Monday, May 28, 2007

X-Men First Class #8 - Marvel

Well this issue wraps up the mini series. But . . . on a good note, the final caption on the last page says, " . . . end of series 1." So it appears that our early adventures will be returning. Jeff Parker, the writer, seems to have a really good grasp on these young X-men. He seems to know their motivation and personalities quite acutely. Roger Cruz, the artist, also seems to be trying a new style for this book, that gives it a young, raw feeling. It fits the story perfectly. So if, I mean when, the book does return, by vote is for the same creative team. Oh, and isn't that a beautiful cover by Marko Djurdjevic? Never heard of him, but I like his stuff. This issue, Jean has a vision that the Professor is in trouble, and our team goes to Africa to try to find him. While there they hook up with Ken Hale, an explorer, that through some ancient magics, got stuck in the body of a Gorilla. He's going to be their jungle guide. It's the usual kind of jungle adventure, with the X-men twist. They find the Professor but have to overcome some personal insecurities to free him. Like I've said before, it's one of those tales where they're learning as much about themselves as they are about their powers. They're also learning how to be team-mates, and how to count on each other. Which is what I like about this book, because it's a totally different feel that the usual X-men stories. It's young, fresh, upbeat . . . and I like it. I hope to see it return soon.

Wolverine #53 - Marvel

Of course we all know that Jeph Loeb is a brilliant writer. And we've all seen Simone Bianchi's incredible covers, both here and on Detective Comics. But the interiors of these last few issues have been incredible. The splash page of this issue, with a White Bengal tiger jumping off the page is suitable for framing. It's just been fantastic. This issue we find out a little more about the mystery that seem's to be haunting Wolverine. It really all comes down to a theory that T'challa has. He believes that along with the natural evolution of man, from water to land, that there were also variations. Just as there's a mutant variation of homo-sapiens, he believes that there's a lupine variation of man's evolution. And the bones at the elephant burial ground, seem to support that theory. T'challa also argues that it's evident in the mutant population because of the various lupine variations. Such as Wolfbane, Thornn, Feral, Sasquatch, just to name a few. Well while this is going on, T'challa has put Sabretooth under a much better restraint system. But, somebody breaks in and frees him. They also appear to have freed quite a bit of blood from Sabretooth. Wolverine follows the trail, but he's attacked and taken down. As he's remembering back, he believes it was by . . . . Wildchild. But, " . . he was never that good!". So he's a bit confused. His attack has him out for 2 days, and when he awakens he's surrounded by Sasquatch, Wolfsbane, Thornn and Feral, and they're ready to take on a mission that none of them wants. " . . . going back in to the heart of Weapon X!" Next issue should prove very interesting.

Exiles #93 - Marvel

This has always been one of my favorite books. Mainly because the status quo, is that there is no status quo. I like it when things get shaken up. The comics market, and the average Joe reader, I think, is much more savvy now. I think they're smarter, and they know what they want. I think that they also know that in real life, and yes I know we're not dealing in real life, but, in real life things do change. As much as you want them to stay the same, as much as you'd like to pick up your favorite book, and read about your favorite characters, and although you'd like to read about adventures that may change the characters essentially do not, as much as all that is comforting and nostalgic . . . . it's not very realistic. Things change. Crap happens. Events happen. And we usually end up in a different place, or in a different circle than when the event first happened. That's not always comfortable, and we often wish that we could go back to simpler times, it's just part of the life cycle. Stuff happens, you learn from it, and you move on. And you wait for the next stuff to happen. The only difference in this book is that sometimes they don't wait for stuff to happen, they go out looking for it. Which shows a lot of cahones. Our team is on a would now that they're supposed to kill Reed Richards. Why? Because Sue Richards is Madame Hydra, Wolverine is her consort. And their plans, of which they're already well on their way, is to take over the world, control it, dominate it . . . . whatever. Reed and his rag-tag band of freedom fighters are really the last of the holdouts. So why do they have to kill him? Because if they don't, his dimensional hopping devices will fall in to Sue's hands and her reign of terror will spread across the multiverse. And from the looks of the last page of this issue, that concern may come to fruition. So either they're going to take Reed out, or they'll be following Hydra across the multiverse for the next couple of issues. This is a fantastic story by the incomparable Chris Claremont. So glad he's back on board. And the incredible artwork is by Paul Pelletier. They work well together, and the story shows it. I honestly never thought this book would make it to 100 issues, but here we are. Almost there. Congratulations to everyone on a great book.

