Thursday, September 30, 2010

Justice Legue of America #49

James Robinson gets to write his style of story in this done-in-one. There is more focus on characters overcoming personal demons than on big action. This is a downtime issue as the team recovers from their battle with the Starheart. Robinson gets a few panels of development for everyone, but the bulk of the issue focuses on Donna Troy and Jade. The two photographers are trying to figure out where they fit in. Jade tags along with Donna as they stop off at the meta-prison at Alcatraz, where Donna is checking in on an old Titans villain, the Bogeyman. He has a good, creepy visual; I especially liked seeing his old-school villain suit.

Because this is a DC book, Robinson had to darken the Bogeyman with some back-story. It turns out he's a pervert who prefers entering the mind of young girls. He also tormented some kids so badly that they had to kill themselves. Hey kids, comics!

I like that Donna and Jade come out of the experience stronger, and the explanation for Jade's "dark green" energy is pretty interesting. She may have paid off her White Lantern debt, but her Black Lantern days aren't totally behind her. Interesting.

I recognized Pow Rodrix as a new penciler when I saw how Supergirl was prettied up on the first page. Mark Bagley is a solid storyteller, but he doesn't lavish attention on the ladies, but Rodrix likes drawing gals. He's fine, his take on a whole slew of characters was fine, although he tends to draw some of the characters too large; check out Superboy's shoulders.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #10

I love it when the solicits lie. We had promises of the Dark Knight on the trail of the JLI, but instead we get a totally different scene. A good one, I admit, where Batman starts deducing that Max Lord is playing tricks on Bats' brain, and Power Girl is in on the action. Just when they are about to throw back in with the JLI, they enter a fugue where they lose track of their thoughts. The JLI is back on their own. This was a nice scene, but what really hit me was that Winick is heavily tying this book into his Power Girl title. Maybe I need to seek that one out after all.

Skeets seems to be the most organized member of the current JLI, he's hot on Max's trail all over the world. I'm excited about the team breaking up into smaller units, it will lead to some nice spotlights, and perhaps another member or two rejoining the team. At this point, Crimson Fox and Blue Jay would be a lot of fun, wouldn't they? Blue Beetle is fitting in nicely, but Ted Kord is sorely missed. Everyone's so damn down all the time, I know Max is a big bad guy now, but this gang used to have so much fun. Now they're always so sad.

And c'mon, surely DC is going to launch a new JLI book after this mini wraps up. We all want that, right?

Joe Bennett does a nice job with the art, he and Aaron Lopresti have done a wonderful job making their art merge. Bennett pretty much defines the DC house style, but I can't help but wonder what a more "classic" JLI artist like Dan Jurgens could do with this. Heck, imagine Daryl Banks drawing this team... it'd be awesome.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Walking Dead #77

Robert Kirkman is still surprising me on this book, 77 issues in, and I'm still wowed almost every month.

Most of this issue is filled with Rick's gang trying to figure out how to fit into the Community, but the shocking stuff hits on the last few pages. Rick was right about the unbalanced guy in town, he loses it and brandishes a knife while surrounded by survivors, never a good move. Then the shocking moment, when Rick is basically turned into an executioner. And Rick doesn't hesitate for a second, he's totally fine with taking this guy down. No banishment like he might have done back in the prison days, Rick is taking no prisoners now.

And of course, because even that drama isn't enough, the foragers we've seen hanging around hear Rick's gunshot, and they are on the way to the Community. Not good. It doesn't seem like these guys have the numbers to cause Governor-level problems, but I think they might do enough damage to put everyone on the road again.

Charlie Adlard does a nicer job this issue, I didn't get lost or confused with any sudden scene shifts. As always, Adlard carries the mood perfectly.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Avengers #5

Somewhere in those pages of fractured time, where the Avengers are yelling out one or two random sentences before a location jump, I lost interest so much that I put this comic down. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement, and while I have to give Bendis credit for having an "Avengers-level plot (that is, big action and high stakes), I'm really not riveted by anything happening here. Sure, when Ultron shows up on the last page, my interest is piqued, but overall, seeing three or four pages of pink time-nonsense followed by three or four pages that we saw two issues ago? Not doing it for me.

I will say Bendis delivers some nice scenes of Thor dropping the hammer on Galactus. In fact, while Thor has no relevance to the time-plot, I do like seeing the thunder god deal with such top-level threats. Hawkeye was too whiny, but that's pretty normal for Bendis. Maria Hill shouldn't be lecturing Hawk on how to be an Avenger.

John Romita JR is a bit uneven this month, he's got more perspective problems than he usually does. He can still bring his A-game when he has to; the new Ultron looks great. That Thor/Galactus panel was nicely set up too.

As for the Avengers timeline everyone is talking about, here's my take.

