Friday, December 31, 2010

Batman Incorporated #2

Damn, do I love Grant Morrison's crazy Batman stories!

Just look at that opening page, that really says it all. Sure, Batman and some dude are fighting some neat costumed thugs, but in the apartment underneath, you can just make out gigantic tentacles as a giant squid tries to kill Catwoman in a flooded apartment. Only in comics!

Lord Death Man is surprisingly blood-thirsty. A guy with this drive to kill is almost as bad as the Joker. He wipes out bystanders left and right as he tears through Tokyo, but he goes from a nobody to a fearsome villain very quickly because of it. When Mr. Unknown and Batman finally get to take him on, it feels like a big showdown after only two issues.

I still love the idea behind Batman Incorporated. The idea that big cities all over the world have their own Batman fighting their own style of super-villains is absolutely brilliant. The closing page with Tokyo's Batman fighting some ape-villain; again, brilliant.

Yanick Paquette has a great style for this book. Lord Death Man and his flunkies have such simple costumes, but they are stylish anyway. Great stuff.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

What If? Dark Reign #1

I should know better at this point. Just because a book features one of my favorite characters, that is no guarantee that it is going to be any good. I need to do a better job checking out creative teams. Jason Henderson is an unknown to me, but I'm not really impressed.

Hawkeye succeeds in killing Norman Osborn, but we barely see it. Instead, most of the issue has a no-name reporter with a trunk full of bombs luck into the hotel where the Cages are staying. Hawkeye sits around a bit, then eventually gets killed. And I'm making this seem better than it is.

I don't like Sana Takeda in this one. Everyone is too bubbly and fake looking. She did some anime-styled art in Ms. Marvel that didn't impress me, and this doesn't look great either.

This book is going right into the re-sell pile. I'll take 25 cents.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman TPB 2

Jonathan Hickman has a problem. He actually has so many ideas for the Fantastic Four that there aren't enough pages to address all the details he comes up with for each story. For most of the stories in this trade, there is an iPad-like note page of additional information to wrap up or expand on the story in the main pages. This comes dangerously close to a post-script resolution, one of my big movie pet peeves, but the actual art closes the story effectively without those note pages. They're essentially a nice bonus.

This trade tells FF stories like they were meant to be. The team travels all over the Earth exploring mad ideas, mostly with ties to established Marvel events or characters. A sunken city of the High Evolutionary. A hidden sea with a different kingdom of Atlantis. An uprising in the Negative Zone after the Annihilation Wave. And a spaceship city inhabited by the Inhumans of other planets in the Marvel U. These are awesome, detailed ideas that really show off how well the FF work together. But Hickman gets the other parts too, there is some great character stuff for the Thing and Human Torch in particular.

Dale Eaglesham's work is awesome. It is detailed and classic looking. This really is a team of beautiful people; it must be hard for the Thing to hang around in the Baxter Building.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thor: Wolves #1

I'm a sucker for these "historical" Thor one-shots, but factor in the creative team here and I'm a sitting duck, even for a $3.99 title. Maybe it is just me, but I have an easier time spending that $3.99 on one-shots than I do on ongoing series.

Mike Carey has a pretty neat set-up, putting Thor on Midgard facing down Hela and some pretty nasty demons as they head up the rainbow bridge to Asgard, Thor and the other Asgardians can't quite get a presence on Earth until Thor establishes a tie with a mortal woman who recently claimed leadership of her village. Carey sets up some awesome parallel battles as the village priests try to kill Thor's anchor while Thor himself faces down Hela and her demons.

The lead demon has an awesome design from Mike Perkins. It's been awhile since I've seen Perkins doing super-hero material and I've missed his clear, Guice-influenced style. This is nice-looking book.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Wonder Woman: Contagion TPB

I don't usually lead off with comments about the art, but wow, Nicola Scott was meant to draw Wonder Woman. Her take on Diana is flat-out stunning. She only draws a couple of the last issues in this trade, but it is clear that she's got a character-defining run in her pencils. Stunning. The other artists are fine, Aaron Lopresti has proven his chops with this character and I've been singing Chris Batista's praises for months on Booster Gold. But wow, it is too bad Scott's run got cut short when Gail Simone exited this title.

And speaking of Simone, let's talk about how great her take on Wonder Woman really is. Diana is so darn approachable in these issues, she always has moment for the normal person on the street. I love Power Girl, so seeing the two characters fight then team up was a real treat too. Simone clearly gets Power Girl as well as she does Diana, when PG is being mentally influenced, WW busts her free by asking when have you ever "done as you were told?"

The villains in this trade resonated more with me than Genocide. Genocide was clearly important to the flow of this title, but I prefer the mind-altering children of Ares and the gigantic snake robots sent by space-Amazons. Those types of big ideas are perfect for WW.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

G.I. Joe TPB 4

This is a sad example of a compelling story diluted by average art. Chuck Dixon's long-form plot is really starting to pay off. Cobra is still tremendously dangerous; two of them kill a dozen Joes easily in the opening issue in this trade. They're all new/fake Joes, but it does put a nice spotlight on Cover Girl and Tripwire. It's surprising how Cover Girl has become such a big part of this book, actually. This opening art has art a bit stronger than later in the trade.

