Saturday, July 31, 2010

X-Men: Utopia TPB (part 1)

Holy cow. This trade is ginormous. It's so big, it would be a disservice to just do one review, considering how much material is collected here. I'm going to split up my reviews between the three major sections:

  • The actual Utopia crossover in Uncanny X-Men and Dark Avengers
  • X-Men Legacy
  • Dark X-Men: The Beginning limited series
The Utopia crossover is interesting becaus Matt Fraction is writing the whole thing. He's got the voices of the villains down pretty well, but he does his best work with Norman Osborn (obviously, he's got the X-Men down). I still don't like Cyclops being quite so... jerky, but I suppose that's who he needs to be for the X-folks these days. I really enjoyed some of the pairing Fraction does with the two teams. The most interesting to me was that Colossus and Venom sort of had a thing going. They faced off at the beginning of the story, then sought each other out in the later issues.

The whole Dark X-Men idea is a neat one, since Osborn had his own Avengers, it makes sense he'd want his own X-Men too (and having Daken on both teams is a great wink to the readers). Mimic and Omega both make for interesting team members, since I think both guys might actually want to try and be heroes. They have screwed up so many times, they actually come across as misguided most of the time. (I still have fond memories of Mimic from Exiles, so I'd love to see him become a real hero.)

The story ends with Cyclops raising Asteroid M and bringing all the mutants out of San Fran to the island. It's an ending that lets both leaders save face, but really, I think it is a win for Osborn. He's run off the mutants, leaving his pet X-Men as the only X-team around.

Terry Dodson's art is fantastic in the X-issues, and Luke Ross does a solid job in the Dark Avengers chapters. Ross is trying to channel Mike Deodato, and he does fine. There is just no topping the way Dodson draws Emma Frost, and his Namor is regal and imposing. I love those Dark X-Men designs.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Hulk & the Thing: Big Change OGN

This is the same size as some of the other Marvel Graphic Novels, and I guess in some places it is listed as MGN #29. This lives up to the standards set by other GN's I've read recently they just aren't great.

This book has a crackerjack creative team; Jim Starlin writing and Bernie Wrightson on art. The art is fine, but pretty darn silly. Starlin sets the story on an alien world, and the conflict is over a food additive, so the stakes aren't exactly high to start with. Factor in the Hulk's talking octopus-hat, and you know this isn't high drama.

Things work out ok for the leads, but I have to question the format. The book is worth the price because of the art, but at the time, it must have seemed pretty steep for such a lightweight story.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Green Lantern #56

Not surprisingly, my favorite parts of this issue are those that deal with Larfleeze. When Hector Hammond gets involved, my interest wanes a bit. It seems I'm still not totally absorbed into those classic Hal Jordan villains yet.

Geoff Johns does a nice job reintroducing Hammond; the guy is a pervert and he's one jealous dude. When Hammond actually goes against Hal Jordan, I had to laugh that he was digging through Hal's memories for pin-up shots of Carol Ferris. What a perv!

Hammond and Larfleeze are natural rivals for that orange lantern. I half wonder if Johns is lining up classic GL villains for roles with different corps? Could the Shark join the Red Lanterns? Where would Sonar fit in?

Doug Mahnke does a great job making Hammond look like the re-designed character from early in this series. And hoo boy, those big-brained rats were really gross. I love seeing Larfleeze do anything, but I'd love to see more guest-stars for Mahnke to draw. Where's Carol Ferris?


Powers v9: Psychotic TPB

So I took a looong break from Powers, it looks like a four-year break. It isn't that I wasn't enjoying the book, it just seemed that it would read better in trade. Then I forgot to actually buy any of the trades! Fortunately, I spotted this collection at the library, and after a quick request, I should be caught up shortly.

It turns out I missed Deena Pilgrim and Christian Walker are still investigating super-murder. It's a sad idea, because every cool super-hero (or most) that Bendis comes up with have to be either the victim or the murderer in each story. Psychotic tells the story of Blackguard, a Batman-type and the Joke, his nemesis. Both turn up dead, and things get more complicated from there. Bendis sets up a nice little mystery. Things are further fouled up since Deena recently acquired powers of her own, and since powers are illegal, and she's a cop...

The Powers world feels a lot like the registration-act era of the Marvel U, only with a lot more nudity. I swear, artist Michael Avon Oeming loves drawing breasts peeking out of ripped clothing. Maybe that would happen, but I'm so immature it still makes me giggle.

The art is simple and bare bones, but the storytelling is strong. Oeming gets across emotion, action, and character design so well, I can't imagine anyone else working on this book.

I've been away for a while, but I'm glad I'm back with Powers.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #6

Ah, an issue featuring Captain Atom! It's been a long time since he got featured in anything, other than his Wildstorm limited series. This issue we get to see what happens when Cap absorbs all this explosive energy that's been blasting around for the past 6 issues.

Every time Cap absorbs a big blast, he gets rocketed into the future (and sometimes the past). We see him blasted to a mysterious time and start interacting with some simple farmers. There is a great reveal to show that he's in the future, after a mysterious super-war that damaged the world. Eventually, Cap gets to chat with a survivor that he knows quite well from his JLI days, and he is re-dedicated to stopping Max Lord.

This is a bit of a character break from the main story, but there is certainly time to feature characters who've been out of the limelight like Cap. I'm extra-pleased that no one mentioned Monarch/Countdown.

Fernando Dagnino has that DC house style down. He does a solid job on the material, especially considering how little of it is super-hero related besides Captain Atom himself.


Ultimates 3 TPB

What a mess. It's a beautiful mess because Joe Mad can still draw, but wow. Jeph Loeb picked up the Ultimates and promplty reverted Wasp back to her Marvel U incarnation, did what seems to be a pointless mystery with Cap, and then basically added Wolverine onto the Avengers. He flat out stated what we all figured about Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (that they are very close). He threw in the world's most pointless Spidey cameo and made Hawkeye into even more of a jerk.
I will confess I like the idea of Valkyrie being on the Avengers, but that's about the best part of this story. Loeb does do a couple bits of foreshadowing, they are just to things in Ultimatum that I found stupid (Wasp's fate, Quicksilver's turn).
Why do I read these Ultimate books again? Oh yeah, the art. Joe Madureira still has some dynamic skills. The dinosaurs look great, the heroes look powerful and tough, and the ladies look like adult movie stars. Mad has some poses that he comes back to, and they work really well in action-based comics. The problem is, this book makes me want to go read old issues of Uncanny X-Men.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Avengers #2

It's surprising to see the "street-level" team continuing Bendis' magic-based stories. I would have figured that was more appropriate for the Avengers Tower crew. That said, guest-stars Dr. Strange and Daimon Hellstrom immediately turn any title into a supernatural comic.

So the mysterious being who possessed the magicians last month adds Cage to his list, and the three of them go up against the Avengers. There's an amusing sequence where the team is trying to get the Eye of Agamatto out of Avengers Mansion, away from the possessed characters. They eventually succeed when Ms. Marvel snatches it and swoops away. You'd think she'd stay away, but she comes back a few moments later and poof, after a bit of musical bodies (I think the being ends up only in Iron Fist) he gets the eye and can disappear. It's funny this team is so large, half the team had almost no impact on the fight. Hawkeye, Spidey, Jewel, and even the Thing contributed almost nothing. I think the team should spend less time eating meals together and more time practicing.

