Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gotham City Sirens #1

I read Harley Quinn and Catwoman's past solo books, and loved them, so I approached this book with some hope that I would really dig it. However, Catwoman seems to have had a magical heart transplant in a story I didn't read, Harley Quinn talks like the cartoon, and Poison Ivy is a good guy, or close enough. The ladies decide that with Batman gone (or at least the Bats they know) that they should team up. I guess... doesn't really make sense to me, but I did enjoy seeing the 3 of them take on Boneblast, a terribly named new villain. He's definitely not worth much more than this throwaway appearance, with powers, looks, and personality all failing to make a big impression. I'm surprised at how little I was drawn into this, since I've enjoyed a lot of Paul Dini's work in the past. I just don't really see a need for this crew to get together, and other than the neat idea of a super-villan realtor, there wasn't a lot in the premiere issue to bring me back. I liked the idea better when it was called Birds of Prey.

I've never been as enamored of Guillem March's art as most of the internet. While his covers are striking and sexy, I find his interiors a little lacking. The amount of cheesecake is probably the most important factor for this title though, and we do get the three leads prancing around in their tight suits, plus Zatanna taking a bath. A lot of comic book story sure seems to happen with ladies getting dressed or bathing, doesn't it?


All-New Savage She-Hulk #3

Ok, Fred Van Lente. After making me angry last issue with how casually Jennifer Walters was taken out of the story, her return this issue makes up for it. As the Sentry calmly describes the take-down of the Savage She-Hulk, Walters emerges from a cab and promptly punches Sentry into the pavement in a great panel. I'm still more interested in seeing this new She-Hulk interact with the modern Marvel U, because I'm not that intrigued by her odd battle of the sexes alternate future. I did enjoy how unimpressed Captain Marvel was with her in their face-off, I found myself agreeing with him that she just wasn't that unique. I still rooted for her to whup up on him, but really, she's better as a new Marvel U character in the present and out of her fairly generic future. I bet if Van Lente was writing a Jennifer Walters She-Hulk book I would love it, but I just can't get into this spawn of Hulk and Thundra deal. Why replace a perfectly good and recognizable character with this oddball alternate future weirdness?

Peter Vale and Michael Ryan bring their "A" game with the art, the book is great looking. The Dark Avengers actually look shiny and heroic, which is a fun way to visualize them in the middle of Dark Reign. That said, the lead character just pales in comparison to the first She-Hulk, which tempers my excitement about the book.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Guardians of the Galaxy #15

There are a lot of cheer-able moments in this issue of Guardians of the Galaxy. The issue starts off with most of the team caught between the Shi'ar Imperial Guard and some of the Inhuman royal family. I loved how insulted Starlord was that the Inhumans didn't immediately throw in with the Guardians. Lockjaw waking up Cosmo, with Cosmo asking "Are you God?" was a wonderful moment too. The best part about the opening chaos was Crystal tossing away Phyla, showing that Crystal had never been in danger. She's too tough a character to be used as a hostage and DnA showed their comic bonafides with the scene.

After the Inhumans depart, it's down to the Imperial Guard and the Guardians, since the Luminals and other denizens of Knowwhere want nothing to do with the conflict. Things look grim, especially when Starhawk gets free and zaps Starlord, Jack Flagg, Mantis, and Cosmo off to the future. Bug might have been there too, I can't remember. In any case, the remnants of the team go up against the Shi'ar, and then in another great moment, Rocket Racoon returns with his team and they start absolutely whipping up on the Shi'ar. Mentor II has no chance against the angry rodent. There are great bits of dialogue mixed in as always, from Jack Flagg's "For Cleveland!" to another wonderful use of "I am Groot!" This remains one of my favorite comics.

Brad Walker is one of my favorite new pencillers. His figures look great and his faces are expressive. He's one of the best new pencillers I've seen in years.


Streets of Gotham #1

I don't understand the purpose of this comic. Is Paul Dini writing his own Batman story? This isn't a comic about the cops of Gotham like I thought it would be, there is a lot of Batman & Robin in here. The cops aren't handling normal villains, since the Firefly is the main antagonist (didnt' he die in Infinite Crisis?) It also seems Dini is picking up on his old plot threads from Detective Comics, including Tommy's incarceration and Bruce Wayne-lookalike status. So that leads me to think that this is just a continuation of Dini's Detective Comics run. An odd choice to spin that out into a new book while giving Batwoman Detective Comics.

In any case, there are some neat scenes involving a child runaway as she's "saved" from a horrible fate, only to have her tagged by Firefly to burn later in the issue. The most interesting bit was the way Batman had a trunk full of fire-extinguishing foam to help put people out that he could distribute to the police. I didn't care for Commisioner Gordon just letting Harley Quinn walk, but I'm a little fuzzy on her legal status these days, so maybe it isn't as crazy as it seems. I will admit I'm annoyed to see Battle for the Cowl even referenced by the Firefly. Just leave that new Black Mask and his implanted bombs out of the story. I'm also a little surprised to see Firefly creating tiny flame devices with a bug motif, I always thought he was just a pyro with a jetpack and wings.
Dustin Nguyen's pencils are very consistent. I'm not his biggest fan, but I appreciate the clear storytelling and the occasional inspired panel. He draws different faces well, making it easy to recognize folks just by appearance, which is nice.


Manhunter backup story
It was fun seeing Manhunter in Marc Andreyko and Georges Jeanty's Manhunter story. Her initial target is fairly generic (the murderer of the previous DA). I'm surprised to see Oracle so accepting of Manhunter's murderous ways, although admittedly they did glaze over that bit of their relationship in Birds of Prey. Andreyko's decision to use so many flashbacks made this first issue seem a bit disjointed, I hope he dials it back next issue. Jeanty's art is great when Kate Spencer is in costume, but out of it she doesn't have the tired eyes I associate with the character.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

X-Men: Endangered Species TPB

Wow. What a depressing comic. Mike Carey, Chris Yost, Christos Gage and others give us a great picture of what the Beast goes through to try and get mutants reinstated into the Marvel U. It is interesting seeing a character's perception of a Marvel editorial edict. While I like the idea that there are only 200 or so mutants (especially since I know most of them) I can see how it would be depressing for the actual mutant population.

I really enjoyed seeing how desperate Beast gets in searching for a cure. He's willing to go hat-in-hand to the worst villains of the Marvel U, and his ongoing partnership with the Dark Beast was a fascinating contrast. The writers do a great job wandering around the world, checking in with Bishop, High Evolutionary, the Guthries, and more. The story also set some nice seeds that I've seen pay off in other titles, like learning more about Mr. Sinister's work in Almagordo and my introduction to Amanda Mueller. I'm really enjoying the depth of the mutant content at Marvel these days, and this was a neat primer for the big stories of the past few years. We don't know a lot more at the end than we did at the beginning, but the journey was appropriately melancholy for this type of thing.

Tom Grummet, Scot Eaton, Mark Bagley and the rest are solid storytellers and I loved seeing their takes on some of the big bads of the mutantverse.


Wolverine: Origins #37

Ugh. So the plot of this issue involved Wolverine tracking down Victor Hudson so that he can work him over to determine Romulus' location. Except that Wolverine knows that even Hudson has very little contact with Romulus. In any case, after Wolvie goes whole hog into this mission, it turns out he got played and he will actually just get to fight Omega Red. I just don't get why Daniel Way would spend an issue making his lead look fairly incompetent. Wolverine has made mistake after mistake in the past few months. The only thing Wolvie is right about is that Romulus likes taking the train (which is actually a nice little characteristic). There is no driving impetus to this comic, I never feel like it matters if Wolverine achieves any of his goals.

Doug Braithwaite's art is great at telling clear stories, and I dig how he draws folks with different builds and faces. This doesn't do enough to make the comic any more interesting.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dark Reign: Mister Negative #1

I haven't seen too much of Mr. Negative in the Amazing Spider-Man trades I'm working my way through, but the whole split of a philanthropist and crime boss in the same guy is a neat idea. Mr. Negative's look is striking too, although I don't totally understand what it has to do with his powers. In this first issue, Fred Van Lente shows us how Negative is refusing to back down from the Hood and his gang of thugs. The Hood dispatches the White Dragon (who I don't recognize) to negotiate Li's surrender, and Dragon is obviously relishing the chance to put down someone of a lower class. It's easy to gloat with Mr. Negative when he uses his powers to override White Dragon's personality and send him back to attack the Hood. The villains take out the mind-controlled Dragon, but now the Hood has to get more involved. In a neat abuse of power, Norman Osborn has HAMMER shut down Chinatown as an "exercise" to free it up for an attack from the Hood. The Hood dispatches White Rabbit, Razorfist, Light Master, The Spot, Scorcher, and more to attack Mr. Negative's mansion, which is defended by Hammerhead and some mask-wearing flunkies. Spidey doesn't really get involved until the end when he heads to Chinatown and is quickly dominated by Mr. Negative. Now the Hood's strike team is going up against a possessed Spidey.