The rest of the story follows a crew of Joes as they head out to sea to a remote server base for Cobra. There's some awesome fights on a gigantic Cobra sub, but my excitement is dulled by the fact that I can't tell who anyone is. I recognize the code-names, but everyone looks the same! I hate to be a simpleton, but after seeing Wet Suit, Torpedo, Shipwreck, and Cover Girl fighting Eels on the cover, I'm bummed out to see a bunch of normal dudes fighting in the actual book. There has to be a better line between the cheesy old costumes and having all the characters in identical black wet suits. Nostalgia is a big factor in my love of GI Joe, eliminating those costumes kills a lot of my excitement.

Dixon's story will keep me coming back. I love his take on Destro. Cobra Commander (in a bad new costume) has never been so threatening. There are tons of payoffs for longtime readers, call-backs to elements first introduced in the very first issues. But it needs to look better. I've always liked S.L. Gallant's art in the past, so maybe things will turn around in the next trade.

Story - Good
Art - Average

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Larfleeze Christmas Special #1

This is light, and I'm not sure it is worth $3.99. But as a friend pointed out, if there is any character that would want more money for their holiday special, it is Larfleeze.

Geoff Johns does a great job keeping things light. Larfleeze is understandably upset when Santa doesn't leave behind the required presents on Christmas morning. This is especially upsetting as Larfleeze was "mostly" nice during the year! How dare the powerful fat man deny Larfleeze his gifts? There isn't a whole lot else in this, aside from some great bonus features like a cookie recipe and a Larfleeze tree-ornament. Hal Jordan shows up to talk about the real reason for Christmas, and he does his best to teach it to Larfleeze, but the results are mixed at best. Johns brings the book to a close with a poignant moment that just makes me want to know more about Larfleeze's history. Maybe next year.

Brett Booth's strange exaggerated bodies works well in this trade, since Larfleeze is such an odd body type. I'm not sure if his style will work as well in the upcoming JLA books, but it is interesting seeing Booth try to use a more DCU-friendly style.


And before I forget...

Merry Christmas, Nerds!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds TPB

Well color me surprised. I was sure that this new incarnation of the Legion would confuse the hell out of me, but Geoff Johns has done a wonderful job getting me up to speed. I started reading the Legion with Giffen's 5-year later series (one of the only eras being totally forgotten these days) and I kept up during the Zero Hour years. I was crushed when DnA's take finally ended, so it is not an easy thing to get me back into the Legion. But you know what? I'm back.

Johns wisely keeps the focus on a good core of characters. Everyone knows Brainiac, he's a natural central character. I have never really liked Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, or Saturn Girl much, but while they are still central to this story, Blok, the White Witch, Rond Vidar, Wildstar, and Dawnstar have almost equal panel time. Johns spends a ton of time with Superboy Prime, and he's such a compelling villain that he really drives the entire story. Mixing in such a simple villain with all these weird concepts like Takron Galtos and dozens of villains I've never heard of was a really effective way to tackle the story.

It is a thrill seeing the Zero Hour Legion back, even if it was just a short time. I love that Johns leaves them out there as the "New Wanderers" searching the multiverse for other characters marooned after their Earths are destroyed. There's a chance to see them again. Gates and XS actually stick around in the "real" Legion; I'm happy to see it, they were two of the better creations during Zero Hour. Johns shows once again how he's so good at drilling down a core concept and then putting the toys back in the box. (He brings back some pretty big characters in this one too. He loves setting stuff up.) This is a Legion I want to read more about! I can't believe it, but I think I'm in for the upcoming trades on the new series.

Superboy gets a nice (if short-lived) new status quo. Lurking in the "real" world and hanging in the DCU message boards? That's just perfect.

George Perez is the master of crowded fight scenes. There is always another Easter egg, hidden character, or tiny detail to pore over. There was one panel where three fists are punching a villain out, and I grinned at the tiny cameo for Triplicate Girl. Night Girl's revealing costume aside, I loved his take on the older Legion. I do have to admit I'm about ready for something new for Superboy Prime in the costume department.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Black Panther #513

Wow. This was good. I'm not familiar with David Liss, but I really love his new take on the Black Panther. T'Challa was in one of my first comics (a FF annual) and he's been a fave ever since. Black Panther hasn't felt right to me in years, but THIS is a take I can get behind.

The first thing Liss does is move T'Challa out of Wakanda and put him in Hell's Kitchen. It's a bit forced, but T'Challa wasn't as cool with an army and uber-powerful wife always hanging in the wings. I don't think he needs to be powerless, as he seems to be now, that heart-shaped herb that gave him his panther powers shouldn't have faded with time! But the cost is worth it as we see the most approachable and likeable Black Panther in years. In his attempt to stay connected to the people, T'Challa takes a new identity and a new job as the manager of a diner. Liss keeps BP's dialogue the same, with the same cadence and power, but it is just hilarious when he's dealing with shift changes and spilled food.

The new villain, Vlad the Impaler, is fine, he's actually pretty reasonable for a crime boss, at least so far. He's a good match for BP at this power level.

