Tuesday, May 31, 2011

DC Relaunch! Starting Over at #1

Wow. I had JUST been coming around to the idea that DC was relaunching their titles at #1, but this. Wow. We don't know much, but we know some after USA Today broke the story on the relaunch of the DCU.

So here's what we know. Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are launching a new Justice League title, and it looks like it will feature re-imagined, revamped characters. The dreaded words "a more modern and diverse 21st century" certainly carry a lot of weight! I have no problem with diversity, but this looks to me like the type of revamp that tosses out the old continuity. It seems Johns' Flashpoint series is going to change, well, everything about the old DCU.

And this is a huge change. Over 50 issue ones are shipping in September. That's a wholesale gamble on a scale I can't believe. DC better be darn sure that the core fanboy market is willing to make this leap. Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are banking on new readers outnumbering the folks who jump away.

I'm fascinated at the implications of the digital releases. DC is going to release these books digitally on the same day they appear in the store. As a new Android tablet owner, I love the concept, but if the prices aren't lower, I don't see how it will make a difference to most consumers. The problem is, if the price is lower, then DC is spitting in the face of the direct market.

Obviously, we'll know more when the new solicits come out, but I've gone from interested to worried. This may be a good jumping off point for me. But thinking about it, maybe that's ok. There should be accessible versions of these characters out there for my kids, it just means that my era of DC might be over.

We'll see!

Walking Dead #85

How in the world is anyone in the Community going to buy into Rick's leadership if they find out what a nutbar he is? Out of everyone there, he was the first to be willing to cut and run. I realize the guy has had some terribly close calls with death, but I'm just not sure that Rick has enough going on upstairs to be able to bring about his big plan of a more proactive Community.

I'm also worried about Abraham. The guy is always going full-throttle, and Robert Kirkman does a nice job showing us that the guy is always on. He's killing zombies, cheating on his gal, and taking leadership roles around the town. I could see him as someone Rick relies on for a lot of stuff, or he might be shot by his ex next issue, that's how out there this book has gotten.

It's funny, seeing Glenn and Maggie is wonderful. These two are clearly damaged too, but for now, it seems that having each other is enough. I don't figure it can last, but it is nice to see it while we can.

Charlie Adlard. Solid, as always. What more can I say about his art at this point?


Monday, May 30, 2011

GI Joe: Cobra: Serpent's Coil TPB

Wow. Another fantastic chapter in the Cobra saga. Say what you will about the core GI Joe series these days, the Cobra book is doing just fine. Where the core title has been meandering for a while, treading water as we wait for some real conflicts between the Joes and Cobras, the Cobra title brings it full force.

This chapter focuses on Scoop, a minor, late-model toy/character that wore a ridiculous helmet. This version of Scoop is a lot more down to Earth; he's a washed up PI who fell from grace as a respected journalist. It seems Hawk maintains a list of non-affiliated assets to use when he can't or won't use his normal forces, and Scoop is one of these assets. Hawk tasks Scoop with seeking out the Serpent's Coil, a cult that says all the right things in public, but has earned some nasty whispers (couldn't be from that threatening name, I'm sure).

This is Serpentor's introduction to the core IDW universe, and boy is he evil. He's like a religious Crystal Ball, using a cocktail of drugs, religion, and conversation to convert important people to the Coil (and therefore to Cobra). Scoop bravely walks in to face down Serpentor, but he quickly finds himself in a pretty rough situation. Christos Gage and Mike Costa do a great job playing this thing out like a TV movie, but with an ending you won't see coming.

The core story is strong enough, but fans of Croc Master or Skullbuster REALLY need to check this thing out. Cobra is getting fleshed out nicely!

Sergio Carrera does a great job with this. His best work has to be in the ominous Croc Master chapters, that guy is plain awesome.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne HC

File this one under "C" for "Crazy Grant Morrison." I have a lot of friends who don't like Morrison's work because he leaves out explanations and scenes that seem vital to the story. I can see that, but I often find the brilliance of his ideas to more than offset that complaint (see Batman & Robin or Batman Inc. for some examples). This series is an argument in their favor. The book is filled with mad (but cool) sounding ideas like the "All-Over" and Batman as a living Omega bomb, but it never totally makes sense to me.

Things start off pretty great with Batman as a skin-wearing caveman facing down some more savage competitors. Chris Sprouse does a great job setting up the bat-people and laying the foundation of Gotham City.

Frazer Irving's puritan take is wonderful too (although that guy is getting typecast after Klarion, isn't he?) I started losing track of the overall plot here, with all those weird Time Masters scenes at Vanishing Point.

Yanick Paquette's pirates are solid, too. I know Blackbeard, but I don't know if any of these other guys are existing DC characters or not. I appreciated Morrison's efforts to make Blackbeard more than a stereotype.

Georges' Jeantty's wild west is ok, but there were a lot of characters involved in a story that didn't need to be so complicated. At this point, I can admit I'm lost. I don't know what the creatures chasing Batman is doing, I don't understand the Vanishing Point problems, and I'm unclear what the girl is supposed to remember/predict.