While this issue has some neat ideas and includes some fun villains, I'm not interested enough in Mr. Negative to be thrilled about the next issue.

I really don't care for Gianluca Gugliotta's take on Lightmaster. This isn't what I remember the character looking like, so it actually brought me out of the story seeing this alien looking thing when I remember a glowing 70s looking guy. The other character's look ok, but I'm a little fuzzy on the age of Negative's alter ego of Martin Li. Is he in his 50s or older?


Captain Britain & MI 13 #14

Nicely done, Paul Cornell. Last issue we saw the entire team destroyed by Dracula's vampire hordes, and to make matters worse, the team was betrayed by Spitfire. When last issue ended, Dracula had taken over England and only Blade and Captain Britain were still alive. It seemed awfully brutal, but I figured the series was ending and the two biggest names had survived, so there was a small chance this could be how the series would play out.

It turns out Cornell had a clever out all along. By utilizing a previous villain from the series, he had established powers and motivation that totally work within the story. I loved the reveal sequence where we find out how prepared Pete Wisdom was to take on the vampire boss. Bringing in an awesome, obscure character like Killpower from Marvel UK was a delight too, since I used to read his comic back in high school. Factor in the great developments with Spitfire and Captain Fate, along with Faiza's Dad, and this was a rollicking good comic that straddled the line between rising action and climax, and handled both perfectly. I expected the return of another great Brit before the series ended, and I'm happy to see that happening too. I'm really going to miss this comic. Cornell's protagonists are smart and capable and handle super-villain conflict in the most logical way I think I've ever seen in a comic. Just fantastic.

Leonard Kirk gets some assistance from other pencillers, but it doesn't weaken the book at all. The art gang does a wonderful job maintaining a consistent look to make this a thrilling comic.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Detective Comics #854

I'm getting a strong Starman vibe from this comic. Not only does Kathy Kane dress and sort of act like Jack Knight did at the start of his series, but the art is similar, and both characters seem to benefit from lots of Dad-time in their lives. Kathy having her Dad around and equipping her, as well as advising her, is actually one of my favorite parts of the book. It's a neat dynamic and I like the idea.

The actual plot involves the silly Crime Bible cult and their new leader who is moving to Gotham. I suppose this makes sense since BW was their target back in 52, but I would have been happy if I had never heard about the heart splitting again. That pushes it even for comics. That said, the new leader of the Crime Bible seems pretty spooky. I do like the way Batman popped his head in to give a warning. The way BW carried out her interogation of her perp in the beginning was weird too, she was definitely riling him up to get him to talk. I had planned on passing up this era of Detective, and stick to trades, but as a lover of Starman back in the day, there is a place for an outsider hero like this, so I may keep picking it up.

J.H. Williams has some absolutely beautiful panels, and the art is fantatsic overall. I did think Kathy Kane was a bit more glamorous than she seemed here. As I said above, I really got more of a goth-hipster vibe from her here. That's not a problem, just not something I was expecting.


Question back-up
Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner deliver a fairly generic backup starring the Renee Montoya Question. There is a nice mix of character work and action though, so there is a lot to dig in this. I love the confidence Question carries around all the time, she believes she can handle any situation and is ready to kick butt. It's possible I'm coming around on replacing Vic Sage...


It Tolls for Thee OGN

BONG BONG BONG! This well-titled graphic novel would work well as a movie. James Heffron's concept is fairly simple, a small town is overrun with zombies after a plague-pit mixes with a holy relic, bringing the recently dead back to life and hungry for flesh. Our POV characters are a templar knight, an amnesiac ex-pirate nun, a young child with a pet frog, a blacksmith with a dark past, and a Japanese ambassador trapped in a foreign land. You can see why these leads would play so well in a movie, this is a fairly classic looking group that would hit all the right demographics. I do wish I could have seen more from Rosalyn, the pirate-nun. Her design work in the sketchbook was neat, she had a Solomon Kane-style design that was interesting. That said, the reasoning for leaving her reveal out of the core story makes sense too, as her background would steal from the Blacksmith's. I enjoyed seeing the Templar knights as a holy force ready to deal with a zombie outbreak. Knights vs. zombies isn't something we see too often. I also liked that there wasn't a lot of time spent dealing with figuring out what these zombies were, how to kill them, or anything like that. The heroes just go to work and start slashing.

The narrative style works fairly well, with an omniscient narrator providing both thoughts and background for the leads. I'm not sure how the poetry worked into the panel borders works, as it doesn't seem to be the same narrator. The running them of church bells plays well throughout the book. The "BONG" sound effects roll across the pages, ignoring panels and other breaks. In these times, that would really be the only way to communicate across the whole town. The ever-present sound effect is a constant, again, something that would play well in a movie. The only time I noticed a break was when the merciless ruler of the land is overrun. As his house falls, the bell cuts off.

I'm not sure I felt I had enough background with the templars or with the ruler, since their history was responsible for the main story's development. As I said, the strength of this graphic novel is the main plot, the script and characterization may have benefitted from some refocusing, but the core concept is strong and easily pulls in the reader.

I'm not sure that the pacing works perfectly, as a lot of text is spent world-building. I think perhaps a bit clearer art would have made some of that work unnecessary. I think the initial penciller Mario Guevara was a bit clearer on storytelling, although it does seem like regular artists Manuel Martin and Jason Millet handle the horror elements well. Their templars also looked good and heroic.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Green Lantern #42

What an entertaining issue. Geoff Johns is rolling along at full speed as the DCU gears up for Blackest Night. I'm still loving where Johns is steering the DCU. Hal Jordan faces off against Larfleeze as the two of them fight over the blue lantern ring and the orange battery. The opening scene where Hal creates an army of constructs to battle Larfleeze was fun, but Larfleeze's response was genius. Larfleeze yells out "You stole my idea!" making it the best scene of the issue. Larfleeze is so petty and quick to think people are trying to steal from him, he is a fantastic villain. He's more than just a coward, because he seems to believe he deserves everything he takes. He's like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, and the whole world is his precious.

There is a great sequence where Hal finally gets the blue ring to accept him and suddenly, Hal is back in the game. He grabs the orange battery from Larfleeze and Hal is suddenly an Orange Lantern. The battery immediately starts whispering to him and calling him "Mr. Jordan" and asking if he wants something to eat. I suppose after a lifetime of that whispering, someone could end up like Larfleeze. I was pleased to see that no more Lanterns got killed this issue, although it doesn't look good for our Anti-Monitor search crew. The "good" Guardians are seeming more and more evil, this issue they sell out Ganthet's Blue Lantern world to Larfleeze pretty quickly. It is going to be tough rooting for the GLs if the Guardians are going to be this shady all the time.
Phillip Tan and Eddy Barrows' art looks VERY rushed in parts of the issue. The cross-hatching and detail work that was so overwhelming in Tan's early issues isn't a factor here, but the art isn't as striking either. The writing is where this one shines.


Avengers: The Initiative #25

Avengers Resistance Assemble! It is no secret that Christos Gage is one of my favorite writers, consistently spending time and energy on characters and properties that number among my favorites. As the Disassembled arc of Initiative wraps up, I'm really excited to see where he's going with the new status quo in this title. Having Tigra, Gauntlet, and the New Warriors set themselves up to take on the Hood's gang of evil Avengers is genius. It looks like we may get more screen time from some 2nd stringers like Diamondback, Prodigy, and Trauma, who deserve the panel time (Diamondback especially). Not to mention the fact that this looks like the place to check up on the best kind of Marvel villains; the ones that made all those bronze age Marvel books so much fun. Razorfist, Scorcher, Griffin, Living Laser, and of course the Taskmaster are wonderful characters and I can't wait to see how they interact with both allies and enemies. I love this level of the Marvel U and I hope this book keeps going for a long time.

Gage does a tremendous job making me HATE Norman Osborn here. Osborn's overwhelming sense of superiority is clear in his cold interactions with Tigra and Gauntlet. In both cases, he acts like he's giving them their heart's desire with only a small, reasonable compromise to give him what he wants. (And how great is it that Norman thinks Tigra would be honored to be on the Dark Avengers?) I was a little surprised that Ares would be ok with maiming a professional soldier like the Gauntlet, but I suppose Ares loves following orders over all else. Tigra's "escape" from Moonstone was wonderful too, as Tigra just slashed open Moonstone's top. Tigra took her out by exploiting Moonie's vanity, making it a much shorter fight (and probably the only way Tigra could win). The Hood's dialogue was another high point. He tries to act like it was just business when he beat down Tigra, but he can't help throwing in an additional threat to her to keep looking tough. He practically forced Tigra out the door.

Humberto Ramos does a decent job on art, but there is a lot more talking than action this issue. I don't really like his super-skinny take on Tigra either, but he did do a nice job on the Hood's flunkies. With a top tier artist, this would have been an "Excellent" comic, but as is it is a strong "Good."


