Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Avengers #60

Damn Stuart Immonen is awesome. I usually don't start off with the art in these reviews, but Immonen is so good, I can't help it. He gets to draw a ton of heroes in this issue, and they are just perfect. His Hank Pym looks cool and heroic, but he even nails the little stuff. Hellcat's poses as she's lounging around, Daredevil and Iron Fist looking like they could spring into action, even the Hood's grimacing attempts to seem relevant; everything looks awesome.

Bendis delivers another true win for the New Avengers. They actually beat off HAMMER last issue, then out-smart Norman Osborn again, making him pay for his attack on Luke Cage in a neat way. Osborn doesn't have a heart, so hitting him in the wallet is probably better. I'm not sure I like Cage being the sweetheart of the Marvel U like this, but what do I know? I still prefer him as Power Man!

I'm fascinated by the two different villain armies running around in the Marvel U right now. Taskmaster has a crew of bozos in the Initiative, and the Hood's army has just about everyone else. I do like that Bendis has essentially created a new Masters of Evil with this group of villains. They've been after the New Avengers for so long now, they will all have some nice history in their next appearance. (I do think Mandrill and Griffin have been shown on both teams though!) I'm not too broken up about Jonas Harrow's fate. Bendis has actually written him for awhile now, so he's killing a character he's worked on; plus I don't know what he's from anyway.


X-Men: Original Sin TPB

I'm just not feeling the X-books as much as I have in recent months. In this installment of the X-Men: Legacy title, we get some flashbacks to Wolverine's early days in the X-Men. Mike Carey and Daniel Way reveal that Logan's memory problems were actually caused by Prof. X. It seems the Prof was trying to free Wolverine from Romulus' control, so he gave Wolverine the chance to break free from his past and become the hero he had inside. It's an interesting idea, but unfortunately I still think Romulus is stupid, so this whole trade suffers. I really don't care about Daken either, I think he weakens Wolverine as a concept (Two kewl guys with claws! But one has tattoos!)

The villains of the piece are Sebastian Shaw and Miss Sinister, both of whom come off pretty well here. I'm surprised to see Miss Sinister speak with slang and abbreviations, she seems more like a mastermind-type, but clearly she's a flunky. Shaw is great, as usual. His physical powers are always a great contrast with his scheming nature. Wolverine's takedown of him was well staged. Overall, there is just too much unnecessary stuff filling out pages in this collection. Why even introduce the new Hellfire Club? Why introduce Wolverine's monk-buddy only to have he and his family burned alive. There was a lot of running around in this trade that didn't seem to accomplish much. I guess the big status quo change is that Wolverine and Daken are going to team up to take on Romulus, but we know Daken stays bad, ditches his Dad, and joins the Dark Avengers anyway. So what's the point of all this?

I really like both artists for this, Scot Eaton handles the X-Men pages and the Wolverine: Origin issues get some nice moody pencils from Mike Deodato. Both guys draw hot ladies and roided up dudes, so they fit for the book, but they both work best as super-hero artists too. This only features two actual costumes (Miss Sinister and Wolverine) so they don't get to flex those muscles much. With that great cover flashing back to the Uncanny X-Men I would have really enjoyed some more story dealing with that old team.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thunderbolts #139

Jeff Parker sure knows these Agents of Atlas guest-stars! They come off very cool in this appearance. I loved seeing the Agents totally kick the crap out of this gang of random T-bolts. I especially enjoyed seeing Mr. X get his butt kicked. It's always wonderful seeing this type of know-it-all get his butt handed to him. Mr. X's telepathic fighting abilities don't hold up well against a robot with no brain!

Osborn is definitely setting up this team for a fall, but since half (or more) of them are traitors, I can't get too upset with him. Ant-Man still wants nothing to do with any sort of conflict, all he does is try to ride out fights doing nothing. Scourge is full on crazy and aside from his last-minute antics, isn't usually that effective. Ghost is a traitor. Paladin is clearly being paid by a good-guy to infiltrate this team. Headsman wants to kill half the group and the whole group wants to kill Mr. X. It's a sad state of affairs when new member the Grizzly is the most team-oriented guy in the group.

Parker's highpoint in this is the smack talk. There is some wonderful banter between the teams as the Agents hand the T-bolts their butts. Very entertaining.

Miguel Sepulveda has that Marvel house style that is quite popular these days. There are quite a few Marvel artists taking after Roberto De La Torre's gloomy, almost photo-referenced work. I like it well enough, but I could see how it could annoy some folks.


BTW, this is the second comic I read this weekend with people throwing trees, the other being JSA All-Stars #1.

War is Hell: Flight of the Phantom Eagle TPB

I think Garth Ennis could do this in his sleep. This is another solid war story from a master of the form. This isn't the best he's done, but it is entertaining. The whole concept of Phantom Eagle as the "hero pilot" is kind of mocked and doesn't really come up. I have no problems with that though, since it is a pretty silly war-time concept. The characters become almost interchangeable at times, but readers can define folks well enough to get the required emotional punches. Surprisingly, most of the pages are spent on the ground. Multiple characters talk about how quickly combat happens in the dangerous skies, so it makes sense that those moments of terror are quick blips throughout this trade. I hate to say I wasn't as taken with this because I've seen it before, but in comparison to some of the absolutely perfect war stories Ennis has told, this doesn't rank among the best.

Howard Chaykin's art is dramatic, but I have a hard time figuring out who is who. Every character is in uniform and since they all have the same haircut, there aren't enough moustaches to go around helping me figure out who is who. I'm not sure this needed to be a MAX book; there are only a few scenes that utilized that ranking and I think they would have worked without the mature rating.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blackest Night: JSA #1

James Robinson picks up the thread from his Blackest Night: Superman mini by putting the bodies of Kal-L and Psycho Pirate in the JSA brownstone. It makes a lot of sense, Power Girl's presence is a great tie to that previous series. By keeping the bodies relevant, it makes that older series seem more important too.

The JSA seemed like a huge team for a long time, so big that I never really worried about them winning. But factor in some Black Lantern rings, and suddenly the team is overwhelmed. It was interesting seeing the team rocked back on their heels like this. I really enjoyed the heroes shifting back and forth between trying to protect civilians and trying to research the Black Lanterns.

Robinson spends too many pages giving us the history of some of the raised zombies. If these guys aren't coming back at the end of this story, I'm just not sure that most readers need to know this level of detail about Sandman, Dr. Mid-Nite, and Mr. Terrific. Especially since Johnny Quick's appearance is much more emotionally resonant. I am enjoying the team's struggles, as I said, so I'll stick around to see how this turns out. I will go on record that I'm still unhappy that Damage is dead.

Eddy Barrows is good at the dead folks' gristle, but his living faces aren't quite as good. Libery Belle looks kind of puffy and Hourman actually looks like a monster in one panel. Barrows has a nice sense for the dramatic splash, though. He uses them a little more than is necessary, but they are exciting shots.


Justice Society of America #34

Why is Power Girl featured so prominently featured on this cover when she's on the other team?

Not a lot happens in Bill Willingham's first solo issue of JSA. This is a much more relaxed "getting to know you" type issue. Every member of the team gets at least a few pages to establish their character. Mr. Terrific gives Mr. America a nice power upgrade too. America's whip now gives off some pretty big explosions when he snaps it around.

I dug the exchange between Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, and Kid Karnevil. That is one evil little dude, I hope he sticks around for a bit and gets to keep threatening the team in their own HQ. The JSA's HQ is an odd choice, they are set up in some of the older rooms in the old Justice League mountain. I enjoyed hearing about the struggle over old JSA resources between this team and the All-Stars. I also like that Bill Willingham is following up on old Shadowpact concepts in this title, there is a fair amount of magic talk that would have been at home in that old book.

