Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wonder Woman #600

Sigh. They always say you don't know what you've got till it's gone, but that's not exactly true here. I've appreciated Gail Simone's run on Wonder Woman through some excellent TPBs, but it still bums me out to read this issue. Simone only has a few pages (working with the still awesome George Perez) but she proves once again that she has Wonder Woman's voice down like no other. Factor in how well all the ladies of the DCU work together (and under Diana), man, is it too much to hope for a new team book featuring some of these folks? It took a long time for the "right" Wonder Woman writer to come along for me, so I'm going to enjoy the heck out of my trades of Simone's run. (Plus I think I have a couple left that haven't come out yet.)


Louise Simonson has a fairly generic story that nontheless gets to highlight the great relationship WW and Supes share. It's fine, but it is kind of overshadowed in this giant comic.


Amanda Conner's team-up with Power Girl is just plain amusing. Nothing like seeking out the strongest woman on Earth for some insight on cat behavior!


Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins sure look like they're gearing up for a new Wonder Woman Secret Origin limited series, don't they? I'd be interested in that.


Then we get to JMS' reboot of Wonder Woman. I'm not positive this is a "real" reboot. Is any of this going to stick? Or are we in an alternate universe or something. Right now this sure feels like JMS starting over with the character. WW is around 20 years old, has never heard of the Amazons, and has been raised "in an urban environment" if the news articles are to be believed. How did DC let this go through? You can't just reboot one of the most important characters in the business. WW's origin and appearances affect too much else in the DCU. How in the world can this get explained away, if it is a reboot? I've got to think this is just a story arc that will end, things will go back to normal and Diana will keep her new uniform as a memento from JMS' first story. At least, that's the only way this story will work for me. At all. Either way, I'm waiting for the trade at best, I don't like this new urban, espionage-y take on the character.

Looks like I'll just keep an eye out for those last Simone trades.


G.I. Joe: European Missions #1

I'm a HUGE fan of Hasbro stuff (meaning Transformers and GI Joe) so I generally try to read and collect all the material out there.

I finally got around to reading the first issue of European Missions, the American re-print of Marvel UK's Action Force. Each issue has two or three shorts from the Action Force books (which also included US reprints). This issue has Flint, Lady J, Sci-Fi, Footloose, and Leatherneck taking on the Crimson Twins and some BATS in a fairly generic story. There's lots of good shooting, but the story is too short to get any great characterization. I like seeing the characters in print, but I think focusing on Lady J or Footloose for the whole story might have made this a tad better.

The next story features Shipwreck in a few pages as he deals with some Cobra treasure hunters. This was so short it is hard to even grade. I think I read a similar story in GI Joe Special Missions.

I'll keep reading, because I love seeing the recognizable names who worked on this stuff; Dan Abnett wrote the lead story here. The art isn't fantastic, but again, I'm reading these because I love any exposure for the Joes, and hopefully some of my faves show up in the later issues.

(For the record, Dusty, Beach Head, Flint, Lady J, Ripcord, Alpine, and Snow Job are prolly tops for me. I like a lot more, those are just the ones I make sure to follow.)


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark #1

There is a baby head in that shark's mouth. Just making sure you saw that.

"They got mixed up!"

4.99 is a bit expensive for a joke, but I had to support a book where grizzly bears are leaping out of the water to attack boaters and sharks are popping out of trees and poking their fins out of shrubs. This book is absolutely ridiculous, but there is no doubting it is fun.

Zach Howard's story reads a lot more like the first issue in a new super-comic. The protagonist has super powers, there are supporting characters, and the story makes sense. It's not fine drama, but it is clear. I like the idea of heroes delivered by torpedo, too.

Ryan Ottley's story looks a tad better, but makes less sense. This segment is played totally for laughs, and it is funny. I never expected to see a shark eat a jogger, leaving only her head, breasts, and one leg behind. The body counts in both sections are huge, but in the Grizzly Shark story, a lot more innocents are consumed.

The art is hilarious throughout, and I did enjoy this book. But 4.99 is awfully steep. I think 3.99 would have even been pushing it. If you can find this for 2.99, grab it, but the joke wears a tad thin for that full price.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Comics on the Bubble: Taskmaster (2002)

So I've got some fundamental problems with this series. I hate the new costume. Taskmaster's classic look works so much better in comics. The look would actually work nicely in a film, I can see that, but this isn't the character I fell in love with all those years ago in Avengers.

I can't stand how most of Taskmaster's gigs involve him using holograms to impersonate people (usually spikey-haired pretty-boys). Holograms were never part of Taskie's power-set, so making it such a fundamental part of this series is really a misfire for me. I have an even bigger problem with Taskmaster being able to move at super-speed after watching kung-fu movies on fast forward. That doesn't even make sense! Can he fly after watching the Superman movies?

I like the use of Sunset Bain as a foil, but even that relationship isn't really resolved. Ken Siu-Chong and Udon created an ok limited, if this were a new character. By removing all the working-class roots from Taskmaster's dialogue and drastically changing his look, voice, and power-set, I don't understand why this was a Taskmaster limited series. As a new character, it probably would have worked a lot better.
  • Issue 1: Taskmaster fights Iron Man, I actually do buy how Taskmaster gets away. But as part of the series... SELL
  • Issue 2: Taskmaster starts using his hologram machine more, making this even less of a Taskmaster series. SELL
  • Issue 3: There is actually a cool concept here, that Taskmaster sometimes uses end-level abilities before he's mastered the intro stuff (like diving before swimming). But other than that? SELL
  • Issue 4: Man. Taskmaster announces he's stopped using his old sword (based on Black Knight skills) and switched to a katana like Silver Samurai. Blerg. SELL

SELL: 1, 2, 3, 4

Green Lantern Corps #49

Wow, I haven't seen a jump in quality like this in some time.

Tony Bedard's first issue of GLC was unimpressive. I didn't really connect with any of the characters and the overall plot didn't grab me either. But this issue is a huge improvement. The Alpha Lanterns numbers have skyrocketed, making them into a suddenly scary threat. I loved the interaction with Boodika and John Stewart, Stewart's thoughts really laid out how sad that whole Alpha situation has become.

Ganthet actually starts to be more interesting too.
I think last issue focused on him too much. I like him as a "rogue" Guardian out there in the trenches with the GLs. Teaming him up with Kyle and Soranik lowers his role enough to make him tolerable. I also like that Stel is getting talked about so much. I hope he gets fixed so he can bring the fight to the Alphas next issue. I've got to think that Bedard is going to change most of these Alphas back to normal GLs. I'd like to see Boodika and Green Man changed back.

I like the "surprise" villain too. I don't like Cyborg Superman's motivations that he wants to die, but I am fascinated that he's exploiting the Guardians' new robots just as effectively as he did the Manhunters. You'd think the Guardians would learn their lesson!

