Sunday, July 31, 2011

Necrosha TPB Part 3: X-Men Legacy

X-Men Legacy 231-234

Magneto is a pimp! The dead may be rising, the teams may be in trouble, and the world may be on the line, but Magneto sets aside a few moments to make sure that Rogue knows he's still interested in her. It's a fantastic scene that shows off a side of Magneto we rarely see AND establishes how much stronger a character Rogue is after Mike Carey's work with her.

When Destiny gets Blindfold to look into the dead rising on Muir Island, Cyclops dispaches a pretty powerful team to check it out. Rogue, Magneto, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Colossus, Husk, Trance, and Blindfold head right out to check out the situation, little realizing that Destiny was manipulated into bringing them in. Proteus is back from the dead once again, and this time Colossus' fists aren't going to be enough to rip him apart.

Carey plays around with the timing to split the team between Proteus' puppets, Rogue's survivors, and casualties. (Colossus' use as a missle and puppet, all while unconscious is pretty amusing.) Rogue is a good leader, but it comes down a test of wills between Proteus and Magneto. You KNOW how that's going to end.

Clay Mann's art is new to me, but he's pretty solid. He loves bringing out the drama in the characters' facial expressions, which works well for this emotional story.

There is a bunch of bonus material at the close of the trade, but the core story hits in the issues I've reviewed. This is a very solid X-story, I recommend it to anyone missing the fun of Mutant Massacre or X-Tinction Agenda.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Justice League of America #59

So this is how the Justice League of America ends. James Robinson kicked off this storyline in an exciting fashion, but somewhere along the way I just plain lost interest. Was it that the fight was set on the moon in Alan Scott’s crazy elf city? Was it the lack of leading characters on the League itself (although the Atom tries to argue against that AGAIN this issue). When a series has multiple big-name guest-stars constantly saying “wow, the leads in the book are really good and deserve our respect!” that usually means they don’t deserve to be the leads.

This just barely dodges one of my recent pet peeves; winning the fight because its time. Saint Walker did succeed in setting Eclipso’s mind at ease last issue, giving him a nice little fantasy to dream about while the League pummels him until he turns back into Bruce Gordon. That’s it. Just lots of punching and hitting. And remember how the moon broke? Well, the League fixes that off-panel after Supergirl returns to the lineup (she’s been busy appearing in Action Comics and fighting Doomsday).

I’m sorry, but at this point, why should any of us care? None of this ever happened, and the story itself has been rather flat. Robinson even returns Obsidian and Jade to their old status quo, negating a 10-part story from earlier this year.

Daniel Sampere has a cleaner style than we’ve seen in this book recently, more like Fernando Pasarin than Brett Booth. I’m not complaining, the art looked a lot more consistent and folks looked more on-model.


Friday, July 29, 2011

DC Retroactive: Batman - 70's

What fun. It seems I picked the right 70’s one-shot this week. How could I go wrong with Tom Mandrake’s dark, moody art? (He’s more of an 80’s and 90’s guy, rather than 70’s, right?) The art was a big selling point for me, especially after I spotted the Terrible Trio on the cover. I don’t know much about that group, but they seemed pretty darn cool in the recent Batman cartoon. (I think they were in a Dr. Mid-Nite series I read a few years ago, too).

Len Wein’s story is set while Batman is living in Gotham, with a Batcave under an office building. Bruce Wayne is a little more easygoing and willing to be friendly with those around him. I loved his observation that the Terrible Trio spends more on vehicles and back-up plans than they steal during their crime spree. It is also fun seeing Bats a little “lower” than usual. He has a hard time with these guys, they escape him twice before he finally outsmarts him. This comic is actually an argument that the September relaunch might be a good idea.

This comic isn’t complicated or amazing, but it is a solid little adventure story.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Avengers Academy #16

Geez. I know killing bystanders is popular these days, but I expect this level of gore in my DC comics, not in my Marvel ones. I understand that Christos Gage is trying to show that war is hell, and the events of this issue bear that out. Veil will never forget what happened this issue, and what she did in a moment of anger. It’s an interesting choice for one of the more “heroic” members of our initial Academy class.

The other half of the issue has Hank Pym (with minimal support from Quicksilver and Justice) taking on the Absorbing Man and Titania. Both villains are using Fear-Hammers, which evidently override the “host” personality. AM’s personality is so strong that his hatred of Pym comes shining through. I assume other strong-willed characters like Hulk and Thing are doing the same thing? If not, I don’t like the implication! I did like seeing the behemoths wrecking a city as they bash on each other; you can’t fault the scale of this fight.