Travis Moore's pencils are ok. His best panels are about the level of Mike Norton's work, but quite a few panels aren't as impressive. His faces are nice and expressive, but I'm not sure he's nailed down everyone's body language and looks.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Avengers: The Initiative #31

I never would have guessed we'd be blessed with a Taskmaster series. (I'm not counting that weird series from the early 2000's with the bad art.) But here we are, and Christos Gage is doing a great job. Taskmaster is a hard working villain who is finally getting his shot at the big time, and he really doesn't belong there. Gage takes Taskmaster's tiny part in the recent Siege one-shot and turns it into a fantastic character piece. Taskmaster anguishes and debates his decision to join Norman Osborn's cabal, and he eventually gives in and joins, figuring he won't get another chance at top billing. Of course, we know that as soon as he joins, he's taken out at his very first cabal meeting. Dr. Doom blasts him with a mix of sorcery and tech, and while Tasky's suit blocks the normal energy, he can't handle the magic. Taskmaster wants out, wants to go back to the pond where he's a big fish, but you don't cross Norman Osborn. Osborn gets all cold and threatening, and its a great scene. Taskmaster has made a big mistake.

Since this book is your one-stop shopping for the C-level characters of the Marvel U, we get nice little bits with Diamondback, Constrictor, Justice, Ultra Girl, Tigra, and more. Night Thrasher seems to have found some warning signs about Siege too. I'm excited to see how this book fits in. Taskmaster and his Initiative army of super-villains are going to be drafted into fighting Asgardians. I don't think that will go well for them.

Rafa Sandoval does his usual solid work. He has a habit of making Taskmaster's eyeballs seem a little too round and silly looking, but overall the work is strong. I do like his take on Tigra. His Scorcher is pretty funny too, sporting huge gauntlets and a giant helmet.


Transformers: All Hail Megatron TPB 3

This was a bit tricky. This trade is packaged as the third volume of the All Hail Megatron saga, but it actually is a collection of Transformers Spotlights that really don't relate to that overall story. IDW's choice is especially interesting when they released a TF: Spotlight that wrapped up Simon Furman's long dark universe epic, but this spotlight book gets wrapped up into an unrelated tale. I'd bet it all boils down to sales, but it is frustrating and will make it difficult to read all of these books in order someday. As usually happens with these spotlight collections, the book varies according with each collected book. This trade collected the following:

  • Blurr - by Shane McCarthy and Casey Coller - this was pretty good. We haven't seen much of the celebrity culture of old Cybertron, so it was neat seeing Blurr living totally oblivious to the upcoming civil war. The cooler part was watching the peaceful part of Cybertron slowly shut down as every single bot chose sides and the war took over. It's a neat glimpse at that old world. This also had the best art in the trade. Good

  • Jazz - Josh Van Reyk & Shawn Knowler and E.J. Su - I'll take any Predacons I can get. I'm a little shocked to see Jazz turning into this special forces dynamo, able to take out a top tier group basically by himself. Jazz is my favorite Transformer, so I like seeing more of him, but I don't want him to lose that fun nature he had in the old cartoon. I really dug seeing more of Tracks too, he's a blank to me, so getting anything on him was fun. I may have missed the point at the end. Was Jazz not really there? Or he was and Tracks knew it? I'm a tad unclear. Fair

  • Cliffjumper - by Shane McCarthy and Robby Musso- Musso does better on robots than humanoids. The humanoids featured in this story kind of turned me off, they looked way too cartoony. I like Cliffjumper as a tough guy, but putting him up against all guys I don't know lowered my interest. Average

  • Drift - by Shane McCarthy and Casey Coller - Once again we have the main antagonists as new (to me at least) and fairly generic Decepticons. Drift's background as a former Decep is cool, but I would love to see him holding a grudge against some Decepticons I know. Kup and his strike team come off as pretty damn cool, and I loved how quickly Kup starts respecting Drift. I'm of the Han Solo school on swords (give me a good blaster) but I suppose having just a couple melee guys makes sense. Fair

  • Metroplex - by Andy Schmidt and Marcelo Matere - This is really more a spotlight for the Throttlebots, but I still dug it. Metroplex is given an appropriate amount of gravitas and I'm intrigued about his mysterious duty. What could be so important to take away this powerhouse from the main Autobot army? I felt bad for the big lug; certainly he could have taken the Throttlebots with him into space? It's pretty cool seeing Sixshot as this engine of destruction too. Metroplex couldn't even stop him permanently! Fair

Overall: Fair

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dark Tower: The Long Road Home TPB

As of this trade, Robin Furth and Peter David are now out of the adaptation business and switch to creating original works. And dang, is it entertaining. I noticed there was sort of a lack of low-level flunkies for Alain and Cuthbert to face as they carry Roland's unconscious form back to Gilead. Their toughest fight is against wolves, so the man vs. nature style of conflict doesn't let them shine as characters. However, Roland's mental confrontation is much more interesting. The Crimson King faces down Roland, trying to get him to join forces. It seems while Roland is a descendant of Arthur Eld and therefore a possible heir to Mid-World, the Crimson King is actually Eld's son, so he wants it all. The problem is, the King wants it all just to destroy it and plunge the multiverse into chaos.

This story wouldn't work without the tremendously helpful back-material in this trade. Robin Furth expounds on the structure of Mid-World. We get all sorts of great details on the Guardians of the Beam, North Central Positronic (and their robots and dogans) and more. We also get the clearest explanation of the Dark Tower and the beams it connects. This is really important stuff, and I'd venture to say that any fan of the Dark Tower series would benefit from reading this.

Jae Lee's moody artwork does well on the horror and dream-scenes, but I think I would have enjoyed a more classic style on the gunslinging parts. The ephemeral quality of the art also makes Gilead a tad less impressive than I'd figured. The portions of the story that lean towards the mind are much more spot-on.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Scalped TPB 2: Casino Boogie

Is this book winning awards? Because it should be. Jason Aaron's complicated character study rewards your dedication and concentration with great reveals and a story like nothing else I've read. The world he's creating is different, fascinating, sad, and wonderful. I think the character of Dino Poor Bear sums up the series better than any other. He struggles with his family, his job, his friends, and his responsibilities. He's worried about ever making enough of himself to get off the reservation and finding a new life. But when someone surprising gives him the opportunity to get off the res with a handful of cash, Dino starts remembering all the things he loves about home. The issue is a wonderful character study and a great encapsulation of what makes the book so wonderful.

But the butt-kicking is great too. Dashiel Bad Horse is a top tier brawler. Although we're finding out bits and pieces of his past, he's still an enigma. I absolutely loved the issue featuring Diesel Engine too. He's another character so well thought out that he could carry his own book, but he only ranks as a supporting player in this one.

The trade ends on the same note as the one previous, which probably frustrated folks when this was coming out monthly. But read all in one sitting, I find myself liking the murder victim so much that I'm even more upset when that person shows up dead. Just a heartbreaking book.
R.M. Guera's stylized art remains spot on perfect. Able to juggle spirit animals and alcoholics with equal skill, this book is great.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Wildcats: World's End TPB

I'm always down for some post-apocalyptic fiction, and having it written by Christos Gage and feature the Wildstorm universe is just icing on the cake. This is the first trade I've picked up since Numbers of the Beast, and as promised, the Wildstorm U is destroyed. After clones of the High blew up all over the world, mankind (and the Earth in general) is struggling to survive. Pockets of humanity are barely making ends meet, although there are still plenty of super-heroes around to try and help. This trade introduces us to three different protectors; the Wildcats, Majestic, and Tumbleweed.

The Wildcats have staked off LA, setting up as many folks as they can in their old Halo Corporation HQ. The building has power, protection, and safety. Sure, there are daemonites in the city, but they do reach an understanding.