Clearly this villain has history with the Earth, he repeatedly mocks the heroes and their emotional attachments to each other. I especially enjoyed when he's pretending that Cage is breaking free from possession. Dormammu is probably too obvious, and Nightmare doesn't seem like a Bendis type villain. Baron Mordo is from Earth, so I'm don't have any good guesses right now.

I still love Stuart Immonen's artwork. Giant Cage made me laugh. He does a nice Wolverine, I have to admit, I don't even think twice about him fitting in with the Avengers. I do wish that Mockingbird had her old style costume, I think Immonen would do a great job on it.

Story - Average
Art- Excellent
Overall - Fair

Avengers #3

Give Bendis his due, there is a heck of a lot of smashing going on in this book.

I always complained that Bendis' Avengers stories didn't have the actual team solving their problems. Three issues in, and it is still only Avengers getting involved in stopping Kang's warping of the time stream. Apocalypse and his horsemen show up for a few pages this month, but there doesn't seem to be much of a point other than giving the heroes a chance to look cool.

I loved the sequence where the fliers are forming a ring around the breach in Avengers Tower. The team split up naturally and effectively. I also like how Maria Hill seems to be in charge of the squad. She's breaking them into teams, giving priorities, and not taking any guff. It's a neat dynamic.

I enjoyed seeing Tony Stark unable to take on the Scarlet Witch. It makes sense that the core Avengers would still be suffering significant guilt in dealing with any incarnation of their friend. Hell, judging from the Children's Crusade book, there is a chance that we might get Scarlet Witch back soon, which would put a lot of these demons to rest nicely.

I know there are a lot of complaints about JRJR's artwork in this title. Even Bendis said at Comicon that Spider-Woman has "Jersey hair." But I don't mind; the action is clear and visceral. The explosions are booming off the page. I can't complain about that.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Justice Society of America #41

James Robinson's crossover with the JLA isn't exactly bad, I just feel like there is nothing new here. In fact, since Mark Bagley draws this issue (he's the regular artist on JLA) it actually took me a few minutes to realize this wasn't an issue of JLA. Sure, the focus is a LITTLE stronger on the JSAers, but the JLA folks still play a large role.

And maybe it is just me, but the whole motivation for the crossover just doesn't sound like that big a deal. The Starheart might be making some heroes go crazy, and I like the idea that the heroes are fighting themselves, but I just don't see enough of it for it to really have an impact. It's like, this story could easily be a bigger event, but it still feels small. The best part of the issue was Dr. Mid-Nite having to do some actual doctoring. I always like seeing the character have to be a "real-life" super-hero.

Mark Bagley has a great take on Wildcat. I love the droopy sides to his mask. He does a nice job with the power-ladies too, PG and Supergirl look inspiring.


Brightest Day #6

Huh, so all Brightest Day had to do was focus on the good storylines, and suddenly the book gets a lot better! Raise your hand if you are surprised.

This issue, the focus returns to Martian Manhunter. In addition to being my favorite hero in the DCU (maybe overall) his storyline has been one of the more interesting ones. There is some sort of gross, green-Martian killer out there, and J'onn is on the trail. The plot actually moves along nicely, with J'onn finding out that something about his touch is killing "the green." I agree with the BleedingCool rumor, I think Swamp Thing is on the way. J'onn also gets to show off what a nice guy he is, as he interacts with Oracle, Superboy, and heads off to check on Miss Martian. I'm looking forward to seeing him interact with his young namesake in the next few issues.

The Deadman story is still sort of dragging, having DM need a cheeseburger isn't exactly high drama.

I'm enjoying the Aquaman/Mera developments, because I think Geoff Johns is mostly adding and enriching their past, not really changing anything. I'm fine with the deep sea couple getting a few more rogues added to their normal guest list.

I really like the Firestorm story. Jason and Ronnie are so different, but at their core they are both good guys. They deserve a chance to try and make their weird bond work.

The art in this issue was solid. The Firestorm sequence had fantastic detail, especially on Jason Rusch. I also loved how casual Martian Manhunter looks most of the time. For the last survivor of his race, he's a laid back dude!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

BPRD v12: War on Frogs TPB

This was an exciting trade, but man, did it make me miss Capt. Daimio and Roger. The trade collects some interesting material, it reprints the four issue War on Frogs mini, and each issue just tells a story in the battle against the frogs. The battles are spread throughout the years the BPRD took on the frogs. It's a neat idea, it lets some of the cast members who've moved on over the years get one more chance to shine.

Roger takes on the original frogs, and it's a touching tale. The two froggies aren't actually hurting anyone, they're just living in a cave with the skeleton of their dead mother. Roger does what he was ordered to do, but did it need to be done?

I loved the Guy Davis-drawn portion where the BPRD (led by Daimio) hunt down a traveling band of preachers. The problem is, they are spreading the word of the frogs, not God. It's a neat, quick little story.

The one time a frog gets amped up and mutates into something unique, it gets to take on a squad of regular BPRD agents. I've long been fascinated by the type of person that would sign up to serve with the super-powered agents, dealing with the same threats but having none of the powers or protection. State troopers, cops, and soldiers have a hard time dealing with things that Hellboy would just "BOOM" away.

Johann's story is more cerebral, which isn't a surprise. He's an interesting character, he's actually kind of hard to like. But he does the right thing here, and gets to see just how powerful the BPRD's foes are.

The final story starring Liz Sherman is fun too. BPRD agents would naturally be drawn to the alpha-types leading the field teams. I liked seeing Liz interact with normal agents.

The main story doesn't advance much in this one, but the great art and returning characters make this an entertaining read. I know Roger is gone, but is there a chance Daimio could still come back?


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Comicon News Day 2

There were some exciting announcements on Friday at Comicon. Here's a quick rundown.

Thor's hat looks awesome!

Jeremy Renner is going to be Hawkeye and Mark Ruffalo is probably Bruce Banner in the Avengers movie.

The Walking Dead series sounds like it will be excellent. I'm very confident.

Grant Morrison is launching a new Batman title, Batman INC. It's team-up book inspired by the Brave & the Bold cartoon (and comic) and should feature a more Bruce Wayne-centered Batman. Yanick Paquette and Frazer Irving should both be involved on art. This sounds absolutely fantastic, I can't wait to add it to my pull list.

Kieron Gillen is launching a new X-title featuring the first 5 mutants to activate since M-Day. It sounds like he's working closely with Matt Fraction and the tone of the book sounds like a great heir to that New Mutants "feel." I'm going to wait for reviews, but Gillen's stuff is typically excellent. Generation Hope is a bit silly of a title, but it could pan out.

Geoff Johns announced that the Flash will be getting a spin-off called Speed Force. If Wally West is a lead, I may actually pick this up monthly. Waiting for the trade on Flash is killing me.

The Red Hulk is joining the Avengers. I've got to think that is temporary, right? I mean, the guy is a villain.

I still don't want to read Superman, but Action Comics sounds solid.

Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes TPB

This held up much better in collected format than it did with all those delays when it first came out. I lost interest in Warren Ellis' take on the team back when those delays were killing the title. The pricey 3.99 tag wasn't helping, especially when the story was split up by the unnecessary Ghost Boxes mini-series. When read in one sitting, the entire narrative holds together as a much tighter sci-fi story. I'm even over some of my annoyance over the surprise villain of the piece.

