Friday, April 30, 2010

Thunderbolts #143

What a fantastic wrap-up to another great era of the Thunderbolts. Jeff Parker picked up Andy Diggle's fantastic take on this team and saw things through perfectly. I don't think we could have asked for better resolutions for most of these characters. And not only did Parker do a great job with the T-bolts, his use of the Mighty Avengers was dead on too. In fact, I think Quicksilver vs. Mr. X might be my favorite moment in Quicksilver's whole Marvel career. The two preening, prideful characters had a great, if quick, showdown. Just perfect.

I love the way Parker handles the tweener characters. Paladin finally wises up and acts like the guy I remember, and gets himself a nice new status quo as a wandering hero at the same time. Ant-Man decides that he's going to try to be better, setting up his role in the new Secret Avengers title. Headsman may have died a few issues ago, but all his equipment went to his similar-looking brother. I love it, same deal as Beerfest, I hope. (For those that haven't seen it, a character dies, then he's revealed to have a twin brother so similar that they decide to not speak of the dead guy again.) Vision's analysis of the Ghost is spot-on too, he really is a "conflicted" individual, calling in the Avengers to stop Osborn on the same day he tried to kill Iron Man.

Parker's last line for Luke Cage gives me hope that the next chapter in this remarkably consistent series will be as good as we expect. Cage is tired of taking down villains, now he's going to try and bring them up. Awesome.

Miguel Sepulveda has a soft style that works really nicely in both character and combat scenes. I still can't stand his take on the Ant-Man suit, but that's going away. After reading this issue, I bet Sepulveda would have a really neat take on John Byrne's pale Vision from the 90's...

Excellent

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Invincible Iron Man #25

Well, at least Matt Fraction didn't totally back-pedal Tony Stark out of supporting the Registration Act. Instead, when Thor confronts Tony on the subject, Tony defends his decisions as what he thought was best at the time. He does mutter than he might do things differently, but at the time he did what he thought was best. I liked the scene because it is the start of a reconciliation between Thor and Iron Man, it needed to happen. The two couldn't be teammates without some kind of moment, so this was needed. I liked Thor's offer to re-fill Tony's bank accounts too. (Tony's refusal makes sense too, he wants to do it his way.)

I was surprised to see the Hammer ladies set up as rivals to Stark Industries' weapons division, since I thought Tony was out of that business since about Iron Man 200. I think this could be an attempt to create some synergy with the upcoming Iron Man 2 movie, so Tony can re-make this announcement to match what he's doing in the film, but I'm not sure. In any case, the Hammer heirs seem like they will be fun antagonists. They are certainly rich and smart enough to cause problems for Stark. I don't have an exact take on Detroit Steel yet, he seems a bit rash and sexist, so I'm sure he's bad, but I can't tell for certain what his goals are.

I really enjoyed the way Fraction played Tony Stark's supporting cast. Jim Rhodes, Maria Hill, Pepper Potts, they are all great characters for Stark to bounce off of. (I'll also add I'm happy Rhodey isn't a cyborg anymore, that was unnecessary). Fraction's idea that Stark never backed up his memories after Extremis is pretty interesting, my favorite part being the whole Stark is faking it idea. It is so in character for Stark to pretend and play along that he knows something even if he just read about it in the paper or a magazine. I am sad that Stark has totally lost the memory of his good friend Happy Hogan's death. That's a bummer.

Now for the most important thing: the new armor. I like it well enough, it has the whole Iron Man look. I prefer the more bulky suits (the Silver Centurion and post-Armor Wars being my two faves) but this is ok. I'm hoping we get some more smashing in upcoming issues, it seems like this comic spends more time with Stark than with Iron Man.

Salvador LaRocca is still photo-referencing the crap out of everything which takes away a little of the "fun" of an Iron Man title. Things seem to still, but it actually works with the realistic story, for right now. The designs for the Hammer ladies is interesting, they don't look different enough for me to tell them apart yet. I do like the design of Detroit Steel.

The storylines have a lot of potential, so I'll go with Good, but I need more armored smashing to maintain that grade. Bring on Titanium Man, Crimson Dynamo, Blizzard, Whiplash, Spymaster, or somebody!

Good

Walking Dead #71

It seems alike a long time since I last read an issue of Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman delivers another fantastic issue, built purely on characterization and emotions rather than zombies. In fact, there is not a zombie to be seen, roamer or otherwise. Even with no violence or even the direct threat of it, this book is tremendous.

With Rick and his band of 12 survivors trying to fit into the blissful haven of suburbia, it is clear they are different. Carl can't fit in with the other kids. Andrea worries that the others will realize how messed up the group is. But Rick isn't letting that stop him from hoping that they've finally found a home. But we've seen the survivors' world collapse too many times, so I'm sure other readers are like me in not thinking this utopia can last. It's only a matter of time before we see zombies shuffling down these peaceful streets.
That makes this whole storyline seem so much sadder since we have to expect it is going to end. Rick's budding friendship with Abraham remains one of the coolest parts of the series these days, and seeing the two of them on the same page with survivor's paranoia is really touching (and again, sad). And the new career for Michonne fits perfectly and is a great fit. At this point, I'm really hoping our Rick's crew can enjoy some peace.

Charlie Adlard remains solid. He's still doing a remarkable job giving everyone a unique look.

Good

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Green Lantern Corps #47

Peter Tomasi brings his run home nicely, giving a lot of nice moments to a ton of the Lanterns that he's featured in these pages. Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner get some nice best bud bonding moments, including having a beer at Warriors. Kyle and Soranik have some nice moments too as Kyle starts to plan how he'll start over on his mural. Kilowog steps down as drill instructor for the corps, and with good reason, he's seen so many recruits dies over the past year's story that it would drive anyone to quit. The new instructor should be fun, I've always liked Stel and he looks bad ass in his current configuration. Vath and Isamont have another fight and make-up, and Tomasi checks in on Princess Iolande, Mogo, Salaak, the Guardians, and that awesome sloth jailor in the Sciencells.

Tomasi should be really proud of this run, he's fleshed out the Green Lantern mythos wonderfully. He's bringing a bunch of these characters over into his new title, Green Lantern Warriors (including Guy, Isamont, Vath, and Kilowog, I believe). He's leaving behind a ton of good characters too, I think there are plenty of Lanterns to go around to fill two titles. I'll stick around for Tony Bedard's run next issue since he has handled REBELS so well.

I think this is Patrick Gleason's last issue too, and I'm really going to miss his definitive take on all these Lanterns. He's really made Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner his own, and his designs for Soranik, Iolande, and the rest are great additions to the diverse Corps.

Good

Mighty Avengers #36

Even though this was a good issue, I'm a tad disappointed. I had really been hoping that Dan Slott would bring back the Wasp in his last issue of the series, but he doesn't. He plants some seeds to set up an eventual return, but it seems we'll have to wait until a bit closer to the Avengers movie for Marvel to realize that the Wasp could be one of their most popular heroines.

The issue does deliver some great mad scientist Pym behavior as he faces off against his crazy "son" Ultron-Pym. And as Slott promised, he gives us a wedding too as Jocasta gets hitched, just not to who we might have expected. I'm happy that even with her somewhat written out of the book there is a logical reason given that she could still show up around the Marvel U. English guest-stars Blackjack don't get a lot to do besides helping Pym pull over a few tricks on Ultron, and to be honest it feels a bit weird seeing Pym having to team with them against Ultron. The rest of the team is too busy showing up in Siege and Thunderbolts to help. It looks like there will be some sort of showdown with Loki and Sentry in the last issue of Siege, so that is something to look forward to. I'm unhappy that US Agent gets taken out by Scourge, too, but in comics, losing an arm isn't a showstopper. There are robotic limbs lying on street corners to get US Agent back into the game.