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

War Machine #7

Man, I honestly can't believe how my opinion of this book whiplashes around every month. This was a solidly entertaining issue, and it felt more like an Iron Man spin-off than the rest of the series combined. A lot of that comes from using Ultimo as a villain, but when Rhodes starts putting his tech team in spare suits of armor, now we're talking! I really liked seeing American Eagle again. His blow-off of Norman Osborne was fantastic. I'm also liking that rather than directly connecting to weird looking equipment, the War Machine armor reformed in the middle of an exo-type suit. It looks a lot less silly than having the top half of the armor attached to a tank or plane.

The title is really coming together and there is a lot of potential in the cast. After the Ultimo threat is dealt with, I'll be very curious to see where Rhodey and his crew go from there. The book isn't the best I read each month, but it is good enough.

The art by Allan Jefferson is clean and easy to follow. I think he might actually be a better fit for the title than Leonard Manco, who made everything look too realistic.


Invincible #63

Look kids! Comics!

I must admit, I'm a tad annoyed with Robert Kirkman for doing this. SPOILERS HO!

I absolutely cannot believe that it was necessary for this character to be killed like this. I've got to figure her power set, re-assembling and reforming atoms into different things could lead her to survive this, right? I mean, Invincible has always had huge amounts of gore, but it was always balanced by the almost sweet-natured attitudes of the leads like Mark, Eve, Robot, and the rest. Having such a terrible death on his conscience could easily make Invincible less of the type of hero that I love reading about. I really hope Kirkman has this thought through, because this could really cause a lot of regular readers to jump ship, especially if there is a tonal shift in the title (as there almost has to be). Atom Eve is too special a character to go out like this for good.

Conquest is a jerk-and-a-half, I absolutely can't wait to see Invincible go after him full throttle next issue. Death is too good for that smug jerk! I am glad to see that Cecil is not sending in many more heroes, since he figures "only six or so heroes" on Earth can help. Those Viltrumites are going to need to be dealt with.

Ryan Ottley's art is so clean and cartoony, but the gore is so upsetting! I can't believe how well he balances the elements of this title.

Good, but I'm mighty upset

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Artwork from Heroes Con

Here's the link to my 2009 artwork so far. I got a few nice ones in Charlotte this year.

Philly and Heroes Con News

There were a ton of announcements coming out of convention weekend. Here's a quick rundown of the big ones and my thoughts:

  • Spider-Man - It seems Black Cat is coming back, along with Electro, Rhino, and more fun classic characters. I'll keep buying in trade.
  • Dark Reign: Ares – Kieron Gillen & Cary Nord (ltd) - I'll most likely grab the trade
  • Vengeance of the Moon Knight – Gregg Hurwitz & Jerome Opena (ongoing) - Interesting. I was liking the current Moon Knight book, so I imagine I'll keep getting this in trade.
  • Strange – Mark Waid & to be named (ltd) - I can't pass this up. Trade for certain.
  • Brother Voodoo – Rick Remender (ongoing) - Not sure, I'll need to sample.
  • Nomad: Girl Without a World – Sean McKeever & Rafael Albuquerque (ltd) - I have very little exposure to the character, so this will probably be a pass for me.
  • Justice League of America – James Robinson & Mark Bagley (ongoing) - Sold! I'll continue grabbbing the monthlies.
  • X-Men Legacy – Rogue title by Mike Carey & Daniel Acuna (at first) (ongoing) - I love Carey's work on the title now, having one of my favorite characters take over the lead will only make it better.
  • Daredevil – Andy Diggle & Roberto De La Torre (ongoing) - I won't even bat an eye and will keep buying this in monthlies.
  • X-Men: Psylocke – Chris Yost & ? (ltd) - I like the character, but I'm still hit or miss with Chris Yost...
  • Marvel Zombies: The Return – various creators (ltd) - The joke is getting really old.
  • Daring Mystery Comics – featuring the Phantom Reporter David Liss & Jason Armstrong (ltd) - Don't know enough yet, but I did like Armstrong's work on Lobster Johnson.
  • Hawkeye/Nomad? - It is looking like Clint Barton may become the new Nomad. It's weird and I don't like it. Just make him Hawkeye again!
  • Doc Savage – Brian Azzarello & Rags Morales (ongoing) - Ooh, this will be pretty hard to skip. I bet I'll grab the trades.
  • Witch Finder: Mike Mignola & Ben Stenbeck - Will grab this without a pause. The Witch Finder seemed neat in his few appearances so far.
Dark Reign: The List/Iron Patriot Acts- I'll get all these, the only question is do I buy 1-shots or wait for trade?
  • Avengers: Brian Bendis and Marko Djurdjevic
  • Daredevil: Andy Diggle and Billy Tan
  • Uncanny X-Men: Matt Fraction and Alan Davis
  • Punsiher: Rick Remender and John Romita Jr
  • Wolverine: Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic
  • Secret Warriors: Jonathan Hickman and Ed McGuinness
  • Hulk: Greg Pack and Ben Oliver
  • Amazing Spider-Man: Dan Slott and Adam Kubert

R.E.B.E.L.S. #4 & 5

Tony Bedard took his time getting to the main story in his DC space-comic, but now that he's arrived, we're in for a treat. Starro the conqueror is taking over the universe, and he has a parallel universe army of heroes and soldiers to help him do the job. Standing against him are the fractured races of DCU space, including the Dominators, the Psions, the Khunds, and odd hero teams like the Rebels and the Omega Men. I'm loving the sense of impending doom that Starro has, it really seems inevitable that he will win. But Dox is a smart cookie, and the Omega Men are pretty heroic, so I'm hopeful! This comic is the spiritual successor to the Invasion series of the 90s, so I'm loving it. Invasion #2 was my first DC comic after all.

After digging the L.E.G.I.O.N. that spun out of that miniseries, I'm hoping for more heroes from that book to join up with Dox. (I bet we get Amon Hakk linked up with Dox after issue 5.) The cast Bedard has put together is pretty darn neat as-is: Strata and Bounder seem fun, and Wildstar is turning into a neat hero who trusts Dox too much. It really is too bad Starlin is using so many good characters over in Strange Adventures, it would be nice to see Captain Comet, Adam Strange, or Starman dealing with this threat. Maybe Bedard can get Starfire? Lobo?

I will say I'm not fond of the idea that Starro the Conqueror is actually some ax-wielding barbarian. I hope that is just his designated lead-posession. It makes sense that Starro would have mindless drones as well as some dominated but still thinking "preferred slaves."
Claude St. Aubin's pencils are a tad over-reliant on cross-hatching, but he doesn't overdo the details. The heroes and aliens look fantastic, but what really impresses me is the designs on the Starro-controlled villains. Many of them look like nice little hero designs.

#4 - Excellent
#5 - Good

Savage Dragon #149

I've been reading Savage Dragon since issue 1 and yet I barely remember this new Dart and her backstory. I assume she was involved in the series before now, but it didn't make a big impression on me. Erik Larsen spends the issue familiarizing us with Dart and her obsession with being bad (with no real reason given, it seemed). Dart is the mastermind behind kidnapping Dragon's kids and much of the Vicious Circle trouble, but I never really got a major-threat vibe from her. I always liked the original Dart in Freak Force, but she was eaten by Mako, correct? In any case, a dart-throwing gymnast works as a low-powered hero or flunky villain, but not as a big bad.

I did enjoy seeing Daredevil again. It seems he's joining the regular cast, which is a good move. His fun attitude brings some much-needed levity to a book that has been a lot less fun than it used to be. We have gone from the angst-filled missing kids story to some done-in-ones that I don't think are doing enough to set up a new status quo. We do meet a new police captain this issue, but I'd like some clue into the ongoing bad guy or to check in on the She-Dragon subplot. There are no plot elements that make me anxious to read the next issue.
I remain a sucker for Larsen's exaggerated penciling style. He draws bombastic action better than anyone else, and he brings it here. The book looked nice.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Hex #11 & 12 (1986)

After seeing Jonah Hex on the Batman Brave & the Bold cartoon last weekend, I decided to seek out a couple issues of the 18-issue Hex series from the 80s. I understood this book featured gun-fighter Jonah Hex stuck in a post-apocalyptic future where his skills were in high demand and his twisted justice still worked.

Michael Fleischer does a write a comic that supposedly takes place in that environment. Sort of. These two issues are set in New York City (complete with Twin Towers), but it didn't really seem so post-apocalyptic. There were no mutants or crazy monsters, just mobsters, corrupt city officials, and humanoid robots called Terminators (interesting, huh?). Hex seems to be searching for Stilleto, a tough lady who has fallen in with a women-fighting league. She can more than handle things there though, as she seems like a capable fighter. Hex is easily hornswoggled into hunting down New York's future-Batman, a hero who idolized our Bats and now keeps the city streets gun-free. After the requisite fight, Hex and Batman team up to take on the raging Terminators as they attack the city with lasers. Here's the best part. Hex beats one Terminator by dropping two skyscrapers on it. Bats beats one by dropping the Brooklyn Bridge on it. And Hex beats the final robot by blowing up a power plant. The sheer casual destruction from these two "heroes" proabably out-does the robots themselves!

