Thursday, March 31, 2011

Green Lantern Corps #58

I'm just not feeling Tony Bedard's take on these GLs. This went from being one of my favorite comics to one I'm reading out of habit. Kyle Rayner still comes across as a whiner, John Stewart is still a jerk, and neither one of them seem at all like the characters I used to like.

This crosses over into War of the Lanterns pretty obviously when the entire Qward team returns to the normal universe. Parallax takes over the lot of them, only it seems that all the GLs are full-on zombies. (In a neat side-effect, the Alpha Lanterns shut down.) Rayner and Stewart last a few moments longer, but they do manage to spout off a bunch of hurtful, damaging stuff at each other. Ganthet lends a hand and manages to break them free of Parallax's control, but the issue ends with the Earth GLs on the run and Ganthet facing down the oncoming horde of mind-controlled GLs.

Oh, and it couldn't be more obvious that Kyle Rayner is going to become a Blue Lantern, further distancing him from what made him cool back in the early '90s.

Tyler Kirkham's art is fine, but again, I'm just not loving his style. It's a nice change from the house DC style in so many other titles though.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Justice League: Generation Lost #22

Look, I'm happy that Judd Winick is able to tie Wonder Woman into this arc, but let's face it, we need the Martian Manhunter. I keep waiting for J'onn to make a triumphant appearance as Professor Ivo or someone else that Max Lord has mistakenly trusted, but now I'm just holding out hope that J'onn shows up for the finale. He really needs to take a stand with his old team.

Winick does a nice job bringing Bruce Wayne and Power Girl into the mix. They were both very important to the JLI, so linking them up makes a lot of sense. And this team was already great. The new Rocket Red gets three or four laugh out loud moments, and seeing the Blue Beetle's reaction to his team was wonderful. I loved that he was totally befuddled seeing Captain Atom being so happy. Good stuff.

Joe Bennett does love drawing Fire and Ice, and as always, I have to say he's good at it. He still does his best work on the two of them and Blue Beetle; I still don't love his Booster or Cap Atom.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Green Lantern #64

I should have learned my lesson by now! After last month's snooze-fest in GL 63, I was considering dropping the Lantern titles. I just couldn't make myself care about what was going on, and to be honest, I had no idea what War of the Green Lanterns was even about. I'm glad I powered through, because once again Geoff Johns was saving up for the big-time arc. It seems the War of the Green Lanterns is the fallout from Krona releasing the emotion entities (referred to here as parasites... hmm). While most of them end up in the bodies of different Guardians, Parallax the yellow space bug is more than happy to resume residence in the GL power battery.

This is awesome for a few reasons. First, it means that the rings don't work against yellow any more; order is restored in the universe. Second, it lets Parallax dominate the wills of a ton of GLs, setting up our little war. Well played, Geoff! This book delivered in the smaller moments too. I liked seeing the Story Vampire (although she was quite like something out of the Unwritten, huh?).

The coolest moment for me was seeing Stel and a few other GLs immediately stand down to give Hal Jordan a chance to explain. Of course some of the corps would back up their most famous member.

And Doug Mahnke comes back to save the day on art. Look at those possessed Guardians! Look at the wonderfully diverse GLs! This comic just bounced back.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Last Stand of the Wreckers TPB

Wow, they weren't kidding about the title of this one. I expected another fun chapter in the world of IDW's Transformers, but this really is a goodbye to Transformers UK. The Wreckers were the long-time stars of Transformers UK, and a lot of those same characters get spotlighted here. Springer, Kup, Perceptor (a childhood fave of mine), Topspin, Twin Twist, and some new rookies make up the current team. (Where is Broadside?) The creative team does a fine job building up Overlord, a new Decepticon boss, as the main foe for this story. While parts of the story don't ever become totally clear (I'm fuzzy on what the MacGuffin actually does, and I don't understand why Prowl makes some of the decisions he does) the action is clear-cut and brutal.

This feels like a Transformers action movie, complete with a ton of casualties on both sides. The majority of the bots in this trade are new characters, so they are safe to kill, but some long-time folks get taken out too. (The writers do a nice job with the rookie Wreckers too, especially new fave Guzzle.) I've never been a big fan of Springer or Kup, they seem like they toe the line too much, but I love Prowl, so who knows. Top Spin and Twin Twist get some nice development; it's rare to see Transformers brothers.

The art is wonderful. The 'bots look like the cartoon of my childhood, and that's all I'm asking for in my Transformers comics. It's wonderful seeing back-ups like Perceptor getting so much time in the spotlight (and being awesome!), I'd love to see more work like this for more of the obscure folks I actually know like Windcharger or Warpath.

