Sunday, May 08, 2005

Comics: Villains United - SPOILERS

Well, I promised myself I'd get a post in every week, but due to homework and running around for Mother's Day weekend I don't really have time for a full-on post this week. Instead, I'm going to flesh out a post I made on Usenet earlier in the week about Villains United.

I promised that I wasn't going to rant about Infinite Crisis, Identity Crisis, or any of that here, and I'm sticking to it. However, I will say that Villain's United is the first of the Infinite Crisis tie-ins that I've picked up in the store, flipped through, and didn't immediately just put back up on the shelf. I'm a sucker for villain vs. villain stories anyway, and when I read the first few pages, I got sucked in and decided to pick it up. (In the interest of full disclosure, I suppose I should point out that I have a complete run of DC's Secret Society of Super-Villains series from the 70's that I've managed to put together over the years).

Overall, though, I thought it was a great read. I like the new Ragdoll - seems like he/she is some kind of a "Living Doll" like Brother Power the Geek or something (maybe its the new "Doll Elemental" or something). I like the new take on Catman, and I enjoyed Simone's take on Cheshire. I also thought that the Parademon got the best lines - "Do you know that on Apokalips there's no word for foliage?" Simone did a pretty good job of introducing the Society and the Secret Six, and she definitely has me hooked into getting the next issue.
But there were still some things that I didn't like. There were a few "hey, wait" moments where when I read the book things made sense but when I was thinking about it later, it kind of fell apart. Like, if Cheshire really thought she was just working for Mockingbird for the money, why would she allow them to put a bracelet on her that would let her get tagged for termination if she screwed up? Maybe she thought that she could outrun Deadshot or something?

I also was annoyed by the death of the Fiddler. I mean, come on - he's an old Golden Age villain. Shouldn't he be in a retirement home or something? Isn't there some other "Scourge-worthy" villain from the 70s that could have been used in that scene instead? It hit me for two reasons - first, it pulled me out of the story because I was thinking "why would these maniacs even WANT someone like the Fiddler on their team?" And second, it just seemed like a pointless death to show that "Mockingbird" meant business. That seems like a lazy shortcut to show how bad-ass the villain is. (This is now a standard trope of superhero comics, and so I probably should just get over it, but it seems so lazy and so pointless that it always jars me out of the story when it happens like this).

Randy Lander's review of the first issue is mostly positive, but he takes issue with the idea that the Outsiders would be a "bunch of chumps" because they apparently allowed Arsenal's daughter to have a bomb planted in her. This didn't really bother me, mainly because I figured Mockingbird was actually lying about putting a bomb into Cheshire's daughter. But, even if she did do it, I figure Arsenal actually is a chump (and has been at least since Marv Wolfman reintroduced him as "Arsenal", continuing the trend of Titans getting lousy new names).

Johanna has a slightly more negative impression of the whole issue over at her blog, but she still says that its "one of the better DC and Marvel comics of the month", and I think she's right. I didn't have such a problem with the unnamed villains, even though I didn't know who most of them were either, because I figured they didn't matter. I would like to know if that was Dr. Psycho recruiting Black Manta early in the book, and if it was why Dr. Psycho was in his underwear, but other than that panel I figure that if we need to know who any of these folks are later that we'll get an introduction. I think Johanna is right, though, that the book could have used some extra pages to add some exposition - if they can do it monthly for Legion of Superheroes, why not for this first issue?

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