Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Green Lantern Corps #54

Man, what a bummer. I'm a Kyle Rayner fan, but his popularity is too low in comparison to Sinestro these days. Not only does Sinestro repeatedly kick the crap out of Kyle, but Sinestro actually ends the fight on a "mercy rule" since it is so easy for him to beat him. Kyle has always been a normal guy made good, but I would have liked to have seen him do a little better. Oh well.

It is interesting that Tony Bedard gives Sinestro such a prominent role in this story since he doesn't actually get involved in rescuing his daughter. I have to assume he'll show up later. For now, I'm much happier seeing Kyle, Ganthet, Boddika, and John Stewart show up to take on the Weaponer.

We see more of the Weaponer's background, and I was kind of amused that his story is sort of sad, but it is hard to be too sympathetic with the Qwardian's warlike culture.

Tyler Kirkham's art makes quantum leaps in this issue. Had this been his first GLC issue, I would have been a lot more excited about him. The detail in many of the panels is great, the splash page of the Weaponer's home really tells a lot about the character. All of the figures seemed a lot tighter too, their looks were more of Kirkham's design rather than carrying over the previous artist's take.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Green Lantern #59

Now that's a pretty cool idea. Geoff Johns finally gives us some background on the mysterious Indigo Lanterns, and they are a lot spookier than I first suspected. We saw them grab Black Hand at the end of Blackest Night, and upon his return, he's quite changed. He's overflowing with compassion. Naturally, Hal Jordan and Barry Allen are suspicious of this, and they figure this might mean that the rest of those Indigo Lanterns are all "reformed" monsters too. Suddenly all those weird looking Indigos might end up being horrific maniacs forced into doing good by the compassion entity. That's a cool idea.

I still don't really care (or even remember) what the main story is with the Lantern entities. It's all too cosmic and confusing for me. I do like seeing the "prime" lanterns interacting with Earth heroes though, once again Larfleeze is awesome when he steals Barry Allen's wallet.

Parallax (the fear entity) pops up and promptly possesses Barry Allen. I don't like it, by making Barry go through the same possession as Hal Jordan, it lessens Jordan's responsibility for what he did as Parallax. Hal already gets too much of a free pass, so I don't want to see his best friend become even MORE understanding.

Doug Mahnke's art is stunning, as usual. The Indigo Lantern's go from kind to creepy in the span of one panel, which is quite a feat. I'm not loving the Parallax-Flash design, but that could be due to my coolness on the concept.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Walking Dead #79

Man, it is getting easy to write Walking Dead reviews. Robert Kirkman is simply creating one of the most consistent, compelling serials I've ever read. Every single month this is one of the best comics I read.

Things are going to get hairy in the Community. Rick and Abraham are doing their best to clean up after the shootout at the front gate last issue, but I'm not sure it's going to work. Abraham in particular is taking a strong stand, heading out with a huge crew to scrape off any zombies that were drawn by the gunfire. Unfortunately, it looks like a huge swarm has arrived. I think the work teams have a good chance to get back inside, especially with Rick and Michonne clearing the way for them. I'm more worried about Andrea. She's going to be trapped over in her sniper tower, and with that many zombies packed in outside, she's not going to be able to get back.

Kirkman throws in more details that make the book so compelling. We hear about a failed recruiting mission, we see more fallout from the mysterious Davidson, and we start to learn a bit more about some of the other members of the Community. I also love seeing Carl, Rick, and the others getting comfortable now that the situation is dangerous. Actually, it seems Michonne has adjusted quite well to a "normal" life, I'm going to be sad to see her have to deal with this zombie horde.

Charlie Adlard does another bang-up job. The closing splash does a nice job in both establishing the current threat and setting the location of the Community.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Brightest Day #14

This is getting ridiculous. Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi shift the focus away from the terrible Hawk-story and over to Deadman (who has been sorely neglected) and once again, the book turns on a dime towards quality. It actually seems like the writers have something to add to Boston Brand/Deadman. He was a selfish jerk when he was alive and it took his death to make him a hero. Now that he's been given a second chance, he's absolutely horrified at the idea of dying again. (I still think that Deadman will be one of the characters who doesn't get the "Life Returned" reward from the White Lantern though. Deadman just doesn't work as a name for a living guy.)

Deadman is certain that the newly returned Bruce Wayne is destined to wear the White Lantern ring, but he ends up being pretty wrong. So wrong that one of Mr. Freeze's goons almost makes Deadman live up to his name once again. I liked seeing the White Lantern entity (whoever it is) get a little saucy with Deadman, warning him to make a better choice on who should wear the ring. So I guess the search goes on, but at least Dove looks to be sticking around with Deadman.

