Monday, December 31, 2007

the Ultimates 3 - #1 - Marvel

What an awesome return for the Ultimate Avengers book. First of all, we have the brilliant scripts of Jeph Loeb. And on this first issue, he settles right in with the characters. He seems to have a handle on every one of them. Next we have the beautiful art of Joe Madureira. We haven't seen him on a regular series of late, so it's especially nice to see him on this book. The artwork is truly breathtaking. Also we have the next incarnation of this awesome team. They've actually been around in the Ultimate universe for, I think, about 4 years now. But, between the first and second incarnation, we've only gotten 25 issues. So I'm hoping, as I'm sure are the rest of you, that with this incarnation maybe we can get back on track as far as publishing. And finally, we have what looks like 2 different covers. But actually its the same cover . . 6 panels . . . but split between 2 books. The one side is all the heroes. The other is all the villains. Fan-frikkin-tastic! My complaint about the Ultimate X-Men was based on lack of originality, and ideas. But this book abounds in them. Just in the first issue we have a sex scandal with Tony Stark and the Black Widow. Actually it's some taped footage of their rendezvous that's been released all across the media spectrum. This upsets Wasp because she's the leader of the team, and also because, I think, she has an "on again, off again" thing going with Tony also. Then we have the relationship between Wanda and Pietro. In this series they're actually in love with each other. Yes they're still brother and sister. But, they're also head over heals in love. About 6 weeks ago, I guess, a 19 year old girl showed up with the powers of the gods. She calls herself Valkyrie. And Thor is head over heals in love with her. Clint Barton is back as Hawkeye. But he's even broodier and self-destructive than he was before. This time he seems to have a real death with. It appears that Henry Pym is a drug addict. And on the final page of this issue, it appears that the Scarlet Witch has been killed. Wow!! That's alot for the first issue. These guys definitely didn't want to ease in to things. What a fantastic book. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of high hopes for this one.

Suicide Squad #4 - DC

And sadly, this is the final book in my blogs for 2007. And, really, it's a doozy. I can't believe this is only going to be an 8 issue mini. This series has so much potential, and the creators on this incarnation are doing such a fantastic job, I can't believe they'd limit it so. But, I guess, we'll just have to wait until it's all done and see what happens. In the meantime, as I said, John Ostrander is doing a fantastic job with this story so far. I also can't believe Javier Pina isn't more well known. We got to see his stuff shine over in ManHunter. But, I think, on this series, he's doing an even better job. With this issue, Waller is done with CheckMate. Last issue she was canned, but then the Government authorized he to continue running Task-Force X. So now she's settling in to Belle Reve with all the usual suspects. Faraday joins her as does Count Vertigo. She's got Cliff Carmichael helping her on tech. Not only does she have Chemo, but she's figured out a way to put another person's consciousness inside of him to control him. Multiplex, or actually all of his doubles, are running around doing all of the grunt work. Boomerang and Deadshot are on hand, of course. She's got the Marauder guy from Aquaman on hand. They're trying to rebuild him. And of course there's General Eiling. As you can see from the cover. And there's definitely no love lost between these two. But the real shocker in this particular issue is when Amanda talks to Rick and tells him that his whole past has been fabricated by General Eiling. "You are not . . and never have been . . . Rick Flag." A fantastic issue. And a great way to wrap up the year. I'll see you all in 2008.

Ultimate X-Men #88 - Marvel

Again, I'm sorry. I have to start off this review with an apology. I love the X-Men. This book in particular . . this title . . is actually . . ok. There's lot's of stuff going on. We got Cable, Bishop, the Fenris Twins, the coming of Apocalypse and with this issue, a glimpse of the Phoenix. There's also romance abounding. Bishop has let it slip that he and Betsy are husband and wife in the future. Of course he's about 40 years older than her now. Beast is back, so the romance between him and Ororo is being rekindled. Scott and Jean are going at it, as they have in every incarnation. And Cyclops is dating Jean-Paul. There's also Sentinels to worry about, the Hellfire Club and, as I said, our first glimpse, in the Ultimate Universe, of the Phoenix. But, even with all of this minutia, I still find this particular series . . . boring. I really think it's because I've been reading the X-Men for so long. So all the stuff that's going on here seems . . . familiar. Almost like it's rehashing all the old storylines. Yes, there's a few differences here and there. But honestly, it's all pretty much the same. Yanick Paquette gets some new inkers this issue, so his work is actually . . improved. Honestly, I just think that Robert Kirkman is trying to hard to stay true to the original. This is the Ultimate Universe. You can do anything. You can try anything. But, in this series, we get the "same 'ol, same 'ol". Like I said, it's just boring . . and frustrating. I expect more from this book. Again I apologize. But, even X-Men books aren't always perfect.

X-Men - Die by the Sword #4 - Marvel

It looks like our little band of travelers is starting to form in to a cohesive team. The Captain Britain Corps have been all but devastated by Merlyn, Roma's father. Part of our hybrid group is fighting Jaspers, and part of the group is fighting Rouge-Mort. And Kitty Pryde is back in the observation room of the Crystal Palace trying to figure out what to do to help her fellow X-Men. Also, Brian has been incapacitated as he was attacked by a group of assassins. So, desperate situations call for desperate allies. Pete, Betsy and Sage go to Crossmore to ask Albion to help in their fight. They appeal to his loyalty to the Captain Britain Corps. But, it's his affinity for Brian that ultimately convinces him. Brian is hurt, and they express to him that it was his idea to try to trust him. "We do this for Brian. It's my brother who's trusting you." And when they return to the Starlight Citadel, he actually gives it his all. But really all he's doing is holding Jasper's attention for a short while so the rest of the team can get a breather. Allison is fighting Rogue, and Longshot is trying to get to her to help. But, at the last instant Merlyn decides to take matters in to his own hands and readily defeats both of them. At the same time he's sent a similicrum of Roma out to cause problems. A couple of things are brought up this issue. First the other teammates notice that Morph is fighting more like Proteus right now. Also the connection between Allison and Longshot seems to have been re-established. But, is it to late? The team finds out that the Fury Prime actually resides inside of Jaspers, and at the end of this issue it lets it's presence be known by overtaking his identity. But, the Fury may actually be easier to beat than Jaspers. And, since Brian returns on the final page, looking like he's in his full glory, they may actually have to fire-power to accomplish that. One more issue to go, and then we're in to the new Exiles book and team. I can't wait. I'm sure there will be some characters that will be lost or missed. But, it'll be nice to have the team back, and the multi-dimensional excursions. And, as long as Chris Claremont is at the helm, you can be assured that it'll be a brilliant book.

Uncanny X-Men #493 - Marvel

This is the next chapter of the Messiah Complex storyline. It's seems to be all epic tales going on everywhere right now. And you all wonder why I get so excited about those single issue stories that I read a couple of times a month. They're a great change of pace. Anyways, it seems like the whole X-Men team is devastated this month. The strike-force that went after the Marauders are coming home with injured. The new X-Men . . . the kids . . went after the Purifiers, and they have casualties. And even the X-Men that stayed home are getting beat up, because some kind of virus has worked it's way in to the Sentinels, and has turned their human pilots in to something in the way of robotic future Sentinels. They finally come together as a team though, and stop all the carnage at home. There's strength in numbers, because they beat them when some of the other teams return to the nest. Because of the X-Men's desperation, Sinister has deduced that Cable is on his own, and he's damaged. In that desperation, Scott has decided that it's time to up the stakes and commit to a plan they had formulated for just such a contingency. Logan double checks to make sure he really wants to go through with it, but Scott orders him to, "Assemble the X-Force!". It's a new strike-team consisting of Logan, X-23, Rahne, Warpath, Hepzibah and Caliban. The reason he's willing to do this is because he suspects that it was Cable that let the future virus loose within the Sentinels. "You're to take him down and get that child back by any means necessary." Brilliant story by Ed Brubaker. And, visually, a dream . . . by Billy Tan. I'm not sure how many chapters are left. But, it looks like this story-line is going to change everything.