The gangster-era story is a bit more fun, due to the many ties to Morrison's Black Glove and Batman RIP stories. This fills in some nice gaps in those stories and actually stands up nicely on its own.

The closing chapter deals with Batman's actual return. It's not as emotional an affair as I'd predicted, even with Red Robin centrally involved. I don't totally understand Darkseid's plan and I'm not exactly sure what Batman did, merging with that weird robot. And is it me, or did the Time Masters do pretty much nothing to help out old Bruce?

Confusing story. Great art. That makes this a


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Flash: Rebirth TPB

Ok, I’m going to get it now. This was good. And it goes a long way towards making Barry Allen an interesting character for me.

After years of loving Geoff Johns’ work, I really should trust the guy more. In this story he does build up Barry with some ridiculous quotes (like when the JSA give Barry credit for keeping them in heroics), but none of the Flashes get shafted. Wally West is pretty important to this story and he gets a lot of respect from Barry and the other heroes, it makes sense, I think Wally has been the Flash about as long as Barry at this point!

Bart Allen comes through as a great voice for the disgruntled reader like me. He’s annoyed Barry came back and not Max Mercury. He’s annoyed that “Saint Barry” gets all this respect when Wally was a great Flash. And he’s annoyed that he never got to know his grandfather at all. Look at that! An explanation for that awkwardness between Barry and Bart in the Flash comic that had confused me! It really seems like Rebirth was chapter one in the ongoing story leading up to Flashpoint.

And that brings me to Professor Zoom, the Reverse Flash. He gets some new powers here, tying him to an anti-Speed Force. This energy is different than the Barry Allen’s Speed Force, and it lets Zoom actually go back and change time. It’s wonderful seeing Zoom go back and cause problems for Barry before he even becomes the Flash. And some retcons and changes get an explanation here too. And the setup is fantastic, with Zoom II, Wally’s enemy, offering to team up with Zoom at the end of the book. Good stuff.

I should mention that Iris’ de-aging is explained as well. It seems the Speed Force keeps people young, as we knew from Jay Garrick. It also keeps people close to the speedsters young, so Iris is actually de-aged a bit when Barry comes back. (There’s a neat page talking about this in the bonus materials, where Ethan Van Sciver drew Iris too old.)

Speaking of art, Van Sciver does a nice job with the re-designs in this one. Zoom, Bart Allen, Impulse II, they all fit into the speed family perfectly. And sometimes, not changing stuff is the right choice too; the re-designs for Wally West were not good, so going with the old Greg LaRoque metallic suit is the right move. Jesse Quick looks fantastic on her big splash page too.

The back material is quite helpful and provides a nice setup for Flashpoint. And with Wally West’s son destined to become the new Turtle, surely there’s more Wally West action coming up post-Flashpoint.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Hawkeye: Blindspot #4

So I guess Mockingbird is all shot up from her activities in New Avengers? I dropped that title, so I’m a bit behind, but I guess that’s why Hawkeye is running solo for this limited series? I’m not complaining, I’m fine with Hawkeye in the spotlight solo, but it seems weird that he doesn’t even mention her at any part of the story.

Jim McCann continues doing his great work on Hawkeye. Nothing works better in comics than an evil brother as your new arch-foe, so setting up Barney Barton as the new Trickshot is a stroke of genius. And playing up the whole rivalry between Hawk and Baron Zemo is a great move too; Hawkeye has a pretty respectable rogues’ gallery at this point!

The whole “going blind” thing created some solid dramatic tension through the series, but McCann wraps up the whole thing nicely, tying that resolution into Barney’s reappearance too.

Paco Diaz did a great job on art for this whole series. I look forward to seeing more from him.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Justice League of America #57

I’m trying, I really am. But this is not the Justice League! I’d be so much more interested in the lineup that Eclipso has dominated (Zauriel, Cyborg, Red Tornado, Dr. Light, and Bulleteer) than I am in Congorilla, Starman, Saint Walker, and Jesse Quick. I do like James Robinson’s use of Obsidian as an actual good guy, and I appreciate Alan Scott’s heroics in his old identity, but there are just too many scrubs in this lineup.

The constant discussion between Eclipso and his host gets a little wearing too. I started to lose interest when the talking had nothing to do with the action in the panels.

Speaking of panels, Brett Booth’s art is still odd to me. The flow between the pages was unclear in a few places, and I don’t like the way he draws faces. It’s not that he’s awful, but surely a clearer artist could work on DC’s flagship team?


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Avengers Academy #14

Sometimes, the bad guys need to win. I won’t say how or why, but if villain teams exist, eventually they should get to pencil a mark in the “W” column, and the Sinister Six get to do just that in this issue. Christos Gage has done a fantastic job over the last year making us care about these characters, and so I found myself really bummed as the fight wrapped up, with Reptil crying out how badly they needed the win.

The coolest part of the issue was seeing the “tweener” characters like Finesse and Striker form ranks with their classmates when the going got tough. Even though I have them marked as villains in my head, it is great seeing them trying to be heroes with their more altruistic classmates.