It's time for us to follow Hank Pym over to Avengers Academy, his new home (along with Quicksilver). I'll still hope that Wasp can show up there, but I guess her return will have to be featured in another book.

Khoi Pham's art is starting to look a bit rushed again. I really think he struggles with a monthly deadline. Some stuff looks good, like Ultron and Pym himself, but Jocasta often looks too sketchy.

Good

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nova #36

Damn, I'm going to miss this title. Clearly the book is being cancelled because we get the fake optimistic "Never the end!" closing (but no next issue box). I wonder if Marvel cosmic is being reduced to a series of mini-series? I can handle that as long as they are constant. I'm just surprised the cosmic corner would get reduced from two ongoings and three mini's into just one mini. Maybe sales were worse than I thought...

But DnA are taking us out in style. The book combines a ton of the best elements they've established for Nova. We see the new Worldmind, the updated Nova Corps, Project Pegasus, Namorita, Darkhawk, and Quasar. Seriously, the legacy these guys have create for Marvel is downright inspiring (at least to a nerd like me). Nova is back in town to help deal with the Fault, the rift in space time that is spilling over into the Marvel U. I don't want to spoil the great set up, but the eventual combat of Nova and Darkhawk taking on a horrific Lovecraftian monster is just awesome. I do wonder if there will be repercussions to Darkhawk's injury though, you don't face down a Lovecraftian Old One and walk away unaffected. Hell, any comic that has a monster crawling through a "Horrorscope" from another dimension? That's my kind of comic!

Andrea DiVito's art is great, and I'm going to miss his take on the Nova centurion armor. He draws a cool, clean-cut Quasar too. For such a clean style he really does a good job with the creepy crawlies too. Evil Quasar's face horns are gross, the creature in the portal is scary, and the little mind-controlling creatures are quite creepy.

Excellent

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sif #1

I'm a little worried about Sif after seeing this cover. It looks like she can't lean over, fight, or really even breathe. That mini-skirt is so short I'm afraid she might show off everything she's got if she even tilts her head!

I'm not too familiar with Kelly Sue DeConnick, but she seems to know her stuff. Not many writers would know what to do with a Sif one-shot, but putting Sif on a special mission for her ex-beau Beta Ray Bill is inspired, especially since Bill now has an actual member of his race to be with. With the way Sif's life is going and her lack of a connection to Thor, it's especially tough seeing that option sort of removed from her life too. Sif is quite likable here, and I actually wonder if she could ever fit in on an Avengers roster. How does her strength compare with Thor? Could she fit in with a mortal team?

She's operating solo here as she takes on some weird hive-mind aliens. I do like how confident she is, she's basically entering a ghost ship and she's just not worried, she's sure about her powers so she just assumes she can handle it. She's right of course, although things do get close. I was a little surprised that she killed the parasite-controlled aliens. If they really had been taken over, maybe she could have tried to save them? But I suppose she is an Asgardian warrior, saving people isn't really what she does...

Ryan Stegman has a nice, cartoony style that at times veers awfully close to Al Rio territory. Most of the time I really like his clean, classic style, it works especially well with the bright colors in this comic. He's so good at drawing pretty ladies, I'm happy that he manages to avoid the cheesecake shots, even when he's drawing Sif running around in a bath towel.

Fair

Crimson Dawn #1-4 (1997)

I've been bagging up mini-series and storylines that I own in floppies that I don't own in trade, hoping that the convenience will make me pick them up and read them again. It worked the other night because I saw Crimson Dawn #1-4 sitting there and I remembered enjoying the book, so I grabbed it and gave it a re-read.

Wow, this is basically a anime series starring Angel and Psylocke, isn't it? Ben Raab lays on the interdimensional horseplay with a big, shadowy and generically evil lord of the Crimson Dawn dimension. The dimension, as near as I can tell, is basically a large castle built on top of a mountain. Angel is upset because Psylocke hasn't been the same after he saved her from injuries she suffered while battling Sabretooth. (The editors repeatedly refer back to this Sabretooth one-shot, I think I'll grab that soon.) In any case, Angel used some weird other dimensional Crimson Dawn stuff that turned Psylocke into a tattooed "ninja girl" and now she owes a debt to this other realm. This evil boss wants Psylocke to rule as his bride, so he gradually takes her over before Angel rides to the rescue. Angle gets some help from Gomur the Ancient, who looks like he just stepped out of Ninja Scroll or another anime movie.

There is some silly political stuff as we find out who is really the protector of the Crimson Dawn and who is just a protector, but who cares? Psylocke is unlikable and whiny, Angel is over-protective and full of self-doubt even as he constantly screams about his true love for Psylocke. I was pleased that there was still one "focused totality of my psionic powers" comment from Psylocke, but that isn't enough in 4 issues. The story eventually ends when Angel decides to pay the debt that he actually took out when he saved Psylocke. He pays this debt by putting a blue energy statue of himself in a giant pool of red goo. I'm not sure at all what that means for Angel (or for anyone else, actually).

Salvador LaRocca drew this, but in a VERY different style. He's much more in a Joe Mad vein, everything looks like it stepped out of a cartoon. I was amused by his take on Psylocke, in most of the panels it looks like she's wearing no pants and LaRocca always tries to twist her around so we can see both her chest and rear. Angel is built like a body builder, but at least his wings look good.

This is a pretty unnecessary series, although I will say that Psylocke is a lot more likable here than she was in her recent solo series.

Average

Sunday, April 25, 2010

X-Men: First Class TPB

This was realy quite fun and it made me miss the "classic" take on the X-Men. Jeff Parker spends this trade telling "lost" stories of the original X-Men and I can't deny the charm and fun that he infuses into these stories. Professor Xavier seems like a cool teacher, in one story he actually arranges for Cyclops to get some alone time with Marvel Girl and then telepathically winks at Cyclops, saying "Don't say I never did anything for you." He's a headmaster actively trying to help match up his students!

Cyclops is a fun, less-confident version of the hero we know. He's powerful but always worried about his friends. He's a great straight man against Beast and Iceman, who are great fun in these issues. Iceman is the junior hero and his tone is always upbeat. Beast loves being a hero and seems to have the greatest potential. Marvel Girl is powerful and confident, and she uses her powers in some great ways. The group clearly wouldn't beat half their opponents without her. Angel is a sad sack some of the time, but Parker gives him a great relationship with Scarlet Witch to help cheer the guy up. The whole book is filled with great interactions both between the X-Men and their guest stars. Gorilla Man from Agents of Atlas wants to know if Beast is mocking him by walking on all fours. Angel always saves Marvel Girl first because she's his favorite to carry around. Beast feels a kinship with the Lizard and takes a personal interest in helping him. The book is full of neat interactions like that. I'm definitely going to seek out the other trades.

Roger Cruz's work looks totally different from the animation-influenced style I remember. The X-Men look like kids, they are all skinny and lean, but the older heroes look like they carry the weight (both physically and dramatically) that they should. Gorilla Man, Thor, Quicksilver, all the guest-stars look just right. Cruz does a nice job with a lot of animals too, there are hippos, birds, and alligators and they all look good.

Good

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Daredevil #222 (1985)

Denny O'Neil's Daredevil TPB Love's Labors Lost is teaching me a few things. First of all, Daredevil has always been a selfish sad-sack. This trade is basically all about DD moping about all the women in his life who have either died or been run off because of him. In fact, I'd say the only ex who still seems to be breathing is Black Widow. I'm not sure DD should have moved on from her, because at least she can take care of herself. There's also a nice little flashback to DD's training with Stick where Stick informs him that the Matt Murdock part of his life is just as important as Daredevil. Stick warns him that should Murdock ever go away, it would be bad news (see upcoming Shadowland, I guess!)