· Booster did it first.
· We know Black Panther gets to NY soon.
· I'm pleased the Avengers Academy traitor should hit soon.
· Chaos = the Chaos War limited.
· Three = the upcoming FF storyline.
· Can I hope "Throwbacks" means everyone is wearing old costumes?
· I'm excited to see Iron Lad return, mostly for that nice red & silver armor.
· Five Lights is that X-story about the new mutants, right?
· Ultron War sounds like a crossover.
· Schism is probably Civil War II, or is that too obvious?


Kid Reviews: Super Hero Squad #9

(Written by my 5 year old daughter)

I like the part when the little girl calls Wasp "Fairy" because she's not really called "Fairy." Her real name is "Wasp."

I like the part when Hulk says he is housebroken. It was really called "Heartbroken." Reptil had to tell him he meant "heartbroken."

I like Tigra.

I like the part when Hulk threw Human Torch, but Hulk calls him "Fire Boy."

Invisible Woman is my favorite on the Fantastic Four. I like the part when Hulk BURPS! I like the trophy because it looks like a mouth doing this "blaaaaaa." I also like Enchantress because of her pretty hair. Is she a princess?

This comic is as good as the cartoon.
(Dad's review - no it isn't.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Umbrella Academy: Dallas TPB

Gerard Way keeps things odd in the second installment of the Umbrella Academy. I don't totally remember where the first series left off, but I do like seeing the family trying to deal with the betrayal from the first series. That's actually my only big complaint, I read so many comics I was a bit lost trying to remember more about this world. Chimps are as smart as people there, right?

This story focuses on Number 5, the tough, time-traveling kid with ties to a pretty dangerous law enforcement organization. I think it is interesting that so many comic series have focused on time cops. What is it about enforcing the rules of time that people find so interesting? I would say the dinosaurs, but there weren't any in this one!

I do appreciate that Way has time travel is such an imprecise process. When most of the fam (including the most super-heroic, Kraken) try to go back in time to stop Number 5 and Rumor, they have to do a few rough years in Viet Nam first. It's a neat idea seeing a quick strike mission turn into years of rough living. It certainly lays some fantastic character development. Speaking of character development, I couldn't help but be amused by Hazel and Cha Cha. Sure, they look ridiculous and sort of act like the Joker, but those masks are pretty dang awesome.

Gabriel Ba has such an interesting artistic style. He's half Mike Mignola and half Michael Avon Oeming. That's a good hybrid, the cartoony art carries a lot of menace when it has to, even with fun elements like giant animal masks.


Saturday, September 25, 2010


Joshua Dysart pitches in to help Mike Mignola with his post-WWII series once again. And again, there are some great moments of terror sprinkled through this trade. I do have to admit, my favorite moment in the whole thing is the gigantic frog dancing in a glade with undead witches. I mean, that concept just sort of sells itself, doesn't it?

I love how Mignola and Dysart stock the initial BPRD field team with rough and tumble WWII vets. They have varied backgrounds but quickly fall in together once things get rough. I will say, seeing a comrade torn to shreds by butler-vampires will certainly make believers out of the most dedicated doubters. I love seeing Professor Bruttenholm's mystic past come to light as he attempts to make the BPRD more of a government institution. he can't quite leave behind his old supernatural contacts; they're still good guys to know.

Hellboy doesn't have much more than a supporting role, but I still grinned to see him yelling "BOOM" while playing baseball.

Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon split the art in some neat ways, according to the closing text at the end of the trade. I'm ashamed to say the change never totally jumped out at me. I thought the art was solid throughout, but I'm afraid I didn't notice the changes in artwork.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Marvel Two-In-One #51 (1979)

Is this the first time we saw Ben Grimm get a group together for poker? Probably not, since Peter Gillis' script calls for a bunch of new folks filling in for the Thing's normal buddies.

What's interesting is how great this little group works together. Ms. Marvel wins the poker game and more than holds her own in the fighting. Wonder Man gets his props when he's actually compared to Thor in power level. Beast works best as comic relief, his normal role during his Avengers membership. Fury does what he always does, and is gruff and grumpy while drafting heroes into helping him.

The villain in this is a rogue army unit that steals an enormous flying battlestation, leading to a nice aerial battle with the helicarrier. This story would be a six-part mini these days, but back in the 70's, this is just one issue of Marvel Two-In-One.

Frank Miller's artwork is unrecognizable. It's crisp, clean, and on-model. I love it! Now, Bob McLeod, one of my favorites, handles the inks, but I think I prefer the old Miller to the current, more stylized artist.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Transformers TPB v1: For All Mankind

I'm easily satisfied. Mike Costa continues his run from All Hail Megatron, and he's still doing a wonderful job moving the Transformers mythos forward while still keeping almost everyone acting as they did in the cartoons I loved as a kid.

With the Decepticons defeated, they're reduced to stragglers rampaging around looking for energon. And with the humans using reverse-engineered Transformers tech, the humans are usually capable of taking them out themselves; the problem is that they are all too willing to take out Autobots too. At a loss, Optimus surrenders to the humans, fracturing the Autobot army.