The Six have rarely looked this good. If you think about it, these guys are powerhouses. The students only have a few moments with a real chance, and that’s about right. Other than Tigra going down too easily, this is a great battle of wily veterans vs. the upstarts. And now I’m anxious for a re-match (although I don’t think Pym or Quicksilver should get in on it, let Tigra and the kids handle it!)

Sean Chen is a great choice for alternate penciller. He and Tom Raney are probably both “classic” artists at this point, so it’s easy to see why I love the style in this book every month. Fantastic comic.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Booster Gold #44

I’m really going to try and give Flashpoint a try. I always enjoyed Elseworlds, it’s just that as my comic budget shrank, I started wanting to focus on books that “count” either for the universe or the main character. This issue hits both requirements, since I love Booster and now I’m suspecting a line-wide reboot following Flashpoint.

Only Booster Gold (and Skeets!) could make it through his entire comic without realizing what’s going on. By the end, he does understand he’s in an alternate timeline, but man, he just blithely goes along with everything for most of the issue. I know this is a guy used to time-traveling and bouncing around in reality, but still, his sister and best friend just disappeared and his HQ turned into a dump! Wouldn’t you be a little concerned?

Dan Jurgens does a great job showing how Booster just shakes off his concerns and just sets out to correct the problem. Booster figures he can handle the problem, so why worry? (Doomsday’s appearance as a government operative on the last page is a pretty darn good reason, actually.)

Jurgens’ handles the art too, and everything looks just right. I love Chris Batista’s take on the character, but no one draws Booster Gold better than his creator.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Uncanny X-Men First Class: Knights of Hykon TPB

What a fun little trade. It's easy to forget how well the X-Men concept worked when the new crew came in. Banshee, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Wolverine were still new and mysterious, and it was so exciting seeing them try to bond. The new story is great, featuring Phoenix and Cyclops as they attempt to take on ultra-powered aliens who are destroying the Earth by accident. I always loved seeing Nightcrawler save the day, with his low power-set, it's great seeing him make good. Scott Grey gets it. Nightcrawler more than holds his own. Gray does a nice job using Cyclops' always simmering anger too, you know it's bad when Cyke starts to shatter his visor.

I couldn't get into the leprechaun story, but the back matter is wonderful. The trade reprints the fantastic fight where the Uncanny crew took on the Juggernaut. I forgot how awesome it was seeing Colossus really cut loose. He was my fave X-Man as a kid, and reading these two old issues, it's easy to see why.

I also loved seeing Wolverine calling people chubs and wide load in both the new and old material. Nothing like harmful personal insults to put your foes off-balance.

Nelson DeCastro's pencils are strong, and he even keeps Banshee ugly, like he was in his first appearances (before he got handsomed up by Joe Mad. Take a look at the Roger Cruz cover where Banshee looks too normal.)

New material - Fair
Old material - Good

Sunday, May 22, 2011

X-Men & Spider-Man TPB

What itch was this series trying to scratch? It was interesting seeing Christos Gage parallel the history of two Marvel franchises, but the whole endeavor just didn't connect for me. I liked aspects of the story: Kraven taking on the X-Men, Ben Reilly believing he's the real Spider-Man, and heck, I liked that Angel and Iceman got to pop up in so many X-lineups. But overall, Mr. Sinister's goals are always so vague that he just doesn't work well as the main villain. The Marauders, Kraven, and the Blob all work much better as antagonists for the combined heroes.

Gage has some fun ideas, like when the X-Men believe Spidey might be a mutant and they want to know if he wants to hang out with them more. Heck, the book is worth it just to see Angel, Beast, and Iceman hit on Gwen Stacey and MJ.

Mario Alberti's art is fine, but the coloring makes everything seem very subdued. Alberti's style looks a bit like Simone Bianchi's, but not as inspiring. He does a nice job giving the different eras their own looks.

I had forgotten how terrible Dazzler is as an X-Man.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Goon: Deaths' Greedy Comeuppance TPB

Eric Powell rarely gets to show off his two sides so clearly in one collection. The first few issues in this collection are a wonderful bit of fun, with Frankie and the gang trying to help the Good celebrate his birthday. It's hijinks and silliness, and well deserved for the cast after the last storyline. This book had been in a pretty dark place for awhile, so seeing everyone go back to their old insanity is quite welcome. The second Goon issue is a fun "silent" issue that only works because we know these characters so well.

The rest of the trade collects the three-issue Buzzard limited series. It's interesting, but it never quite lives up to the absolutely brilliant covers. It's hard, because Powell has a good story here, and Buzzard is a character with a ton of pathos. The problem is he's had so many heart-breaking stories over the years, I came into the story expecting those moments. Again, Powell does a good job, especially with the tease of a meaningful life for the old Buzzard. And that last line, it's almost enough to give me hope for him.

The art is wonderful, brilliant, and stunning. The ancient monster's evil-nose powers are funny and horrifying at the same time. All that, plus Powell can draw ladies too!