Ardian Syaf's artwork is very nice. His Alpha Lanterns look really spooky, which is a must. I don't care for the sniper gear for John Stewart, but that's an ongoing complaint for me. Now I'm ready to see him create some fun, nerdy constructs for Kyle Rayner.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

All Star Superman v2 TPB

Grant Morrison has a lot of ideas. He packs another ton of them into this second and final volume of his brilliant All-Star Superman trade. I think my favorite thing about Morrison's Superman isn't even the crazy-awesome adventures or the insane ideas that get shuffled on and off panel on a constant basis. My favorite thing is just how kind Superman is in this trade.

My favorite scene in this trade opens when Superman stops a train from derailing, and as the crowd of saved folks shuffles off the train, we see one talking into his phone about how he's on his way and couldn't help the delay. It's a throwaway line of dialogue in the babble of a crowd. Superman moves on to do a quick good deed or two, and the scene shifts. A depressed goth-looking gal is standing on the edge of a building, dropping her phone after she thinks her therapist isn't coming to save her. She's about to step off when Superman arrives, and gently says "You're stronger than you think" and gives her a hug. What a great scene! Supes really is some kind of Super-Jesus in this.

Frank Quitely's art nails the tone throughout. His bulky, even stocky Superman is an imposing guy even when he's slouching around as Clark Kent. I love the Kryptonian style too, with smooth curves and nice solid colors.

I don't want to undersell the great insanity we expect from Morrison. Bizarro world as a huge planetary predator from the under-universe. Lex Luthor reading a book on cocktails as he waits for his turn on death row. Steve Lombard's unique resistance to Bizarro-infection. This is another wonderful story from Morrison, and it deserves all the accolades it's received.

THIS is what Superman stories should be like.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

X-Force v1 TPB

For some of my trades, I wait and grab them on the cheap at comic conventions. I'm obviously really behind on X-Force, but wow, this was entertaining. It's odd, this has forced drug use, Angel getting mutilated, and the X-Men gratuitously killing their foes, but man if I wasn't riveted from cover to cover. Chris Yost not only cooked up the Purifiers as good villains on their own, but he also uses some good Marvel history to bring back the worst of the X-Men's past villains too.

The team is barely a team in these first six issues. Wolverine, Warpath, and X-23 are running around killing while trying to maintain their humanity. I was shocked that Elixir (I guess from New X-Men) and Angel are so involved though. And Angel...well, he's going to be a bit more complicated now. Wolfesbane also plays a very important role, but I'm not certain it is one she can come back from. Can she ever go back to the New Mutants now?

This trade has a ton of stuff that doesn't pay off for awhile. Many future storylines are hinted at or shown here, clearly I need to catch up on X-Force before I catch up on the core X-Men titles.

I'm not a huge Clayton Crain fan. His images always look computer generated, and while it works sometimes (like on Archangel and Bastion) it doesn't look so good on the more fleshy characters like Wolverine or X-23. His Wolfesbane is WEIRD, looking almost slippery rather than furred. The panels are so dark that sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what is happening. His stuff is moody and works great with the blood spattering, but the figure works is just too dark. With a clearer artist, this might have made "Excellent."


Friday, June 25, 2010

Superman #700

This comic really made me laugh. It is split into a couple sections, clearly defining that my time of obsession with Superman is over.

The first is an epilogue to the "modern" era of Superman, written by James Robinson. I didn't really care for it, since Prankster was presented as a criminal mastermind using Parasite for muscle. I prefer Kurt Busiek's take, where Prankster is certainly dangerous, but there is a sense of whimsy or fun in his crimes. How is using Parasite as muscle fun? I'm ok with Superman and Lois having a moment together, but Lois came across as a bit needy here. I like her being a little tougher. Of course, I didn't read the New Krypton finale yet, so maybe she's been through something really bad and she needs a moment to get back on her feet. -- Fair

The next story is from MY era of Superman, by Dan Jurgens. Most of the story follows a young and fun Dick Grayson/Robin as he disobeys Batman and tries to take out some arms dealers on his own. He ends up needing Superman's assistance, but what I love is how Superman comes across. He gives Robin a warning, but helps him dodge some trouble with Batman back at Wayne manor. Superman is a role model and a cool buddy. THAT's how Superman works for me. He's too powerful to motivate a lot of stories, so I love seeing him interact with other characters as either the good friend, the mentor, or the foil. That's why my favorite Supes stories are tales like Panic in the Sky, Death of Superman, Trial of Superman, and the Supermen of America. -- Good

JMS' has a prologue to his upcoming "Superman walks across America" arc. It's got all the warning signs that it is not going to be my type of book. A woman confronts Superman that he should have dealt with her husband's illness, but he was too busy dealing with New Krypton. Uh, yeah lady, that's right! Don't feel bad Superman, I think there might have been a bit more damage had Zod led an army of crazy Kryptonians against the Earth!

There is no realistic way to address real-world problems in comics. Hell, I don't WANT to see Superman dealing with normal problems. Is he going to walk around and cure diseases, build homeless people houses, and spay and neuter your pets? Superman should be punching gigantic monsters and robots. I just don't understand how DC can go from 2 years or whatever of Superman-less Super-books, then replace it with a book of Superman walking around. It's crazy, right? Or is it just me?

The thing is, this isn't badly done. The dialogue is fine, the art is decent, but I have no interest in this type of story. I'll get the trades from the library to keep up, but I cna't add this back to my pull list. -- Average

DC gave us three eras of Superman in this one, it's just too bad mine ended around 2000.

Overall - Average

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #4

Oh, Justice League International, how I've missed you. Four issues in and Keith Giffen and Judd Winick are doing a fantastic job, and with this issue they make it official; they are putting the band back together. Adding a new Rocket Red (naturally a big-time communist and poor English-speaker) just makes all of this feel more right. It's too bad we can't get Mr. Miracle or Big Barda in here, along with Guy, because then this really would feel complete. If it is true that Winick is scripting all of this, I have to commend him on a great job. He's got a great voice down for the new Rocket Red, and Captain Atom actually feels... right. For the first time in awhile, I can see why he was such a neat character back when I started loving him during Invasion. Oh, there will be some great sparks between him and the new Red...

The last page rockets the plot along nicely too. Max is putting the group together for some sort of reason. Dang, I wish Max's heel turn hadn't been quite so... irreversible. I'd love him as a manipulative but somewhat understandable bad guy. Since he shot Beetle in the head, that just can't happen. It's going to be great seeing him interact with the team again as this series goes on. And what is up with his powers turning people into shriveled husks? And they're all wearing black lantern gear too. Weird...

Joe Bennett does a nice job with the art. Rocket Red's redesign looks classic AND modern, a tough feat. Booster Gold looks great, as does Ice. I think Bennett's best work is on Blue Beetle though, he looks tremendous, and Bennett has him using some great morphing weapons.

Again, I may be grading partially on nostalgia, but I can't help it.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Avengers #2

I was obviously worried when I saw that cover. Wonder Man is an old fave of mine, regardless of how silly folks think he is now. I was a West Coast Avengers fan back in the day, and Wondy was a cool dude, then. So I was mighty worried that Bendis was going to turn WM into a full on villain. It seems Wondy is a bit messed up, but it is too early to say if he's actually a villain. In fact, one of my favorite parts about this issue is how quickly half the current Avengers announce that they are going to help ol' Simon Williams. Iron Man and Hawkeye are the main two, which makes sense. I'll enjoy a story of redeeming or helping Wonder Man a lot faster than I'll like a story about him going bad.