Majestic is sort of portrayed as a bad guy, but frankly, I think he has the right idea. Majestic has claimed the Hawaiian Islands. After protecting them from damage during the explosions of the High clones, he is now stocking it with survivors to make it the perfect city-state. He's sort of cold and calculated about it, but I have no doubt that the folks he's protecting appreciate him.

Tumbleweed (along with a slew of old animal characters from Wildstorm) has created a verdant jungle/forest in the middle of the American desert. This haven for wildlife is off-limits for humans, although they can live on its edges.

The trade has a nice episodic feel as the Wildcats team sort of checks in with these different groups. There is still plenty of character development and combat, but the world-building is the best part for me. I'm especially pleased to see Tumbleweed. I loved a ton of those new Numbers of the Beast characters and this is the first one I've seen pop up after that series.

Neil Googe does a nice job with the art. He's got a cartoony style that works well with the super-hero material and keeps the starving people from looking too upsetting. The showdown with the daemonites (including a ginormous Maul) is probably the best part of the book.


Merry Christmas!

It looks like Deathlok got you a Wolverine!

My present to you all is a preview of Marvel's March solicits on ComicsPlusBlog!

I may be a bit slow over the next week or so, but then again, maybe not. I'll still be reading a ton of comics, the question is, will I have time to review them?

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and that you all get a few of those trade paperbacks you've been asking for!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Captain America: Who Will Wear the Shield?

I can't say I'm too pleased with the resolution to the debate. After both Caps set out in their patriotic threads, Winter Cap ends up keeping the shield by default when Steve Rogers forces him to take it. Rogers is sort of a broken man here, he's so exhausted from his travels through time that he just does't have the heart to take back his old job. Winter Cap is ok, but he's just a placeholder. The book ends with the President pardoning Rogers of his Civil War crimes and warning Rogers that he may have something even bigger than Captain America in his future. I've read on a few blogs that people suspect Rogers will take over a revamped SHIELD, but I sort of hope that isn't it. Heck, maybe he'll become Ronin if Clint Barton becomes Hawkeye again.

Ed Brubaker does a nice job with the little details. Black Widow is firmly on Winter Cap's side, she doesn't think her former beau needs to be the only Cap. I liked seeing her relationship with Winter Cap going so nicely, they really are a good team and it is fun seeing them kick butt together. She also explains that the Winter Cap threads were designed by the Wasp, a nice little nod to the designing diva. The foe for the action sequence could have been anyone, but I did love Mr. Hyde's reaction as Cap dove towards him off the roof; "Aw crap." Heh. That must stink to think you're about to get away, only to see the greatest dead hero in the world bearing down on you.

This really didn't need a 3.99 one-shot, but at this point I'll take any Steve Rogers appearances I can get.

Butch Guice keeps things looking nice and consistent. Everyone looked on model, but what impressed me the most was how "classic" Cap looked. His costume seems bulkier and more impressive than Winter Cap's shiny suit. Dang, I do hope Rogers keeps suiting up.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Green Lantern #49

It's too bad that John Stewart has been relegated to fill-in status in this title. He had such lofty promise as the partner for Hal Jordan in sector 2814, but at this point we never see the guy. This issue catches us up on how the rebooted Marine sniper (he used to be a jazz-loving, peaceful guy) is dealing with Blackest Night.

Turns out things are about the same for John Stewart as for everyone else. He flies down to the zombified planet Xanshi, the world he didn't save back in the Cosmic Odyssey crossover of the 80s. The entire population is rising thanks to a whole slew of Black Lantern rings, but Stewart manages to fight them off by creating a green army of American soldiers. There's an interesting flashback where Stewart blows away a bunch of insurgents in an unnamed Middle Eastern conflict, but again, turning him into a bad-ass soldier seems weird. I guess he fits in more with guys like Magog and the Shield now, as a soldiery-attitude hero. That's ok, there aren't a lot of them, it is just interesting that the military is now John Stewart's defining characteristic.

Ed Benes does a decent job this issue. I was particularly impressed that he spent so much time giving Stewart's green army such different looks. Their uniforms, weapons, and facial expressions were all different and unique, I appreciated the attention to detail. I like to think that Stewart was creating an army of soldiers he actually knew.

There's a neat backup where Jean Loring explains to Mera and the Atom that Nekron is a guardian of the dark, a guardian of the absence of life. She tries to justify all the killing and such by explaining that life is an aberration to the universe, so Nekron needs to clean up all that mess.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Peek at DC's March 2010 Solicits!


Here we go again! There's a lot of interesting stuff from the big two this month. DC is up first, as always. I'm getting very worried about Green Arrow. It looks like he's getting some spotlight in the upcoming months, which is usually a bad sign for both the spotlighted character and his or her supporting cast. I'll go on record now that I'm worried Black Canary might not survive February.

With Blackest Night wrapping up in March, we don't know much about the "post-" status of the DCU, but it certainly seems very similar to what has been happening for the last few months. (That is, no announcement about my dream book: Peter Tomasi writing a Martian Manhunter ongoing.)

Here's a link to my full write up at ComicsPlusBlog.

Modern Warfare 2: Ghost #2

I wish I understood what was happening. David Lapham delivers more of his specialties here with some great art for Ghost's background and a deeply textured history. Ghost actually starts to seem like a real dude here, and I love how his flashbacks are interwoven with his brainwashing in South America. I still have the greater problem that we are seeing a flashback within a flashback within a flashback. Factor in the dreamlike and confusing quality of Lapham's sequences and this is a damn challenging book. I'm fuzziest on the South American portion, I understand the pre-SAS stuff and I'm looking forward to seeing Ghost but loose and kick butt in the present.

Lapham's pencils look like they were lifted straight out of Young Liars. I never would have pegged Ghost as having ties to the London punk scene, but it adds a wonderful layer to the character. Kevin West's pencils are suitably realistic and gritty. It's too bad he's saddled with the most confusing part of the narrative.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Mighty Avengers #32

I still don't feel like this team is exactly right. The balance is off or something, I feel like the team is one member away from really feeling like the Avengers. Quicksilver helps, but I'm thinking one more... maybe Ms. Marvel or the real Scarlet Witch? Actually, I think the Wasp would be perfect. I did notice that some of Jocasta's robotic selves were based on Wasp costumes, but that doesn't really count. It's more creepy than cool.

This storyline starts off a showdown between Pym's Avengers and Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers. The whole situation is set up by Loki, who is clearly steering Osborn for a fall. I'm not sure what his endgame is, but I love seeing Loki used as the central villain for the whole Avengers line. I still like how integrated Slott's book feels into the greater Marvel U. My only complaint is that he glosses over conflicts that would have gotten an issue or two in the old days. The Mighty Avengers supposedly took out Terminus, Dansen Macabre, and Zzzax this issue. I want to see more than 2/3 of a splash page dealing with all those cool Marvel B-listers!

We get "finished" Khoi Pham this month. After a few months off, Pham's pencils are tight and finished looking, a huge improvement over his last stuff. I'd gladly have he and Sean Chen trade off arcs to bring the quality of pencils up this much.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Secret Six #16

I don't think Black Alice's legs are connected to the rest of her body on that cover...

Hmm. This is two average issues of Secret Six in a row. After blasting out of the gates and being one of my favorite comics, things are slowing down quite a bit over the past few months. Gail Simone is bringing another of her creations aboard the Secret Six as Black Alice "auditions" to join the team of mercenaries. The Six let it all hang out, and I think Catman and Deadshot figured their skeevy qualities would scare Alice off, but instead she doesn't even blink and still wants to join the team. I'm amused at how accepting the team has been of Bane's takeover. It seems Scandal is still around, so really it will be more of a Secret Seven, but Bane is the guy who kind of takes over and makes a decision on Alice. I'm ok with Alice joining the team, mostly because it seems like Simone is aware of all the potential things that aren't as cool about her (the goth/emo thing, the sulky kid personality, etc.)

