Monday, May 31, 2010

Power Girl #12

What a satisfying conclusion to a great run. I think I can safely say that this is my favorite work by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, these 12 issues were plain fun from start to finish. This is essentially a Greatest Hits recap of the amusing events that filled the last 12 issues. Best of all, Vartox shows up (although I can't help but think of him as Zardoz) for a quick second attempt at wooing Power Girl. I'm amazed at how well Palmiotti and Gray play up the obvious sexiness of the lead character with amusing plots. She's aware of what she does to guys, but she doesn't let it define her. There is also an extended sequence in Terra's underground world, and to be honest, this section interested me the least just because I'm not sure too many other writers will use any of these ideas again. I do think that Power Girl's cat will hold on to that name though, it does fit.

Even better, the writers (and artist Amanda Connor) have created the ideal personality for Power Girl. I always like her look and power set, but this series gave her a fun personality and outlook that is actually rare in comics. She because so "normal" that this take on the character is how I'll define her from now on. When folks come in with another take, I don't think I'll be able to help but to be disappointed.

Amanda Connor did a wonderful job on this series. I wish she could stick to a monthly schedule, her mix of action and humor is so rare, I can't think of anyone who does it better. That sequence with Stinky wandering around PG's apartment was an instant classic, it was great seeing a hero deal with realistic cat-issues. I particularly loved the bug face-off, that is serious cat-business!

This will be my last issue of Power Girl, but these 12 issues will hold up nicely in my longboxes.

Good

Sunday, May 30, 2010

JMS' Thor vol 2 TPB

The pacing that I found so intolerable in single issue format actually works just fine in this trade. JMS has a habit of setting things up very slowly, but there is more than enough fighting in this collection to entertain me. I had mocked this book for the peaceful cover featuring Thor walking through a field of long grass, and that issue is rather dry (it all deals with Loki's revelation that Balder is Thor's brother), but there are plenty of frost giants in this to be a good collection.

The Captain America's ghost issue is laughable now, although I can't imagine anyone ever believed the guy was really dead. In any case, the heavy handed message against political news programs fits right in with JMS' politics we've seen in other issues.

I did enjoy seeing Loki's plan come together. I'm not sure I totally understand Loki's explanation of how he sets up Bor, Odin, and Thor (something about how the past already happened, he just had to set it up) but it is entertaining. And the actual battles in this book are excellent. Thor and Odin vs. Surtur was great but even that violence paled in comparison to Thor vs. Bor. I loved how Loki twisted Bor's perception to set up the battle, and Bor's belief that a hammer is a murderer's weapon was a neat idea.

Olivier Coipel draws some great frost giants. They are big, imposing creatures and even though the Asgardians whup up on them every chance they get, they do look dangerous. I like how Coipel creates lady-Loki's spooky look by not giving her any eyebrows. It's an old wrestler trick I've seen and it is quite disconcerting. (Kane and some other heels have shaved their eyebrows, giving them an odd look, making it hard to nail down just what it is that's so "off.")

Overall, this still isn't Thor as I prefer him, Thor spends too much time sitting on a throne, I like seeing Thor smashing the Wrecking Crew and the Celestials, but the series is much better in trade format than in floppy.

Fair

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Star Wars TPB 4: Alliance

Once again, John Ostrander takes us away from Cade and the core cast to focus on the greater Star Wars universe. This time I really appreciated it. I love the idea of a new (Rebel) Alliance and we get a ton of it here. Admiral Gar Stazi is a neat character, he's such a strategic thinker that I loved watching his confrontations with the Sith Empire. I sort of had confidence he'd come out on top, but in this weird storyline there are no guarantees.

It was fun seeing the action based around Mon Cal, the home planet of Admiral "It's a Trap!" Ackbar. However, naming a city Ackbarea is laughable. The issue is packed with Sith atrocities to really build them up as big bads. Darth Krayt is an evil, evil dude. I'm really invested in seeing the Imperial remnants and the Rebels teaming up to take him on.

There are a ton more character introduced, but since we don't have time to get attached to most of them, I can appreciate Ostrander's shorthand. While they are different characters, the reader can get a feel for many of the supporting cast from how their races appear in the movies. There is an overconfident dug (like Sebulba from Ep 1) and it's easy to feel like he's an old character.

Darth Wyyrlock gets an issue too, and he's an interesting character. It's neat seeing his level of loyalty in a Sith, it's fascinating that his behavior goes so against the grain for the Dark Side. There is a great confrontation with an old Sith lord that really highlights the differences. I have to imagine that Darth Krayt is much more effective having a right hand guy like Wyyrlock around.

The art by Omar Francia and Alan Robinson is clear enough, if a bit on the sketchy side. I'm not sure they'd fit as well in a super hero book, but it works well in a sci-fi title like this.

Good

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dazzler #1

I think I like the idea of Dazzler more than I like any of the actual stories I've seen her in. That costume is tremendous, her powers are unique and useful, and she seems to be pretty fun. But she generally fades into the background.

Jim McCann puts the reader more in her head than I've ever seen, and she's likable enough, but man, she seems like an over-thinker. I think McCann was trying to give us an info dump of her history, so I think a lot of those caption boxes were necessary (I didn't know she had a sister or was a herald of Galactus) but they made this a long read.

I can't fault a lack of action, Dazzler faces a mystery villain who puts her up against robotic versions of her old foes and best of all, Klaw. It seems like an awful choice for Klaw to go against a lady with sound-absorbing power, but it does work out well.

It's funny, I will look forward to another Dazzler appearance, McCann really sets the character up with a nice status quo. There are interesting supporting characters in place. (I love Psylocke as one of Dazzler's best friends.) So this issue is decent, but I think a next issue could be better.

Kalman Andrasofsky has some beautiful panels and some where the characters' faces look a bit squished. Sometimes it seems like the elements of the faces don't quite fit together. He does his best work with Klaw, who looks really striking with some great black lines on his costume.

Fair

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Secret Avengers #1

Wow, this really was a fantastic blend of Ed Brubaker's signature gritty action and the Avengers. I never thought the mix would work out this well, but I loved this comic.

The book opens with Valkrie and Black Widow undercover, acquiring an artifact from a Roxxon executive (bonus for even using Roxxon, one of the best evil corporations out there!) They nab the object, with Steve Rogers' help, and it turns out to be a variant of the Serpent Crown. So in the opening few pages we've got undercover work, punching, and the return of an old Avengers plot-device. Fantastic! The story goes on to show that Roxxon had been digging on Mars and that's probably where they discovered the crown. After losing contact with team-member Nova, Cap rallies the troops and they head off to recover the Human Rocket.

I loved the character interaction in this title. Black Widow and Valkrie are both tough gals, but in totally different ways. Rhodey/War Machine feels like a techie, a hero, and a pilot all at the same time. I love the idea of Moon Knight trying the Avengers thing again, hoping it can help him clean up his act. And pairing him with Ant-Man is genius. Ant-Man also needs redemption, and we've seen how Ant-Man tends to latch onto authority type mentors when he gets to the big dance (he was constantly puppy-dogging Paladin in Thunderbolts). Nova makes sense for this mission on Mars, and I do hope that he gets to stick around. From Rogers' dialogue, it seems the roster may be shifting around a bit.

I will say there are a LOT of time jumps in this book. I kept it straight, but I sure wouldn't mind a bit more linear of a story next time. I also have no idea what is up with Fury in that suit. Is that something from Secret Warriors?

Mike Deodato's art is fantastic. The backgrounds are a bit iffy, but I love the designs for Cap, Beast, and especially Ant-Man. The cover for next issue promises some great space-suit designs coming up too. This is a hell of a comic.

Excellent

Green Lantern #54

I don't think anyone is surprised to hear that Doug Mahnke draws the hell out Lobo. I know we only got one page, but this bodes well for next issue...

This issue ties in to Brightest Day #2, so there are a few pages spent with Hal, Carol, and Sinestro trying to lift the white lantern. There are also some great sequences with Atrocitus and Dex-Starr as they roast and eat some criminal scum. I never thought I'd say this, but I think Atrocitus is actually growing on me. Having him making constructs really helps, but I'm also really hoping that Atrocitus has a bit of a crush on Mera, that could get mighty awkward.

I've never been a huge Hal Jordan fan, but now that he's the straight arrow in a crowd of ring-slinging heroes, he works really well! Now that this is a team book, it really plays to Geoff Johns' strengths. Blackest Night was clearly a high point, but I am pleasantly surprised at how good the book has been since.

Doug Mahnke is a genius. His art is just breathtaking.

Good

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I've Joined Twitter!


