories persist across time and cultures, inspiring people around the world? Why do others fail to gain a foothold, losing themselves before they can affect their power in the world? Mike Carey and Peter Gross, creators of Unwritten, here pose an interesting answer to that question: because of a shadowy cabal who literally unwrite the stories they find objectionable and foster those that further their plans. This point-five issue, the first in a series of several, gives us our first look back at one of the series’ key characters, the mutton-chopped Pullman, who seems to be the cabal’s key enforcer. We catch up with him in ancient China during the fenshu kengru, a massive burning of books mandated by the Emperor in an attempt to remove any seditious thought from his State; we also watch other members of the cabal at work during the dawning of the Spanish-American War and the invention of the printing press, an especially important turning point in the history of stories. Maybe it’s just me, but the ideas being thrown about in this book seem especially timely, and I find its deeper look at one of this series’ key antagonists spellbinding. I absolutely love this title, which seamlessly alternates between presenting exciting fantasy stories and fascinating ideas about the real world. A

All-Star Western #3: “It’s gonna take a different kinda lawman ta keep this city (Gotham) under control,” bounty hunter Jonah Hex tells his milquetoast academic companion Amadeus Arkham in this book. “You could be that man, Hex,” Arkham replies. Obviously, Hex declines the offer; it’ll be about a century before Gotham gets, to quote The Dark Knight, the hero it needs. Nevertheless, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Moritat’s All-Star Western continues to present a fascinating 19th-century version of a strikingly familiar Gotham (and its heroes), from Hex twice saying he’s “not much of a joiner” (recall the first episode of Bruce Timm’s Justice League if you will) to a crazy steampunk drive-by that elicits a wonderful two-page spread. This book is the perfect mash-up of genres, and its connections to the rich Batman lore recently established by Grant Morrison and Scott Snyder lends this already-exciting series a deeper reading experience. Just fantastic. A

Green Lantern: New Guardians #3: As the Guardians of the Universe violently attempt to figure out why Kyle Rayner’s been given the power of all seven lantern corps, members of each come to Oa to retrieve the rings they believe to be rightfully theirs. This is a noisy comic that reminds me of Geoff Johns at his worst — every character’s yelling all the time and no situation has any time to breathe. That’s fine if what’s on the page is compelling, but I feel the series of stakes-escalation that makes up the plot of this issue grows increasingly ridiculous with every development. I’m so tired of seeing the Guardians as bad guys (we get it, you can’t always trust authority) and of reading a purported “team book” where guys in seven different colors of uniforms just punch each other for 20 pages. However… I DO care enough about whatever’s driving this book’s plot to read one more issue, especially considering that Orange Lantern Larfleeze shows up at the very end of this issue. I’m a sucker for that character, straight-up, so I’m going to keep reading at least long enough to see what he has to do with everything. But I may not go that much farther after that. C

Justice League Dark #3: I still don’t know what to make of this book. It almost seems unfair of me to criticize New Guardians for taking its sweet time assembling its team when Justice League Dark is doing the same thing — but then, I almost feel like that’s part of the point of JLD. In this issue, Madame Xanadu continues to attempt uniting Zatanna, Deadman, Shade and more to combat the threat of the Enchantress, but she makes almost negative progress. Some characters end up finding each other, sure (we get our first extended John Constantine segment in this issue, which is pretty cool — surely writer Peter Milligan, a veteran of the charater, knows how to handle him), but these characters basically want to resist being brought together. It’s almost a Seven Soldiers-type scenario, where we’ve got a team of characters who don’t really work together and seldom even meet. I don’t know how long the book will sustain that format, but it’s pretty interesting. On the other hand, I feel like if these guys are going to come together at some point the book should start coalescing; in theory, we’re halfway through the introductory story arc and not a whole lot has happened since the first issue. JLD‘s an unusual read with some really cool aspects, but I still can’t back this book 100% yet. B

 

tags: all-star western, green lantern new guardians, justice league dark, unwritten

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