New Excalibur #19 - Marvel

Well it looks like it's inevitable. Our team is going to have to go up against Albion, his student Lionheart and his team of Shadow-X. We get to see a little more about Talia's recovery this issue. There's some touching moments between her and Cain. But I'm wondering if there might be something else going on with her also, because she seems to be having visions or something also. Her words and thoughts are getting mixed up, but there seems to be a pattern here that we aren't privy to yet. I'm sure it'll all play out eventually. Anyways, Albion basically recruits Shadow-X. But it's a tenuous relationship, at best. Shadow-X seems to have their own agenda and aspirations, and Albion realizes this. But I think that he plans on using the team as long as their goals coincide with his. I also think that as soon as they go off in a different direction, he knows he'll have to cut them loose. The Jean character has already made a play on Lionheart, but Albion was prepared for just such an eventuality and gave her a device to overcome her powers. Our team figures out that Albion is trying to recruit meta criminals, and also those who lost their powers on M-Day. So basically he's putting together a lot of angry people. They decide to have Sage go undercover and infiltrate their group. She's got different hair, and a different look to her, so she won't be recognizable. Shadow-X's next goal is to go to London's Crossmore prison and try to free their mentor, the evil Charles. Right now he's being inhabited by the Shadow King. He's tired of Charles' body, plus it's failing him, so he's looking for a new home. Shadow-X offers up that of Lionheart's. But again, Albion was prepared for this eventuality and sent a collar with her that would lock the Shadow King inside of Charles. Then once installed, she kills Charles and thereby kills the Shadow King. She's ready to take on the rest of Shadow-X, but right then our team shows up. So next issue should be an interesting battle. I'm so glad that Chris Claremont is back on this title. I love his story telling prowess. And through that, this book, and these characters have become so much more interesting. I also think that Scott Eaton is doing a fantastic job on the pencils. Again, another severely underrated artist. This is turning in to a fantastic book again. And hopefully, this time, it'll stick around. No more hiatus.

Heroes for Hire #9 - Marvel

I have to admit this issue was a little better than the last few. We have a new writer on board now, Zeb Wells. Never heard of him myself, but he seems to be trying some new stuff, and going in a little different direction with the team. Also Clay Mann is the penciller this issue. Again, someone I've never heard of, but he's got some style. It's not the best stuff I've ever seen, but it shows a lot of potential. There's some frames in here that I really like the feel of, but it's not consistent. I assume that he's relatively new and just needs some more experience. But like I said he does show a lot of potential. This issue our team has been hired by Palladin to take on a job in the Savage Land. They're looking for Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy. Actually their specific instructions are to apprehend Moon Boy, but they'll take the Dinosaur too, should that option become available to them. Of course things never go as easy as they planned, and they soon find out the the Savage Land is a whole 'nother world than what they're used to. Literally! I like the interactions that Zeb scripts between these characters. They seem natural and consistent with their personalities. And I like the way that they each seem to have to adapt to this new environment that's been forced upon them. Of course some of their adaptations are out of necessity. And it seems like the Savage Land has brought out the savage lust of Shang-Chi and Tarantula. But then it could just be the adrenaline or the wild surroundings that they're in. The cover, I think, is a little weak. But overall I'd have to say this is the best issue in the last 5 or 6. Maybe I can look forward to reading this again.

Fantastic Four #545 - Marvel

The New Fantastic Four are off on their first mission. And it's becoming quickly apparent that Black Panther is going to be the new team leader. Mainly because of his cool analytical head, but also, I think, because of his presence. No matter what role he's in, even as part of this team, you can tell he's a king. Reed and Sue have also taken off, leaving the kids at home, for a second honeymoon on Titan. But you know them, it's never going to be as calm and relaxing as they want it to be. Plus, what's that thing about "the best laid plans"? Anyways, our team has followed the trail of an earth sole that has been taken by Epoch, the keeper of Cosmic Awareness. They're following the trail of Gravity, a young hero that was killed in battle on Battleworld, trying to save some of his friends. Anyways, they approach Epoch shortly before the Silver Surfer shows up to announce that this sector of space will soon be devoured by Galactus. Of course the Thing jumps in to battle the Surfer, always thinking that he can fight his way to a conclusion. Black Panther tries to take a calmer approach and talk to the Surfer about their reasons for being there and what they need before they leave. But the Surfer is pretty single minded, and when reason fails, the Panther attempts to take him on also. But while all this is going on, the body and soul of Gravity has returned to life, and with Epoch's help, has been transformed in to a new hero. And he brings an end to the battle, at least temporarily, until next issue. Nice story by Dwayne McDuffie. I like the feel he has for these characters. Brilliant interaction. And Paul Pelletier does the pencils. As I've said before, I really don't think this guy gets enough credit for the work he turns in. Really nice looking stuff. And it's all behind a beautiful Michael Turner cover. Great book. It should be a nice ride for a little while.