Avengers : the Initiative - Annual #1 - Marvel

This series seems to get more and more interesting with every issue. They've really developed a great cast of characters here. In the Annual, we focus on some of the background stories, on a couple of the characters. We get some great creative talents in this issue also. There's four separate stories that Dan Slott and Christos Gage all write. The artwork includes the talents of Salvador Larroca, Clayton Henry, Paul Neary and Steve Uy. For an Annual, this is actually a very good book. The first story focus' on Gauntlet and how he came to have his power. Which really . . is all based in his . . well . . . Gauntlet. He came across it by accident, but now that he's down they can't seem to get it to work. They're also afraid to use more extreme measures to separate, because of what happened with Armory. But that's another story. Also in this issue. We get some more on MVP this issue also. Remember when they came across the kid that looked like MVP at his parents house a couple of issues ago? And, when the Scarlet Spiders took off their masks, they all looked like MVP? Well it turns out that Baron Von Blitzschlag was so taken with the boy, that he's been cloning him. So there's actually, many copies of him. And the Baron considers them all, his children. We also find out that MVP wasn't actually a product of the Super-Soldier experiment, but the product of a revolutionary diet, and the ultimate exercise regimen, that his father's had him on since birth. What we find out about Armory, is that she also got her symbiote by accident. But once bonded to her, it won't work for anyone else. They even went to the extent of having it removed. It was after she accidentally killed MVP. But once taken off, it's essentially useless. It's also left Violet in her pre-symbiote depressive state. Next we see Hardball, who was given his powers as a gift. In a weakened frame of mind, he was approached and offered his powers. All he had to do in return was be an undercover spy for HYDRA. In the final story, about the Liberteens, we see that the Skrull have invaded the Initiative. The Revolutionary is actually a Skrull, and he doesn't hide the fact when he reports back to somebody at Camp Hammond. " . . produce enough teams for full nationwide coverage . . it won't be long until we have . . a Skrull in every state!" So I guess this is the next chapter of the Skrull War. Cool book. At first I thought this was just going to be another version of YA. The Young Avengers. But, it's got a cool concept, and a great cast of characters. I expect this one to be around for a while.

Countdown to Final Crisis #21 - DC

Last issue dealt mostly with the Fourth World part of this story. But this issue, we're all over the place. We start out with Piper trying to figure out what he's going to do with the corpse of the Trickster shackled to his wrist. Also, now that he is registered as deceased, the cuffs have switched to a fail-safe detonation in 24 hours. It still seems to be some kind of chess game that Desaad and Darkseid are playing. But back on Apokolips, we're reminded that Granny Goodness is still posing as Athena, and in doing so is still holding the old gods . . the Grecian gods . . . captive. Meanwhile, Holly and Harley are going through all the survival training required to make them true Amazons. But during that training, they come across a cave, and get curious. Well . . . mostly Harley does. But they end up going in to it, to explore. The Challengers have landed on Earth 12. That's the Earth of the future Batman. They don't feel like they're any closer to finding Ray Palmer, when Bob is attacked by another Monitor. She's trying to end their pursuit. This is the first time they've been able to catch up to them because Bob program a 52 minute delay in to the monitoring devices before he left. But, I guess, they've figured that out. In Bludhaven, Jason and Gehenna have been separated as they were trying to protect Karate Kid and Una. They've been attacked by the Atomic Knights. In the Norad facility, that's been monitoring Bludhaven, an alarm sounds when Val tries to open a hatch to explore. There's a feedback in Norad, and all the soldiers there are turned in to OMAC's. And it looks as if Brother Eye is ready to launch himself back in to the atmosphere. I love this series. And, I love that we're following so many story-lines simultaneously. But, we only have 20 issues to go. We're finally coming down to the wire.

Robin #169 - DC

This next chapter, in the Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul story-line, was fantastic. It's starts out being beautifully adorned by a terrific Andy Kubert cover. With the inside being done by Peter Milligan and David Baldeon. It picks up exactly where the last chapter left off, with the spirit of Ra's, after his other body has finally failed him, jumping in to the body of one of the young monks. Of course all of this happens in Nada Parabat. Ra's see's this new beginning as another chance for he and the Dark Knight to join forces. Birds of a feather, and such. But Batman soon lets him know that, although they may be similarly driven, their ultimate goals couldn't be further apart. But this part of the story is actually about Robin. Which makes sense, since it's his book. He's thinking about the offer Ra's made to him . . . about bringing back his loved ones. His mother, his father, Connor, Stephanie . . . for such a young kid, he's got an awful long list. To this end, he seeks out the White Ghost. But, the White Ghost lets him know that to do so he would have to forsake all previous associations to join Ra's. In order to do so he also has to be baptized in the waters of the Lazarus Pit. He warns him, " . . . many who enter the Lazarus Pit . . . leave their senses behind. Are you willing to take that chance?" Tim offers a verbal commitment. The Ghost leaves him to his ablutions, but I Ching shows up to try to dissuade him. However, by so adamantly trying to stop him, he's actually only furthering his resolve. So he says he's leave the choice to him. He'll no longer try to stop. " . . . but I sure as hell will!", shouts Nightwing from the rafters. It looks like he's shown up just in time . . . again. Next issue is heralded as, "The fight you never thought you'd see . . . Nightwing vs. Robin" And it continues in Nightwing #139.

Justice League Unlimited #40 - DC

This book, lately, has been used to introduce us to the various members of the League. Well . . it's probably more beneficial to the younger readers. But, anyways, Zatanna and Zatara are the stars of this issue. We see a little bit of Doctor Fate, but Zatanna is the real star of the show. We also see the Shadow Thief and the Warlock of Ys. Basically, we're given a conflict that explains a little about Zatanna and Zatara and shows how they use their powers. Like I said, it's probably for the benefit of the less experienced readers. It was a nice simple story . . for the kids, but, I think, this issue got a little long winded. I also buy these books for my nephew, but I can pretty much say with certainty, that he would've become frustrated, or lost interest, in this particular issue. If I was reading it to him, I'd probably just have to skim over most of it. I really did appreciate the story. I just feel that it was a bit over the heads of the younger readers. That being said, I still like this book, and what this whole Johnny DC line is trying to accomplish. All I can say is, just remember your target audience.

Justice League of America #15 - DC

I love this book. And I love these characters. I think Dwayne McDuffie will do a fine job filling in for Brad Meltzer on this series. I do, however, have one concern. It's minor, but, to me, noticeable. Brad's interaction between characters was flawless. Their witty banter and interactions were right on the money. Now that Dwayne is doing the book . . . and I'm really not just trying to be negative . . . but, the interactions, and conversations seem to be a bit more forced. I still like the flow of the story, and the action. It's just . . . it doesn't seem as seamless now. But, that being said, this is still my favorite book. But, how could it not be? Ed Benes is doing a fantastic job with these characters. And now, we have Ian Churchill on the covers. What else could we ask for? The In-Justice League? Oh yeah! They're here also. Fan-frikkin-tastic! They started abducting heroes last issue, by separating and attacking. And actually, it looked like it was working. But the problem is, after they're captured, where do they take them? It doesn't really matter . . . the point is, they bring them all back together. And these heroes, although formidable on their own, are unrelenting as a team. So it was only a matter of time before they rose up and subjugated their captors. But the victory was short-lived as shortly after Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad show up with a warrant for all of their arrests. We also see this issue, Batman discussing League membership with Firestorm, Jason. He declines, but Batman has a different perspective, "That wasn't an offer, son. It's the way it's going to be. You're too powerful to be out there unsupervised." To which Black-Lightning replies, "The Bat-God has spoken." It's a fantastic book, with the participation of some extraordinary talent. And really, we're only at the beginning.

Justice Society of America #11 - DC

With this issue we move farther in to our Thy Kingdom Come story-line, the Second Coming. The Superman from Kingdom Come has come over to our Earth, apparently after his was destroyed. To that point, Wally and Jay attempt to access his universe with the Cosmic Treadmill. They're trying to hone in on his vibration. The see the Bleed, but they don't know what it is. When they do find his dimension . . they find that's it's empty. Meanwhile, at the end of last issue, the Justice League has arrived and are questioning the new Superman. They all seem to believe his story, even though the situation is a bit . . disorienting. So now the question is, "How do we get this Superman back home?" In the meantime he attempts to acclimate himself to this Earth. And he attempts to just try to be a normal citizen. He has a heart to heart with Karen, Power Girl, who's been feeling on edge ever since his arrival. He's reminds her so much of her Superman, that it's really been bringing back a lot of old feelings, and she's been thinking about how alone she really feels. "We might not be family like you and your cousin were, Karen . . . but I hope we can learn to be." Meanwhile a couple other things going on, the Society has been tracking the actions of the new Judomaster. They want to offer her membership. And, after the incident in the sewers that we witnessed last issue, it looks as if someone new is taking up the mantle of Mr. America. We see him standing over the dead body of Chrona, and he's thinking, "Today, the hunt begins." As always, this was a fantastic story by Geoff Johns and Alex Ross. Geoff has done a fantastic job with this series to date. But these two together . . . sheer perfection. And I really can't give enough praise to Dale Eaglesham. He has really come in to his own on this series. He's gone from a relative unknown to, I think, a true superstar! His pencils, in this series, are dead-on. Every panel is perfection. I questioned them picking him as the penciller of this series . . in the beginning. But now . . . now I know why. And whomever made that decision . . . was brilliant. This has really grown in to a fantastic series.