O'Neil's issues seem to be contrived, and this is no different. A random hijacking on an airline leads to a crash with three survivors. A hick hitman meeting his family in the swamps of Jersey, DD's girlfriend, and a corrupt scientist utilizing Mr. Fear's fear gas. This leads to a ridiculous swamp chase with the Widow and DD facing down a strange family of criminals and quickly dispatching them. There's even a funny little moral about how the scientist was afraid without the gas. It's all quite by the numbers and really, it doesn't make me want to track down Daredevil back issues. Or were these all fill-ins and that's why they have this weird feel to them?

The art by David Mazzucchelli is of course very reminiscent of Frank Miller. I don't like his take on Black Widow at all, she looks much better with longer hair. Foggy Nelson also tends to look a bit ridiculous, especially when he's sporting a moustache.

Average

Friday, April 23, 2010

Power Girl #11

It's fun seeing Power Girl use her head to take out the Ultra Humanite (who is currently controlling Terra's body). Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray set up a neat conflict for the issue; Power Girl is powerful enough that I think Terra probably couldn't beat her, but Terra's powers can cause insane amounts of collateral damage. Factor in that PG can't really unload on her foe because it is a possessed friend and you've got an interesting and pretty unique fight. PG acts quickly first dunking Terra then taking her into space to knock her out while removing any Earth-moving power use. Very clever.

I'm not sure how I feel about PG zapping Satanna's arm off, but I suppose the villain is a brilliant surgeon and geneticist, so PG probably knew she'd be fine. And it is worth it for the reaction shots of Satanna's animal men. The tigers looked shocked and the badger looks like he's going to be sick!

The story wraps up a little too neatly by having Terra's underground society have a convenient answer for all the big problems. They can put brains back in right bodies. They can heal most wounds and diseases. They can wipe memories. BUT, I'm actually ok with it because any other option would darken this comic (and the character) too much. What I love about PG is that she's a pretty upbeat person and I don't want to see that change.

Amanda Conner does another phenomenal job. Look at Satanna's animal followers killing time in their HQ, with the elephant and rhino man tussling. Look at the Ultra Humanite (with Terra's brain), how pitiful does it look? And that face-crunching beat down PG delivers at the end was tremendous. I'll miss this book after next issue.

Good

R.E.B.E.L.S. #15

Reading REBELS is kind of bittersweet for me every month. I absolutely love the comic. The storylines and characterization has been excellent, and now Tony Bedard has put together a team of ringers made up of some of my favorite DCU characters. Adam Strange, Captain Comet, and now Starfire all on the same team! It's insane! And yet I can't help but be worried that I'm going to see the cancellation notice in the next round of solicits. I'll enjoy the book while I can, but I do feel like we're on borrowed time.

This issue deals with the fallout of Starro's conquest of the DCU and starts to set up some new status-quo states around the DCU galaxy. Vril Dox is setting up the LEGION once again, but after his robot police force betrayed its employers at the start of the series, the populace is very anti-Dox. In fact, since Despero played such a big role in taking out the star conqueror, he's become a cosmic hero in the eyes of the populace! His execution of Starro doesn't quite work out though, since Smite and Astrid Storm-Daughter are still hanging around and still loyal to their old boss. Meanwhile, Starfire has left Earth because she's tired of hanging around waiting for Dick Grayson to like her. So she's returning to the stars and she's in for a shock as a planet appears where her homeworld used to be... I'm betting Dox is "fixing" Rann and it will now take Tamaran's place in the cosmos. Bedard is cleaning things up nicely, I love this book. The whole feel of the cosmic DCU is so fun and open, anything can happen.

Claude St. Aubin is quite good and he has totally held the tone established by Andy Clarke. I do question the need to have Starfire's first appearance in these pages be topless. Why in the world is she tying on her shirt in her grand arrival in this title? I mean, St. Aubin draws it well, but it's not exactly empowering, you know?

Good

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kid Reviews: Tiny Titans #27

Why does Trigon like Kid Devil so much? Kid Devil doesn't talk because he's scared of Mr. Trigon. I like the part where Kid Devil bites Mr. Trigon.

I also like the part where Kid Devil burns the bacon. I love bacon!

I like that Streaky is in a picture with people he doesn't live with. Why is Kid Devil red and Blue Devil blue?

I liked it.

Justice League of America #44

You see, James Robinson? I knew you could do it! You set things up nicely by having some German heroes show up to battle Etrigan this issue, and Etrigan took them down hard, but they lived! In Cry for Justice they would have been ripped bodily and bloodily apart, but the story is the same with those guys living! And now you've added to the DCU rather than taking away! Well done!

This is another strong issue, I think Robinson was saving his best stuff for this title. By focusing on a small core team (NightBats, Donna Troy, Mikaal Starman, and Congorilla) it really lets those four characters shine. Mikaal is a lot of fun as he gets more and more confident as a mainstream hero. Congorilla has confidence to spare and I really wish we could see him meet Gorilla Man from the Agents of Atlas. These two have a very similar outlook, don't they? Donna Troy is wonderful as a hero who just wants something to punch. She's been a sad-sack for so long that I love seeing her as a powerhouse who just needs to cut loose. Giving her a blue lasso of persuasion is neat too, especially since she explained that it only persuades those with a lower will than hers (setting things up nicely to both upgrade and downgrade future villains by their resistance levels). Robinson writes a great Etrigan too, his rhymes are awesome and he does a great job of mixing up brawling and magic.
The involvement of the JSA seems unnecessary and confusing, especially considering the off-handed way the Fourth Reich storyline gets mentioned here. I'd think Robinson would need to build up the JLA before including guest-stars, but I bet he'll actually take some JSAers onto the League. I always like seeing Sebastian Faust (from the 90's Outsiders) show up. He's so 90's looking, it always cracks me up.

Mark Bagley draws a great Demon. He doesn't look like the Kirby version or the Semeiks version of the character, it is clearly a Bagley take, but it looks right. I'm really enjoying Bagley's version of the DCU. I'm looking forward to seeing an unshadowed version of the JSA, all their pages are really dark in this issue.

Good

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Green Lantern #53

Hal Jordan isn't interesting enough to hold my attention on his own, but by pairing him up with Star Sapphire/Carol Ferris and the rest of the New Guardians, I think Johns may have stumbled on to something. I've long said that having an army of rainbow corps is boring but that I like the idea of one main lantern for each emotion, and it looks like that may be what we're getting.

Hal and Carol are having a nice drink together before they start flirting while flying planes. They get interrupted by Sinestro who wants to bring them to the crashed White Lantern from Brightest Day, but it seems clear to me that the on and off relationship is leaning towards "on" again. Larfleeze is hanging around with Lex Luthor, wanting more and more of the experience of possessing things here on Earth. In true Superman movie fashion, it seems Lex is going to show the Orange Lantern the joys of possessing "Land!" I loved how Saint Walker is one by one putting the former Black Lanterns to rest. As the Flash re-buries all those zombies, Saint Walker says a little prayer for each of them. What a good guy, he's a really nice character. Atrocitus is up to something interesting as he, Guy Gardner, and GL Ganthet are clearly up to something. It looks to me like Atrocitus will be appearing in the new Warriors title by Peter Tomasi. Pretty cool.

There is also a bit with some weird alien with GL construct chains speaking with the imprisoned Hector Hammond. I have no idea who this guy is or even what all those corps symbols mean, although Parallax's presence chained to the yellow symbol makes me suspect it Spectre might be involved... very weird.

Doug Mahnke is awesome. His New Guardians all look great and I love his take on Carol Ferris. His Lex Luthor is a bit pudgier than I'm used to, but that's not a bad thing.

Good

Guardians of the Galaxy #25

Hoo boy, Thanos is back and he's pissed.

DnA have a fair amount of weirdness this issue as we meet the odd Guardians of All Galaxies. This is the group that sent the variant Starhawks back in time at the start of the issue to find the problem with spacetime. After many false alarms (that have coincidentally gone along with Marvel cosmic crossovers) it now looks like Thanos is the anomaly the group must stop. Not sure what exactly that means, but it doesn't get resolved here.