Justice Society of America #5 - DC

With Geoff Johns, on JSA, and Brad Meltzer, on JLA, in charge of the All-Star franchise, I have a feeling both these books are going to around for a long time. Not to mention how good they gotta be doing on the shelves. This issue picks up exactly where JLA #8 left off. They've figured out that there are 7 Legion members in our time-line for some reason. The first 2 were Karate Kid and Starman. Now they've separated in to teams and gone after the other heroes. Batman, Geo-Force, Sandman and Starman go to Arkham to rescue Dreamgirl. When they get there they find out that she's being held by Dr. Destiny. Apparently he's tapping in to her dream powers. Of course they rescue her, but they're really no closer to figuring out what's going on and why they're here. The only thing Dreamgirl says is that one of them is going to die. Superman, Stargirl, Red Tornado and Cyclone go to Superman's fortress of solitude. They're tracking the energy given off by the rings. It's because of their unique metal, Valorium. Superman has a spare ring in his fortress, but he finds out that one of his Legion statues, WildFire, is actually alive. There's a secret word, spoken in Interlac I guess, the Legion language, that brings them out of their suspended animation. When WildFire comes to, he doesn't have any info to give them, but Batman's utility belt shows up in the blast. Like I said, with Geoff and Brad at the creative helm of these 2 books, the stories are just fantastic. The depth and character that both these writers put in to all of these characters is just incredible. The interactions are perfect. And we're learning knew things about these characters every issue. I think that because of the quality of story, the artists are bumping up their output as well. Fernando Pasarin is the artist on this issue. I never heard of him before. But, I liked his stuff. Very crisp and clean lines. And very good flow with the frames. If the creative forces behind both these books can keep up this kind of output, they're both going to be major players on the stands. And don't forget about the awesome alternate covers that have come out with every issue so far. They're usually $10, because they're 1 to 25, but they've all been worth it. If you're not on board, do it quickly. Because this book is hot!

Outsiders Annual #1 - DC

Another great annual from DC. This one, and the Nightwing Annual are the best 2 I've seen this summer. So far. And since I'm actually a team kind of guy, I'd have to give the Outsiders Annual the edge. We finally fill in the Outsiders story-line, to wrap up the One Year Later thing. This issue the Outsiders bust Black Lightning out of jail. Of course, being who they are, it does not go off without a hitch. Basically they have to fight their way out. And Boomerang's kid, who is BL's bunkie, ends up helping them. But everyone except for Nightwing and Arsenal get caught on video. As they're making their escape their plane gets shot down. Of course they survived, but the rest of the world thinks they're dead. With BL's urging, Nightwing accepts Boomy Jr. on to the team. Arsenal gets Ollie, with his newly discovered fortune to back them, but in the process he also quits the team. And we finally get Warden Wolfe to display his powers. Overall a great issue, by Judd Winick and Scott McDaniel. There was actually a touching moment when Shift, talking to his father of sorts, Rex Mason, decides that he's just had to much heart-ache. So he decides to relinquish his life and jumps back in to Rex, merging with his host. The problem is, " . . I feel him in here. I have all his memories. His anger. His guilt. His love. I swear to you . . it's like I lived it. But . . . it's my weight to bear now. " Like I said, very nice book. And now we're caught up with the regular storyline, and we should be back on track. Well . . . as on track as you can be . . . with the Outsiders.

Teen Titans Go! #42 - DC

This issue focus' on probably one of my favorite Titans from this series, Raven. Basically she gets split apart in to emoticons. Different beings, each exhibiting a different aspect of her id. And each with a different color to symbolize what aspect of her personality that they represent. That's a lot of big words, for a series that's probably aimed at 8 to 12 year olds. To them . . . it was just a story about how Raven got broken apart and then put back together again. Good interaction with the characters. And, as I've said with every one of these, they really stay true to the TV series. Just a healthy indulgence for me though. Plus I really do like these characters. And the books a lot of fun to read.

Wetworks #8 - Wildstorm

First of all, I just gotta say, Darrick Robertson seems to be everywhere this month. We got a little while until his next issue of the Boys come out, so I guess he's keeping himself busy by filling in all over the place in the meantime. Nothing wrong with that. And I like his work so . . . no down side. Anyways, Mike Carey is getting closer to wrapping up this storyline. Our team has gone to see John Savoy, the king of the earth vampires, but it's seems that it was a setup. But really, our team pretty much knew that going in. I mean they're some pretty heavy hitters themselves, so . . . I think they just wanted to go in gun blazing and see what they're up against. What they find is a bunch of human vampires that have been transformed through Thea Mater magics. Meanwhile, Ab Death and Red are talking to the physical manifestation of the Blood Box over in Deadworld. As much as Simon Vascar wants to bring Thea Mater's magics and such over to our world, the Blood Box, filled with the souls of 30 years of vampire executions, also wants to be the king of his world. In our world he's nothing but a lifeless box of silver, but in the Deadworld, because of all the souls that inhabit him, he is pretty powerful. And he may reign supreme. But if Ab Death and Red can stop him here, then Simon won't be able to use it's magics to infect our world. And right now Simon is at the sight of Bromion Ground, the prison on Thea Mater. Or at least the Mesa where it would be if it were on our world. And this is where Simon is going to make his stand. Simon and John Savoy are here with the hostages they have gathered. And Dane and his crew have followed him here to try to thwart his plans. Also the Blood Box had been summoned by Simon so it is here. And Ab Death and Red, following the trail of the Blood Box, are on their way. So . . . next issue we'll find out what Simon's ultimate plans are, and how this is all going to come together. Or . . . come apart. But overall, a very engrossing story.