Most of the old group stick around following new leader Bumblebee. This group includes Ratchet, Wheeljack, Jazz, Brawn, Blur, and more. Hot Rod leads a group who wants to just leave Earth behind. His crew is Red Alert, Jet Fire, Prowl, Blue Streak, and more. It's pretty cool seeing more and more obscure characters showing up and taking sides, (including Omega Supreme!).

The bad guys get a lot of time too. Swindle of the stunticons is the main troublemaker, but Costa spends a whole issue showing things from Thundercracker's (my first TF) point of view. Sure, nostalgia fuels my affection for this property, but it is solid stuff.

I'm not a huge fan of the art, Don Figueroa's art really looks too much like the movies for me. The robot faces look too jaggy and sharp. I'd like them a bit more smooth like the old cartoon.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Comics on the Bubble: Marvel Universe #1-3 (1998)

I almost shouldn't count this storyline as "on the bubble." Written by Roger Stern and drawn by Steve Epting, the top notch creative team should have been a good reminder that this is a hell of a solid story.

Through nefarious means, Baron Von Strucker has plans to create an atomic arsenal during the last days of WWII. He's more invested in Hydra than in the Nazis or Germany, which puts him at odds with just about everyone. Stern does a fantastic job of making even faceless Hydra agents seem like real threats, the specially trained saboteurs are remarkably competent. I also like how they all have code-numbers, it gives just a hint of identity to the similar looking masses.

The Invaders are a team where I like the idea, but I don't often like the actual stories. Roy Thomas' series in the 70s was fun, but bogged down by old-style pacing. Stern takes the best elements of those old stories (the Torch's confidence, Namor's jet plane, the developing team) and handles them in a more modern fashion. The Torch is awesome in this, he's constantly mouthing off in a way I don't remember, boasting and threatening the guys he's attacking. Namor is as angry and grumpy as he always is; it's great seeing him lose it when someone calls him the "Sub-Mareener." Cap is actually a bit in the background, he is cool, of course, but I think Namor and Torch shine most on the good guy side. In fact, as a whole, this is almost a Von Strucker story, he does a lot with the page he's on.

Steve Epting has turned into a premiere artist, but even this older work looks great. He's got the different fashions down, and his Cap already looks awesome. I love the Hydra equipment (I don't want to ruin it). There are times when his art almost looks like John Buscema's, and that's a high compliment.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Deadpool: Wade Wilson's War #1-4



So none of that actually "counts" since this is a Marvel Knights book, right? Deadpool was amusing, and I like the idea of him teaming up with some other prominent merc-types, but this was all just sort of spinning wheels, right?

Jason Pearson draws some great comedy and action though. And his ladies are pleasantly... enhanced.

I'd say this Duane Swierczynski production is for hardcore DP fans and folks who dig Pearson's art. Marvel U fans need not apply.

Average (with beautiful art)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Amazing Spider-Girl v1 TPB

Tom DeFalco has created a wonderful little corner in the Marvel U for Mayday Parker. I may be really late getting to it, but I'm enjoying it.
Much like the alternate future in Last Days of Animal Man, the Marvel U has moved on in this series. Mayday Parker is the teenaged daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane, and the whole Marvel U sort of feels like it started aging closer to real time in the late 90s. Mayday is a good-hearted gal trying to resist the urge to act responsibly as Spider-Girl. Naturally, she ends up donning the webs and fighting villains, but I like that she's trying to do the right thing by her parents.

The villains feel wonderfully retro. There are old classics like Black Tarantula and Hobgoblin, but even the new guys like Bitter Frost and Reverb have "classic" looks. These feel like stories from the old Peter Parker series from the 70s, only starring a girl instead of a guy.

The supporting cast gets a LOT of pages, probably a few too many, but I can appreciate the effort to make Mayday's world a bit more than just heroes and villains. I bet my daughters will probably like that effort when I pass this trade onto them.

Ron Frenz's art is classic and fun. I love the character designs and the complete backgrounds. The art is solid from cover to cover.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Batwoman: Elegy HC

I'm not a huge fan of Greg Rucka's, although he certainly has written stuff I like. This series falls squarely in the middle, with some fantastic elements and some pieces that don't work so well.

First, the good stuff. Kate Kane is a fascinating new character. I love her supportive father and her fascinating relationship with him and her lost family members. Kate is a stand-up, noble character with great motivation; I think she's a wonderful addition to the DCU. I love Alice as her villain too. Villains with a personal touch always work best, and factor in that she's a perfect fit for Gotham, and Alice has star potential too.

The art is absolutely stunning. JH Williams experiments with pages in innovative ways every single issue. His ability to alter the tone of the artwork for different story elements makes the story work perfectly.