This trade has some nice bonus features; sketches, a short story, and some notes. But where are my alternate covers?


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Xombi #1

Sometimes the hype is justified. I'd been seeing nice stuff about this re-launch all over my normal blogs, and since I'm a sheeple when it comes to hot comics, I decided to check this out.

I've never read the original Xombi, but wow, this is good. The only way I can think to describe John Rozum's fun yet spooky book is to say it reads like Grant Morrison if Morrison didn't skip pages of story. David Kim/Xombi is a neat character, and still a pretty normal guy even while immortal and blessed with weird powers. But what sells the book for me is the rest of the Dakota (Milestone) setting.

He teams up this issue with Catholic Girl (with faith based energy powers), None-the-Less (a shrinking nun that Xombi flirts with) and Nun of the Above with mental powers. That's AWESOME. And then that last page...

We all know Frazer Irving is a genius (even if DC had a typo with his name in the credits). That closing page is simply brilliant. I love it when I can still get a shiver of fear from a good comic, and that last page does it. Check out this comic.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Parker: The Outifit OGN

This graphic novel has a lot more action than the first, so it grabbed my interest a ton more than the first Parker story. Part of what Darwyn Cooke's novel so interesting this go round is the time he spends explaining each robbery that Parker and his gang make on the organized crime "Outfit." I think I'm ready to go off on a crime spree! I know I never give organized crime the credit for such complicated and brilliant schemes as I see in this collection.

And I love the sense of justice that Parker carries through the whole story; sure, the Outfit tried to kill him, but I'm not positive that justifies any and all actions in retaliation. Parker's crew tries not to hurt anyone (until the end) so they aren't all bad, but the shades of gray are pretty darn fine.

I loved the speech from the Outfit accountant about having a generation of employees. Sure, they all work in illegal activities, but the bulk of the folks working for organized crime in this era treat their work like a job, not something they want to risk their lives over. It's a fascinating look at what happens when any organization gets big, even if they start out lean and illegal.

Cooke's time spent building up both the supporting cast and the antagonists is well spent. This feels like a caper film and is a very satisfying read. Of course, his art is stellar. The art deco and dated styles all look wonderful. This feels like a movie storyboard.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Ex Machina v10: Term Limits

Brian Vaughn delivers a couple "wow" moments in this final trade for his acclaimed Ex Machina series. Some pretty important people get turned or killed off when Mayor Hundred has to go up against the alternate Earth that has been plaguing him for a few trades now.

So the first shock, a death in the family. It makes sense, and I thought Vaughn did a good job showing how the death affected Hundred, but how Hundred is able to put his feelings aside for the greater good of New York. He's been doing this since the first trade.

I LOVED seeing Hundred get back in his Great Machine gear. Vaughn made us wait for it for a LONG time, so when this briefly becomes a super-hero story for a few moments, how can I not love it?

I'm not sure I buy Bradbury's quick descent. Unless Hundred totally dropped the guy who saved his bacon on multiple occasions, Bradbury didn't seem like the type to fall as far as he does here. His declaration of love was weird and seemed like it was more for shock value than in line with the character. Or maybe I just missed the signs.

Kremlin's fate fascinates me. Vaughn basically pulled the rug out of all of his readers with this one. For this entire series, Hundred seemed like he was there to show how Vaughn is smarter than the reader. He has it all figured out. Maybe I was mis-reading (and I see now I was), but I figured this was political book for Vaughn to put his beliefs out there. But no, this book was about something else entirely. I don't want to ruin it, but this is not a super-hero story at all.

Tony Harris art is wonderful, as it has been all series long. I need to check and see what he's doing next; he's the only artist out there who actually draws people who look like they could exist off the comic page.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

GI Joe Origins v3 TPB

I think I'm getting bored with the IDW GI Joe line. It's not that it is bad, but it doesn't feel as "right" as it did at first. The Zartan story that takes up the first few issues of this trade is interesting, and it is a neat origin, but it sure doesn't feel like Zartan. Heck, having Zartan be a chemical android with the memories of the real Zartan injected just seems to far-fetched, doesn't it? I mean, I know this is a comic with teleporting and ninjas, but this is a whole new level of sci-fi. It's a great origin, it just feels out of place in the IDW GI Joe world. I do like the way Chuck Dixon shows so many levels of "normalcy" at Cobra. The guards, cooks, and stewards are all refreshingly mundane, even as they work in a sci-fi laboratory.

The final, silent issue is a throwback to the old silent issue of the original GI Joe run. It's fine, but it makes this trade awfully light. Joe Benitez does have a fun style, and he does a nice job with Snake Eyes' commando suit. Seeing Larry Hama's breakdowns was neat too; everything on Snake's costume had a purpose in-story.