Francesco Francavilla's art is awesome. BP's new street-level costume is tremendous, with lots of pouches and pockets for street-fighting gear. I don't know that BP needed to go quite this low-tech, but he looks awesome doing it!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Green Lantern #60

Geoff Johns has regained some focus on this title recently, it seems like Hal isn't just flying around Michigan talking to different lanterns. This issue he actually fights Parallax again, as the fear entity possesses Barry Allen. I figure Barry's possession will lead to Barry and others all commenting about how brave Hal was when he was possessed. Johns doesn't like to skip any chances to talk about how awesome Hal is. Parallax/Flash had the extra rows of serrated teeth that we expect with the character, but there isn't a lot there to make this incarnation of the villain too fearsome.

I'm a bit more interested now that I see who the chained and robed being is. I thought that guy was taller? I do long for the days when Hal was going up against some non-energy powered baddies. It seems this guy is packing some sort of combination of the many lantern corps, plus some energy-draining powers too.

Doug Mahnke needed a whole slew of inkers this issue, so it must have been a tight deadline. I'd love to see Mahkne draw some more classic villains like the Shark. The weirdest part is seeing the Gary Frank cover on this issue, I'm so used to seeing Mahnke's work, it doesn't fit!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Batman & Robin #18

I didn't take to Paul Cornell's fill-in arc last issue, but this issue reads a whole lot better. It's amazing what a good writer can accomplish when he has a little time to flesh out the motivations of a new villain. Last month, Absence and her gang seemed generic and uninteresting, but now that we see all her ties to Bruce Wayne, she's a lot more intriguing.

We rarely see the ladies that Bruce Wayne strings along to maintain his playboy persona, but Una Nemo changes all of that. We watch as Bruce has distant dinners and outings with her, maintaining his cover, but never letting her get close. Bruce is the talk of the town among the socialites as they all wait to see who is the "one" that will catch him in marriage. Throughout her origin-rant, it's clear that Una Nemo has some skewed perceptions of her importance to other people. It's sad, but it is easy to see her motivation; she jus wants SOMEONE to care that she's gone. She's decided that person should be Bruce Wayne.

It's sort of sad seeing Una play up her own importance to Bruce as she narrates her origin. I'm sure Bruce wouldn't have thought too much of it when she was shot during a robbery, but he would have solved the mystery of her death. With Tommy Elliott masquerading as Bruce, all Una got was some flowers. Tommy/Bruce didn't even come to the funeral. Now she's making all of Gotham pay as she tries to get Bruce's attention as a new super-criminal. I love that Bruce Wayne's public support of the Batmen has made them targets for Una, I would have thought it would be the other way around.

Cornell has a great grasp on the banter between NightBats and Damian. The scene where Una has a knife to Dick Grayson's crotch, but Damian won't back down was particularly amusing.
Scott McDaniel's pencils are always action packed, if lacking in some detail. Batman is the best-looking character in the book, while some of the characters are occasionally rushed-looking, Bats always looks good.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Brightest Day #16

Ah, I guess I got enough Martian Manhunter last issue. This issue keeps up the streak of improvement in the Brightest Day title. Aquaman gives Aqualad some background on his origins and ties to Mera's people, but there still isn't a lot to the new character. I don't know a lot about Mera, so maybe this fits in perfectly and Aqualad II will be a nice addition, but right now, what I like is how much he just wants to go back to his old life. I also notice that Aquaman is still calling dead creatures to help him; those electric eels didn't look so good.

The rest of the issue deals with Firestorm attempting to ratchet back his powers so he won't destroy the world. The JLA and JSA are trying to help, but Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch are a volatile combo, so things aren't looking good for a reconciliation. Meanwhile, Deathstorm is torturing Martin Stein and Jason's Dad, promising that he's going to kill off Firestorm in the most agonizing ways possible. Deathstorm is pretty easy to hate, but he's not quite as funny as he was during Blackest Night. I feel like Geoff Johns had his best dialogue for him in that title.

The art is pretty strong in this issue, with lots of goodness from Ivan Reis in the Aquaman pages. At this point, I do have to wonder if a slew of mini's about the different characters might have been easier to read. This jumping around is getting tedious. I'm also dreading a Hawkman issue in two weeks.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Superman: World of New Krypton HC 2

James Robinson and Greg Rucka have clearly spent a lot of time setting up the complicated politics and environment of New Krypton, but I'm not sure the payoff is worth it. This collection contains the conclusion of the World of New Krypton series, and it ends on a cliffhanger. I'm so annoyed that the story seems unfinished that I have a hard time looking back for the more self-contained elements of this trade.

The book works best when it's throwing DC's space-based characters against the high and mighty Kryptonians. I would have loved to see Hawkman and Hawkwoman lead the Thanagarian assault, the fairly generic Hawks featured here just don't pack the same punch. Jemm Son of Saturn seems to have gotten a power upgrade (and an anger upgrade while he was at it). He doesn't do much except throw a tantrum, but it is neat seeing him again. Adam Strange actually hangs around for a few issues, and he's a nice comforting presence for Kal El.

