Straight Shooter 

Twilight Guardian #1
Words by Troy
Hickman
Art by Reza
$3.99, 24 pages
(Top Cow/Image)

The Twilight Guardian, an anonymous loser pretending at superherodom, patrols well-trod territory, but Hickman’s (Common Grounds) skill at character development sets this series apart. So far, anyway. The story, told through terse, personal journal entries, is largely uneventful, but the protagonist, a lonely girl patrolling her suburban neighborhood for evildoers, is compelling and sympathetic. The issue occasionally falters when Hickman attempts a Tick-like mockery of the Guardian’s misguided sense of “justice,” but the endearing attempts of the main character to escape her failed relationship and mundane existence as a dry cleaner by mimicking her favorite comic-book characters makes Twilight Guardian worth reading. Her late-night prowling leads only to the discovery of misdemeanors — teenagers making out in a parked car, a man urinating in his neighbor’s flower bed — but also to other lonely people acquainted with the night: a woman continously watching the same monster movie, a man shooting baskets until his love returns. And it’s this secret knowledge of the friendless people without purpose that gives Twilight Guardian a meaningful voice. Though misguided and ineffective superheroes are standard fare in comic books, Twilight Guardian’s underlying concept — becoming a superhero as a distraction from the isolation of modern-day young adulthood — is novel and at times even heart-defrosting.  

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Titans #1
Words by Judd Winick
Art by Ian Churchill, Norm Rapmund, and Edgar Delgado
$3.50, 40 pages
(DC)

First off, the “#1” on the cover is a shameless lie. Open the book, and you’re greeted with a big old “part 2,” though where exactly you might find part one is never explained (try Titans East Special #1, which appeared last freaking November). No matter. What little plot you can glean is completely stand-alone: Nightwing, Donna Troy, Green Lantern, Raven, and other characters are briefly introduced, then attacked by hellish monsters. The actual subsequent battles are skipped over. Indie fave Winick (Pedro and Me, Barry Ween) seems out of his element here, as he glosses over the parts fanboys usually buy comics for — action, actual storylines, etc. — in favor of upping the head count. Do we really need to see the Flash taking a shower or Starfire sunbathing? Unless you’d rather see cartoon near-nudity than demon-battling, the answer is “no.” Meanwhile, characters die, something (whatever it is) presumably major happens, but all of that stuff happens off-panel and is merely alluded to later. How our heroes escape their assailants is left to your imagination — and you could imagine your favorite Titans beating up monsters for free. Even obsessive-compulsive completists should feel comfortable skipping this one.  

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Thor: Ages of Thunder
Words by Matt
Fraction
Art by Patrick Zircher, June Chung, Khari Evans, Victor Olazaba, and Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic
$3.99, 40 pages
(Marvel)

“One shot” doesn’t mean what it used to. Thor: Ages of Thunder is advertised this way right on the cover, but the
story’s final page  is a “to be continued” sales pitch for Thor: Reign of Blood. Don’t bother. The usually awesome Matt Fraction (Casanova, Punisher War Journal) wipes his ass on the page here, delivering some overwritten Norse mythos with disappointingly little action. Hell, there’s hardly any Thor: That hammer-wielding Fabio  appears on less than half of the pages (I counted), and usually just to kill a monster and spout a few lines of snotty dialogue. Staying in Asgard for an entire book would be a nice change if it weren’t for the overbearing narration and boring artwork. Fraction’s writing thrives on ultraviolence, and his attempt at mimicking a folkloric voice is regrettable, reading like he drew inspiration from all the wrong parts of 300. The panels are overloaded with flowery dependent clauses such as, “And so did Thor the black-hearted, Thor the giant-killer, Thor the hunter’s thunder ...”
to leave sufficient space for the hack and slash, and action scenes are generally confined to one or two panels. A real shame, considering the issue mostly consists of two-page double trucks. Watching $4 catch fire is more entertaining.


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