I'm curious to see how the team will get along now that one of their most powerful members is essentially a surly teenager, but it will make things interesting. I might have figured an issue with super-villain strippers would be a bit more exciting, but this was more a foundation-laying issue, leaving it fairly bland.

Peter Nguyen's art is serviceable, but losing Nicola Scott is a huge blow. She's made this book her own, so losing her to Blackest Night: Wonder Woman for a few months is making these issues seem even less important. Unfortunately, it feels a bit like the book is treading water until Scott returns and things can ramp back up to the previous level of quality this book enjoyed.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Red Robin #7

I'm totally confused by Christopher Yost's greater story, but I will admit I like his spider-cult. The Ra's Al Ghul stuff is going nowhere, in my opinion, I'd much rather see Red Robin out doing normal heroic stuff rather than gradually exploring his weird alliance with Ra's. It seems like RR is kind of reduced in this role, he's sharing too much screen time with uninteresting flunkies from the League of Assassins. The spider-guys are cool and creepy though, I particularly like Goliath, the brick of the team. Again, I'm confused why Yost is spending so much time showing the spider-team form up, do we really need their origin? Yost does write a likeable Tim Drake/Red Robin, I'm just looking forward for this mopey alliance to end so we can get more of the Robin we've all liked for the past few years.

Marcus To does a decent job on the art, but I'm a little fuzzy on who all the spider-assassins are. Some of them look very similar and I can't tell them apart. I did like Sac's very expressive face, for a guy with such a creepy power, he sure takes a lot of pleasure in his killing! Usually those creepy dudes are more understated...


Friday, December 18, 2009

Captain America: Reborn #5

This one was packed with real Avengers goodness! The gang is all here as Steve Rogers' body is hijacked by the Red Skull. The Skull and his underlings can't help gloating, and with an army of MODOKs specially constructed to kill super-heroes, the Avengers do seem to be in trouble. As the issue wears on, all the heroes are taken out except for just a couple, so I'm hoping Hank Pym is successful in freeing Agent 13. Sharon Carter deserves some redemption in this story and I'm betting we get it in issue 6. I couldn't be happier that Crossbones is such a major villain now. Seeing him lead the charge against the heroes would have made Mark Gruenwald smile, I'd think. There aren't a lot of reveals or plot advancements here, this is a chance for Ed Brubaker to give us some action, and he delivers.

Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice continue to share penciling duties. It still seems like the big-splashy shots are hitch while the necessary story-beats are Guice, but with Guice inking the whole thing it looks pretty consistent. I did love that panel where Sin is blasting Winter Cap in the back with two .45s. Tough stuff!


Power Girl #7

Due to the great use of an obscure movie, this is my favorite issue of Power Girl yet.

Vartox has come to Earth to mate, and he seeks Power Girl. He hails from a groovy home planet where he's the ultimate man and everyone hangs on his every word. He also looks a hell of a lot like Sean Connery in John Boorman's Zardoz! I really liked how Palmiotti and Gray handled all the references to that weird 70's flick. Vartox even arrives in a giant head-spaceship! I know very few people will get this reference, but man, it was very entertaining to see.

Power Girl remains so darn likeable. What makes her such a fun character is how normal she seems in her interactions. She teams up with her old buddy Dr. Mid-Nite just for fun. The Doc had the oddball villain Blue Snowman well in hand, but PG helps out just to do it! Blue Snowman was pretty tremendous too. The character design was fun and was a great example of the villain who spends more to make her suit than she will eventually steal. The big monster at the end is really kind of unimportant. This issue is all about PG interacting with people around her; misguided villains, overbearing frat boys, and reliable teammates. This was a darn good issue.

Amanda Conner makes this thing go. Vartox is spot-on to his references, and PG always looks cute without getting too exploited. It's such a hard balance to make, readers want to see PG's assets, but that shouldn't be the focus of the title. Conner walks the line perfectly.


BTW, Zardoz is a fascinating film. It is clearly a product of its time, but it is filled with neat mind-bending ideas and interesting characters. It is the type of movie you can talk about after you finish watching too. Just prepare yourself for lots of nudity and lots of shots of Sean Connery in a speedo.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Green Lantern Corps #43

I love it when a comic leaves a smile on my face. Peter Tomasi handled all this perfectly, and he has created one of the best tie-ins I've ever read. This run of GLC is going to go down as one of my favorite series ever.


In this day and age at DC comics, I could easily believe the company would be foolish enough to kill off a cool character like Kyle Rayner. That made me totally bite on the idea that Kyle was gone. I should have had more faith in Tomasi. Kyle's death is a wonderful plot element that allows a ton of great character moments. Guy Gardner's turn into a Red Lantern was brilliant; he's by far the coolest burbling red guy we've seen so far. His rage is directed and quite awesome to behold. Soranik Natu gets to do what she does best, save lives using everything she's got: skill, willpower, and love. The rest of the corps gets to step up for some awesome team work too. But all of those great elements pale in comparison to Kyle's eventual status. I had a huge grin on my face for awhile after reading this.

Patrick Gleason's work on this is brilliant. That panel of Guy Gardner about to vomit out the Red Lantern acid was wonderful. I think I'll be posting it on my blog shortly. Kyle's return was great too; can you feel patriotic about a made-up group of green space cops? Cause that panel almost did it.


4 year old reviews - Batman: The Brave & the Bold #12

Brave and the Bold is not as good as Tiny Titans. This was really long. I don't understand what happened. That lady is beautiful. I liked when that guy (Adam Strange) turned into Santa. I like the elf too. Who is that lizard guy? Why is he a bad guy? Who is the bad guy? There are a lot of words I don't understand.

This comic is never as good as Tiny Titans. (Her attention caught by a Tiny Titans ad) Is Superboy joining the Tiny Titans?

I like the cartoon.

It was ok.

Adventure Comics #5

What was the point of this issue? Superboy Prime smashes around "Earth Prime" and eventually attacks the DCU publishing offices in New York. To be honest, it seemed like the point of this book was to get a bunch of DC staffers drawn into a comic. We didn't really learn anything about Prime or Alexander Luthor and I don't really see how this affects the greater blackest night story either. All in all, I think the people who will appreciate this comic the most all collect paychecks from DC comics.

Jerry Ordway is solid as always, but man, after the somewhat amusing lead in to this tie-in, this was a real disappointment.

I will admit I'm a tad tempted by the backup story. I like the idea that Lex Luthor has some extended family that might make life tough for Superboy. I'm ready for a confrontation between Connor and his "father" too.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Batman: The Unseen #5

So let me get this straight. This mini-series concluded with a big brawl between a naked Batman and some other naked dude in the forest. That's what' happened, right? Doug Moench, you are original, I'll give you that. This was harmless, self-contained story and I loved every minute of it. Every character talked like they knew they were in a comic, but it was great.

I love Kelley Jones' art. Those panels of Batman losing his invisibility were fantastic. I would have thought we'd get a few more cowl-only Batman shots, but the ones we got were tremendous.


New Avengers Annual #3

Well that ended up being fairly easy, didn't it? After Clint Barton foolishly set out to kill Norman Osborn and was captured, Osborn is relishing the chance to grill Clint for information. The entire Dark Avengers team shows up to intimidate Clint, but unfortunately he's not really having it. Bendis does a good job writing Clint here, he is smart and brave and actually sounded like Hawkeye. Surely that is where we're going to end up after Siege, right?