Tom Raney does a great job with the destruction of Dubai. Hank Pym rarely gets to toss giant baddies around as much as he does here. I think Quicksilver might have had a chance to beat Titania too.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

War of the Green Lanterns: Aftermath #1

Now this is more what I had in mind when Tony Bedard took over the Green Lantern Corps. This book features multiple GLs, and while John Stewart and Kyle Rayner are the stars, there are lots of nice moments for some of the aliens too. Salaak and Kilowog in particular get neat, dramatic moments, but a ton of unnamed Lanterns actually get lines too.

With the War of the GLs over, there is a lot of cleaning up to do. Kilowog tries to quit over Sinestro’s status as returning ring-slinger, but Salaak announces that he will not accept any resignations. It’s a great scene, with Salaak doing a quick check on how many members of the core are suffering from mental anguish after being used as Krona’s weapons. It’s not pretty. And to make matters worse, Oa is overrun with the random folks who got rings while Mogo was just spewing them out for everyone. There are a lot of non-worthy new Lanterns to get weeded out, and I can only imagine this could lead to some neat story points in the future (if this still counts after September).

Bedard wins more points with the Rayner/Stewart showdown too. Kyle tries to stick up for John, and even gives him an out for killing Mogo. John will have none of it, and takes responsibility for his actions. Kyle is understandably ticked. It’s a great scene, one that strengthens both characters and weakens neither.

Tyler Kirkham and Miguel Sepulveda do an ok job on art, but neither guy seems to be able to nail Kyle Rayner’s mask. They do a much better job on the alien lanterns.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Necrosha TPB Part 2: New Mutants

New Mutants #5-8

Zeb Wells is really doing a wonderful job bringing back the New Mutants. I never would have guessed that simply putting the original team back together would make me pine for the old days, but it did. The best part is that Wells' new adventures for the next generation of X-Men are pretty dang exciting on their own.

While Necrosha as a whole didn't have a lot of time to focus on the returning characters, New Mutants does. Cypher is back from the dead, and he's serving Selene. He's got a typical makeover too, now that "violence" is a language that he fluently speaks. (It's a bit of a reach, but it sure turns him into a dangerous opponent.) The Hellions work as his flunkies, but they are a lot more content to be bad guys. They blindly follow where Cypher constantly asks "What language am I?"

The first issue has Cypher interpreting the spoken words between his old teammates and Professor X. Wells does a spectacular job breaking down the relationships to a few key phrases. The issue is fantastic, and probably the best in the Necrosha crossover.

And I'd bet that every long-time X-reader got a smile on their face when Cypher started interfacing with an old friend. I'm not sure how well this story resonates with new readers (I'm pretty curious about it, actually), but for those of us who remember these old buddies, it is neat seeing them meet up again.

Diogenes Neves' art is clear, emotional, and powerful. I loved these chapters of the trade, and I think they'd read fantastic just on their own.


Monday, July 25, 2011

San Diego 2011 News

As always, there is way more news than any rational person could really read, so I'm performing a public service and throwing out some high spots, along with brief comments. I always think the same thing after seeing this kind of news; I'm glad I still love comics, there is a lot of neat stuff coming out!

Jason Aaron and Marc Silvestri are launching a new (green) Hulk title. There must be a limit on how many titles Aaron can write a month, I bet this is why Scalped is ending.

Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson are bringing back the Defenders, featuring Iron Fist, Dr. Strange, Red She-Hulk, and Namor (and more). With that creative team, this should be great.
Fear Itself must be leaving everyone really sad. There are numerous follow-up series planned, including the hilariously named "Shattered Heroes" one-shots. Hee hee.

Fury of FirestormS still doesn't look like a take on the characters I will enjoy.

In no particular order:
Walking Dead still looks awesome.

No way. Marvel released a picture of the Scarlet Spider's hoodie in flames. Will Ben Reilly return?

The Starjammers will show up in Mike Carey's X-Men: Legacy. 

Darwin will be returning in the pages of X-Force.

Don't assume Cyclops will survive Schism. He'd better, or I'll be pretty upset!

Martian Manhunter will appear in the opening arc of Justice League!

Catwoman seems to be having hard time keeping her clothes on in the DCNu.

Lois and Clark will definitely NOT be together in the new Superman titles.

It sounds like Stephanie Brown will be back in her Spoiler ID soon.

Apollo and Midnighter? Don't panic. Still gay.

The Justice League and the Justice League International will NOT be working together.

Green Arrow is going to be a lot younger than the version we've read about for years. I'm assuming that Connor Hawke will disappear the same way Wally West is going to. Kyle Rayner got off easy!

Power Girl may not exist in the DCNu, but Karen Starr will appear in Mr. Terrific (which means I won't see her, I guess!)

The New Gods are now on Earth-51, and will appear in Multiversity from Grant Morrison!