Just gorgeous stuff.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Incredible Hulks v2: Fall of Hulks TPB

Ah! So here's the missing half of the Fall of the Hulks epic! Jeff Parker and Greg Pak do a great job, as expected, with the other half of the Intelligencia's plot to bring down Bruce Banner. I still haven't warmed up to Skaar, but seeing him rub elbows with so many Marvel U mainstays is keeping me interested. Not surprisingly, my favorite guest-star was Hank Pym, the scientist supreme. He does pretty well against some of the biggest bad guys in the Marvel U. Red She-Hulk makes a big impact too, taking on a weird mix of New and Mighty (and Young) Avengers. I can't help it, I like Red She-Hulk, it's great seeing that character throwing her weight around.

The book opens with the brilliant Fall of the Hulks: Gamma, a fun-filled review of the Intelligencia's history. It's pretty much a counterpart to the Illuminati series, where we see the big brains all working together through the biggest moments in Marvel history like Secret Wars and the fall of Atlantis. I particularly enjoyed seeing Egghead as a founding member who got too wrapped up in taking out his arch-foe, Hank Pym. I respect any use of the Eternals, so I had to love the idea that the Intelligencia has been robbing them (and others) of lost knowledge. And c'mon, who was shocked that Dr. Doom was not to be trusted?

The art is wonderful throughout. Paul Pelletier has always been one of my favorites, and he gets many moments to shine in this trade. The scene where MODOK callously strikes down a Wakandan elder was wonderful; there is so much regret on the faces of the other Intelligencia. They may be evil, but they don't go out of their way to kill bystanders.

Skaar is no Hulk, but he's a fine substitute in this entertaining story.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hulk: Fall of Hulks TPB

I can't help it. Jeph Loeb's Hulk series just makes me laugh. I mean, the Intelligencia? A group of the smartest villains in the Marvel U taking on the smartest heroes? That's just a wonderful high concept. Factor in some great and original battles like the Red Ghost & his super-apes vs. the X-Men, and this is just good stuff.

I still think Loeb is playing a bit unfair with the Red Hulk reveal. Now that I know who ends up as the big reveal, there is a lot of stuff that threw readers off the scent. I'm interested to see how they play this out over the next few trades. Another interesting development is the turning of Doc Samson. I always liked Samson as is, I have ever since he took on the Hulk during John Byrne's run in the late 80's. I don't have a problem giving Samson a split personality, but I sure hope we get the real hero back in some sort of rotation after this story.

I was also a tad surprised at how quickly Black Panther got taken out. Red Ghost never seemed like that much of a threat before this! And can I assume that some of the other big brains get nabbed in the Incredible Hulks trade? I didn't see Hank Pym or Bruce Banner get taken. I feel like I'm missing pieces of the story.

Ed McGuiness' art is nice, but there are times when I missed details. If it wasn't for the detailed Hellcarrier diagrams in the bonus materials, I would have missed a lot of those finer details for the Intelligencia's base. But man, EMC sure draws nice throw downs, these fights are top notch.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Black Panther: Man Without Fear #518

David Liss has a fan in me. I'm going to be checking out all his comic work from here on out. The guy just gets it. This is the first story I've read from him, but he has accomplished a ton: new status quo for BP, new supporting cast, new villain, solid guest-appearances, a satisfying resolution, and a good cliff-hanger for the next arc. What more do you want?

BP takes on Vlad for the last time (for now), and there is already enough bad blood here to make Vlad a nice addition to BP's rogues gallery. BP and Cage also have a quick moment to set things right between them; it is hilarious seeing BP as the one speaking out against the Avengers after his history with them. Best of all, T'Challa gets two or three fantastic moments to show off how awesome he is during the final showdown.

That splash page that ends the conflict? Brilliant. Francesco Francavilla has knocked my socks off with his expressive, noir style that somehow delivers more action than seems possible. BP's gadgets look realistic, but still comic-y, and the guest stars have looked good too. I can't wait for the next arc that should feature Storm and BP taking on a classic spider-foe.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011


You know, we're dang lucky this lasted as long as it did. Tony Bedard and his artists put together a fantastic run on a book that I thought would be done by issue 12, tops. This was clearly a labor of love for Bedard, and while his focus quickly shifted away from his Legion of Super-Heroes (or villains) inspired team to one made up of more popular and marketable characters, Vril Dox owned this book. Dox is not a nice guy, he's barely a step up from a super-villain, so having him anchor this series is quite the accomplishment.

Bedard brings everything home nicely, letting Lyrl Dox (Brainiac III) do the dirty work in defeating Starro. I'm not sure I understand why things play out the way they do with Smite, though. The guy was a pretty bad dude, and he didn't seem to have problems following Starro, so having Lobo and the rest of the REBELS be so forgiving seemed weird. Adam Strange gets a nice good-bye with his family, although Starfire and Captain Comet end up the only way they could. There's no way Starfire could end up with a C-tier character like Comet while Nightwing is waiting in the wings. The rest of the team gets that wonderful hopeful farewell that cancelled comics like to throw out; sure, the book is cancelled, but LEGION lives on. Hope for a sequel post-Flashpoint?

Claude St. Aubin did solid work for much of this run. His work was effective and clear, I really enjoyed it every month.