Bendis handles the villains well here, they are in positions of power; but still villains. I didn't see as much of Ares' good streak as I'm used to, though. I really enjoyed seeing Mentallo forcing Clint to relive the worst parts of his life (many of which didn't seem so bad). I could have done without seeing the stupid Avengers Disassembled death though, that still seems stupid 5 years later. Mentallo's reaction to the Avengers ladies was classic, he immediately cowers and tries to say it wasn't his fault. Speaking of the ladies, I really dug the weird little strike-force that rescues Clint. Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel, Mockingbird and Jewel are actually a pretty powerful team. I could really get used to these folks getting more spotlight. Mockingbird has been a favorite of mine for so long, I love seeing her banter back and forth with Clint. I mean, c'mon, look at that cover. They look like an Avengers team, don't they?

And I'm hoping Bendis has seen the light on the archer. At the close of the issue, Hawkeye sort of recants his vengeful threats, so maybe the character is going back to his roots. And how about that splash ending? I would have loved to have Reborn tell the story of Steve Rogers' return, but man, that "I Want You" style shot at the end was awesome.

Mike Mayhew's art tends to look a tad too photo-shopped for me, but I can't say that here. The painting is stunning, with each of the ladies especially looking like different people. Artists often have all their people look the same, but Mayhew does a wonderful job making each character stand and act differently. Having Spider-Woman have a conversation while stuck to a wall was just icing on the cake.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Invincible Iron Man #21

I'm really enjoying how Matt Fraction is putting this "rebuilding" of Tony Stark together, but I do have some concerns. It seems that before he put in the Extremis upgrade, Stark "backed up" his brain. Now he's using parts from the Rescue armor, Pepper Potts' repulsor pack, and the powers of Thor and Captain America to reboot himself and rejoin the land of the living. The part that has me curious is the statement that the back up occurred before Extremis. So does that mean we'll be getting an Iron Man who didn't partake in Civil War, act as a Director of SHIELD, and basically missed the last few years of the Marvel U? With all the negative press Iron Man received during Civil War and immediately after, this would certainly enable the Marvel U to move forward with a different Iron Man; one with a clean slate. I don't like the idea though; I'm hoping this is just a way to bring Stark back.

I did say Captain America up there, and it is important to note that there are two Caps in this issue; both Winter Cap and Steve Rogers are along for the ride to bring back Stark. Clearly Rogers was coming back, but it does rob the Reborn series of a little of its dramatic impact to have Rogers start popping up all over the Marvel U already. Another confusing appearance hits when Jim Rhodes shows up in uniform and looking fully human. I guess he makes it out of his current series ok, huh? Darn scheduling problems! All in all, I'm very pleased to see the core Avengers all working together, I just wish it would have been scheduled better.

Salvador LaRocca does a nice job with the huge cast. His Ghost is particularly spooky with all his tattered rags. The shots of Rhodey stripping the Rescue armor of its parts was well done too, the room looked trashed.


Dark Avengers: Annual #1

Wow. Bendis got a bunch of pages to try and get me to care about Noh-Varr, the current Captain Marvel, and I'm not convinced. Noh still has almost no personality, and pairing him up with a spunky college kid with dyed hair doesn't really change that. The conflict with the Dark Avengers never rang completely true to me, since Noh has never seemed like an idealistic kid hoping to make the big leagues. The guy has always been one step away from being a villain. There are a few nice sequences where he goes up against the Sentry, but overall this felt unnecessary. And expensive.

I'll admit, Genis-Vell was the Captain Marvel for me. I still don't see why he had to be killed off and replaced.

Chris Bachalo's design for the new Captain Marvel suit is odd. It's a mix of the normal goggles and such we'd expect from Bachalo mixed with the original green Captain Mar-Vell suit. Bachalo's style works great in certain types of comics, but in this straight-forward style story, I don't think he's as good a fit.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Nova #38

This is only tangentially a Realm of Kings tie-in, since Darkhawk and Nova were blasted out of the Rift last issue. It seems they were rescued by old Nova villain the Sphinx, who is assembling and eclectic crew on an odd-shaped planet. He's out to do something; I'm just unclear on what. I liked Reed Richards and Nova discussing Sphinx with names like Kang and Immortus, it certainly makes the Sphinx seem like a more intimidating baddie. There's not a lot of violence this issue, the combat is mainly Darkhawk and Nova vs. some fairly generic sand beings. After the high-octane horror of some of the other Realm books, this one seems positively subdued.

DnA have pulled characters from different points in history, so we get a younger Reed Richards, a still-living Black Bolt, and at the end, the cliffhanger!!! I'd love to see this gal brought back in a permanent way, and I think there might be a chance here. DnA seem to respect secondary characters, so I'd say at least she's got a chance.

Andrea DeVito's pencils look great, as usual, but the colors are so bright they seem a bit out of place in a gritty space book. Maybe I'm just not used to seeing Nova operating in daylight, but the colors were really popping off the page.


Walking Dead #68

Very interesting. I've been hoping to see a storyline where Rick's group of survivors are the harder and perhaps more morally questionable group featured in this book, and it might actually be happening. I just guessed it one arc too early in "Fear the Hunters." This issue introduces the well-groomed scout from a nearby refuge. It seems there are 30-some survivors who have walled off a safe area. After scavenging the area for food, they are now out scoping out survivors and extending invitations to the ones they think could fit into their society. After listening in on Rick's group, it seems our guys are good enough to get an invite. Although Rick is a bit hesitant to accept the offer, the rest of the crew jumps on it.

There are some interesting happenings in this issue. I like that Rick is so gun-shy about anyone new, but it is nice seeing Michonne and the others so ready to be hopeful. It also seems that Rick's leadership isn't exactly rigid. I'm also curious if Andrea is going to try and pair off with Rick. They both have young kids to take care of, and it is the zombie apocalypse, so I can't really blame them if they do seek some solace with each other.

Charlie Adlard does a nice job. It's hard to nail down the new guy's motivation and emotions, putting the reader in Rick's shoes. I really want to trust this guy, and seeing him re-connect with his partner sure makes him seem like he's a decent guy. I'll hold out hope, but this the Walking Dead.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Scalped TPB 1: Indian Country

Wow. I had heard good things about this book and I knew I loved Jason Aaron's other writing, so it was only a matter of time before I picked this up. And boy am I glad I did. This gritty look at an Indian reservation is just fantastic. The story is an incredible mix of violence, passion, and regret. The lead character, Dash Bad Horse is a butt-kicker of the highest order. He's serving as a deputy for the reservation and his job puts him in the world of all sorts of scumbags. Complicating matters is the current Chief (and everything else) of the tribe; Red Crow. Red Crow knows Bad Horse from his childhood when Red Horse was with Dash's mother. Now Dash's mother and Red Horse are on opposite sides on how to proceed with the reservation and the casino about to open there. The book is filled with all sorts of folks who have fallen on rough times. Dash's childhood friend is sleeping around and he's upset about it. Multiple factions are trying to manipulate each other for nefarious ends. And Dash has a pretty good reason why he came back at all. This book is fantastic, the story stays with you and the cliffhanger is a true stunner.

R.M. Guera delivers a wonderful mix of gritty realism and comic book action. The characters look great, and their emotions are clear and easy to read. I'm very impressed with this book.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born TPB

I'm finally getting around to checking out Marvel's take on one of my favorite series. I was a big fan of Stephen King's Dark Tower series for years, and while the series ended with a whimper, it remains a favorite of mine based on the strength of the better chapters. This series re-tells the flashback from Wizard and Glass, one of my favorite books in the series.