This was an amusing look at an old comic, but I didn't find a lot here to bring me back. Hex seems like a very generic protagonist, and he's not as interesting as he was in Lansdale and Truman's Vertigo Hex series.

Tex's art is nice, more classic looking that I'm used to, but the antagonists don't give him room to impress. Is Hex wearing a biker-gang vest in this? I think so...


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Buck Rogers #1

I know very little about Buck Rogers. I don't know about the future he lives in or the character himself. But I do know one thing, bears with backpacks and laser guns are awesome. That's why although Scott Beatty didn't really win me over on the core concept, I do have faith that he's including some cool stuff in this new sci-fi title.

It seems "Buck" Rogers is an independent-minded test pilot who has been shunted off into the future. From what we see of Buck here, it really looks like another comic featuring Hal Jordan. At the least, these two would really get along. Aside from some quick background to show how brave and independent Buck is, the rest of the issue is setup, giving us glimpses of a future world of black jumpsuits, jet packs, and laser pistols. It seems interesting enough, but until that laser-bear showed up on the last page, I wasn't sold. Now I absolutely must see what Ursinius is up to, and if he is as awesome as he seems. Perhaps a spin-off limited series?

Carlos Rafael has a nice clean style that works well with both the current and future tech. I like the design on the future-lady and her gear, and he does a nice job with faces and realistic poses. He also draws one hell of a laser bear.

Did I mention I like the bear?

comic - Fair
Laser Bear - Excellent

Wolverine: Revolver #1

Victor Gischler has the advantage of me having absolutely no preconceptions about what this story was about. I figured the front cover was some interpretive art like most Marvel covers, so when I started reading this issue I figured I was getting a normal Wolverine vs. mob story with a Russian mythology twist. That lasted for a few neat pages with Wolvie facing off at roulette against a guy who is clearly not ordinary. As in, he's a huge blue demon. I loved the quick, savage battle of the two slashing, healing brutes, plus it was a lot of fun to see Wolvie outsmarting his opponent. There is not a lot of actual story here, just the roulette, a quick fight, and Wolvie dropping pieces of the monster all over the Southwest. But dang if it wasn't fun. These one shots have been great at establishing Wolvie at the best at what he does, and I'm loving them. Having Wolverine get involved with a favor from a medicine man adds another layer of coolness to Logan, since you know there is some cool backstory there, we just don't get to see it. It's very clear that Logan is a good man to know when "life happens" (as described in Season 1 of The Unit).

Das Pastoras absolutely steals the show with the art. The painted style looks fine, if a tad cartoony in the human-centric sequences, but when the demon appears things look terrific. The demon looks fantastic, scary, and a little bit funny. Pastoras hits things perfectly with the violent confrontation too.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Punisher Frank Castle MAX #71

I realize this is going to make me look crazy, but I loved this comic. After reading the upsetting and ultraviolent Naked Kill, this comic helped me realize what I want from my Punisher stories. The bad guys have to be original and despicable, and I have to be rooting for Frank Castle to shoot each one of them. This storyline delivers.

Castle is driving through the bayou when he is passed by a rowdy carful of spring breakers. He stops at the same gas station they do, and immediately realizes something is wrong with the locals running the place. As he notes oddities around the store, he interacts in a polite enough fashion with the partiers, who seem like amiable doofballs. They're silly party people, but they seem harmless enough. The situation catches Frank's eye enough that he decides to pull over and wait for their car to pass after he leaves the gas station. It never does.

Frank doubles back to check on the kids, and there is no sign of them. He does some quick investigation, but he's got a "package" that is waking up in the trunk of the car, and he really doesn't have time to deal with this. He knows he's getting the runaround from a hot little swamp slut, and it does seem like trouble... Meanwhile, we catch up with the spring breakers, where the two ladies are in their underwear in a cage, one guy is being carved up for the grill, and the last dude is being fed to a 12-fool long alligator named General Lee. That's some fine villainy right there! I never realized how well Punisher works inserted into horror movie situations. This is the movie Wrong Turn with a few neat additions like General Lee and the hottie, it's just a ton of fun. Best comic I've read all week.

Goran Parlov is a fantastic Punisher artist. He can handle the brooding hulk that is the Punisher, but he can handle the violence and goons when he needs to. He draws pretty ladies, so it is always nice when the story includes them too. Seeing his pencils does make me miss Barracuda though. Parlov is the perfect artist for this story and I can't wait for the next issue. I'm grabbing the trade for certain.


Punisher: Naked Kill #1

Well. Jonathan Mayberry may be a good horror writer, but he's treading too close to Garth Ennis' Slavers arc from Punisher MAX. Mayberry tries to amp up the deviant-nature of his pr0n-related story but all he did was make things less personal. At some point, the levels of gore and horror in these Punisher morality tales render them sort of an exercise in violence to me. What made Ennis so good was how he could make you HATE his villains and sympathize with the victims. The Punisher was the wrath of God. We couldn't wait to see him destroy his enemies.

Mayberry tries to follow that recipe, setting up a horrific torture-ring that destroys Eastern European women. The action is set in a fortress-like office building that is packed with security devices. The problem is, as the Punisher works his way through, there isn't any real increase in our investment in the story. Sure, Punisher kills this guy with a mop, that guy with pencils, someone over there with a pad of paper or whatever, but there is never any real doubt as to the outcome or even enough of a connection to care. I want Punisher to save the women, but man, this comic was so dark it was hard to read. I suppose part of my feelings about this comic are that I don't like seeing this type of material in my escapist hobby, and when it is there, I expect it to be handled as well as when Ennis did a few years ago.

Laurence Campbell is perfectly fine with the art. I found it interesting that in such an adult-themed story that he avoided "showing" much of anything. The content was MAX due to the plot and the violence, but the art focused on the violence more than anything else (a wise choice, I would think). This ended up not being my style of story.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Power Girl #2

As the action ramps up, so too does my interest in Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray's story. The first issue had one of my big pet peeves of first issues: the hero battled faceless hordes to look tough (these may be ninjas, robots, or zombies). In general, it is a bad sign if a premiere issue features these generic foes as the main antagonists. Fortunately, Palmiotti and Gray moved things along quickly in the second issue and now we've got the Ultra Humanite causing problems for PG.

Ultra Humanite actually comes across as a pretty credible threat. He's not really scary, just a very effective super-villain. His genius is clearly as much a threat as the strength of his giant ape body. In this series, PG is a sarcastic hero, and it is kind of fun seeing her like this. It was amusing seeing her constantly insulting the Humanite, especially since her barbs were so effective. I never pictured PG as a Spider-Man type jokester, and she's not quite to that level, but she's certainly more likable as this type of character. Things do look grim for our heroine at the end of the issue, but she's tough and the JSA is on the scene, so I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

Amanda Conner's art is fun and vibrant, as always. Her take on the JSA is a little cartoonier than I'm used to, but everyone still looks good.


Heroes Convention 2009

At this moment, I'm piling into a van in Washington DC, heading down to Charlotte, NC for Heroes Con 2009. I flew into town yesterday and now we're heading down for our 9th Heroes Con. The trip is always fun and the con is the best one I've attended. I've been to Philly, Chicago, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Heroes, and Heroes always has the most approachable guests and the best back issue selection. It would be nice if you could purchase your tickets online though, I can't believe I still have to call or fax someone!

This year's goals and highlights:

  • Bill Mantlo Spectacular Spider-Man back issues
  • Roger Stern Amazing Spider-Man back issues
  • Gerry Conway & Dick Dillin Justice League back issues
  • A sketch from GI Joe artist Rod Whigham (I'm thinking Hawkeye)
  • A sketch from Green Arrow/Black Canary artist Cliff Chiang (I'm thinking Scarlet Witch)
  • Catch a screening of The Hangover
  • Eat at the regional gem known as Jack in the Box!

We'll see how it goes. You never can tell how much the sketch prices are going to go up each year. I have to balance my original art needs against my back issue notebook!

I will be auto-posting comic reviews through the weekend. Also, any votes on con-reports? Should I try to get online as I can from the hotel, or should I just do one report when I get back?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mighty Avengers #26

This issue was a big improvement over last month's confusing character-work. There is still some weird stuff going on with Hank Pym, but it is looking a little more like Dan Slott's plan for where to take the character and the team is still in line with what I want to see. Pym's Avengers continue their assault on the Baxter Building, with Hercules taking on the Thing and Vision going up against the Human Torch. Cho controls a horde of ants disguised as Skrulls to get Invisible Woman to leave the building, but Stature turns on her team and lets the FF know what the Avengers are planning.