The story has that same smug tone that a lot of Warren Ellis' writing has, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it's perfect for Emma Frost and now that Cyclops has become a jerk, it works for him too. Armor is sassier and more fun than I remember, and Beast still comes across a gentle soul, admittedly a bit of a pervy one due to his relationship with Abigail Brand. Storm fits in pretty well, but she's sort of a straight arrow for the team to play against. While they get dirty, she tries to adhere to the old X-rules of fair play. I don't mind, combining that attitude with her great power set makes her a more interesting character.

I'm not in love with the pseudo-science of artificial mutants, but I love the whole Ghost Box concept. The idea that these devices are fairly common on alternate worlds, and that SWORD just deals with them, is fun. I'm a little more in Forge's corner than on my first read; he really did know about the danger before anyone else and he is trying to save the world. He might be doing it is a totally crazy and debatably evil way, but he's trying! I don't think the character is unsalvageable in any case. It's not like I'm the world's biggest Forge fan, I just never like seeing characters killed off or ruined. I don't think Ellis did either here; the character could come back any time.

Ellis does great bleeding edge sci-fi. The idea that the Ghost Box homeworld has such instutionalized cruelty as to just wipe out parallel Earths is logical, if sad. I really loved the breathing gun platform in Forge's HQ. The dialogue is snappy too. The banter between Wolverine and his current under-age sidekick (Armor) is amusing throughout.

Simone Bianchi's artwork is breathtaking. Most of the time it works perfectly, but I think he got a tad carried away on the monsters. If Forge created such insane looking creatures out of normal humans, I think he's probably a bad guy, or at least in a bad place. I mean, those artificial mutants are horrifying!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Walking Dead #75

Hoo boy. Rick, we've been trying to warn you. Chill out!

Robert Kirkman gives us the payoff we've been waiting for. Rick is just too wound up, too suspicious, and too high-strung to be able to relax in the Community. While Michonne, Glenn, and the others are making new friends and starting to fit in, Rick is just too far gone to make the transition. Kirkman sets up the climax nicely, logically, you can see where Rick is coming from. But he's just too whacked out for anyone to possibly side with him. I can't wait to see what happens to Carl, too. Surely they aren't going to banish Rick, expecting him to leave his kid????

I do think that the scavengers Glenn spotted could be an out. If the Community needs someone to put down a hard front against them, Rick is their best option, no doubt about it.

Charlie Adlard does another bang up job; and he gets to draw zombies! They tear that one dude into shreds. It's been awhile since we've seen that much zombie action in this title.


News from Comicon and the Past Week!

Here's the stuff that's caught my eye so far. I'm including some thoughts on the solicits of the past week too.

DC Announcements (many announements were pre-Comicon this week)

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are the new creative team on Batman & Robin. This is a great move by DC, I'll keep the title on my pull list for sure.

Paul Cornell is writing a Knight & Squire limited for DC. Sounds totally excellent, I can't wait. In anticipation of many re-reads, I'm going to wait for the trade.

David Finch is getting a new Batman book. I'll wait for the library, thanks.

Marc Guggenheim is taking over JSA after James Robinson finishes his current story. I really dug Bill Willingham's take, so I think I'll bow out after the crossover.

DC is putting out a new THUNDER Agents book. I have no exposure to these guys, so I have no idea if this will be any good. I'm not sure what to think of the creative team either!

Static is back in his own ongoing series! Yay! It's not written by Dwayne McDuffie! Boo. So much for that idea. I'll sit this one out.

Tyler Kirkham is the new penciller on Green Lantern Corps. I expect it to be Silvestri-iffic!
Christos Gage is back in the DCU with a Ragman 1-shot. Sold!

Tiny Titans is crossing over with Archie. My daughters are sold on the Titans these days, I wonder if they'll cross over?

Marvel Announcements (limited details so far)
  • Joss Whedon confirmed himself as the director of the Avengers movie. I predict a bigger part for Wasp!
  • Fred Van Lente is following up his Shadowland: Power Man series with a Power Man & Iron Fist limited. Mark me down for the trades!
  • Mark Waid is coming back to Cap with a new limited, Captain America: Man Out of Time! Sold! Any chance Ron Garney can do the art?
  • Jonathan Hickman and Carlos Pacheco launch Ultimate Thor in October. I look forward to picking this up from the library! If anything could pull me back into the Ultimate U for real, this might have been it.
  • Holy cow! Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are launching Thor/Iron Man this fall! That should be awesome!
  • Rocket Raccoon and Groot have a limited series from DnA too. Are you kidding? I mean, I'm buying it, but wow!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

X-Men: Manifest Destiny TPB

I'm usually a HUGE Jason Aaron fan, and I did enjoy the Wolverine: Manifest Destiny series that took up the bulk of this trade, but I think I'm the victim of my own expectations. I sort of hoped for something a bit more like Big Trouble in Little China. The story is ok, but the villains are pretty generic. There is a crew of kung-fu named villains, but I just didn't see enough of them to be fully invested. I will admit I love the idea that Wolverine has gotten sloppy over the years. With his healing factor, why bother dodging all the time? Overall, though, the story is ok, but not great.

The Iceman & Mystique segment was my favorite. Mike Carey got to follow up on some of the threads he planted in X-Men before it became X-Men: Legacy. The short story humanizes Mystique a bit, giving her a soft spot for Iceman, and it toughened up Iceman too. He's not playing her games (at least, he thinks he's out) and he's standing up for himself with more fully realized powers. And what a great exit from Mystique; she warns that she will kill him, but he'll love her first. From a shape-shifter, that's an awful threat.

The Nightcrawler one-shot, the Avalanche story, and the other supplemental material were all solid enough, and I'm glad it is reprinted somewhere. None of it is essential reading, but this type of story is great for keeping up with personal favorites like Nightcrawler.

The art is darn nice throughout. I loved the display of Iceman's powers in his story.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010


This is still one of the most fun comics DC is putting out. We actually get a few lines from some of the core REBELS themselves. Ciji, Amon Hakk, and Wildstar all get a few comments in before the plot moves us along to the new stars of the title. Captain Comet and Starfire quickly take their relationship to the next level, there are some great moments as Comet shows that he is a child of the 1950s. His morals and expectations are not quite in line with the type of physical interaction Starfire enjoys. It's an amusing moment, although seeing just how hurt Starfire is by Dick Grayson is a bit sad.

Vril Dox and Lyrl Dox are both enjoying themselves. I guess Vril must have gotten involved in the Super-books, because he returns Brainiac to Colu to be imprisoned. Bad timing, though, Lyrl has just built Solaris, the Anti-Sun, and they're attacking Colu at the same time. To further complicate things (and to no one's surprise) Brainiac isn't out of the picture either. All these Brainiacs are fun to read about, but my favorite bit is that Solaris' first act upon achieving sentience is to try to destroy his creator. Good thing Lyrl is a planner.

Claude St. Aubin is back, so everyone looks just right again. Starfire is hot, Comet looks heroic, and Solaris looks awesome, like usual.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dark Avengers: Molecule Man TPB

Hmm. This is sort of an odd mind-bender of an Avengers story. Bendis sets the action in Molecule Man's hometown, where he's been kidnapping tourists and travelers. The Dark Avengers get called in to resolve the situation. The book is sort of a mixed bag. I really enjoy seeing the Dark Avengers trying to be actual heroes. It's funny, even when Osborn is sending them on legitimate missions; they are still a pack of cowards and thugs. They can't make that leap, unlike some of the other villains to reform over the years. I also really enjoyed the Ares/Secret Warriors confrontation. I still haven't read a single issue of Secret Warriors, but at this point, I'm pretty intrigued.