the All New Atom #18 - DC

It's funny to see Ryan talking to Wonder Woman. For as smart as this guy is, and all the things he can do with Ray's belt, he's like a teenage boy who's in the presence of his first beauty queen, when he's talking to Diana. He's got that nervous chatter going. You know the one. Where you just keep talking all the time, saying whatever's on your mind. And you find yourself asking the question, "Did I just say that out loud?" Anyways, last issue, Diana came to town, with agent Tresser, under the guise of assessing Ivy Town for it's threat danger. This town has been a "weird magnet" for a long time. But it seems like activity has really been spiking of late. To that point, while they're working together, some kind of alien with mind powers has the whole town convinced that everything that's happening is Ryan's fault, and the only way to stop it is to kill him. Of course, eventually, they find the threat and neutralize it. But Ryan's biggest worry is what Wonder Woman thinks of him, and how he came through the situation. He thinks that she's been watching him and grading him on whether or not he's capable of being the protector of this town . . . it he can handle all this weirdness. That proves true, to an extant, but what she's really grading him on is membership to the League. On the final page she offers him a permanent spot on the roster of the Justice League. And she asks, "Do I still have your attention?" What really makes this book so fantastic, is the writing of Gail Simone. The witty report that she scripts between these two is fantastic. Super-heroics aside, most of the conversation is like that of a science nerd trying to talk to a super hot stripper. Not to diminish Wonder Woman, but . . . seriously . . . WOW! There's alot going on in this town, but the crux of the story is the banter back and forth between these two. It's superb . . it's perfect . . it's hilarious. And then, maybe it's Andy Smith's inks, but Mike Norton really seems to be improving dramatically as a story-teller. His pages and panel flow . . his backgrounds and action sequences . . . his perspective and angles . . they're all nearly perfect. He has improved dramatically in the short time that he's been on this series. And of course we have the fabulous Ladronn covers. All in all, this is turning out to be a very adept series. I like it!

Countdown : Arena #1 - DC

Another neat idea. But, I'm not sure what the goal is? Other than thinning the herd a bit, I'm not sure why this story is really necessary. But, I'm sure, when it comes down to the final conflict . . . all will be revealed. Hopefully! Anyways, the idea here is, Monarch is still trying to build his army. And, for some reason, he's got it in his head to add all these super-heroes to the group. But, he's smart enough to know that he only needs 1 Batman, or 1 Wonder Woman or 1 Zatanna. So, with a multi-verse of characters to choose from, how does he pick which version he wants to strengthen his forces? His idea is to pull the different versions to this neutral zone . . I think he said it was in the Bleed . . . where's he's constructed an Arena. Once there, the variants of each character, basically, will fight for the survival of the fittest. He wants them to kill each other. That way he also eliminates opponents in the process. He's already got a huge variety of characters. He's got variants of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Firestorm, Zatanna, the Ray, Green Lantern, Robin . . . and the list goes on and on. Our first battle is between versions of Nightshade. But before that, he has a warning, "Several of you possess the means to travel between dimensions. Do not attempt to escape. The consequences will be far more severe than you can possibly imagine. Trust me." The Nightshade battle eventually leads to the Shadowlands . . another dimension . . and from there, the victor decides that she's going to go home to get her husband to help her get out of this situation. But, when she gets there, she finds Monarch there already, holding her husbands lifeless body in his hands. His consequences for her actions? On the planet she lives on, he wipes out everybody in her whole country. "You . . you killed them all. My terms were clear. And I do not tolerate mutiny. It should be an honor to join my army. To fight for my cause. For you . . it will be a punishment." We immediately move in to the battle between the Batman's. And it appears that the victor will be the Red Rain Batman. Meanwhile, one of the Supermen is trying to formulate a plan for a mutiny. This is a four issue series, but it's going to be weekly. So it's very fast paced. It's written by Keith Champagne and drawn by Scott McDaniel. Like I said, I'm not sure what the outcome of this is supposed to be, but in the meantime it'll be neat to watch some of the battles.

Supergirl #24 - DC

I like this book, and I love this character, but, as with the last blog, I worry about the future of it. Kelley Puckett is doing a good job with the stories. In the recent interaction between her and Superman, in regard to the Green Lantern conflict, we saw the story solely from Kara's perspective. Which I thought was good, because it shows how hard she's willing to work to garner her cousin's approval and respect. I also, for the most part, like what Drew Johnson's brought to the table visually. Some of it seems . . well . . simple. But then other panels, such as the ones in the beginning, when she's flying through space, are perfect. However, and here's where I think the problem lies, this book started out so strong. Joe Kelly, Greg Rucka and Ian Churchill really gave the series a fantastic kick start. And especially coming right out of the Superman / Batman book, and the Ed McGuinness story-line. But, I'm afraid, whatever's done now is going to be compared to that work. And let's face it, as talented as these guys are, it's going to be very hard to fill those shoes. But, with this story-line, we have the start of a neat concept. And one that, from my recollection, is the first time it's been approached in a comic series. Basically it's playing on the laws of physics. The stars that we see in the sky now . . the flickers of light . . are actually like watching reruns. Because of the vastness of space, the time it takes light to travel from it's origin to where we can see it, what we see is actually years, if not decades, behind what's actually going on. A star could be burned out for years before we know it, because we're seeing the after images of it's incandescence. Well, along these lines, in their recent skirmish, Superman had the Lanterns set up an antenna array wide enough to focus the visible light from a ship they were tracking. Afterwards, before they took it away, it dawned on Superman that they were about 30 light-years from Krypton. He surmised that with their vision powers and this array, they would basically be able to see in to the past and witness the final days of Krypton. He immediately wanted to show this to Kara, kind of as a present to her. However, what he doesn't realize is that while he doesn't have any clear memories of that time . . he was an infant after all . . Kara was actually a teen-ager. So while it is a gift, it's also a burden, because these were also the final days that she spent on the planet, and with her parents. Like I said, a neat idea. I really do like this book. I just worry about it. This is what? . . . it's 4th or 5th incarnation. And no matter how much the readers love this character, it always seems to struggle in the long stretch. So my hopes are . . this time it'll make it. Please!

infinity inc. #4 - DC

I have to say, I'm a little worried about the future of this book. I only feel this way because I like this cast of characters, and I'd really like to see it succeed. But, I think it has a couple of things working against it. The most obvious, is the art. This Max Fiumara seems to have a good sense of action, and flow. He uses perspective and shadows pretty adeptly also. But, in probably 90% of his frames, there's no background, therefore, there's no point of reference for the action. It's just a lot of human figures drawn in neat poses. When he does do backgrounds, it works, because you get a better sense of where the characters are at, and it set's the stage and the mood. Such as when John Henry is in Steelworks talking to Mercy. She wants to join the team, and I really think John Henry is considering it, but, he's having a hard time letting go of her previous ties to Luthor. And, he's more than suspicious about her motives. The dark gloomy setting of the factory help to set the tone for this conversation. But, as I said, most of the book he doesn't do that. Secondly is the story. Don't get me wrong, Peter Milligan is a fantastic talent. But, right now, he's trying to set up the tone and motivation for the book, plus he's trying to get us acclimated with all the characters and their problems. Really, the only problem I have is that it seems to be dragging out. I'm willing to stick around for the finished result, but I don't know how many other readers will be. And finally, we're getting down to the wire on Countdown to Final Crisis, so I think this may take away from the story going on here. Most of the DC Universe, from what I understand, will be dealing with this Crisis, and on top of that we have the final days of the Fourth World Saga. Both of these stories will overshadow, and therefore diminish the actions in this book. So, I guess what I'm saying is, it was just bad timing for the release of this book. It probably should've waited until the other 2 story-lines were closer to completion, and then entered into the post Crisis DC Universe. As I said earlier, I'm only concerned because I like the book, and I'd like it to succeed. Really, this is all speculation on my part, so, I guess, I'll just sit back and hope for the best. But . . . we'll see.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Metamorpho - Year One #5 - DC

The origin of Metamorpho continues, unfettered, much, from the original. This issue was actually kind of a silly story. Stagg has an outpost on one of the moons of Jupiter. An alien presence finds it and destroys it. And with that discovers where the intrusion had come from . . Earth. So, it comes to Earth to attempt the subjugation of it's inhabitants. There's a bit of a skirmish, but then, with the arrival of another ship, it's discovered that this first alien is actually a mutant experiment gone awry. The aliens in the second ship apologize for the intrusion and swear that they mean no malice. And like that . . . it's over. But we do get a glimpse of another bunch of people that are on the look-out for Metamorpho. It's done in the shadows, so you don't know if it's a threat or not. But personally, I think . . . it's the Justice League. It's an interesting book, and true to the original. Although updated a bit. But not much else is added. As I stated last time, it's a good book for anybody who may not be up on the origins, but for others . . . it's rather boring. Although I do love the Kevin Nowlan covers. Sorry, I couldn't be more positive.