The rest of the issue deals with Captain Marvel/Marvel Boy/The Protector? setting up a dimensional viewer to look in on possible futures. We see glimpses of the M2 Universe with Spider-Girl, the 2099 gang, the original Guardians of the Galaxy, and then the Avengers kids from issue 1. Immortus puts in a brief appearance as he breaks time, but it isn't exactly clear what's going on. Best of all is the big arrival of a top-notch villain on the last page. I guess Wolverine joining the Avengers makes it fair game for X-villains to show up. Very nicely done.

There isn't a ton of plot movement this month. We don't know a lot more than we did before, but we've got a new member and a good little sub-plot with Wonder Man. As long as the action stays high-stakes, I can't complain about an Avengers title like this.

John Romita Jr. has such a classic style; I love his take on Hawkeye's modern uniform. I also couldn't help but notice that the Avengers are eating the biggest slices of pizza I've ever seen. I guess having the team eat together is very important in Bendis' Heroic Age. I like it. It makes the team more like a family!


Robin: Search for a Hero TPB

Fabian Nicieza is typically a solid writer, and while this trade was decent, I ended not enjoying it quite as much as I thought I would. I think a big part of that boils down to an editorially mandated story that took up half the trade (or so it felt). The first few issues take place during Batman RIP while Bats was wandering around Gotham going crazy, so Robin is in a panic trying to set things right. There are a bunch of short segments where Robin is trying to cover up Bats' craziness, but I just didn't connect with this story. It felt too tied in to events that were "of their time." I don't really care about Batman RIP anymore, you know?
The second story was much better, mostly because it dealt with classic Dixon-era Robin villains. Anarky is one of my favorite obscure DC characters, so seeing him pop up, even in his... limited state, was great. I loved how Nicieza even used his old online handle of Moneyspider, that's a relic from the old Alan Grant days! The General is the other villain in this arc, again, a callback to "classic" 90's villains for the title. That was my favorite time for the character, so seeing these guys (along with a cool-looking new Lynx) pretty much guaranteed I'd be more interested.
Joe Bennett handled the RIP issues, so things looked suitably dark and similar to Tony Daniel's style. I prefered Freddie Williams III shiny take on the Gotham scene. Anarky's costume looked similar enough to be an obvious update, but the modernization was nicely done.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


My daughter is a huge Starfire fan, so naturally one of her favorite bad guys (mostly from Tiny Titans) is Blackfire. I actually had to read her part of this issue because Tony Bedard did such a fantastic job fleshing out Starfire's bad sister.

From start to finish, this story is told from Blackfire's point of view, and frankly, she comes across as almost reasonable. She's clearly coloring things in her best interests, but man, I think it is possible to explain away some of what she's done over the years. (Especially now that Hawkwoman is back alive anyway.)

There isn't a lot of screen time for the early stars of this series, I think this book is sort of letting the big names rise to the top. Dox, Captain Comet, Adam Strange, and Starfire are the real names now. In fact, I can't say that the two new GL's have even captured my interest that much, so I'd be fine with the limited core cast, occasionally spotlighting Amon Hakk, Wildstar, and the rest.

Sergio Arino does a good job keeping things looking fairly consistent, but I'm a fan of Claude St. Aubin, so I hope he comes back next month. His Adam Strange armor looks tougher and his Starfire is hotter.


Beyond TPB

There is a recipe for my perfect comic. I need a few of my favorite characters, some good examples of the richness of the Marvel U, and the potential for growth. I want classic, costumed villains and a conflict that seems impossible for the heroes, but where their smarts and toughness pay off.

Dwayne McDuffie wrote this sequel to Secret War starring Hank Pym, the Wasp, Spider-Man and Medusa. It also features Deathlok, Firebird, and Kraven. Gravity and the Hood come into their own and are set up for future roles in the Marvel U. Venom and a few surprised classic villains show up about halfway through. And the conclusion is awesome. I'm not even going to ruin what happens, suffice to say that this book has all the elements I want in a super-hero comic.

Scott Kolins provides the art, and it is tremendous. His updates on Medusa and Firebird are tremendous. His take on the "Dr. Pym" suit for Hank Pym is easily my favorite incarnation of the character. His demonic Hood is spooky and cool. So basically, these six issues are just about perfect.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Comics on the Bubble: War Machine (1994)

War Machine (1994) - I think this is going on an issue-by-issue basis. Len Kaminski and Scott Benson don't write anything that sets the world on fire, but they've got some solid stuff in their run.

The art is by Gabriel Hardman going by Gabriel Gecko. He's clearly channeling Dave Ross at this point, and the fit isn't quite natural. Some panels and characters look fantastic, while others are a bit out of proportion. His stuff is worlds better these days on Agents of Atlas.

        • Issue 2: Cable and Deathlok guest-star in this average issue. War Machine shoots up a ton of non-descript African soldiers, this is pretty boring. SELL

        • Issue 3: Deathlok sticks around to kill some more generic soldiers. Can't make myself care. The art is kind of ugly too. SELL

        • Issue 5: I'm a tad more interested now, Rhodey is struggling with killing all these folks. I like the Death Toll hitman's powers too, just regenerating lives. But since I'm missing part 2, I'm going to SELL

        • Issue 7: The villain may be generic, but Hawkeye shows up to have a nice chat with Rhodey. KEEP

        • Issue 8: I don't think I've ever read an Iron Man/War Machine fight I didn't like. KEEP

        • Issue 9&10: This is a crossover with Abnett & Lanning's Force Works. KEEP

        • Issue 11-14: Dan Abnett takes over as writer. I like this little story with WM fighting the thrill-seeking Rush Club. KEEP

        • Issue 15-16: Boring time travel story in WWII. Nick Fury looked AWFUL in the 90's. he's got a flowing head of hair and a gigantic face eye-cover. UGH. SELL

        • Issue 21: Ugh. The Crossing is absolutely awful. Black Widow, Hawkeye, and US Agent all look just terrible here. SELL

        • Issue 22: Now we have gigantic, bejeweled (and evil) Iron Man showing up. I want to forget this ever happened. SELL

        • Issue 23-24: I have no interest in the Warwear suit Rhodey wore at this time, so villains relating to that alien tech do nothing for me. SELL
        KEEP: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
        SELL: 2, 3, 5, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24

        Outsiders: The Deep TPB

        Let me admit to two things, I generally don't care for the Outsiders, and I usually love Peter Tomasi's work. So this trade was a grand experiment for me to see if I could dig one of my least favorite super-teams when written by one of my favorite super hero writers.

        Well, it seems like I REALLY don't like the Outsiders. I just don't care about pouty Geo Force, righteous Black Lightning, or dull Katana. Halo is barely a character, right? She has some sort of light powers, but I'm not sure of what else. I like the idea of the Creeper, but he seems like some random maniac in this story. I actually feel like I've seen the random quote spouting looney before, but I can't remember where. Metamorpho is always entertaining, but I think I prefer him on his own or dealing with the JLA.