The story picks up with the forces of the Affiliation, led by Stephen Deschain, facing down against the Good Man Farson and his evil hordes. (For the uninitiated, think a gun-wielding knights of th round table vs. the powers of evil.) When Roland (the titular gunslinger) has to leave his home, he heads out to the far out town of Meijs where he is to determine if the locals are supporting Farson. The story is one of youth and passion. Roland falls for local girl Susan Delgado, and while he endangers both his comrades and himself, their inherent skill leads them through. It's an upsetting story and Robin Furth and Peter David do a nice job transplanting the story into comic book form. The dialogue is filled with direct quotes, and the portions I don't remember really maintain the unique tone of the books. I'm eagerly looking forward to the next time I see "Hile gunslinger." I understand the next story is actually original, so that should be a better indicator of how well Marvel is using the property.

Jae Lee does a nice job whenever he has to draw anything creepy. The old witch, mutated animals, even the tentacled being in the thinny; they all look great. His humans look a bit too emo for me, everyone is wearing eyeliner. I think Roland looks good, it is easy to see the angst that awaits him. Cuthbert is also pretty much how he imagined him, but Alain is quite a bit softer than I imagined. All in all, the story is clear, I just prefer less mood and more clarity.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Thor #604

I was not expecting this at all. I've kept an eye on JMS' run on Thor, basically confirming that there was too much talking and not enough fighting. So when Kieron Gillen was announced to take over the title, I immediately added the thunder god back to my sublist. Now I find that this first issue from the new team picks up directly from an old story. This is not a jumping on point; this is the next chapter in JMS' story. The story reads just fine, but I'm glad I have a general knowledge of who Bill and Kelda are and what Doom has been up to. Gillen has a good voice down for the Asgardians, and I'm particularly glad to see the war god Tyr show up. Baldur's war party certainly seems to have the muscle to give Doom a run for his money. The conclusion was pretty great, Thor's entrance line was great and keeping Thor off-panel for the whole issue ensures the appropriate level of anticipation when he shows up. I do worry that Doom will do well against the Asgardians, throwing off my understanding of power levels in the Marvel U. but I trust Gillen to make it exciting.

Billy Tan's work is a revelation here. His Kelda looks radiant (due to both coloring and the pencils). The designs for Doom's Asgardian cyborgs is fun too, especially the little bat-winged boy. This is the best I've seen Tan's art look. As I said, I'm curious to see how the cyborgs hold up against the Asgardians.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Batman: Private Casebook TPB

Paul Dini is having fun. The trade opens with a wonderful new baddie, the Globe. He makes all sorts of punny comments about hemispheres and such as he takes on Batman, and even though the danger never seems to threatening, I loved seeing Batman like this. Dini delivers a great conclusion to the Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul storyline. Frankly, this would have been a much better closer than the one that appeared in the first story.

Dini continues building up the relationship between Zatanna and Bruce Wayne. I've never been a big Z fan, but she is really quite likeable here. She's too powerful for a bat-book and she upsets the balance of power in the story she's in. It's odd; Z is a poor match with Batman but a good one with Bruce Wayne. There's a great scene with Catwoman expressing some jealousy about the other women in Bruce's life too. I dug the new Ventriloquist, but I still miss Arnold Wesker. Scarface is one of my favorite baddies so I can't wait to see how he shows up next.

There is also a suit of sorrow story about Batman giving up the armor he wore during the Ra's storyline. It's a nice little piece dealing with long lost knights and secret societies, the type of material that works well with Batman.

Dustin Nguyen is a good storyteller. I'm not a huge fan of his work, but I can't really make any specific complaints. His faces tend to be a bit lumpy and people can look too similar, but overall he's fine.


Transformers: Megatron Origin TPB

I don't like the idea behind this series. In Eric Holmes' story, Megatron is a hapless (although brutal) miner that has been historically abused by the corrupt status quo of Cybertron. He ends up lashing out at his masters and taking command of the Decepticons more as a revolutionary than as an actual villain. And who is the group protecting those corrupt masters? The Autobots. I'm ok with a few of the more law-abiding Autobots like Prowl sticking with a bad status quo, but pretty much everyone shows up in crowd shots enforcing the status quo.

I did like a few of the revelations about Soundwave; that he was originally sent as a proxy for a corrupt senator. Soundwave is almost instantly swayed into joining Megatron, giving him a great right-hand man. It was also fun seeing Grimlock show up in the underground fighting ring, here's a bot who wasn't sitting around obeying orders.

Alex Milne's art was very unclear to me. Most of the familiar robots had been redesigned, so I couldn't tell them apart in most of the combat scenes. Having Megatron wear a big mining helmet was a weird choice too. Overall, I didn't think this series added to the mythos in any necessary ways.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Deadpool #899

Much like Mike Benson's work on the recent Moon Knight trade, this is fine, but unspectacular. I would have though that a luchadore brothers would be a dream comic idea, but putting them in tactical gear just saps away some of the fun (keeping them in monster trucks helps though). It's also interesting that the Zapata Brothers are so close to being villains, only their amusing hero-worship of Deadpool keeps them on the right side in this. Having the brothers be such big fans of social media and be so aware of comic culture is an amusing choice, although an odd one for a pair of luchadores. Deadpool is likeable, as always. I do enjoy these adventures where he really succeeds based on his healing factor and powers rather than any actual competence. He can't really concentrate well enough to come up with great plans, so powers and personality have to do.

Carlo Barberi handles the art fine, but I still would love to see someone draw the Zapatas with a more authentic luchadore look, as in, a complete wrestling suit.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1

Wonder Woman hasn't had it too rough if her most personal connection to a dead-person is Maxwell Lord. Their encounter back in the Infinite Crisis days was forced, and it still is here. I enjoyed the showdown between the two, but I don't really buy into the personal hatred Lord seems to have for WW. I did like that WW is a steady purple for love. I'm not sure I would have her pegged like that, but I'm fine Greg Rucka's decision, keeping the color undiluted keeps up WW's pure nature. The willpower-green soldiers was a nice touch, I always appreciate it when normal people get treated as equals with heroes. It was nice to see them actually survive too, with so much bystander death going on.

The mass-resurrection of Arlington Cemetery was downright nasty, but it does make me wonder just how many Black Lantern rings are out there. I mean, I can see it is more than 2 per sector, but is there an upper limit? WW took out those zombies very easily, so I'd debate whether it was worth using rings on all those guys. And were the other zombies permanently destroyed? Max Lord wasn't, how about the rest?

Nicola Scott kicks butt. WW looks majestic, powerful, and beautiful. I'd bet Scott takes over drawing WW within the next year. I had heard WW is Scott's favorite character, so I'm sure that match up is on the way. I won't complain one bit, Scott's WW is awesome.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Blackest Night: Flash #1

There is so much exposition pounded into each of these Blackest Night tie-ins, it can be hard to take. When the exposition deals with all sorts of Barry Allen back-story with which I have no familiarity? Then it's even worse. I have no idea if Barry Allen and Solovar were great friends, but based on my limited knowledge, it seemed like a stretch that Barry would be so upset seeing the zombie ape. I would have liked a bit more Wally West too. Seeing Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins work together again just makes me miss their work on "my" Flash.

I really like the idea that the Rogues are setting out to stop the Black Lanterns on their own, not waiting for the creatures to come to them. The ominous appearance of the dead Mirror Master was well played, hinting that the Rogues may be falling into a trap. I am confused at what the Rogues can accomplish since the Black Lanterns are so powerful. Overall this issue had a lot of confrontations and quick encounters, but I'm missing so much history (from both Flash Rebirth and even further back) that a lot of it had no resonance with me. When did Professor Zoom come back? What is that cave painting symbolizing? Why is Barry Allen's best friend a gorilla? I haven't felt this lost in the mainstream DCU in quite some time!

