Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup. This week we recap some of the titles from the last Wednesday of 2016.
G.I. Joe #1 (IDW Publishing)
(W) Paul Jenkins (A) Leïla Leïz (C) Tamra Bonvillain
IDW is touting G.I. Joe #1 as “the crown jewel of the Hasbro Universe,” rallying behind the pedigree and recognition that the franchise has earned over nearly 60 years. However, if this first issue is anything to go by, then the folks at IDW better take the whole universe in for polishing because this jewel is not as shiny as it could be.
Taking place after the “Revolution” crossover, G.I. Joe is no longer a team of “real American heroes,” but an independent and international peacekeeping initiative with more than one surprise up their sleeves (which is spoiled on at least one of the 10,000 variant covers). And to be honest, the first few pages of the issue deliver exactly what anyone would want out of a G.I. Joe comic. There’s big, dumb action with snarky one-liners and likable characters. Unfortunately, what follows bogs down the issue with exposition galore, a sequence that is partially saved by the great character dynamics established.
G.I. Joe #1 is a solid relaunch of the long-running series. Fans of the property, and those that may have an interest in it, should check it out. It is by no means a bad issue. However, it does not reach the highs of IDW’s other licensed properties.
The Flash #13 (DC Comics)
(W) Joshua Williamson (A) Neil Googe (C) Ivan Plascencia
With each passing issue, Joshua Williamson’s The Flash incrementally improves. Coincidentally, the character of Wally West (the New 52 version that’s a member of the Teen Titans, not the pre-Flashpoint version that’s running around with the Titans… comics are confusing) has shown significant improvement, evolving from the walking stereotype he was introduced as to an interesting, selfless, and enjoyable teen hero. That development reaches a new apex in The Flash #13, as Wally takes control while his Aunt Iris and Barry Allen enjoy a holiday date. It’s fun, flashy, and the perfect issue to get readers to fully embrace this Wally West.
Williamson’s script not only does Wally a great service, but Barry too. Since his resurrection during Final Crisis, the character has been handled by many top-tier writers, yet no one really knows what to do with him. Geoff Johns made him an overly serious wet blanket. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato made him a bland “regular guy” with little depth. And the less said about the Robert Venditti / Van Jensen run, the better. Williamson is the first writer to look at Barry Allen and make him a fully fleshed out character. Through Barry’s interactions with Iris, Williamson moves the character beyond the cliché (and unneeded) motivation of his mother’s murder by focusing on his day-to-day actions. As has been the case throughout Rebirth, Williamson is reinventing Barry Allen into something he’s never really been before: an interesting character.
The Flash #13 is a great way for the series to close out 2016. Though the two narratives clash with each other when it comes to pacing, they each stand strongly on their own and come together for a satisfying closing sequence. Though sickeningly sweet and full of cheese, Williamson and his unheralded art team of Neil Googe and Ivan Plascencia make it work.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #10 (BOOM! Studios)
(W) Kyle Higgins (A) Jonathan Lam (C) Joana Lafuente
Billy, the Blue Ranger, is the brains (aka the nerd) of the Mighty Morphin’ era of Power Rangers. How Kyle Higgins has characterized him throughout this series from BOOM! Studios exemplifies the improvements made to this incarnation of the franchise. Removing the over-the-top technobabble and denim overalls in favor of more natural dialogue and fashion, Billy has become a genuinely relatable character. With issue #10 of the series focusing squarely on him, he also becomes fully fleshed out.
Unfortunately, Higgins does not take full advantage of the opportunity to explore Billy, instead magnifying the characteristics that have been well established over the previous 9 issues (10 if you include #0). He is insecure about being a proper hero, and aptly uses the literary pattern of the Hero’s Journey to improve himself. While this is competently written, Higgins plays it too safe. Never is there an indication that Billy’s insecurity is overly critical, let alone that it will be a major through line for the series going forward.
The same can be said for the art by Jonathan Lam and Joana Lafuente. It’s competent, but nothing spectacular. Even the action sequences are merely okay. That’s basically the issue in a nutshell. If you’re a fan of Power Rangers or happen to enjoy average comics, then this done-in-one issue might be worth it.