Now, the bad; I hate the other antagonists. The Book of Caine just doesn't work for Batwoman. It's too crazy. Sure, she can fight an evil cult, but there shouldn't be shape-shifting animal men in it! That's too wacky, even for Gotham. And maybe I missed some background, but I have no memory of those animal dudes. This picked up from 52, was there anything else? I know I skipped some Book of Caine comic during Final Crisis, was that connected? I just never got into the conflict with the cult, it seemed like it didn't belong.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Green Lantern #57

First, let me say that I love Doug Mahnke's artwork. The guy is awesome. But come on! The leader of the "Love" rings is dressed in sharp body armor while all of his followers are in gravity-defying tops. It's ridiculous.

I've been following along with the post-Blackest Night examination of the "State of Rings" in the DCU, but I can safely say that I'm starting to lose interest. The book opened with Hector Hammond obtaining the Orange Lantern, but he sort of shuffles out of the story. Now, I love Larfleeze in Vegas, that's a great idea, but I'm just wearing out on this tour of lantern bearers. The best elements in this title over the past few months have been the DCU-centric pieces. Stuff like the Lobo guest-shot, Hammond's appearance, these have been quite entertaining. How about some more Shark or Old Timer villainy? I've had enough of the rainbow corps for now.

I like the idea of Carol Ferris as an independent hero, but she really doesn't come across as one in this story. She's constantly making barbed comments to Hal about what her love is like. She clearly hasn't moved on, and maybe he hasn't either (since he doesn't like it when she frees a brainwashed dude by kissing him). It's starting to seem like both of these characters are just caught up in a destructive relationship they can't escape.

Again, Mahnke's art is dynamic and powerful. Everything looks great. And I can't complain that Carol doesn't look good as the new queen of the Star Sapphires. But contrasting her suit with both the Predator villain and the Predator entity? It gets pretty silly.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Brightest Day #10

Geoff Johns does a much better job this issue (I'm now sure that Johns is handling Hawkman, Aquaman, and Firestorm). With the weak link of Hawkman's terrible new origin taken out, I'm interested in the happenings here. Let's just skip to these guys and Martian Manhunter, and I think this is a solid little series.

Professor Stein provides an updated origin for Firestorm, explaining that the Matrix is actually the force behind the Big Bang. So now that it is tied between Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch, they have the potential to blow up the universe and start over at any time. When they are happy, things are fine, but when they start getting "fired up," they risk blowing up everything. This is a little too cosmic for me, but the antagonist that's been egging the two on finally shows up, giving the story a boost. We knew Johns liked writing the evil Firestorm in Blackest Night, and now he can keep doing it with the newly formed Deathstorm. I'm fine with this split, giving Firestorm his own big bad makes a lot of sense.

Speaking of big bads, Black Manta shows up to try and snatch his son Aqualad. I was wincing through the entire sequence because I was sure that Aqualad's Step-Dad was going to die to give his son a decent origin. There are a couple close calls before the best one, when Aquaman shows up and reminds Manta just who's the top dog (or big fish). It's a cool scene, I really like seeing Aquaman in such a strong role.

The art is fairly solid, although the Aquaman sequences are definitely stronger than the Firestorm ones. I had to go with the Firestorm cover, he's a new favorite of mine, but that Aqualad cover is pretty nice too.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Young Liars v1 TPB

David Lapham is insane. There is no way a sane person could come up with the plot and characters featured in this trade. It's brilliant, but it's mad.

Lapham has assembled a group of unlikable protagonists and placed them in an insane, impossible situation. While everyone involved is a big fan of music (each issue opens with some song recommendations printed on a mix tape), this series isn't as much about pop culture as it is about conspiracy, control, and spider aliens from Mars. Sadie is the star of the book, the crazy gal on the cover. She's got a bullet lodged in her brain, causing some re-wiring that has messed up her morals, sex drive, and adrenaline. She's constantly running at 120mph and is barely controllable.

Her boyfriend/controller is Danny, a manipulative jerk who seems like an ok guy at first, but becomes more and more despicable as the series wears on. They are surrounded by a group of oddities and broken folks, and together they're almost a dysfunctional family. While on wild chases for money, the group is also fleeing the Pinkertons, a group of sadistic goons sent by Sadie's father to bring her back home.

Lapham's art is great. His people look realistic, not like super-heroes or monsters. I especially appreciate the way he draws the different characters when they're just talking. They aren't posed like in a super-book, they are lounging and leaning and moving in natural ways. Which is why the unnatural plot is even more disturbing.

And honestly, I can't even go into the incredible, crazy things that happen. The details are crazy. The plot twists are mind-boggling. The narrators are unreliable. I find it absolutely brilliant.

While I would never want to live in the Young Liars' world, I find it a fascinating place to visit.
The cover has Sadie asking "Are you ready for this?" I can answer for you; you're not.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Avengers #4

How about that metallic foil cover? That would have cost us 50 cents extra a couple years ago. (Although I suppose the silver on the Zero Hour covers was free, right?)