I found it interesting that the writer of the new Suicide Squad book had little input on Harely Quinn's new ho-bag look.

It sounds like Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness' upcoming mystery project is Cable, who they call the "Captain America of the X-Men." I did not see that one coming!

Brian Vaughn returns to comics with a Star Wars-inspired sci-fi comic from Image, Saga.

Marvel is launching Fearless, a new title showing what our favorite heroes are up to post-Fear Itself. Too bad I'm sure it will be $3.99 like the source series! Trade for me.

There are some sweet promo posters for the upcoming Avengers movie.

Bill Willingham is launching a new Fables spin-off. It's called "Fairest" and will feature the pretty princesses of the Fables world. Too bad it's Vertigo, I think my daughters would be thrilled!

DnA are relaunching Heroes for Hire as Villains for Hire, still starring Misty Knight and Paladin. Neat! 

Black Panther, the Man Without Fear is going to face down the Kingpin! At this point, David Liss can do no wrong. Can't wait!

Christos Gage is expanding the class of the Avengers Academy, plus they're moving out to the Avengers West Coast HQ. That should be fun for Hank Pym and Tigra, they have some weird history there. I think one of the new members is White Tiger, and possibly a member of Power Pack.

The Avengers continue getting some respect with some interesting looking one-shots. I'm not sure if I'm sold yet, but they have potential.

"Hulk of Arabia" by Jeff Parker? Say no more, I'm sold.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger Review

First of all, I need to admit that this movie is an extremely easy sell for me. Cap has been my favorite hero for years, since childhood, so seeing him up there on the big screen was pretty fantastic. That said, I'd argue that this film holds up well for anyone.

Joe Johnston makes some choices that really make this seem like an old timey movie. The flashbacks to the Red Skull's rise to power made me laugh with glee every time a new image of Hugo Weaving filled the screen. When Cap punches out guards (which he does several times) the shot is quickly followed by that guard being yanked through a cracked-open doorway, like an old cartoon. And Chris Evans is earnest and kind-hearted in the lead role. So yes, there is some cheese or camp here, but I'd argue that it fits perfectly.

Chris Evans and Hugo Weaving are wonderful in the lead roles. It is fun seeing these two arch-nemesis as they just discover each other; they have no idea how much they will despise each other in the future. And the conclusions for both characters work well, I'm certain we will see the Red Skull again.

The supporting cast is also quite good; Hayley Atwell was great as Peggy Carter, and Tommy Lee Jones as Chester Phillips is full of amusing asides. Toby Jones gets a tease of what the "real" Arnim Zola might look like (one of a few good Easter eggs mixed through the film). Stanley Tucci steals the show as Dr. Abraham Erskine. The good doctor always had an important role in the comic, he is so much more important in the film. Tucci brings such a sense of responsibility that he can't help but be a huge influence on Chris Evans' Cap. It's another example of those instances where the films are actually better than the comic!

My only gripe, if I have one, is that the level of technology of the 1940s is very rarely present (at least on the Nazi side). Hydra is throwing around auto-tracking laser beams, stealth bombers, body armor, all sorts of modern goodies. The Allies have a few more limitations, but that level of tech makes the movie seem a tad less dated than it should.


Guarding the Globe #5

Man, the delays between issues are really hurting this book. I can barely remember what's going on, and in a Robert Kirkman and Benito Cereno book, the plot continues pretty tightly.

I really like Brit's new team of Guardians, but things aren't working out so well for some of the newer members. Chupacabra is drunk and responsible for the death of a teammate, and another member is lying about his age. I did like the little nod to Bulletproof moonlighting for Invincible's security company, but I have no idea about other elements of the plot. Has Outrun's weird behavior been foreshadowed? Why should we care about Pegasus and Le Bruiser? I'm afraid that there might be too much going on for me to remember with the big delays between issues.

I hope the delays aren't because of the art. Ransom Getty's art when he inks his own work is quite dynamic. I've met the guy at a few cons and he's really good, I hope he gets more regular book, he's got a nice, clean style that works nicely on team books.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Green Lantern Corps #61

Time to start the reclamation project on John Stewart! After blasting his second planet to bits (quite an impressive accomplishment, most people only kill one planet), Stewart is spending a lot of time on his own. As it turns out, the rest of the corps isn't too pleased with Stewart destroying the only planetary body to wear a GL ring.

The only lanterns who are as unpopular are all the random rookies who got their rings while Mogo was possessed. One of them is pretty bummed that she won't get to patrol the spaceways, and links up with Stewart to try and show that she deserves the ring.

Tony Bedard's story is the kind of done-in-one I remember from childhood GL comics. Weird aliens, a relatable conflict, and the corps swooping in to make things right with some constructs and good ideas. These types of issues don't happen a lot anymore, but I was entertained seeing the GL Corps do its real job rather than fight with other colors of the rainbow. It's a nice break!