It was fun seeing the battle of the brains with Pym and Mr. Fantastic. The dialogue between the two of them was a nice mix of pompousness and respect at the other scientist's inventions. I still think both guys are acting like bigger jerks than I'd prefer, and I don't like the idea of Mr. F deciding who can handle what tech in the Marvel U. I liked that Pym's Salvation 2 project seemed to swing Mr. F over to Pym's point of view. There is certainly some weirdness going on with Jocasta though. Making out with a robot with your dead wife's brain pattern is not exactly a healthy stage of grieving, I'd think.

Stephen Segovia's art has the same flaws it did last issue. The women have balloon-like breasts and they contort their bodies to make sure they have maximum visibility to the reader. The artwork is a little dark, but the action is clear enough.


Final Crisis: Escape #2

Ok, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. This second issue is filled with the same nonsense and non-plot that made up the first issue. We don't know anything more than we did when we started. Nemesis is still waking up confused and seeing Amada Waller. There are a ton of cameos of DCU spy-types who I hope can escape from this story pretty quickly, because they could be appearing in much better comics than this one. There are still no clues as to who is running Electric City (at least that I can discern). I'm not even sure that anything we've seen is really happening. There is barely a narrative going through the book, so there really isn't anything to recap.

There is a place for this type of story, and I can see what writer Ivan Brandon is going for. I loved A Scanner Darkly, Donnie Darko, Adaptation; all identity-bending stories. But this is just a load of nonsense. After two issues, we should know something. I will not make the mistake of figuring out what is happening. I'm out. I hope all these spies are back to normal in their next DCU appearances.

Marco Rudy's figures are ok, I suppose, but the art is confusing throughout. Are the men being pulled up from the glowing circle supposed to be younger and older versions of Nemesis? I couldn't tell if I should recognize them or what.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

X-Men Forever #1

Well, I tried it. I don't really like the idea of giving creators a chance to divert a 20 year old story like this, and this issue proves my point. I can't really remember exactly what all these characters' status quo is, but they seem off. Jean Grey was never this hot and bothered over Wolverine, was she? I mean, this obviously? She's all over Logan to the point that Shadowcat even notices her going after him. I'll also chime in that naming Gambit "Remy Picard" just seems petty and odd. The most enjoyable aspect of this book was seeing Rogue back with her best power set. She's flying around punching, but still able to absorb too.

Chris Claremont handles the plot and script exactly the way you'd expect: heavy-handedly. He's got his odd little tics of dialogue ("Silly girl - so brave, so stupid.") and he's got characters like Nick Fury acting strangely to fit the plot. I expect there will be some mind-control elements upcoming too, probably from the quick merge caused by Rogue touching Storm. That would set up the Shadow King, allowing some bondage style elements in the next few months, I'm sure. The main problem with this type of material is that it doesn't really matter, and yet it's ongoing. These alternate Earths work best in small doses, where the characters can get a chance to shine, but not really detract or contrast against the mainstream heroes. This ongoing will eventually (probably quickly) become as convoluted as the regular Marvel U, and I don't have the patience to see it happen. I have to ask what everyone else has been saying: who is this book written for?

Tom Grummett nails the artwork. I didn't realize how much I missed these awesome 90s costumes. Jean Grey, Rogue, Cyclops, they all look great. Blue and furry Beast too! However, judging from the upcoming covers, it looks like multiple team members are being toughened up (like Shadowcat's leather jacket and short haircut). Grummett's artwork isn't enough to keep me around.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Red Robin #1

Nicely done, Christopher Yost. It wasn't an easy task to explain why Dick Grayson chose Damian to be the new Robin over Tim Drake, but this issue explains it perfectly. Grayson sees Drake as an equal, someone who needs no help with either morals or crimefighting. But Damian needs mentorship to avoid turning into a villain, so Grayson is going to take on the lesser sidekick. Tim Drake is understandably upset by this, and he goes off to Europe to seek out his old boss, Bruce Wayne.

It's a neat idea, and I love the casual way Red Robin is traveling the continent solving crimes. He is a hero by habit here, he's not emotionally invested in what he's doing, but he still stops crime because that is what he knows. I'm not sure I like seeing Tim taking out baddies so brutally, but it makes sense because he is mentally switched off. I am surprised that the Red Robin identity is as compromised as Tim states. Jason Todd did bad stuff in it, and now Tim is in brutal mode further demeaning the costume. For something Dick Grayson wore in Kingdom Come, the uniform has certainly come to mean something very different than the idealized sidekick we saw in the classic limited series.

I'm looking forward to seeing Tim deal with more super-villains, but I do like the idea of Europe being a little bit of a different environment for him to explore. I haven't read the Return of Ra's Al Ghul yet, so I'm not exactly sure why Ra's is interested in Tim at this point. But Ra's is a great villain, so I'm keen to see it.

Ramon Bachs isn't one of my top artists, but he tells the story cleanly enough. I don't care for his uber-muscular take on Tim Drake though. Tim looks like a huge adult here, not like the athletic kid we usually see him as.


Flash: Rebirth #3

I'm pleasantly surprised with all of this. I had been totally against the idea of bringing back Barry Allen. Wally West is my Flash. I figured Geoff Johns was just running an exercise in worshipping the Silver Age and that Barry would show up, beat Wally at everything, and then take over the costume again. But what Johns has given us is a neat little story about a guy who thinks his time has passed. He's fine with his legacy, and to be honest, Barry seems really tired. It's a neat take on the veteran hero.

Last issue we found out that Barry is the Black Flash, and that he is sucking the life force out of speedsters around the DCU. Savitar and Lady Savitar are already dead, and now Wally West, Kid Flash, Liberty Belle, and a few others are at risk. I really dug how the JLA came together to try and help Barry (and protect Wally). Having Barry call out for Hal to help get him away from the people he was afraid to hurt was a nice bit of characterization, showing that Hal is the guy Barry will call on for help when he's at his worst. The Superman/Flash race was fantastic, as Johns clearly establishes that Supes can't even get close to Flash-speeds. The Iris Allen as Barry's tether was nice too, since this relationship is as much a cornerstone for Barry as the Wally/Linda one that I'm familiar with. I'm not sure what exactly is happening in the Speed Force at the end, but it seems that Johnny Quick is dying again (dang, he has a neat costume). I'm pleased to see Max Mercury is still around, at least as of the end of this issue. And I'm really quite happy to see Eobard Thawne, Professor Zoom, stand revealed as the villain who has tainted Barry's tie to the Speed Force. First of all, his name is Professor Zoom, making him instantly awesome, and second, Zoom was the villain for Waid's best Flash story back in the 90's (Return of Barry Allen). I'm shocked to admit it, but I may just be on board for a new Flash series, assuming there is page time for my guys Wally and Max.

Ethan Van Sciver's hyper-details can be distracting, but he's perfect on these event books. I dug his take on Hourman and Liberty Belle quite a bit, but his Johnny Quick looked awesome. I was pleasantly surprised at how well his modern take looks on the old-timey All-Star costumes.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Captain America #600

This just in: I love comics. I was excited to drive out on my lunch break to check out the possible return of my favorite super-hero.

I had been certain that the big news of Cap 600 would be that Isaiah Bradley, the "black Cap" from the Truth series, would be the new Cap. I'd be fine with that, but I do love Steve Rogers. And now I couldn't be happier that Steve is returning. I am a little surprised at what a big deal people think this is, though. Writer Ed Brubaker was saying he had a plan way back around issue 25 when Cap was shot. In fact, editor Tom Brevoort said this return storyline was originally scheduled for Cap #30, a mere 5 issues after Steve was shot. It was in response to the great fan reaction of Winter Cap that Bucky got to keep the shield so long. I'm also pleased that Brevoort doesn't want to string things along until people aren't interested anymore. He's giving folks what they need, not necessarily what they want.

As to the actual issue, there is a lot to like here. The main plot development is seeing Sharon Carter remember that the gun she finished off Cap with was in fact a funky "comic" gun, which means Steve is still alive. She tracks down the gun and joins up with some of the New Avengers to start looking for Steve. We get to check in on a bunch of other folks in Cap's life, like the Red Skull gloating about what he did to Cap, 50's Cap, Isiah and Eli Bradley along with girl-Bucky, and best of all Crossbones and Sin. I loved seeing how quickly Crossbones busted loose. That guy is a bad-ass and could get out of prison any time he wanted. I loved his romantic reunion with Sin too. I can't tell you how many times my wife and I have been reunited only to have a cloud of tear-gas fill the room. There are a few backups of varying quality too, the best of which is a Mark Waid story about a Captain America auction where Tony Stark purchases Cap's original Avengers ID card.

I'm really liking the idea that so many people are moving forward in a positive manner after Cap's death, that his sacrifice affected them so much. What will happen with 50's Cap, Winter Cap, Bucky, and Patriot now? I'm hoping Steve can be a good influence after his return too, but we shall see. I absolutely can't wait for Steve and Tony Stark to see each other again. After the drama and angst of the Civil War, if these two have some kind of good reunion, it would make my day. Heck, add Thor in and get us the real Avengers again! I will float one more theory too, and that is that someone is going to be the new Nomad. My guess is 50's Cap.