The part that bummed me out was that the Sentry became even MORE powerful than he was before. He literally smashed through the fantasy world Molecule Man had created. The Sentry easily took out one of the top villains in the Marvel U. I also get bummed whenever MM shows up without Volcana, but I suppose that isn't too big a deal. The good news is that an explosion is a pretty easy death to return from, so I'd imagine we'll see the Molecule Man again.

This trade clocks in at a very short four issues. There isn't a lot happening. I'm glad I got this from the library; it wasn't bad, but buying it in hardcover might have upset me a bit! This might be the rare case where the single issues actually read better than the collection.

Mike Deodato's art is great as usual. Ms.Marvel/Moonstone is a little sluttier than I'm used to, but she seems to be acting this way all through the run. I love Deodato's take on the Hawkeye uniform, I hope he gets to draw Clint Barton wearing it!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Aquaman #15-20 (2004)

Why isn't Will Pfeifer still writing comics? His Aquaman is awesome!

I hate stories that start off with massive death counts, but Pfeifer actually throws a bit of a swerve with the creation of Sub Diego. A secret group of villains sinks half the city of San Diego, but many of the inhabitants (and their dogs) survive because of the genetic engineering of a young scientist in the city. It's an interesting choice to use this idealistic scientist as the heavy for the first arc, he actually isn't a villain. He's misguided and foolish, but he really thinks he's saving the world with his water-breathing serum.

The setup works well because it lets Aquaman's powers actually come in really handy. He's got normal, understandable Americans that need his protection, but they're trapped underwater. We’re not dealing with oddball Lemurians or Atlanteans; Aquaman is saving "regular people." I dug how Pfeifer had the Red Cross showing up for the disaster too, even on the ocean floor there is some help available after the tragedy.

The arc suffers from not having a true villain yet, but the shadowy cabal watching Aquaman is interesting enough that I'm confident there will be a payoff. I love the new Aquagirl too. She's feisty and brave, and she's immediately more capable and helpful than all the other survivors. As I read it, I got a distinctive "companion" vibe from her (thanks a lot, Dr. Who!)

Patrick Gleason brings his normal level of excellence to this book. Aquaman and the ocean creatures look fantastic, but of course, what I like best is how many scenes Martian Manhunter appears in. The best sequence of the arc has J'onn greeting Aquagirl after she wakes up after the disaster. Seeing that his normal form is making her uncomfortable, he immediately morphs into a teenage boy wearing a Motorhead shirt. That J'onn, he knows how to blend.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

G.I. Joe: European Missions #2 (1988)

This issue doesn't hold up quite as well as issue 1. My main problem is I don't understand exactly what Action Force is. Are they English soldiers (so this is sort of an alternate universe thing? What if GI Joe was British?) Or is the team on loan from the US. It seems that way since Hawk and Snake Eyes show up to supplement the Action Force team. That's my other question, is there a set roster for the Action Force group? It seems Flint is the leader, and I've seen Footloose, Lady J, Alpine, and some others hanging around, but I just wonder what the set up is for this book.

The core story is fairly generic. The Dreadnocks kidnap the daughter of Action Force's liaison, then they end up killing the poor guy. In the end, Flint has to choose between saving Hawk and Snake Eyes or getting revenge for his boss' death. He makes the right choice, but it was odd that Hawk and Snake Eyes played so prominent a role in the story. With so many people moving in and out, the whole thing feels a bit unfocused.

The art is fine, but unspectacular. I actually prefer Geoff Senior's art in the combo GI Joe/Transformers book in the back.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Catalyst: Agents of Law #1 (1995)

Dark Horse launched their Comics Greatest World line while I was in college, and by far my favorite of the new titles was Catalyst. Set in the fictional Golden City of Northern California, the series starred Grace and her Avengers-like team as they declared independence from the U.S. It had a great bit of that Squadron Supreme dystopia while still being a super-hero book.

For some reason, when the book was cancelled and re-launched as Agents of Law, I only bought the first issue. Somehow that first issue bubbled up and was on my desk, so I flipped it open to see how I'd like it, especially once I noticed that Keith Giffen plotted it.

What a good comic! The setting is obviously fun, but this series launches with Grace missing and the Catalyst team trying to lead Golden City in the way she'd want. Mecha is an awesome armored soldier and Rebel is an energy casting flyer, they get the most screen time here, along with the new city leader, Madison.

Law shows up cradling Grace (or a lookalike, is my guess) and they are promptly shot by a sniper. This launches Law into the public favor and he takes over as leader of the city. The problem is that he's a full on villain. He kills Madison and the other city council. Ruby is sleeping with him, Rebel thinks he's great. Mecha doesn't trust the guy, and the only other team-member is crying in the shower over Grace's death. Nice set-up!

The art by Dan Lawlis is stunning. Is this guy out of comics? His art looks like a mix of Terry Dodson and Paul Pelletier, two of my faves, so I really dig the look.

The problem is, I only have this one issue! Time to seek out some dollar bins!


Friday, July 16, 2010

Thor: Eternals Saga TPB 2

Ugh. I absolutely adored the first Thor/Eternals trade, but this was a chore to get through. Way too many issues deal with Thor trying to find out about his previous lives as a mortal named Siegfried. It felt like eight or nine issues (surely it wasn't that long) dealing with the whole Ring of the Nibelung opera, re-told in comic format. Only that's not what I wanted from this trade! I want Celestials! The story goes on and on, and I must confess that eventually I just quit reading about gnomes and weird, shape-shifting frost giants and just skipped ahead to the issues picking up from the first trade.

And it stinks, because those last two or three issues are great! Odin puts on the Destroyer armor and takes on the Celestials! Thor's revenge! Thor traveling through the dimensions to visit all sorts of Marvel deities! This is classic Thor goodness; the problem is there is too little of it in this trade.

I love Keith Pollard's artwork. He even does a nice job on the boring stuff, but he really shines on the Celestials. I've never seen Oneg the Prober look so good!

Fair (I want to say Good, but I just can't!)

Booster Gold #34

Neat! I bought the cover layout for this issue from Kevin Maguire in Charlotte this year!

I see what's going on here. Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis are writing new Justice League International comics. This issue has Booster popping back in time, and immediately picked up by Blue Beetle as they embark on another scheme to make some money. After the job gets a bit more complicated, they rope in Mr. Miracle and Big Barda, making this a true JLI reunion. What absolutely stuns me is how well the writers are recapturing their old magic. Booster and Beetle are hilarious, and oh, how I missed Barda treating the two of them like idiots. I actually laughed out loud a few times while reading this!

The villain is another silly JLI-style villain like Manga Khan, complete with silly sidekick. I'm not complaining, I mean, who is reading this comic for high drama action?

Chris Batista and Keith Giffen are an odd mix on art, sometimes their styles just don't mesh very well. I think Batista's work looks a tad sharper on his own, so hopefully he'll get back to that soon.

I couldnt' be happier with this book. It makes me feel like I'm 13 again, which is about the highest praise I can give.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wolverine: Weapon X: Insane in the Brain TPB

Once again, Jason Aaron has put together a perfect Wolverine story. This time Wolvie is locked away in Dr. Rot's Dunwich Sanatorium. Once a pick-up spot for random psychos for the mob, things have gotten much worse since Rot took over. Thanks to his brain machine, he can control quite a bit of what goes on in the institution.