        In fact, the only character I'm really interested is Owl Man. I have no previous exposure to the TV detective who takes up the mantle, but I love the idea that he basically has a suit to do stuff for him and that he seems to be a bit chubby. He's there for his mind over anything else.

        This story deals with the Insiders (I was never clear on how they got that name) as they try to gather the pieces of the meteor that gave Vandal Savage his immortality and power all those years ago. Now, I'm a sucker for Vandal Savage stories, but with that big glowing thing on his head making him look so ridiculous, I just couldn't make myself think it was the same guy. There are some neat ideas sprinkled through; I liked that the Insiders grant limited longevity to those who promise to serve them in their later years. The Deathstroke fight is the highlight of the trade, especially with pouty Geo Force still trying to take credit for winning a fight he didn't. Tomasi includes some of his over the top death, too, when a German village collapses in a cave in and we're treated to shots of the bodies in the dirt. Seems unnecessary.

        Lee Garbett handles most of the art, and he's solid enough. He's a bit scratchy, but he has a nice take on Owl Man and Black Lightning. Fernando Pasarin comes in for one issue and really breathes some life into the Deathstroke fight, I wonder if his more dynamic art might have caught my attention more?


        Sunday, June 20, 2010

        Young Allies #1

        This feels more like what I expected from Sean McKeever on Teen Titans. We've got a nice mix of established and newish characters to make up the team. McKeever doesn't waste time in introducing a second new team, a group of 2nd generation villains very much in the vein of the Terror Titans. Of course, in this title they are the Bastards of Evil, but there is definitely a similarity.

        McKeever has a great handle on Nomad and Arana, they are the most fun pair in this thing for sure. Gravity is McKeever's character, but he feels a bit like a generic hero in this first issue, there's not much to set him apart. Firestar is confident and seems like she's in full control of her powers. I hope she takes over this team, she has the experience to lead it and I'm not sure I've ever seen her in that role. Toro has a villain's origin, so I'm curious to see why and how he ends up joining the team as a good guy.

        As for the Bastards, there are some fun ideas. I think the Grey Gargoyle's daughter might be my favorite, her sandy/mortar-y powers aren't common and her need to impress her Dad gives her a cool motivation.

        This book has some great potential, and it will be fun seeing the actual team form up over the next few issues. If I were fantasy booking this team, I'd say the book needs a couple more heroes. Let's see... we've got two experienced energy blasters (Gravity, Firestar), two fairly new scrappers (Arana, Nomad), and a rookie brick (Toro). I think the team needs a big brain, and with Amadeus Cho free from his Avengers commitment, I can't help but wonder how well he'd fit in. My other suggestion would be a villain, I think Blizzard from Thunderbolts would be interesting. His powers are the opposite of Firestar's and his costume would fit in with the group nicely.

        David Baldeon has a nice, clean style that works well for the subject matter. Firestar's costume actually looks good, and I like the Venom-style update to Arana's costume. There is too much black/dark blue on the team costumes, though. We need some red or green in there!


        Saturday, June 19, 2010

        Modern Warfare: Ghost #5

        So... I'm not positive what is happening in this comic. I don't remember who anyone is and why Ghost is killing them.
        For a comic based on a video game, it's awfully graphic and sort of confusing, right? David Lapham has written some brilliant material, but I'm afraid this just isn't cutting it for me. I'd say this is just an average comic if I wasn't having such a hard time telling people apart. Clearly, Ghost has a bone to pick with these guys, but I'm totally confused on who is who.

        Kevin West does some nice pin-up type shots, but wow, the gore is really over the top. The similarity of all those guys in uniform is the real problem. I'm not usually this lost.


        Friday, June 18, 2010

        Heralds #1&2

        Kathryn Immonen is a frustrating writer. I really enjoy a lot of the dialogue she gives her characters, and much of the conversations she writes are natural sounding. However, she also puts such zany stuff in her scripts and oddball language that I get totally pulled out of the story at times too. I really like her Emma Frost, she has a great mix of confidence and self-pity that actually makes Emma relatable. Valkyrie is pretty fun too, she's a crass party girl, this is good exposure for her. I'm also not a huge fan of Captain Marvel/Photon in this incarnation. I loved her back in the day as Avengers leader. Put her back in a costume and out of the Nextwave jacket!

        I like the idea of bringing back Frankie Raye as Nova. Making Hellcat a believer of that idea makes her a neat POV character for the series. I'd say Hellcat and Emma Frost are probably the two main characters, which bums me out since I'm such a big She-Hulk fan. (I despise She-Hulk's new hair, btw). The group is an interesting mix with a nice mix of powers. I'm always down for the resurrection of old characters too. It's just that the actual plot is so odd. Clones of scientists and dinosaurs? Searching morgues for bodies? It's just weird.

        The art is pretty inconsistent. I'm not a big fan of Tonci Zonjic, but I can see how some folks like the cartoony style. Everyone looks too small and skinny to me, not "heroic" enough. But James Harren's art is really lumpy (I'm assuming he did that ugly reporter in issue 2). He also draws She-Hulk with some odd proportions. I guess it is sort of more realistic, but that's not exactly why I read comics. The cover art makes this look like a dream project for me, but the interiors aren't what I'm looking for in Marvel's Lady-All-Stars book.


        Sketch Round Up!

        I haven't posted my original art in awhile, here's my most recent pieces on comicartfans.

        Thursday, June 17, 2010

        Brightest Day #4

        I don't know what it is, I'm just not feeling Brightest Day that much. It doesn't help that this issue doesn't have any focus on my buddy Martian Manhunter. His segments have been my favorites so far, so him sitting out this issue does dampen my excitement.

        Hawkman and Hawkgirl walk through some weird portal of bones built by their immortal foe Hath-Set, only to find themselves on Pandora. I hope they get to fly around with those weird bird things with. How long till they meet the Navii?

        There are some weird new aqua-people using hard water weapons, so I assume they are related to Mera somehow, but I have no idea who any of those folks are. The new Aqualad shows up briefly too, but he doesn't know how to swim. Isn't that like a new Ghost Rider who doesn't know how to ride a bike?

        Ronnie Raymond/Firestorm is having some weird stuff happen to him involving evil voices, salt, and beer. That's honestly all I can figure out right now.

        Deadman bounces into Dove's bedroom, and it seems she and Hawk can both see him. I'm intrigued at the idea of Deadman traveling around resurrecting more heroes, but I'm pretty sure the original Dove isn't actually going to come back next issue.

        The art is mixed. I wonder if the bi-weekly deadlines are already starting to press? Hawkman and Hawkgirl in particular didn't look as dynamic as they did in the early issues.


        Walking Dead #73

        Hoo boy. I love this book. Rick and Glenn are already moving on their plan to arm themselves, and things aren't quite as perfect as they seem to be in the new settlement. Kirkman is laying a couple seeds here, there is a guy in the infirmary who I'm certain will become a zombie and threaten this haven of survivors. Rick seems to be settling in well, but I've got to think the missing guns are going to pop up soon.