Let's hear it for this dollar-bin goldmine of a series.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Batman Incorporated #6

Dang, I do love me some Grant Morrison comics. This issue is mostly set up as Morrison lays out the organization Batman is building across the globe. We stop in with most of the new Batman franchises, some of whom are new (at least to me), and some we know pretty well. It's kind of neat seeing folks like Night Ranger and El Gaucho from the original Batmen of All Nations mixed in with newer franchises like Cassandra Cain (called Blackbat, I think). Red Robin gets his own team, the problem is it's the Outsiders. Catwoman, Knight, Squire, and more make it onto the cover, but we don't get to see them in the comic. In any case, it's a pretty dang impressive group Bats has put together.

The framing device for the issue is fantastic, with Nero Nykto, the Night-Eye reporting to new Gotham boss Joe Average. It's wonderful, even if it is clear how it is going to turn out after about half the issue.

Chris Burnham does another strong job. The cover is wonderful, and at his best he does a great Frank Quitely impression (like on all the Joe Average pages). There are some Gotham-based pages in the middle that seem a bit off, but then, Burnham had to draw the Outsiders, so that probably knocked him off his game. (Can you tell I don't like them?)


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Flash #10-12: Road to Flashpoint

So again, let me preface this by saying that after reading these three issues and Flashpoint, I've read 4 comics starring Barry Allen. He seems like a nice enough guy, and it is an interesting twist to see a super-hero as a CSI investigator. I'm not sure that's the best fit for a speedster, but I guess it works. I really like that Barry is late for every appointment, that's a great detail that makes him work. I remember Iris Allen being a lot older, a mentor figure rather than a hot young thing like she is in these issues, has that been retconned? I thought she came back from the future as an older lady?

There is a storyline in here about Barry Allen not liking Kid Flash/Bart Allen. I don't really see why, but I guess that is an issue that gets resolved in Flashpoint? It wasn't apparent to me what Kid Flash had done wrong.

The guest-star for these three issues is Hot Pursuit. I like the idea of alternate versions of the Flash to show up. We've seen it before with Zoom as Barry, John Fox, and Walter West in the past, so seeing a motorcycle-riding Barry Allen is a neat twist. I think the reason it works for me here and not in Flashpoint is that we're still in the core DCU here. Hot Pursuit is the guest-star inserted into the world I'm interested in, rather than Flashpoint, where a character I barely know about is inserted into a world I've never seen.

It could be that I'll like the Booster Gold chapters of Flashpoint since I'm interested in Booster on his own.

Scott Kolins' art is wonderful, as always. The sense of kinetic motion in his pencils is still a perfect fit for the Flash. Francis Manapul's art is beautiful, but it seems too sedate for the speed-fights in this title.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spider-Man: Died In Your Arms Tonight TPB

Not quite as strong as 24/7. If you're a Spider-Man fan, there is still a lot to like, but this really feels like a bunch of random stuff thrown into a TPB without a central theme. (Looking at the contents, I guess that's what it actually is!) There's an epilogue to the Kraven's daughter storyline that I never found that interesting, and then a slew of short stories featuring folks important to Peter Parker.

Things pick up with an odd re-imagining of Doc Ock. Instead of the fat nerd in glasses, Ock is wrapped in rags and sporting a few extra arms. I suppose this makes him even more octopus-like, but I liked his old green fatsuit. It is great seeing Dan Slott write another team up with Johnny Storm. Spidey and the Torch really do work well together.

The other big moment in this thing is the return of Mary Jane. J Jonah Jameson's Dad and Aunt May are tying the not, and of course, MJ arrives to make a big appearance. I smiled at her splash page arrival, but found myself getting more and more annoyed as the next few issues rolled by. Marvel is trying to have its cake and eat it too; you can't "erase" the Spider-marriage and relationship, then start teasing it all over again. The reader KNOWS nothing will come of it. Spidey and MJ CANNOT be together, or there was no reason for One More Day. So basically, this is all a big tease for longtime spider-fans. Annoying.

The art is really varied as a ton of artists get to show off their version of the webslinger. I do enjoy consistent art, but there are enough repeat artists that I'm fine with a mash-up book like this.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Spider-Man: American Son TPB

I just don't care about Harry Osborn. That's a pretty big problem when this trade is named after that character's new super heroic identity. For the length of the book, I didn't really care when Peter Parker got so worried about his old friend. I even chuckled a bit when Menace played her little games with her old fiancé. Norman Osborn is tremendously evil once again, and Joe Casey does a great job keeping Bullseye and Venom absolutely horrifying. Bullseye kills rats with his boogers! Some people might think that's too much, but man, I just think it's evil!

There is a good sequence where Spidey goes undercover as Venom with the Dark Avengers, but clearly Pete isn't thinking straight, there's no way he could pull that off with that many sensors around. (It does lead to a nice Daken/Spidey fight though). It's also weird seeing Spidey interacting with the FF so much. This is three trades in a row where the first family of Marvel helps the old web-slinger. It's almost like Stephen Wacker was planting seeds for future stories!