Conner Hawke - Dragon's Blood #6 DC

Something happened here. I know I got issue #5, and I know I read it, but for some reason it's not listed in my posts. I'm not sure how that happened. But, for whatever reason, this is the last issue, #6. And actually, it played out to a pretty decent ending. The real reason Zhao wanted the dragon killed, was for it's blood. In it's blood, is it's power. And to bathe in that blood is to take it's power in. But on the way to look for the pool, Zhao's assistant, or whatever, decides that he wants to take that power for himself, and kills Zhao. By the time Conner finds the pool, Hoon has already soaked in quite a bit of the power. But he's not very smart. In the process of his battle with Conner he tries to drown him in the pool. Duh!! All your doing is soaking him in the same substance that gave you your power. Evil nemesis' really don't have a lot of common sense. Connor attempts to shoot him with the same magic arrow that he shot the dragon with, but Zoon is faster than he is. The arrow ends up through Connor's hand. But he gets the opportunity, during the fight, with the Arrow in his hand, literally, to shove it in to Zoon's heart. Now if continuity exists, then Connor should emerge from this series slightly changed. One because he should have some of the Dragon's power, maybe even alot since he's also attuned to the magic and he slayed the wielder. And he should also be changed because . . . . he slayed the wielder. Connor has now taken a life. Most people don't emerge from that unscathed. Eddie ended up hanging with Shado, and in trying to kill all the dragons spawn, he was burnt up pretty badly. He's in the hospital recuperating, and I think things are going to work out with him and Brandy. Shado went back to her home, to be with her daughter, and without acting on her feelings for Connor. She's decided that they should just remain friends and family. I really like the way Chuck Dixon put this story together. But, and I've said this a hundred times, it'll all be moot if they don't keep the changes to this character in place, when he goes back to Ollie. We'll see what they do. I hope they don't puss out. But we'll see. And to be honest, I really wasn't thrilled with Derec Donovan's interior art. There were a few frames that were decent. But overall I'd have to give it a C-. Sorry! But that's just my opinion. However, I did enjoy the series.

JSA Classified #25 - DC

This is a nice 1 issue story about Alan Scott. He has to look up an old adversary of his, Johnny Mimic. He has the ability to recreate any crime just by looking at it and walking through it. The problem is, with that intimate of an association with a bad event, it tends to have negative affects on him. At the very least his psyche can slip in to the role of the perpetrator. Anyways, SHADE has had something stolen from it's lab, and Father Time is pissed. So he asks, putting it nicely, for Allan Scott to get Johnny Mimic to do his thing and find his missing piece of technology. Johnny doesn't want to do it. He's knows what it's going to do to him and his wife. Their relationship is already tenuous. But, as I said, it was a request from Father Time . . . but then again . . . it wasn't. So after telling his wife what's going on, she's kick him out of the house for good. Now he has nothing, so . . . . why not go with Alan. Long story short the device that was stolen was the HERO disk. You know . . . "Dial H for HERO"? Well I guess SHADE has it. Err . . . had it. Comes to find out that the scientist that was studying, dialed in, and came up with time powers. He jumps forward in time, but Johnny knows where he's going to land, and skewers him. He then takes the dial, tries to make an escape, but in the process gets Alan to destroy the disk. "Had to make you . . . bust the gizmo . . . couldn't let them . . . have it. Greenie. . . . they killed the last guy who owned it. Tell her I did good . . . don't let her know . . . I was . . . such a heel . . .", says Johnny with his dying breath. So Alan issue a warning to Father Time, that he'll be watching SHADE. It actually was kind of a touching story. Tony Bedard wrote it, and Dennis Calero did the pencils. Overall, a nice book.