Wolverine is now convinced that he's not a hero at all, but a psycho who needs to be locked up. The nurses are serving Fruit Loops and jellybeans as medicine, and when things go bad, there are plenty of brains out there for Dr. Rot. I absolutely loved this story, it was wonderfully crazy all the way through. And Dr. Rot is a fantastic new villain. I figured him for a done-in-one, but no, this guy may have staying power. Not only does he have some keys to Wolvie's psyche, but surely he must have some kind of healing factor? He recovers from some pretty intense damage in this thing.

I will say I'm a tad disappointed that Maverick did sell those Weapon X files in the first trade. He doesn't show up here, but the "Previously" section states his involvement clearly .

Yanick Paquette handles most of the art for this story, and I've always liked his stuff. Wolverine looks to be in a constant state of panic and I loved the design for the many inmates. The most shocking scene is, without a doubt, the masquerade where Dr. Rot is interacting with his prisoners while dressed up as a nurse. The whole scene is straight out of a horror movie. Who in the world thinks dress-ups are a good idea for a bunch of psychos!?!


Justice League: Generation Lost #5

This title is where Keith Giffen is getting to indulge in real super-heroics, leaving the fun to the solo Booster Gold title.

I'm not sure how to take Max Lord's statements this issue. He claims he's worked to reform the JLI (without a GL, because Lanterns are bothering him these days). He's brought back a some originals and some good replacements for Rocket Red and Blue Beetle. I really wish it was that straight forward, but Max rigged his communicator (a Rocket Red suit, complete with wearer) as a bomb. So even as he tells the team that he re-formed them to do good around the globe, he's forcing Captain Atom to once again fly into the sky and deal with an explosion (and a murder this time too).

While the A-plot is moving forward nicely, there is plenty of time for interesting character developments too. We see more of Booster's pre-time travel days than we ever have before. Captain Atom is getting tired of people dying. Ice is afraid of dying again (much like Wonder Man in the 70's). And Blue Beetle is getting more and more bound to this crew, which is a great move. All this, plus some great moments with the new and hilarious Rocket Red. I love the guy already.

Aaron Lopresti does a great job with the at. Everyone looks on model, I love how huge the new Rocket Red is. I think he does the best job on Blue Beetle, there are small details and morphing bits on him all issue long.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Avengers Academy #2

Don't let that cover fool you, this book is beautiful. Quicksilver seems a bit off, but the other characters look great, and Mike McKone skews closer to awesome for all the interiors of this one.

Christos Gage really steps up the game this issue. Last issue we found out through Veil, our nice and naive narrator, that the Avengers had chosen this team of students based on the chance they could be villains. It didn't quite ring true, mostly because Veil seemed like such a nice gal. That's not a problem this issue, as our narrator is Finesse, the detached genius. And let me tell you, the switch makes a huge difference.

Finesse is a villain in training. I don't see how she could be anything else. Gage does a tremendous job putting us in her head, she's weighing and balancing everything she experiences. She is becoming the leader of this team with her intelligence, which worries me. I think some of the "follower" characters like Mettle and Striker will end up going where she does, while Reptil and Veil are destined to turn good. It's an interesting dynamic.

I LOVED Finesse's interactions with Hank Pym and Quicksilver. This manipulative little thing course corrects and learns so fast; it was awesome seeing her redirect from Hank Pym to Quicksilver in just a few minutes of conversation. And now we get to read about the more interesting Quicksilver too, the morally conflicted guy we all know and love. (And boy was I nervous when she was hitting on Hank!)

I marvel at McKone's ability to show us how Finesse operates. She's got facial expressions and is easy to read, but only when she's putting on fake emotions, like when she's dealing with Hank Pym. When no one's watching, or she is relying on her words rather than "playing" someone, she's a blank. McKone actually copies her in a few panels as she starts to blackmail Quicksilver. She's a cold one. And a villain.


Comics on the Bubble: Devin Grayson's Titans (1999)

Wow. Talk about a rough era of comics.

Beast Boy isn't on the team. Flash is constantly talking about the better team he's on (the JLA), and Cyborg is a gold alien robot. What? This barely feels like the Titans. I can appreciate Devin Grayson wanting to honor all previous eras of the book by including characters like Argent and Damage, but man, there is too much drama in this. Donna Troy has some wacked-out situation where she never really existed, so she was re-formed by Wally West's memories? I know that most of these problems don't stem from Grayson's writing, but she doesn't help by continually dredging up this silly drama. The choice of villains is kind of weird too.

I will say, this run has the best take on Arsenal that I think I've read. I mean, I hate the guy, but he's almost likeable here. Almost. Tempest is pretty fun here too. I think I actually thought he was cool at this point.

I can't complain about the art, it is generally pretty decent. Mark Buckingham handles the bulk, and like his "realistic" take on the heroes. Tempest in particular seems like a nice, normal dude when drawn like this. He doesn't draw Starfire quite as... endowed as I'm used to, though. I've been spoiled by REBELS!

The run holds up a lot stronger than I thought it would!

  • Issue 1: Most of the issue has the team talking in a seafood restaurant. SELL

  • Issue 2: The Titans need to show Superman they are all grown up as they fight the HIVE. Not bad, actually. KEEP

  • Issue 3: The team takes on Marilyn Manson... sorry, Goth! The issue is complete with awful lyrics and acting out teenagers. SELL

  • Issue 4: More Goth. SELL

  • Issue 5: Character focus on Tempest, Damage, and Argent. They take on a cool new mermaid villainess, Siren. KEEP

  • Issue 6: Guest-starring the best GL ever, Kyle Rayner. KEEP

  • Issue 7&8: Weird little speed villain story. Fairly generic. SELL

  • Issue 9: Unnecessary crossover with Day of Judgement. Not good. SELL

  • Issue 10-12: Strongest arc of the run. The Titans face off against Vandal Savage's Tartarus, made up of some of the best Titans villains and guest-starring Deathstroke. KEEP

  • Issue 13: Aftermath issue. Beautiful art by Patrick Zircher. KEEP

  • Issue 14: Brian Vaughn helps on the writing and solid art from Cully Hamner. The team actually seems more competent once it slims down. KEEP

  • Issue 15-16: This issue plays into Grayson's worst tendencies. She focuses on the old Teen Titans and they spend a long time wallowing in their interpersonal issues. It's sort of a chore to get through. I hate most of the team. SELL

Summary: SELL 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16.
KEEP 2, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Spider-Man: Reign TPB

The rumors were true. Radioactive bodily fluids are quite deadly.

I really tried to get through Kaare Andrews' pretty trade, but I just couldn't. Fortunately, I picked this up from the library, so I didn't end up buying it. My main problem is that as I read the first issue, I just felt like I was reading The Dark Knight Returns. I mean, that's what this is supposed to be like, right? A future police state with the old hero forced to come out of retirement to face corruption? Old villains rearing their heads to take on the hero?

I mean, that cover should have been a good enough clue of the sheer amount of sadness that permeates this book. But I don't want to read a Spider-Man comic about Peter dreaming of doing it with his dead wife, but waking up tasting Saltines. Just not what I'm looking for, you know? This thing is just packed with sadness. Who wants Saggy Baggy Kingpin?