Friday, July 22, 2011

Daredevil #1

What a gorgeous cover.

I had been on the fence about the new Daredevil series for a couple of reasons. First, the premiere issue is $3.99, and I'm not picking up any books where that is the regular price. Fortunately, this title drops down to $2.99 starting with issue 2. My next issue is that while I own a ton of Daredevil comics, he's really not one of my favorite characters. He never connected with me the way some of my other favorites have. And yet, Daredevil has had some awesome stories over the years. Mark Waid is solid and Paulo Rivera and Marcos Martin do nice work. So I grabbed it.

I'm glad I did, this is a solid, fun super-hero that feels like a debut while still paying homage to what has gone before. Waid is writing DD as a bit more carefree than we last saw him, but that's a choice the character is making to deal with the anguish of his past. I love it. The opening battle with the Spot was fun, but the swashbuckler's kiss DD plants? That's a hero enjoying his job. Matt Murdock might still need to figure out where he belongs after his return to New York, but I think Daredevil is doing just fine.

Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera's art is wonderful. This comic is filled with little details that make it work. When the Spot opens a portal under DD, he falls backwards and uses his billy club to hold himself out. The sound effects are loud and present through the whole book, so we can see things the way DD does. There are dark panels where we see even more clearly through the "eyes" of Matt Murdock.

This is going to be a fun series!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mystery Men #3

Another issue of Mystery Men, and another riveting read. David Liss expands his team by two this issue. I'm still loving the book, but I was so fond of the Revenant, Operative, and Aviatrix that I almost didn't want to see any spotlight taken away by any more members; then I met the Surgeon. The guy is nothing like I expected, he's more like the Shadow than any of our other cast members so far. I'm not sure what I like better, the fact that he's absolutely insane, or the fact that he constantly makes doctor puns while he's cutting scumbags to threads.

The old cast members do make a short appearance, but the bulk of the issue involves the General's odd ally Nox and the creation of the last hero for the team, Achilles. I like the idea of tying one of these characters to an item, Achilles might be the character that most easily pops up in the modern Marvel U. He certainly could fit in on any number of teams based on what I've seen so far.

Patrick Zircher does a nice job keeping the Surgeon close to his inspiration, that Shadow-like cloak is tremendous. And Achilles, while a bit on the generic side, is rocking those football pants!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Black Panther #521

I love the ham-fisted politics of this issue. I suppose in this day and age, I'm sure someone is going to be offended by this issue, but frankly, that's their problem. David Liss has a nice, safe out by having all these hateful phrases coming from the Hate-Monger, even if we all know that there are real people out there saying the same thing.

And wow, were we all wrong about the American Panther. It's a tremendous move by Liss, I'm not going to spoil it here, but wow, talk about the potential to add something significant to the Marvel U...

And I love that this is a Fear Itself tie-in. I guess in Hate-Monger's last appearance, his life force was banished into space. In this issue, his essence hitches a ride on Ben Grimm's "worthy" hammer. That's it. I hope people do come looking for a tie-in, though, because I think they'll be pleased with what they find.

Francesco Francavilla returns this issue, and I couldn't be happier. This run belongs to him, his moody, dark pencils define Hell's Kitchen for me now. Jefte Palo is good, but Francavilla is incredible.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Green Lantern #67

Ah, I see. The secret to defeating Krona was for Hal Jordan to wait for the story to end, then blast him with all Hal's might! Easy enough!

I mean, sure, Geoff Johns gives Kyle Rayner a moment, he draws all the missing Rainbow guys in the Black Book to bring them all back to make this a tad tougher for Krona, but basically, after the Earth GLs were on the run for a 10-part story, the ending hits when Hal gives a good one-liner and shoots a beam through Krona. If there was more to it, I suppose it happened so long ago that I can't remember.

That's not to say this issue didn't have good parts. I love seeing that classic GL get his hands on a ring again, that's one ballsy move if DC sticks with it through September like they're saying. I also think the Guardians' reaction to Hal and the Earth GLs is totally reasonable, Hal has been bucking the system for years! Give him a suspension to think about it! And Doug Mahnke's artwork is tremendous, as always. I do think the book is worth the wait if Mahnke needs a bit of extra time to make things look this spectacular. Of course, that's a big argument to wait for the trade, since I can't recall what Guy Gardner was supposed to be doing during this climax, he and John Stewart sure didn't do much at the end.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Booster Gold #46

Poor Booster. He may be the only guy besides Barry Allen who remembers the real DCU, but he's spent this entire crossover too busy to do anything about it. With evil General Adam controlling (and loosing control) of Doomsday, Booster is just off in a corner of Flashpoint doing his own thing. Other than being called an Atlantean, he really hasn't interacted with the main plot. And I do like Dan Jurgens' new character with absorption powers, but giving her a code-name would sure help. I guess Alexandra is ok, but she'd be easier to remember with a cool suit and name.