Jonah Hex #26 - DC

Ok. This was an interesting story. It's brought to us by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. Doing the pencils this issue is Guiseppe Camuncoli. Jonah is out riding looking for some horse thieves. He comes across a little farm, with a woman who says she's been tending it herself since he husband took off on her the previous winter. He's about to ride on his way, when she invites him to dinner. It seems that since her husband has taken off, she's been beaten and raped by many men. At least, that is, until she decided to take things in to her own hands. She decided that men are a vile disgusting bunch that do not know how to treat women, or have the way of the lord in them. So any that come across her path, she seduces and then kills. Which is where are bad of horse thieves are currently. They're in the barn with their tongues cut out and their arms and legs chopped off. Which is what she also has in mind for Jonah. But luckily he gets out of the mess and gives the woman, and her sister, the justice that they deserve. And then he takes the horse thieves in to town for the reward money. It's a pretty gruesome tale, but . . . it's the wild, wild west. Right? Overall I really like this book. And I'm glad they got some better art this issue.

MidNighter #14 - WildStorm

Well, the Midnighter is still in Harmony fighting it's controlling force . . . Anthem. Actually, he's in Harmony because he's trying to lead a normal life. At least on the outside. But when he got there, he found Anthem's rugged boot-heel on everyone's throat. So he decided to try to figure out what they're all about. In a mistake on their part, they keep him alive and bring him in. They're hoping, I guess, to turn him. But we all know that's not going to happen. And he uses their mistake to break out. Well . . at least out of custody. It might be a bit trickier to actually make it out of their fortress, or stronghold, or whatever you want to call it. But what I think this story is really all about is finding out who the Midnighter was, before he was the Midnighter. And Jenny did a little manipulating to help push that effort forward. Whether the Midnighter wanted to know or not. I'm thinking, this Lucas Trent, the identity he adopted before coming to Harmony, I think that's his real identity. I was wondering why some of the townsfolk seemed to be treating him like a soldier returning from the war. How could they have memories of him if he didn't really exist. And I'm thinking that Lucas' inexperience with normal human contact is the reason he didn't pick up on this when he first came to town. But now Jenny has told the little chick that Midnighter has working for him, and she's going to have to be the one to try to break the news to him slowly. That is of course if he comes out of the current predicament unscathed. We'll have to wait and see what happens there. I really like the direction that Keith Giffen has decided to take this book, and I think that Jon Landry is a good fit, artistically, for this book. I just hope it sticks around long enough to play this story angle out.

Teen Titans Go! #49 - DC

Another fun chapter in the lives of our teen heroes. I really do love this book. It's upbeat. It's fun. It's a great change of pace. I won't bore you with all my usual stuff about how this book is great for kids. Instead, just look at the cover. Deathstroke is here. And you know that's always a great story. Well . . . at least it looks like Slade. Actually it's the teams first introduction to the Ravager. All I'm going to say, is that if you're not buying this book . . . you should. It's a great book, and a fun read. Go!Go! Titans!

the Authority Prime #2 - WildStorm

What a cool book. This one is really just a pissing match between the Authority and Stormwatch Prime. Last issue, the Authority discovered that Henry Bendix had a hidden bunker out in the deserts of Arizona. Fearing what they might find there, they immediately headed out to confiscate it's contents. The problem is, Stormwatch found out the same information. And, not trusting the members of the Authority, whom used to be members of Stormwatch, they immediately headed out to stop them. Old allegiances and transgressions are immediately put to the test as all the members start squaring off against one another. Neither team seems to have a clear advantage. Finally, in a verbal volley, Hawksmoor says something to Cannon that really pisses him off. So he hits him with everything that he's got. Unfortunately, he's no where near a city, so his powers are greatly diminished. And then he's quickly taken out. The issue ends with both Jackson King and the Midnighter declaring, "That's it! The motherf@#$ing gloves are off." Cool story by Christos Gage with fantastic art by Darick Robertson. Personally, I'm just glad to see the Authority on a regular basis. Even if it is just for a monthly "super-fight".

Moon Knight Annual #1 - Marvel

This was a different kind of Moon Knight Annual. It start out at a therapy session for these women that have been raped. One story leads to the next, and it soon turns out that they were all victimized by the same serial rapist. The first girl is the one who started doing all the digging. After she healed up a bit, she was just angry, so she started looking for him. Trying to find him through his fake identity and occupation was next to impossible. But what she did find was many more victims with stories similar to hers. It wasn't until about the fourth victim that he had garnered the Moon Knight's attention. He got him in an alley, as he was on his way to raping his next victim, but since the girl didn't have any idea of his intentions, she thought that her date was being attacked by some psycho. So she tasers him. Shortly after, the drugs that the scum-bag had slipped her start to take effect. And as she's passing out she sees her date coming towards her with a sinister smile, and Moon Knight coming at him from behind. Next thing she knows, she's back in her apartment, and her date is in the hospital labeled as a serial rapist. But the second girl, whom Moon Knight saved, when she was so distraught over the incident that she tried jumping off a building, also sees his picture in the paper and decides to take her own action. She goes to visit him and pinches off his oxygen tube. " . . I told him he wouldn't be seeing me anymore. I can't tell you how good that felt. So, So nice." I'm a little confused as to what the moral of this story is. Is it that the Moon Knight inspires people to take justice in to their own hands? Or is it that if you're evil, the Moon Knight will find you and kick your ass? I'm really not sure. It was an interesting book, but I don't know if I really agree with the approach.

X-Men #205 - Marvel

I gotta say, I just wasn't that impressed with this latest chapter of the X-men epic, Messiah Complex. Sure it was brought to us by Mike Carey and Chris Bachalo, both incredible talents. But I just didn't think it was all that interesting. Well . . except for the final couple of pages. Really, what we learn this issue, is that the X-men really wasted their efforts on both fronts. They send Rictor to infiltrate the Purifiers, and a strike-force after the Marauders. They have a third option out there, Jamie and Layla 80 years in to the future, but that doesn't seem to be bearing any fruit yet either. The reason the X-men's efforts are wasted is because neither the Purifiers nor the Marauders have the infant mutant. So all the pain and anguish that are inflicted upon the strike team by the Marauders, is all wasted. And the lethal blow that Lady Deathstrike has given Hellion . . . was all for naught. When alls said and done, both teams are scattered, and they aren't any closer to finding the baby. The other team that was out there, and really caused a mess of the whole thing are the New X-men. They were told to sit and wait, but they decided it would be better if they went out, and if nothing else, tried to avenge their friends for the pain inflicted by the Purifiers. But, in the end, all they did was make matters worse. But . . . they do have a name. They know who has the baby, they just don't know where he's at, or what his intentions are. And on the final page we see Cable carrying it across a frozen wasteland. Did he know something, coming from the future? And if that's the case, does Bishop know anything? So far, I think, we've gotten more questions than answers in this story-line. But we still have a few chapters to go, so we'll have to wait and see where it all shakes out at. It was nice to see Chris back on pencils, but, in this story, it really wasn't quite enough to hold my interest. Sorry!

Superman Annual #13 - DC

Rarely have I seen such a significant story-line, wrapped up in an Annual. Usually the Annuals serve as in intermediate chapter in an existing story-line. Or sometimes the springboard for a new one. But this time, they choose to use it to wrap up this Arion storyline, Camelot Falls, that has been running through the Superman titles for the last few months. Kurt Busiek writes it, and Carlos Pacheco & Jesus Merino draw it. The last chapter ended where Superman, who had just discovered Arion's stronghold, has covered it in a whirlpool. Bringing the entire weight of the ocean down upon him. This one starts out there, but before that, we see the Phantom Stranger leading Superman through a possible future of what may happen as far as Arion's predictions. But the main thing that Superman brings out of it, and his argument for Arion, is that no matter what happens, humans will not give up hope. Whether he helps them or not, they will never just willingly lie down in defeat. Eventually Superman does defeat Arion's defenses, and he believes, puts him in custody. Actually, Arion had set a safe-return spell in place, so upon his defeat he was whisked back to Paris, circa 17th century. And the person Superman has in custody, is actually Arion's impostor cloaked in a disguise spell. So, Arion is still in the past trying to plot a way to stop this impending threat. But, in the epilogue, it looks like Hassan-I-Sabbah, the Assassin Lord, upon his resurrection, has donned his new visage and moniker. He now calls himself, Khyber. So it appears that maybe this story isn't over. In the back-up they give us a little more heartwarming story by Kurt, Fabian Nicieza and Renato Guedes. It's about Superman taking all of his loved ones to a place he's calling Terabithia. Actually it's an alien planet, with no indigenous life, but it's still capable of supporting life. Really this whole story is about a lot of bonding. Karen and Chris bond, and Karen and Martha bond. Meanwhile Clark and his father re-bond, as he does with Chris. All in all it was just a nice day in the lives of the Superman Family. And it was a nice change from the lead story.