The art switches as the story checks in on different characters, and it all holds together nicely. Butch Guice with the framing story and David Aja with the Crossbones & Sin story would probably take the prize, as their segments looked the strongest.


Walking Dead #64

The problem with a book that consistently delivers such amazing shocks is that it is easy to overlook issues that don't include them. This issue moves the story along, sets up the new conflicts, and has some nice character moments, but there aren't any huge shakeups. Still a solid issue though.

This issue has a nice interlude as the group is feeling out their new status quo. With so many new folks hanging around, it was nice to have an issue where we just see a bit more of their personalities. Dale continues being out of control and he's totally going with the Rick-hatred (I was amused to see how fast everyone turned on him in the letters column). The creepiest scene was when the hunters showed up to snag Andrea while she went to relieve herself. What's interesting is that the hunters took Dale later in the issue, so maybe it was more about inteligence-gathering rather than just kidnapping? I'll stick with my predictions from the last few issues. The new priest is a scout for the hunters, feeling out this new group and the voyeur-scientist doesn't know anything about the zombies.

Charlie Adlard continues with the solid artwork. I have been noticing how well he handles emotion, I really think you could probably follow this book with no dialogue.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Green Lantern Corps #37

Suddenly I'm not so pleased about Sodam Yat's sacrifice last issue. When he gave his life to turn Daxam's red sun to yellow, he has created a planet of racist and intolerant bullies. I loved seeing how quickly Yat's father started demeaning Arisia as soon as he had the power to back up his claims. Peter Tomasi has done a fantastic job making me hate Daxam as much as Yat does. I really can't believe Arisia is willing to put herself in danger for these bums.

The riot on Oa is going along nicely too. I loved seeing Bolphunga and Kanjar Ro willing to side with the GLs against the more depraved yellow and red lanterns. I didn't spot my new favorite GL Voz this issue, but he may very well be there. Kyle and Guy were fantastic this issue, and I actually found myself cheering when the overcharged Alpha Lanterns showed up too. I think my favorite part of the whole storyline has been that the GLs can handle it, that they put down the revolt, and that Guy Gardner figures this is just another day forthe corps.

Patrick Gleason does a great job with the riot scenes this issue. He's got some splash pages that look fantastic. The inking and coloring are as great as ever too.


Exiles #3

Jeff Parker does good work. Exiles is still chugging along, and the last chapter of the opening arc ends with some nice in-character revelations and a bit more of a tour of the world where Magneto united the mutants. Parker doesn't have time to do a lot with the mutant guest-stars, but he does a nice job with the line or two that most of the minor characters get to play with. It's fun seeing the guests handled well, but the high point of the book is how quickly the characterization of the cast is coming into focus. Blink is obviously the same one we know from previous Exiles series, and it's great seeing her try to play dumb to fit in. Beast and Black Panther are turning into a nice comedic duo, and Forge makes a great straight-man and leader. That surprised me, that Forge may end up being a better team leader than Blink, it's a neat twist. Scarlet Witch and Polaris seem to be the two most effective team-members, they take control of each situation they find themselves in. I'm befuddled (like Blink) that the tallus moved the team with their goals unfinished, but man it was great seeing the team just move along not sweating it. I never would have expected I'd like this title so much, but it is darn fun.

Casey Jones does a great job re-creating classic mutant costumes in the alternate world. I was impressed by his Phoenix and White Queen especially, with Phoenix looking awesome. Havok showed up just long enough to make me miss his old costume. When will someone put him in a retro-suit with the funky headgear?


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Solomon Grundy #4

Dear Scott Kolins. You are an awesome artist. The newest issue of Solomon Grundy had some really neat looking flashbacks, I dug your take on Amazo, and you draw a strong Sentinel. Watching your pencils get better and better over the years has been wonderful. One thing though, please draw a different comic. I don't care about Solomon Grundy. At all.

I'm sure it is fun setting up big fights with Grundy facing off against different DC powerhouses, and that seems like a decent concept, but the setup is just weird. The Phantom Stranger is yelling instructions down at Grundy from the sky, and for some reason Grundy seems to vacillate between being a monstrous murderer and a monstrous monster, when I'm pretty sure all we really wanted to see was the monster. Grundy is one of my favorite villains, but he just doesn't warrant a limited with him melting and reforming every day. I'm not sure if I like your writing or not, at this point, since this might just be one story that didn't connect. I am thankful that you didn't kill Sentinel's wife, that would have been unnecessary.

Again, the art is fantastic. I just kind of wish it was on a different comic.

Your fan Timbotron


Astounding Wolf-Man #16

Robert Kirkman delivers another entertaining issue. This is his worst ongoing series, but that is a relative term. Wolf-Man spends most of the issue holding his own, taking the fight to Zachariah way beyond what the vampire expected. I really enjoyed the appearance of the Capes crew as they took on the Actioneer-vampires. Kid Thor even comments “so that's what happened to you guys? You're evil? That sucks.” It's a tiny throwaway bit, but very funny. Since those two groups occupy each other, Gary and Zachariah get plenty of time to do their version of Vampire vs. Werewolf fighting. The werewolf in the equation comes out surprisingly well, and the fight ends with Gary spiking his foe to the ground. Zachariah tries to warn Gary about the evil of the wolf-god who's been training him, but Gary doesn't listen. I don't blame him, even if Zachariah is right, he's a proven liar who can't be trusted. Gary's daughter Chloe shows up in a silly costume and fights her dad, and after a nice heart to heart, makes a surprising decision in dealing with him. It's a nice twist and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Jason Howard's art is solid. I didn't care for Chloe's super-costume, but other than that everything looked great.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Skaar: Son of Hulk #11

I think my main problem with Skaar: Son of Hulk is that I really don't like the character or his supporting cast. In most cases, if I dig a creative team I can make myself really like the character (see Daredevil). Greg Pak has written some really good stuff, but I just don't really care about kid-Hulk. I had been hopeful after reading the Skaar prologue, but without She-Hulk or the FF to anchor me in to the story, I found myself losing interest. The Warbound show up and volunteer to stand with Skaar to the end, as they did his father, and all I could think was that they were kind of a desperate bunch of losers, desperate for someone to give their lives some deep meaning. Skaar rejects their offer since he only wants to kill the Hulkster, but even his betrayal of the Warbound left me with no one to cheer for. They'll forgive him anyway since they're so desperate for someone to boss them around.

The flashbacks to the destruction of Sakar were anti-climactic because I think it is a mistake. The savage planet was a neat new locale for the DCU, and destroying it doesn't really serve any good purpose.

Dan Panosian's art still looks nice, he does a crackerjack job drawing faces in particular. Ron Lim kicks butt when drawing cosmic destruction too. Sure, we got to see Ron Lim draw Galactus again, but that shouldn't be the highlight of a comic.


Batman #687

I really shouldn't be surprised. Out of all of Judd Winick's work, I've only really liked 2 of his runs, his early Exiles and his Batman. Since he wrote a decent Batman in the past, I figured there was a chance this could be decent Unfortunately, this barely fits in with what I loved last week in Batman and Robin. In that book, Dick Grayson was confident and cool, a great new Batman. In this book he's mopey and crying while he deals with his low self-esteem. We even see him in his Nightwing uniform afraid to leave the batmobile. That's ridiculous. This comic is the successor to the type of characterization that we saw in Battle for the Cowl. At some points, Alfred has to help Grayson reign in Damian, and Alfred also has to constantly pep-talk Grayson into being Batman. Alfred's maudlin monologues are a chore to get through too. At the end, Scarecrow turns up, but even a classic Bat-bad can't catch my interest. I honestly don't know who would seek out a comic where an established character would act so differently from his heroic recent past.

Since I don't really like Ed Benes either, you could say this wasn't my dream comic. Grayson alternates between looking like an 80s pretty boy and a cro-magnon man. The text when Scarecrow appears talks about electric wires running all over Scarecrow, tying him to some explosives, but I couldn't see those in the art. There seems to be some kind of disconnect going on.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Deadpool: Suicide King #3

I feel like either I missed an issue or that I didn't finish reading last month. I thought DD saved Deadpool from the Punisher, but I didn't remember that DP and DD had run off to solve crimes together. Once again, Mike Benson writes a pretty funny Deadpool, using a lot of the characteristics of the cancelled run from Fabian Nicieza. Deadpool and DD finally get some clues and figure out that Tombstone is the villain involved, but there isn't a lot of forward plot momentum. This is a classic middle chapter, but entertaining enough as part of the whole. I've been impressed that Marvel is flooding the market with DP books and that so many are pretty good.