        Abraham is finding out some stuff too. The work crews are sort of second-class citizens, and they've never had an alpha-dog like Abraham around. I think the work crew is going to be working for him right quickly. It's interesting, I assumed that Rick would be the one "leading" the revolution, but I think Abraham has at least an equal shot. I think Kirkman has created a book where Abraham could actually be a lead character. We don't usually think of him that way, but really, he's done as much awesome stuff as Rick, we just haven't seen as much from Abraham's point of view. Rick and Tyrese were awesome partners, but Rick and Abraham are almost rival leaders. I can't wait to see where this goes.

        Plus, this issue had zombies!

        Charlie Adlard's cartoony style works so well with the subtle facial expressions that are absolutely vital for this story to work. Abraham is pure toughness this issue. This book is still the most riveting title on the stands.


        Wednesday, June 16, 2010

        New Avengers #1

        I don't know how he's done it, but Bendis has been on the Avengers long enough that this, just like the "classic" Avengers title, feels like a happy return. The whole New Avengers "hanging around" format has been going on so long that this is now a legitimate type of Avengers story.

        This first issue is really Luke Cage's show. Steve Rogers gives him permission to form his own team, and Stark sells Cage Avengers mansion for a buck (that Cage needs to borrow from Iron Fist). From there, it's the most casual membership drive ever, as the main meetings seem to be on a patio and in the dining room. As near as I can tell, the team is Cage, Thing, Spidey, Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Ms. Marvel, Wolverine, and Iron Fist.

        The first threat looks fun too, some possessing creature is targeting the magicians of the Marvel U. Any bets on Dormammu? And there is no way they're switching back to Dr. Strange for Sorcerer Supreme, right?

        Stuart Immonen keeps everything looking stunning, as expected. His Cage and Iron Fist are particularly impressive, with their different postures and body types. The new shirtless Daimon Hellstrom actually looks cool here too.

        I'll say it; Marvel is on a roll with the Heroic Age.


        Comics on the Bubble

        I'm about to start a new type of review, where I read a pile of old books that I'm considering unloading to make room in my 70-some longboxes. The reviews will be shorter, more like one sentence or two, and at the end I'll decide whether the books go back into the longbox, or into used bookstore box. So the only two grades are Keep or Sell.

        Some of these books I bought out of dollar bins and never actually read, so forgive me if there is classic stuff on the list! Join me as I discover hidden treasures and horrible crap that I've owned for years!

        I've got a ton of books I'm looking at, including
        • War Machine
        • Trenchcoat Brigade
        • Force Works
        • JLA Haven
        • Mutant X
        • Earth X
        • Universe X
        • Blood Pack
        • Weapon X
        • Lobo
        • New Mutants
        • Ben Raab's Excalibur
        • Taskmaster
        • Judd Winick's Green Lantern
        • Devin Grayson's Titans
        • "Teen Tony" Iron Man
        • Guy Gardner
        • Elementals
        • Prototype
        • Mantra
        • Greg Rucka's Wolverine
        I'm working on War Machine now, any recommendations for books to move to the top of my stack?

        Tuesday, June 15, 2010

        Marvel Graphic Novel #18: She-Hulk

        Hmm. I had high expectations for this, but it seems like the main point of this graphic novel was for John Byrne to repeatedly draw She-Hulk in various stages of undress. In fact, she doesn't come off too heroic here, she's strip searched twice and probed at least once, and she never even gets real revenge on the slimy SHIELD agent who makes it all happen. There is sort of a conflict between She-Hulk and a swarm of sentient cockroaches, but it is almost a side-plot. The problem is the main storyline about She-Hulk proving that she's not a threat isn't much more than a side-plot itself. This plot just doesn't seem to justify itself as a main story.

        Byrne does a nice job with the art; of course, he draws a pretty She-Hulk (although some of her outfits are awful, awful awful). Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan look pretty cool when they show up, and I always like Wyatt Wingfoot. He's one of the cooler characters in the Marvel U, I think.

        I just picked up Byrne's second run on She-Hulk (issues 32-50 or so) so I'm curious to see how this stacks up against those.

        Average (story is average, but the art is pretty)

        Sunday, June 13, 2010

        Area 10 HC

        I generally read everything by Christos Gage, so I checked out his new Vertigo story from the library. It's quite good. I don't know what's happening, I hope I'm not growing up or anything, but some of my favorite comics recently have been Vertigo titles.

        The story follows a homicide detective who gets a traumatic brain injury while investigating a serial killer. An ice pick in his forehead mimics the old pseudo-science of trepanning, or putting holes in the skull to increase consciousness. Things get more and more complicated, and Gage does a great job of making the odd situation still feel like a police procedural.

        I especially love the dialogue; the tone between the detectives themselves, and when they deal with their captain, and even the love interest/doctor really made the characters feel realistic. The murderer had some GREAT lines, and since he's into trepanning too, the conflicts in this book ALMOST turn into super-fights, but not quite. This could easily be a film.

        Chris Samnee handles the dark material well. His heavy inks are always nice and clear and lend some great weight to the scenes of expanded consciousness. I'd love to see these two creators work together again.


        Saturday, June 12, 2010

        Invincible #72

        This is the goriest comic I've ever read.

        I honestly can't believe where the fight between Invincible and Conquest ends up. I don't even know what else to say. Ryan Ottley draws it well, but this would get an X rating if it were a movie.

        I like that Kirkman doesn't skimp out on the resolution here, this is a definitive end for Conquest's meddling in Invincible's life. For those interested, most of the issue consists of Invincible strangling Conquest while Conq pummels Invincible in the gut.

        SPOILERS: By the end of the issue, Conquest is lying there dead, clutching Invincible's guts in his clenched fists. Invincible looks pretty bad, obviously.

        I've made a lot of comments about gore in comics, and this is up there, but I think I'm a bit more forgiving in an independent title like this. I don't think many 8-year-old kids are going to pick up Invincible 72.


        Friday, June 11, 2010

        JSA #39

        And the adventures of Mr. Terrific and his team continue! This issue takes place all in the depressing alternate future Bill Willingham introduced a few issues ago. It is still Mr. Terrific's story, but there are a few heroes showing up here and there and getting to do something cool. Superman and Wonder Woman get some panel time, and Green Arrow and Black Canary both are important to the outcome too. I get a grin every time Mr. Miracle and Barda show up, so even if they only get one quick scene, I'll take it.

        I'm curious how this story is going to resolve in one issue. I think Willingham has to finish up pretty quickly because James Robinson is taking over this book for his JLA crossover, I bet we get two issues of this title next month. There's a palpable sense of impending doom throughout this title, I'm impressed at how well this terrible future has been set up. It's not easy to create tension when dealing with an alternate future, but I'm really digging this.

        Jesus Merino is a fantastic team artist. I wish we could see more costumed heroes, I would have LOVED him drawing all of those heroes in their costumes rather than in prisoner uniforms, but I'm sure the inevitable re-match with the Fourth Reich will look great.