There's not a lot going on here that didn't happen last issue. Remember how Booster was running away from Doomsday? Now he's chasing Doomsday. That's about it!

The art in this is interesting. Dan Jurgens' work defines Booster, no doubt about it, but Ig Guara does a fine job too. His stuff is almost looking like Stephane Roux's in some of these panels. Of course, everyone Guara draws is scowling, so that's something that will need to change if he wants to continue that Roux comparison.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Necrosha TPB Part 1: X-Force

X-Force #21-25

Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost have a great idea; the dead return to plague the living, retaining warped versions of their personalities. Sound familiar? What awful timing, this coming out so close to Blackest Night. Surprisingly enough, both stories work. One key difference is that some of the more strong-willed heroes manage to throw off their villainous ways for sad and poignant moments in the midst of the attack. (I think Banshee does it best.)

The villain of the piece is Selene, Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. She’s a vile person, and surrounding her with mostly ex-heroes is a great move. Her inner circle is Wither from New X-Men, Blink from Generation X, Thunderbird from X-Men, Eli Bard (already a villain) and Senyaka of Magneto’s acolytes. Caliban hangs around for a lot of key scenes too, although he doesn’t get to do a whole lot. That’s a powerful team!

Part of the brilliance of the story is the scope. There are so many great dead X-characters, that quick panels hint at wonderful fights happening at the boundaries of the story. Sure, Pyro gets the most lines of the resurrectees, but Stonewall, Super Sabre, the Hellions, and more all get their moments. And the format of a quick card like “Colossus vs. Stonewall” is a fun move. I don’t see the fight, but I imagine it was pretty great.

This storyline is a great capstone for Yost and Kyle’s X-Force. They’ve been leading up to this since issue one, and everything fits and makes sense. It’s a great new chapter for the X-Men.

Clayton Crain’s art works in certain titles, but man, this thing is impenetrable. I had an extremely hard time telling what was happening. There were too many stringy pieces of tech-organic virus and decaying corpses to make anything out clearly. There were dramatic moments that I think would have resonated better with a more standard art style.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Comics on the Bubble: The Moth 0-2

Steve Rude recently expressed an interest in working on the DCU relaunch, and I had just happened to see this in my longboxes, so I decided to crack open The Moth and see why I bought three issues but never finished the series.

The Moth Special, 1, 2 - It turns out it is the writing. The Moth's design is absolutely fantastic. He's got a Kirby design and feel, sort of a mix of Spider-Man and the Beetle, maybe. His origin as a carny is a little played out, but still, you can't mess with that look.

The writing isn't so hot. The issues are written by Rude's friend and inker Gary Martin. Unfortunately, the dialogue and odd plots do make this feel like he's sort of learning as he goes. There are good bits mixed in, but the story never feels believable. SELL

Rude's art is simply beautiful. Can you imagine him working on a New Gods series? Or The Demon relaunch? We can dream, I guess!

Friday, July 15, 2011

World War Hulks: Incredible Hulks TPB

I think I should have read this trade before the World War Hulks: Red Hulk book, since this has some direct impact on that book. It's odd, this is a story (much like Chaos War) that I think read much better in monthly books, rather than in collected format. I had a very hard time figuring out what order to read stuff in throughout the entire Fall of Hulks/World War Hulks affair.

This side of the storyline focused on Bruce Banner and his inevitable return to the Hulk. No one can be surprised that it happened, and Greg Pak does do a good job making it a big event. Maybe a bit too big. Remember how I wondered if Doc Samson was heading for some sort of redemption in the Red Hulk trade? Well, he gets it here, but unless I missed something, it cost him his life. That's too bad, I always loved the idea of Doc Samson, a super-smart, psychiatrist super-hero.

The big throwdown between Hulk and Skaar lives up to expectations too. Paul Pelletier's art is so dynamic it jumps off the page. The scale of destruction for each impact is amazing.

The trade includes a terrible issue of "Son of Hulk." I never read this book, but it is BAD. I have no idea who anyone is or what they are doing, and I really hope it isn't important later, because I couldn't make myself care about this guy at all.

The opening chapter (and the Bill Mantlo bonus story) are Good, but the Son of Hulk is Poor, meaning it averages out at


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Flashpoint: Secret Seven #2

So we finally discover who the Secret Seven are, more than halfway through the limited series. What's funny is that seven really is too high a number. This book belongs to Rac Shade, and maybe the Enchantress. Everyone else is along for the ride. (Incidentally, the full line-up is Shade, Enchantress, Abra Kadabra, Zatanna, Raven, Amethyst,and Mindwarp.)