I wikipedia'd the plot to see what I missed, and it looks like a dead Hypno Hustler and dead Doc Ock calling his arms his "sons." Best of all, the reason why Mary Jane is dead? Radioactive spider-sperm! Really!

So yeah, after the first issue, this trade got the equivalent of "Too Long, Didn't Read." Sorry!

Secret Six #23

John Ostrander knows how to deliver a done-in-one. This thing isn't high art or anything, but we've got a classic theme (Most Dangerous Game) and some great action combining to give us a stock little Secret Six story. What I like about it is that I can imagine this is what life is like for the Six. Sometimes their missions go bad, sometimes they work, and sometimes they get totally screwed (probably in that order, actually). Ostrander does a nice job channeling Gail Simone's voice for the Six, especially Bane and Rag Doll. Actually, Jeannette sounded spot-on too. Catman, Scandall, and even Deadshot are a little easier fits for Ostrander, especially with all his experience with Deadshot. I'm impressed at how well he captured the odd nobility in Bane and the freakiness of Doll. Jeannette carried her weird "classiness" too, nicely done.

RB Silva does a good enough job on art. Sometimes the characters' heads seemed a bit too, balloon-y or puffy. But the action is clear and the storytelling is fine, so I can't complain. I'm perfectly happy with this level of fill-in.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Hawkeye & Mockingbird #2

I knew I'd love this book, but even so, I'm impressed with Jim McCann. He's juggling a large cast like a seasoned pro here. There is plenty of time for Hawk and Mock to shine, but we're actually getting character development from Dominic Fortune, London, Twitchy, and the villains! This is way more of an ensemble book than I'd predicted, but that's not a bad thing!

I'm fascinated by Crossfire. The guy seems like such a schlub, he's a CIA inteligence analyst who decided to become a villain. He just decided to be a jerk and start killing heroes, but he really raises his stakes here. I'm not necessarily a fan of who he kills, I think there are enough orphan heroes already.

Hawkeye is such a well-meaning doofus, that's why I've always liked him so much. McCann gets that about the character. I'd bet that the era that defined H&M for me is the same as McCann. What I'd like now is to see them take on someone WAY more powerful than them and win. I always loved that Hawkeye vs. Abomination fight from Solo Avengers.

David Lopez is rocking the art. Fortune's pencil thin moustache actually looks cool. Mockingbird has... tired looking eyes is probably the best way to describe it, but it makes sense. She and Hawkeye actually look happy around each other, though, Lopez nails the comfort the two characters have around each other.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wonder Woman: Ends of the Earth TPB

I love the IDEA of Wonder Woman teaming up with Beowulf and Claw the Unconquered, but I never got as into this story as I'd have liked. Either DC released these trades out of order or I just messed up, but I'm pretty certain that this takes place before some of the other trades I've read recently. Diana's white gorillas are still hanging around and she's still sporting that hankie from the wind god. I liked seeing more of the "courtship" of Nemesis, but that's not a surprise. I loved that bit with WW and Nemesis riding the shell above the ocean. The addition of the megaladons is a slam dunk for me, so any time they get used makes me smile.

The core story was neat, especially how quickly the timelost warriors would come to respect WW, but I still found the entire idea a bit too removed from the DCU for my tastes. I know WW is a fantasy character too, she is a Greek hero after all, I just seem to prefer her more mortal conflicts. This trade does include two stories like that, and I really liked the trade's closer. Gail Simone's take on a potential Wonder Woman movie are a little too close for comfort. You know Hollywood would make the kinds of horrible decisions we see here. That scene with WW falling for Hercules...uch.

Aaron Lopresti draws most of the trade, and while he doesn't draw the ladies quite the same as the Dodson's, he does a good job. His Beowulf looks very heroic. My favorite is how he clearly dug drawing those white apes though. Heh. Bernard Chang handles the WW movie section nicely too, his take on the judo-era Wonder Woman actually made me want to see more of that suit!


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Spirits of Vengeance #1 (1992)

I had fond memories of this issue from my high school days, so I figured I'd dig it back out and see if it held up. Sure enough, the generic action from Howard Mackie and cool art from Adam Kubert were enough to keep me entertained.

This issue ties into Lilith's return to the Marvel U in the Rise of the Midnight Sons launch. The Supernatural line of books didn't last too long.
After bursting from the body of a decaying leviathan in the arctic (how about that for an entrance?) she immediately puts out a call to her children to seek out and kill Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze. For those of you who skew a bit young, this takes place while Danny Ketch was GR, and John Blaze was riding around on a flaming bike with a shotgun that blasts hellfire. He was also sporting some sweet aviator shades and a cigarette, but hey, it is a product of its time.

The Ghost Riders take on Blackout and a couple other creepies, but I was never too worried about them. Blaze is protecting his family, so he's naturally kicking butt. In today's books, they'd be slaughtered, but here they actually all make it out alive. It does bum me out that the modern era has his family dead and gone. It was an interesting set up to put his family in the care of some carnies. That's a great high-concept!

Dr. Strange shows up on the last page to make some ominous comments about the other Midnight Sons (I think Morbius was next up?) so that made me laugh. This line didn't last too well, as I recall.

Adam Kubert's pencils have improved a lot, but you can still spot his talent here. This book looks good, the flaming skulls, monsters, and ladies all look good. This comic holds up really nicely as a relic of the early 90's.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Batman & Robin #13

This is a triumph.

Once again, Grant Morrison has constructed a perfect Batman story. Not suprisingly, he does it with the help of some of his best new villains, Dr. Hurt and Professor Pyg.

We see the "return" of Thomas Wayne, Bruce's father, although surely that can't actually be him. He's got the new dynamic duo on the ropes and things aren't looking good. Time to flash back three days! I love the parallels between this intro and Batman RIP. We see Dick Grayson makes a great Batman and Damien is the kind of Robin we all secretly want sometimes. (His scene beating on the Joker is fantastic.) Commissioner Gordon even makes the comment that his officers prefer the Grayson Batman to Bruce's, so clearly more and more people are realizing that the cowl has changed hands.

The Joker is involved too, but like every good Joker story, I'm not sure where this one is going yet. I do know that I'm now ready for Bruce Wayne to come back and kick some butt. There is no shame in Dick Grayson being outmaneuvered by three of the craftiest villains in Gotham.

Frazer Irving's art deserves a ton of the credit for this wonderful issue. Batman's cowl is awesome, the texture doesn't look like it only printed on the page. The Joker's facial expressions are exaggerated to the perfect degree, it felt like Joker was playing up his madness. And wow. Professor Pyg might be the scariest villain I've seen in a long time. That last page really disturbed me. This book is so exciting and so well done, I had to read another comic before hitting the sack last night, I was too wound up after this one.


Brightest Day #5

Brightest Day continues to be a bit uneven. I'm just not that interested in most of the stories we're getting right now. Martian Manhunter and Firestorm, the two characters I'm most interested in, are absent from this issue leaving the rest of the cast with a lot of pages, but not a lot to say.

Deadman, Hawk, and Dove hang out in a graveyard and try to resurrect the original Dove. When that doesn't work, they move onto the new (dead) Hawk. Whatever entity is powering the White Lantern ring starts asking Deadman just what he's doing.

Aquaman and Mera are trying to plug an oil spill (timely!) when some hard-water wielding folk show up to attack Aquaman. There is no sign of the dead sea animals or Black Manta, the two plot points we've seen so far for the Aqua-family. I'm moderately interested in this, mostly because I like Orin and Mera as a couple. I never like it when someone's power set becomes commonplace, though, so I'm worried about all these folks outshining Mera.