What does get resolved is a great fight with the Guardians taking on Thanos. Thanos is raging unintelligibly and just tearing crap up. He supposedly has already killed Phyla, but I have my doubts. Star Lord and the rest of the team arrive just in time to save their comrades from a Titan-ian beat down from the purple powerhouse. Moondragon tries and fails to take him on, leading to an awesome scene where Major Victory actually deflects a double punch from Thanos that leaves Cap's shield smoking. Groot and Drax do a nice job trying to take him out, but it is up to Star Lord to use one of Marvel's best plot devices to take down the mad Titan. I love how DnA make it work in the story, giving the Guardians a legit way to take on this A-list villain.

I will say I'm tremendously bummed that this seems to be the last issue of Guardians. The next issue space promises this will be continued in The Thanos Imperative, but I'm going to miss this book.

Brad Walker is back and he rocks it. That double punch on Cap's shield looks tremendous, I'd love to buy that page. His facial expressions are perfect and I love how he makes Rocket Raccoon look soft but still tough. Jack Flagg's helmet is still one of the coolest hats in comics too.

Excellent

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thor #284 (1979)

I'm working my way through the Thor & the Eternals vol 1 TPB and I find myself really enjoying Roy Thomas' take on Jack Kirby's space gods. Fortunately I read Kirby's original series fairly recently or I'd probably be pretty lost. The storyline leads off with Thor ret-conned into the history of the Eternals, giving Thor a background with the polar Eternals, giving him a nice history with Ajak this issue.

Ajak is my favorite of the Eternals, and it is all because of that kick-ass helmet. It looks like some kind of gigantic bird-fish on his head! This issue takes place inside the impenetrable dome where the Fourth Celestial Host is judging the Earth. They are three years into their judgment, and Ajak is there to help them. He's got the old doctor from the Eternal series there as a companion and witness, and this issue they are joined by Thor and Ereshkigal, a deviant with bat wings and a cold-gun (don't ask, I don't know!) The three way battle is pretty cool (with a random SHIELD agent thrown in for good measure) but the high point has to be when Ajak tries to use his magno-gauntlets to take away Thor's hammer. Naturally, Thor just tosses the uru mallet at Ajak, adding to the velocity from the magnetics, it blasts Ajak in the face and takes him out quickly. It's great seeing classic Thor hand out beatdowns to everyone involved. In the end, Thor just leaves to save some humans, but I know he'll be back next issue!

John Buscema draws one tremendous Thor. He's got the same build as Conan and he carries himself in a unique way. Buscema actually makes Thor seem like a deity mixing with humans. Thor is a benevolent Asgardian, but he is clearly above the mortals he saves.

Good

Booster Gold #31

Dan Jurgens sets off from the pages of Booster Gold with another solid but unspectacular issue. This issue's mission is a bit more personal for Booster as he inadvertantly causes the death of a family pet. His frustration with all these time-rules lead him to get a bit careless, and Rip has to cheer him up. There is also a reconciliation between Booster and his sister Michelle after he rescued her (but not her boyfriend) from the destruction of Coast City last issue. Again, the issue is fine, but time-travel can be extemely difficult to keep interesting. I actually enjoyed the little trick that Rip and Booster pull off at the close of the issue, but it isn't enough to make the issue more than decent.

Jurgens' art is still a pleasure to read. He includes another "Booster Idea Board" to lead off into future stories, but none really jumped out and caught my interest.

Maybe next month's new creative team will liven things up by tying the title into Brightest Day and the promising Justice League: Generation Lost.

Average

Monday, April 19, 2010

C2E2 News and Announcements (part 2)


The full Secret Avengers lineup is Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter, Black Widow, Nova, Valkyrie, Moon Knight, Beast, War Machine, and the Irredeemable Ant-Man. Wow, that is one hell of a lineup. Can't wait!

Whilce Portacio will be the new Uncanny X-Men penciller starting in July. Leonard Kirk will be the new artist for New Mutants.

Larry Hama is kickstaring the old GI Joe continuity with GI Joe #156, picking up the storylines from the old Marvel continuity! Great news! I do worry that it might render the new IDW stuff obsolete.
Serpentor is coming back in GI Joe: Cobra II! I love that guy!

Grant Morrison is staying on Batman & Robin at least issue 16, and he'll have some role after that.
X-Force is getting cancelled and re-launched as New X-Force by Rick Remender and Jerome Opena. They're going up against Apocalypse! This is going to be a "morally conflicted" team, so maybe my fave Colossus can be there agonizing about killing villains.

X-23 is getting a montly series by Marjorie Liu and an unnamed artist.

The three main Avengers teams will have SHIELD liasons in Sharon Carter, Victoria Hand, and Maria Hill.

Conan the Cimmerian is ending at issue #25, to be replaced by Conan the King by Roy Thomas.
Tim Truman and Tomas Giorello will stay involved with mini-series, the first being King Conan: The Scarlet Citadel."

Victor Gischler and Paco Medina are relaunching X-Men #1. This is the new "big action" title that will lead off with the X-Men vs. Dracula. The best news in regards to this is that Mike Carey will be continuing his stellar X-Men: Legacy title. Thank goodness!

Wolverine Weapon X is getting cancelled and replaced by a new Wolverine title by Jason Aaron and Renato Guedes. I'm pleased, and I'll definitely buy this, but I was really digging Ron Garney's take on Wolvie. Aaron does promise an Alpha Flight appearance though, so that's good.
Daniel Way, Marjorie Liu, and Giueseppe Camuncoli are launching Daken: Dark Wolverine, a new book picking up after the current Dark Wolverine series. I've been impressed with their work so far, this will probably be worth checking out.




C2E2 News and Announcements

Super Soldier a four-issue Steve Rogers series by Ed Brubaker and Dale Eaglesham. Can't wait. I'm annoyed Brubaker keeps coming up with new books I have to buy.

Shadowland, a five-issue series by Andy Diggle and Billy Tan featuring the street-level Marvel heroes. This is going to be great, I'm sure, but I'm probably switching to trades for "Marvel Street."

Avengers Academy instructors will include Hank Pym, Tigra, Justice, Speedball, and Quicksilver. Must buy, for me, especially considering that I think the real Wasp would fit nicely up in that right corner.

The Avengers will operate out of Avengers Tower, while the New Avengers will operate out of the mansion. I can get behind that.

James Robinson has promised to "make justice league a big, exciting, epic adventure" to make up for Justice League: Cry for Justice. I hope so, Cry was terrible.

Avengers, The Children's Crusade will be an eight-issue Young Avengers limited by Allan Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung. Scarlet Witch is one of the most famous Marvel ladies, they really need to get her back into action.

Emerald Warriors will feature Guy Gardner, Kilowog, and Arisia. Green Lantern Corps will be for Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, and GL Ganthet. Emerald Warriors will be written by Peter Tomasi with art by Fernado Pasarin.

Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert are working on Flashpoint for 2011.

Secret Warriors will be ending around issue 27 or 28. I still haven't read the first trade!

Ultimate Comics Mystery by Brian Michael Bendis and Rafa Sandoval is a follow-up to Ultimatum. That's funny, I'm pretty much done with the Ultimate U after Ultimatum.

The Mighty Crusaders will get a new limited series, uniting the Red Circle characters under one title. Depending on the writer, this could be really good.

Amazing Spider-Man: One Moment in Time is a four-issue Spider-Man storyby Joe Quesada and Paolo Rivera that should fill in some marriage gaps. I may dodge this just because it is still a sore spot for me.

SPIDER-MAN/FANTASTIC FOUR a four-issue limited by Christos Gage & Mario Alberti should be good. I'll grab the trade.

Hitmonkey is coming back in a three issue limited by Daniel Way & Dalibor Talijic with covers by Dave Johnson. I don't care, but maybe you do!

Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet is a re-telling of the classic story, four issues by Atomic Robo's Brian Clevinger & Brian Churilla

Captain America: Patriot gets four issues by Karl Kesel & Mitch Breitweiser, this looks really promising.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger by Roger Langridge & Chris Samnee gives me hope that Marvel's kid output is increasing.

Dan Jurgens is writing a Time Masters: Vanishing Point, a six-issue limited series tying in to the Return of Bruce Wayne. Even though Jurgens' most recent work was only average, I'll probably still get this.

Looks like a new Invaders project with Christos Gage and Alex Ross involved. If Gage is writing, I'm sold on the eventual trade.

Punisher vs. some kind of infected Marvel Universe project. A Marvel zombies crossover? Looks like Goran Parlov art, excellent!

Supergirl and Jade are joining the Justice League. James Robinson says there will soon be more ladies than guys on the team. My daughter will be pleased.


Osiris' return supposedly means good things for the Shazam family of characters.

Ok, working on the next post now, there's a TON of news!


Ghost Riders: Heaven's on Fire TPB


Jason Aaron brings it home. He's been the perfect writer for Ghost Rider for this whole storyline and the way he handles this conclusion is top notch.

I knew I would love this trade when I saw the evil group that the rogue angel Zadkiel was forming to take out the Ghost Rider brothers. His team was Blackout, the Orb, the Deacon, Big Wheel, Trull the Mighty, Scarecrow, and Madcap. The panel where the Orb sees the assembled team is pure genius, with Blackout throwing up his hand like he's unveiling an awesome team. Aaron doesn't stop there, Daimon Hellstrom has a large part and Master Pandemonium (from West Coast Avengers!) has an important, if sad, part. This thing is too packed with great B-listers for me not to love it.

I do wish that Danny Ketch still had the blue flame head, it makes him hard to tell apart from his brother Johnny Blaze. Maybe that's the point though, the two are barely distinguishable at this point. They dress alike, they talk alike, and when we see their thought captions, they even think alike. Aaron manages to tell a great story that actually celebrates BOTH Ghost Riders.

The same crazy action and villainy that has been through this run is on display here. The GRs take on Big Wheel and Trull the mighty in a quarry. The Gun Nuns take on the Deacon. Vengeance tries to take on Danny and Johnny. The anti-christ gropes and cheats his way through the story. And the Ghost Riders get to take on Zadkiel in a way that makes sense, but doesn't waste much time either. I loved this whole storyline, this is going to hold up well for a long time.

Roland Boschi has a tendency to smudge figures, making it hard to tell the Ghost Riders apart. But he does a masterful job with the villains. And even though he has one of the worst-designed Daimon Hellstrom's I've ever seen, it can't lower my rating.

Excellent

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Daughter is C2E2 Pixie!

Wow, she was a big hit at this show! She must have been asked to be in a hundred photos. She was the only kid contestant in the Marvel costume contest on Saturday, but hey, she still won!

She picked Pixie out of all the characters she knows about. (I wouldn't approve Starfire.) I will say it bums me out that there hasn't been a kid-friendly story featuring Pixie. The character is perfect for young ladies (my daughter is 5) but I can't really give her any of the Uncanny X-Men or Young X-Men books she's appeared in!

In any case, this was my first family con and the ladies all did great! Yee haw!

Here's how many times she was tweeted.

Here she is lining up for the costume contest!










Forgive a proud Dad of his rambling. I'll have a review of all the big announcements tomorrow!

New Avengers: Luke Cage #1

I generally like John Arcudi's work, and this is no exception. This is the definition of an unnecessary tie-in series, with Luke Cage heading down to Philly to help out an old neighborhood kid he remembers from his days as a hero-for-hire. I think the reason I dug this issue is because I think that was the coolest incarnation of Cage, as the hero-for-hire who rarely took payment because the people he helped most often couldn't afford it. Bad business, but a neat outlook for a hero.

Cage's trip to Philly ends up putting him in the sights of Hammerhead and Mr. Negative, the organized crime bosses from Amazing Spider-Man. There is a fun little brawl between Hammerhead and Cage that shows off their respective power-ups nicely. It is a lot of fun seeing both of them talking smack while being impressed at how strong the other is. The fight breaks up because of the police's imminent arrival, but it is clear there will be a round two. Arcudi has a really good voice down for Cage, he's a good guy who's moved up and on in the world, but he hasn't forgotten his roots. If Cage was wearing a real costume (and the issue had better art) this would be even better.

Eric Canete is very impressionistic and he's not a perfect fit for this book. People's bodies change around and faces can look mighty strained. I think he was a better fit on the industrial look of Iron Man in that recent mini than he is on a street level book like this. His storytelling is fine, but I think a more "classic" artist might have brought in a bit more sales.

Fair

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dragon Age #1

Dragon Age is a great game. This is not a great comic. I'm starting to see a pattern here.

Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston do their best to recapture the feel of the Dragon Age world, even though all of the story is limited to the Circle Tower. The main conflict is the templars and their volatile relationship with the Circle mages. It's tough, because I can appreciate that they were trying to set a story in this world but leave out all the characters we like so much, but I really think that more crossover from the actual game would help. There are no familiar faces to rely on, instead we get a forbidden romance between a templar and a mage, and the eventual child of that tryst. The templars are quick to judge and angry, and the mages are fairly cowering. There is a blood mage, but he gets taken out very quickly, so quickly that I can't imagine it is ever a fair matchup for a caster to take on a templar. There is a nice appearance by a hurlock (think orcs from Lord of the Rings) but he's possessed by a more powerful foe, so it isn't really the swarming feeling that you got from those baddies in the game.
What it boils down to is this: it seems to be extremely difficult to make a good comic out of a video game.

Mark Robinson has a very Humberto Ramos-y style, not exactly reminiscent of the game for me. This looks more like it is based on a cartoon than a fairly realistic looking video game. The character designs don't hold closely enough to the look of the game for me.

Average

Friday, April 16, 2010

Siege: Loki #1

Kieron Gillen is approach must-read status with me. I loved his take on the evil trickster in this one shot. While it was somewhat unnecessary, at least Loki's goals and manipulations provide direct background on his actions in the Marvel U and Siege.

Loki is so desperate to make sure that he's free of the curse of predestination and Ragnarok that he manipulates multiple factions to make sure he's master of his own destiny. He enslaves some undead Asgardian spirits with some nice swordplay, he convinces Hela that she needs her realm back immediately, then he arranges to get that realm from Mephisto in exchange for the spirits. It's a great bit of misdirection as he gets everyone involved to do what he needs them to do. Mephisto is totally aware of it, and I loved how Gillen had Mephisto go along not because he was being conned, but because Mephisto loves seeing a master at work. Loki is a bad guy, but he is a bit charming here.

Jamie McKelvie's pencils are so expressive this was a lot of fun to read. He gives the characters their iconic looks but his style makes them seem more... realistic even while maintaining a cartoony look. There are a couple panels where Loki seems to look out at the reader that were a lot of fun.

Good

The Flash #1

Geoff Johns' previous work on the Flash was one of my favorite runs ever. So I had to at least try out this new series, even though I decided to wait for the trade on Flash: Rebirth. This book picks up about how I thought it would, it's good, but not great.

Geoff Johns still has a knack for world-building and villain boosting. Central City comes across as a great but dangerous town, and I love the setting Barry will have to work in at the forensics lab downtown. The rogues make the book even with limited screen time. Weather Wizard raining out baseball games just to be a jerk might be the best bit of characterization I've read this year. The WANTED page with the rogues planning their next job was great too, there's a real sense of impending doom with them still.