Batman #671 - DC

We're up to chapter 4 in the Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul story-line. And this issue, we really get to see just what a little bastard this Sensei is. Batman, who doesn't want to make the choice between Tim and Damian, ops for the third option of taking Ra's to Nada Parabat himself. There he'll be able to use the Fountain of Life, rather than extinguishing either of the 2 young males. But the Sensei seems to be 2 steps ahead of them. By the time Batman and Ra's get there, the place is already in flames. That's when Batman finds out that the Sensei is actual Ra's father. The Sensei quickly beats the broken down body that Ra's now inhabits, and then decides to take on the Batman. "I am very old, it's true. I am an evil old man, and my stamina is not what it was. I can keep this up for less than two minutes. Fortunately . . . I need only one to break you." And he begins to then tear apart Batman piece by piece. It appears that the Sensei has delivered the killing blow. But Batman refuses to falter. When the Sensei asks why, he simply replies, "I'm . . . lasting . . . longer . . . than a minute!" And the Batman's final blow knocks the Sensei in to the Fountain. But as he learned when he first got there, "The Fountain of Life brings only death to men who lack purity of spirit." And when he lands in the water, it begins to burn him up. I assume the Batman is going to use the same waters to help him recover, but, since Ra's has jumped his spirit in to another body, that is Batman's main concern right now. So this one is going next in to Robin #169. This issue was a great chapter in a fantastic story-line, brought to us by Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel. And I have to say that these two have really brought this book to life. This book has continued to offer us a fantastic representation of our heroes adventures. Thank You!

Batman and the Outsider #2 - DC

For those of you who worried about all the new members on this Outsiders team . . . you needn't have worried. Two of them separate themselves from the ranks, already, this issue. It was Catwoman's job to break them in to this facility. And after she does, and she sees what they're facing . . . a mutant OMAC . . . she decides, she's out. And the Martian Manhunter, who really just came along to gather intel, informs the Batman, "I have secured the creature as you wished. The data I collected at Jardine is available to you. I want you to be aware that I have made all of this known to the Justice League. I cannot guarantee how they will react. You will have to do without my aid as well as my counsel, Bruce." While at the same time, Thunder is begging to get on the group. But, I think, Batman has very specific plans for this group. And the membership is going to be determined by the project that they're undertaking, and the trials and obstacles that they'll be facing in that pursuit. So, I think, that the core group is only going to consist of Grace, Katana and Metamorpho. Maybe Thunder. She's nothing if not persistent. But as I said, the rest of the participants will depend on the op. Which, apparently, Batman is getting ready for the next one, because at the end of this issue Batgirl joins their little group. Thunder confronts her on the balcony, but is soon thrown through the window. Batgirl's only response is, "I was invited!" This looks to be a pretty cool concept. I'm not really sure of all the mechanics yet, but I'm sure Chuck Dixon will bring us up to speed soon enough. They also have an incredible art team of Carlos Rodriguez and Bit. But Doug Braithwaite does the covers. I've been with this group since day 1. And it looks like I'm going to be here for a long time to come.

52 Aftermath : the Four Horsemen #4 - DC

First of all, I'm just in awe over that Ethan Van Sciver cover. It's simply fantastic. And I have to say, on the inside, Pat Olliffe's pencil's really seem to be improving. I know the guy has incredible talent. It just seems like he's really starting to get in to this book more. Last issue ended with Oolong island being stormed by all of the un-dead. Somehow they had been transported right from Biayla to the island. Luckily though, Dr. Caulder and the Doom Patrol are there to try to help with the fight. Otherwise, Wonder Woman would've been standing solo. There seems to be an uneasy alliance that's been formed between Dr. Cale and Dr. Caulder. Meanwhile, back in Biayla Batman, Superman and Snapper Carr have come face to face with 2 of the Horsemen. Superman's struggling, because of the infection in his bite, but Batman is trying to stay on top of things. Superman seems to be holding his own against Famine, and Batman has had Plague transported directly to him. But in Superman's case, Death has shown up and seems to have turned the tide against him. Meanwhile back on Oolong, they've erected a force field around the island, but War has joined the fracas and is attempting to gain entry. Death is frustrated over their inability to overcome this paltry display of resistance. "This must not stand. Hope is a dire catalyst. Where there is hope there can never be dominion. We are of dominion. The three who would stand against us inspire hope. The island of our "birthing" seethes with hope . . . ultimately futile. We are the harbingers. We are inevitable. This world will be ours." So it looks like the die has been cast. And with 2 issues to go, it's probably going to get worse before it gets better. I like this mini a lot more than I thought I would.

Countdown to Final Crisis #22 - DC

Everything seems to be focusing on the Fourth World right now. Mary Marvel is starting to have doubts about Eclipso's intentions. Yes she pulled her out of the recent explosion. Maybe saving her life. I'm not sure that she just wouldn't have survived it anyways. But, Eclipso is trying to take credit for that. But after Eclipso tried to pawn her off as a concubine to Darkseid, her credibility in Mary's eyes, has gone way down. Meanwhile Jimmy Olsen is also dealing with the Fourth World, but more directly. He followed Forager to Apokolips to try to help her figure out what was going on with this string of Fourth World murders, but he's been abandoned in the slave pits. Luckily, this issue, Mister Miracle finds him. But in his association with him, Jimmy begins to have more of the unknown feelings that have been floating around in his brain. It seems that things about New Genesis, he just knows. Mister Miracle tries to scan Jimmy with his Mother Box, but all he gets are that his new powers are "fight or flight" based. And then . . he drops him in to a fire-pit. Mister Mxyzptlk has returned to the Fifth dimension, after his encounter with Superman-Prime at the source wall, and he's scared to death. He asks his wife to seal off the whole dimension. "Seal the dimension off! The f-fifth dimension! SEAL IT OFF! He's . . . there! He is . . . the END! I can never go back there!" Piper and Trickster have gotten a momentary respite. They've jumped aboard a box-car and are trying to elude their followers. But Deadshot is unrelenting. He catches up with them and is intent on killing them. No matter what the instructions from Waller are. They end up shaking him off, but not before he kills James, the Trickster. The problem is, he and Piper are still handcuffed together. This is a fantastic series, and I continue to enjoy it week after week. It also sports a really nice cover by Alex Bleyaert.

JLA Classified #47 - DC

This story seemed to go way back in the history of the JLA. It recounts on of their first encounters with the Weaponers of Qward. It's by Mike W Barr and Randy Green. I like Randy's style, but it almost has a Scott McDaniel type feel to it. The real shining piece of this book though is the cover. It's by Julian Lopez and Bit. Anyways, the Weaponers come to the satellite to try to steal some of the JLA's absconded weapons. Of course that doesn't turn out the way they plan, and our team has to go to the anti-matter universe to follow them. We have Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, the Atom and Green Lantern . . . Hal Jordan. Hal has to explain to them just who the Weaponers are and where and what the planet Qward is. It's also their first time in to the anti-matter universe. They travel by a worm-hole that Hal knows about just outside of Coast City. After landing, they find a city. So now they have to go in, try to retrieve the weapons that they stole, and make sure they didn't make any copies or plans to make future ones. They attack a scouting party and steal their clothes and armor. But the world is so alien, that it's hard for them to assimilate in to such a society unnoticed. They're attacked and knocked out. When they recover they find a group of the Weaponers donned in their own armaments and weapons. "Not gone Earthmen . . . merely in more deserving hands!" Next issue, they'll have to fight for their lives In the Arena of Qward. Just another chapter in the lives and rich history of the world's greatest super-hero group . . . the JLA!

Countdown to Adventure #4 - DC

I'll tell you what, with all these mini-series going on outside of the standard 52 or Countdown title, we are really covering a lot of ground with these characters. The weekly book has us watching a plethora of activity, across the DC Universe. But sometimes it's a little hard to spend to much time concentrated on one character. Well that's where I think these mini's come in. We start out with our space-faring group, Adam Strange, Animal Man and Starfire. They're all fighting an alien virus, but on different fronts. Adam is on Rann, and apparently the virus followed him there. And Animal Man and Starfire are stuck in a recently cordoned off San Diego. Actually, they're stuck inside with all of the lunatics. The Teen Titans attempt to come to their rescue, but some aliens recently showed up, and in their attempt to cure the infection, they've locked the entire city under a force field. What this story has really done though, is to make all 3 of them grow as individual characters. Meanwhile, Forerunner is fighting for her life on Earth 33 against Dark Angel. This is a world where all the familiar heroes have gone mystical in nature. Even Superman. And they all join Forerunner in her fight, which eventually lead to them driving Dark Angel out. But, they refuse the offer of Monarch and Forerunner to join their interstellar army. They even go so far as to offer Forerunner a bit of a warning as to the nature of the man she's working with. Through the course of all this, Monarch and Forerunner have a falling out, to the point that Monarch decides to dismiss her and discards her out in deep space. An interesting turn of events. So where does Forerunner go from here? Only Justin Gray and Fabrizio Fiorentino know, and they aren't telling. This issue! Also I think Adam Beechen and Allen Goldman did a great job with the first story.