The art in this one is pretty solid, not many other characters show up, but the white Bat-suit is suitably ridiculous/interesting.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Batman: The Return #1

Grant Morrison is still coming up with new ideas. I don't think I've ever seen a flashback of Batman's origin from the point of view of the bat. That's the kind of simple, awesome idea that can make or break a comic. I was so pleased with that concept that everything else that happened in this thing was gravy. (Not that I'm forgiving that unreasonable 4.99 price tag. That's way too much for one comic.)

Morrison is laying the seeds for his run on Batman Inc., where Bruce Wayne franchises a bunch of heroes to take on the Batman identity all over the world. The first few folks to get franchised are Dick Grayson, Stephanie Brown, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne. No big surprises yet, but I loved seeing Damian try to make things work with Bruce. At this point, Damian clearly works much better with Dick Grayson than with his own Dad.

Morrison also introduces us to another powerful conspiracy called Leviathan. I can't tell much about these guys yet, but I do dig the international feel of the group. I'd bet Tim Drake will match up nicely against them due to all his experience as Red Robin...

David Finch's art is fine, he does a nice job with the new batsuit, and he has to develop a ton of new gear too, including flight suits and GI Robots. His Alfred looks a little too pinched, but that's a small complaint. That one Leviathan operative has a pretty sweet design, almost like a Middle Eastern Batman.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Comics on the Bubble: Deathlok (1999)

Joe Casey always loves mixing up the mad ideas with the nods to classic Marvel continuity. And his 1999 series Deathlok was a nice chance for him to play around with both of those regular concepts.

The series focused on Jack Truman, Agent 18 (a nod to Sharon Carter's numbered status). Casey had fetured Truman in a couple issues of Cable in the years before this, but after extensive damage, it was Truman's turn to get turned into Marvel's favorite killer cyborg.

Casey also spent quite a bit of time on this run dealing with the Clown from the Circus of Crime. Clown is a tough guy, no doubt about it. He definitely carries a lot more menace than in any of his other appearances.

Issues 1-3: The opening issues have Agent Truman inhabiting the body of a 7-year old boy as the SHIELD air-cav fights the Deathlok body in Las Vegas. Good. Keep

Issue 4: The Clown feature issue, where he fights off crowds of robots and shows what a competent hitman he is. Ok. Maybe Keep?

Issue 5: This issue has lots of stream of consciousness rambling as Jack Truman deals with his transformation into Deathlok. A bit too metaphysical for me. Sell

Issue 6: Kind of a generic done-in-one where Deathlok takes command of a bunch of SHIELD cyborgs. It's ok. Matt Smith does the art. Sell

Issue 7: Eric Canete handles the art for this one, so it's a bit blocky, but it does feature Puff Adder from the Serpent Society, so that's a plus. Sell

Issues 8 & 9: A two-parter hunting down an amnesiac Nick Fury. The Ringmaster's scheme is starting to come together nicely too, and Joe Casey is really getting into his long-running plot. Very cool. Keep

Issue 10: John Buscema comes in to draw the anticipated (by me) Clown/Deathlok fight. Gotta keep that. Keep

And that's all I have of this run.

Summary: A real mixed bag, I worry this might be one of those bubble reviews where I actually seek out the last five issues out of quarter bins next summer! KEEP

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dark X-Men TPB

Good old Paul Cornell. Once again he's got a tossed together group of random characters and he really makes them sing.

This picks up after Uncanny X-Men's Utopia story, with Norman Osborn creating his own team of Dark X-Men. The team is Mystique, (Weapon) Omega, Mimic, and the Dark Beast. The actual team is a bit small, but that's because the antagonist in the story (so the hero) is X-Man, a sort of forgotten relic from the Age of Apocalypse. This is the amped up, Warren Ellis version, so he's a bit more interesting than I remember. Norman Osborn gets a ton of panel time too, he's a major character in every issue. It was fun seeing Cornell get a chance to put words in Osborn's mouth, he captures the sleezy confidence perfectly. I really look forward to Cornell getting more work with top-level characters. He can do it, as evidenced by how quickly he nailed Osborn, Mystique, and X-Man in this. Having Mystique walk around in public impersonating Jean Grey is a stroke of genius.

