Which comics Need More Dazzler this week? Blackest Night and X-Men: Second Coming. Also, the Juggernaut's all tuckered out and Kyle Reese is written by Dr. Horrible's Zack Whedon! Spoilers ahoy!
Welcome to the second installment of Needs More Dazzler. This Saturday, we'll wrap up DC's über-crossover, kick off the Marvel mutants' Next Big Thing (which is just a bunch of Old Big Things stacked in a comic trope club sandwich), and check out the Juggernaut loafing around and a Whedonesque take on the Terminator mythos.
Amazing Spider-Man 627 (Marvel)
Writer: Roger Stern
Artist: Lee Weeks
This issue has all the trappings of a classic Spidey tale. Peter Parker is a down-on-his-luck shlub, there's a wonderfully weird whodunit (namely "What blue and white hero could TKO the Juggernaut?"), Peter must contend with some seriously bizarre cosmic weirdness that transcends his Queens-born ken, and there's a charmingly turgid infodump of all of Spidey's run-ins with the Juggernaut that seems right out of the Silver Age. Hell, Spider-Man even stops a purse-snatcher. Not Annihilus, not Xemnu the Titan, just some poor schmo with a lousy upbringing! A purse-snatcher! Fancy that!
Of course, the man to thank here is venerable Spidey scribe and Hobgoblin creator Roger Stern. Stern turns in a script about the Juggernaut that is surprisingly SMASH!-less and pretty chatty. This comic doesn't try to inject Spider-Man with a greater metaphysics. There's no bathos or yammering about how hard it is to be a superhero. It's simply a really fun superhero comic. In a genre where the phenomenological world is being reinvented every five minutes by multiverses or reality warps or deals with the devil, this is a flat-out enjoyable comic. Don't dismiss it as guileless or a guilty pleasure.
Terminator 2029 1 (Dark Horse)
Writer: Zack Whedon
Artist: Andy MacDonald
Zack Whedon's snapshot of Kyle Reese's life the year he gets sent back to 1984 has some good things going for it. Reese's gang of survivors is a likeable, hardened bunch who cracks wise in the ruin. Furthermore, Kyle's anecdote about the Terminators' sheer resilience is creepy and evocative. And the Terminators' actual appearances? They're way less menacing.
The problem with this comic is that it begins with a "less-is-more" take on The Terminators and then abruptly shifts to high-stakes, big-screen action starring characters we know almost nothing about. We know Kyle Reese, but his fate is no big surprise to us. No, we meet a bunch of relatable characters on the run from the machines and suddenly BLAMMO – Terminators with guns blazing and everyone shuts up. I'd be a little more charitable if this was an ongoing, but our window of opportunity to care about Reese's sidekicks is woefully limited (it's a three-issue miniseries). As strange as it sounds, this miniseries would benefit from some decompressed storytelling. Three issues of musings about the evil, Scrap-Yard Empire would be far more memorable than another rock-em-sock-em disposable Terminator tale.
X-Men: Second Coming 1
Writers: Craig Kyle, Chris Yost
Artists: David Finch
Despite some firecracker splashes from Finch, this intro to Marvel's mutants' Next Big Extinction Event fizzles. Why? Sure, it's gritty and has a sleek espionage veneer, but it's basically a quintuple-layer sandwich of X-ideas whose expiration dates have passed. Bastion and the Smiley-Faces teaming up to bring down Cable? The X-Men's leader has a dark secret? Jean Grey could be back? Let's get Fake Xorn in the mix and have a party!
Seriously, if there's a franchise that cannot let the past go, it's the X-Men. Barring Namor and the X-Club (and well, X-23 and a handful of other who-cares new students), this comic could pass for something prior to The Grand X-Rejiggering Initiative of Aught-Zero, a freewheeling time that birthed such fun experiments as X-Statix and Joe Casey's underrated run on Uncanny. This feels just as heavy-handed as the last several tales about Hope the X-Savior. It's a hagiography of ideas that were old hat in 1998. If you're going to write an X-series about rehashed X-ideas, at least resurrect the funny villains like Arkon and Dracula. I'd pay to see that.
Blackest Night 8
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencil: Ivan Reis
I enjoyed the heck out of Blackest Night, and I'm sure you did too. But is it a mega-event that belongs in the Pantheon of Great Mega-Events? It depends. Does the idea of Night of the Living Dead meets Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat meets The Lensmen meets the Care Bear Cousins appeal to you? Jury's still out here, but that would make one hell of a musical.
Anyway, Sinestro's tenure as the Ivory Lantern is short-lived - Nekron can jump between Black Lanterns, so unless the heroes re-kill everyone in existence, they'll need a new plan. Deadman suggests pointing The White Power Beam at The Black Hand, who appears to be Nekron's earthly anchor. Hal white-powers Black Hand and, B.H. becomes a Pez dispenser for White Lantern rings. No really, he regurgitates the rings up. That White Power beam must be made of ipecac or something. Does Black Hand have pica?
For those readers who have no idea what I'm talking about, the above paragraph probably sounds completely insane. As it should - Blackest Night is a big crazy superhero comic. Everyone's flying around, blasting rainbows out of their fannies and screaming about the end of the universe. It's entertaining, but it's a far cry from what the series began as - a compact, (relatively) accessible story about Zombie Lanterns. It was something the casual Green Lantern fan could enjoy. By the end, it became an insider comic that increasingly relied on its ancillary miniseries. It became "The Fellowship of the Color Wheel." On a final note, I'm not sure what direction DC is going with the resurrections at the end, but I hope "No More Resurrections" isn't subjected to the same backpedaling as "No More Mutants."