For the entirety of this collection, Superman is dressed in his subdued military guild blacks. He's maneuvering around the unfamiliar world of Kryptonian politics as he fills in for the injured General Zod, and while this is new ground for Superman, it just doesn't grab me. Superman is cool because he's so far above the norm; having a ton of Supermen around dilutes the concept. How long has it been since Superman actually flew around Metropolis fighting criminals?

The art is pretty solid, with concept work from Pete Woods. Victor Ibanez picks up for him and keeps things looking consistent, but the guest-stars are the most interesting looking folks in the comic. Again, the only cool-looking Kryptonians are in the little-seen science guild. Too many people are just wearing black and gray!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Marvel Two-In-One #63-66: The Serpent Crown Affair

Time for another ringer, as I was certain before I cracked open the first issue that I'd love Mark Gruenwald's Serpent Crown story. What surprised me was how much I liked Stingray. The guy is a classic part-time hero, constantly worrying about how he measures up to the Thing and the other heroes, but never giving up. Stingray is the one who brings the Thing out West where they discover the crown, so he's about as central as Ben Grimm to this story. He's a likeable dude, and combined with his sweet costume, I could see Stingray becoming a new fave of mine.

Triton from the Inhumans shows up briefly for some fun underwater combat as the heroes take on the Serpent Squad (who later morph into Gruenwald's Serpent Society). The Serpents are Sidewinder, Anaconda, Death Adder, and Black Mamba. I was impressed at how involved Sidewinder was in the fight, I remember him being more an administrator than a combatant.

When things get serious and the Serpent Crown finds a new host in the CEO of Roxxon, Thing and Stingray get some powerful help from the Scarlet Witch. I'm not familiar with the original crown's history, but I guess Scarlet Witch has some ties that make her pretty effective against it. Gruenwald is already showing some of his future leanings; the Serpent Crown wants to take over Washington so it can control the government. Gruenwald has the Viper do the same thing later in one of my favorite stories: The Greatest Snake of All, where Ronald Reagan becomes a snake-man.

George Perez and Jerry Bingham draw the three issues, so of course they look fantastic. I love seeing Perez spend so many panels drawing scrubs like Stingray and Titan. He's such an icon now, I love seeing his dynamic style on all these C-listers!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Avengers Academy #7

Christos Gage is one of the most consistent writers in the business; I'm practically guaranteed to love his blend of plot, history, and characterization. He gets Hank Pym better than anyone else at Marvel, even Dan Slott, which is saying something!

This issue's claim to fame is Hank Pym's return to one of his best identities: Giant-Man. Ol Highpockets hasn't been around for awhile, if I remember correctly, he's been in another identity since early in Kurt Busiek's run on the book years ago. It seems Pym is not only close to bringing back the real Wasp (his ex-wife Janet Van Dyne); he's also tired of everyone ragging on him for using a girl's name (although it is a gender-neutral term, as he points out). This issue spends most of its time with my favorite two teachers at the Academy, Pym and Tigra. They've got some weird history between them, what with Tigra having a kid with an alien doppelganger of Pym a few months ago. There doesn't seem to be any chemistry between the two of them now, only awkwardness. Gage throws out lots of callbacks to old stories, including Tigra's time as a feral beast and Pym's awesome identity of Dr. Pym.

There's new action to compliment all those flashbacks and Easter eggs, the Academy does its best to transport the Absorbing Man, a classic baddy, but of course he busts loose. That leads to a nice little throw down between Giant-Man and Absorbing Man, while AM is using a combination of powers from the entire Academy class. Giant-Man wins the fight in an amusing way when he forces the Absorbing Man to grow to gigantic proportions. The two characters pop up surrounded by Marvel's cosmic entities like Eternity and Eon, and I have to wonder what those bigwigs were talking about. I wonder if they are annoyed when Pym periodically appears?
There are some nice clues about an eventual return for the Wasp, and I keep hoping (as do my daughters, Jan is one of their faves thanks to the Avengers cartoon). I'm not sure what Veil is up to in that last panel either...

Tom Raney does a fantastic job keeping his art in line with the feel established by Mike McKone since the series began. They are both solid artists, but I'm shocked their two styles can look so seamless. I'd love to see Raney try the yellow and gold Giant-Man costume sometime too.


Thursday, December 16, 2010


I should have had more faith in Tony Bedard. The last few issues have been a bit unfocused, but Bedard brings all those elements home nicely in a great facedown with the Green Lantern Corps. The rookie GLs are instantly legitimized by bringing in John Stewart to back them up (nice that Bedard could clear that with the GLC writer). Once the rookies were actually promoted, I started liking them more, I bet they might actually appear in some group GL shots soon!

Bedard also brings back some of the neglected cast. Adam Strange plays a big role as the hapless mediator for LEGION and the GLC. Starfire's attack on the Psions isn't being left behind either, they hold a grudge and they're coming after her. And Vril Dox hasn't been his devious self in a while, but arming terrorists and needling Stewart about Xanshi is pretty tremendous. There's a reason we love to hate Dox.