I've always been a Mimic fan, so I'm glad he got some screen time, although he and Omega are pretty much plot devices and afterthoughts. I'd love to see him take a try at being a real hero. I can't say I care too much about Omega at this point. His powers are so unclear and he's had such a malleable personality that I have no real attachment to him. I suppose there is still potential there, but he's such a pushover. Dark Beast is always great. He's funny, cruel, and a great villain.

Leonard Kirk does a great job drawing all these mutants, but what really wowed me was his Green Goblin. He looked iconic and scary, and it makes me long for Kirk getting a gig on some big-time heroes like the Avengers or Spider-Man. I don't think he's worked on such bright characters, but he'd be great.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dynamo 5 v3: Fresh Blood TPB

I'm not familiar enough with Jay Faerber's corner of the Image universe to recognize all the players in this trade, but Faerber does a nice job making Tower City feel like a classic comic location. From the agents of F.L.A.G. to the glut of silver-age sounding villains, this place likes an old time comic.

With the rest of the team moping after losing their mentor, only the powerhouse Scrap is keeping the faith and protecting Tower City. She brings in a new Dynamo 5 to help her keep up, including new hero Vigil, mother & daugther heroes Firebird, and new (to me) hero Quake. Everything feels a tad on the cheesy side, but that's ok, it gives the whole book a sort of mid-80's Marvel feel. SinceI love that, I enjoy the tone of the book.

Faerber has a nice mix of core plot and nice sub-drama for the regular cast. There may be a bunch of subs on the team, but the stars of the book still get plenty of panel time.

Mahmud Asrar has a great, dynamic style that really sells the action. He gets to draw all manner of heroes smashing things up and they look great. I do think he enjoys drawing Scrap's rear, it gets featured once an issue at least!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Nightmaster: Monsters of Rock #1

Hoo boy. I was pretty sure I'd pick this up, because I like the concept of Nightmaster (dude with magic sword fights monsters), but that logo on the cover sold me. It's almost as cool as Dethklok's!

Adam Beechen doesn't really have time to craft a compelling story, so he uses a pretty amusing aged hippie to give us a running narrative of Jim Rook: Nightmaster. In one of the coolest origins in comics, Jim Rook was a 60's rock star who happened upon a magic sword. From that point on, Rook battled in another dimension as its champion. It's such a classic origin, but what makes it neat is that he was famous BEFORE he became Nightmaster, he already had a claim to fame that he left behind. In this one shot he just gets to pose and show off how tough he is, but seeing his impact on this old fan is a treat.

Kieron Dwyer was a big selling point for me on this book. I absolutely love his past comic work, especially Captain America and the Avengers. His faces have gotten a tad craggier, but he still captures action and drama in a great fashion.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dazzler #9 (1981)

So there are a couple possibilities why Dazzler is such a moron in this comic. Either she's a novice hero, so she makes dumb mistakes; she's a girl, so she's stupid; or she's young, so she's stupid.

In this issue some heavies strong-arm her into traveling to Project Pegasus to have her powers studied. She's not happy about it, but she decides to stick it out because Quasar is cute and she wants to hang out with him. Later in the issue, as she gets unhappy with all the poking and prodding, she starts to question the entire Project's motivation. Klaw, the evil-looking sound being, starts crying and telling Dazzler that the scientists are hurting him. So she busts him loose!!!!! He goes nuts, of course, and it takes her and Quasar to eventually take him out. I just love that she's so gullible. Danny Fingeroth sure writes her as a pretty naive and stupid hero.

I don't get it, is the reader supposed to feel bad that she's so gullible?

Frank Springer rocks the silver suit and roller skates. Dazzler's origina costume is one of the coolest relics of the 70s out there, and I love seeing her fight villains in it. Quasar looks a bit bulkier than I remember, but maybe baggy clothes were in fashion!


Saturday, November 20, 2010


Hey kids, comics! What says fun-loving adventure comics like having your team take on rape-camps?

Tony Bedard actually has an interesting story here, I just continue to worry about using these types of stories starring characters that appear on kids cartoons. I always like seeing Starfire get the focus of an issue, and she is tough throughout this book, but still.

I still don't really care about the new GLs. Again, I appreciate that Bedard has handed GL rings to two races that are typically bad guys in the DCU, and this does give us a different look at those societies, but I'm just not sure these characters are going to have much staying power. Couldn't that panel time do more with some of the neglected cast members like Amon Hakk or Wildstar? Heck, I barely recognized Bounder, one of the founding members!