This book had two stories (four issues) in it, and one issue had no words. It cost 17.99, and the original four issues would have cost 16. That's not a good investment, either way.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Man, I'm going to miss this comic. It is such a fun throwback to the old LEGION and Lobo comics of the '90s. It's easy to dislike the main man, but how can you not love him in REBELS? He's a maniac, but he's Dox's maniac. Starro's moment of fear where he asks Dox how to deal with Lobo was classic for everyone involved: Lobo's relentless, Dox is smug, and suddenly, Starro is vulnerable.

I never saw Smite branching out on his own this much, but I appreciate that it takes Storm-Daughter's death last month to force his independence. I'm confident that while Smite might stick around, when this series is done, Starro the barbarian will be too. Tony Bedard has done a great job with the idea, but Starro really needs to only be a giant fish.

Claude St. Aubin does his usual solid job on art. I wonder what's up for him after this title wraps up? Is he on a Flashpoint book?


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Unwritten v2: The Inside Man TPB

What a brilliant, but sad, story. The second volume of Mike Carey and Peter Gross' fascinating story is just as brilliant as the first, which is surprising considering the main character is still a bit of a jerk. Tommy Taylor is a jerk, but he's in some awful circumstances. Framed for murder, he's quickly whisked away to a French prison to await trial. He's escorted by the "inside man," a reporter riding along to write a story on Taylor's predicament. Both of these characters are jerks, but they do drive the story and they have redeeming qualities, so I find myself rooting for them even as I cringe.

This trade deals even more with the ramifications of Tommy Taylor possibly being a real version of the Harry Potter-like character his father wrote about. I adored the two children of the prison warden, two fervent believers in the world of Tommy Taylor. The prison warden may have his faults, but he is fanatical in protecting his children's right to imagine, and he is supportive of their magical role-playing and adventures throughout the story. Unfortunately, this leads to some rather tragic circumstances made worse by what it does to the warden.

There are neat elements in the trade besides the one I mention about the children, but Gross does such an amazing job giving those kids a sense of bravery and heroism, I couldn't shake them from my thoughts. Since this is a prison story, there is a riot, and the shots of the kids in the riot are simply amazing. Maybe it's because I'm the parent of imaginative kids myself, but I just couldn't get past that element of the trade.

The twisting of Nazi propaganda is powerfully evil, and the cursing bunny exiled into the world of Beatrix Potter is fun, but I just can't forget about those kids. I hope there can still be some kind of happy ending. Tommy is magic, after all.


Monday, March 21, 2011

House of M: Civil War TPB

I really enjoy Christos Gage's work, but I don't like the House of M world enough to want to read more of it. I picked this up for very cheap, and as I read it, all I could think was that I'd love to see this creative team handle a flashback mutant book.

Gage gives us the classic alternate universe elements; everyone is just a shade off from how we know them in the "real" Marvel U. I'd argue that the Scarlet Witch is almost a villain here, she seems totally aware that she's created this false world to fool everyone she knows. She's a lot easier to forgive if she's just crazy; here she proves she's aware when she un-makes Nuke for not fitting in. (Yet she allows all these other people to die and get hurt. Mimic sure wasted his new life. So did the Winter Soldier. And probably Apocalypse. Yet she only unmakes Nuke?)

So while I have problems with the House of M aspects, I really enjoy seeing Magneto build the Brotherhood of Mutants. Magneto really carries himself like a hero, and even when he's forced to do bad things, you can see why he did it. Magneto is a compelling character, and setting him so close to his children only makes him more fascinating.

So yeah, how about a Gage DeVito Brotherhood of Mutants book starring Magneto, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Toad, Mastermind, Blob, and Unus or something?

Andrea DeVito's pencils are always sharp and detailed. I've always liked the way his stuff looks like John Byrne's old work. Why is this guy doing alternate world spin-offs?


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Guarding the Globe #4

Four issues in and we're already getting an expanded team? In Robert Kirkman's expansive super-hero universe, that's fine with me. Unfortunately, a few of the team members are shunted off to make room for Kid Thor and the rest, but no one is getting shut out (maybe Bulletproof, for this issue at least).

Not a lot happens to move the plot along, except that The Order is clearly marking themselves as the opponents to the Guardians. Using so many Invincible baddies sure makes this feel like an Avengers-type title. There are enough good characters on board now that this really should be an ongoing.