Where the book falls down for me is with Barry Allen. He's ok, but I'm just not that interested in him. I feel like everything he brings to the book would be better if Wally West was there instead of him. Wally needs to show up fast to keep my interest. Barry alone is just too boring. What you see is what you get; he's a cop who shows up late and has a nice girlfriend. Perhaps his interactions with the rogues might add something to his personality, we do only see him interact with a few people in this issue.

I know this opinion is against the law; I don't really like Francis Manapul. He's ok, and some panels look great. He does a really nice job on the Flash in motion. But I don't love the way he draws faces. Everybody has the same odd manga-ish eyes. I will say that he excels at making Central City into a character in the book. It is easy to get a true sense of what the town feels like.

This isn't to say I didn't like the issue, it was actually good. But it isn't Johns and Scott Kolins' run with Wally West. Yet.

Good

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Siege: Captain America #1


I'm still not sold on the idea of two Captain Americas. I really want Steve Rogers to take back the shield. The point of this issue seemed to be saying that there is room for both guys to serve as the most inspirational hero in the Marvel U, just that they would do it in different ways.

The story follows the Caps as they rescue a civilian family from the ruins of collapsed Asgard. Since things can never go smoothly, the situation deteriorates when Razorfist takes the family's two kids hostage. I like that Christos Gage tried to play up the seriousness of Razorfist here, but man, he's a silly villain. The guy has no hands! Crossfire showed up earlier, but he's just there as window dressing since Winter Cap takes him out so fast. Razorfist actually gets to go a couple pages against the distracted Caps (they are saving a wounded kid and trying to clear the area). Once they are free to concentrate, the Caps mop the floor with this C-level opponent.

The pencils by Federico Dallocchio are very soft. Lots of details get washed away by the colors and the faces on most characters are fairly indistinguishable. I liked his facial expressions, but at times the combat seemed to jump around a bit too. In total, this thing was pretty unnecessary.

Average

Secret Six #20

Hoo boy, those guys have gone and done it. They forgot one important rule of blackmail; make sure the subject is capable of being blackmailed.

After last issue's tremendous set up, things kick right off. A gang of thugs is threatening to kill Catman and Cheshire's son. They state that the kid is already dead, but he gets one more year of life for every member of the Secret Six that Catman kills. There is a fantastic moment where Catman actually seems like he might act on that threat, but then he turns things around. He tells the kidnappers it is too late for them, go ahead and kill his son. He is going to make them pay. Yowch!

Catman goes ballistic and he's on the hunt for these guys. They truly don't understand the hell they've unleashed for themselves. Even better, four other members of the Secret Six are speeding along to back Catman up. Scandal, Deadshot, Black Alice, and Ragdoll are all helping their feline pal for their own reasons (Deadshot's are the best, he doesn't want Catman to sink as low as the rest of them already are). Meanwhile, Gail Simone is giving us another membership drive as Bane and Jeannette are going to fill out the Six's roster with "four other known metahumans." I don't have any real guesses, buy maybe Livewire from Simone's Superman run?

I guess Jim Calafiore is the regular penciller on this title now. He's not glamorous, but his storytelling is clear and he has a nice take on costumed characters. He did a nice job making the three kidnappers unique too, even though they don't have costumes.

Good

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Brightest Day #0

What a great sampler. Brightest Day has me really excited for a couple of reasons. Not only does it feature some favorites of mine like Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, and Firestorm, but it also seems to be molded after the best DC experiment of the past few years: 52. This is shaping up to be a character study where B and C level characters get some spotlight and some importance, and I think that is a great sign for the DCU.

This issue follows Deadman around as he checks in with the resurrected characters (the 12) who came back at the end of Blackest Night. Aquaman and Mera are getting "reacquainted," but Aquaman is worried that he hasn't left the Black Lantern influence behind him. Hawkman and Hawkwoman have decided to live in the moment, but someone is on the trail of their past lives' dead bodies; they're also tied to the Star Sapphires somehow. Max Lord is attempting his biggest mind control ever. We'll see how that shapes up in the new Justice League: Lost Generation series. Martian Manhunter is happy and determined to be the hero of two worlds, Earth and Mars. Osiris wants to make sure that Black Adam and Isis get another chance. Captain Boomerang wants to be a rogue again and Reverse Flash is still locked up. Hawk is on a rampage against criminals. Jade is trying find out where she belongs now (we know it will eventually be the JLA). Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond) is a frat boy, he's looking like a real jerk. Deadman has the tightest tie to the White Lantern entity, but I have no idea what his job is going be as he helps protect the returned characters.

I'm really excited to see how these characters use their increased exposure over the next year. As I've said before, I whined and moaned when these characters will killed off for no reason, it is only fair that I be equally excited when they all return and star in their own series. DC is definitely on an upswing for me these days. Best of all, I actually trust Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi to do right by these characters, they appreciate the legacies involved.

Fernando Pasarin's art is nice and detailed, it looks a lot like Jesus Merino's work in JSA. In fact, I greatly prefer his style over the pinched faces and darkness on David Finch's cover.

Good

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Star Wars Legacy v1: Broken TPB

This wasn't too bad. After a brief dalliance with Star Wars comics back in the 90s with stuff like Dark Empire and Boba Fett, I've generally stayed away from the whole Star Wars universe in comic format. I decided to give this a try from the library because I do usually like John Ostrander and Jan Duursema's work together. I'm glad I did.

Taking place over a hundred years after Return of the Jedi, this was basically a new sci-fi story with some trappings that I remember fondly. The Empire is around, but they're practically good guys at this point. Coruscant is still running the galaxy, but now the Sith itself is running things. There are a ton of new Sith guys fighting Jedi Knights, but there are also Imperial Knights factoring in. I really like the mix of new ideas like that with the classic "Jedi on the run" type stuff. The ships are vaguely familiar, so the main things carrying over from the movies are the cussing (Et Chuta!) and lightsabers.

Cade Skywalker is the lead character, but he's kind of a scumbag. He's a bounty hunter who still has moments of compassion. When he bumps into his old Jedi buddies he ends up helping them out, but not before he tags and turns in a Jedi that he didn't know personally. That makes it hard to like him too much. The coolest new Jedi is a tentacle headed (Twi-lek? I dunno) dude named Shado. He's pretty cool because he's so confident, at numerous points in this trade he's outnumbered and outgunned and he never seems concerned. The new Sith lord is interesting, because I guess he's sort of a free-thinking Sith, but he's got some disease or parasite that I know nothing about. There are a few scattered elements that totally confuse me, I guess I missed something in the books or previous comics.

Jan Duursema sets up the action really nicely. The character and ship designs are strong too. I will say she skimps out on the violence occasionally, making this comic feel like it is rated PG. That's not a bad thing, just an observation. There are a ton of characters in this trade and many of them dress in a similar fashion, it's a testament to Duursema's skill that she makes it easy to tell who's who.

Fair

God of War #1

Wow. I have never played God of War but that comic was almost unreadable. The story by Marv Wolfman is pretty generic, very reminiscent of 300, in fact. Kratos is a young champion of Sparta who travels to recover some magic fire of Apollo to heal his deformed child. (As everyone knows, the unwell in Sparta are put to death.) It seems the sickly child is a gift from Ares who has designated Kratos as his champion in some sort of competition. Hermes, Hades, and others also have champions, but we only see Hades' barbarian prince. I assume he and Kratos will throw down later, but I'm not sure if I'll be here to see it. The story is generic at best and there is nothing to Kratos to make him interesting. He yells and stabs things a lot, but he seems pretty simple. People love this game, right? Is it because of the riveting story? I'm just not seeing it.

Andrea Sorrentino's art is striking at times but it's so moody and interpretive that I can't tell what's happening. Large sections of black ink have voice bubbles coming out of them (I think one is a wolf monster?) but I can't tell what is happening. Most of the characters are impressions more than figures. I would have liked a more iconic interpretation of the gods at least. Not my kind of comic.