Claude St. Aubin and Kevin Sharpe don't have the same style, but they are both good enough storytellers that their pages all get the job done.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Criminals v5: The Sinners TPB

Ed Brubaker has created such a seedy, interesting world. I wouldn't want to live there, but I love getting the chance to pop in and catch up.

Tracy Lawless is still hanging around in the unnamed city, working off the debts made by his brother back in the second trade. Brubaker doesn't go into much detail on what Tracy is working off, but it doesn't matter. We know the important stuff, Tracy is basically a decent guy, he's tough, lonely, and a guy you don't mess with. All the expected tropes are there, the old friends, the rival mobsters, heck, the only thing that doesn't quite fit is that Tracy's gal isn't quite a femme fatale. Sure, it's dangerous for them to be together, but the two of them actually seem happy together.

Since Tracy is not very good as a hitman, he gets tasked to find out who is killing important and untouchable mobsters all over the city. It's a twisted path that Tracy does untangle, but he gets a lot of help along the way. Just about everything that can go wrong, does, and lots of people get hurt or killed. The sad part is that not all those casualties deserve it (although most do). In the end, Tracy has to run from this life once again, I just hope we get to see him again. He's a fascinating character.

Sean Phillips' art is moody, nuanced, and action packed. The darkness oozes across panels and pages, making the moments of bright clarity worth noting. The shootouts and chases are well choreographed, and the "acting" on the characters is perfect. That closing panel is awesome, you KNOW someone's getting killed.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Batman & Superman vs. Vampires & Werewolves

Guys, I'm not going to give you a hard sell on this book. Let's face it, this is the type of comic that you've got some sort of opinion in mind as soon as you read the title. You either think "this could be glorious" or "what a stupid idea." Let me tell you where I fit in.

Kevin VanHook isn't a fantastic writer, he doesn't do anything wonderful or new with the medium, but he writes one hell of a fun story. Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, Nightwing, Wonder Woman, and the Demon all get a chance to face down some pretty disgusting mosters. There are vampires, werewolves, and Lovecraftian beasties galore. I did like seeing that Batman's "no-kill" rule doesn't extend to the undead.

VanHook has some plot to give all this a purpose, but it is all just window dressing to give the villain (Dr. Coombs) a nice origin and motivation. Really, that's his name. I think VanHook knows his audience.

Tom Mandrake is one of the best horror artists in the business, but people forget how good he is at drawing heroes. He does a fantastic job on both in this.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Avengers #6

Well, I suppose that Doctor Voodoo has been an Avenger, so I can't make my normal complaint that the team couldn't clean up their own mess. Now, they still need a lot of help from guest-stars Dr. Strange and Daimon Hellstrom, but at least Strange has ties to the team. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure who is even on the team. It feels like there are so many heroes hanging around that there just isn't enough screen time for everyone. Folks like Wolverine and Spidey get enough panel time, but Ms. Marvel, Mockingbird, and Iron Fist are lost in the background.

It comes down the same problems that Avengers 1-6 had, and that's focus. There were 6 issues dealing with this foe, who only really showed up last issue. We spent too long dealing with generic ghosts and energy falling from the sky.

I appreciate Bendis bringing Killraven to the modern Marvel U, but where does a character like that fit in? I preferred him as a potential "future Avenger."

Stuart Immonen's art is still the high point of this book, but I don't think I can justify the $3.99 anymore. I'm afraid New Avengers is switching to trades.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Booster Gold #38

Thank goodness there are still a few comics I can read that are fun. I'm not saying that comics should always have the low stakes that Booster's title usually does, but at least it is an enjoyable experience. So many comics are just filled with angst and forced drama, it is wonderful reading a book where the characters are having fun and cracking jokes.

This issue has Booster and Skeets heading into the past to rescue Booster's ward. It seems she stole a time sphere and headed back to WWII to make some changes. Of course, things don't go smoothly, so Booster ends up meeting up with the old JLI character General Glory. He's just as much of a doof as I remember, but I forgot how silly it was seeing Glory trying to pull his youthful sidekick, Ernie, along. I remember Glory talking about Ernie in those JLI issues, but Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis give us a whole new level of wackiness here. Ernie wants out, badly, and he spends the issue terrified that he's about to be killed.

This is Booster Gold, so things work out, Booster sort of gets to show off, but everyone still piles on anyway.

Chris Batista's bright, shiny style is perfect for this title. Everyone looks a tad cartoony, but it works in the context. This is still one of my favorite comics.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #13

Guys, this issue was totally radical to the extreme. Watch out for hardcore spoilers below!