Ransom Getty gets to finish his penciling this issue, and I'm glad. His best designs are Outrun, El Chupacabra, and Kaboomerang. I love the idea of Cast Iron, but that shirt he's wearing is sort of silly. I like the idea behind Japandroid too; another robot in the Astro Boy tradition!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Booster Gold #42

Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis connect with me a lot better when they bring the funny. That's not to say I didn't enjoy this issue, but calling someone the Perforated Man is a silly element in what is supposed to be a tragic story. It's hard to take the drama too seriously, although due to the structure of the story, I suppose we can assume that Booster turns out ok.

The title is a bit shaky at the moment, with the current creative team about to step away to let Dan Jurgens come back and tie in to Flashpoint. I'm still not sold on the Flashpoint concept. I just don't care about reading about Aquaman with short hair for three months, then everything pops back to normal.

Chris Batista is still doing a wonderful job. He deserves more time on top titles, in fact, he'd be a great penciler for a new JLI title!


Friday, March 18, 2011

Brightest Day #22

Here we are, coming around to the home stretch. Firestorm never really grabbed me in this series, just when I'd start to care about him, he'd disappear for five or six issues. Now that the rest of the cast is dead, Firestorm can come back into the front of the title.

Firestorm bravely takes on the Anti-Monitor, Deathstorm, and the Black Lanterns, but it doesn't seem like he really has much of a chance (and that's right, he shouldn't). I love seeing the Anti-Montor's weird head, that guy NEVER takes off his helmet. He looks like a mix of a prune and Thanos.

I don't agree with the big-name Firestorm character who gets pasted here. I mean, of the four real choices, I guess it makes sense, but I'm going to miss what this character brings to the Firestorm matrix. Heck, the guy headlined his own series for a fair bit, and here he is turned into salt. At least he went down like a hero.

The art is decent, but Scott Clark is up against some tough competition, making Firestorm's chapters some of the weaker ones overall.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Avengers Academy #11

I'm afraid I'm a bit torn on the newest issue of Avengers Academy. This is still one of the best comics I read every month, but I can't get over my disappointment from this issue.

See, I'm a Wasp fan, both because I like that she's a founding Avenger AND she's one of my daughters' favorite heroes, so I was psyched to see her return this month. I was a bit surprised it would happen this soon after Secret Invasion, but I figured Christos Gage might have the freedom in this title to make it happen. Imagine my surprise when it wasn't the Wasp we've been checking on for the past few months on that monitor, it is Korvac's wife from a storyline from the 1970's.

And that's why I'm conflicted. I LOVED the original Korvac storyline. And Gage is playing on all the right beats here. While the focus stays on the new recruits, the entire Avengers pantheon gets in on the action of facing down Korvac (much like how the huge team and the Guardians of the Galaxy took on Korvac in the past). I really like that the last three Avengers standing were Thor, Ms. Marvel, and Speedball. That's a great ego boost for Speedball, and it makes sense for the character too. Thor came off as powerful, confident, and there for his friends; this was a great look at seeing why the guy loves the Avengers. I think Gage needs more chances to write Thor.

I also like the idea of the heroes inhabiting their future selves. It's a fun idea since it is entirely possible that some of them are possessing future "villainous" versions of themselves, but I'm not sure they'd ever know.

Tom Raney does solid work, but he's no Mike McKone. He does a nice job, especially with Veil and Thor (and how cool does the future Veil look?) but it is going to take some time for these characters to look "right" with other artists.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Justice League: Generation Lost #21

I knew it. There was no way Judd Winick could pull that off.
This issue is pretty slow, much like last issue. We've been sitting around for a little while now, just sort of waiting for the climax to this series. I think Winick has some good stuff planned, I know I certainly got a chill on the last page as the JLI starts to gear up to take on Max Lord. I'm just saying that I think this might have been 16 issues of story (tops) stretched into 24. We still need to have Power Girl, Batman, and hopefully Martian Manhunter and Guy Gardner show up, right?

Winick has an interesting take on Captain Atom, doesn't he? Cap A is an immortal, essentially, and it was nice seeing Ice give him that vote of confidence. I'm also pleased to see Fire and Rocket Red get together, this is a pretty dark book and the characters deserve whatever happiness they can find while in this protracted campaign.
The art has been fairly average in this book. I think Aaron Lopresti's stuff has been strong, but Joe Bennett and Fernando Dagnino are too firmly entrenched in the current DC house style to bring a lot of uniqueness.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Batman & Robin #21

What a brilliant (heh) comic. There are many elements that make this one of the best books I've read in weeks. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason work magic together. Check out that page where Alfred notes that Commissioner Gordon has already called for Batman & Robin. That splash page of the dynamic duo needs to be a poster! I love seeing the two leads interacting, I never thought I'd like Damian this much, but he's a riot.