I love Hawkman. I love Hawkwoman. But I have no interest in the new, generic Hawkworld they find themselves in. The monsters alternate between looking silly and gross. I like Hawkman's casual bashing of those panther dudes, but they hardly seem tough enough to take out the Thanagarian heroes. I'm not feeling this storyline at all.

The art is once again a mixed bag. Some panels look impressive, mostly the Aquaman work. The Hawkman sequences aren't anywhere near as pretty.

In all, this series isn't blowing me away like I thought it would. I think the most interesting storyline split off into the Generation Lost title. I mean, what is happening in this book that really matters?


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Walking Dead #74

Robert Kirkman is so consistent. I love it.

This issue fleshes out the ongoing story of how Rick's gang doesn't quite fit into their new lives. Rick is passing out guns, Abraham is taking over the work team, and now Gabriel is about to confess all their sins to their new host. Gabriel has been hard to like from the moment he showed up. He's a coward who locked out his flock and now he's about to turn on the people who saved him and took him in. He's sort of the opposite of Abraham. Abraham has turned into a hero who doesn't even think his heroics are worth anything. I like the idea of Glenn fitting in with the scavengers of the new Community. It makes sense that at least a few of the survivors we've followed this long would be able to transition into their new lives.

Rick is so damaged that I worry about him. There is a great moment where Michonne mentions him talking to his dead wife. I had almost forgotten just how crazy Rick DID get out in the wild. That's the thing. Gabriel is right. The survivors have done awful things, and they may not be the people they were before the zombies, but hell, we readers can't blame them for anything they've done. It's a fascinating quandy that Kirkman has developed. The Community needs people who will do what needs to be done, people like Rick, Abraham, and Michonne. But are they so far gone that they will destroy the peace that the Community has established? Great arc.

Charlie Adlard doesn't have many zombies to draw this month, but his "directing" is still top notch. We can read the characters' faces and the settings are easy to process. This is like a well put together movie.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wolverine: Weapon X: Adamantium Men TPB

Jason Aaron writes my kind of comics. This thing is violent and mean-spirited, but headlined by a tough guy with a good heart. It's exactly what every Wolverine story should be. The bad guys are powerful and threatening, and they actually give Wolverine a run for his money for awhile. But we all know how this has to end, and it is great. Aaron personalizes the leader of the Adamantium Men nicely, he's smarter and more likeable than the rest of his faceless team. The scene where he and Wolvie stop fighting so they don't eviscerate each other in front of a school bus is fantastic.

I like the use of Maverick here too, I have a soft spot for that mid-90's lug. I was a tad confused by the last page of issue 5, though. Was Maverick the one who actually sold the Weapon X notes? Does that make him a bad guy who has to face Wolverine someday? I may be stupid, but it wasn't exactly clear to me from the dialogue.

The supporting characters are great. Aaron has set up some folks that work nicely in Wolverine's world. I hope we get to see that HAMMER agent again, her interactions with Maverick were quite fun, very James Bond-y. The CEO of Black lives, as do 3 Adamantium Men. So there is definitely follow-up potential here.

Ron Garney rocks this book. The glow-claws are awesome and iconic, and the fighting panels are savage. I would have liked to see Maverick use his mask, but he's handled nicely in his new duds too. The sniper scene was filled with good tension and really felt like a movie. Actually, this story is a great example of new-reader friendly while still having everything an old fan like me wants. Tremendous storyline.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Invincible #73

After last issue's splatterfest, Robert Kirkman plays this one a little more subdued. While the Grayson family rests and recuperates on a weird alien world, the Viltrumite War rages on. It was amusing seeing Nolan and Oliver getting a chance to bond, the two of them really haven't had many chances to get to know each other. I'm still a little suspicious of Nolan, I have to admit. His beatdown of Mark back in the day was so dang brutal that I still can't believe he's just become a good guy now.

Allen the Alien and Tech Jacket have a friendship developing as the Coalition of Planets continues attacking the Viltrumites. I love the idea that while the Coalition can successfully take world back from the Empire, they can't hold them when actual Viltrumite supermen show up to fight. The good guys have a handful of guys who can take on a Viltrumite, but the three Graysons are out of action, Tech Jacket and Allen stick together, and Battle Beast doesn't follow orders so well. I'm not sure if Space Ranger actually has the power to stay competitive. Either way, I love how Kirkman has created a whole slew of cosmic characters and races. I hope the potential traitor with the Coalition isn't too big a factor, I don't like it when folks with minor parts end up being pivotal to the greater story.

Ryan Ottley does a great job, as always. I do wish that he had found a way to draw a couple of those silly little grubs that Allen likes to eat. I love watching them scream in terror as they get chomped. I hope we get more Battle Beast in action next issue too.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Comics on the Bubble: Blood Pack (1995)

Yowch. I have good memories of the initial wave of annuals that set up this team, but I don't think I ever actually read this mini after grabbing it from a dollar bin. It's pretty funny that Jade is the leader of this team, she comes across as pretty weak and frankly, kind of stupid. She's employed by a bunch of criminals to put together the Blood Pack to help them garner goodwill for when they take over the world. Of course, that's not exactly a smart plan, so maybe I can understand how she missed it.

Charles Moore and Christopher Taylor created a little series that says a lot about its time, with the grunge references and angry young people, but it isn't actually very good.
  • Issue 1: The team fights their generic looking armored handlers. SELL
  • Issue 2: Superboy guest-stars, but they're fighting a volcano, so not a lot of cool scenes. Plenty of wordplay like "doofus" though. SELL
  • Issue 3: Here's where we find out just how little Jade knows about the people who gave her the job of leading this team. Fans of the character should avoid this book. SELL
  • Issue 4: There isn't even a legitimate big bad to wrap up the mini. The only character I find remotely interesting on the team, Geist, is presented more as a joke than anything else. SELL

Sell: 1, 2, 3, 4

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Justice League of America #46

Happy Fourth!

James Robinson's take on the JLA is fine. It just doesn't feel like the JLA! He's now got a substitute character in almost every iconic role for the team. Superman, Batman, WW, GL, Flash, they all have subs. I think that's why I think Congorilla is fitting in so nicely. The JLA has always had time for the background players. Starman works just fine for this too. They aren't expected to carry the load. I'm just not as drawn in by the subs as by the normal crew. It doesn't help that I actually prefer Jesse Quick in her Liberty Belle persona. I know the JLA doesn't need another strong character, but I love that she switches back and forth. Robinson's idea to tie Congorilla into Jesse's Dad's past is a nice idea.

I don't think Robinson has the voices down for the JSA either. Wildcat is not the correct cast member to be bringing up Durlans and other crazy ideas. Wildcat is down to Earth and supportive, he shouldn't be the one piling on Jade in the big team up scene. Having Jesse have to back him down made the whole thing even more weird. Those two are teammates. Is Robinson taking over JSA full-time now? If so, I'm a bit worried. It doesn't help that I really liked Bill Willingham's JSA.

I do appreciate the research that Robinson puts into his titles. He uses another fun bunch of characters in this issue, including Blue Demon, Klarion, and Naid. He even name-drops Primal Force! The evil base on the dark side of the moon is fun too.