The art is decent, but the American Son design is pretty silly. That visor... yuck!


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Flashpoint #1

Clearly, I'm missing something. Over the past few months, I had sort of written off Flashpoint as an enormous Elseworlds, surely one that will impact the DCU in some ways, since Geoff Johns is writing it, but an Elseworlds in any case. Then the Internet popped for the premiere issue yesterday, with everyone raving about how good it is. This is just proof that I'm still not jaded as a reader, I went out and bought Flash 10-12 (to be reviewed tomorrow) and Flashpoint #1.

And? Did the issue live up to the insane hype and the even more insane number of tie-ins? Meh. It's fine, but it is an Elseworlds. There are some people in different costumes, Captain Cold seems to be some kind of vigilante rather than villain, Talky Tawny from the Marvel Family looks like a cool Battle Cat from He-Man, and a few other changes. I do like seeing Cyborg as the main man of the DCU, but if the stuff he says is correct, Wonder Woman and Aquaman are straight up EVIL.

Seriously, death on the scale described here is unbelievable, and the US could not and would not be sitting by while that type of genocide was going on. Of course, this is still an Earth in the DCU, so maybe they've grown accustomed to mass murder? Very possible.

As far as I can tell, this doesn't really pick up as the next chapter after Brightest Day or anything like that. This really seems to stand on its own. Honestly, this feels 100% like Age of Apocalypse, the story everyone thought this would be riffing on. And that's fine, I loved AoA, but I don't have the disposable income (or the space in my longboxes) to follow something like that now.

And let's not avoid my main problem: Barry Allen. The guy is boring, and centering a crossover around him is not going to do it for me.

I must admit, Andy Kubert's art is great. Alternate Batman looks cool. Battle Tawny is awesome. I like Shade the Changing Man's look and team. But I'm just not wrapped up enough to keep up with the deluge of titles for this crossover.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero v1 TPB

It's not fair how Larry Hama can step right into the groove again. We see so many creators try to come back to their signature creations, then prove that they just don't have the magic anymore. That's not the case with Hama, whose character immediately start spouting those awesome military terms and ridiculous threats. I mean, Dr. Mindbender's dialogue alone is worth the trade's price. (I though Mindbender died in that freighter on Cobra Island?)

For those who don't know, this title picks up immediately after Hama's GI Joe run at Marvel. No Devil's Due, no IDW. This is the classic characters in the classic costumes. I do find myself a bit confused on who is alive and who's dead, (Mainframe is alive and well here, but I know he died somewhere). This issue features Hawk, Duke, Snake Eyes, Scarlett, Stalker, Roadblock, Heavy Metal, and Mainframe. The Cobras are Cobra Commander, Destro, Dr. Mindbender, Baroness, Billy, and a surprisingly foolish Zartan. Zartan gets thrown around like a ragdoll for this entire story! I was also happy to see Dr. Venom making an appearance (sort of), he was a great villain for the first 20 issues of the Marvel series.

It's always odd seeing these books that have such a narrow target audience (in this case, kids who grew up reading the old comics). But since that's me, I can't complain.

Augustin Padilla does an ok job with the classic costumes, but seeing those Rod Whigham covers is a big tease. I'd love to see an artist with a bit tighter a style drawing some of these issues, it would make them seem like more of a continuation of the old Marvel Series.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Justice Society of America #50

This one's a lot more setup that delivery, although Marc Guggenheim does get a lot of mileage out of his guest-artists. There are nice sequences by George Perez, Howard Chaykin, and Freddie Williams II. Tom Derenick handles the modern portion of the story, while those guest-artists give us glimpses of Per Degaton and his past run-ins with the JSA. Derenick does a nice job with the modern portion. His art has always had a bit of a flat quality, things the foreground look similar to stuff in the background, but he does nice super-characters.

It seems Per Degaton will be the main villain for the next arc, assuming he has something to do with the dark past of Monument Point. I also like seeing the Society expand with the returning All-Stars and a slew of new characters. I hope the newbies aren't fodder for deaths though, Dark Knight and Red Beetle have potential. I will say I'm not sure Manhunter and Blue Devil make the most sense to join up; they're both already on other teams!

JSA is still one of the most consistent titles DC is putting out, even when the anniversary issue is a bit of a gimmick, it is still entertaining.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Thor! (2011)

First of all, I never thought I'd see the day where the Destroyer or Volstagg would ever appear on the big screen.

Kenneth Branagh does a nice job bringing Thor to the mainstream. There's a lot of cosmic back story that needs to get info-dumped, but when it sounds as nice as it does here (read by Anthony Hopkins as Odin), it sounds important. Chris Hemsworth tries his best to sell the switch from vain, impulsive boy to respectful god of Thunder. Now, it's totally silly that a character would have such a transformation so quickly, but we can roll with the punches, I suppose. Oh, and there is zero chemistry between Hemsworth and Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. (Foster is re-tooled here as some sort of cosmic storm-chaser, rather than a NYC nurse.) And the whole "god" thing is addressed, but not dwelled on.