Gotham Underground #2 - DC

We get a little history of Gotham this issue. Actually . . . more a history of the gangs. From the ethnic based gangs, all the way up to the meta gangs of today. And, really, we see how corrupt and decadent Gotham has been ever since it's inception. Now today, this new guy, Tobias Whale, is trying to pull all the gangs together again. Much in the same way that Black Mask had done. Although, he claiming to be much more altruistic about the whole thing. He claims he's not going to run it like a dictatorship, as the Mask had done. Batman is busy himself, in Blackgate prison. He was undercover with the Penguin, as Matches, when the Suicide Squad hit. He thought he'd be able to find out why they were abducting all the "bad-guys", but instead he got carted off to prison. So he's not "bad" enough to warrant abduction, but at the same time the Penguin has it out for him because he thinks he may have saw something he shouldn't have. Penguin's even gone to the point that, next issue, he's sicking Mr. Zsasz after him. So while he's in prison trying to gather intel, he's been fighting for his life every day. On the outside, he's called in all his favors to keep an eye on Gotham. Robin, Huntress, Oracle and even the Question are trying to keep things as calm as possible in a city of mayhem. Dick has also gone undercover, creating his own "Matches" persona, Freddie Dinardo. He also senses that somethings going on with the Penguin, so he's trying to get in there. You know, with his recent personnel shortage and all. As Robin is swinging through town, he gets the feeling that he's being watched. He doesn't see it, but we do. Somebody is dressed up in the Spoiler costume. Oh, and one last thing, Scarface is trying to put together his own gang to take advantage of the current vacuum in Gotham. Scarecrow joins him, but I thought he got scooped up at Penguin's last nite? This could prove interesting. Frank Tieri is doing a fantastic job with this story. I feel that he's really captured the essence of Gotham and all it's little rodents. And of course I'm a huge fan of J Calafiore's. All in all, I think this is going to be a fantastic mini-series. You really shouldn't miss it.

the Trials of SHAZAM! #10 - DC

This Sabina, is one evil bitch! She's wormed her way in to half of a couple of the god's powers, and now she wants to take what is left for herself. Her and Freddy are both after Mercury, but he's in hiding. It's not that he's afraid. He just wants to keep himself separated from all these going's on. He doesn't want to have any part of them. So he's entrusted his location to 6 different people. But only the final one on the list actually knows where he's at. Unfortunately, Freddy seems to be 2 steps behind her at all times. He even has to call in Zatanna to help him with one that Sabina killed. He needs her help to try to get the name from him. Meanwhile, Sabina is still heading for the prize. After she plows her way through the first five, she's only got the last obstacle to overcome. And it's . . . . Tawky Tawny. You know, the timid Tiger friend of Billy Batson's. Well he's not so timid anymore. In fact, when riled, he's downright fearsome. I don't think we've ever seen him quite like this. "Times have changed. And this cat has claws . . . . . after the grief and torment you've caused this day, I'm more than happy to . . . dole out a bit of misery!" But Sabina does have at least half the power of a couple of gods. So eventually she even overcomes him. But before she can perform the killing stroke, Mercury gives him self up. Well . . . not entirely. He lets his presence be known, and then he whisks off. Just as Freddy and Zareb arrive. So now, it looks like it's going to be a good old fashioned foot race between Freddie and Sabina. I'm a huge Howard Porter fan, but I have to say, I really like what Mauro Cascioli has brought to this final chapter in the mini-series. I have no doubt that Freddy will emerge triumphant, but I also think Sabina is going to be a thorn in his side for quite a while to come. Judd Winick has done a fantastic job with the scripts, and I really like the way he's brought the whole SHAZAM! family in to the present. I'm just wondering, after this whole final crisis thing, are the SHAZAM!'s going to have their own Earth in the post crisis multiverse? They did at one time. And how is Mary going to come back in to the fold after everything she's done with Eclipso? Lots of unanswered questions . . . and only 2 issues to go.

JSA Classified #32 - DC

This issue's mostly about Alan Scott. I think they want to differentiate between the Green Lantern's power rings, and Alan Starheart powers. He's not actually one of the Green Lantern Corps. Even though, really, he was the first one with that name. But he got his powers from a mystical force, the Starheart. I think sometimes we all forget that. Anyway, his powers, and ultimately, I think, the Starheart, have gathered the attention of somebody who's very ruthless and unrelenting . . . . Vandal Savage. He ends up getting ahold of this pink foam, and fills one of the Thanksgiving day balloons with it. When it comes crashing down in the streets it appears harmless. To everyone that is except Alan. It's a dust that Vandal acquired 100's of years ago, and he learned that it would leech the power of the Starheart. So he's done that to Alan, and now he's trying to absorb the powers into himself. But, in the process, Alan's emotions clung to a fragile child in the crowd. Unbeknownst to him, he had started draining the life-force from the child, and with the Starheart gave it a human form. The human form being that of his late daughter Jennie Lynn. Which Vandal now is in control of. So now next issue, Alan's going to have to make a choice. If he saves Jennie, it's going to cost him the life of the child. And if he saves the child, it will permanently cost him any hope of returning Jennie. An interesting story, by, I think, a newcomer named Junior Thomas. Staz Johnson does the pencils. But, I think, the really interesting part will be how the story plays out next issue, and what they do to wrap it up. I really like this series, and the way that they approach the varying story-lines. It also seems lately that they're using this as a springboard for new talent. I think that's cool! And of course they have a plethora of fantastic characters to choose from.

American Virgin #21 - Vertigo

Unfortunately, for me, I'd have to say that this one is probably in my bottom 10. I've tried to stick with it. Hoping that it would go someplace. But . . . for me . . . nothing. From the looks of the cover, it appears that Adam is going to be a father. He and Vanessa have been going at it like rabbits lately, so . . why not? But it's actually Cyndi, Adam's sister who thinks she's pregnant. But, how can that be? I mean, her lover, Mel, is actually a woman. A mystery for a future book, I guess. Anyways, the whole sordid group are on their way to Havana to find Adam's real father. He and Mamie split up when Adam was young, because her father didn't think she'd have any kind of future with a Cuban. But when they make it to Havana, and they find Adam's father, the priest, they immediately fall passionately into each other's arms. Apparently the spark is still there. Meanwhile, Mel tried to get Adam to cancel the trip because he found out that "Batu Balan's #1 pig is roasting himself in the Dominican Republic. I got unfinished business . . you got unfinished business . . I say we go finish it." And although Adam is tempted, right now he feels that the trip they're on is more important. And on their way, he and Vanessa join the Mile High Club. Who'da thunk it? Anyways, this book isn't terrible. It's just . . . really . . . one big soap-opera. The problem is, it's just not that interesting. And the artwork is definitely not something to jump for joy about. So why am I still buying it? I'm asking myself the same question.

Green Lantern Corps #18 - DC

What a fantastic series and story-line this is turning out to be. I loved what Peter J Tomasi did with the story. And I like the way Patrick Gleason and Jamal Igle shared the art chores. Patrick did the action packed stuff. And Jamal did the flashback scenes. Which, really, is what this book was all about. We got to see the formative years of Sodom Yat. He's the new Ion. So it was appropriate that we learned where he came from, and what formed him in to the hero that he is today. His love of the stars came from when he lived on Daxam. The interests of space was an area that most Daxamites shied away from. But not Sodom. And when an alien spaceship crashed on their planet, he was the first to go in search of whatever it was that landed. He ended up finding an alien, and a friend that day. They never really crossed the communication barrier, but they still shared ideas and concepts. They kind of taught each other. However, one day when Sodom returned, he found that his alien had been found out. He was gone, and he never saw him again. He was basically reprogrammed to understand the perils of interaction with aliens species. But, the lesson didn't stick. He still had the same curiosity. He just had to be careful to hide it now. But, in the present, he was in a knock-down, drag-out brawl with Superman-Prime. He's on Earth, fighting with the rest of the Corps and Superman-Prime has decided that he's the one he's going to beat. But this is the first time Sodom realizes what the yellow sun does to his metabolism, and they really go at each other, blow for blow. But Sodom also realizes the threat of his inherent weakness, lead poisoning. He's weakened by it, and I think between that, and Superman-Primes more experience with his powers, he ends up beaten. So this first meeting between these two, didn't end up very well. But this story's going to be carried over in to Green Lantern #25. So, I don't think, that we're anywhere near the end of this yet. "It ain't over till it's over!" Fantastic book!