Amazons Attack! #1 - DC

This issue fills in the in-between pages of the last issue of Wonder Woman. I you read it, you know that the Govt. had captured Wonder Woman, and were going to interrogate her, run tests on her, and whatever else the Govt. or aliens do with their abductees. Well about the same time, Circe landed on Themyscira and brought Hippolyta back to life. I don't know why, maybe it was the way she died, or maybe Circe has her in her throes somehow, but Hippolyta, the Amazon Queen, is embracing her war-lust. She's decided to make war on the world of man for what they're attempting to do to her daughter. Basically, since Washington DC is the capital of the free world, that's where she decides to make her stand. But Nemesis has broken Wonder Woman out of her cell. But by the time she gets to Hippolyta, the capital city is pretty much in ruins. Or at least the monuments, which they take as a direct affront to their proud Greek architecture. In fact Hippolyta is sitting in Lincoln's chair, at the Lincoln memorial when Wonder Woman finds her. So now that Wonder Woman is free, she can call off her attack. Right? Somehow I don't think that's going to happen. Like I said, this issue fills in those pages between Wonder Woman's capture, and when she breaks free and finds her mother sitting in a city of ruins. But both issues pretty much end up on the same note. "Mom?It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out. I really don't know what the Amazons can do to take this back, after they've come so far, and done so much. Maybe they're building a permanent wedge between their world and ours. Or maybe . . . . Circe has more up her sleeve than even we thought possible. She does seem to be playing both side against the middle. But anyways Pete Woods crafts an interesting story here. And it'll be interesting to see how he works his way out of it. I haven't seen Pete Woods in a while, but I like the work that he turned in on this issue. Nice pencils. Good framing and flow. Overall a good book, and a decent concept, if . . . and it's a big if . . . they don't woose out and play this book out to it's logical conclusion. And the logical conclusion would not be pretty for the Amazons or for Wonder Woman. I know it may not be comfortable, or what everybody wants. But, it would be the logical conclusion. We'll see, by issue 6, what size cahones Will and Pete have.

Blue Beetle #14 - DC

Ok, I have to admit it, this was the best issue of Blue Beetle yet. Still now overly thrilled about the art. But . . . the story? The story rocked. And the main difference to the last 13 issues? Why, Guy Gardner of course. Guy finds Jamie out somewhere is the desert, I guess, brooding about his responsibilities and his homework. And they start fighting of course, because there's something in each of their powers that the other doesn't like. Can't put their finger on it, but they can both feel it. Anyways, Jamie unloads on him about the Reach. Who, surprisingly, Guy knows who they are, because of their history with the Guardians. Jamie takes him to the South Pole to prove his point. But when they get there, as in previous instances, only he can see the installation. But Guy actually believes him, "If ya say so, kid. I'm used to nobody listening to me. It ticks me off!" Of course the killer penguins and the Ultra-Humanite do help convince him that something is off kilter. But then the guy from the Reach shows up and claims to have no knowledge of any wrong doing. So Guy decides to retreat, "Time to go home, kid. We gotta play what Ted used to call . . . "the Long Game"." On the last page they have a little pow-wow, Guy tells him some stories about Ted, and he gives him a strategy book to read. "You can beat these punks. But you gotta stop thinkin' like some scared kid with fancy power armor . . . and start thinkin' like the Blue Beetle." Overall, a very nice story. But then Guy has a way of picking things up a little bit too.

Firestorm #35 - DC

What the Hell!! This is the last issue of Firestorm?? It can't be. This truly is one of my favorite characters of all time. And now he's gone? Well . . . not gone entirely. That big event that's coming up this summer . . . you know the one . . . the one that involves Darkseid! Well . . I have a feeling that Firestorm, actually Jason and Gehenna, are going to play a pretty big role in it. And maybe that's why the book is being put on hiatus. Maybe! But with a cred in the back that says, "Thanks to everyone who helped make Firestorm amazing . .", I don't think it's coming back as a regular title. Which really pisses me off. First I think that the characters they've developed in this particular incarnation are awesome. They don't deserve just to be thrown by the wayside because of some editorial decision. Second, because through all of this, all 35 issues, and the entire run of 52 which I thought would give us some insight, we still don't know the final fate, or what actually happened to Ronnie Raymond. Which is how they left us some 12 years or so ago when then cancelled the first run of this book. I'm sure we'll find out some answers this summer with the big bang thing, but that's not enough. What about Jason's parents, the Professor, Gehenna, Lorraine, and the rest of his supporting cast? We want to know their fates. We want to hear their stories. What about the Firestorm matrix and it's potential? And what about Jason? This is a kid who came out of nowhere, and in the short span of 35 issues, we've come to care about and love. And finally, what about us? The fans. There has to be more than just me. Speak up out there! Let your voices be heard! Let DC know that your not happy about their decision! We need to do something to try to save our friend. Please!! Will somebody out there lend me a hand? Please!! By the way, Pop Mahn did a great job on the artistic chores of this issue. Thanks!