Mark Bagley continues being a great fit for the DCU. Everyone looks... right. His style works equally well on the prime timers and on the lower level character. Everyone looks like they belong in a super-hero comic. I can't complain about the art.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Marvel Graphic Novel #37: Hercules

Clearly, I should have re-read Bob Layton's first Hercules stories before I just plowed into this one. I really don't remember most of the characters involved, but there are a ton of callbacks to the previous limited series.

I love the idea that an an immortal demi-god, Hercules is going to keep on having crazy adventures way into the future. He's the same guy he's always been, regardless of the time period. I dig the red and black costume, although those 80's style curls are sort of hard to get used to. Herc travels around the galaxy with a Skrull sidekick and the Recorder robot, who is not quite C-3PO, but they share some traits.

This graphic novel has Herc discovering that the egotistical warlord conquering the galaxy happens to be his son. There are some neat moments as Herc figures out how to handle someone who has been trained to hate him. I'm not sure this story deserves a big, fancy "graphic novel" treatment, but that was true of the She-Hulk GN I read recently too. Maybe I'm wrong about the whole idea behind these things. Was this just another format for regular, non-event stories? This is the last in the series, but not I want to go back and check out the others I have on my bookshelf (Emperor Doom, Cloak & Dagger, and God Loves, Man Kills for certain).

Layton's art looks fantastic on the big pages. Layton's Iron Man always impresses me with those little glints that always show up on the armor. Iron Man doesn't appear in this, but there is enough smooth metal on the ships and soldiers' armor to make sure I have a lot of that little detail. Hercules' hair looks silly, as I said, but heck; this guy has been around long enough to get to pick and choose what era of haircut he's going to sport.

This is hardly essential reading, but it is pretty fun. I grabbed this for 3 bucks, and it is totally worth that price. I'd even say that fans of Layton's art should seek this out, it does have all the things he does best (ships, armor, and smashing!)


Friday, July 2, 2010

Deadpool Team-Up #892

Wow! A Deadpool comic I actually like! I picked this up because it is written by David Lapham, and I wanted to see what his take on the warped Wade would be. No surprise, it is a ton of fun.

Satanna compains about being back in her 70's look with the huge chest, and Lapham just sort of explains away his use of his favorite era of the character. Deadpool isn't usually the "follower" in his own book, but he's so knocked over by Satanna that he basically plays a puppy dog here. It's quite amusing seeing him just horn-dogging out for a whole issue.
Lapham balances a funny line with the villains too. They are all recognizable, big-time Marvel villains, but they show up as nerds so that they can have nerd-appropriate conversations. I have to appreciate any comic where nerds decide who marries a hottie by rolling on a d20. Ridiculous. Heck, Deadpool actually addresses Lapham at one point! He's like Animal Man now!

Shawn Crystal's work looks pretty good. He's cartoony, which works well on Satanna's bubble-chest, but his faces are a bit too much. I do have to admit he nailed the unmasking scene though. Hilarious.


Green Lantern #55

Geoff Johns really needed Blackest Night. I think it has refocused the core Green Lantern title in a fantastic way. I haven't loved the book this much since the early issues.

John's Lobo hits all the right high points for me. He even yells "Feetal's Gizz" at one point! I loved the vast collateral damage that Lobo leaves in his wake too. Even with 3 Lanterns trying to contain him, Lobo was holding his own nicely. I particularly loved the interplay between Lobo and Hal Jordan. They are total opposites, so it was great seeing Lobo calling Hal "square jaw" and other insults. But heck, Lobo had time for everyone, insulting and whupping up on Sinestro pretty nicely too. I'm not sure what Atrocitus' game plan is, but by making him a more thinking, plotting character, he's become infinitely more interesting. When he was just "ba-bumming" around puking blood, I didn't care about him at all. Now I'm digging him.

Doug Mahnke could not be doing a better job. This book looks fantastic. In addition to juggling all the rainbow lanterns, Manhke's Lobo is probably the most iconic I've ever seen. This book looks perfect.

I loved Dex-Starr's origin too. It's pretty generic, but it's well drawn and Johns does have that knack for distilling characters (even cats) down to their coolest base. "I good kitty." Great stuff.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Justice Society of America #40

Hmm. Because I'm worried about where this issue fits in, I'm a tad disappointed. Is this the end of a storyline, or of a good creative team's whole run?

The conclusion to the Fourth Reich story does indeed result in a re-set of that terrible alternate future, but I'm curious at how Bill Willingham decided to pull it off. By having Mr. Terrific travel back and head off the whole Obsidian-as-an-egg thing, he's undoing most of his run on the book. There are quick flashes of the stories that have taken place since Willingham came on, only with Obsidian added into the team's roster.

There are a few moments where we get to see the JSA totally whup up on the Fourth Reich, but it is mighty brief. I want to see those scum bags get knocked around a bit more! Then there are a few panels talking about Mr. Terrific's new love life, his plans for the JSA, and some more hints of upcoming stories. It reads like Willingham is off the book. I'm not sure if he's coming back after James Robinson's run (covering the next 3 issues) but I sure hope so. I still love Willingham's version of the team, but I'm worried that this issue reads like a mix of an epilogue and a "might have been" feature on where Willingham would have taken the team.

Jesus Merino does another bang up job. Obsidian has always had an awesome look, so having him be the focal point of the issue sets up a lot of neat opportunities. I love the happier approach for Obsidian too, there is no need to make him a raging almost-villain, so I dig the idea that Obsidian is going to fly the straight and narrow and serve on his Dad's team.

Let's just cross our fingers that Willingham and Merino will be back to continue their run.


EDITED TO ADD: Bill Willingham confirmed he is off JSA. Suck.

Best of Transformers UK: Prey TPB

As I've said, I LOVE reading about the Transformers, so finding this UK reprint at my library was a real find. This trade was packed with good stuff, and there are a lot of Simon Furman's regular beats throughout. Prime is awesomely heroic, Megatron is hated even by his own troops, the Dinobots and Predacons are tough guys, and the Wreckers show up (of course).

Probably the strongest piece in this trade deals with Swoop (the pterodactyl Dinobot). Back on Cybertron he went by Divebomb, until the bird Predacon defeated him and stole his name. Swoop fought Divebomb numerous times, with Divebomb always winning until Optimus Prime showed up to help Swoop get a win. Swoop never included Prime in his retelling of the fight though, as he was afraid to lose face with the prideful Dinobots. I love the idea that Swoop is actually kind of a loser. He obsesses on his defeat and can't get past it. Even better, when he gets a rematch in this trade, he loses again! If Swoop was your favorite, it might be upsetting, but as a character piece, it is fascinating. The best part is Grimlock's response to all this; when Divebomb tries to rat out Swoop, telling Grimlock about Prime's involvement back in the day, Grimlock laughs it off. Grimlock knew all about it and just didn't care, because Dinobots stick together. It's a great moment and it drives home how Furman loved to group the Transformers into their sub-teams. Great stuff.

A lot of the issue deals with Prime's visit to Cybertron, showing how both the Wreckers deal with his arrival and how the Earth bots deal with his absence. The story takes place around the US issue 19, I think.

The art is by the UK regulars Geoff Senior, Will Simpson, and Bryan Hitch comes in for the lettering. I love seeing these characters used.

As an aside, does anyone know about a complete list of UK reprints and where you can find them? Wikipedia has some, but that seems like a useful bit of info. I've started compiling it, but won't continue if the info is already out there.