Tuesday, June 30, 2009
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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...
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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
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).
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
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.