Justice #11 - DC

This is another book that is fantastic. I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but, it's true. This book is a work of art. It also occurred to me that some of you out there may not know what a "broken record" is. If you don't . . . look it up. Anyways, we got Jim Krueger and Alex Ross on the script, and Doug Braithwaite and Alex Ross on the art. And when I say art, I truly mean art. If you've been picking this up, you're familiar with the creative team because . . . well, they've been here the whole time. If you haven't been picking this up . . . then shame on you. And actually . . I feel sorry for you, because you are truly missing out on a masterpiece here. Do you see how nice this cover looks? Well . . . on the inside . . . there's not a single panel that doesn't look just as incredible. I know, it's hard to believe, but seriously! And the way these guys are handling the characters with the script, is just genius. I love the interactions with every character in this book. A couple things I can tell, just by the effort these guy are putting in to this book, 1: they've obviously been in to comic books their whole lives and 2: they love these characters and they love what they're doing. I mean seriously, this book is as near to perfection as you can get. And for those of you who haven't been buying it, it's out in 2 Trade Paperbacks already. Issue 1 collects issues #1 - #6, and issue 2 collects issues #7 - #12. So now you have no excuses. Get out there, get this book, and let yourself become truly amazed by what can be done with comic books. The story in and of itself is genius, but with this incredible are on top . . . it's just poetry baby! Get it, and enjoy it!

52 - Week Fifty One - DC

We're almost there. We're almost at the end. And things are starting to wrap up. Buddy finally comes home to his wife, thanks to the Sun-Eater's energy. But when he gets there he's so powered up that all they can do is sit and talk for a while. What's being dubbed as World War III is over, so people are leaving flowers at the Superman/Superboy shrine. Cassie talks to Diana, who then begins her role as Agent Prince. And Bruce, Tim and Dick are all there also, having returned from their sabbatical. And Kid Devil introduces himself to Ravager. Adam Strange has returned to Rann, just in time to handle some flame creatures that are attacking the city. He's been fitted with copies of his daughters eyes, so he can see again. But he passes on the creatures, letting some Green Lanterns handle it, so he can spend some time with his family. But everyone seems to be worried about the Emerald Eye. But Lobo has that, and he's returned to the Church of the 3 fish to bring it to them. He finds out that they only wanted it because the head fish knows that it's the only thing that can kill him. Which I believe . . Lobo then does. Meanwhile in Dr. Morrow's lab in the Rocky Mountains, we find that he's trying to figure out the mystery of the Red Tornado head. It keeps repeating "52. 52." We also find out that the reason Skeets has been acting so harebrained lately is because he's been hijacked by Mr. Mind. You know the mad scientist worm from Shazam!. Apparently he had to gestate inside of Skeets for 52 weeks, and now he's ready to come out as this really ugly, psychotic, killer-moth type creature. Booster Gold and Rip Hunter are there, the Red Tornado and TO Morrow, because they wanted to lure Mr.Mind there to free Skeets. So once Mr. Mind leaves him, they grab Skeets and jump in a time bubble. Rip says, " . . . we're going back. Back to where it all started." Which leaves us with a tremendous cliff-hanger for issue 52. I really, really like this book. And I'm really hoping, since there's only 1 more issue left, that they keep up the same intensity with the Countdown storyline. But I only have 2 weeks to find out.

Catwoman #66 - DC

I'm so glad that we still have our Adam Hughes covers. They're always spectacular. This issue focus' mainly on our alternative Catwoman, Holly. There's a new villain in town, who's abducting little girls and then killing and torturing them over the inter-net. So Holly decides to take her down. Her names Blitzkrieg, and she looks like a Swiss yodeler in a blond amazon body. Anyways she ends up being a little more that Holly can handle, and she's defrocked . . . er . . I mean unmasked on the inter-net. But at least she uses her head, as soon as the camera comes on her, she's like, " . . hey cops! 437 Lake St. Top floor! Now get your asses over here!" Well Blitzkrieg decides she's going to kill the girl in front of her, which makes her mad enough to break out of her restraints. She then gives Blitzkrieg a royal beating. She's remembering what WildCat told her, "Never stop punching! Never . . ever . . ever . . stop! Until you're sure . . . absolutely sure . . . she's not getting up again!" She tries to take the little girl to safety, but by then the cops are there, and Det. Lenahan arrests her. But when the cops go up to get Blitzkrieg, she throws 2 of them out the window. In order to bring her in, Holly and the Det. are going to have to work together. Which they do. But, by then 2 others show up, Hammer & Sickle, you know those 2 Russian bad guys, and girl, that escaped from captivity an issue or 2 ago. Well the Det. has had enough of this so he decides to confront them. To which Sickle, the female, slices his head off with . . . well . . her sickle. About that time our Catwoman prime is about to return the Snowglobe she stole from Luthor to Calculator, for payment for removing Holly from the police computers. Which he does, but she may be in even bigger hot water now because of the Det.. Will Pfiefer is really doing a nice job with this book. And David Lopez's pencils are getting better and better every issue. I really like this book. And I really like what's going on with these characters.