Blue Beetle #21 - DC

This issue was a little different. This issue Jamie crosses paths with the Spectre. For some reason he has set his sights on a local prison. The Las Tunas Federal Correctional Facility. It just seems strange to me because if this is what the Spectre wanted to do, he could've done it anywhere at any time. I mean, how many overflowing prisons do we have in this country? So if he wanted to do a little house-cleaning, he could've picked anywhere, anytime. Well, despite that little curiosity, he does pick this prison close to Jamie. And, I guess, he's attracted to it because of a recent riot. But he just swoops in like Judge and Jury. What I do like though, is it seems like all these "trials" are helping Jamie come to terms with what he is, and what he's capable of. Also each issue, he seems to be more and more in control of the armor and it's weapons. Of course people are going to think of him as the schizophrenic hero, because of the way he keeps talking to himself. However, while in the prison, Jamie comes face to face with Luis. He's the guy who got his dad shot. So he has no warm feeling towards him. But it raises a conflict within him. He talks to his dad, because he's conflicted over his feelings of wanting to make Luis pay for what he did. After seeing how the Spectre was handling things, he realizes that those may not be the best feelings. So in talking to his father, he realizes that the best thing he can do, to put this guys actions and punishment out of his mind, is to forgive him. Forgive him for what he's done, and realize that punishment will always meet the crime. With or without his participation. So it's best to put the things in the past, in the past, and keep his life moving forward. In that realization, Jamie ends up talking the Spectre down. He agrees to leave Luis alone, as long as the guard he attacked survives. But, " . . . if the guard dies, so too will Luis Rivas. But now you have gained the attention of righteous fury and divine retribution. You wield a power with a hideous will to do harm . . . a will that you do not fully control. Do not weaken, Jaime Reyes . . and know that if you do, the Spectre will come again!" However, despite that obvious threat, Jamie does feel good about the way things turned out. And the guard ends up living, so he knows that nothing will happen to Luis. As least from the Spectre. I'm still not thrilled with the artwork in this series. But, I think the stories have progressed tremendously.

Gen13 - Armageddon #1 - WildStorm

This time it's Caitlin's turn to take a trip in to the future. Our little band of misfits are just getting ready for a fun game of basketball, when Void steps in and borrows Caitlin. It really doesn't seem like we're all that far in the future. I'd say a year or 2 at the most. But anyways, we really don't learn anything new about the coming threat this issue. All we really do learn is that the Coda are there. But, I don't think they had anything to do with what happened. They just happen to be the strongest organized group that's left, so they set up shop. However, their numbers are also diminished during the coming calamity, so they are recruiting women from what ever sources they can find. Caitlin, Roxy and Rainmaker happen to fall in to their sights. It seems to me that whomever Void takes in to the future, to try to figure out what happened, gets caught up in whatever hardships have befallen their own individual groups. Also, as witnessed in the previous chapters, Void only has so much time allotted for the trips. But, as was the case this issue, Caitlin finds out that her "family" is being held captive by the Coda. So her main interest becomes to break them free. However, by the time she's done with that, Void has no more time left. I think that Void is trying to put them in familiar surroundings, or at least close to the people they know, so they can try to glean some information out of them. But, as I said, they get caught up in their own concerns, or concerns for their loved ones, and then information gathering is not their primary concern. I think Void is going to continue to fail, as long as she keeps taking this approach. Unless she's seeing or getting some information that we're not. So, as far as progressing through this Armageddon story-line, I pretty much felt that this chapter was worthless. Although it is a nice Gen13 book. I particularly liked the artwork of Jonboy Meyers. I thought that his style was perfect for this book. I'm wondering why they can't get him to do the regular series? I think it would make the book much more consistent, visually, with previous incarnations. But, that's just my opinion.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ultimate Spider-man #116 - Marvel

Another chapter in the life of my favorite Ultimate Universe hero . . . Spider-man. I love this book. Brian Michael Bendis, as always, does a fantastic job with the stories. And, Stuart Immonen, taking over for the very talented Mark Bagley, has not skipped a beat in the visual department. This is a very appealing book . . . . to all the senses. We finished last issue with Peter and Norman falling to their deaths out of the window of Norman's penthouse. When he was in the Triskelion, he used up all his web fluid trying to escape Carol Danvers. She was using him as bait to draw Norman out. He had recently escaped from the Triskelion, so she arrested Peter and put him in. Although, it wasn't a very good plan. When you say it like that. However, Peter did find him in his penthouse. After a scuffle they both go flying out the window. Luckily for Peter, Kitty was watching on the news, saw what was happening and came to his rescue. But in the process, Norman seems to have disappeared. Peter and Kitty search for him for a while, to no avail, and Peter decides to go home. The scariest part of this whole story is when Peter finds Norman in his house and decides to have a casual conversation with him. Very surreal. Norman, in his freedom, had tried to use the media to spread rumors and lies about Nick Fury. He wants to take him down for what he's done to him. But, Peter and Norman's conversation is cut short when Carol decides to try to do the same thing. She gets Harry and puts him on national TV. You can see from Norman's eyes . . the S$%# is about to hit the fan now. This is easily the best title in the Ultimate Universe, and continues to be month after month. If you aren't reading it. . . you should. You'll fall in love with Spider-man all over again.

X-Men First Class #6 - Marvel

This was an enjoyable book. However, I didn't quite realize how bad they messed up the printing of it until the reprint came out 2 weeks later. I mean, I knew the pages were out of order but . . . . man. Somebody really messed that one up. Like I've said before though, I really like this book, because it's nice to see all the kids younger and more exuberant. This still all have youthfulness and hope in their eyes. That's the one downfall, I think, about the current X-Men titles. There's just so much earth-shattering, end of the world, or universe, stuff going on, that it's hard for any of them to have a moment's peace, let alone a glimmer of hope. And now with this whole Endangered Species, and Messiah Complex stories going on, they really are fighting for their lives on a daily basis. So, I think, this book offers the complete opposite spectrum when it comes to our view of these young heroes. This particular issue is when they first see the Sentinels. As a prelude to their attack, they've done something to negate everyone's powers. But rather than think they're under attack, or who may have done what, their first thoughts are of how they're going to change their lives. Heck, Jean doesn't even notice it until Henry throws a book at her. Scott is ecstatic, "Hey look, LOOK! My eyes have turned off! I don't need the visor . . the glasses . . anything! It's OVER!!" The most upset one is Warren, because his wings really did define him. Anyways, as I said, it was a prelude, so then the Sentinels attack. Without their powers, the kids have to use their wits and their training to fight them. Which they do, for the first few. But on the last page, the outside of the mansion is surrounded by them. But, not realizing the enormity of the threat, the kids response is, "Man! This day just keeps getting worse!"

Sensational Spider-man #41 - Marvel

We finally find out, with this issue, what the One More Day title of this story-arc means. And in typical Marvel fashion, it all comes down to a deal that Mephisto is trying to strike with Peter and Mary Jane. "Enjoy the world as it is for as long as you can. For you will only have it for One More Day. You will not consciously remember this bargain. Or this moment. Or the life you lived to this point. But there will be a very small part of your soul that will remember. That will know what you lost. And my joy will be in listening to that part of your soul screaming throughout eternity. You have until tomorrow to say yes. At that instant, you will either lose your marriage or your aunt. Either way, the world you know, the world you care about and have fought so hard to protect . . . will be at an end." And that beautiful soliloquy by Mephisto . . . that is truly what this whole story comes down to. So now Peter and Mary Jane have to make a choice. Do they save their love and their marriage . . . or do they save Aunt May? Unfortunately, according to all the experts, both physical and metaphysical, this may be the only choice they have. This may be the only chance they have to bring May back to them. But, is the loss going to be worth it? How will Spider-man change? How will Mary Jane change? And there in lies the rub. This story-line has been fantastically written by J Michael Straczynski and drawn by Joe Quesada. This is truly a classic in the making.