If you're interested, follow me at @MrTimbotron

Justice League: Generation Lost #2

This wasn't quite as stellar as the first issue, but it was still darn entertaining. Judd Winick and Keith Giffen have too much set-up to do to make this feel as familiar as last issue.

Max Lord has made the world forget he exists. In fact, he's even altered the world's minds into not seeing proof of his exisitence. Wonder Woman doesn't remember killing him. Superman has never heard of him. And everyone thinks Ted Kord killed himself. Only the remaining four members of the JLI (and Skeets!) remember what really happened. And to make matters more difficult, Max is engaging in an ongoing attempt to discredit the JLI heroes. Checkmate dismisses Fire, Guy Gardner thinks Ice tried to kill him. Captain Atom is wanted for treason, and Booster... well, Booster is just Booster. He doesn't need to be discredited.

Max's powers have been significantly ramped up. There's a scene here where Max makes it seem that he's in a room, when really he's just making Captain Atom think so, leading to more problems for the Captain. It also seems Max has retained control over the OMACs, judging from the cliffhanger.

I would have loved a more drawn out fight between Captain Atom and Magog, but maybe we'll get that in a future issue. I also think it is interesting that the JLI gang hasn't quite re-banded together yet. Fire and Ice still think they can do it themselves. We shall see.

Joe Bennett handles the art this issue, and while he's solid, the story looks too "modern" for me. Aaron Lopresti's art in issue 1 "felt" like old JLI art, while this feels like a modern DC crossover. Clearly, I prefer the retro more than the current when it comes to my Justice League.

Good

X-Men: Liberators (1999)

My most recent random story grab was this 4-issue limited series from 1999. I remember thinking it was ok, so let's see how it holds up!
Joe Harris' story actually reads surprisingly well. Harris opens each issue with a nice, quick anecdote of Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Wolverine as they became friends, giving a nice sense of depth to the four friends' journey to Russia to visit the grave of Colossus' parents.

I'm a huge Colossus fan, but I'm surprised to find Nightcrawler the most fun character in this series. Colossus does spend too much time moping and while Wolverine is best when hanging out with his friends, he doesn't get too much unique stuff to do here. The three heroes are traveling through Russia when they sort of link up with a disgusting death-mutant with powers similar to Omega Red. Of course, Omega has to show up, this is an X-story in Russia after all. I did like seeing Omega and this sloppy mutant fight, their similar power sets make it a fairly undramatic fight as the two just drain each others' life force. The X-guys do get some nice moments in the conflict, although the series is a bit short on super-fights.

Harris has a tendency to be really talky in his caption boxes. I couldn't skip them though, because sometimes he has a nice observation or moment there, it's just that most of the time they are unnecessary. All in all, he does a nice job giving three of the most popular X-Men a side-quest that works well for all of them. I like the going drinking and traveling together parts more than the secret orphanage plot, but overall, this is an entertaining story.

Phil Jimenez starts out strong but by the end of the series fill-in artists and inkers are having to carry more of the load. I'm guessing Jimenez likes Nightcrawler, because he looks the best in every issue. Jiminez does a nice job on the classic pointed-shoulder costume for Colossus. I wish he would have done the square-shouldered one in a flashback, that would have been neat!

Fair

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dark Reign: Young Avengers TPB

What a strange story. Paul Cornell has become one of my favorite comic authors so I had to pick up his take on the Young Avengers, only to find out that this book is only partly about them. Since this is a Dark Reign book, it doesn't surprise me that there is an evil take on the Young Avengers, what does surprise me is that they end up getting more pages than the core team. The Enchantress, Melter, Big Zero, Egghead, Executioner, and Coat of Arms are all interesting characters (although I never really connected with Coat of Arms or Executioner, either good or bad). Big Zero and Egghead are clearly evil and they're fun to start disliking as soon as they show up (Nazis are like that). Melter is likable but so incompetent that he's worth worrying about, the guy is clearly dangerous, although I did enjoy seeing his attempt to become a hero. Enchantress is a lot of fun and should be the breakaway star of the book. Her affected Asgardian accent is wonderful and I loved how Hulkling and Wiccan took to her.

I was surprised at how confrontational Patriot is, considering he gets his powers from drugs. He's awfully judgmental for a guy who has that kind of origin. As usual, my favorite member of the Young Avengers is Cassie. I love growth powers and the ongoing conflict between her and Big Zero doesn't disappoint, they are natural, gigantic enemies. In the end though, I'm not sure we'll see much more of these characters. Norman Osborn sort of summarizes things in the last pages when he says "This is not part of Avengers history. It never happened." It was an interesting little story and I did enjoy some of these new characters, but did anything in this trade matter? I'm not sure it did.

Mark Brooks has a clean, bright style that would look appropriate in a cartoon. It works fine in this story featuring bright characters and dark villains, but I have to say I didn't care for Executioner's mask. I kept thinking Executioner was supposed to be Scourge from Thunderbolts. Melter's look was pretty odd too, wearing all street clothes. I guess it makes sense that some of these kids would dress like that, but I wouldn't have minded that old school helmet the original guy wore.

Fair

Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST Series Finale


Hopefully you all will forgive me for a quick TV rant on a comics blog!

I own a Dharma Initiative hat. I wear it often. I say that to establish my bonafides as a true LOST fan. I've tried and succeeded to get a bunch of friends and family hooked on the show. Yet here I am the day after the finale with so many questions and with so much confusion, that I can't say that I'm going to keep recommending that folks check out this series.

Spoilers ahead.

So it turns out that the Island stuff we've seen has been "real" while all the Sideways Universe stuff of the last season was all the main characters in Purgatory. From what I understand, they had to go to Purgatory to learn a little more about themselves and each other, then they'd be ready to move on to the next world. It seems the Purgatory selves are creations of what the characters "wanted to be like." So Keamy dreamed of cooking eggs. Libby always imagined she could live in a mental hospital. Dogen dreamed of taking his kid from Japan to LA. Anna Lucia gets to take bribes to learn a bit about herself. Jack and Juliet had always longed that they could be ex-husband and ex-wife. I could go on, but I wont. I'm sorry, it doesn't work.

We've wasted a huge amount of time on a dreamworld that makes no sense. This has been a waste of time and a false payoff for all the promises the writers have been putting out there for a few seasons. Juliet's prophetic "we'll go dutch" was talking about coffee for dead people? Faraday's big idea to fix everything was to die and hook up again after everyone's 6 feet under. Heck, Faraday didn't even make it to the meetup!

I will say setting Purgatory in LA does answer a few problems, like how Claire got a doctor so quickly or how Kate happened to find Claire so easily. They don't have to make sense, they're in a dream world. But I'm enraged about the whole "You don't have a son, Jack" idea. Am I supposed to believe that Jack and Juliet needed to have a fake marriage and a fake son to work through their issues? And then the poor kid disappears, never to be seen again when Kate runs by him to check on Claire's delivery? Really??? I had been so hoping that the kid would be Smokey or something, but he's so much less. He's just there, then forgotten when he's no longer needed.


After the wholesale slaughter of the cast over the past few seasons, I can't say how silly it is to give all those dead folks the consolation prize of meeting up in Purgatory. Heck, I even feel bad for the folks who lived, Kate and Sawyer clearly never made stronger connections than they did on the island. How can Jin and Sun cry tears of joy at seeing their fetus when they'll never know her? There were no kids in the church, how can that be? It is not an acceptable consolation prize or reward to just see all the rotting folks show up in each others' shared dream. A whole lot of these people died for nothing more than Jacob being a big jerk.

At least Walt, Miles, Richard, and others weren't in this tour group heading off to the next stage. They did something with their lives and we can assume they'll head off with another crew.

After all that anger, I do have to say that I loved most of the finale. Bringing back Lapidus and Richard assuaged a lot of annoyance from the last few episodes, and the final confrontation with Smokey was tremendous. Jack went to commercial with a super-punch, how can I complain about that? I'm even ok with the weird plug and the golden/red pool. I can write that off as some sort of weird, other-dimensional electromagnetism that has powered the Island's weirdness for 6 years now. We have to accept some of this stuff, right? And the parallel from the beginning Season 1 was very nicely done. When Vincent came to sit by Jack, then we saw Jack's eye close, it couldn't be clearer our journey together was over. Well played.


And emotionally, there was a lot to love too. I was grinning myself when Charlie opened the door for Hurley. When Claire said "Chaaalie" I almost choked up. I waited with baited breath for Juliet to say "We can go Dutch." And who wasn't touched by the great Hurley and Sayid interactions in the Hummer. And the two driving forces of the show, Jack and Locke, had some wonderful, powerful interactions in the Sideways universe. Seeing Jack's anger at Smokey's use of Locke's form was awesome "You disrespect his memory by wearing his face." Great stuff. And Ben finally, finally becoming a heroic character, how in the world did the writers make us care for this guy after all the horrible things he's done? I can't fault the characters at all, I was and will be invested in them for a long time.