A lot of the movie's pleasures come from the little things. The Warriors Three are great, Sif is present, if a little quiet, but she's around. Heimdall is pretty awesome and he has a great voice from Idris Elba. The frost giants and the aforementioned Destroyer are good foils for the Asgardians. I guess they're saving Baldur for the sequels.

The high point of the film is the inscrutable Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. Loki is a trickster, but he's such a good liar that at multiple points in the movie I found myself really feeling for the guy; it's easy to see how Thor and his friends fall for Loki's treachery. Hiddleston works wonders with his faraway looks and quick turnarounds.

The special effects are strong too. Thor actually spins his hammer! The Destroyer's fire-blast is impressive and deafening. Colm Feore's frost giant is tremendously detailed and realistic. The armor holds up surprisingly well, although Thor should have worn his sweet helmet more. Everyone else in Asgard looked like they walked out of a Kirby panel!

I'd say the only bummer for me was the limited and pointless use of Ultimate Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). If there is a gun (or bow) in the first act, aren't you supposed to shoot it in the second?


(And yes, there is an Easter egg scene after the credits... I like where this is going.)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Green Lantern Corps #59

Not even Aaron Lopresti can save that terrible design for John Stewart.

Tony Bedard doesn't do a lot better in the interiors. The whole idea of the Earth Rainbow works a lot better in theory than in practice. Kyle's blue ring can't do anything, John's purple just sputters and sparks, and Guy's doesn't exactly work wonders in talky situations. When the Earthlings try to ride in to save Ganthet, they are a pretty ineffective bunch. I do like the way Bedard often has Ganthet say what I'm thinking about the title's actions; this issue he tells Hal that taking these rings was a terrible idea and they should have waited to make a real plan. Not a whole lot else happens in this.

Tyler Kirkham's art looks totally different. He must be struggling with the deadline (or getting a very different inker) because all that Silvestri-style crosshatching is gone. This is a rush job in comparison.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Justice League of America #56

James Robinson is trying. His normal league can't handle Eclipso, and who is surprised? These guys are not exactly the A-list. Heck, I don't remember what happened to Jesse Quick...

In any case, Congorilla rides to the rescue to help out the embattled Donna Troy, and he brings along Cyborg, Animal Man, Bulleteer, Red Tornado, and best of all, Zauriel. Zauriel even gets a few panels of one-on-one battle with Eclipso. It makes sense that these two former servants of heaven would have some history; it makes this confrontation the most interesting part of the book.

I do like Robinson's take on Donna Troy. She's tremendously powerful, a more brawl-y Wonder Woman. She doesn't exactly lead with her fists, but she's close enough that I find myself rooting for her over everyone else in the book. And am I alone in thinking Obsidian may actually get to play the hero in this story?

Brett Booth. Uch. Those weird elongated necks and faces. The smooth, curvy butts. Blerg.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Avengers Academy #13

What a sweet done-in-one. Super-heroes rarely get a moment to decompress and hang out as friends, so I loved seeing Christos Gage's super-hero prom. The book is chock full of Gage's signature strengths; it references all sorts of current continuity for Firestar and the Young Allies, it brings Reptil back in line, there are Easter Eggs for Avengers: The Initiative readers, and best of all, Gage hooks up a fair amount of the cast. The students pairing off doesn't really surprise me, but seeing the faculty just as... sociable? That's just fun.

And how wonderful was it seeing Speedball just goofing off and acting like his old self? Hardball should know better than to mess with Robbie Baldwin!

There isn't any threat or greater meaning to this one, it's just a solid issue showing the personal side of some great B-list characers.

Sean Chen is still the best fill-in artist in the business. I'd love to see him take over an Avengers book permanently. He's a perfect fit.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thunderbolts: Cage TPB

It's hard to review this book fairly. Jeff Parker has combined two great concepts, the original Thunderbolts and the Suicide Squad, so it's not surprising that I dig the book. The line-up is a neat amalgam too. Mach V, Fixer, Moonstone, and Songbird all show up from the original Thunderbolts. The Ghost is hanging around from the Dark Reign era. Crossbones, Man-Thing, and the Juggernaut round out the team, with US Agent serving as warden of the team's prison base (The Raft). Of course, Luke Cage is the leader of the new team, playing up his early appearances as a wrongfully imprisoned man who ended up a hero.

This is Cage's book. He drives the action, he's the team leader, and he makes all the tough calls. What's great about this Cage is that it FEELS like Power Man. This isn't the domesticated gentleman who often appears in New Avengers. Cage has his old Power Man swagger back when he leads these criminals into danger.

Jeff Parker has great character moments with most of the team. Songbird is justifiably annoyed at Moonstone's fifth or sixth chance, until Cage reads Songbird's psyche profile. And Crossbones. That guy is just tremendous. You have to work to be as big a jerk as the man who shot Captain America.

I've liked Kev Walker's art in the past, but I'm not sure he's the right fit for this book. Everyone is blocky and looks like they walked out of a British 80's comic. I think someone with a bit more mainstream look might work better (unless Death's Head is showing up soon).