        Secret Six #22

        There is no way Gail Simone could keep up the frenetic pacing and maniacal plot from the last three issues, so I'm not surprised this issue was a tad more subdued. (It is hilarious that fighting an electric meta and tossing an old man through a window is considered "subdued.")

        We complete a couple secret origins here. We see Thomas Blake's relationship with his parents come to the only logical end it could, and we see the reason why that old dude has started this war with Catman. It all makes sense, but I'm a tad worried that the Jade that is about to be unleashed on the DCU might be pretty awful. That lady is going to be mad.

        The whole Black Alice thing didn't quite ring true, I suppose upset teenagers will be illogical, but I'm pretty sure she's quitting the team, right? And we still haven't seen Bane and Jeannette's new group in action yet! I'm hoping Catman can come back from this, if he believes what that old dude said, then he at least stopped a cycle of pain.

        Jim Calafiore does a nice job on the art, particularly with the flashback pieces. They have a nice little big-cat border that drives the point home.


        Thursday, June 10, 2010

        Booster Gold #33

        This issue felt like a sad trip down memory lane. Booster goes back in time to try to find proof that Maxwell Lord exists, so it seems there will be some crossover between this title and Justice League: Generation Lost. I loved seeing Booster immediately caught by Martian Manhunter, and Black Canary showing up in her awesome 80's costume was a lot of fun. Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis bring the humor as expected, even with such a dark comic. There are baldness jokes, comments about Max Lord's success with the ladies, and the type of wordplay humor we all expect. Not a lot actually happens, since Booster isn't able to bring anything back, but I did enjoy the exercise.

        I will confess to being very confused on the choice to leave Ted Kord off the list of returnees from Blackest Night. The guy is so popular and he's clearly a missing piece from this title. A Booster and Beetle team up book would make a lot of people happy, why is DC resisting so hard?

        Chris Batista has a great style for this book. His take on Cyborg in the opening pages is awesome, this guy should be drawing JLA. His JLI-era team is ALMOST perfect, but no one but Kevin Maguire (and maybe Adam Hughes) can totally recapture that look.


        Justice League: Generation Lost #3

        I can't tell if I'm more forgiving of this comic every month because it features some of my favorite DC heroes, or if I actually dig it. Either way, I'm solidly entertained once again as the JLI travels around the DCU putting the band back together. I assume we're getting a Rocket Red next issue, so that will be great. I don't suppose this book could have Metamorpho? Crimson Fox? Heck, I'd take Major Disaster!

        The Fire/Checkmate confrontation seemed a tad unnecessary, but now there is no doubt that Max Lord is out to undermine his former teammates. With both Fire and Captain Atom getting so besmirched, it will be interesting to see what happens after this series is over.

        I like the idea that Booster is the driving force for this team. He really is the guy calling the shots at this point (with Cap Atom backing him up). Putting the new Blue Beetle on the team just makes sense too. I'm still holding out some kind of hope that we could eventually see Ted Kord back in some capacity. Keith Giffen and Judd Winick have another idea here too; AI's can remember Max Lord. So we know Skeets and the Blue Beetle scarab remember, does that mean Red Tornado will? Are there any other big robot characters I'm forgetting?

        Fernando Dagnino handles the pencils this time, and he's ok. I'd love to see more "classic" JLI pencillers getting a shot, but I suppose Dagnino has a more DC house style right now.


        Wednesday, June 9, 2010

        Avengers Academy #1

        I came into this with pretty high expectations. Two of my favorite creators writing a handful of my favorite characters, how could I go wrong? And I did dig this issue; it just didn't have a whole lot of conflict.

        The new crew of Avengers in training is pretty cool, I especially like Veil and Mettle, they seem to be the most interesting and unique characters right off the bat. I do like the "twist" of the issue, these kids aren't just the best prospects gathered up by Norman Osborn. I won't ruin why these six have been picked, but it could lead to some interesting stuff down the line, especially if these students end up as both good and bad guys. Some of them certainly seem to have the potential to go either way.

        That makes the choice for the instructors even more interesting. Hank Pym, Speedball, and Quicksilver all have some rough spots in their past. Tigra's probably the closest thing to a straight-up good guy in this book.

        I'm interested, but I want to see some action against a real villain or antagonist. I'm not a fan of seeing robots as the only ones getting knocked around in first issues. I understand the need for character building. As I said, Veil is really likeable and I'm pulling for her already. Christos Gage has laid some awesome groundwork, now I just need a costumed villain to show up and make this book perfect.

        Mike McKone does a fantastic job with the art. The characters look like kids. The cast has different haircuts and different faces, and the classic characters all look spot on. McKone remains one of my favorite artists.


        Brightest Day #3

        This issue of Brightest Day really feels like a middle chapter. The heroes are all getting sorted out with their own issues and problems, and they haven't had enough time to really resolve anything. Deadman's confrontation with the Anti-Monitor is interesting, and I certainly have no idea who the fairly conversational voice speaking through the ring could be. Ronnie Raymond, if he was in control while he was a Black Lantern, that might make things very awkward for Firestorm going forward. Martian Manhunter is the only returnee who's acting totally like himself. I love the mix of kindness and determination in his every act. The world's saddest Aquaman is still calling dead sea animals to life, I feel as sad as Mera about it. The Hawks are in trouble too, but things seem to be moving along quickly in their story. They may actually deal with Hath-Set pretty soon.

        This book has a tremendous cast and I really am interested to see what happens to these guys. I still think it is ridiculous that there is a panel of a creature skinning a teenage girl while her younger brother's body is lying there impaled by drumsticks, but clearly my understanding of what is appropriate and necessary in a comic is different than what DC thinks.

        I'm still chuckling about that orca chomping Aquaman's head. It's just so silly, I can't get any dramatic tension from something that ridiculous. I am entertained though!

        I think the artists might already be feeling some pressure; the art in this looks a bit more rushed than the first two issues. The story telling is still clear enough, but the book isn't as stunning now as it was a couple issues ago. I also find it odd that David Finch decided to draw the core cast as little people on the cover. It's an unusual artistic choice.


        Tuesday, June 8, 2010

        Hawkeye & Mockingbird #1

        Jim McCann is quickly establishing himself as someone who likes the same sort of stuff I do when it comes to Marvel Comics. One issue in to his new series and I couldn't be happier about what's up with my old fave Hawkeye.

        The book opens on a joyful (odd word, but appropriate) chase where Hawkeye and Mockingbird are taking on a gang of arms dealers. There's super-powers, banter, and the scene closes with an obscure Marvel villain, so I've got to be happy. Hawkeye gives us the quick intro to Crossfire that includes both his original info from the old Hawkeye limited and the more recent stuff where Crossfire has been a cameo in New Avengers. That basically meets all my requirements for a comic, respecting the old and the new, but really drawing off the classic.

        Mockingbird's new WCA is a shady organization, no doubt. Some funding questions get answered in a great way, and with Hawkeye's personal mission turning up some weird leads, we can't say that Hawk and Mock are a happy couple, exactly. They're clearly crazy about each other though, so I can't help but be rooting for them to keep making it work. McCann makes a brilliant choice in bringing in a moustach-wearing Dominic Fortune, he comes across like the ultimate sleaze, but at the same time, he still could be a rival for Hawkeye. Brilliant choice, Fortune could work into the plot in multiple ways.