But there are still so many questions. I don't think this show will hold up well in future viewings. Why did the Others need to "take the boy" back in Season 1? What was Richard looking for when he visited Locke as a kid, was he intervening for Jacob? Who built the statue? Why did the Man in Black become Smokey after he drifted down the stream, but Jack came out just as hurt as he went in? Who made up Ben and Widmore's rules, and what were they? What did all the awesome stuff on the hatch door mean? Did the numbers really just happen because "Jacob had a thing for numbers"?

There are just too many unresolved questions. The things that really tickled my fancy on this show were the sci-fi elements. And while we got a fair amount of Dharma answers, I think the creators unfairly veered away from those reveals. I never wanted to see Purgatory. I wanted a sci-fi adventure show that had great twists, great characters, and great revelations. Overall, LOST gave me the first two, but failed on the third. I believe the creators fell in love with the idea of setting up awesome (and I don't want to understate, AWESOME) reveals and mysteries. This show had some of the best commercial breaks and episode cliffhangers I've ever seen. Hell, I'll say they were the BEST I've ever seen. But they couldn't pay off on what they'd promised. Over the years, my heart soared when it was supposed to (Locke walking, Jack & Kate kissing, etc.) but this was a mystery show first. You can't start claiming otherwise in interviews starting in Season 5.

So were the last 6 years a waste? Yes and no. I was more into this show than any other. I kept up with all the blogs, games, interviews, and trivia. (Sure wish the Valenzetti Equation would have turned up!) I theorized and stayed up late thinking about it. The Dharma videos and stations in particular captured my attention like nothing else. But in the end, the show couldn't answer the very questions it asked. So my time wasn't wasted, but as a whole, I think the experience is tainted by the lack of answers and resolution. I'm going to think long and hard about whether I'll recommend this show to new viewers.

Season 1 - Excellent
Season 2 - Excellent
Season 3 - Good
Season 4 - Good
Season 5 - Good
Season 6 - Average

Hulk TPB 1: Red Hulk


I've heard all the complaints about this series by Jeph Loeb. And you know what, those criticisms are legit. This is big, loud, stupid, and doesn't really work in context of the Marvel U. But it is also fun. Seeing Rulk punch out the Watcher as a throwaway joke is funny. Seeing Rulk use Thor's hammer in space weakens Thor, but at least Loeb doesn't give Rulk a clean win. Thor is still very much in the fight.

This whole trade basically consists of Iron Man and some random heroes chasing Rulk around as he beats the crap out of them. That's not a complicated plot, but Loeb does make it entertaining. I think I'd like to see more from She-Hulk rather than standing around and complaining, but I can't complain about his take on Iron Man or the regular Hulk. I don't think we know who Rulk is even now, but at least the weird appearances by Doc Samson have been explained. (SHIELD finds his ripped clothes and he shows up once in his evil "Samson" persona. It's a dumb idea, but at least it is explained.) I'm totally confused why Loeb felt it was necessary to turn Rick Jones into the new Abomination "A-Bomb." The ideas in this trade are so simple and nonsensical that I think a kid could write it. But there is a kid's sense of fun present too. Say what you want about the story, but seeing Hulk, Rulk, A-Bomb, Thor, Thing, Namor, She-Hulk, Ares, and more cracking the Earth's crust while beating the crap out of each other is pretty exciting.

The art by Ed McGuinness makes the book. If his electric pencils weren't blowing the pages apart with powerful Hulk punches, this book wouldn't be half as fun. It's weird, I'm obviously really behind in my Hulk reading, but this trade actually gets me excited to try and catch up on what's happening with the guy. The Hulk universe has really expanded since I dropped these monthlies, what with Red Hulks, Red She-Hulks, Falling Hulks, Hulk Wars, Amazing Hulks, and so on, but I think I will track them down and see what's going on.

Fair

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Titans: Villains for Hire Special #1

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Well, that was ridiculous. I hope there aren't any fans of the Ryan Choi Atom out there, cause his time is done. Deathstroke accepts a contract on the Brave New World character and assembles a group of villains to take him out. Actually, the odd part is that I wouldn't have pegged these guys as actual villains. Tattooed Man has been heroic at times, Osiris wants to be a hero, and the new fire gal was cruising towards being a vigilante rather than a villain. The only true bads on the team were Deathstroke and Cheshire. That's before this issue though, since I don't think you can remain a 'tweener after you slash a hero's guts out and deliver his corpse in a matchbox.

I don't think I've read much (if anything) from Eric Wallace, but the needless humiliation and death for Ryan Choi pretty much guarantees he's not my kind of writer. Heck, the best thing I can say for the issue is that at least Deathstroke comes off as a professional and allows Choi to fend off his girlfriend. This was a downer and yet another example of the gore pervading the DCU.

This book is ridiculously gory. I actually liked the art by Fabrizio Fiorentino, it's shaded in an interesting way that reminds me of Simone Bianchi. Fiorentino doe shave a habit of drawing too many angry faces, but overall I like the style.

Average

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Black Widow #1&2

Marjorie Liu is straddling an odd line with her Black Widow series, and yet she's pulling it off. This isn't exactly a spy book, there are too many Avengers in prominent roles for it be a pure espionage title. Yet Black Widow really seems like she's functioning in a spy's world, regardless of what her friends are doing. We're still in the plot-building phase here, so there aren't a lot of reveals. Some goons removed a recording device from the Widow's gut, so she's not in the best shape, but she still puts the hurt on a gang of handles assigned to keep her in the hospital. Now the search is on as she's labeled a traitor by the US Government. A nameless government spook is trying to convince Bucky Cap, Iron Man, and Hawkeye that she's a traitor, but they're not buying it. I'm hoping Liu doesn't have them start buying the story, I like their loyalty to her much better.

The pacing isn't exactly made for floppies, I'll be reading this in trade, but dang if I don't want to see next issue's fight vs. Elektra!

Daniel Acuna is one of my favorite artists. I actually think he's more suited for Kirby-style madness than the dark, street-level material in this title, but he's doing a nice job with it. Black Widow looks great, you can tell she's attractive but Acuna isn't turning the book into the cheesecake-fest some artists would.

Good

Friday, May 21, 2010

Justice League of America #45


Hmm, I think it's pretty obvious where James Robinson's loyalties lie. In this team-up of the JLA and JSA, the JSA come across as grumpy fogeys (especially my fave Mr. Terrific). The JLA is where it's at. Since this is their book, I suppose that's ok, but I hope Robinson's JSA issues are just as skewed for the home team.

It seems the Star Heart has returned to Earth because it shares a link with Jade, and that's what she wanted to do. The problem is that the Star Heart's chaotic tendencies are affecting numerous Earth-based metas (including Power Girl, the Demon, Atlas, and Shango - an awesome-looking African Thunder God). The JLA and JSA don't actually do anything about this, but they do put the pieces together to figure out that the Star Heart is causing the problems. Jade has some tense moments with the German equivalents of the Rocket Reds introduced last issue, and Supergirl arrives because Congo Bill called for help. (I love that Bill is sort of leading the team, annoying Night Bats in the process). The book closes with Alan Scott in his Kingdom Come armor threatening to end the world.

I love Mark Bagley's work on this title. His style works tremendously well with the icons (or substitute icons) of the DCU. His Jade is great-looking too, I'm happy she's joining the team. This is the rare instance where my enjoyment of the issue is actually raised by the art.

Fair

Rescue #1

I really should have known better. I know that the Rescue armor is passive and built for rescue only, so I'm not sure what I was hoping for in this one-shot. Sure enough, Pepper Potts engages in "rescuing" some folks trapped in a fire, and it was fine for what it was. I even enjoyed the whole talking with a ghost thing when Pepper spent the aftermath of that event talking with her dead husband Happy Hogan. Heck, we recently saw Tony doing the same thing in his Director of SHIELD book!

But there is no fighting in this at all. When HAMMER shows up (this takes place before Siege) Pepper just runs. I understand why, but what a bummer. What this one-shot made me realize is that the use for this character are quite limited. I think she works great as a supporting character in Invincible Iron Man, but I'm never going to be sold on series starring a power-armored person with no offensive capabilities. Why read that when you can read about War Machine or Iron Man himself? Kelly Sue DeConnick wrote Pepper perfectly in character and did a fine job, I just realize that Pepper might not be someone I'm interested in reading about.

Give the Rescue armor some weapons and put her up against some baddies and I'm in, but that really dilutes the whole point of the armor and character, so I don't see it happening.