Carlo Barberi's art is fine, although a tad cartoony for me. I didn't love his take on any of the heroes, but he sells the humor pretty well.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Amazing Spider-Man: Kraven's First Hunt TPB

Marc Guggenheim does an ok job on this trade, but I seem to finding a pattern in the Spidey books. Basically, Dan Slott and Zeb Wells kick butt, Marc Guggenheim is ok, and Bob Gale's stories aren't exactly my speed. So this story by Guggenheim is only ok. Peter's new roommate Vin Gonzales doesn't interest me very much, and he's involved with the story quite a bit. Kraven's punk-rock daughter kidnaps Vin, thinking he is Spider-Man. Spidey borrows an extra DD suit and heads out to free his roommate. There is some excellent banter between the two heroes as the fight goes on, and the whole story is elevated by the presence of Vermin. I'm always amazed how big a threat Vermin is, but he really deserves his rep. He's messed up both Cap and Spidey in his day, and he holds his own against Kraven's daughter here. I did notice that Kraven's son was marked as deceased in the family tree. When did that happen? I thought he was alive in Beyond...

I did like how Vin's poor opinion of Spidey gets upheld by the excuse Peter is forced to give him. Peter lies to Vin and says he has set up a series of fake possible Spider-Men who fit certain criteria, and that Vin had the bad luck to be one of them. Since Vin hates Spidey already, this only reinforces his idea that Spidey is a heel. This was the coolest idea in the trade and I liked seeing Spidey take the hit by being a bad guy.

Phil Jiminez's art was ok, especially when drawing Vin in the Spidey suit. his build was different and you could tell it was the wrong guy. Spidey in the DD suit was amusing, and Vermin looked great. I really don't care for the crazy look of Kraven's daughter though. She's a weird mix of punk rock and classic Kraven, and I'm not sure it works.


Dark Reign: The Hood #1

Jeff Parker's work is strong enough to get me to sample the new Hood limited series. I'm not a huge fan of the character, although I did enjoy the original series back in the day. I'm sort of torn on the whole Hood as a Kingpin type. I like the idea of a good super-mob, but I'm not sure Hood is the right guy for the job. It has actually been these oddball stories in the Cabal special and this limited that really sell me on the concept. As long as we are seeing Parker trying to balance his home life, this concept is pretty cool. As a generic villain (as he's usually portrayed in New Avengers) he's kind of a doofus.

Parker writes the Hood as an effective leader who is struggling with the bloodthirsty influence of Dormammu. I loved the opening sequence where Thunderball and Wrecker are shocked that Hood would kill some guys on a simple robbery. When you're too bloodthirsty for the Wrecking Crew, you might have a problem. Immediately after the conflict, Dormammu shows up and takes credit for the violence, and amusingly quotes Footprints saying that he was carrying Hood when he needed it. The other high point of the issue is seeing the villains in the mob actually get the correct characterization. Doctor Demonicus is not a simple thug to join up with a gang like this, nor is the Controller. I'm convinced Bendis just snagged some neat looking villains from his Marvle Universe handbook for the gang, but Jeff Parker actually writes these guys as genius scientists. I was pleased to see them acting like I knew they should be. I am curious about what level of inteligence the Griffin is sporting right now.

I'm not a huge Kyle Hotz fan, but he handles the Hood elements well (not a surprise, since he drew the first book). I'm not as down with his take on the other super-villains, but he's good enough. I'm officially in for the trade!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Trinity TPB #1

I know I've only read the first 17 issues, but I'm really enjoying Kurt Busiek's tour of the DCU. In fact, this is probably the closest I'v'e felt to "my DCU" that I've read in years. Busiek's great mix of heroes and villains, along with his classic take on the trinity, make this really comfortable. I realize that comfortable isn't always what we look for in a comic, but in this gory era of DC, I'll take it.

Three villains are attempting to set up the trinity as prime keys in the makeup of the multiverse. There is a lot of tying in to tarot decks, which always seems a bit silly to me, but in this case Busiek keeps the influence light enough that I didn't lose interest. Morgan Le Fey, Despero, and Enigma create a neat bunch of new characters (Primat, the romantic super-ape is the best one) who must seek out artifacts from the trinity's past in order to cast a spell that will remake the DCU in the villains' image. What's neat about this is how often Busiek gets to explain his take on the characters and provide little details to help us see how they are different, but more importantly, how they are so similar. As the spell starts to take effect, the heroes start to see things with each other's point of view, the neatest being a Wonder Woman-strategy with Batman's determination as Superman takes on the Crime Syndicate of America on their evil Earth. Superman is brutally awesome here, he dismatles the group in moments, even impressing the JLA.

Fabian Nicieza works with Busiek on the backups and he gets to spend some quality time with two favorites of mine: Gangbuster and Hawkman. These two work really well together, and their chapters as they take on the villain's team of flunkies are quite enjoyable. The two authors spend time tourin the DCU with othe characters too, including Oracle, Riddler, Nightwing, Robin, the Outsiders, John Stewart, and more. This feels so JLA-y, how could I not like it? What surprises me the most about this first trade is that when the assembled heroes of the DCU show up to take on hordes of bad guys, I was still excited. In the past I would take pleasure in spottin gBlue Beetle, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Martian Manhunter, Mr. Miracle, or Barda, but in this I was actually digging the folks I did get. That hasn't happened in awhile.

The art is from a great bunch of artists. Mark Bagley handles the lead material, and does a great job with the action especially. The backups come from solid artists like Tom Derenick, Mike Norton, and personal fave Jerry Ordway. This is a solid DCU tale, and I look forward to the next trade.


New Mutants #2

Zeb Wells does another nice job bringing back the feeling of the old New Mutants team. I remain pleasantly surprised how much I'm enjoying seeing the old gang working together. Cannonball and Sunspot are quite amusing buds, and I really dug the sequence where Cannonball has to carry his friend away from the cops. Another accomplishment for Wells is how Magma is starting to have a real personality. Not surprisingly, she's a hothead, but it is neat seeing her get more development time too. This issue doesn't feature as much panel-time for Magik, but that's ok since I'm sure she's going to be a major force moving forward.

The actual plot consists of the madcap chase through the mind of Legion. It was a horrific sequence reminiscent of a zombie movie with the young mutant telepath and Karma trying to get away. I liked the mindscape approach of having a teddy bear represent Legion's body, so whichever personality holds the bear in the mindscape is in control of Legion's body in the real world. It seems each personality manifests different mutant powers too, yet another fun effect. There is tension and excitement through the whole issue, but I found myself really bummed by the deaths. Legion kills the young mutant's parents and their deaths were very touching considering we had just met them.

Diogenes Neves does a tremendous job selling the frantic fear of the mind-sequences. I usually don't care for this type of story, so it is a testament to his skill that it looks this neat and still tells the story so clearly.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Final Crisis Aftermath: Run #2

Hmm. I'm not sure I like where this is going. Matthew Sturges is doing some really neat stuff in this book. My favorite part is actually the small bits we get with John Stewart and Firestorm as they track the Human Flame. Forget founding a spin-off JLA, these two are actually going after the guy responsible for Martian Manhunter's death. Frankly, I would like to see a lot more of this type of thing with heroes going after the real culprit. There isn't much of that, but what we get is nicely done. The Human Flame is still a piece of garbage, but he's awful enough that I am interested in seeing where he ends up. He tosses some guard-corgi's out of a high-rise apartment this issue, fulfilling his despicable act quotient, but DC wimped out and had them land in a pool. I suppose it is easier to see humans die than animals in most cases though. The Flame ends up meeting up with a band of villains who offer to increase his powers. After a graphic, disgusting operation, the Human Flame can now shoot fire from his palms, under his tongue, and of course he still has his flame nipples. It seems he's also buffed up and tougher looking, which is the element I'm not sure I like. What made the Flame stand out was how much of a loser he is. Now that he actually has powers, he is kind of becoming a normal villain. However, right now his flame powers are agonizing to use, so perhaps he won't be a normal villain after all.

Freddie Williams III has that neat cartoony style that works well with super heroes. I liked his loser villain team, how they ALMOST look threatening, but not quite. That's a hard balance to strike. The operation sequence was surprisingly graphic. But hey, I guess comics aren't for kids anyway, right?


Sectaurs #1-8 (1985)

Hoo boy. Let's just say this Marvel licensed title is no GI Joe or ROM. Or Shogun Warriors or Micronauts. These 8 issues were a chore to power through, which was pretty disappointing. I'm a huge Bill Mantlo fan so I had reason to hope that these would be pretty good. In fact, I remember reading issues 4 and 6 as a 10-year-old back in the day. My brother was a big Sectaur fan and had the toys, so they were actually his books, and when I saw the run for a dollar each at a comic show, I grabbed them. Mistake.