Claude St. Aubin's pencils don't seem quite so detailed in this issue. I wonder if he's running low on time and needs more help from the inkers? His Andy Clarke-inspired cross-hatches are much less visible in this one.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #15

Man, Bendis' New Avengers needed Booster Gold on the team during Dark Reign! When Captain Atom is standing around griping about how hard it is being a good guy, Booster lays into him about how that's how it is for good guys sometimes, and that doesn't mean you can just go off and kill people. (Are you listening, Hawkeye?)

I'm still annoyed about Magog's foolish and unnecessary death (I suppose with mind-powers, we could find out later it was faked), but it sure has made things more desperate for the JLI. I love seeing the group on the run, plotting Max Lord's downfall. I still say another team member or two would be a nice addition. I'd be happy with someone fairly obscure like Crimson Fox or Lionheart, but I'd be more pleased with Martian Manhunter, Wally West, or Power Girl. Another familiar face would help even more now that Winick has totally retconned Ice's origin and motivations.

It was neat seeing the existing team take on that army of Creature Commandos, but I'm trying to figure out if any of them are carryovers from Tim Truman's 90's series? That vampire guy COULD have been Velcoro. I'm less happy about the references to JMS' weird run on Wonder Woman. There is no need to lay out how confusing it is that the world has forgotten her, regardless of what parallels it has with Lord's situation.

Joe Bennett is fine, but he's definitely better at drawing ladies than dudes (excepting his great Blue Beetle). Fire and Ice looked great, and the new Creature Commandos and GI Robots looked fun.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Widowmaker #1

Marvel's $2.99 pricing plan for the next Hawkeye limited series is paying off already. I had planned on skipping Widowmaker and picking it up in trade (since it is $3.99) but now I figure I'll just keep up with Hawkeye's ongoing story in floppy. Jim McCann has already proven he's got a fantastic take on the Avenging Archer, and I don't want to miss anything while waiting for the trade!

This mini is a follow-up to two cancelled Avengers titles, Hawkeye & Mockingbird and Black Widow. I'd say this series definitely picks up more from H&M's storylines, heck, it even transports the writer and supporting cast from that book. Fortunately, Hawkeye already has so much juicy history with Black Widow that including her feels natural and spices up the book nicely.

McCann keeps this feeling like an espionage book by tying in heavily to Mockingbird's history with SHIELD and the Widow's past with the Russian Red Room. But what makes McCann so good is his ability to tell a spy story with super-heroes, and he pays that off again here with the guest-stars (the Soviet Super-Soldiers) and the villain (a revamped Ronin). I never cared for Ronin as a hero, but seeing the suit used on a bad guy, I definitely see the potential. That looks like a villain suit! As for the Soviets, I'm thrilled to see them, especially with the group looking so close to the "classic" team from Mark Gruenwald's run on Captain America.
So basically, McCann has proven once again that he and I loved the same comics. I'm in for the long haul.

David Lopez does a great job with both the drama and the high-speed action. I loved the snow mobile chase, it was well choreographed and easy to follow. I also love how Dominic Fortune's body language is so confident, even surrounded by these highly respected Avengers.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Booster Gold #39

I loved Ted Kord/Blue Beetle, he and Booster were the characters that brought me to DC back in the Invasion days. But man, poor Booster needs to make some new friends! The poor guy spends this whole issue moping and hanging around Ted's grave. One way to look at it is that this is going to finally give Booster some closure about the death of his best friend, and that's a good thing. Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis certainly know and appreciate the friendship between these characters, since they created it, but I think Booster needs to move on or he's going to ONLY be defined by who his friend was.

And there is definite hope here, Skeets remains an awesome friend and sidekick, and with Rip Hunter and Michelle Carter hanging around along with Boosters adopted "daughter," he's got a great supporting cast in place. There are even elements of a new bad guy with ties to the Nazis Booster and General Glory put down last issue. What I'm saying is, I love this book, I love how Giffen and DeMatteis have such a wonderful feel for the past. They've been able to re-create an awesome era in these pages. But I'm also excited about seeing Booster move forward as a character too.

Chris Batista is perfect for this title. His clean lines work so well on that shiny suit!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Proposition Player TPB

I'm not sure what exactly I was expecting with this trade, and in fact, I can't remember where I even got this trade. At some point, when you have70 longboxes of comics, I think they start spawning on their own.

This trade follows a professional gambler as he inadvertently becomes a player in the afterlife game. As some of his friends take him up on a bet, he ends up buying their souls for a beer apiece (it's not like they believed in them anyway). The problem is, Heaven and Hell don't want a new player in the game, so they try to buy him out. The problem is he can read faces and he figures out just how profitable it can be to be the new god on the block.

The story features some cool characters from all different mythologies, and it is fun seeing someone avoid both heaven and hell. The stakes never seem that high. Joey is just too smart, he can see all the angles and gets all the right people in his corner right away. Bill Willingham has a habit of writing extremely intelligent protagonists, and keeps that up here.