Bendis brings a lot of action this issue, but a lot of it is still against those fairly generic, magic ghosts. There is a fun sequence with Iron Fist rocking a new uniform where he lectures Dr. Strange, but overall not a ton changes here.

I'm enjoying all the pages Bendis spends on the prime magic-users of the Marvel U. Dr. Strange, Dr. Voodoo, and Daimon Hellstrom don't get along, but they are entertaining.

Stuart Immonen's art is wonderful. I love the new Iron Fist suit. I also love seeing Immonen drawing the Thing again. He looks perfectly bulky, giving him a nice role on this team as the strong guy.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Booster Gold #36

How am I supposed to get by with no Blue Beetle after this fantastic showcase for Ted Kord? Heck, let's expand that, how am I going to get by with no Justice League International? (I will say, the recent preview art in the DC books gives hope there is a JLI relaunch in the works.)

Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis pay lip service to the Justice League: Generation Lost series by having Booster pop back to the present so he can make his required appearances in that title. I do like that Booster is essentially just goofing off in the past because he was a lot happier then.

The JLI era is so chock full of good interaction; I love seeing that Mr. Miracle and Big Barda ALSO knew Booster was from the future. So while he was trying to fit in, every single teammate he's talked to really knows when he's from. It's typical (JLI-era) Booster.

As for the plot, it's filled with more nonsense and jokes, including Blue Beetle being morphed into a chipmunk. Let's face it, no one is reading this for the plot, we're reading it because it's the most fun book out there.

Pat Oliffe is solid, but not quite as dynamic as Chris Batista. He keeps things looking on-model and dynamic, so I won't complain about any fill-in art this nice.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #9

Wow, what a cover. Fire may be trussed up by a hated foe, but look at her face and tell me she's worried. She looks confident and tough, I love it.

Nine issues in, it makes sense that the team needs some sort of confrontation with Max Lord. The problem is, Max's powers don't lead to very satisfying conflicts. He just overrides someone and suddenly the team is just fighting each other. Booster gets in some nice licks, and Fire shows how tough she's become, but once again, the star of the book is the new Rocket Red. This guy is the breakout star of the series for me.

I'm interested to see what's up with Max teaming up with the hero he finds at the end of the issue. Doesn't that go against Max's White Lantern orders?

Fernando Dagnino handles the art, but there are some definite Aaron Lopresti-looking faces in this thing. I was amused at Rocket Red flying around in underwear with only his gloves and boots on. What a hero!


Batman & Robin #14

Wow. I absolutely love some of the elements that Grant Morrison has created in this oddball story, but wow. I'm totally befuddled by what is happening here. Just like Final Crisis and Batman RIP, it feels like Morrison is skipping over portions of the story.

There are huge leaps in the plot, with characters leaping locations and with new plot elements like Commissioner Gordon getting hooked on Professor Pyg's drugs. Now, I can fill in the blanks, but this does make for a disjointed read.

Pyg is still absolutely horrific. His odd grunts and snorts while he rants makes him terrifying. Dick Grayson is doing a nice job as Batman, but Damian is finding out how tough the Joker can be to deal with. I do find myself rooting for Damian to find a way to get the upper hand.

Frazer Irving's art remains stunning. His Joker is a monster and his Batman is heroic. Pyg is going to give me nightmares for another month.

Good (but a low good because of the gaps in plots)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Authority v10: Rule Britania TPB

I tried my best, but I just can't make myself like the Authority. They're just too mean and superior to everyone else. Even in this trade, during the end of the world, it seems Midnighter and Swift always have time to remember how great they are how easily they will defeat their foes. Hawksmoor is in a bad way at the start, but by the end he's back to making tons of boasts about being the king of cities once again. The Engineer is the most approachable of the heroes, and even she comes across as tough to like.

The team faces off against a possessed Apollo, a crazy plant controller, and Kaizen Gamorra. The fights are fine, and I like seeing the team try to take care of England, but I was bummed that there were no Numbers of the Beast characters featured in this trade at all. There were so many cool characters introduced in that book, I find myself wanting to see more of them and less of Wildstorm's more established stars.

The art is pretty solid throughout, with Simon Coleby handling the majority. A few of the artistic shifts are a bit jarring, but everyone involved is pretty good.

This holds up fine as another chapter in Wildstorm's post-apocalyptic world, but my dislike of the main characters makes the whole book a bit less interesting.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Marvel Two-In-One #47 & 48

Man, I love Bill Mantlo. The guy came up with the craziest, silliest ideas, but they are always buried in solidly entertaining comics featuring great fights and guest-stars.

Let me explain Machinesmith's plan for these two issues. First, he takes over a gang of mobsters (their leader is named Mr. Carnation), the purpose? He needs them to capture the Yancy Street Gang and force them to build an army of robots. Machinesmith is counting on them contacting the Thing, who will ride to the rescue. Machinesmith's perfectly designed robots will then defeat the Thing. This portion of the plan goes off without a hitch in issue #47.

