Conservative Comic Book Pundit

Friday, November 25, 2005

A Review! A Review! (three issues in one review!)

The Book of Lost Souls # 1 - 2 and Fantastic Four #532

JMS (J. Michael Straczynski) writes both of these comics series. Both are for Marvel comics, though The Book of Lost Souls is being released under the "Icon" imprint (which is reserved for creator owned projects from what I hear).

I must say this first: I love, love, love JMS' Babylon 5 (B5) TV series. I'm even a fan of some of his other work (scripts for the old He-Man cartoons and the TV series Murder, She Wrote). In comics, I actually rather enjoy what he has done with Spider-Man. Some fans have complained about the mystical "mumbo-jumbo" he's introduced, but I feel it adds an air of mystery and freshness to the character. Midnight Nation is an overlooked classic (though with a bit too much unnecessary cheesecake "good girl" art), and even the meandering Rising Stars was an enjoyable read.

However - well.... I'm not sure how to say this. Perhaps he needs to take a long break, or write less, or actually get that B5 theatrical movie made - because he's starting to sing the same tunes over and over again. I'm not talking about exploring the same themes over and over again - some great writers do that their whole career and excel. But JMS is now just taking whole plots and even exact phrases from his earlier works and plopping them straight into this newer work. Phrases like "All love is unrequited" and "the universe trying to understand itself" were fresh back in B5. Now they seem stale and overused. If it is possible to plagiarize yourself, JMS has done it with this last Fantastic Four arc and the first few issues of The Book of Lost Souls.

That said, The Book of Lost Souls has my attention. The basic idea is powerful enough, and there's enough mystery to keep me reading. But the next Fantastic Four arc had better be good, because this one was just "blah" - a straight wash. Nothing serious, nothing that good. Reed Richards gets to be God for a few pages (I though we discovered Jack Kirby was God during Waid's run on the FF?), and then somehow feels that Ben Grimm is "happy" because now he's filthy rich (and so that makes up for the years stuck as a rocky monster who only wants to be human again?). Otherwise, nothing much happens in the arc because of (yet another) cosmic reset button.

Oh, well.
(hope y'all had a good Thanksgiving).