        The introduction of a new Phantom Rider is great too. She and Crossfire are a great mirror image for the stars of this book, plus they both have nice ties to the past. Seriously, McCann is using elements from comics from 80's Avengers books, how could this not be perfect? It does make me sad that once again a rape story plays so prominent a role in a hero's back story, but this one was written about before that plot element became quite so overused.

        David Lopez does a great job with the art. He makes the costumes realistic while still maintaining the bright color and excitement I need from a super hero comic. I love his take on the silly Crossfire suit. As I said before, giving Dominic Fortune a moustache is a stroke of genius too, so cheesy and so cool!

        I'm thrilled Hawkeye and Mockingbird are having adventures that feel so new, but so classic at the same time.


        The Unwritten TPB 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity

        Stunning. This thing is just stunning. Mike Carey packs this story full of familiar things, but mixes it up in a way that is simply brilliant. He actually has a character cut the phone cord on an non-functioning phone out of respect for "genre conventions."

        Tommy Taylor is basically Harry Potter, if he was real. It's a lot more complicated than that, though. As you work through this first trade, there are doubts if he even existed, if he's an Eastern European kidnap victim, or if he really is a character come to life. Carey packs the pages with biting commentary on stories, mostly horror stories, but he's weaving a fascinating tale on his own.

        Tommy's father, the author of the original 13 (or 14) Tommy Taylor novels, taught him literary geography. Somehow, the places where great works of fiction were created maintain some sort of power or meaning. Tommy has these places memorized, and that, along with whatever else his father taught him, makes him dangerous to a group of immortal manipulators. Just as things are getting really interesting, Carey veers off and gives us a whole issue dealing with Rudyard Kipling and his encounters with these shadowy villains. This is going to be a sprawling story. I can't wait to keep reading.
        Peter Gross handles the art, and it sings. He has to switch constantly between styles, children's stories, classic literature, and fables. The thing is, those styles are written, not drawn, so his ability to channel the right "feel" of those literary styles through comic book art is tremendous.
        Read the first issue of this series. I guarantee it will hook you.

        Monday, June 7, 2010

        Star Wars Legacy TPB 6: The Hidden Temple

        And with volume six, John Ostrander brings us back to Cade Skywalker and the rest of the core cast. Cade is back on his ship, back with his crew, and he unwisely decides to lay low for a bit with his uncle, who happens to be another Jedi in hiding. I liked seeing the odd relationships Cade has had to maintain, he's a tough guy, but he certainly softens up for his cousins and family.

        The theme of this trade is probably folks easing up a big. Jariah Syn, Cade's partner, finally explains why he hates Jedi, and when given the chance, he really doesn't make much of a threat against the Jedi he hates the most. Delilah Blue is happy that Cade's back and is probably the most contented character in the book. And the Imperial Knights are trying to make peace with the remnants of the Jedi in the hidden temple. I do find it amusing that of the three Jedi Masters on the council, 2 of them are so long lived that they fought in the Clone Wars with Darth Krayt. I like that there is a personal connection there, but it is silly the way everything important seemed to have happened in the movies.

        Jan Duursema's style is awesome for this title. Everyone in it looks like they are biker gang members, or worse. Cade and his crew are shady, his uncle is in hiding, they all look the part. The Empire and Alliance look more upstanding, but the diverse looks of all the characters is quite fun.


        Sunday, June 6, 2010

        Dan Dare Omnibus

        Garth Ennis is a man of his principles. He doesn't seem to be a big fan of government, but he loves the soldiers that make that government run. That's true in his WWII War Stories and it is true in this sci-fi tale of alien invasion. I haven't had any exposure to Dan Dare before this hardcover, but I found myself really enjoying it.

        Britain is the last super-power on Earth and Dan Dare is in well-deserved retirement. Dare spends his days wandering around a holographic world of old England when he's called back into service to battle his old foe the Mekon. I guess these guys have a long history, with the Mekon leading an alien race into attacking Earth, only to be repelled by Dare. There's a great line in this collection about how the Mekon's major motivation for everything he does now is to humiliate and defeat Dan Dare "the man who taught me to hate."

        The story is made in the smaller moments, not in the overall story. Dan Dare's former teammate taking over the government in small doses is entertaining and shows off the "waiting" part of war nicely. I love how Britain's space fleet still feels like a Navy. The company of marines that follows Dare around on a few harrowing missions were tremendous. The squad leader even claims to have had worse down at the pub when his arm is ripped off!

        And Ennis nails the cost of war as he always does, with Dare's new protege having to go up against overwhelming odds to give the mission a chance of success. This holds up nicely against Ennis' other war stories, and I recommend it. It's refreshing seeing he still tells riveting stories in addition to the fairly offensive stuff in The Boys and Herogasm.

        Gary Erskine makes space ships and armored suits look mundane. And that's a compliment. The sci-fi elements look functional and working, nothing too sleek or crazy. The personal elements of this story would only work with grounded art, and Erskine delivers.


        Saturday, June 5, 2010

        Punisher #51 (1991)

        This was today's winner of "grab a random comic out of my 75 longboxes" method of reviewing comics.

        I never was able to find the creative team listed for this issue, so I had to go to the grand comics database to figure out who worked on this fairly generic, if entertaining, Punisher story. It's not surprising that Mike Baron, the regular writer, comes up with another entertaining Punisher story. The narrative isn't tremendously original, Punisher lends a hand to a local restaurant owner only to find out everyone involved is dirty. What marks this story for me is that Punisher is a fairly reasonable guy. He's still pasting criminals, but the single-minded determination that I identify with the character these days isn't quite as strong. It seems Punisher is actually willing to compromise a bit to go after bigger fish. I also love the way Punisher always takes the time to mention what type of gun he's carrying.

        Back in the days of Punisher Amory specials coming out, I loved seeing what the Punisher was blowing folks away with in each issue (this issue he mentions a glock, but only uses a mini-Uzi and a Mac-10).

        In the end, Punisher has kills some Chinese exiles and has to cross a restaurant of his "safe locations" list, but nothing else really happens. The story is done-in-one and it does hold up as a solid, simple Punisher story.

        Tom Morgan's art is vaguely reminiscent of Whilce Portacio or Erik Larsen. The guns and equipment look good and the Punisher looks ripped but realistic. It looks a fair bit different than his later Iron Man work.


        Friday, June 4, 2010

        Superman: Mon-El HC

        My problem with James Robinson's Mon El stories is that I just don't feel it. This collection is full of deep moments as Mon El learns about Earth, responsibility, himself, and the DCU, but I just can't buy in. The action moments are fine for what they are, and I actually really like how Robinson has set up some of the supporting characters. But Mon El himself just seems kind of boring to me. I'm not invested in him enough to care about his purple prose narration.