There was like, a whole city that got blown up, and Magog blew his own head off! When he blew it off, there were like chunks of brains and stuff everywhere! (Hey kids, comics!) It's really awesome at the end, because ANOTHER DCU city gets blown up when Captain Atom explodes! I mean, last week in JSA, a whole city got blown up, and this week, another one does! That's hardcore, huh?

In fact, this issue is just ok. Winnick does his best to rush in some characterization to make us care a little bit about Magog. Since he hasn't been a factor in this book until now, though, it is too little too late. I mean, DC must have really reversed its feelings on Magog if he went from having his own book to a one-time appearance in this title where he dies. Max Lord does succeed in doing his White Lantern job, so he's back to stay. I haven't been keeping tabs, how are the other returnees doing?

I do have to say I'm disappointed in the level of gore and destruction in these last couple DCU books. I mean, the heroes really are incompetent, and the only answer for this level of danger for civilians is the death penalty for most super-villains. I mean, two cities in like two weeks? That's ridiculous!

Joe Bennett's art is fine, as always, he does his best work on Blue Beetle (who spends the issue running away). I did like Magog, and Bennett drew him well, so at least he went out looking good.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Batman: Dark Allegiances

I haven't bought any Howard Chaykin books since he was such an @$$ to me a couple years ago in Charlotte at Heroes Con, but I was recently flipping through my bookshelf Batman titles and figured I'd give some a re-read.

Chaykin's Elseworld story is set in pre-WWII America, with all the normal bat-characters involved, but everyone's a bit different. Penguin, Two-Face, Joker, and Catwoman all appear, but they have different names and more "realistic" looks. They aren't super-criminals, they're all fascists out to destroy America. Batman is an industrialist out to clean up the streets and enjoy himself.

Chaykin can't resist smutting things up a bit, so of course Catwoman has a dirty past. There are multiple references made to "stag reels" in her past where she acted inappropriately with both multiple men and a dog. I don't think it is really necessary, but just about everyone in Chaykin stories is depraved in one way or another. I liked the alternate take on Penguin as a Hollywood producer, and Two Face is neat as a Senator with a face for radio, but Joker gets lost in the shuffle as the leader of a gang of fascists. In the end, the plot gets foiled by Batman and Catwoman. It's not really much of a challenge, the bad guys are simply outmatched by the power couple.

Chaykin's art is pretty fun. The brown and black batsuit looks great, and the idea of a big solid helmet for the mask looks great. Chaykin incorporates a bunch of fun variations into the bat mythos like glider wings, a new batmobile, and a rolling batcave on a train car.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Invincible #75

Robert Kirkman brings the gore and the drama in this huge, planet-busting chapter of the Viltrumite War.

I feel like it has been awhile since this book came out, I'm having a hard time remember exactly what was going on last time. In any case, Kirkman catches us up quickly as the allied forces attack the Viltrumites' home planet. It's a savage, violent battle, but these are the toughest members of Kirkman's super-hero universe. In Marvel, it would be class-100 characters only. Battle Beast, Space Ranger, Allen, everyone gets their shots in, but the worst happens when Oliver (Omni-Kid) is mangled by the Viltrumite leader. I hope he can survive, I really like the guy and don't want to see him die this soon. It goes even worse for another member of the allied powerhouses.

I do like how tough the boss is going to be to take down. There is no doubt that Invincible's battles with Conquest are the toughest he's had, and this guy is supposedly tougher than Conquest!

Ryan Ottley's artwork is gorgeous. He has a bunch of splash pages, both normal and double, that really sells this as a huge, cosmic battle. The pages with the floating dead Viltrumites were particularly haunting.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Avengers Academy #6

Poor Reptil. He seems like such a well-adjusted kid, but he's got some real sadness in him. This is his focus issue, and once again Christos Gage makes time for character study, some nice team dynamics, and a great classic villain.

Reptil has been through some rough stuff, and when he doesn't exactly bond that wonderfully with his childhood heroes who make up the Academy staff, he meets with Jessica Jones/Jewel, who shares some of her hardships. The two have an unlikely bond, but it's nice to see these different parts of the Marvel U intertwine, especially since few folks besides Bendis really use Jewel.

The team interaction is pretty amusing; Reptil is trying to do his job as newly elected leader. He keeps tabs on his crew. He tries to lead them in battle. He spies on them. And he tries to hook some of them up. Let's say he's still learning his boundaries.