Zatanaa looks absolutely ridiculous, I had to laugh when she showed up on a motorbike sporting Wolverine's hair. Abra Kadabra looks about how he did in the main DCU, and Raven's extra set of eyes makes a lot of sense. I loved Amethyst's look, she seems like someone my daughters would really dig. Mindwarp is a new character; I understand he'll be on the JL: Dark team after the reboot.

And how is that going to work? The New 52 isn't a reboot at all, since some aspects of the old continuity is staying (GL and Batman) and some aspects of Flashpoint are sticking (Cyborg, Frankenstein, Mindwarp). Is that right?

Fernando Blanco's art is dynamic and clear. I really like the character designs, even the funny ones. I He does have a habit of drawing heads that don't seem attached to bodies, though.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Secret Six #35

I have faith in Gail Simone (how could I not after this many great issues), but I am sure going to miss this noble Bane. I figure the guy is being re-set to his status quo so that he can show up in the reboot and in the new Batman movie. That means the venom plugs are back in Bane's head. Of course, maybe things will go a different way that I expect. Either way, it is going to be interesting.

This series has always been about who will dominate who. Each arc, a different character steps forward, putting his goals in front of the team. Usually, the team goes along, and they do it here again when Bane sets out his desire to break the Bat once again. This time, he wants to destroy Batman's family. It seems fair, Bane is surrounded by "a failed phalanx of broken individuals." Why wouldn't he be a bit jealous of Batman's touchy-feely relationships?

I'm happy that Knockout is recovering, she's such a fun character, there's no reason to let the Fourth World ban stick around. If everything is getting rebooted anyway, why not give Scandal a few issues of happiness?

And King Shark is always happy! That guy loves his job, and it is wonderful seeing Jim Calafiore drawing him constantly putting things in his mouth.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Batman Incorporated #7

Grant Morrison has established a reputation as someone who will kill characters, so I found myself very concerned for Man-of-Bats and Raven in this issue. Readers might never be concerned about Batman surviving the current adventure; we know he will, but any of these Incorporated Batmen? I'd say they are fair game for the villains. It adds a wonderful sense of danger that makes the issues a lot more riveting.

It certainly helps that Morrison does such a great job giving us more details about Man-of-Bats. The guy is a straight-up hero, implementing change with his fists, his mind, and charity. When was the last time you saw Batman bring groceries to poor folks? Or check up on the people he put in prison to see if their lives are on track? This guy is more of a hero than Batman!

Leviathan shows its ugly head again in this issue, and Morrison is doing a good job building up this new secret society. And they're so big, you can see why Bats needs an army himself!

Chris Burnham has a dynamic style that really does recall Frank Quitely. What more could you want in a Morrison bat-book?


Monday, July 11, 2011

Red Hulk: World War Hulks TPB

What fun! No one will mistake this for high art, but this is certainly entertaining. This is the trade that has the big reveal of the Red Hulk’s identity. It makes a lot of sense, and it actually adds a lot to the long-term relationship it alters. (Some folks have expressed some concern about the Red Hulk’s hair being different in his normal form, but hey, if Stan Lee can have Ben Grimm’s hair disappear when he becomes the Thing, it’s probably ok.)

I did enjoy Doc Samson’s brief moment here. I hate the idea of “Samson,” so any backdoor to return him to his heroic status would be fine with me. When the Intelligencia opens up on the Avengers, Samson expresses some doubt that they are doing the right thing. So maybe there’s hope!

This trade includes a wonderful flashback as we see the Red Hulk (in his non-powered form) and his history with the green Hulk. These two guys have had a long and fascinating story, and having top artists return to draw these “missing” chapters was a real treat. (Especially Ian Churchill doing a fair Todd McFarlane impression. Churchill is a chameleon!)

Jennifer Walters gets a brief moment to shine too; I wish it was more, after the poundings she’s taken in this series, but I guess I’ll have to seek out the new She-Hulks trade to see that.

Other artists joining mainstay Ed McGuiness include Tim Sale, Sal Buscema, Dale Keown, and John Romita JR. Talk about stacking the deck! This thing looked fantastic, it was a joy seeing the Hulk’s history condensed so well.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Justice Society of America #52

What a weird comic. After a frenetic debut, Marc Guggenheim’s addition to the DCU, the city of Monument Point, has gotten a lot calmer. Sure, there is a mysterious set of doors sitting under the city, locking something in, but there seems to be plenty of time to look at it. I don’t think the JSA realizes they are two months away from being erased out of the DCU. That’s too bad, I like the expansive approach to the cast Guggenheim is using. This issue featured Hourman, Star Girl, Liberty Belle, Dr. Mid-Nite, and some pretty fun guest-stars.