Paul Guinan's art is a bit cartoony, but that works well for the larger than life figures who make up the afterlife society.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

B.P.R.D.: King of Fear TPB

Another BPRD trade, another stroke of genius. Mike Mignola and John Arcudi are simply unstoppable in this title. Their long-term story (now called War on Frogs) has been riveting, and it works quite well as the opening chapter of the BPRD. A lot happens in this trade, but most of it is character-related. There is certainly big action and plot movement, but this is an epilogue for the first era of the BPRD before things get kicked up to the next level.

It's fascinating to me how Abe Sapien has become Hellboy for the BPRD. What I mean is, he's the toughest field agent they've got, and he's out there leading strike teams and being a tough guy all the time now. It's sad seeing his teammate shy away from him because of his ties to the frogs, but I'm confident they'll come right back to him when they need him.

Johann's odd connection to Lobster Johnson gets wrapped up, and not in a way I expected. Johann's satisfied comment about Lobster being happy put a huge grin on my face. And that's saying something. Lobster's eternal fate is to fight Nazi ghosts forever, and yet that's exactly what the Claw of Justice would want.

Liz Sherman continues to be manipulated by Amon Saa. That dude has Liz's number. Once again, he spends a couple issues showing her an apocalyptic future with a destroyed BPRD helicarrier. The weirdest parts are seeing new names on some fatigues and seeing odd snapshots of our core cast in different circumstances. No sign of Daimio. LIz uses her powers on a global scale here, but she sure looks burned out at the end of the book. Without her pyro-powers, I'm worried the BPRD is overmatched.

There is plenty of face time for the rest of the BPRD cast, from Kate Corrigan and her new boyfriend all the way to Director Manning. The BPRD is global now, let's hope that means new agents, new gear, and new fights in the next series.

Guy Davis' art is still stunning.I can't comprehend how he seamlesly morphs a brick wall into an army of fighting ghosts. The new gigantic monster is California ia horrifying, as are its monster-mist offspring.


Friday, December 10, 2010

X-Men: Nation X TPB (part 3) Nation X 1-4

While I appreciate the value in getting a full limited series after such high-quality stories from the core Uncanny title, this trade ends more weakly than it began because of the nature of the Nation X series. It's a collection of short stories featuring different mutants living on Utopia, and the creative teams vary wildly in their ability. Some of the stories stand out as being particularly entertaining (like Doop, Iceman, and Colossus) but then there are a few that are almost unreadable. Some of the stories are packed with manga-style artwork and dialogue, pretty much a guarantee for me to skip.

I like that there is an outlet for new creators to cut their teeth writing established characters, and I know that experienced writers sometimes like revisiting old concepts (like Peter Milligan and Mike Allred coming back for Doop). But I'm afraid that I would probably prefer books like this getting collected separately, keeping the price tag down for this trade as a whole .The book cost 30 bucks, and I would have been happier not getting this limited and paying ten bucks less.

The art is inconsistent, as is always the case with anthology books. I was particularly impressed with Harvey Tolibao's White Queen story. His art can be anatomically inconsistent, but everything looked pretty solid here.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

X-Men: Nation X TPB (part 2)

Uncanny X-Men 518-522

The second stories aren't quite as strong as the first. An aspect of the Void (the Sentry's evil persona) has been hanging out in the White Queen's head since she fought the Dark Avengers, and Cyclops finally figures it's time to take care of it. Professor X and Psylocke help Cyclops venture into Emma's head, where weird,crystal versions are running around protecting the Void's influence. Things turn around a bit when the Void hides in Cyclops instead, but that just leads to more psychic battles with ill-defined rules. I'm never a huge fan of mind battles, so I sort of lost interest when this went on too long.

While I love Terry Dodson's art, the subject matter is a bit plain. The story spends a lot of time in Emma's brain with a plain, white background .

Greg Land returns for the conclusion of the X-Predators arc, and the story picks up when the story gets less cerebral. Cyclops sends a small strike team out to NYC to take out the X-Predator's creators. The strike team consists of Wolverine, Colossus, and Psylocke. While they are backed up by Fantomex when they get there, with so many X-Men hanging around Nation X, surely the team could have spared a few more members.

The politics on the island continue to degrade for the top of the X-pecking order when the Beast leaves. I love how Fraction played the scene, with Beast and Cyclops' split played out silently in the distance. When the Beast walks away, Cyclops returns to the team and just asks "What's next?" That guy really is an expert at repressing his emotions.

The last story features Magneto trying to prove his worth to the team by bringing back Kitty Pride from her space-bullet-exile. He succeeds, but it seems Kitty is stuck phasing, much like she was after the Mutant Massacre. What a bummer for she and Colossus!

Fraction is weaving a long story here, and he's really turning the X-Men into his own toybox. He writes reasonable, powerful personalities. He's got a great handle on X-Men old and new; I just wish Cyclops was a tad less of a jerk!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

X-Men: Nation X TPB (part 1)

I get a nice feeling when I read good X-Men comics. The X-books were one of my favorite comics as a kid, so there is something cool about the mythos still developing in original ways. Matt Fraction knows his X-books better than I do; he knows all those New X-Men kids and their weird powers. This trade has a couple stories, and they're all pretty entertaining.