Wonder Woman #8 - DC

First of all, in this issue, Circe brings Queen Hippolyta back to life. You can't Tie Your Mother Down. Like we knew that wasn't going to happen eventually. Then we start to learn a little more about Circe's machinations. She seems to be befriending the Amazon's, but I really think she wants them to go to war. Haven't figured out why yet. But she seems to be playing both sides against the middle. She even goes and talks to Diana in her prison cell. But as far as Diana goes, it's really Nemesis that breaks that whole thing open. All he knows it that his partner has disappeared, Wonder Woman has been taken in to custody, and nobody will tell him where she's at or what they're doing to her. So he decides that something is definitely not kosher. So he poses as Sarge Steel and goes in and breaks her out. Meanwhile, Circe has informed the newly resurrected Queen that the US Govt. has taken her daughter captive and are doing unknown things to her. Well to the Queen that's as good as a declaration of war. So while Wonder Woman's been getting out, the Queen has been laying waste to the capital. When she and Nemesis emerge from their captivity, they find the city destroyed, and her mother sitting in what looks like the chair from the Lincoln Memorial. Obviously this book leads directly in to the Amazon's Attack storyline. But like I said, I still don't understand what is Circe's purpose behind all of this. But I'm sure it'll be coming fast and hard in the Amazon's Attack mini-series. Fantastic book by Jodi Picoult and Terry Dodson. And as much as I liked Drew Johnson, I am so glad to see Terry back on board. Fantastic stuff.

Nightwing Annual #2 - DC

This is what an Annual is all about. Telling a story that might not normally be told in the regular series, but is just as important to the main character as one of the regular books. This particular story is like a flashback, or remembrance story. But it's also a fill-in, as it catches our character up to date from when the Crisis ended, to the first book of the One Year Later storyline. Basically, right before the Crisis was done, Nightwing was hurt. He was treated, and then Barbara, Oracle, took him to her place to help nurse him back to health. Three weeks later he comes around and starts asking questions. They flashback on, or remember, pretty much all the pivotal points in their relationship. And we get a lot of fill-in, that we had taken for granted over the years, but never actually seen from either persons point of view. Dick regrets some of the things he did, and the decisions he made, and Barbara also regrets the same. But they both know that even though the time has never been perfect for either of them, that they truly love each other. But then, after he's pretty much back in shape, Bruce decides that it's time for them, Bruce Dick and Tim, to take a sabbatical from Gotham and go clear their heads a bit. Barbara agrees with him. She knows that Dick needs to go find himself and become his own man. But they know that the other will always be waiting for them. Very touching story by Marc Andreyko. He really captured both of these characters essence. Right down to their core. Joe Bennett does the art, and it looks really nice. This is definitely an Annual worth getting.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Justice League of America #8 - DC

This book is just awesome. And it gets better and better every issue. Brad Meltzer is apparently the perfect writer for this series, because each book is better than the last. He has a perfect grasp of all these character's unique personalities. So his interactions between them are flawless. This issue Shane Davis does the artwork. If you saw the Mysteries in Space mini series, then you know that he's a force to be reckoned with. Every page in this book looks fantastic. And the frame flow is nearly perfect. That alone, besides the awesome cover by Michael Turner, makes it a must have book. Seriously! I can't stress that enough. This series is incredible. And to even take it up a notch, this issue we have guest stars with the JSA. Even the Legionnaires are in on this one. Kind of. We start out with some casual gettogethers. Some teamwork and strategy building games. But then a mystery comes to the forefront that is going to force the teams to work together. Batman discovered last issue, that the man he captured, Trident, was actually Karate Kid from the future. It takes some time to break through some psychic blocks that have been place on him, but when Mr. Terrific starts talking about Starman, it's like it opens the floodgates. Finally with the help of Wonder Woman's lasso, they make some progress. It seems that there are 7 of them total, hidden somewhere around the planet. Since they're in the wrong time, they've decided that they must split in to 2 teams and head off around the globe to find them all. There's also a page where someone has gone back to 1948 to retrieve the Ultra-Humanite, but we don't really know who that is yet. I really just can't say enough about this book. It thrills me month after month. Thank You!!

the Brave and the Bold #3 - DC

I like the approach they're taking with these stories. Each one flows in to the next, which is how the line-up keeps changing. But the central theme is still there, the good guys are after the bad guys who have the book of Destiny, and something called the Haruspex. It's a chance engine, which guarantees protection against all enemies. This issue, Batman and Blue Beetle go off to LaDama's, who is in negotiation for the engine. But before they can go in to get it, they are attacked by the Lord of Time, and his henchmen the Fatal Five. Batman and Blue Devil aren't doing terrible against the intruders. They're holding their own. But not a lot of progress is being made on either side. But then LaDama uses the weapon against Validus, and effectively takes him out of the fight. She then points it at Tharok, the Cyborg, but Batman gets in the way. Both are in her sights when she shoots. On the final page, when the dust settles, we see that Batman and Tharok have become one. Meanwhile Supergirl is stranded on the betting planet. Green Lantern went off after the book, and left Supergirl behind. Well she has no idea where she's at. So she looks for a star-guide. Guess who she gets? Lobo! So that's going to be the team-up next issue, Supergirl and Lobo. I like how they work that all out. Anyway I think Mark Waid is doing a great job with this story so far. It has to be an interesting task, trying to congeal all this stuff together. But so far it's working. And George Perez's artwork is phenomenal. I had heard that he wasn't in the best of health for a while there. But he appears to have bounced back quite nicely. Bob Waciek is his inker. And of course they go together quite nicely. But George actually inks his own stuff on the last 2 pages. Very nice book. Very nice! I look forward to seeing books like this every month. Thanks!