Poor

Monday, April 12, 2010

Atomic Robo v2: Atomic Robo & the Dogs of War TPB

Nothing against Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, but they've basically created a robotic pulp action hero in the save vein as Hellboy. And it totally works. Robo does the same types of missions, fights ALMOST the same type of bad guys, and has the same types of allies. I will say that all those features have a bit more of a science bent, but it is very similar. And they do it well.

This trade is all WWII era action and it is clear and nicely organized. The first trade was a bit hard to follow; the covers didn't get reprinted between issues and since the floppies had backups, I often got lost or confused on where or when a story was taking place. By including the original covers and reprinting all the back ups in the back of the trade, this is a clear, fun read. Like the creators, I love watching GIs blast away with Thompson machine guns, and putting that cool gun in the hands of a 'bot like Atomic Robo leads to some great science action!

Scott Wegener's characters can be a bit blocky, sometimes normal human faces look a bit too squarish. But it is worth it because his Atomic Robo looks tremendous and the more action-elemens are wonderful. The Nazi tank-suits are great fun and I loved the look of the super-zombies too.

Good

Hellboy vol 9: The Wild Hunt TPB

It hurts me to admit this, but Hellboy is damn good. I really thought my interest in the character would wane after he left his BPRD roots, but dang if I don't love this gloomy outlook too. Makoma was great, Darkness Calls added to the mythos nicely, and now we find out that good old HB is destined to inherit two crowns. One from his father that we've known about for awhile (Anug Un Rama and all that!) but it turns out that his Mom comes from a royal branch too. A dark one, but a legacy that could give Hellboy an army to fight for "right" for now.

I will admit that I'm totally lost on a lot of the backstories. I forget who the witch of war is, I can't remember if I'm supposed to know her or not. I remember the changeling baby, of course, that was a great story, but I don't remember anything about him becoming a pig man, am I supposed to? At this point I can just roll with it because half the back story is new stuff and half is callbacks to stuff I'm supposed to know. It's all good though, because Mignola does a great job keeping the story moving forward. I also have to give him props for the big swerve he pulled in this story. Hasn't HB lost enough friends at this point? I mean, he's vacationing with two dead sisters on his off time, that's pretty bad!

Duncan Fegredo is doing a great job handling the pencils for Mike Mignola. The gnome men look great, the looming statues and skulls look right, and I adore that little hedgehog bad guy. He's great. The Pig Man is a fascinating mix of imposing and pitiable. I'm actually hoping he turns good at this point. The hunters of Herne looked awesome too. The deer head was so unsettling, it was great.

Good

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Psylocke #1-4

That cover should have been my first clue.

This mini-series makes me not like Psylocke. This story is unnecessary and doesn't teach us anything about the character except that she used to be cooler when she wasn't running around killing people. I also find it a little hard to believe that she could last very long against a berserk Wolverine, but that's neither here nor there. I also didn't care for the clear "Kill Bill" feel that most of the series is going for. That comparison doesn't really work when the lead is a telepath and she's fighting off a Djinn who lost their human love, you know? This storyline is an example of the worst of the X-Men conceits, that is, it ties in to a story probably 20 years old, guest-stars characters no one remembers like Yukio and ignores the most interesting relationships Psylocke has. Captain Britain, Longshot, and Dazzler are mentioned but have no impact on any of the proceedings. Christopher Yost has done much better work in other titles.

Harvey Tolibao has a tendency to linger on the female form, and this is pretty bad in that respect. Each issue had at least one example of Psylocke twisting about to show off both her chest and her rear to the reader. This is not really an essential chapter in the history of Psylocke.

Poor

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Brave & the Bold #32

Wow, what a great issue. JMS has a tendency to be maudlin and over-dramatic, in my opinion, but the natural gravity he puts into all his work really does the trick in this issue. This story could support a mini-series or event comic, but the story of The Demon and Aquaman holding off Cthullu works well in just a few pages. JMS even gives multiple pages to a seaman fearing he's lost his sanity, but there is still enough action. The Demon's rhyming is a bit tedious and long-winded, but there is no arguing with his effectiveness in a fight. The real star of the issue is Aquaman. In both description (from the seaman) and the action, it is clear how powerful and impressive Aquaman can be. When he wrangles up a tidal wave of sea creatures to battle the Innsmouthian followers of Cthullu, it is dramatic and exciting.

The story wouldn't work half as well without Jesus Saiz's artwork. The Demon is a perfect mix of horror and Kirby. Aquaman is regal and yet relatable. His take on Cthullu is breathtaking. A red, octopus-headed behemoth that is horrible and exciting at the same time. Great issue.

Excellent

Friday, April 9, 2010

JSA All-Stars #5

This is another of those comics that I want to like more than I do. I generally enjoy Matt Sturges' books, but there is something missing from this title to put it over the top. The cast is great, some of the best JSAers are here (notably Power Girl, Hourman, and the new King Chimera is great), but I'm just not wrapped up in the story the way I am in the other JSA book.

This issue has Stargirl lost in another dimension with Atom Smasher, and they continue to grow closer despite their age difference. Of course, I think that the villain Johnny Sorrow is disguised as Atom Smasher, leaving the real Smasher tied up or captured somewhere. Actually, maybe if Atom Smasher joined the team full time it might help the dynamics. They have enough bricks power-wise, but they could use the personality.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team defeats the otherworldly King of Tears (a Cthullian beastie) with the help of a gunslinging sorceress. She actually captures the King in a bullet casing... very weird. Perhaps this gal will join the team too, and that might help shape things up. Right now, too many cast members are generic voices that don't really add to the dynamics. Citizen Steel, Sand, Wildcat II, even the aforementioned Hourman and Power Girl don't usually bring any unique perspective to the comic. The clearest personalities are Cyclone, Star Girl, and King Chimera, so it is no surprise they are the most interesting.

Freddie Williams brings back the window in PG's costume, but it's not too bad. He does a nice job on the main team sequences, but I sometimes found the other dimensional stuff a bit hard to follow. Of course, that is probably on purpse, it is supposed to be an extended dream sequence.

Fair

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Invincible Returns #1

Hrm. Too bad this is the standard cover, I would have liked to grab the Erik Larsen one.

I find it amusing that this is a new reader-friendly issue, and yet as a regular reader, I feel like I missed an issue. Has this been delayed or something? I totally forgot that Atom Eve was telling anyone about her delicate condition. And come to think of it, Robert Kirkman never explains just who she's talking to. This is supposed to be new reader friendly but I think it helps to have some background in the title. Cecil Stedman, DA Sinclair, Hard Rock, heck, this book is packed with old plot points and storylines. The plot doesn't even move forward that much, this mainly is sa check-out point for Invincible as he leaves Earth. As I said, I know what's going on, but I worry about those elusive new readers.

The Viltrumite War is already here, wow. It sort of feels like Conquest just ended. I feel bad for Invincible having to head out into yet another blood fest. Allen the Alien and Tech Jacket should lighten the mood though, so I'm happy they are coming along. I'm thrilled to see that the Guardians of the Globe are getting a mini, that should be a ton of fun.

Ryan Ottley has surpassed Cory Walker as "THE" Invincible artist. The backup story seemed off and odd, like it didn't fit in the Invincible universe, and Walker was the original artist for this book! Ottley has the blend down perfectly for this title; blood, action, and babes.

Fair

Batman & Robin #11

Grant Morrison doesn't pack quite so many mad ideas into this one, but he still does pretty well. I believe that's the Black Glove making his triumphant return to Gotham, so I'm hoping that Bruce Wayne can return in time to deliver a well-deserved beating.

Oberon Sexton can't be Bruce Wayne. Too obvious, although he might well be a great new character on his own. He looks iconic on the Frank Quitely cover, and he certainly holds his own inside the book. The demonology-based villains are fun, but the high point for me is seeing who is going to be steering Damian. Grant Morrison has not used a lot of established characters in his run, but I'm keen to see his take on Deathstroke the Terminator. Deathstroke really is NightBats' main enemy, so it makes sense that they should get to square off somehow.