Tomasi does have a bit of a problem with ridiculous body counts in his stories, but I can't blame him in this one, it's fascinating seeing all the relatives Akham's all-stars. I also dug the way Tomasi gave a nod to Francine Langstrom's time as support staff for the Outsiders. And when was the last time Batman had to do real detective work? The heroes are actually using clues to solve these murders!

The White Knight is flat out crazy. Look at the way Gleason draws his eyes!

This book is fantastic. For two months in a row, this has been the best comic I read. These creators are in a groove we rarely get these days. Let's enjoy it while we can.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Walking Dead #82

Things are looking bleak for the survivors. After last month's shocking cliffhangers, I actually believed that Abraham and his work crew would be able to save Rick and the gang in the Community. Things continue going downhill, and by the end, the cast of this title is looking a lot more manageable.

How great was that scene with Andrea? What I love about it is that when Andrea stands up for the solidarity of the group, the reader has no idea that Rick is about to make the same type of self-centered decision later in the book. I'm not saying he's wrong; in fact, I think a few years on the run would make you look after you and yours first, but it is telling that Andrea, Carl, and a few others are still willing to put the group above themselves, while Rick isn't anymore.

(I'm being vague because I have no idea what that guy with Andrea's name is. Is it just me?)

Charlie Adlard. What can I say? Great storytelling, this month's hightpoint being Andrea's punch-out or the Abraham cuss-fest as he's surrounded by zombies. Abraham is a pretty good filler for that Tyreese-shaped hole in my heart.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Comics on the Bubble: Loose Cannon #1-4 (1995)

Hoo boy. Somehow I had fond memories of this thing, and I also seem to remember it was a test run for Jeph Loeb's later run on the Hulk. I was wrong about a lot of things with this one.

Jeph Loeb did indeed write this, but it has little connection to his multi-colored Hulk epic of the past few years. Loose Cannon is a New Blood, a metahuman created when he was bitten by one of those parasite aliens back in the 90's. By day, he's a handicapped police officer, at night he becomes the "mood ring of super-heroes" Loose Cannon. It seems he progresses from blue, to purple, to red, and eventually to white, getting stronger and more mindless the angrier he gets. We've seen countless variations on this idea over the years, and it isn't like this interpretation adds a lot to the comic mythos. Loose Cannon is a generic brawler who blunders his way through these four issues mostly because of his own mistakes. A few conversations and issues 2&3 could be eliminated, and it isn't like we learned a ton about either aspect of Cannon's personality in issues 1&4.

Superman shows up and takes it easy on Loose Cannon, but the Eradicator immediately plunges into a prolonged battle. I remember liking the Eradicator, but now I need to seek out his mini-series to see if that is worse than I remember too. The worst part about this series is the terrible team of bounty hunters out after Cannon. Bounty Inc. is Highkick, Bomber, and Traxx. They look terribly 90's, with long hair and pouches everywhere. Worse still, they are the main opponents for two issues, yet little characterization here to care about. Maggie Sawyer of the Metropolis Special Crimes division gets some face time, but her inability to see through Cannon's simple duplicity makes her seem stupid. I mean, both her employee and Cannon call her "Mags!"

Adam Pollina is a fantastic artist, and you can see that in these pencils. Loose Cannon may have a terrible haircut and costume, but there are moments where he looks great. A lot of the panels look rushed, but you can see that Pollina has got some skills.

Issues 1-4: Sell

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Secret Six #31

Gail Simone is a genius. She's totally warped my expectations for what makes up a bad guy in a comic. The villains she's used in this series are so depraved and easy to hate that I automatically cheer for the Six. It was only the Doom Patrol crossover last month that helped remind me that these guys are actually villains. In any other comic, they'd be the antagonists.

Simone is at it again this month as she introduces another insane bunch of bad guys. There's the stalker going after Scandal's girlfriend, but we also get to see one of the best tweeners in the DCU, Etrigan the Demon. There's a bit of a row at the clubhouse when Scandal goes up against Ragdoll. Ragdoll wisely points out that people seem to forget he's a psychopath. Sure, he's funny, but he's also dangerous. Now the Six are descending to hell to cash in their "get out of hell free" card, and things are looking ugly. It seems either Ragdoll or his sister are waitnig for them. Heck, it could be both!

Jim Calafiore continues his solid, if unspectacular work. He's clearly got the characters down, including newbies like King Shark. his Etrigan is pretty impressive too.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Batman Inc. #3

And only a month late!

Grant Morrison is an extremely frustrating writer. This issue opens with an unlabeled flashback filled with typical Morrison nonsense. There are alternate worlds, new heroes, and sparkling dialgoue. What's going on? I have no idea, but it has style!