The fun part of the book hits when the team takes on Mentallo, a fun villain we haven't seen in awhile. I miss all those old Fixer/Mentallo team ups, this level of villain is so neglected nowadays! He actually does a pretty good job taking out most of the team, even those on the move (formerly a weakness of his). But Reptil turns the tables almost too far when he finally changes 100% into a dinosaur. Not much a brain to control there.

Mike McKone's art is solid, but inconsistent due to a multitude of inkers. It looks like Tom Raney is drawing the next issue. I hope this is a rotating art team situation, I'd miss McKone's art if he's gone for good.

I really enjoyed the first arc of this title, Gage spent some quality time with the new recruits, and they have a lot of potential. I hope the book sticks around long enough that the teachers get some good panel time too. Hank Pym, Tigra, Speedball, Quicksilver, they deserve to star in the book too!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Secret Six #27

Things take an odd turn in this next chapter of the battle of the Secret Sixes. Bane's team faces down Scandal's, but after things get serious with Bane's injury, everyone decides to calm down and talk things out. (Well, Jeannette decides to stop the combat, overriding Deadshot and some others).

Scandal's team goes to team up with some other Skataris folks, so that each Six now have their own back-up army. I must confess I know absolutely nothing about any of these guys. I know Catman puts on Warlord's costume, but I don't know about who the surprise-return villain is, I don't know who the good guys are, and I'm not sure if I need to care...

What Gail Simone does a great job on (once again) is the interaction of the leads. The two Sixes have some great matchups, with the King Shark/Ragdoll fight being the strongest. And Amanda Waller shows why she's one of the craftiest plotters in the DCU. Spy Smasher is simply out of her element going up against the Wall.

Jim Calafiore has settled in as penciller, I like his heavy blacks on the big guys like Bane and King Shark. I still miss Nicole Scott, but Calafiore isn't bad.

Fair (would be Good if I understood Skataris)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hawkeye & Mockingbird #6

It's a crime that this book is ending. How telling is it that all my favorite Marvel comics are always getting cancelled or going "on hiatus?"

Jim McCann has to rush some plot to make sure he crosses all his t's and dots his i's as the series wraps up. McCann is clearly a fan of 80's Marvel, and he had lots of plans he wanted to play out in this run. Instead of spreading these ideas over a slew of issues, this one issue is packed with big moments. Hawkeye has big meetings with both Crossfire and Steve Rogers where he struggles with his more blood-thirsty (and out-of-character) tendencies. Dominic Fortune explains his new-found youth through some ties to Mockingbird's scientific background. Mockingbird shows how she plans to deal with the clean-up from the Skrull invasion.

There are no prime-time battles in this issue, but McCann does get to show just how much he likes these characters.

David Lopez's art has been strong throughout, and he closes out the run the same way. It's funny how just changing Mock's hair gives her a whole different look, the minor change actually does a lot to make her seem more like a normal person. Lopez's take on Steve Rogers is pretty solid too.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Batman & Robin #16

It's too bad that Frazer Irving couldn't finish out the closing chapter of this arc. His art has defined the confusing horror of the return of Dr. Hurt and Professor Pyg, so much that even the great art from Cameron Stewart feels out of place. At least Irving was able to finish up all the Pyg sequences; they looked fantastic and horrifying. Pyg is a wonderful addition to the rogues gallery, even with the competition this issue, he still steals the show.

So Dr. Hurt is really a devil-worshipping member of the Wayne family. One who's been hanging around for a hundred years causing trouble. With that level of crazy, having Batman return from time travel to save the day is positively mundane.

Dick Grayson and Damian carry their weight here, they do a great job against Dr. Hurt and his crew. But when Bruce Wayne comes back, Hurt doesn't have a chance. Hurt pulls out every trick to try and take out Batman, but Bruce just overcomes everything to put a stop to the mastermind. I do appreciate that the Joker gets to re-establish himself as the top bat-villain too; nothing like a well-placed banana peel.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Brightest Day #13

Ugh. Way too much time spent on that boring Hawk-stuff this issue. The most telling factor is that once again, there are multiple pages filled with tons of exposition and flashbacks. I STILL don't care about Hawkgirl's Mom and what she did in ancient Egypt. I STILL don't care if the lion-men and the lizard-men overcome the bird-men on some weird other planet. Heck, at this point, I no longer care what happens to Hawkman or Hawgirl! The sooner this story is over, the better. The Hawks are a simple concept and all this odd fantasy-science fiction stuff is too much.