Scott Kolins draws a great Flash. His clean, classic style fits right back where it belongs in the Flash universe. I'm pleased he'll be handling the Wally West stuff in the new ongoing.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Justice League of America #39

Wow, the current league never seems like anything more than victims in this Blackest Night tie-in. The team is supposedly out to try and wrangle some of the super-villain zombies, but man, the way the group huddles and cries as they wander through their darkened headquarters really makes them seem like the victims in a horror movie. Zatanna's spell-battle with her Dad is pretty cool; I loved them repeatedly countering each others' spells. I'm not usually a fan of the character, but she comes across well here. Vibe sure seemed pretty lethal. He took out Red Tornado and Plastic Man really easily. It seems we can add Plastic Man to the list of deaths in Blackest Night. I'm sure Red Tornado can just be rebuilt at this point. (Incidentally, the lack of emotional color for Red Tornado was great, as was Vibe's comment that he's worthless to the undead lanterns.)

The Doctors Light of course have to face off, and the issue closes with the predator Dr. Light showing off his grossness once again. Dr. Light II (the hero) finds the undead version of the original quietly licking Firestorm's girlfriend's head (she'd been killed in an issue of Blackest Night). Dr. Light even comments that she tastes delicious and salty. Hey kids, comics! After the villain drops the heroic Dr. Light, the cliffhanger shows him leering over her unconscious form wondering what she tastes like. Oh my. I never would have pegged James Robinson as writing this type of stuff, it's like he's graduated from the Geoff Johns school of shocking comics, his methodical pacing and characterization has been reduced to an undercurrent of the story.

Mark Bagley is a great JLA artist. His classic hero-stylings are a perfect fit for the heroes, and he can handle the horror elements just fine too. The Red Tornado/Vibe battle is short but looks absolutely vicious. It's my favorite use of Red Tornado in years, I think, his powers actually look intimidating. This is a schlocky package, but it actually fits for a Blackest Night crossover. It doesn't hurt that I don't really like anyone on the current team, so I don't mind seeing them treated like victims for the crossover.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Top 25 Movies of the Decade

I'm going to post a couple decade lists, since it is so darn trendy to do so these days. I'm starting with movies, and there are enough comic-flicks on there to make it blog-appropriate, I'd say.

1. Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
3. Dark Knight (2008)
4. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
5. Watchmen (2009)
6. Superbad (2007)
7. Adaptation (2002)
8. The Departed (2006)
9. Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
10. A Scanner Darkly (2006)
11. No Country for Old Men (2007)
12. Hellboy (2004)
13. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
14. Zombieland (2009)
15. Donnie Darko (2001)
16. Kill Bill vol 1 (2003)
17. Old School (2003)
18. Frailty (2002)
19. Idiocracy (2006)
20. Vanilla Sky (2001)
21. Zodiac (2007)
22. In Bruges (2008)
23. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)
24. 28 Days Later (2002)
25. The Mist (2007)

Training Day might edge out The Mist, I can't decide...

Teen Titans #77

If J.T. Krul isn't careful, he's actually going to stand out as a competent Titans writer. After a strong effort in the Blackest Night: Titans mini, he steps into the main Titans book to give us a Ravager/Deathstroke-centered tie in. There are a lot of dead folks in Deathstroke's past, and they're all back to get him in this Blackest Night story. I liked how quickly the father and daughter team switched from trying to kill each other to helping each other fight off their zombified family members. It's clear that Ravager and DS don't actually want each other dead; they just don't know how to relate to each other in any other way than hand-to-hand combat.

Joe Bennett is the originator of the current Titans house style, so of course his work fits perfectly here. Equally adept at faces and action, I really love the way his beautiful people break things and each other.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Siege: The Cabal #1

I should really know better by now. I just don't agree with how Bendis paces his comics. There are some nice moments in this, but by far the biggest forward momentum hits in the preview to Siege #1.

Osborn is starting to crack. He's listening to the Goblin side of his personality more and more, and it doesn't help that Loki it totally pulling his strings. In fact, with Loki so active in the Hood's life right now, along with his talk about the catalyst for the Marvel Civil War, I'm starting to wonder if Bendis' big Avengers story has really been a showdown with Loki, the first Avengers villain. I do hope so. If Loki was involved in kicking off the Marvel Civil War, even better.

I'm not up to date on my X-Men comics, but I guess Osborn and Namor had some kind of fight, and within the cabal Dr. Doom has Namor's back. When Doom and Osborn face off over their differences, Osborn calls in his mysterious supporter to take out Doom. I feel a bit robbed that we don't find out who this mystery guy is, it is pretty annoying. I'm pretty sure Marvel hinted that the helper would be revealed this issue. In any case, the backup can't take out a Doombot, so Doom zaps Taskmaster and then disgorges a horde of tiny bug doombots. (Taskmaster better not be killed, I don't think he is, but the possibility is there). Eventually Sentry assists in stopping the 'bots. Osborn gets really fired up and now wants to prove his worth by taking out Asgard. And Loki has some ideas on how to do that...

Michael Lark's realistic style works well for most of the characters. Doom is imposing and I love the design on the doom-bugs. Taskmaster's suit looked a bit off, but I suppose he's just a supporting character in this. I like the poses the Hood uses too; he really seems like a guy trying to live up to his rep.


Justice Society of America #33

Other than one big reveal, there isn't really a lot laid out for us in this conclusion to the first story arc. Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges bring back the hordes of flunkies to take on the team, but the JSA is more prepared this time. I really like Blue Moon as a villain, her boast about Superman followed by Power Girl's takedown was very cool. The big reveal is that as we all suspected, Willingham creation Kid Karneval has been masquerading as the new All-American Kid. He's a devious little jerk. He seemed a bit less maniacal and cleverer than I remember him from Shadowpact, but he's still enraging to read about. I'm very pleased that Mr. Terrific got to take the punk down. You don't fool Mr. Terrific! I was amused that Sturges used the new Dr. Polaris so prominently here, knowing he gets killed in the Blackest Night mini. Oh well! It is interesting that Karneval and the villain mob weren't related; there are a lot of seeds for future stories here.

The big closing is the split of the team into two factions. The legacy "teacher" faction and the "extreme" military crew. I'm not sure the split makes total sense to me, especially with Power Girl, Cyclone, and Star Girl ending up on the military team. I actually think Wildcat makes more sense with the proactive team, but his loyalty to his buddies and his dislike of Magog would keep him away. There isn't really much to know about the new Mr. America yet, but I guess he likes the laid back attitude of the oldsters.

Jesus Merino is darn good. His action panels look tremendous, and that Power Girl takedown of Blue Moon was really fun. He handles all the devastation nicely too. He's a great fit for this book. I'm concerned sales have plummeted so much on this, I'm still really enjoying this series.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Web #3

Sales may be in the toilet, but darn it, I like the Web and his web hosts. There are a ton of original ideas in this series, from the super-hero franchise to the Web's competition with the JLA brand. Things of course go wrong when the Web decides to arm a ton of franchise folks with their own web-suits, and it takes the intervention of Batgirl and Oracle to make him take action to regulate his "employees." His disastrous Web Conference was hilarious, what a bunch of nutcases. The Web is forced to deactivate most of the folks using his suit, but a few stick around so there is some team-up potential down the road. He also starts working with Oracle to make his internet interaction more useful. In addition to a Facebook-type interface where he can exchange "Hero Kisses" the Web can now call out to a ton of people who want to help. He's using cell-phone and internet users better than any other hero. It's another great idea from writer Angela Robinson. This book isn't long for this world, but I will dig it for as long as I can.

Roger Robinson is great. I love the heavy blacks from his books, and this is no exception. The Web's terrible costume looks awesome, as do the guest stars. I would hope Robinson could get a top tier book, but that would make too much sense.


Thunderbolts #138

Man, that is one chilling cover. If you look closely, it looks like Scourge is staring right at you. The texture and realism of that eye is spooky! Very impressive!