Then we get a solid Batman team-up as he and El Gaucho take on some Agentinian villains. There are a ton more great big ideas, including exploding scorpions and a parrot that gives away plot points! El Gaucho's origin is all in Spanish, so I know I missed a bunch, but it's easy to see he's as cool as Bruce Wayne in his way. And best of all, one of the best new villains of Batman RIP gets to make a comeback...

Yanick Paquette is doing a nice job, but imagine if JH Williams could come back for this series? That's an unfair comparion, as Paquette does well, but Williams defined the Batmen of All Nations for me. The opening splash has a great shot of a flunky getting a motorcycle tire to the face, and the close? Perfect.


Current Pull List

I'm a one-man format war. I love comics and can't imagine not going to the store every week, but I love my trades. They are so convenient and so easy to pick back up to enjoy on a repeated basis. So my pull list has been made up of "almost" favorites, that is, books that I don't want to wait for and that I'm not sure I will re-read a lot. Some faves like BPRD, or anything by DnA or Jason Aaron get traded because I know I'll go back and enjoy them repeatedly. So books like X-Men, Hellboy, anything by Brubaker, or drawn by Stuart Immonen gets trade status immediately.

That leaves my current pull list looking like this:

  1. Avengers Academy (2.99)

  2. Batman Inc. (2.99)

  3. Batman & Robin (2.99)

  4. Black Panther (2.99)

  5. Booster Gold (2.99)

  6. Green Lantern (2.99)

  7. Green Lantern Corps (2.99)

  8. Guarding the Globe (3.50)

  9. Hawkeye (2.99)

  10. Invincible (2.99)

  11. Justice League of America (2.99)

  12. Justice Society of America (2.99)

  13. Secret Six (2.99)

  14. Tiny Titans (2.50)

  15. Walking Dead (2.99)
I've got two spots opening up thanks to Justice League: Generation Lost and Brightest Day. The replacements need to be $2.99 and good, but not my absolute fave. So the question is, what do I add? Should I pick up Flash even though Flashpoint doesn't interest me at all? Can I pick up Emerald Warriors after missing a half dozen issues? Do I want to buy just Iron Man 2.0 but not the core title?


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Green Lantern #63

I'm worried at the level of disconnect I'm having with the top-tier books coming out of DC these days. With Marvel's $3.99 pricing forcing me to stick to more DC books, I'm finding myself more and more on the fringe. I love Booster Gold, JSA, Secret Six, and more, but the "core" DC books are boring! Now I'm worried about Green Lantern. War of the Green Lanterns is about to kick off, and rather than thinking about adding Emerald Warriors, I'm thinking about dropping GL and GLC!

This is essentially a filler issue as Geoff Johns sort of sets up the upcoming War of the GLs crossover. I guess they're fighting over Krona? If that isn't what the upcoming story is about, then I've got to wonder why we spent the last six issues following the Rainbow Guardians around as they lost their lantern entities. Krona has them all now, and the Guardians want them back. I guess. And for some reason everyone is asking Hal about how long he's been in his GL togs. Weird. I did laugh at big Krona's weird Green blaster, though.

The art is pretty iffy in this one. After months of being spoiled by Doug Mahnke's fantastic artwork, it's not really fair for Ed Benes to have to step in. Benes isn't a great fit for Krona-centric flashbacks, his dudes are weirdly elongated with big heads. Why would you bring in Benes when there are no ladies contorting their backsides to show off to the reader?


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Comics on the Bubble: For Tomorrow (2004)

Superman #204-215

The pacing in this story...

is really quite slow. The dialogue also breaks...

from panel to panel...

a lot. I don't think I've ever seen so many characters...

completing another character's thoughts.

Superman 204: Superman spends a lot of time talking to a priest. SELL
Superman 205: More priest-talking, plus Supes beats up some soldiers. SELL
Superman 206: Equus, the super-villain of the story shows up. The fight lasts four pages. SELL
Superman 207: More fighting with Equus, best issue of the run so far. SELL
Superman 208: The JLA... takes a long time... to talk to Superman. SELL
Superman 209: Pretty strong issue as Supes fights some elementals. SELL
Superman 210: The promised WW/Superman fight doesn't happen, talking to do. SELL
Superman 211: WW looks good in a pointless but pretty fight. SELL
Superman 212: The Vanishing (plot point from Supes 204) gets explained. SELL
Superman 213: Terrible new Zod is introduced. Also, Superman robots. SELL
Superman 214: Retcon-casualty Zod vs. Superman. SELL
Superman 215: Old-man Zod teams up with Equus and the super-priest to fights Supes. SELL

Wow. Superman really is boring!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Brightest Day #21

Well, I'm a sucker for Martian Manhunter, so I loved this issue. Look, I realize that Brightest Day is nothing more than a random collection of a bunch of characters all doing their own thing, barely relating to each other. This was Martian Manhunter Rebirth, the Hawks Rebirth, and Aquaman Rebirth with shared numbering (I won't include Firestorm because he hasn't done enough). I don't have any strong feelings about the White Lantern or the entity powering it. I don't believe for one second that the Hawks, Aquaman, or J'onn are dead.