Andrea Mutti's art is fine for the content, he does a nice job drawing the fire and Rescue's armor looks fine (although those gloves look awfully pointy and painful). I'm not sure Mutti would work on a bright super-hero book but I bet he'd draw a cool Moon Knight or Shroud.

Average

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Brightest Day #2

I'm really happy that Brightest Day has come to the DCU and we can all bask in the "fun" era of comics again. For those of you who didn't know, the fun era consists of suburban housewives murdering their husbands, children, then tearing their faces off. I just wanted to make sure you knew.

It seems the core cast of this book will be a smaller subset of the 12 returnees from Blackest Night. It is certainly looking like Deadman, Martian Manhunter, Firestorm, Aquaman, Hawkman, and Hawkwoman are the stars (along with Mera and possibly the Atom). I'm fine with that, and even though the Manhunter's origin is getting tweaked yet again, I'm happy enough with his story. I especially enjoy seeing J'onn when he exhibits his affection for humans, he was so kind to the elderly daughter of Dr. Erdel, it was a touching scene.

Firestorm's interaction is getting weirder and weirder. Now there is a third, angry voice yelling at Ronnie Raymond that Jason Rusch can't hear. I have a feeling Atom will be meeting up with something disturbing in the Firestorm matrix soon. I'm always interested in the Hawks finding time to smash heads, so I have no complaints about their story. Aquaman and Mera just make me sad, someone wearing an orange shirt shouldn't be surrounded by so much sadness. Deadman certainly seems to be in a rough spot, I don't really think of him as able to take on that big-time a foe.

I just don't understand why everything has to be so gory! It's hard to revel in these exciting stories when you just saw a kid beaten to death with a Rock Band guitar.
The art is solid once again, DC is bringing their A-game artistically.

Fair

Walking Dead #72

I don't know how Kirkman does it. I'm dropping Invincible Iron Man from my floppy list because there isn't enough action. I feel like multiple issues go by and there is no fighting. Walking Dead has just about the same pacing yet I love every issue. I love seeing the cast put through all these different challenges and seeing them in this social setting is fascinating. After the high-stakes, life-or-death world they've lived in for so long, cheating husbands and polite conversation are understandably hard for them to get into.

I'm fascinated by Rick's use of his original gang to scope out their new neighbors. Rick may end up being a threat to his hosts, and I'm curious to see how the group reacts. Abraham may end up siding against Rick, he seems to have really come to accept his new peaceful home. I am surprised: another zombie-free issue that entertained the heck out of me.

Charlie Adlard's faces make this book. You can't always tell what people are thinking, but you can get clear vibes. Check out Douglas' weirdly threatening look on page three when Andrea resists his advances. That has me worried, but it could end up being nothing. That's good "acting" from the pencils.

Good

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Avengers #1

Why isn't Spider-Woman on that cover?

With one small exception, I really enjoyed Bendis' relaunch of the Avengers.
Let's start off with the bad, since it is so quick. I'm not pleased that long-time Avenger Wonder Man is so against the idea of the team forming. He seemed downright grumpy in his confrontation with Steve Rogers. Rogers is clearly asking tons of former members to be part of his expanded Avengers, and Wonder Man is justifiably invited. I just don't see why Wondy would reject the off then make an ominous threat that he will change Rogers' mind. Seems off-character.

That is just about the only problem I have with the book. Steve Rogers has things nicely organized and the new lineup looks pretty good (are Spidey and Wolverine on this team AND New Avengers?) Bendis doesn't breeze over the difference between the main three Avengers. Iron Man, Cap, and Thor have had their differences, and I loved how Bendis showed that Stark is the one having the hardest time believing they can co-exist. Thor's interaction with Bucky Cap was fantastic too. Another highlight is the buddy relationship I think Spidey and Hawkeye are going to have. They are already lightening the mood and I'm surprised no one has thought to match these guys up before. I think they'll get along nicely.

Kang comes off as arrogant as always and if he really is a pawn of the character from that splash page... this could be a dynamite story arc.

John Romita Jr's art is polarizing, but I've always loved it. He has a better handle on some characters than others. His Spidey, Iron Man, and Hawkeye look tremendous while his Cap and Spider-Woman need a little seasoning. I am surprised Ms. Marvel didn't make the team, he would have had a nice take on her.

Good

Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Jackpot #1-3

It's too bad this series ends up the way it does, because for awhile I was really impressed with the original approach Marc Guggenheim was bringing to the title. The whole "who is Jackpot" thing is annoyingly complicated, but at least Guggenheim keeps it fairly simple here. The real Jackpot (Sara Ehret) sold her super-hero license to another gal who wore the Jackpot suit for most of her previous appearances. It looks like Sara was Jackpot in the first appearance of the character in the Brand New Day Free Comic Book Day issue, but all the appearances after that was Alana Jobson impersonating the trained hero. After Alana died on the job, Spider-Man guilted Sarah into taking back the Jackpot name and now Sarah is trying to use her great power responsibly.

Jackpot's first nemesis is Boomerang, and she fights him a few times over these three issues. I don't like his new extreme costume every much and his new big boomerangs look kind of silly. Jackpot faces off against a new Rose, Armadillo, White Rabbit, and Boomer in these issues, they are all good choices for a new hero's arch foes, I'd think.

Through a rookie mistake involving fingerprints, Boomerang tracks Jackpot back to her home where she lives with her husband and three year old daughter. Boomerang kills JP's husband right off the bat and that's where the series hit a snag for me. I had never read about a young Mom super-hero and I loved the idea of a successful business woman with a nice home life trying to be a hero. But after that death, Jackpot is another scarred, angry vigilante avenging dead loved ones. We readers have seen that quite a bit over the years, and Jackpot is a heck of a lot less interesting now.

JP and Spidey go through the motions, beat up the bad guys, find out the shocking ID of the new Rose, but it's all sort of pointless. Jackpot is angry and bitter, her daughter is scarred, and the book ends with them assuming new ID's, essentially reduced to witness protection. It's too bad, Jackpot was a rather interesting character for one and a half issues.

Adriana Melo does an interesting job on art. I don't like Jackpot's new red and black duds, her green sparkly suit was a lot more '70s and fun-looking. Boomerang's redesign is not as much fun as his old look either, and the new boomerangs look too much like swords. Heck, Boomer uses them more like knives than he does boomerangs!

Melo does differentiate between the two Jackpots, the first one was slimmer while the new one is a bit more endowed. I really liked the way Jackpot's husband was a smaller guy, he actually had a different body shape than the average super-hero. Oh, and Melo's White Rabbit looks tremendous.

Issue 1 - Good
Issue 2 - Fair
Issue 3 - Average

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Storming Paradise TPB

I usually love Chuck Dixon's work so I thought I would really dig this alternate history of WWII TPB. And it is not that the story is uninteresting or poorly researched. In fact, the problem is just the opposite, the story is so sweeping and of such a huge scope that I had a hard time connecting with any one character. The trade tells the story of a world where America's atomic program misfired, killing the scientists involved and necessitating an American offensive into Japan to close out WWII. There are a lot of neat details wrapped up in this trade.

My favorite characters are probably the two pilots, the Irish priest, and the awesome Japanese interpreter. The interpreter is the best, dealing with constant racism (both overt and not) from his fellow troops. It's great seeing him respond to even the well-meaning racist questions he gets from his squad.

There are some amusing cameos like John Wayne and George Bush who pop up intermittently and I appreciated that their parts weren't big enough to be distracting.

The problem is that everyone looks the same. If it wasn't for the American flags painted on the interpreter's head, I wouldn't be able to pick him out either. In an attempt to give the book a realistic look, the pencils by Butch Guice and Eduardo Baretto are awfully muddy. The colors are muted and dark, making it even harder to tell who's who. There are just too many characters to have any real stake with any of these guys. It's a well-presented look at conflict, I just wish it could have been a bit clearer.

Average

Monday, May 17, 2010

Siege: Fallen Sun #1


I think Paul Jenkins probably hasn't read any of Sentry's appearances since he last wrote the character.

If you like watching Marvel icons stand around crying over their best friend and lover (don't forget the reader never saw ANY of this) then check this out.

Or you can ignore it like I'm going to. A lot of people are really mad about the retcon that Sentry slept with Rogue, he was somehow immune to her powers. I can see why people are upset, it ruins one of the fundamental ideas of her character (that she can't be touched) but I'm just going to ignore this. It didn't happen. The Sentry was a big powerful crazy man who had one good story in the Age of the Sentry limited series. The end.

Tom Raney's art is fine, but man, there isn't a lot of action here, is there? It's like 22 pages of mopey faces. No thanks.