I can't really accuse Mantlo of mailing this in though, because there is a LOT of text in each issue. Mantlo has his characters re-thinking their motivations and re-stating recaps on an almost constant basis every issue. The fights are pretty generic, with General Spidrax riding in on his flying spider-wasp and getting thumped, then he runs off to fight another day. There is an issue where the good Sectaurs team up with some fairies in a cloud spaceship, but that issue is filled with other odd things that keep it from being a good comic. I mean, are tiny goblins on rats a good challenge for hero bug-men? The characters are all pretty generic, with the hero prince Dargon, the wise Mantor as his "mentor" (how about that, huh?), mighty Pinsor the strong guy, fun loving Zak (my favorite), and Stellara, the lady hero with no bonded insectaur. Oh man, it's painful just remembering their names. The series runs around a quest to discovery "Hyves" secret bases created by ancient sectaurs. There is a ton of that awful alternative spelling throughout the book, yet another nail in the coffin.

The art is by Mark Texiera for the first couple issues (I had him sign issue 1 a couple years ago at a show). His work is less scratchy and more "classic" looking than I'm used to seeing from him. After those first few issues, the art is by Steve Geiger. I really like Geiger's clean style, and his characters look EXACTLY like the toys. The weapons and animal companions look spot on. This is the rare comic where the art is actually better than the story.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Immortal Iron Fist #26

I'm kind of torn on the conclusion to the 8th City storyline. Duane Swircynski has done a decent job in the last year on this title, but at this point, I'm certainly not loving the book that I'm going to be upset if this really is cancelled. I know there are plans for a limited series with the Immortal Weapons, but that really seems like enough for this incarnation of the character. Iron Fist is a great character, but he may be one of those guys that works better in ensemble stories.

This storyline has had some neat moments, and it is a good thing to have a book so unlike everything else coming out from Marvel. Perhaps the story just went on a bit too long, but I found myself a bit disengaged from the story here. I had really liked it when we first explored the 8th City, but at this point I'm more anxious to see Danny back in his normal life. I think this story has been split up by some fill-ins too, so I think this may just be a case where the story feels like it has gone on too long. There are some nice bits Fat Cobra where he has some fantastic boasts, but there is not a lot for the rest of the Weapons. Davos shows up at the end with a rifle, but after his build up over the last few months, he gives up kind of easily and Iron Fist basically just talks everyone into peacefully resolving their conflict. I don't know if I like having someone named the Steel Serpent using a gun... I would have preferred some kung-fu. The banished convicts of the 8th City seem to be re-integrating into K'un L'un, which sets up a neat new status quo, but it just took a long time to get there.

Travel Foreman's art is muddier than usual. People's bodies were oddly distorted in some of the panels, and at times the energy surrounding Iron Fist seemed blurry and made it hard to discern where he ended and his power begain.


Justice League of America #33

So if I understand the news correctly, Dwayne McDuffie has been fired from JLA and this is his last issue. So it seems that we won't be seeing the conclusion of the Starbreaker story. I'm kind of torn on that, since this hasn't been that great of a story. Sure, certain parts have been decent enough (the Shadow Cabinet fight, last issue's Shadow Thief re-match) but some of this story has been meandering and random. That Starbreaker flashback issues remains one of the worst comics I've ever read. I'm really hoping Len Wein was having a bad day, cause I'd like to pick up his upcoming JLA issues, but I'm only giving him one issue.

Anyways, on to this particular issue. McDuffie picks up with Dr. Light overcoming her fear of darkness. She rationalizes the fear away that she's actually inside a shadow dimension/field, rather than in actual darkness, so she can still function. I love that kind of comic logic! The rest of the team quickly rallies and sets off on Starbreaker's trail, and along the way they pick up Hardware. Hardware was one of the cooler Milestone heroes, so I liked seeing him dusted off in more detail here. He clarifies his non-member status with the Shadow Cabinet (Icon is not a member either, as I remember). He comes off suitably tough here, I kind of liked how he repeatedly mentions how he could defeat the Justice League, but John Stewart and the other Leaguers just don't go for the bait. Hardware also refers to Vixen as "the future Mrs. Hardware" which cracked me up in another great character bit. The team eventually teleports (thanks to Firestorm's gal Gehenna) to the Shadow Cabinet HQ, where they find the team down for the count. They cliffhanger shows SC leader Dharma seemingly dead and Icon wearing down fighting Starbreaker. It's too bad this is McDuffie's last issue. I think Hardware would have been a good addition to the league. The lineup of Black Canary, John Stewart, Zatanna, Vixen, Dr. Light, Firestorm, Hardware, and maybe one more character like Hawkman or Hawkgirl could have been pretty dang strong.

At this point, I have no idea who will be featured in the league for the next few months. The rumor is that Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison will be taking over the title, and I hope it is true. JLA needs a A-level writer who can create stories free of editorial influence. McDuffie deserved better than this, I'll be keeping an eye out to see where he ends up next.

Rags would have been a nice collaborator and I wish he could have been drawing this book for longer. Imagine the possibilities if the art had matched McDuffie's story for the past few years? This book makes a good rating based on the stuff with Hardware. Starbreaker as a villain just doesn't interest me.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Teen Titans #71

Sean McKeever supposedly scripted this one, but at this point, who knows who wrote what in the Titans universe? The issue focuses on Ravager, so it would make sense that McKeever would get one last chance to write her in the main story before she's relegated to the backup. I had been really liking her character for awhile, but as she became an adrenaline-huffer in Terror Titans, I found myself liking her less and less. Now it seems the tough chick role on the Titans is going to be filled by Bombshell. Continuity-wise, I think Bombshell is easier to deal with, so I'm ok with the change. Ravager spends the issue moping around the Titans family while they weigh in on whether she should be allowed back on the team or not. It turns out Ravager is going to leave no matter what, but it seems she wanted to pass the bad-girl torch to Bombshell officially. The two team up to guard a new (to me) prisoner, but things quickly degenerate and the rest of the team has to step in. Wonder Girl ends up booting Ravage, who leaves on her cylce to headline her ongoing backup story. I'm ok with her leaving, the team has a decent lineup at this point, although I'm still not sold on Kid Eternity. Using dead characters' powers just seems like a continuity nightmare as folks he channels will no doubt be revealed to have been secretly alive later.

I'm not a big enough fan of anyone on the team to really relish these character-heavy interludes, so this was only ok for me.

Yildiray Cinar does a good job keeping things in that Titans-style. These are pretty kids and he keeps everyone looking good. I don't know if he can handle the required levels of gore though, so we'll have to see how he handles that in upcoming issues (if he's the ongoing artist, that is).


Aliens #1

I'm not going to spoil this one...

I certainly didn't see that one coming, but I am a bit afraid for the title. Certainly storytelling options like the ones used by John Arcudi make more sense in a book like Aliens, but those decisions mean we are moving to issue 2 knowing very little more than we did on page 1 of issue 1. A research vessel arrives on a newly discovered world, with a crew anxious to explore alien structures on the surface. Problems arise when the discovery team doesn't take too kindly to the arriving scientists. From the odd dialogue and actions of the discovery crew, I've got to think they have been possessed or replaced by the alien beings who built the structures. The odd thing is that there isn't too much panel-time devoted to the famous movie Aliens. The Aliens we do say go after some folks in the opening pages, but I'm not sure I understand how that relates to the rest of the story in the issue. This may end up reading better in one sitting...

Arcudi does spend enough time showing the things we all want and expect from our Aliens plots though. The awakening from space pods, the industrial feel of the spaceship, and the near-future feel of the tech like the guns and bulldozers.

Zach Howard is new to me, but his Aliens look scary, his guns look good, and he seems to be able to draw action just fine. The tech looks appropriate and he draws people well. I liked that he didn't go for cheesecake in the pod-awakening sequence, even though there is a close shot of a woman walking out in her undies. I'm intrigued enough to check the next issue, but I'm hoping things become clear sooner rather than later.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Secret Six #10

Gail Simone is a sick lady! I think what makes her comics so fantastic is that she makes her villains so despicable. This new storyline introduces us to a crew of morally corrupt slavers. They initially appear as they break the will of a slave by slaughtering those around her. It was an upsetting scene that immediately prompts a gut-hatred of these cruel people. When Simone transitions to a scene of tenderness between Bane and Scandal, it is doubly effective. Not only are we moving to our protagonists, but these two seem like two of the nicer Secret Sixers, so they must be the heroes of the story, right? Possibly not.

Later in the issue, the Six sign up to assist the slavers in their work. It seems these bads have also captured substitute Wonder Woman-Artemis, who doesn't get to do anything this issue. I hope she gets some quality panel time soon, because she is barely window-dressing here. The slavers put down a revolt (with the Sixers' help). Now we're going to see just how far the Six will go. Surely they are there to stop this slavery, right? Bane wouldn't go along with this, and I can't think Catman or Scandal would either. Deadshot and Ragdoll would probably go along with it though. In any case, the new villains and the moral quandry make this yet another riveting issue of Secret Six. I'm still hoping they are just trying to figure out who the new Mockingbird is...

Nicola Scott does a bang-up job, as always. She can handle anything, from the tenderness of Scandal and Bane to the savagery and fear of the opening sequence. I'm also liking the effect on the Jeannette's eyes when she starts to freak out, it is disconcerting seeing her eyes go black.