As for the rest of the issue, I'm happy to see the Resurrection Man show up. He was a great Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning concept in the 90s, and he still works now. I don't suppose we'll be lucky enough to have him stick around for the last few issues, will we? We know he isn't getting the white lantern ring, that goes to well-deserved, under-used character pictured above.

The art is fine, and that's actually a bummer. Solid art is wasted on this weird Hawk-stuff.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wonder Woman: War Killer TPB

This is an odd little trade. The first half stands pretty well on its own as a cool team up for Wonder Woman with Black Canary. I loved seeing the two of them go undercover into a fight club underworld. My problem is that I couldn't remember what was happening with Sarge Steel. He's in Dr. Psycho's body, but I have no memory of how that happened. A tad more recap would have helped me puzzle this out. I remember it happening, but not the how or the why. I'm afraid I might be reading the Gail Simone WW trades out of order.

The second half plays off of the Circle, Simone's first trade, and the "Manazons" arc. Again, I can't remember the motivations for Achilles' and his group, heck, I can't even remember who the second in command is. There are some neat sequences once the battles start, and I always like seeing Ares. But there is a bunch of political maneuvering and betrayals that I'm sure I didn't totally understand. I did like the whole idea that WW is so wrapped up with multiple gods of war.

Aaron Lopresti's art is a little rounder than Bernard Chang's, so his WW looks a tad curvier. Both do a nice job with all the weird mythological monsters. I did like Black Canary and WW's fake costumed identities too, complete with tear-away bits to reveal the real costumes underneath.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Justice Society of America #44

Marc Guggenheim does a nice job building up a new DC villain in his first issue. This unnamed bad seems tough, angry, and very dangerous. Of course, having the team reduced down to five or six members makes the guy seem a lot tougher. I'm not sure where the other team members went, last I remember this lineup was friggin huge. With only Jay Garrick (old Flash), Alan Scott (old GL, Wildcat, Lightning, Mr. Terrific, and Dr. Fate, the team is a lot more vulnerable.

One thing that bugged me was how dark this whole issue felt. The villain is savage and destroys a city. Flash wants to retire. Alan Scott sustains a huge injury. Worst of all, my favorite guy on the team is losing his super-IQ. I expect JSA to be a bit brighter, so seeing everyone so melancholy is a bummer. I realize this could improve in Guggenheim's next issues, but right now this feels like a 180 degree turn into sadness.

Scott Kolins' art is awesome. In fact, his art is the reason I decided to give this issue a chance. He's using a hybrid of his clean Flash style and the heavier washed look from his more recent work. Everything looks detailed and great; the art is wonderful.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #12

Judd Winick changes Ice's origin pretty drastically in this issue. Originally, Ice is an "ice goddess" from some crazy group of Scandinavian snow gods. I always thought of her as coming from someplace like Asgard or Olympus. In fact, I was pretty sure that her pretty easy resurrection in Secret Six was as easy as it was because of her deific heritage. But Winick changes that here, retconning her origin to a more mundane and mortal one. Ice is now part of an extensive gypsy family, one with a long heritage and sense of entitlement. While most of the tribe would consider Ice's powers a great tool to bring them to power, Ice's parents just want her to live a normal live. Taking her on the run, Ice had to use her powers in a pretty tight spot, and the trauma from that moment made her forget her real "secret origin."

She zones out for most of the present-day sequences in this while she's blasting away at Fire and Rocket Red. There isn't much going on, the real developments are all hitting in the flashback sequences. Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, and Captain Atom are still chilling in the OMAC facility, but maybe things will pick up on their end next issue. After all, Magog is finally here.

Fernando Dagnino's art is fine. I don't like the blocky ice-head for Ice's new look, but at the same time, I understand we need to see how powerful she is when unleashed. I might have liked a little less extreme a look, though.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Catwoman: The Replacements TPB

I never followed Will Pfeifer's run on Catwoman, but I usually enjoy his work, so I started grabbing these trades from my library.

This is an interesting trade. Pfeifer almost writes in Geoff Johns' style. The lead heroes like both Catwomen, Slam Bradley, and Wildcat are all pretty upstanding and good. Heck, Catwoman is "retired" so that she can raise her new daughter. The villains in this thing are pretty foul though. The Angle Man is petty and vicious, his sharp blades are nasty. The Film Freak is worse, he's a murdering psychopath with a severe disconnect from reality. The body count for innocent bystanders is pretty high, the villains are foul, and the heroes are bright. That's the Johns' model for super-hero comics.