Poor

The Goon TPB 8: Those That is Damned


I sort of begrudge Eric Powell's decision to include a bunch of Goon work by other creators in this trade. It's not that the other folks do a bad job on the Lonely Street gang, in fact, some of the short stories are quite fun, but I'm so dang involved in Powell's ongoing story that I'm desperate to read the next chapter.

The trade opens with the disturbing history of Horse Eater Swamp and the curse that fouls Lonely Street. Buzzard shows up to tell the Goon that the folks in town will never be happy, that the curse draws horrible things and the Goon is the only hope they have for protection. Goon of course weighs the decision, and starts to leave, but there are too many bad dudes in need of a knife to the eye for Goon and Franky to actually leave. The trade also includes the outing of a traitor in Norton's pub after the spy arranges an ambush that leaves one of Goon's bog lurk buddies dead. It isn't too hard to catch the guilty party, and I have to admit I was bummed to see this character go out like he does. Goon doesn't have mercy for someone turning on him, and this character really has a rough time of it after he's caught. Remind me never to cross the Goon.

Eric Powell's art is fantastic as always. He uses his lush pencils on the Goon and most of the bad guys (those zombie babies are so gross!) but uses a simpler Orphan Annie or Dennis the Menace look for the Lonely Street kids. I've grown to love those kids, they're a great addition to Goon's squad of allies.

Main story - Good
Backups - Fair

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ultimate Spider-Man TPB 20: And His Amazing Friends


I fell behind reading Ultimate Spider-Man, so I'm reading this volume way after I've read the big Ultimatum crossover. I'm finding it pretty hard to care about Liz Allen becoming the Firestar of the Ultimate U when I know almost everyone guest-starring in this story will end up dead by the end of that crossover. The book is kind of trucking along as Peter gets a better balance of the many elements in his life. Kitty Pride, Iceman, Liz Allen, high school, and his job at the Bugle is a lot to balance, but things are starting to come together. In fact, for once Peter Parker is helping other people deal with their freak outs.

Magneto shows up to try and recruit Liz (her father is one of his Brotherhood members) but things get settle by the X-Men just showing up. I love Stuart Immonen's take on the X-folks, but it would have been fun to see a bit more action. Overall, the art isn't enough to carry my interest in a book that I know is going to hit a huge status-quo change (and a depressing one at that). I think I'll switch to checking out any further Ultimate books from the library.
Average

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Star Wars Legacy TPB 3: Claws of the Dragon

Now that's more like it! As John Ostrander ties his Legacy universe more and more into the Star Wars stories I know, I find myself more and more interested. This trade gives us the background of Darth Krayt, the new leader of both the Sith and the Empire. Ostrander ties him back to the Clone Wars, Obi Wan Kenobi, AND makes him a Tuskan raider! That's enough nerd cred to make him a lot cooler in my opinion. Krayt reveals all this while trying to sway Cade Skywalker to the dark side. Once again, Ostrander stages all of this to make it familiar and new at the same time. He balances the feel perfectly, making this really feel like a continuation of the Star Wars story I'm familiar with.

The Legacy universe is getting more and more populated too. I love the new squadron of Imperial pilots who almost seem like the inheritors of the Rogue Squadron standard. (Heck, maybe they are, I sure wouldn't know!) Morrigan Corde has some big secrets too, you'd think that being Cade Skywalker's secret Mom would be enough, but she's got some doozies.

I really enjoyed the pages spent fleshing out the smugglers (including Cade's partners Jariah and Delilah), but it comes at the cost of absolutely no rogue Imperials, which bums me out, I like those guys. The Vong are easier to take in this trade too, as invaders from another universe, maybe that's why they look like they don't fit in quite right.

In all, this feels like it could be an "Empire" chapter for Legacy. Cade is wooed by the Dark Side, but I don't think he ever really comes close to going for it, he's got too much pent up anger at the Sith to ever join them. Plus, he comes out and states that part of the reason he acts the way he does is so that he's not doing what people tell him to. It's the response of a petulant teenager, but I don't think he's exactly learned that with great power comes great responsibility yet. He's getting there, though.

Jan Duursema does a nice job with the Sith. I love how they look like a team of super-villains but they're still made up of races we know from the movies. Very nice character designs. It's always fun to see a wookie show up too.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm actually interested enough in the comic Star Wars universe to hunt down some other trades. Where should I start? Rogue Squadron? Clone Wars?

Good

Friday, May 14, 2010

R.E.B.E.L.S. #16

Tony Bedard is doing his best to bring the 90's back. I can't speak for most readers (judging by the sales numbers for this book) but I love it. Bedard balances universe-building, character development, and action perfectly. I love that Captain Comet wanted to quit the LEGION because he thinks it's doomed to fail, but he's staying because Starfire is so dang hot. I also like the way Starfire and Adam Strange (and Animal Man when he's around) have built this long-lasting friendship after 52. Vril Dox is still a jerk, but I love the way he's always after the next big plan. He's Reed Richards without a conscience and a love of money.

Bedard's cast may end being just as cool as the original LEGION staff. I do wish Stealth wouldn't have died during Starro's attack, she'd be a fun voice to add to the chaos. I'm not sure we need two new GL's added to the group, but I do like the idea of two evil races getting their own Lanterns, it could get interesting.

Claude St. Aubin continues doing a nice job on pencils. That panel of Starfire should serve as a reason why the readers should stick around (in addition to Captain Comet).

Good

Booster Gold #32

Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis brought me into the DCU with the JLI about 20 years ago (or something like that). And I'm happy to say they've still got it. Booster is fun and dopey. Skeets is snarky and sounds like L-Ron reborn. The villains are unique and interesting. Hell, even the bystanders are awesome! I can't really say anything else about it; this is a DCU super-hero book firmly lodged in DC continuity that brings both drama and humor. I loved it.

Chris Batista is perfect for this title. I knew he could handle the action and heroes, but he's good at the humor too. This may end up being my favorite series before long. THIS is what I hoped for when they announced Booster was getting an ongoing series.

Bwa-ha-ha!

Excellent

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Avengers: The Initiative #35

I'm bummed. I've loved almost every issue of this book. At times over the past few years, this has felt more like the "real" Avengers than any other title on the stand. And Christos Gage does a nice job giving us resolutions to most of the issues impacting the characters. This is a disjointed read because it almost comes across as personal epilogue's for the cast of this title. It's too bad that you have to read Siege and New Avengers: The Finale to understand what it happening, but it is great seeing how each of these folks end up.

I absolutely love the idea that Tigra already had her son and has continued as a hero since he was born. Not only is he a cute little cat-boy, but if he ages in an advanced way (born after only 2 months, he might!) he could end up joining the new Avengers Academy book right away. As I've said repeatedly, I love the idea of a fairly balanced person being a parent AND a hero. Tigra's last moment with the Hood was great too. I will admit I worry that the Hood might come back as a more dangerous foe. He's going to be holding a lot of grudges after this.

Justice is clearly going to be a driving force for the new Academy and he's a great fit. I loved seeing he and the rest of the heroes accepting the surrender of the HAMMER troops they were fighting. Gage sets up a few team reformations too, Night Thrasher and Rage seem interested in a New Warriors revival and Prodigy is looking to get the Slingers back together. I really dug the ending of the Diamondback/Constrictor relationship too. It is not all happy endings. Taskmaster and Constrictor are on the loose and back to pulling jobs, while DB just wonders what happened to the man she loved. Sad, but fitting.

Jorge Molina does a great job. Again, Tigra's son was amazingly cute. The Hood scene was well done too, with the Hood sweating and looking nervous even as he tried to talk tough in response to Tigra's threats.

Let's all pick up Avengers Academy to insure it sticks around for awhile!

Good

New Avengers: The Finale #1

Wow. Congratulations to Bendis for bringing home the first volume of New Avengers. He does a great job with this, delivering not only a strong story but actually answering a lot of critics' complaints.

Luke Cage has had enough. Regardless of how the Siege of Asgard ended, he wants the Hood to go down tonight! When the New Avengers start questioning the Hood's goons, they are quick to turn on him. I guess Hood never realized the value in having loyal flunkies. The New Avengers head off to Cali to take out Hood and Madame Masque while they shelter with her father, Count Nefaria. Nefaria is a classic Avengers villain, so it was great seeing him show up to give a great Avengers action-conclusion to this series. Bendis has a great take on the character, he comes across as egotistical, confident, and a somewhat caring father all at the same time. Best of all, though, the New Avengers actually beat Nefaria themselves. Ms. Marvel and Wolverine do most of the work, but the other folks get their licks in and get to do stuff too. So the New Avengers not only fought an Avengers foe, but actually defeated him themselves! Great!