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Walking Dead #84

And once again Robert Kirkman surprises me. I was certain that the No Way Out story was going to set our survivors back out on the road, with the core cast basically intact, plus or minus one. That's not the direction the book goes in, though. Instead, Kirkman does some neat stuff with Rick's outlook and with the whole survivor mentality. And man, Abraham really has turned into an acceptable Tyreese replacement now, hasn't he?

It really is great seeing the Community come together the way they do. And that almost every one of them was ticked about having to leave their haven to go help Rick and Michonne. But man, what a rewarding scene when everyone worked together... great stuff.

Charlie Adlard gets to draw lots of action and lots of zombies this month, and hoo boy, is it fantastic. I'm sure original art for this book is tremendously expensive now, but man, I'd love a page from this issue.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Justice League: Generation Lost #24

I'm glad this issue ends with the announcement of a new JLI ongoing. I mean, with the sales and popularity these characters enjoy, there is absolutely no reason not to serve this fanbase every month. Soon we can start looking for lineup spoilers! I'm not sure the team needs BOTH Captain Atom and Martian Manhunter, for example. Does Batman belong on the team? Judd Winick has certainly shown to have the characters' voices down, he's the natural pick for the new ongoing.

Anyway, this issue sort of wraps up the last 24 issues, but not really. OMAZO does a pretty good job taking on the whole JLI team, and it was pretty funny seeing the group unable to figure out that they were being beaten by their own powers. Blue Beetle realized it, but ended up winning the day anyway, just because his powers worked a bit differently. I don't have a problem with that, since Captain Atom did the same thing, but it is still funny that there wasn't a more active way to beat the villain.

The parallel fight gave us Booster Gold vs. Max Lord, round three or four. These guys have really built up a good rivalry over the years, and it is great seeing Max continually trying to explain that he's not a bad guy. I hated seeing him just pop away at the end of the series. Sure, he's outed, but he's still in charge of Checkmate, he's still going to bedevil the JLI in their new series. I just have one request: PLEASE NO MORE OMACS!

Aaron Lopresti should be the regular artist for the new series. He's got such a classic DC style, everyone looks great. What is it about the new Blue Beetle design? Everyone makes Jaime look awesome! Like everyone else, I was tickled at OMAZO growing long hair and wearing a metal bra like Wonder Woman; clearly Lopresti has a sense of humor too, essential in a JLI title.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Brightest Day #24

Listen, anything that returns the Martian Manhunter to his normal status quo is ok by me, but this was on odd series. At no point throughout the book did I think the purpose for this title was to reintroduce Swamp Thing to the DCU. And heck, to make things even stranger, this isn't Alan Moore's Swampy. I've been reading those collections, and the core concept is that Swamp Thing is a tree that thinks its a man, but really, Alec Holland is dead. The Swamp Thing moving forward from Brightest Day actually is Alec Holland turned into a tree man.

The book makes a few other fairly obvious turns too. Deadman ends up... well, dead. That's honestly the only way the character could end up, although I do like that he seems to have maintained a bond with his gal pal Dove.

Hawkman is back to yelling and smashing, but Shiera is going to stay an air elemental? Why I don't see what good that does for either character.

Firestorm has a nice little plot that should require a mini-series to resolve. Somebody get Tony Bedard and Eddy Barrows on the line for a 6 part Firestorm series. (Any of the go-to DC teams will do!)

Martian Manhunter doesn't have anywhere to go, but he's got a smile on his face and I'd say he's ready to join either the JLA or JLI, whichever needs him more.

Aquaman also has a nice platform for a new book. I'm pretty optimistic, Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis have done a great job on the Aquaman chapters of this series.

The book ends with another "shocking" ending, the return of SPOILER ALERT (John Constantine). I always laugh that I'm not imprinted on DC right, because I'm not sure what the big deal is? I thought Constantine was a foul-mouthed Ennis-type from Vertigo? Was he ever in the DCU?

The art in this conclusion is pretty nice. There are a lot of splash pages, making this one quick read. At $4.99 I don't think I can say this is a good value. That shot of the big four popping out of Swampy's chest is pretty fun, though.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Amazing Spider-Girl v4: Brand New May

I still love stopping by Tom DeFalco's take on the Marvel Universe. It's clear this whole universe is just an extrapolation of mid-90's Marvel. This is a What-If DeFalco was able to age the Marvel U after his time as editor-in-chief. It isn't genius or genre-breaking, but this is good solid action in the mighty Marvel manner.

May finds out about a link to that common spider-problem, clones, by the end of the trade. Most of the issue has Peter Parker taking the clone's side awfully easily, I don't care if he does think his May might be a clone, he spent his whole life raising her! He knows she's a good kid.

May's superheroics are always fun, in this trade she teams up with the X-People against Magneta. Those portions of the book are fun and move along nicely. The interpersonal drama involving May and her boyfriend are a bit harder to take. I don't think she'd be too interested in quitting her spider-career to join the dance squad, and adding more and more thought bubbles about it just gets annoying.

Ron Frenz's pencils still have that dated 80's look, but I mean that as a compliment. The costume design is classic, and the updates are wonderful. Arana's terrible suit actually looks good!