I actually found myself rooting for Holly as the new Catwoman. Selina certainly deserves a break, and taking a few months or years for her kid seems like a reasonable request. Of course, Holly is nowhere near as skilled as Selina in the Catwoman role. I don't think this is a "New Coke/Old Coke" thing where DC wants us to appreciate Selina more; this is a character-driven arc that emphasizes what makes both characters so great. How funny was it seeing Selina try to squeeze into the catsuit post-baby?

I'm not sure how I feel about Zatanna coming in and cleaning up the mess that Selina's life becomes. I appreciate the callback to modern DC history and Zatanna's mindwipes, but I never like high-powered heroes coming in and cleaning up for street level problems.

David Lopez's art is great. The streets look grimy and the villains are spooky. He does a great job giving Holly and Selina different looks, even when they have their faces covered in identical Catwoman costumes.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Young Liars v3: Rock Life TPB

Wow. This is a great example of a story that I love, but definitely do not understand. I mean, there is no "right" answer here, correct? David Lapham (through Danny Noonan/Danny Duoshade/Johnny) never comes clean with the reader.

There are two or three conclusions presented, all dealing with different realities and possibilities. It's hard to even describe a book that has its lead drive out into the desert, poke through a hole in a rock, and then see that guy's eye peering out from a hole in some wallpaper. This book is firing on three or four levels, and there is no way to be sure which one is "real" since we're dealing with a liar like Danny, but man, I love this comic on each one of those levels.

There is a fantastic done-in-one issue featuring the sad secret origin of Danny's boss at Big Box. This was a heartbreaking story; the sad real life stuff is bad enough, factor in Sadie Dawkins' insane influence and you see how no one else really has a chance in her world. Sadie is the engine that drives every aspect of this story. Figuring out just who Sadie is gets mighty tough, since she could be Sadie, Sadie's sister Lorelei, or even Big C, one of Danny's other friends, but there is no arguing she's the one that makes this story go.

David Lapham's artwork has to carry this insane story. I'm happy he draws it himself, so we can be sure we're seeing exactly what he wants us to in this insane narrative. That concluding shot of Danny putting on the makeup; wow. The look on his face of sadness and resignation are killers and make the entire series work. Are we ending on a flashback from a dead rocker, or are we seeing a daydreaming, housekeeping clown just starting his day after an odd dream?


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Amazing Spider-Girl v2: Comes the Carnage TPB

I really enjoy seeing Tom DeFalco's version of the Marvel U. Even the bad guys have a wonderful sense of nostalgia, acting the way they "should" as they engage May Parker and her allies. DeFalco is great at using a mix of new and classic villains to make sure the reader knows that even though time has passed, a lot of heroes are still in the game.

This trade reintroduces Carnage, this time without Cletus Cassidy. Carnage still hungers for killing, often forcing his new (unwilling) partner into violence. DeFalco does a nice job throwing some of his new villains against Carnage to establish how tough the symbiote is. There are numerous moments when May seems totally outmatched, but she never gives up. Peter Parker exhibits his great stubbornness/responsibility nicely too.

I also appreciate seeing the Ladyhawks, in their Falcon-inspired costumes, start to interact with their father. This really is a nicely developed world.

Ron Frenz draws some of the best fights in comics. Check out anything with the Carnage toddler in this thing; he's hilarious and scary at the same time! His Hobgoblin... heck, his EVERYONE looks classic. This is what Marvel looked like when I grew up.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Punisher: Tiny Ugly World #1

David Lapham is a sick man, but he gets the Punisher. This is a great little one-shot in the vein of Garth Ennis' classic work with the character. The Punisher works best as a force of nature eliminating sick criminals. Lapham creates a stunner in this one. The lead is a total psycho, so far gone both physically and mentally that I don't want to spoil it.

This is one of those comics that is SO crazy and gross that I actually worry the writer might be crazy. I mean, it is entertaining as hell, but it actually scares me that someone thought of this stuff!

The Punisher comes in just when he needs to, and the story wraps up like the good Ennis yarns did back in the day.

This might be the right format for me and the Punisher these days, let demented, creative writers have a shot at creating the weirdest villains they can think of, then have the Punisher kill them. I know it makes me happy!

Dalibor Talajic is new to me, but his work is gritty and realistic while still being cartoony enough to keep me from getting sick at all the twisted stuff in this book. I'll keep an eye out for more of his work.