In #48, Machinesmith places the Thing under his mental control, and forces the Thing to smash the robots to prove the Thing's power. 'Smith wants to have the Thing kill the Fantastic Four, but first he's going to use the Thing to eliminate another problem; Jack of Hearts. Jack walks into an ambush, confident in his crazy costume and abilities, and he actually takes out the mind-controlled Thing. Luckily, his full force blast to Thing's face also destroyed the Machinesmith's mind-control device, just as the Yancy Street Gang busts loose. The heroes arrive to take out 'Smith, only to find out that he was a robot, the real guy is nowhere close. (I love those villains that ALWAYS seem to get away, Taskmaster is another guy like this). It's such a ridiculous, convoluted plan, but by following it, Mantlo set up some great set-pieces and a pair of cool team-ups. I know it isn't fashionable, but I'd kill for a solid team-up book like this; it's a pity Robert Kirkman's attempt at a new Marvel Team-Up didn't work.

Chic Stone's art is classic and fun. Jack of Hearts looks awesome; the guy has 4 colors on his uniform and his energy blasts are a fifth (pink). I love Marvel 70's characters. I also dig how the Yancy Street Gang's faces are constantly shrouded in shadow.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Last Days of Animal Man TPB

It's always refreshing that I can be pleasantly surprised.

Gerry Conway is a classic author, and that's probably why this mini-series reads so much like the old stories I loved growing up. By setting this tale years in the future, Conway has created a world that I'm anxious to learn more about. The DCU actually feels... unexplored in this story. There are plenty of familiar things like Superman, Starfire, and Animal Man, but there are a lot neat new developments to. How did the League of Titans form? What happened to Red Tornado to make him more robotic? Who is the new Flash? We never get the answer to these questions, but changes like this make this feel like a living extension of the current DCU.

I'm not sure if Bloodrage and Prismatik are supposed to be direct commentaries on the extreme villains of modern comics, but they work well as allegories AND as antagonists for Animal Man.

As for the star of the book, Animal Man comes off like a normal guy who's been playing super-hero for years. Buddy Baker is the star, and his running narrative makes him extremely relatable. I've always liked the idea of Animal Man, but after reading this, I want to see more of him. (Preferably set in this future timeline.)

Chris Batista's art is wonderful. I love his clean, classic style, and it fits perfectly in this tale. Animal Man, Superman, and Power Woman all look aged, but still handsome and impressive. It's tough to show those added years while keeping the characters looking heroic, but Batista nails it. I like the repeated punches Animal Man takes too, the guy must get punched through the air four or five times in these issues.

Oh, and a Blue Whale Green Lantern? Genius.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Immortal Iron Fist v4: The Mortal Iron Fist TPB

Duane Swierczynski's take on Iron Fist reads a lot better in trade. I lost interest pretty quickly when Matt Fraction left this title, but I'm happy I gave this run another shot, I actually do like seeing Danny Rand put through his paces.

Each of the Iron Fists throughout history have died at the age of 33 (and guess who just had a birthday). Now a weird, creepy dragon man is on the prowl, hunting down the current Iron Fist. I love the flashbacks with fantastic art by Russ Heath. The flashbacks show how one of the previous Iron Fists died fighting this dragon-dude, and how an Iron Fist's death means a dragon from the Eigth City gets to try and eat the dragon of K'un L'un. The stakes are high, and the villain actually feels like he has the upper hand for this whole trade. He can anticipate all Rand's moves, and while Rand does even the odds a bit by bringing in Cage, the Daughters of the Dragon, and the Immortal Weapons, I'm not quite sure that the bad guy would lose this one. Iron Fist finds a way to win by channeling his inner rage and fighting as he would have BEFORE he became Iron Fist. It seems like a bit of a stretch, thinking that this style would be beyond the dragon-guy's ability to counter. I really dug the dragon guy's whole attitude. After killing Iron Fists for so long, he never really considers that he could lose, and it takes most of the trade before he even acknowledges that Iron Fist is a competent opponent.

Travel Foreman's art is ok, but it looks a bit like sloppy work by Leinil Francis Yu. Some panels pop nicely, but other times the characters' face are oddly veined or elongated.

The one-shot featuring Orson Randall is quite fun. It's got some cracking dialogue about pistacchio nuts that made me grin. Randall works well as a gumshoe type, so the story is a nice fit. And I always enjoy Guiseppe Camuncoli's square-jawed art.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


The Main Man looks pretty darn tough on that cover, doesn't he? David Finch does a great job making Lobo look like he walked off a Simon Bisley cover from 1992. Fun stuff.