The final monologue from Cage was surprisingly effective too. Bendis puts the speech over double splash pages from all the big New Avengers artists and it really does establish a nice historical context. And dang you if that last page doesn't make you smile. Seeing the team just walk happily through a park was a wonderfully victorious moment.

Bryan Hitch's art is pretty nice. Count Nefaria looks a little too thin, he's supposed to be bulkier, but I liked Hitch's take on the Avengers and other costumed goons. The final pin-up shots established history so nicely, I can almost convince myself that I liked New Avengers as a whole. In fact, it had both good and bad stories, but I have to admit I'm excited to see what Bendis will do with the team next.

Good

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #1

I never would have guessed this would be the best comic I read today.

Keith Giffen and Judd Winick have a great chemistry going, judging from this first issue. They've got the voices for the core cast down. Booster sounds just right. Captain Atom, Fire, and Ice sound like they enjoy each other's company, and Power Girl is back to her old JLI-era self when she interacts with Booster. Best of all, I love Max Lord. By having Max feel regret and still believe he's out for the greater good, he becomes a much more fascinating villain. He could have killed Booster in this premiere issue, but he holds back...

The first half of the issue was a lot of fun, with the JLA, JSA, and the rest of the DCU all on Lord's trail. It was a great show of solidarity and a great build up for the series villain. By structuring the book in the way they did, Giffen and Winick have put the leads in a tough spot. The JLI'ers are lower tier heroes on their own against "the only one who ever came close to defeating us all." This issue set up a great, dangerous status quo and delivered some nice action at the same time. The sense of history is palpable on almost every page (the teleporters, Kord's embassy defenses) but things are still accessible for new readers.

I'm still broken up over Ted Kord's death, so seeing him all goofy and dead like that was a downer, but if Jaime Reyes is really joining this team, that will be a great move. He'll fit in nicely. I do hope we get some Guy Gardner time though, he's so important to the old gang. There is a TON of potential in this book, I can't wait for the next issue. The characters that brought me to the DCU are back together, and I couldn't be happier.

Aaron Lopresti does a nice job overall. I thought Ted Kord looked too goofy there as a corpse, but I can't complain about his takes on the core cast. Captain Atom looked particularly awesome, and I love it when Booster's goggles look just right. Maybe it's just me... but I think Fire needs a new costume.

Excellent

Siege #4

I kind of like that when all is said and done, the key to defeating the Sentry was to hit him with a helicarrier then bludgeon him with a hammer. No secrets like using a White Lantern ring, just a lot of smashing. Bendis keeps things pretty simple, although I am confused by Loki's sacrifice. When Sentry has the Avengers on the ropes, Loki uses the Norn stones to empower the heroes and set them up to take on Sentry one more time. Sentry rips Loki apart for this, which was kind of surprising. Now Thor has got something to be mad about until Loki shows up causing trouble in 8-12 months. Eventually, the heroes overwhelm the Sentry, bringing the total number of dead gods in the book to 3 (Ares, Loki, Sentry).

There is some great comeuppance for Green Goblin, he almost escapes two or three times, only to bump into Cap's shield each time. The big banner headlines running through the end of the issue work in-story and as a primer for the Heroic Age. "Steve Rogers to replace Norman Osborn as top cop! Superhuman Registration Act repealed! Who are the Avengers?" I can't wait to find out what the Marvel U looks like as it reverts back to its long-missing status quo. How great is Tony Stark's toast as he brings all the Avengers together for a cook out? Wolverine showing up for the free beer was wonderful, and how great was it seeing Hawkeye finally relaxing and enjoying himself? I'm ready to see the heroes move on, and judging from how Stark, Rogers, and Thor act, things are finally going back to "normal."

Olivier Coipel's take on Sentry is horrifying. Those spider-eyes and extra legs... yuck! There were a few times when it seemed like characters were jumping locations oddly (we see Steve Rogers appear in front of Green Goblin immediately after seeing him in a different place) but those are small complains. This is Thor's book and he carries the load nicely. I'm not sure I like an Asgardian tower appearing on Avengers Tower, but I'll wait and see how it works.

Good

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Star Wars Legacy TPB 2: Shards

It's not exactly playing fair to put Luke Skywalker on the cover to this trade, is it? I mean, this takes place like 130 years after Return of the Jedi, and Luke is dead. Sure, he shows up as a ghost, but I'd think some of the main cast from the actual series might have made a better cover.

This trade steps away from the main narrative a bit. Rather than follow Cade, Shado, and the other folks we've grown to like, most of the collection picks up a ton of assorted characters to give us a better glimpse of the galaxy. We check in on the Grand Moff council and we see the usurping of Roan Fel from another perspective. John Ostrander fleshes out the Empire a bit more with a short story about a new recruit joining a squad of Stormtroopers (and it is fun seeing them take their helmets off and turn into "normal" folks). Most importantly, we meet Cade Skywalker's mother, Morrigan Cade. She's an Imperial agent and a tough customer. She's interesting, but clearly has the Empire's interests at heart so I can't like her too much. The main storyline picks up a big when we rejoin Cade as he links up with his outcast Jedi buddies. I like the weird mix of character forming up in the new "alliance." A deposed Emperor, Imperial Knights, Jedi, and some bounty hunters and smugglers. I'll give Ostrander this; he is really utilzing the best elements of the Star Wars universe and he's created a cast of characters that fit nicely into the Star Wars archetypes.

A whole bunch of folks work on the art in this trade, but Jan Duursema owns the Legacy universe now. The other artists do ok, but her art really makes the stories feel like they count. I will say I don't really care for the design of the Yuuzhan Vong. They look like old RPG monsters and they aren't too original looking. They don' carry quite the same nerd credit as a twi'lek or a hutt.

Fair

Batman & Robin 12

Well, I didn't see that coming. I had been hoping that Oberon Sexton wasn't Bruce Wayne, and my fears were unfounded. I'm not sure that the clues Grant Morrison gave us were playing totally fair, but I have faith that it all works out. I have faith in Morrison.

That's just the last page though, this book has a lot of fun stuff hitting before that. The high point has got to be Nightwing finally beating Deathstroke. I'm not sure Nightbats has ever fought him and won, and I suppose this wasn't an actual one-on-one situation (since Deathstroke was controlling Damian) but this has got to be close. Combine that with Nightbats strolling in and walloping Deathstroke while he's recuperating and this is a pleasant little issue. I'm also quite intrigued that Damian is going to leave his mother and truly sign in to join the Bat-family. I'm not sure they want him, but there is no doubt he's a fun member of the group now.

And how about Talia building herself another cloned son? How long before we have a new evil Damian-type on the other side? It should be pretty interesting seeing the two "sons" of Batman facing off over the next few years.

There are some clues for Bruce Wayne's return too, but it's all so crazy that at this point I'm just along for the ride. Again, I'll have to trust that Grant Morrison has a plan for all this madness.

I love Andy Clarke's work on Batman. This guy should permanently join the stable of Bat-artists working with Morrison. His style works perfectly for this title.

Good

Monday, May 10, 2010

Black Widow & the Marvel Girls TPB


I'll give this odd mini one thing for sure: it delivers on the promise of Black Widow teaming up with the ladies of Marvel comics. Four issues gives us four different team ups, in order that's the Enchantress, Wasp, Storm, and Ms. Marvel. Surprisingly, I think my favorite was the Storm team up where the ladies team up with the Mole Man to fight off a new gang in NYC. This being Marvel comics, writer Paul Tobin has the gang made up of moloids from Mole Man's underground kingdom. It's a genius idea and there are a lot of fun moments in issue 3. My favorite is when they are trying to get the moloids to surface so Storm saturates the ground and they come out like worms in a rainstorm. Great!

The Enchantress, Wasp, and Ms. Marvel stories are a tad on the generic side, although each one adds to the theme that Black Widow is so smart and prepared that she can hold her own in a super-powered world. In fact, the series almost reads like advice on how to be a successful hero (read villain dossiers, speak lots of languages, etc.) I'm not sure if this is Marvel Adventures or not, it seems like it straddles the line between kid-friendly and adult. It's well worth picking up for younger readers who enjoy lady super-heroes like my daughter does. I'll see if I can get her to write her own review.

The art gets shifted around throughout the issues but it maintains a bright, comic-y tone throughout. It's quite bright and simple looking, which makes me think this is meant to skew for younger readers.

