And now, as promised, part two of this week's Blue Plates, where I go a bit far afield of my usual reviews and feature a Vertigo book and an Indy book. Here's how they stacked up:
Haunted Tank #5
I've enjoyed this mini from its start; the idea of modernizing the Haunted Tank concept in Iraq and making good ol' Confederate officer J.E.B. Stuart's descendant a black guy made for a great Vertigo-type hook, and Marraffino has deftly mixed off-color humor with exciting war action throughout, and mix in some decent characterization as well. But by the end here, it felt kind of repetitive, and also kind of unfinished. Because really, we ended up exactly where we started. This was throughout more of a character piece, but by the end neither of our two main characters really seemed to learn anything about each other (although Jamal did learn some truths about war and its tendency to repeat), and the side characters never really grew past what they were in the opening issues. They're fun enough, and the promise was always there for them to grow beyond the stock stereotypes they started as, but 5 issues just turned out to not be enough room for them to do so.
That said, this issue was still fun. The crew storms Baghdad (I think), achieves their goal, one member bites it, we learn how J.E.B.'s line sired Jamal (it's obvious), and how it is he keeps coming back to war tanks (in probably the only twist in this issue, we learn that his "curse" actually isn't much of one for this man/ghost), and learn that history has a tendency of repeating itself. All in all, a fine issue and a fun mini, but the first three issues for me were substantially more enjoyable than the last two. Flint's art was great throughout however, and I'd recommend giving it a shot. I liked it.
And here we get BOOM!'s "superhero" book, and Mark Waid's latest effort to paint himself out of the "silver age nostalgia" box he's been placed in. And it's mighty good. The Plutonian was his world's first, and most powerful superhero (yes, he's obviously a Superman analogue), but somewhere along the way, he got twisted, and now we see what happens when someone that powerful and that unknown decides he'd rather be a villain. The opening scene is just brutal. Plutonian decides to hunt down and take out our "Batman" analogue, the Falcon, but doesn't stop with him. No he goes after the wife and kids too, and it is not a scene for your little ones. After that, we see the world's remaining heroes scrambling to find ways to survive, and maybe to stop the Plutonian, and we see what price they've already paid for his descent into evil.
This book is dark, it's tense, and it’s even a bit scary. It feels a lot like Waid's Empire, but maybe even bleaker due to the fact that this villain HAS heroes out there trying to stop him, but they seem absolutely helpless. But even with the bleak, the dark, and the scary, throughout, this book is above all very, very good. I don't know Peter Krause, but his art is great here, conveying the action and the character stuff equally well. And Waid is on top of his game here on a project he obviously cares deeply about and knows he can get away with doing whatever he wants to do. A tremendous first issue, and I'm excited about following this book. I LOVED it.