The Ghost has really become the driving force in this comic. Jeff Parker picks up the thread that the previous writers left; Ghost is manipulating the team for his own ends. After setting off Mr. X, Ghost rallies up the team to track him down when he goes AWOL in South America. With some clever sound mixing, Ghost even sets up a conflict between Headsman and Mr. X. The team is so dang dysfunctional. When Paladin and Ant-Man arrive at the fight, they decide to just let things play out. I had thought those two liked Headsman at least a bit, but clearly they value their own skins more. Scourge finally gets a voice this issue, and that voice is crazy. Totally insane. Scourge speaks in military jargon, regardless of how appropriate it is. He's totally disconnected from reality and he's a dangerous, dangerous guy to be leading this team. Things cool down when the team has to unite to fight off some paramilitary types, and they end up bonding a bit, just as Ghost had planned. What I liked about the closing scene was that Osborn is smart enough to see this all happening and he warns Ghost that he's onto him. I really like Ghost as such a motivating force for a book, who would have thought he would be this important.

Miguel Sepulveda is pretty good, his Scourge, Mr. X, and Headsman all look great. His Ghost is spooky (although I still love the original Bob Layton design). Ant-Man and Paladin have too-big helmets and their armor is clunkier than usual, but they still look decent.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ms. Marvel #47

Too little, too late Marvel. If Mike McKone had been the artist on this series earlier on, I think that probably would have helped out sales. Having McKone show up now for a Spider-Man team-up story is a nice bonus, but all it did was make me wish for what might have been. The new art looks especially enticing after the horrible manga-ish art from the past few months. Speaking of the recent issues, I really enjoyed how writer Brian Reed summarized the last year (or so it seems); Ms. Marvel died and then got better. That story was too confusing and was ultimately pointless. While this issue is pretty boring, at least I can understand it and I actually like Ms. Marvel in it. It is an interesting choice to have the date with Spidey go so badly, but it makes sense. Ms. Marvel is something of a workaholic and Spidey only knows her in costume, so they probably wouldn't have a lot in common. Wonder Man seems like a better and better match, too bad he's in jail.

The actual action in this is pretty unimportant; an unnamed villain robs a bank and two lone HAMMER agents try to take in Ms. Marvel. Neither has any chance to succeed, but that makes sense for such powerful heroes.

I would read a Mike McKone Ms. Marvel book. She looks fantastic, Spidey looks spot on, and the nameless jet-packing villain has a neat enough design that I wouldn't mind seeing him again. Rob Disalvo's portion of the issue is a lot less consistent, with faces looking odd and Ms. Marvel catching on fire to change in costume. Derec Donovan finishes out the issue. He's a pro. I always dig his cartoony style. So yeah, McKone and Donovan would have been pretty nice to see handle this book regularly.


Iron Man 2

Look at that picture and try not to be excited!

I'm really hoping War Machine gets another series launched to coincide with the new movie. Maybe with Sean Chen on art?

Justice League: Cry for Justice #5

Note: While striking, the cover does not accurately represent this comic.
Wow. James Robinson sure is out for blood in this thing. I'm still amazed that the artist I loved back in the 90s is so quick to kill and maim these days. He had the proclivity to do this type of thing back in the Starman days, back when he killed his version of the Justice League Europe, but with his modern work the killing is a lot more constant. I'd say we're getting about a death an issue. The deaths aren't major or important characters, but Robinson is awfully quick to take these folks off the table. I wonder how he'd feel if someone had Hope O'Dare get atomized by Eclipso to show how important and kewl their new story was?

This issue has the many sub-teams of heroes finally meeting on the JLA satellite to discuss their efforts in finding Prometheus. Animal Man, Congorilla, Mikaal, and some Titans show up there, as do Hal, Ollie, Supergirl and Captain Marvel Jr. Black Canary and her loser league have been chilling out on the satellite all this time, waiting for the others to come home so they could yell at them. At least that's what it feels like. Black Canary wastes no time in dressing down Ollie with the others standing around... it's like watching Mom and Dad fight! It's a weird scene, and I can't help but worry that Robinson is leading up to killing off BC.

It's interesting, because Robinson clearly has researched these characters, he knows about the Justice League of Aliens, he knows about the Forgotten Heroes, so he knows his stuff. But it seems he prefers to kill off these hidden parts of the DCU rather than use them. This issue's death is Endless Winter, who I believe was introduced in a JSA Classified story. Her death is pretty boring though, just a small cranial explosion. The gore-winner for the issue is Arsenal/Red Arrow/Speedy stumbling around with his right arm ripped off. Hey kids, comics! It looks like CM JR is bad, or possessed, or something, since he's taken out Congorilla and Flash at the close of the issue. If that's right, that will be 3 characters mangled beyond re-use this issue, tying the record held in the premiere issue. Heck, at least Mikaal and Congorilla have decided to just arrest Prometheus, maybe some heroes will remember not to kill their opponents.

Mauro Cascioli draws pretty people. He certainly uses every opportunity to draw Starfire, Donna Troy, or Supergirl showing off their goods. His guys are built too, but I can't help but think he digs drawing these ladies more. There are some very odd storytelling choices in this. Endless Winter's capture is oddly presented, and what is up with that insert shot of Guardian when Ollie makes his speech about avenging Red Arrow? This book is still a mess. I'm reading it more to keep up with the destruction of the DCU more than any desire to see what the characters are actually doing.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Superman: Brainiac TPB

Geoff Johns keeps up the action in this next Superman trade. I really dug how Superman gets a bug in his bonnet to go out and be proactive about Brainiac. Sure, Brainiac is now directly tied to the destruction of Krypton, but still, it is nice seeing Superman get angry and put himself out there. Johns' Superman is definitely of the movie-mold; his relationship with his Dad has great resonance that comes to a dramatic close at the end of the collection. I'm a tad annoyed that the father and son couldn't have a beer together though, and even the "Root Beer" label that had appeared on their bottles reads "Soda Pop" in the trade. It's a little silly, and that's coming from someone who wants to keep comics kid-accessible.

There is a lot of page-time spent building up the fear Supergirl has for Brainiac. Brainiac's redesign isn't really scary enough to warrant such fear, although I always appreciate Johns' efforts to streamline continuity. The bulked up Brainiac himself wasn't that scary, although seeing Superman knocked out with all those tubes and such stuck in him was quite spooky. Superman actually did seem vulnerable for awhile there. I loved the War of the Worlds ending for Brainiac, and I actually laughed out loud at a few of Superman's high spots while beating down on Brainy. And I'll admit that closing was powerful.

Gary Frank does a great job with this story. I've never seen Supes look like he's trying so hard to fly so fast. When he's rocketing to his Dad's side, wow. Frank's characters do more acting than almost any other artists' figures. I kind of like Frank's take on the Kryptonian fashion of Kandor too. I was a bit surprised that Cat Grant has been so tramped up, she was a likeable character back in her first appearances in the Man of Steel era.


Guardians of the Galaxy #20

So it looks like DnA aren't taking back all those deaths. The bulk of this issue shows how the team is dealing with the raw losses suffered last issue. I really dug how even Rocket Raccoon was missing Cosmo, that was a great little scene, especially after seeing the more "normal" grieving from Moondragon. Starlord's throwing himself into his work is sad too, the poor guy's guilt about his failures is going to overwhelm him. In another bit of character genius, I love Jack Flagg as the new second in command when Starlord isn't around.

The closing creature was disgusting! When that Luminal's head popped open, revealing a crazy monster, man o man. DnA's decision to turn their cosmic books towards horror is a genius move. This will be new ground for a lot of these characters.

Brad Walker does a great job and I'm thrilled he's back. He draws the saddest Rocket I've ever seen. I really like the way he handles the standard Guardian uniform too, he even makes it work on Moondragon.