Fair

FCBD: War of the Supermen #0

So I'm way behind on my Superman books, having just read New Krypton vol 2 in trade. So last I read Superman is about to go live on New Krypton. It seems he goes to work for General Zod for awhile (at least a year in publishing time)... then Zod sort of says "gotcha" here? That's really sounding like I don't need to read any of the stuff I've missed. It also makes the choice to take Superman out of his own books seem even stranger. James Robinson and Sterling Gates do a nice job making Zod and his flunkies seem like good villains, the problem is that Superman looks like a big doofus. So he's been training his enemies on how to use their powers for a year? What a maroon.

Eddy Barrows is a Titans artist, his grimacing, bloody faces work fine there, they don't fit so well in a Superman title. What an odd choice.

Average

Sunday, May 9, 2010

FCBD: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #155.5

It's an interesting choice for IDW and Larry Hama to present a re-start of the original Marvel storyline and continuity. It's even more interesting to start that re-launch on Free Comic Book Day and give away an issue with absolutely no GI Joes in it! I liked the issue, I love the way Hama writes dialogue for all the big Cobras like Storm Shadow, Destro, Billy, and especially Dr. Mind-Bender. I think there's great potential with Dr. Venom somehow embedded in the brain-wave scanner too. It's really great seeing Billy playing a prominent role so early, he was so important to the original run, and putting him in the scanner does a nice job recapping some big events in Joe history. Best of all, I forgot how much I missed seeing Hama's old countries like Trucial Abysmia... ah the memories.

I'm having a hard time trying to remember what the status quo was in the last of those Marvel issues. Re-starting this story basically renders the whole Devil's Due run invalid, since that was originally a pick-up of the Marvel continuity. DD's stuff wasn't great, but it was entertaining. I'll definitely be getting these books, after all, GI Joe was one of my first comic series, but I'm going to have to brush up on my old back-issues so I can remember who's alive and who's dead. Like, Mainframe and Lady J are alive, but Doc is dead, right? Firefly is around, but a bunch of baddies died in that freighter on Cobra Island, correct? Joe fans, we have our work cut out for us.

The art is solid enough, although some of the masks seemed off. For example, the Crimson Guards' helmets looked strange, but the tele-vipers and Cobra Commander looked fine. I'm going to hold out hope that a "classic" Marvel artist might actually be able to come back and contribute. Surely Rod Whigham or Andrew Wildman are available to do some Joe stuff these days?

Good

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Invincible #71

It's amazing that Kirkman can put together what is basically a fill-in and still have me like it this much. I mean, think about what happens here. Invincible and the Guardians of the Globe fend off an alien invasion we've seen a few times before. Omni-Man and Allen spend a few pages recruiting Tech Jacket (peacefully). And Omni-Man meets up with his estranged wife and grown up second son. I mean, that last part is obviously a neat scene that readers have wondered about since issue 6 or so (and it goes how you'd expect), but that other stuff is pretty calm. And it's still really entertaining. Tech Jacket and his Dad seem like reasonable guys doing their job protecting the Earth, probably much like what Invincible thought he might be like with his Dad. That closing shot with Team Invincible about to face off against Conquest, oh man, that's going to be good. I'm surprised (pleasantly) that Kirkman didn't kill off the Star Trek Next Generation crew to set up that fight, but it really wasn't necessary. There is clearly enough history between Invincible and Conquest already. Can't wait!

Ryan Ottley is awesome. The Star Trek crew looks just a tad off, but we can clearly tell who's who. I like Tech Jacket's look too, I don't know the character, but I like how much he looks like a space-knight (not ROM).

Good

Friday, May 7, 2010

Incognito TPB



Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips do it again. I love the idea of a witness protection comic, so this was an easy sell for me. Factor in the creative team and it is a can't miss collection.
As expected, Brubaker keeps things very similar to the feel of Sleeper with the villains having similar style names (Eva Destruction, Zack Overkill) and the heroes are similar (Zoe Zeppelin). I enjoyed seeing a bit more of the good guys' super-faction this time, we see Zoe's right hand man (a Fury-esque cyborg) and I love the idea that most super-fights are covered up as natural disasters. Can't have the populace getting too worried! Another great element is how Zack Overkill goes from being a full-on villain to a vigilante at best. One of his closing lines is that he's enjoying killing people who deserve it, so Captain America he's not.

Brubaker's limited super-world is a neat idea too. With all the supers powers emanating from the meteor strike that empowered series villain Black Death, all the enhanced characters are going to be at least tangentially connected. The book is brutal, with lots of death, hook-up, and gory battles. It's definitely an adult book, complete with a character who gets aroused by super-action. I don't mind those elements when the whole book is targeted for adults and the characters are newly created for this story.

Sean Phillips imbues every page with mood. His offices look drab and boring (I love how we get repeated shots of Zack eating yogurt in the break room). The settings for the super-battles are mostly mundane. With one exception they're normal places like malls, offices, and houses, further establishing the idea that Zack is "out" in the real world and all this is just pulling him back in. It's a neat book, highly recommended for fans of Sleeper. I think this is the closest we can get to a sequel.

Good

Justice Society of America #38

Wow. I absolutely love the ongoing adventures of Mr. Terrific in the DCU. This is barely a JSA book at this point, it is really the story of Michael Holt and his master plan to erase a Nazi-run future. And I LOVE it.

Bill Willingham gives us more background on how things got this bad. There are quick stories showing how Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and more dealt with the removal of their powers. I always like the idea becuase it means that non-powered heroes suddenly moved to the top of the heap. It seems the good guys still lost, but it's still a cool idea.

Willingham sets most of the issue around the execution of Batman. In this Nazi America, that is a media circus of an event, complete with the arrival of the new Nazi leader, Kid Karnevil. I like that Willingham finally gets to use the kid as a big bad, he was clearly a pet for the author and the character is worth it. He's a jerk and I can't wait to see him get taken out. There are a ton of neat extras in the issue. Blue Beetle's involvemen in the escape plot. The Joker wanting to die alongside his old foe. The best touch was the genuine concern on the face of Mr. Terrific's interrogator. She may be a good Nazi, but clearly she had grown to at least respect the hero. It's a neat scene and the payoff is going to be interesting.

Jesus Merino was meant for team books. His characters look great and on-model and he draws action extremely well. The coloring is nice in this book too, even in a horrible future, everything still looks "comicy." Fun stuff.

Good

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Secret Six #21

Man, sometimes I worry about Gail Simone. She fills this issue with another slew of sickos, both in sad flashbacks about Catman's childhood and in the current story.

The issue shows us Catman's childhood, and as far as I know this is the first time we've seen this era of Thomas Blake's past. Blake's Dad was a big game hunter and a real jerk. He's abusive to his wife, son, and any bystanders unlucky to know him. He's a sociopath and a big game hunter, so a bad combo for a chubby kid like Thomas. It's actually amazing that Catman turned out as altruistic as he did with this horrific past. Of course, he's channeling his childhood rage and emotion when he's hunting down those responsible for taking his son.

I still think that Catman's kid will be alive, because surely Simone has some mercy for her readers? But in any case, it was a mistake for these guys to cross Catman. Catman is on a rampage here, threatening and sneaking his way to the next of the kidnappers he targeted last issue. This time he goes up against a South African meta-human with super-strength. It does him absolutely no good, Catman takes him out FAST.

There is the normal great dialogue between the core team as they track down their feline buddy. Black Alice is hilarious possessive of Rag Doll. Deadshot is really worried about his buddy and it seems to be softening him. Scandal clearly belongs in the field. I love the replacement team Bane and Jeannette have put together. Giganta and Dwarf Star are old pet charactes of Simone's, so they fit in nicely. Lady Vic and King Shark have shown up enough that I can't wait to hear more from them. King Shark's comment about his little problem made the issue for me (He has a unique problem. He likes eating people with eating disorders.)

I'll always miss Nicola Scott, but Jim Calafiore is doing a nice job on the book. His blocky characters and heavy inks work nicely for the dark tone of the series.

Good

Brave & the Bold #33

Hmm. Something doesn't add up. iPhones. All the Single Ladies by Beyonce. All of this in a story pre-Killing Joke? Yeah... that's not right. I don't like JMS' take on Wonder Woman either, she strips a bomber in the opening pages then makes a comment about how she never has a problem getting men out of their clothes. Seems a little sleazy for WW, doesn't it? Later in the book she's weeping in a bathroom with Zatanna. Now, they have something to be sad about, but again, I don't see WW as a crier. It has me a tad worried about JMS' upcoming run with the character.

And didn't I just read a story called "Ladies Night" where She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Woman got all dolled up and went to a club?

There is no doubt that the art in this thing is beautiful, but man, the story is a big swing and a miss.