The guest-stars are another weird point. The Challengers of the Unknown and the JSA really don’t get along. Their interactions throughout the issue are those of professionals trying to stake their claim in certain areas of expertise. The JSA think they can handle everything, but the Challengers want to keep their hold on exploring the unknown. It’s an interesting dynamic, and one I rarely see in comics.

Tom Derenick’s art is still pretty solid. He’s got a nice take on Hourman.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Xombi #4

Now THIS is what I expected after that brilliant issue #1. John Rozum’s last two issues have been entertaining, but I’m not sure I totally understood what was happening. No one’s motivations were clear, and while the big ideas were present, the reasoning was lacking. That gets cleared up now. This may end up being another of those series that ends up reading better in the trade than in floppy.

The explanation behind the Ninth Stronghold explains who the bad guys are and why Xombi has to stop them. Pretty important factors in a comic!

Frazer Irving’s art continues to be a joy. I love seeing the weird world he’s laying out for us, although Xombi’s haircut is a bit on the goth-y side.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Flashpoint: The Canterbury Cricket #1

The Canterbury Cricket may not come with a button, ring, or other promotional item, but it does come with a solid artist and a writer who knows how to write a tie-in.

Mike Carlin is more an editor than a writer, but he does a nice job filling out Flashpoint's England. The issue follows the a bunch of freaks fighting as the resistance to the Amazon takeover of the British Isles. The team includes Etrigan, Ms. Hyde, Godiva, and Green Tooth. There are some fun cameos from the Ambush Bugs too, a team including Blue Beetle, Queen Bee, Firefly, and a few more bug-themed characters.

The Canterbury Cricket is on both teams, and while it seems he's benefiting from some holy luck, that protection sure doesn't seem to protect his teammates. The Cricket has a solid origin, although I'm still not quite sold that he has what it takes to be a real hero.

(Incidentally, I have a new theory on the white-haired woman in the Justice League, I think it is Ms. Hyde, a new creation making her debut in this issue.)

Rags Morales is such a top-drawer artist, how the heck did he get saddled with drawing this book? I shouldn't complain, it looks nice, but man, it's hard to see his signature facial expressions on a bunch of monsters!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Flashpoint #3

I'm having a really hard time turning off my brain and enjoying Flashpoint for what it is. With all the DCU reboot stuff coming up, I still say I would have liked a bit more of the "real" DCU, a chance to say goodbye to the characters I love in their current incarnations. But I have to admit, Geoff Johns really puts the pedal to the metal this issue.

Cyborg is finally back in action after being totally absent in issue 2. He seemed important back in issue one, and he lives up to that image here, he's part of the new "JLA" in Flashpoint, and he certainly fits in well. Barry Allen and BatDad are the other two founders, so it's a dynamic little bunch. I will say that the return of Barry's powers this issue certainly makes issue 2 seem pretty pointless. In general, issue 2 is looking like a waste of space, more of an advertising issue than any actual plot development. This issue doesn't share those problems.

Everyone probably knows this is the issue where see the Flashpoint Superman, and wow. That guy has it rough. Poor Kal-El is missing the parents, upbringing, home, and powers that we know so well, making him sort of a spooky enigma.

Andy Kubert's art is dynamic and exciting, and seeing his Barry Allen makes me wish I could see him drawing more "classic" looks. His designs for new characters are pretty great, with Ms. Hyde being a new possibility for the mysterious white-haired lady in the new Justice League.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Walking Dead #86

As others have said, it's extremely difficult to review Walking Dead every month. It has achieved a level of stability and quality that other comics can only dream of.

This issue is a bit of a breather, as Rick sort of obsesses over his newfound love of community. The funniest part about his rants about his new attitude is that he's probably scaring as many people as he's winning over. People have got to be shocked at his admission of how little he cared about them.

Charlie Adlard's work looks great. That consistency and quality comes from a stable creative team, and Adlard is definitely a reliable artist.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #11

Issues like this are what sold me on Peter Tomasi's return to Green Lantern Corps in September. He writes Guy Gardner better than anyone else. Guy is a weird mix of a hero and a thug, but he does the right thing, and Tomasi gets that. You might not want to hang out with him, but he gets the job done.

This little done-in-one doesn't tie into any greater GL story, it is just a showcase to see Guy settle Lantern-type problems in his own way. Sure, he loses his ring and almost dies, but we know that Guy can handle it. Just a fun issue.