So the big question is, what did NightBats find in under the Wayne family cemetary? I'm sure it is a clue about Bruce Wayne, but I don't have any idea what it could be.

Andy Clarke should take his place as a regular Batman artist. He's got the chops for it. His detail and figurework are tremendous.

Good

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Goon vol 7: A Place of Heartache and Grief

Damn, Eric Powell is fantastic. It amuses me that a writer who infuses so much oddity in his work can still deliver the drama and angst that makes the Goon work so well. I mean, one issue of this trade opens with a deformed cat talking with a deformed monkey. They look totally ridiculous and funny, but damn if it wasn't an ominous scene anyway. Another contrast is how the Goon is heading off to blow up a cursed burlesque house inhabited by evil bird women, but he's distracted on the way by a gigantic mutant transvestite that needs killin'. I mean, that is just crazy, right? So this is a humor book. So why am I so distressed when the Goon's gypsy friend is gunned down in the street my zombies? This book gives you a dash of everything and it totally works.

Things are getting serious at this point too. The Goon, Franky, and the rest of the gang are pretty established as the top guys in town. The kids love them, everyone owes them money, and they've taken care of the zombie problem on Lonely Street. So that's why it is so ominous that a strange foreign priest has shown up and rededicated the local forces of evil to take out the Goon. And since they have the power to take out a gypsy and then negate the scrying of another, these guys are not to be trifled with. I love the callback to Dr. Alloy too, he is in jail to control his homicidal tendencies, but he's still helping out the Goon with some sweet walkie-talkies.

Eric Powell's strengths as an artist are well known. He draws horrific monsters and zombies, animation style violence, and great dames. His work has such a great mix of pencil and painted, these issues are beautiful to look at.

Good

Superman: New Krypton vol 2 HC

Let me start by saying I don't like the idea of a whole city of Supermen flying around. It negates Superman's coolness, and by having him basically follow Alura and the rest of the Kryptonian leadership around, he's been reduced to a guy who seems to do nothing except say "Yeah, but!" and "You can't do that!" all the time. The story in this collection is powered by Alura Zor El and General Lane, Superman is basically a tag along.

There are some great moments, but even these don't deliver quite as well as they could. I love the idea of the Kryptonians taking out Supes' rogues gallery and banishing them to the Phantom Zone. Having human cops die while guarding those cons is a great move too, as is bringing in the JSA and JLA to confront the Kryptonians about what they've done. When things break down (as they had to) I loved seeing Hawkman, Mr. Terrific, and the others try to hold their own against thousands of Supermen. But if you are doing something like that, make it BIG. Bring in EVERYONE. Where was Shadowpact? Where was the rest of the JLA and JSA? This could practically support a mini-series, so the encounter felt a tad rushed to me.

The cameos in this are pretty fun, although I vastly prefer Tim Truman's Creature Commandos to the ones Geoff Johns re-introduces here. And hoo boy, I'm mad that James Robinson remembered Agent Liberty. I knew when he first showed up that he fit the bill for one of Robinson's dramatic kills, and I was right. Liberty spends the whole trade crawling around some vents. He's immediately killed the moment he gets out. I know he's not a classic character or anything, but why not just make up some new cannon fodder?

I do like the development of New Krypton as its own planet, so I'll get the next trade from the library too, but man, I really need Superman to take a more active hand in the proceedings.
I do like the Superman house style these days. Pete Woods, Renato Guedes and Jamal Igle have a great balance between Silver Age design and modern realism.

Fair

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Realm of Kings: Inhumans #5


Hoo boy, Medusa is in danger of becoming a full-time villain. Meanwhile, Ronan the Accuser has mellowed out to the point that I'd say you can't call him a villain anymore. All it took was the affections of Crystal and the guy becomes a pussycat! DnA explain that all the troubles up to this issue have been the result of Medusa and Maximus' meddling as they attempt to endear the Inhumans to their Kree subjects. Medusa has a plan to put her people at the top of the food chain that is downright evil, and when Gorgon gets too big for his britches, she puts him in his place by beating the crap out of him. There are a lot of fun character developments here, but since the story sort of swoops in to the conclusion of the Imperial Guard mini, this probably wasn't entirely necessary. If you're a fan of the Inhumans, I'd recommend this just for the spotlight that Triton and Gorgon get, they usually are more background characters. I do need to see Ronan smash someone with his hammer soon.

The art has a hilariously jarring change halfway through the issue. Pablo Ramiondi picks up for a few pages here and there, and the art is clear and understated, as he always tends to be. Tim Seely provides a few pages with the added consequence of an increase in chest circumference for every female in the book. Crystal swelled so alarmingly I had to jump to the credits to see what happened.

Fair

Justice Society of America #37

Man! I do love these alternate future stories, especially when they're tied in to a nice current story like this one is. Bill Willingham has been a favorite of mine for awhile, and I'm loving his Mr. Terrific-centric take on the JSA. The Fourth Reich got the drop on the heroes last issue, but that doesn't last long, as the combo of toughness and smarts on the current team enables them to take out all but one or two of the Nazi superteam. The Veil of War kind of cheats, activating a powerful power-dampening device that leads to a victory for the bad guys. It seems they never lose again, since the other half of the story is Mr. Terrific leading a resistance in the future, days before his execution. We get glimpses of Blue Beetle IV, Superman, Batman, Oliver Queen, and a reference of Blue Devil (a Willingham fave from Shadowpact), so this is shaping up to be a nice little DCU-wide story next issue.

The high point of the issue had to be the Kid Karnevil Dr. Mid-Nite fight though. I won't spoil, but I'll give you a hint how it goes; the fight takes place in the dark where one of the combatants has a distinct advantage.

Jesus Merino is a solid super-hero artist at this point. I like his aged takes on the heroes and everyone looks good and dashing in the present. I'm also starting to come around on Lightning's design, she is rather unique looking.

Good

Monday, April 5, 2010

She-Hulk: Sensational #1

That cover doesn't really scream "class," does it? I mean, I love Gary Frank, and She-Hulk looks hot, but she looks like a moron too. Not exactly empowering.

I really, really wanted to like this more. I'm a big fan of She-Hulk, even if her comics usually aren't as good as I think they should be. This anniversary issue is a mixed bag, since the Peter David-penned story was actually quite fun. Packed with fourth wall breaking commentary and amusing visual gags, I enjoyed it. I wish David had done more humor in his run a few months ago, that dour book was never any fun, even when he brought back the Man-Elephant. This amusing little look at She-Hulks past, present, and future should be a wake-up call of the potential the character has. At least let's get her on one of the new Avengers teams. She could be an instructor at the Avengers Academy at the least, right?

Brian Reed continues his average output with a missing issue from Ms. Marvel. She-Hulk comes off a moronic guest-star, and this is supposed to be her book. Tell me, when she gets the description (from a criminal) that "someone with force beams" is the boss of a bank heist, and Ms. Marvel is at that same spot, does that justify She-Hulk attacking a fellow Avenger from behind? This story sort of belittles every character involved. When She-Hulk, Spider-Woman, and Ms. Marvel dress up like skanks to "sneak in" to a Hydra base hidden in a dance club, it shouldn't be a surprise that the story is disappointing, but wow. These are the type of stories that make me think that characters being in no comics might be better than being in bad ones.

The John Byrne reprint was amusing, as I rememberd. I need to dig out those back issues sometime.

The art was actually fairly solid in both stories. Jonboy Meyers loves beachball style chests on his ladies, but he handled the humor well and his storytelling was clear. Iban Coello's art was more inconsistent. Some panels looked like he languished over them, and they are detailed and crisp. Other panels look way more rushed, but overall his art was decent.

Average