        I think Robinson does his best work with Guardian. He's got a complicated backstory, so it is important to ground him in other ways, and Robinson does it well. Guardian leading the special squad of Metropolis police and to having him serve as a mentor for Mon El are both good ideas. It's fun seeing Guardian have to bail out someone as powerful as a Daxamite. The coolest thing about the new Guardian is that he's a single Dad. I loved the scene where he takes his daughter to the park to have a play date with Dr. Light and her kids. I'd love to see those two heroes spending more time together. Knowing Robinson, I predict Guardians kid will be dead in the next trade.

        The relationship between Atlas and John Henry Irons is fascinating too. John Henry is awfully quick to trust Atlas, but I love that about him. Atlas seems like a simple guy and Irons doesn't seem to have a lot of friends, so the whole relationship building (and breaking) seemed real. Very nicely done.

        Renato Guedes really ramps up the photo-reference here, sometimes a lot of the faces look very similar. He really delivers on the action pieces though, the Mon El vs. Rampage fight was very cool. There's a slew of other artists pitching in on pieces, and they keep things solid enough.


        X-Men/Alpha Flight (1998)

        Man, there sure were a lot of pretty decent X-Men limited coming out in the late 90's. I still say this era gets a bad rap. Heck, this was co-plotted and penciled by John Cassady, it must pretty, at least!

        This is a pretty solid little mini dealing with James Hudson's sale of early Guardian prototypes to Hydra. I'm pretty sure we saw them in Alpha Flight -1 or one of those flashbacky type issues of the time. I have vague memories of seeing these suits before. Hydra is run by Baron Strucker who is big, fat, sweaty, dirty, and generally non-threatening. I don't remember era of the character but it is amusing seeing him like this compared to his more modern portrayals.

        The X-Men is the team from around the mid-150's, I think. So we've got Kitty Pryde but not Rogue. Colossus and Kitty are about to go on their first date, when they are attacked by Hydra. Strucker grabs all the X-Men, and Guardian rallies Alpha to come to the rescue. There are some nice character moments scattered throughout. Colossus tosses Puck on a Fastball Special. Sasquatch gets some awesome feats of strength. I always like Snowbird too, she's such a cool idea, I wish there were more good comics with her in them (she has the power to turn into any creature of the North). Ben Raab, Cassady's co-writer, never really wrote spectacular stuff, but he did solid super-hero work that holds up nicely, especially with nice art.

        Cassady's art is awesome, even back in 98. He draws more feet per issue than any other artist I can think of; there are numerous full-body shots of people talking to each other. It's a neat look, seeing the bottom of the panel function as the floor of the room. His Sasquatch looks tremendous, and I loved that old Shaman costume too, so that was fun to see. Cassady already has a great feel for Wolvie, Cyke, Colossus, and Kitty. It's clear he liked the characters even this long before Astonishing X-Men.


        Thursday, June 3, 2010

        Hawkeye #1-4 (1983)

        With the new Hawkeye and Mockingbird series about to start up, I figured it was a good time to go back and check out the mini-series that got them together. I forgot how much I liked this story.

        I have to confess that I almost always love Mark Gruenwald's stories, he's one of my favorite Marvel writers of all-time. So it's not surprising that I loved this take on the Avenging archer. The series is filled with comments from both Hawk and others about how he just doesn't stack up power-wise with the other Avengers. There is one scene where Captain America offers to help Hawk & Mock and Hawkeye turns down Cap's help, he's afraid that if Cap comes in, the whole adventure will be "taken over." He's probably right.

        The main villain, Crossfire, shows up only in the fourth issue and he explains to Hawkeye that he targeted him because Hawkeye is clearly the least powerful of the known heroes. Talk about insulting! (I like Crossfire's plan too, to use mind-control to turn the heroic community into raging beasts so that they'll kill each other at Hawkeye's funeral. He figures that even if the stronger heroes survive, they'll be devastated after killing their friends. I noticed Thor, Captain Marvel, Vision, the Thing, and a couple others amongst the "survivors" in the plan. Sounds like a neat What If?)

        Mockingbird comes across as confident and capable. Of course, both she and Hawkeye are defeated by Oddball and Bombshell, two D-grade villains. But again, Crossfire figures that in a fight to the death, Mockingbird shouldn't have a problem taking out Hawkeye. Mockingbird does practically throw herself at Hawk in this series, but I really like where the couple ends up. She sort of chased him through their few day long courtship, but Hawkeye has been chasing her ever since.

        This series also has Hawkeye deafening himself to avoid being controlled by the mind-controlling sound waves. It's a great heroic moment, and I love the idea that Hawkeye has worn a hearing aid since.

        Gruenwald also drew the four issues, and he's got a nice, classic Marvel style. The inkers surely help, but it isn't fair that Gruenwald was such a good writer AND artist.


        Wednesday, June 2, 2010

        Thor #610

        This is my last issue of Thor in floppy format as I switch to trade for the post-Siege era. The Siege storyline ends in an entertaining fashion, although it is more epilogue than action. I'm surprised that Kieron Gillen doesn't get more mileage out of the big Thor/Ragnarok battle promised on the cover. The whole thing only lasts a few pages is a relatively easy win for Thor. I enjoyed the one panel where they are yelling the same battle cries at each other; I would have enjoyed a longer conflict showing the similarities and differences between original and copy.

        There are short scenes with Balder inviting Thor back to Asgard and Kelda vowing to find a way to continue her relationship with a Valhalla-bound Bill, but I'm not sure where these are going. I think this was originally supposed to be Gillen's last issue, but instead he's tacking on another storyline before Matt Fraction and Pascal Ferry take over in a few months. Maybe we'll see more of these ideas then.

        Doug Braithwaite has a nice style for Thor, although I have to say I prefer the original Thor look to the modern one. I also wonder if anyone considered drawing Ragnarok in the old Kirby style. This worked out in a neat fashion in Christopher Priest's Black Panther comic and it would have really highlighted the different characters more. By making Ragnarok look exactly the same as Thor, just in a different costume, it kept the characters realistic, but not as dramatically different as they could have been.


        Tuesday, June 1, 2010

        Green Lantern Corps #48

        Tony Bedard starts with a solid, if unspectacular, first issue. I have to say I'm not that interested in Ganthet as a GL (or really as a character) so I'm worried at the page count he gets here. I guess I have a hard time identifying with a little blue immortal with a ponytail. The rest of the issue is pretty good, I like the idea of Kyle Rayner and John Stewart sharing the spotlight, and if GL Robot/Stel gets some spotlight, I certainly won't complain. I'm happy that Bedard's first arc deals with the Alpha Lanterns too, they are too darn spooky to leave on the shelf.
        There are a few nice character beats in this, especially John Stewart's interest in rebuilding Oa in original Guardian architecture styles. I'm worried about Kyle, it will be easy to pair up he and Soranik in all their stories, which I think would lessen them both.

        I have faith that Bedard can fill out a core group, I just hope he juggles the cast as well as Peter Tomasi did. I'm sticking around more for potential than anything else at this point.

        Ardian Syaf has a solid DCU house style. Nothing blew me away or anything, but the storytelling was clear enough. I'm curious to see if he comes up with constructs anywhere near as fascinating at Patrick Gleason. It's tough following a top-notch creative team.