X-Men: The List brings back Marina, Namor's wife from the Alpha Flight days. I really thought she was dead, sliced up by Black Knight's sword. Norman Osborn genetically engineers her to attack Atlanteans, so Namor ends up having to take her out. Being Namor, he does it in a permanent way so that he can make statement to Osborn. The art by Alan Davis is wonderful, as expected, Namor's black suit looks awesome.

Uncanny X-Men #515-517 are pretty thrilling. Fraction brings in Magneto, making things really interesting for Cyclops. At this point, Cyke's main advisors are White Queen, Namor, Dr. Nemesis, Professor X, and Magneto. While Professor X and Dr. Nemesis might be jerks, they are at least good guys. The rest are all reformed villains, so I'm starting to worry about Cyke's inner circle. Magneto arrived just in time, because a mysterious new villain team has forced Scalphunter to carry a deadly cargo to the island.

The X-Predator was established as a pretty powerful villain in Messiah Complex, so seeing seven of them heading towards the X-Men's island is pretty intimidating. Fraction does a fantastic job breaking up the huge X-roster into multiple teams to take on the X-Predators. My favorite battle, of course, is when Rogue absorbs a slew of powers and takes out one of the beasties single-handedly.

I'm not a big Greg Land fan, but he does a decent job with the X-Predator battles. His Wolverine is always cool looking, and it is amusing seeing the X-Ladies contorting around like adult film stars.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Brightest Day #15

I'm contractually required to enjoy any story featuring the Martian Manhunter, but this is going to test that rule. I enjoyed the whole setup: J'onn's family is alive, Mars is reborn, and he's a combo GL/Manhunter serving in an aged and contented Justice League. The problem is, it's pretty obvious right away what's happening (D'Kay has put J'onn into some sort of illusionary world.) The problem is, having a mystery about who killed people in a dream doesn't really have much drama behind it. The story ends nicely, setting up a tough, determined J'onn to take on D'Kay in an issue or three.

The book looks nice, I liked the futuristic incarnation of the League. Batman is oddly sad, but the cool looks for Martian Manhunter is the high point.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Secret Six #28

It's weird that I enjoyed this issue, but feel the storyline as a whole was rather pointless.

There are some nice moments as the two Secret Six teams face off once again in Skataris. The issue is worthwhile because of the great moments with Bane and Scandal. The two of them have such a wonderful, warped relationship, it just gets sicker and more tender. Deadshot and Black Alice actually have a few nice moments of conversation too. Catman doesn't do much more than get some nice pin-up moments, but his presence is still in the book. The closing is pretty interesting, with Amanda Waller combining the teams. Am I reading it right that King Shark is taking Black Alice's place on the team?

Gail Simone gets to write an acceptable close to Dwarfstar's murder of Ryan Choi. GIganta finds out what happens, and Giganta hands out some nice revenge for the readers who liked the new character. Black Alice is such a sad character, I hope she's getting a happy ending here, it would be nice to see someone end up happy.

The problem with the overall storyline is that I was never really concerned about Skataris. I didn't know any of the super-powered villains. My only connection to the story was the development for the core cast.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Comics on the Bubble: The Project Pegasus Saga

Originally taking place in Marvel Two-In-One #53-58, this story has been talked about a lot and reprinted in a couple places over the year. I'm calling this an "on the bubble" title, but that's kind of a fake out. While I've never read it, and I would have dumped it if it was bad, with these characters and this creative team, there is about no way that could happen. Mark Gruenwald wrote this with pencils by John Byrne and George Perez, how could that miss?

Issue 53: A team-up with Quasar, Thing joins the Project's security team. Things are going strangely as a long-time Two-In-One villain (Dr. Lightner) is up to no good. KEEP

Issue 54: The cover this is a team-up with Deathlok, but really it has Quasar and Thing teaming up to take out the futuristic cyborg. I'm surprised at what an earnest doofball Quasar is in these issues. KEEP

Issue 55: Bill Foster Giant-Man! This guy should be a bigger deal than he is. He's a great, long-time character with ties all over the Marvel U. He works with the Thing to take on Nuklo, the child-like mutant kept at the Project. KEEP

Issue 56: Thundra is one tough lady. She knocks the Thing around for this whole issue. The best part is, she's doing wrestling moves on the guy! The high point has to be all those lady grapplers, including Screaming Mimi/Songbird. KEEP

Issue 57: Wundarr is the childlike-alien befriended by the Thing, he's the reason Ben Grimm has stuck around Project Pegasus. While Wundarr gets his new mindset together, Quasar, Thing, and Giant-Man take on Solarr and Klaw. KEEP

Issue 58: I love when the team-up books just stick with the same characters. Gruenwald pulls that off here by giving Wundarr a new name; Aquarian. He's a hippy out to save the world, but first he and Thundra have to join the Pegasus security team in taking out Dr. Lightner/the Nth Man. KEEP

Man, this would have been a cool team to see more of. The Thing, Quasar, Giant-Man, Thundra, and Wundarr. This story lives up to its excellent Bronze Age Classic reputation. I'm KEEPing all of them.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Justice Society of America #45

Man, this comic is STILL so sad. I men, it's not like a dejected Flash in a wrecked city leads one to believe this will be a happy read, but still!