Average (Poor story with Excellent art)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Brightest Day #1

I'm kind of torn on this one. There is good stuff here. I'm interested in re-establishing the rogues gallery for the returned heroes, and I love the idea that the big returnee this issue was able to just walk away from villainy while he thought his arch-foe was dead. I always enjoy watching the Hawks bust heads with their maces. Aquaman seems to have gotten a nice little power boost since his return, he's getting blasted with assault rifles and it's barely breaking the skin. He's close to Luke Cage strong then, huh?

The bad is the unbelievable amount of gore in DC's flagship title. Innocent shoppers get their throats slit. Admittedly guilty slavers get ripped apart by squid and eaten by sharks. There's threatened rape for some kids.

Plus, there seems to be a real chance that the stars of this book are still under the influence of their old rings. Aquaman and Martian Manhunter are both looking mighty dead at times here. The worst part of the issue is Mera's declaration that slavers must "feel her rage" or something. I bet Geoff Johns is writing the Aquaman story, that seems to be his type of characterization.

2 issues in, I think Johns is writing Aquaman and Tomasi is writing Martian Manhunter. I need more time to nail down the rest...

The art is by a ton of DC's better artists, so the book is beautiful. The characters all look great, with the Hawks looking particularly iconic. That returning villain looks mighty awesome too. I'm not a fan of that David Finch cover though, I don't care for the pinched face look.

Fair

New Avengers #64

Bendis has really nailed down his take on the Avengers. It used to bother me, but I think I'm ok with it now. This is another issue where the Avengers barely appear. There is a nice parallel scene where Clint Barton is looking for Mockingbird while the Hood searches for Madame Masque in the ruins of fallen Asgard. I liked the symmetry, it was neat seeing that both sides can loose sight of the big picture when a loved one is on the line.
There is a nice flashback where we see the Hood's hold over his gang of super-thugs. When Mandrill actually tries to leave the group (he sees Norman Osborn's opinion of the Hood's gang quite clearly) the Hood withdraws his power. It is so upsetting, Mandrill begs to come back. So it may be interesting seeing a group of recovering addict villains searching for some way to boost their powers. The flashback scene with Osborn and Hood pledging their loyalty was nice too, actually.

The Hood ends up as one of the most wanted villains in Marvel by the end of the issue. When Loki takes back the power of the Norn Stones, the Hood is left with nothing. He and Madame Masque make a run for it, wisely realizing that everyone is going to be on their trail. I think the villain gang might be a little mad at Hood too, come to think of it. (Especially after Madame Masque shot Griffon and Brother Blood to make their escape.) It will be fun checking in on him in a bit, but I do think it would be wise to take him out of the picture for a bit, the Hood has been in a TON of comics over the past few years.

Stuart Immonen is still awesome. His Mandrill is great. That one scene with the Hood and Osborn really was nice, I liked seeing two lonely, powerful men actually being friends and supporting each other. I isn't going to work out, but I like the way Bendis and Immonen staged it.

Good

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

FCBD: Iron Man & Thor

What a great value. This could have been a done-in-one issue of either Iron Man or Thor, although it probably makes a tad more sense as a Thor story, what with all the weather-themed stuff happening. I liked the idea of a weather machine in use on the Moon, but I'm confused once again about all this talk of Stark as an arms dealer. He quit that business years ago, why are there are all these stories coming up hinting that Stark was still in the business? I guess he could have built his weather machines a long time ago, but I didn't get that feeling from the dialogue between Iron Man and Thor when they figure out what's happening.

I'm not sure if I like the dramatic narrator who is present for all of Matt Fraction's Thor stories. I can see what he's going for, but that overdramatic style gets a tad grating by the end of the issue. That might make Fraction's Thor run easier to read in trade. Either way, this is a great gateway book for fans to get a feel for both characters.

I didn't care for JRJR's stubbly Tony Stark. Tony Stark needs a beard or a moustache, dangit! He looks awful without facial hair! Once the armor comes on, I've got no complaints, that's a great bulky Iron Man! I'm also still not sure about this current, thinner Thor. Maybe the blue and grey is slimming, but Thor just doesn't seem to carry the weight he used to. I think both of these complaints are editorial issues, so I don't blame the artist, but it is weird seeing these icons looking so different.

Good

Thor #609

Wow, after last issue's stumble, Kieron Gillen gets things right back on track this month. He teased us with some unnecessary death, but Tyr, god of war is still around and he's ticked! Balder actually has some respectable powers! And the Asgardians are still basically bystanders in their own crossover. But that's ok, because Gillen does some absolutely wonderful stuff with Loki. Loki shows up to try and rally Balder into action against Osborn's forces. Loki fesses up to SOME of his misdeeds over the past few years, but just enough to make Balder mad, not enough to kill Loki on the spot. What's so wonderful about this scene is that Loki basically doesn't have an excuse other than "I'm Loki! This is what I do!" It's a fantastic character-defining scene. I'm really intrigued to see what Loki's grand plan is here. Between shots in this and the other Avengers books, it looks like Loki could be dying in Siege #4, but I heard Matt Fraction was writing Loki in his Thor run, so I'm not sure what's happening.

Volstagg gets another moment of solidarity with his police captors, they realize he's not the problem here. I do like the idea of him walking out to seek some revenge. Do you think we'll actually see him go up against the U-Foes in the next issue? That would be fun, but I do think that all four of those guys could take out Volstagg.

The art was a lot more solid this time around. The Loki/Balder scene carried a ton of tension and I like the take on Volstagg too.

Good

Monday, May 3, 2010

Captain America #605

Hmm, for such an awesome build-up, the conclusion to the Evil Cap & the Watchdogs arc was kind of by-the-numbers. It just seems like Winter Cap and Falcon waited around and then decided to win the fight. A little too easy for them once they got started...

Falcon succeeds in taking out the train full of explosives that the group was using, but Winter Cap has to clean up his own mess since Evil Cap has his own bomb set to blow up Hoover Dam. I liked that Winter Cap was basically just waiting around to hear that Falcon had gotten clear, the moment he knows his partner is loose, he breaks his handcuffs and starts kicking butt. Ed Brubaker does a nice job showing us how powerful Evil Cap is. I also dug the whole idea that Winter Cap would have a soft spot for a former hero with mental problems. The parallel is easy to see, but I liked seeing that loyalty and hope in Winter Cap's interactions with Evil Cap. There is no way I think three gunshots will kill Evil Cap though. In comics, the only thing that guarantees a return more than falling into water is an explosion, so I'm confident Evil Cap will be back when he has another story to tell.

Once again, I love reading about Falcon and Winter Cap. These guys are a fantastic team in this title, and that closing scene was wonderful. The fact that Winter Cap was going to wait around to try and recover Evil Cap's body was touching, but dang if I didn't love that Falcon said he'd be waiting for him as long as he needed. Those guys may end being better partners than the original team-up.

Luke Ross' pencils didn't not look like his work this issue. In fact, it didn't look like Butch Guice's work either, it was a weird amalgam of dark, shadowed faces and sketchy fights. This must have been a rushed job because this team's art looked better a few weeks ago.

Fair

Thor #288 and Thor: The Eternals Saga vol 1 TPB (1979)


Holy cow, Roy Thomas is awesome. This first Eternals Saga trade of Thor comics has totally turned me around on the long-lived characters. When I was a kid reading the Marvel Universe Handbooks, I thought "Uni-mind? Gross!" Now I think it's awesome! Kirby came up with a fantastic origin for the Eternals, but Thomas seems to be the guy who integrated them perfectly into the Marvel Universe.
This issue has the Forgotten One (who we later know as Gilgamesh) show up to be the champion of the Celestials. He wants to allow them to finish their 50-year judgment of Earth. (Incidentally, surely Marvel will do something to play off this in 2027, right?) Thor and the rest of the Eternals want him stopped, so naturally Thor and "Hero" as he's known here thrown down. I love it, what good is that possibly going to do? When things start getting dicey, the lead Celestial actually teleports Thor and Hero up to his ship (I think so they can destroy more impressive looking Kirby technology). I love seeing Thor give props to all his strong opponents in this story. He's constantly talking about how noble and great Hero is. Actually, Ikaris does it too, at one point stating that comparing his and Thor's strength is like comparing two mighty mastodons. That's tremendous, I think I'll use that.
In any case, this whole trade is packed with awesome ideas. Luchador Deviants facing off against luchador Eternals. An alliance of Zeus and Odin to take on the Eternals. Makkari vs. Mercury. Thena vs. Athena. Ikaris vs. Ares.
Keith Pollard and Chic Stone do a tremendous job making the Eternals look awesome. Thor always comes off well, but I love how they handle his hammer-tossing flight. And the covers by Pollard and Bob Layton are stunning. I highly recommend this trade for fans of classic Marvel.
Excellent