The Brainiac story wraps up leaving an interesting new status quo. Brainiac is loose in the universe with new emotions and Stargrave the anti-sun working for him. I hope they don't show up again for a while. I love Stargrave's personality and looks, but I'm getting tired of Brainiac.
I haven't been enthralled by this Brainiac story, mainly because the whole arc has taken the focus off the greater cast, leaving Vril Dox with most of the spotlight. I think he's a character that works better contrasting with more likable folks, and there isn't really anyone to cheer for right now. Lobo isn't exactly a good guy, and I cheer for him anyway, but I'd be more engaged if Captain Comet, Starfire, or Adam Strange could show up a bit.

Claude St. Aubin's art looks a bit more rushed than usual this month. The Lobo pages look nice, but I'm less impressed with the Brainiac stuff. Of course, I don't really like the bulked up design for Brainiac, so that isn't a surprise.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hellboy v10: The Crooked Man TPB

When Mike Mignola is on, he's unstoppable.

I don't understandy why the Hellboy mythos has turned so dour and grim. I understand that HB has to struggle with his dark roots, but I find I enjoy the character a heck of a lot more when he is running around fighting random monsters and yelling "BOOM!" I don't need to see him moping about his fate.

The first three issues in this trade are wonderful. Richard Corben's expressive artwork makes the story sing. The backwoods of the Appalachian Mountains are as mysterious a place as Lemuria during this devil and witch infested story. This was just a fantastic character piece that let Hellboy do what he does best. See cool monsters, then punch them in the face.

That's why the Moloch story works so well too. This one is even drawn by Mignola, so seeing HB knock around a giant demon is about as satisfying as it gets.

The other two stories are fun little Hellboy yarns, but the four issues above make this one of the best Hellboy trades in years.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Fables TPB 13: The Great Fables Crossover

I'm afraid I'm a bit of a moron. I stopped reading Jack of Fables around trade number five, so I think I missed out on a fair amount of the Literals lead in. The problem is that the Literals are the core of this crossover, and so I found myself a bit confused about these... "ultra-Fables," one of whom has the power to destroy reality.
The threat is as big as it gets, and yet other than some clever meta-commentary about where the Fables comics have taken some classic characters (Snow White marrying the Big Bad Wolf? Preposterous!) I never got into this. I laughed at the silly Literal genres, they were very entertaining, but I never really worried about the outcome. Jack was great, of course, and he ends up being the best part of this trade. He totally doesn't care about the Literal part of the crossover, he just wants to cause trouble at the Farm and hook up with Rose Red. I found his chapters of this collection the easiest to understand (and therefore, the most enjoyable). I never quite understood why Thorne couldn't see Writers' Block, I don't get Deus Ex Machina, and the Page sisters are fun, but I don't understand their purpose.
The art is great, of course. Mark Buckingham, Russ Braun, and Tony Akins have been directing this world for so long that everything looked spot on. I do love the new Jack Frost design, too. Overall, this is one of the weaker chapters in the still-excellent Fables ongoing.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Invincible #74

Robert Kirkman's stars finally get wrapped up into the Viltrumite War when Invincible and his immediate family show up. The cover promises a long-reaching, sprawling fight putting all the heroes up against the Viltrumites, but the actual content mostly focuses on the Graysons. I also love how quickly Kirkman deals with the Coalition of Planets traitor. I'm not sure I buy into the horrific idea of hte Viltrumites massing, the Coalition has a pretty sweet team put together at this point with Allen the Alien and his crew.

Ryan Ottley's art doesn't have as much gore this month, I'm disappointed! In all seriousness, the book looks great and I love the worn down look of the heroes already. They've been living on a desolate bug-world, and they look like it.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dynamo 5 TPB v2

I'm way behind on Jay Faerber's other Image super-team, Dynamo 5. I liked the first trade well enough, so I ordered the second. And now it has been sitting on my shelf for months waiting for me to get to it. I'm glad I did, this is a fun little super-hero book that has the original feel of Noble Causes while focusing a little more on straight-up super-heroics.

Captain Dynamo's kids are still the only heroes of Tower City, but now they are starting to rack up their own arch-enemies. The nicely named Bonechill is the coolest of the bunch. Volt is a pretty generic electricity guy, and Brains and Brawn round out the flunkies. Their boss is a nice femme fatale, and I always appreciate when the villain team has the exact same number of members as the heroes.

One of my favorite things about the design of the Dynamo 5 team is having the jock be the telepath. That never happens, so I love seeing Scatterbrain smash people using his football skills even as he's using his fairly delicate mind-powers. Scrap is an easy pick to be fan favorite, she's tough and confident, easy to cheer for. I also dug Myriad's complicated origin. Visionary's a fun character, being such a momma's boy, but I've got to worry that his "helicopter mom" is going to cause some problems.