I think Marc Guggenheim has hardened up the core cast a little bit. The only member of the JSA showing the level of compassion I'd expect is Doc Mid-Nite, the rest of the team is ready to head back to their NYC HQ after battling Scythe last issue. Speaking of the new villain, I like that Guggenheim is tying his origin into an old WWII mission, it gives the new guy a nice tie to Flash and GL, personal beefs are always more interesting.

I am having a hard time with the reduced cast. I hope Mid-Nite is back to stay, but seeing such a small group is just weird. The book went from having too large a cast to too small of one, especially with GL now paralyzed. Flash, Mr. Terrific, Lightning, Dr. Fate, Wildcat, and Doc Mid-Nite are not enough. I'd be interested to see a couple more old members show up once the new status quo is established. (I think I read that the eventual goal is to have a city where super-heroes are an integrated part of the Society.)

Scott Kolins' art is still awesome. He remains one of my favorites, I just wish he was drawing more of my favorite characters!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #14

Well, Judd Winick is guaranteed some praise from me because not only was the Martian Manhunter still alive and part of the future JLA, he actually holds out longer than a lot of his teammates when things get hairy. Giving J'onn his proper respect goes a long way for me!

This issue takes place in the future, a bit earlier than Captain Atom's other jump ahead. This time his time-jaunt was kicked off by the energy given off by Magog's lance last issue, and now Captain Atom is stuck in the future. He's at low-power and outmatched by OMACs when the JLA appears. Power Girl is the team leader, and it's packed with a few relics and some replacements for classic leaguers. Alternate future stories are always fun, and Winick gets some nice character moments in with these practically new characters.

Mostly, the point of this issue is to throw a spotlight on the determination and courage of Captain Atom. This guy is a leader and a soldier, and he carries himself well throughout. I'm not sure about him being basically 100% dedicated to take out Max Lord, but for now it is a suitable reason for the character to go on.

Aaron Lopresti's future designs for the JLA are fresh while maintaining nice ties to the costumes they're based on. I think Damian Wayne's batsuit takes the cake as the coolest design though; those batwings with that mask is pretty darn intimidating.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Batman Incorporated #1

Man, do I love crazy Grant Morrison. This is the first chapter with Batman's new franchise state of mind, and it looks like it is going to be fun. Bats and Catwoman, after a quick caper and some quality time, head to Japan to recruit a local crime fighting vigilante into the bat-family.

Unfortunately, Lord Death Man struck first, and Mr. Unknown (the vigilante) is dead. Things heat up though, because LDM is out to kill everyone involved with Mr. Unknown, including his sidekick (and his sidekick's girlfriend, it seems). It does make me wonder if there were TWO Mr. Unknowns, I've got to think that this sidekick is the guy who's going to end up being franchised.

There is some great banter with Batman and Catwoman as they take on LDM's thugs. They are more competent than most underlings, but what impresses Catwoman the most is that they look cooler than most flunkies. The story isn't complicated, but it's those little Morrison flourishes that make this book awesome. The cyborg-killer mice, the apartment turned into a squid-tank, the ridiculous dialogue and threats of Lord Death Man. Once again, I'm all in on Morrison's Batman.

The book looks nice too. Yanick Paquette is great at two things, pulp heroes and pretty ladies, so this is about the perfect book for him. Bats looks great. LDM and his flunkies look great. Catwoman carries herself as more than a match for Batman. Even the mechanics of the final trap are put together in a logical, neat way.

This is a great book. It'll be even better when it's only $2.99.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Justice League of America #51

When James Robinson sticks to straight-up super-heroics, he's pretty darn good. This issue opens with a ton of DCU heroes (both actually appearing and mentioned) trying to get into a sealed-off Washington D.C. It seems that the weird energy that was destroying the Crime Syndicate's alternate Earth started leaking into the main DCU, and the JLA had to stop it. Some of the heroes are concerned that only a new, relatively inexperienced Justice League is inside the bubble to stop the villains, but Superman is pretty confident. (It's funny, this is actually kind of close to the opening story arc in Shadowpact.)

The new League is coming together nicely. NightBats is a natural fit, he's been here before. I've stated before how much I love Donna Troy's new two-fisted Amazon attitude. Jesse Quick hasn't had a chance to make her mark yet, but clearly Robinson likes her. Congorilla and Mikaal Starman didn't make it to DC, so they don't have much to do here. Supergirl is doing well as the team powerhouse, although this "Dark Supergirl" development is worrying. I don't think Supergirl will stay bad, though, this is more of a chance to show her mental strength in addition to her physical powers. Jade is Robinson's current pet, and while I haven't warmed up to her yet, I don't mind what he's doing with her.

I absolutely love what Robinson is doing with Blue Jay. Not only did he not die like I thought a few issues ago, he actually lays a great smackdown on Owlman. I think Blue Jay would be a fantastic addition to the regular lineup, a sort of combo of the Atom and Hawkman.

Mark Bagley was born to draw super-comics. While Omega's design is a bit reminiscent of Onslaught, there is no doubt he's an A-level bad guy. The CSA and JLA both look great too.