Comic Reviews: Nova, Justice League Of America, and Happy!
Nova returns to the spaceways thanks to Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, with a premiere issue that may surprise you. Turning back the clock to show us Sam Alexander before he appeared in last summer’s Avengers vs. X-Men, there’s not a whole lot of action coming Sam’s way in this issue. Instead, we get an insight into his everyday life: attending high school and staying late to perform his dad’s custodial duties so he doesn’t get fired. This is intercut with stories from his father, who was a member of the Nova corps. I was really surprised by this approach to the character, but I have to admit, I found it to be really charming.
Jeph Loeb, the writer behind classics like Batman: The Long Halloween and Spider-Man: Blue (as well as some stinkers-Ultimatum, Wolverine: Evolution, and almost every other Marvel work he’s done) has really outdone himself with this issue, returning to the wonderful, emotionally charged stories that he used to be known for. Focusing on the relationship between Sam and his father leads to many interesting moments. Loeb has a great handle on Sam’s teenage view of the world, from his frustrations at school to his life at home. However, I would have liked to have the Nova segments expanded on, or some sort of tie to the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover that introduced the Sam Alexander Nova. The story drops us into the action, with very little exposition into what the Nova Corps are and the different delineations amongst them, so when Nova and his fellow corps members start talking about “gold heads” , it becomes really distracting for new readers.
Ed McGuinness will always be a favorite of mine, and this latest collaboration with Loeb only strengthens this. The two page splash of Nova and his teammates (and two other characters that I won’t spoil here) blasting away their enemies is incredible, and seeing his take on some of the more otherworldly Novas was really cool. McGuinness even does a great job in the Earth-bound moments of the book, something that can sometimes be a weakness for a man known for crazy in your face action.
Nova‘s first issue is surprisingly heartfelt and emotional, something that people might not be expecting when they pick up the book. While it may have been a little slow in parts, there’s a cool cliffhanger at the end, and it’s good to see Jeph Loeb writing a good comic again. While it’s only in it’s first issue, if Loeb can keep this up, we may have something closer to his great DC work than say, Hulk.
Not content with having a Justice League that polices the world, America wants to have their own. Under the watchful eye of DC superstars Geoff Johns and David Finch, the United States government wants to have their own team of super humans to assist and, if necessary, defeat the Justice League. Spearheaded by Amanda Waller, this opening issue acts like more of a set up issue than the first issue of Justice League that launched the “new 52” back in 2011. We get quick snippets of each character as Waller goes over the roster with Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s ex who was last seen in the second Justice League story arc. While it’s certainly a cool concept, the members of the team leave much to be desired. Johns goes to great lengths to introduce all of the these members, but there’s no really convincing argument why they deserve to be on the team. Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, and the new Green Lantern Simon Baz are all understandably good candidates, but characters like Vibe, Katana, and Catwoman just make this team seem like a weird grab bag. There’s a good aside about Waller’s “Suicide Squad” team, and in a way this book feels like a superior version of that series, albeit with the name “Justice League” on the cover instead.
RANT ALERT: David Finch….what happened buddy? There’s tons of awesome panels in here, but your page revealing Catwoman looks AWFUL. I understand that you’ve got a deadline, but man, she looks less like Catwoman and more like “Dingowoman”. Thankfully this is the only really glaring problem with Finch’s art here. By and large the rest of the character designs and action scenes look great under his pencils. But man, that Catwoman needs to be fixed by issue 2.
With a team like this, I have to say I needed more convincing for why they would be on a team designed to match up with the “regular” Justice League. It’s a shame, because I really like he premise behind this book, and I’m intrigued by what’s coming up, but I just don’t like this line-up. I’m sure there are some people who’ll eat this up, but for me, I gotta say pass.
Oh hey Happy! long time no see! Good to see you! What’s that? You gotta go? Oh okay then……
So yes, after a little bit of a delay, Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s gleefully violent Happy! is done, and yes, it does feel like it was over a little too soon. Morrison brings Nick Sax’s tale to a close with copious amounts of blood, bullets, and cussin’, and while I was fulfilled with how everything pans out, I also wanted more. Sax’s interactions with Happy, the tiny blue horse imaginary friend of the girl he’s trying to rescue, continue to be the best thing about this miniseries, and Darick Robertson’s pencils are gruesomely awesome. The pacing of the story felt a little rushed at times, which may have been due to the delay in issues, but I”m surprised that this was only pitched as a four issue miniseries. If you missed out on this in floppy form, do yourself a favor and snag the trade next month. It’s well worth it.