Mahmud Asrar's designs are fun. Bonechill's skull-head and ice spikes are a nice visual. Brains and Brawn are a bit more generic, but overall the team looks great. The dynamic art has a wonderful 80's Marvel look.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Secret Six #25

So it seems last month's excellent Western story was a one-off, this issue picks up with Catman crazy and the Six in shambles. Jeannette and Bane are working with their new team on typical Six-type missions. While I love the original Six, I must admit I love the new team too. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when Dwarfstar's contract-kill of the Atom comes up, I can't imagine Giganta will take it well. King Shark is a lot more talkative and funny than I remember, but I don't suppose that's a problem. Lady Vic is awesome as always, she's one of my favorite Chuck Dixon creations (along with Bane). Gail Simone has a great eye for characters with potential.

Meanwhile, Catman is still bugging out, although the team's new contract could help. Mockingbird wants the remaining Five (Deadshot, Scandal, Catman, Ragdoll, and Black Alice) to head to a lost land (Skataris?) to head off Bane's crew. Bane is claiming the land for the US, and Mockingbird wants to stop them. Now, unless I'm confused, I thought Amanda Waller was Mockingbird? What's up here? Or am I misremembering?

Jim Calafiore is a nice fit for the title. His dark art fits the tone of the story nicely. And how about that cover, what a fantastic idea.


Hawkeye & Mockingbird #4

Man, do I love this comic. Jim McCann is using all the threads of the Marvel U to make this a self-contained book that lives and breathes in the Marvel U. Even better (for me), a lot of those ties are to older comics! This issue has numerous name drops for Tigra, Hawk & Mock's old teammate in the West Coast Avengers. Naturally she'd come through and give them a hand, after all, she was involved the first time Mock had to deal with the Phantom Rider. I also love that the "current" Phantom Rider shows up to deal with the evil Lincoln Slade version. Marvel has some wonderfully convoluted family histories, and I do worry that some new readers might be confused with a heroic PR, but those of us versed in the minutiae of Marvel have a lot to be grinning about.

Speaking of grinning, once again, Hawkeye is smiling through all his fights and he looks like he's having a great time. Mockingbird even gets in on the action here; she seems to be having a lot more fun with the old partnership. I love seeing a happy couple working together, so this is wonderful. The big kiss scene was great too, and just like any good romance, while the two leads got to express their feelings, and they got a great kiss, trouble pops in before things can go any further. Action, comedy, and some romantic tension. This is a great comic.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Justice League of America #48

James Robinson's conclusion to his Starheart story arc isn't bad, it's just a bit odd.

All the players sort of return to their pre-story status quo except for Jade and Obsidian, who can't get near each other without transforming into some evil combo-thing. It's an odd choice, but I'm ok with letting the characters breathe on their own for a bit. It's also interesting that Jade seems to have completed her White Lantern task; she's gets her life back (permanently?) as a reward for balancing out Obsidian's evil. I suppose that means this is no longer a Brightest Day tie-in book.

There are a few good character moments (like Kyle swooping away with Obsidian) and some odd ones (Hourman sure comes off as needy to Jesse Quick). I can't complain about the final product though. Robinson didn't kill anyone and he did a nice job putting some 2nd-string characters in the spotlight.

As near as I can tell, the JLA is now Nightbats, Wonder Donna, Jesse Quick, Jade, Supergirl, Congo Bill, and Starman. Are Cyborg and Red Tornado still on the team?

Mark Bagley's art is still a nice fit. His Hourman and Wildcat look darn similar, but that's ok, Wildcat has more stubble.


Brightest Day #9

Now how am I supposed to drop this comic when there is one good issue after every bad one? After being bored out of my skull last time, this issue was actually sort of interesting. Again, when Martian Manhunter takes center stage, I'm a lot more forgiving, but I'm just more invested in his story. I love the idea that he's been brought back to life to destroy his rebuilding project on Mars. I also wonder if part of J'onn's return is tied to killing this other green Martian. With some of the easy (or at least easy to understand) missions some of the returned characters have gotten, I think that J'onn has the hardest. What the heck is he supposed to be doing?

Putting Deadman and Dove with Aquaman and Mera immediately makes that both aspects of the story more interesting. Neither thread seemed "worth" getting so much page time, even though Deadman is paving the way for a mysterious White Lantern. I like the idea that these heroes are all heralds for something or someone else. And we all agree on the right person to be the big return, right? That's right, it has to be Ted Kord. Anything else would be a disappointment.

The art is pretty solid throughout, although Green Arrow looks a tad troll-like at times.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #8

Judd Winick is still doing a nice job with this book. He's balancing the seriousness of Max Lord's villainy with the natural humor that he's built up with this team. The new Rocket Red in particular is awesome! His dialogue is tremendous, and giving him some actual heroic qualities just makes him cooler.

Captain Atom's rescue is another high point, that guy is a big gun and he deserves top billing when he shows up. Fire and Ice's drama bums me out a bit, since I loved them as buds back in the day, but I have some faith that Winick is going to restore that relationship. I actually think that Power Girl would fit in nicely on this team too.

Aaron Lopresti does another great job with the art. Max Lord's appearance is quite menacing and creepy at the close of the issue.