But I love Martian Manhunter. I never loved D'Kay, she seems like another bad influence lady for J'onn (who actually has a surprising number of femme fatales in his catalogue, including Bette Noir, Scorch, and now D'Kay). So while I didn't care for the ease of his defeat over D'Kay, or the wasted "fantasy" issue, I loved seeing J'onn get his "Life Returned." I loved seeing him make a clear choice to defend Earth. I loved seeing him die with honor and grace, no doubt because he knows this is part of the plan. So basically, I don't really care about the Brightest Day uber-plot, but I love Martian Manhunter.

The art is snappy, especially the big moments. J'onn and D'Kay melting in the sun, J'onn reborn in his white togs, and the great shot of him choosing Earth. Any chance Tomasi and Gleason can do an ongoing Martian Manhunter book after this?

Good (pulled up from Fair by featuring J'onn!)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Avengers Academy #10

Another issue, another great glance at the Marvel Universe. In the second story-arc of Avengers Academy, Christos Gage has spent a bit more time focusing on the faculty rather than the students. That's not to say that he's neglecting his additions to the Marvel Universe, rather he's giving the older folks a chance in the limelight.

It's funny that Speedball is considered an "older" character now, but I suppose he's been around awhile. Robbie Baldwin has been through some terrible stories over the years, and I hope that Gage is fixing most of those problems now. Veil witnesses SB "powering" up his Penance powers, and I hope that's all it is. Let's hope Hank Pym can actually do something to help Baldwin tap both sets of powers without the terrible cutting stuff.

Hazmat gets a lot of panel time too, and it is hard to keep disliking her. She's a difficult character to have sympathy for, since she's so abrasive, but seeing her interact with Leech goes a long way. She's kind and understanding to the little guy for the whole issue, and seeing how her parents judged him really did a number on her. She had been one of the characters I was sure would go bad, but now I have some hope that she won't. (Still doesn't look good for Striker or Finesse, though!)

One last thought; I'm not sure about the superhuman ethics class lesson... but perhaps there is more to it because it is a class for heroes?

Sean Chen is a rock-solid penciller. I'd love to see him get some regular work again. The more armor he gets to draw, the better; the Cobalt Men looked great!

This has become the "main" Avengers title for me...


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Jungle Action #23

What do you know? Black Panther and Daredevil really do work well together!

I'm working my way through the old Jungle Action series, and this issue reprints an old Daredevil issue (#69). It's a pretty strong story about street gangs in NYC. DD and BP really do have two of the biggest hearts in the hero sets, and it's great seeing Roy Thomas write the two heroes as they interact. They impress each other and have some good banter, and the first issue ends the way all good team-ups should; with the heroes off to share a Coke together.

The story is definitely more of a message-type than I normally prefer, but the two heroes play off each other so well that it works. It was neat seeing Matt Murdock calling in favors for his Daredevil-caused problems.

Gene Colan's artwork is fantastic. I've always respected his work, but this might be my favorite that I've seen.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Comics on the Bubble: X-Men Forever 1-6 (2001)

I'm usually a fan of Fabian Nicieza's work, but man, this thing was a bear to get through. Kevin Maguire's art is sublime, as always, but man, this thing is so packed with minutiae of continuity and frankly, pointless plot, it is tough to read. There are certainly some nice moments, but when the Stranger shows up around the end of the series, it really invalidates a lot of the time spent in the early issues. This thing is way too cosmic and way too slow to hold up well.

That said, I think I'm going to have to hold onto it, because Kevin Maguire's art is great. He actually turns Toad into a character I can root for. I didn't love the conclusion, where Mystique and Toad take on their X-Men movie looks, but other than that? This thing looks about perfect.

The team is actually an interesting one, Phoenix, Toad, Iceman, Juggernaut, and Mystique really do cover a ton of the bases for X-continuity, the problem is that most of these folks don't have a lot to do. Mystique does move the plot along and fill in some gaps in X-continuity, but Phoenix is basically a cell phone for the team (until the last issue). The first four issues involve time jumps and flashbacks, the final issue is filled with cosmic double-speak. So in all, this isn't a very friendly series to try and pick up and enjoy.