Bernard Chang's art looks great. The GL books haven't gone over the greater DCU "house" style as much as some other books, so Chang's work looks perfect.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Amazing Spider-Man; Return of the Black Cat TPB

This trade, like many of the recent Brand New Day collections, is actually a compilation of a few different Spidey stories. Not surprisingly, the quality and my enjoyment varies wildly depending on the creators and characters involved.

The first story is the best, featuring the Black Cat slinking back into Spidey's life. She's a sexy flirt, and poor Spidey can't get anything done when she's around. Her bad luck powers are bad enough, but she won't let him concentrate on anything but her! It is quite fun seeing some things work out OK for the web-slinger, and Joe Kelly and Mike McKone do a great job giving villain Diablo enough to do while still keeping the focus on the Black Cat.

The second story left me a bit cold. The concept was strong, and Marc Guggenheim brings back his Raptor the dinosaur man character from a few issues ago. Kaine plays a big role too, since the whole story hinges on a misunderstanding from Ben Reilly's actions in the past. The problem is that I certainly wasn't clamoring for more details on Reilly's employment while he hid out and lived the life of a clone on the run. If anything, I would have liked more Scarlet Spider goodness. The whole exercise just seemed a bit pointless, especially considering where Raptor ends up. Marc Checchetto's art is pretty, though.

The last story is a one-off featuring Deadpool. I'm so over-saturated on the character, not even Joe Kelly's return to his pet character can help me. The "yo Momma" climax is original, I'll say that, but, jeez, I just can't take any more Deadpool!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fall of the Hulks: Red Hulk TPB

If this was Jeff Parker’s audition for the ongoing Red Hulk series, I can see why he got the job. These four issues don’t really hold together as one coherent story, but they do a great job showing different “deleted scenes” from the Fall of the Hulks storyline. And those scenes have a wide variety of characters, so Parker shows off how well he can handle the Hulk’s huge cast.

Rick Jones (as A-Bomb) plays a pretty consistent role through the series, but I don’t think his name would sell as many books. It’s quite fun seeing him face down against Red Hulk, because he spends as much time verbally tormenting Rulk as he does fighting him. (Have Jones and Spidey ever teamed-up?)

I always enjoy Thundra, and she gets a big role in an issue too. They explain how her daughter ended up on the Wizard’s Frightful Four instead of Thundra. Again, a nice deleted scene.

Parker spends a long time showing how the Intelligencia underestimated the Red Hulk. That character got where he did using his brain, and adding enormous strength and boiling blood didn’t take away his old smarts. Rulk is a pretty damn intimidating character, especially since he’s barely a good guy when this series is set.

Carlos Rodriguez’s art has a Hulk house-style. It’s not as dynamic as Paul Pelletier or Ed McGuiness, but it certainly has a lot of dynamic power.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman v3 TPB

This trade just doesn’t hold up as well as the first few from Jonathan Hickman. I can appreciate the way Hickman puts the focus on Mr. Fantastic, but the guy just isn’t that interesting. Teaming up Thing, Mr. F, Dr. Doom, and Reed Richards’ Dad isn’t the answer to make the title more appealing. I want to see the Fantastic Four, the real team, not a weird team facing down alternate versions of a supporting character. (The four characters team up to take on an evil version of Dr. Richards.) The Human Torch story is pretty good, and I’ll take any excuse to see more of the super-villain Arcade.

The seeds Hickman plants for his Future Foundation are the most interesting parts of the story. I love the idea of the Fantastic Four gathering the greatest minds on Earth and putting them to work solving problems. I never thought Alex Power was that smart, but I admit I haven’t read a lot of his previous appearances.

Another factor in my lukewarm reaction is the art. When a book has covers by Alan Davis, and launched with the fantastic pencils of Dale Eaglesham, the solid if unspectacular Neil Edwards is not going to cut it. Everything looks fine, but I find myself hoping for a more dynamic penciller in the next volume.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Justice League of America #58

This is one of the most uneven series (and storylines) that I’ve ever read. The Eclipso story started out strong, meandered around for a few issues, and then picked back up this issue. James Robinson plays some tricks on the reader (and Eclipso) through some clever Batman dialogue, and he continues to shine a good spotlight on Donna Troy.

I’m not advocating spreading this story out any farther, but those big action scenes sure seem like they could use a little room to breathe. I would have loved for a few more League reinforcements to help face down the eclipsed characters. We do get one great new character, Ray Palmer shows up with a plan to help take out the Shade. It’s been too long since Ray was on the League, and it’s funny how quickly he feels like an elder statesman to this group. (This league was only a couple members away from being a “real” team, I think.)

Brett Booth is who he is, and that means long necks and stretched faces but dynamic action. I am a bit surprised at Congorilla’s size, I never imagined he was a Giant-Man level growth guy, but what do I know?