Superman / Batman #43 - DC

This appears to be one of those in-between stories. Waynetech and STAR labs are working together on a satellite station where there are trying to capture the dark matter of the universe, and use it as a renewable power source. At least that's their plans. However, Dr Light seems to have other ideas in mind. At first I thought he was after the dark matter, but actually he was using it as a diversion to sneak in to Superman's Fortress of Solitude, to try to abscond with some new weaponry. New to him, anyways. But Batman, sensing that something is wrong when they're attacked in the station by some dark matter Titans, follows him to the Fortress, while Superman deals with the attack on the station. Of course both are victorious. Batman seals Dr. Light in a cocoon of dark matter. But somebody has pulled Dr. Light out of that trap. We don't see their face, but, to me, it looks to be Monarch. So apparently he's going to have something to do with the Final Crisis. But we don't know what yet. So basically, the purpose of this issue was, one to fill in between story-lines, and two, to get Dr. Light in to position with Monarch. But as always, it was another great chapter in the legends of the World's Finest. Come on! After all, that should be the title of this book. But I won't quibble. A very nice story, by Abnett, Lanning and McKone. I included the front page because I like the picture of the young Titans.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-heroes #36 - DC

Well, it looks like this issue is the swan song, for our team-up with Supergirl on this Legion series. But all is not lost, because next issue, Jim Shooter takes over the creative reigns of the Legion. He seems to have a passion for the Legion, and hopefully he'll bring some new ideas to the table with him. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do with this group, which has been around for so long. I love these guys. But anyways, this storyline, the Quest for Cosmic Boy, seems to have been necessary for the leaving of Supergirl. Everything that has happened in the last 6 or so issues, has been carefully orchestrated by Brainiac 5. Supergirl was sent to the Gobi Rainforest so that she could purposefully come in contact with Evolvo-lad. She was supposed to see his machine, that he was peering back in to the past with, so she could see all the turmoil that was going on in her current time-line, and she would feel guilty and beg to go back. When Saturn Girl goes back to confront Brainy, she finds him sleeping, so she enters his mind. She discovers what Brainy has known for months, that Dream Girl has been existing in his consciousness. All of this drama has been for a few reasons. Brainy wanted to clear Cosmic Boys name. Plus he was afraid that Mekt and his group of Wanderers were going to cause a threat to Legion hierarchy. In the process he turned Tenzil Kem in to an ally. He also wanted to correct the mistake the Legion made when Drake Burroughs first trying to join. In the process his energies improved Timber Wolf. And finally he felt he had to achieve his true duty to Supergirl. And that was returning her to her own era. So the issue ends with Dream Girl in Brainy's arms, and Lightning Lad as the new leader of the Legion. So the stage has been set, and now Jim Shooter can come in with a clean slate. Well . . . all except for the thing with Cosmic Boy. But we'll see what he has in mind for him. It should be the beginning of a new era for our favorite team of future heroes. Long live the Legion!

Teen Titans #53 - DC

A couple of things I'd like to say about this book . . . first of all . . . look at that beautiful cover. It's by Ale' Garza and Rod Reis. Secondly, this book, with it's current inception, unfortunately hasn't has an artist stick around for to long. When the series first started, Mike McKone was on the pencils, and he was actually on there for about 23 issues. With a few missing in the middle. But after that, I don't think there was anybody that was on board for more than 6 issues. Even Tom Grummett did 4 or 5 issues in the middle of McKone's run. But, no matter who has come on this series, they've consistently stepped up and turned in some of their best work. Right now we have Eddy Barrows on pencils. And I gotta' tell you, when he first came on the scene over in the Atom, I wasn't all that thrilled with his stuff. But, towards the end of his run there, and, really, everything I've seen on this book, I think the guy is improving tremendously. Maybe it goes back to my argument about the right inker / penciller match-up. I don't know. But I'm really impressed with the look of the most recent chapter. Lex Luthor has brought his Titans of tomorrow back to ensure that their future exists. And this time he's brought his entire Titan Army. It seems like right now, their plans are to sow the seeds of doubt in their current selves. There seems to be some kind of turning point that's approaching rapidly, and they want to make sure that they make the right decision. Robin seems to be the pivotal character. But Kid Devil, Blue Beetle and Ravager also seem to play a big part in it. We don't actually make to much progress on our storyline this issue, because the Starro's have come to attack the Earth, after they've been repelled by the Green Lanterns. So they spend most of the issue trying to deal with that invasion. And, by the end of the issue, it looks like Blue Beetle is the only one left standing in his right mind. This is a fantastic book, and one of my all-time favorite hero teams. Sean McKeever is the current scribe, and he hasn't slowed the pace down one bit. If anything, it seems to be in hyper-drive. I enjoy the current story-line, but I'll be happy when it's over so Sean can move on to some character development, and we can see what he's going to be bringing to the table. Titans Together!

the Death of the New Gods #3 - DC

We're getting closer to finding out who is killing all these New Gods. But they're keeping the identity a closely guarded secret. We don't even know if it's a man or a woman. All we see is their feet. Takion come face to face with them, at the Source Wall, shortly before he dies. But all he says is, "YOU?! Of course! I should have known! But why?! . . . . It matter not now! I must . . . ." And then he's killed. But, at the end of the story, we learn the Metron, using his Mobius chair, had rested between the moments, undiscovered, and surveyed the whole scene. So he now knows who the culprit is. He decides that further investigation is required before confrontation can occur. "Myriad questions need be answered. To fully understand our adversary I must back-track on his trail. This will serve the dual purpose of solidly confirming his guilt . . . and aid me in understanding why he has betrayed us." We also see Miracle Man's transformation this issue as he uses the full extent of the anti-life equation to try to force some answers out of Darkseid. But as Darkseid puts it, "Midnight of the New Gods is upon us. Darkseid has come to terms with this inevitability. You would be wise to do the same." Also, on New Genesis, Himon has been elected their new leader. Darkseid is seeking knowledge about an old project called Soul Fire. And on New Genesis Mantis has been reborn. But he's mystified to find he Royal Guard wiped out, to the last man, and "Left me unmolested while I was at my weakest? Why? And who?" This is a fantastic mini-series by Jim Starlin and Matt Banning. The only bad point to the whole thing, is that when all is said and done . . . there will be no more Fourth World. I guess, we're going to have a Fifth World. Whatever that means?! But if Jim Starlin is at the helm of it . . . . it's sure to be genius.

Countdown Presents - Lord Havok and the Extremists #2 - DC

I really like the feel that Frank Tieri gives the story in this book. I think he's doing a fantastic job of introducing us to all of these characters. And, I've been a huge fan of Liam Sharp's for a long time. I am so happy to see him on this series. He's perfect for it. This issue we kind of get the origin of Gorgon. He's actually the result of his own genetic experiments, and his tentacles represent his various personalities. And, of course, he's driven to her current state because of unrequited love. Isn't it always the case? Anyways, this issue we get the story, from the side of the Extremists, about when the Challengers popped in to their universe. They're about to go to war with the United States, and they fear that the Meta Militia will be invading their country at any time. So when these guys pop in, they assume that that's who they are. It isn't until the Barracuda shows up, their undercover op in the Meta Militia, who tells them that it's impossible because he's never seen them before. But at least he told him that before Jason killed him. Off the subject a bit . . . but the insignia for the Meta Militia looks an awful lot like the logo for Miracle Man. You know, that series by Alan Moore. It's not exactly the same, but it's very close. Anyways, then Monarch and his legion show up, and offer Lord Havok a rank in his new Universal army. The issue ends with Havok flatly denying him, and us wondering what the retaliation from Monarch is going to be. We see the Jokester on the cover, but we don't actually see what happens to him. In the Countdown book, he's kind of just disappeared. Anyways, great story, and fantastic art.

Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters #3 - DC

At the end of last issue, Phantom Lady committed suicide. Of course, she did have a dependency problem. And, during the fake terrorist attack, she did kill someone. So I guess you could say, she was rightfully ambivalent. But Lester Colt, Doll Man, decides that he's not going to let another human being take their own life. He's been a soldier his whole life. It's one thing when a person dies in battle. When they die for a purpose, or defending a cause. But a selfish, wasteful act like suicide . . . he just can't let it happen. Partly, I think, because he feels a bit guilty about her reaction to recent events. "I should have taken the time to train Phantom Lady how to deal with life off the battlefield . . . . . Dying young isn't romantic . . . it's a waste." We then get Lester's origin. As a soldier he volunteered for the experiment, that Dr. Glenn and his daughter Emma were performing. He was to become the second Doll Man. The first, Darryl Dane, had gone AWOL. But someone broke in to the lab and stole the Doctor's work before it could come to it's true realization, or before Lester's condition could be reversed. We then see a plethora of new meta's coming to the forefront to take the limelight. But really it's marketing propaganda, to try to make the world forget about the Freedom Fighters. We also see that SHADE is running tests on Red Bee, to find out what the extent of her new powers and transformation are. But the man performing the tests is not who he appears to be, and when Jenna squawks about being held against her will, he sedates her and puts her in stasis. But at the end of the book she uses her new antenna to call on a swarm of mechanical bees, who come and break her out. And Uncle Sam and Doll Man jumped head first in to a heap of trouble. The VP was abducted and he was taken to one of the lower levels of the Pentagon. Once there they find a war-zone made up of miniaturized people. In order to find the VP, they have to shrink themselves down and go in to find him. They find that he was taken by an army led by Darryl Dane. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti do the scripts. And Renato Arlem handles the art chores. Overall I enjoy the book. I'm just not exactly sure where this particular series is heading. But we still have 5 issues to go.