As I said, this looks great. I'll KEEP it for that reason.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Madame Xanadu v2: Exodus Noir TPB

What an improvement over the first trade! My main complaint with volume 1 was that Xanadu really didn't do that much. She provided a POV for the reader of a whole bunch of other DC characters being heroic. The Phantom Stranger, the Spectre, the Demon, they all showed up and Xanadu witnessed their actions throughout history. But she didn't do a whole lot.

That changes in this trade. This arc is set in 1940 New York, where Xanadu has become a sort of psychic/private detective. This is the role we know her in, and her role in the story is improved immediately. She's smart, capable, and mysterious as she unravels the long-standing curse killing off successful families in the city. As the trade goes on, we even get a nice little cameo from other Matt Wagner characters, the Sandman
and Diane Belmont.

Wagner gives us a nice little parallel story set during the Spanish Inquisition that shows just how difficult it has been for Xanadu to try and be happy through the years. It's a sad lesson; she is definitely safer and more controlled in 1940, but she doesn't seem to be as happy as she was with her companion in the flashbacks.

Michael Wm. Kaluta art is as detailed and moody as always. He does a particularly great job with the demonic dog that haunts much of the trade.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Superman: Earth One HC

So I'm way behind the times, but I had to wait to get this from my local library. Turns out just checking it out was the right way to go. It's not that J. Michael Straczynski's Superman story is BAD, it just isn't anything special. The retelling didn't really need to happen, there are three or four really good origins already out there. (My favorite being John Byrne's Man of Steel.)

Superman is a little more greedy, a little more selfish as he goes around using his powers and knowledge to get good jobs (plus he wears 100% more hoodies!), but I'm not sure that adds to the character. The main story has Supes giving in and being a hero when his hand is forced by some winged bad guy who destroyed Krypton back in the day. Superman doesn't become a hero because of any innate goodness, he has to step up or watch the world burn.

JMS handles Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White well, but I don't see anything in their actions or dialogue that couldn't work in a normal Superman story. Perhaps I'm missing the point and civilians will absolutely love this story, but for me, it just made me want to read a "real" Superman comic. (For me, that means going back to the Triangle/90's heyday.)

Shane Davis' art is ok, but he's got some problems. There are numerous shots where it looks like Clark's head is superimposed over a super-suit wearing body. Davis does do a nice job on the alien tech and the more "normal" supporting cast.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Justice Society of America #48

This book has been a very pleasant surprise. I'm happy I didn't drop it like I had originally planned. I stuck around for the Scott Kolins art, but I'm now hooked by Marc Guggenheim's story.

This is very much a middle chapter as the bad guys seem to be out-maneuvering the JSA at every turn. Half the team is taken out, with Alan Scott paralyzed, Lightning "dead," Mr. Terrific not so terrific, and Dr. Fate too busy to help. Jay Garrick, Doc Mid-Nite, Wildcat, and Mr. America certainly seem over-matched by Dr. Chaos and Scythe. (Although it is great seeing just how powerful the original Flash is, isn't it?)

I wonder if the timely arrival of that bunch of heroes has anything to do with JSA All-Stars getting cancelled? The influx of that book's cast will make this feel like a society again. It did look to me like there are a few new characters coming to help too. A Red Beetle?

Scott Kolins is so darn good, this book looks terrific. I'm still not blown away by Scythe's design, but I love Chaos' design and the secret villain sure looked great in his big reveal.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Justice League: Generation Lost #20

So this is the secret origin of Max Lord. Judd Winick does a nice job showing us how Max went from fairly normal kid to high-powered manipulator. Max's Dad was rubbed out by powerful corporate interests. While Max took it hard, it seems it really messed up his mother. She holds Max to a pretty high standard that clearly affects him. A lot of the drive that we've seen from him over the years seems to stem from her.

While I did appreciate seeing this side to Max, I'm not sure it justifies his actions. The problem is that Max has been an almost understandable villain who has done a few horrible things. Shooting Ted Kord and now Jaime Reyes is just SO evil. It's a whole step above trying to control Superman or take over Checkmate. I suppose his OMAC army is another really evil act that almost doesn't scale with his other actions.

I will chime in about Jaime again too. There is no way he's dead. The current Blue Beetle is way too big a character to get killed off like this. He's got to star in the new JLI book that will surely follow Generation Lost!

Joe Bennett does a solid job, as he has from the start on this title. I still wish there was someone who had a bit more of a JLI-feel, but Bennett is pretty good.