Superman / Batman #34 - DC

What a cool book. Mark Verheiden is on the scripts again this issue, so you know it's a cool story. And Pat Lee is on pencils. I'm usually not thrilled about artists in the style of Pat Lee. However, on this book, with the majority of the story being about the Metal Men, his style looks pretty cool. I'm not sure if this is the recreation of the Metal Men, or a story that happened before, but in this version there's a Copper, and Gold is just a head. Not sure why. Basically, Dr. Magnus is broke. "Power's still out. The phone's been disconnected and the gas man's due in twenty minutes. Apparently our poverty trifecta has convinced a certain someone to bite the bullet . . . . and take us public." Earlier Wayne-tech was assaulted by Metallo and some hired goons. His body is deteriorating, and he's looking for something called "skin-tech." Bruce just happens to be in the building, and takes them all down, as Batman. But once at the police station, where they realize that it's Metallo, they call in Superman. While there, another Wayne factory is breached. Thinking it's the same people, Superman and Batman race to the scene. But the perpetrators are actually the Metal Men. When confronted by Batman, Will says, "My name's Doctor Magnus. My Metal Men have successfully entered your facility . . . entered the central vault . . . don't worry. Your people are safe." To which Batman replies, "Yeah, you're a real hero. Now what?" With a cocky smile on his face, Will says, "I'm sort of new at this . . . but I believe it's time to negotiate." I'm guessing, but I think he wants Bruce Wayne to hire them as security. Nice way to get his attention. And next issue, Brainiac's back? Interesting.

X-Men #198 - Marvel

This is another one of those world devouring emergencies that the X-men seem to have to deal with, every other story-arc. I will say that I like the story that Mike Carey is scripting here. It's a little complicated. And we're being force fed some continuity here. But, that's ok. The characters and the break-neck speed of the action, more than makes up for it. Also it seems that Chris Bachalo is back in form. Maybe it's just Tim Townsend's inks, but I think Chris' stuff looks a lot better with Tim's help than without it. But that's just my opinion. Anyways, last issue, Lady Mastermind found a parasite hidden in her brain. It is called the Mummudrai. It then jumped in to Mystique. They thought they were going to have to battle it, but it's actually there to warn them. Warn them of a coming danger in the form of the Hecatomb. Basically this is a psychic kind of bomb that the Shi'ar built 1000's of years ago. It's designed to kill and erase the minds of all the population on a planet, but leave the buildings and infrastructure in tact. What they hadn't counted on though was that the billions of souls that it took, didn't get erased. Instead they're trapped inside the bomb. Trapped and angry. So when the Shi'ar went to shut it off, all they did was make it more angry. The Mummudrai took off to get away from it, but the Hecatomb followed it. And in between it took the souls of everything that it came across. Well, now it's come to Cable's island nation of Providence. And it's still hungry. Cable is attempting to mind-meld with the Mummudrai to gather the knowledge he needs to beat it. And the rest of the team is attempting to fight it while he's doing that. But they aren't making much progress. The Mummudrai tells Cable that with his help they can beat it, but in order to do so they need to be permanently linked. Cable doesn't want to do this, so they're trying to find alternatives. But they don't have much time, because this island and all it's inhabitants are about to go down like a lamb fed to a lion.

X-23:Target X #5 - Marvel

This is really a very nice book. First of all I love the character. I love what they've done with her so far, and where they seem to be taking her. The scripts are fantastic. They're by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost, who are also doing the New X-men book. And Laura is a member of that team. Mike Choi and Sanja Oback handle the art, and it really has a great feel to it. Very crisp and clean. Anyways, Laura is still talking to Matt and Steve about what happened when Kimura came to the house where she was living with Megan and Debbie. They wanted to send Laura into a rage, with her trigger scent, and have her kill Megan and Debbie. But that didn't work out the way they had planned. So now Kimura is here to finish the job and return Laura to the facility. She tells them how Kimura broke her neck, so that she wouldn't interfere with the kill. But of course she has healing powers also, so that took care of itself. She then handcuffs her to keep her from interfering, but Laura cut her own hand off rather that stand around and watch her friends die. And finally in her rage, she beats Kimura almost unconscious, not entirely because she is invulnerable after all, but enough that Debbie and Megan can escape the house. Laura then electrocutes her, and blows up the house on her. She really wants Debbie and Megan to get free. She even escorts them up the the Canadian border, gives them a map to a safe-house, and tells them where they can find money to live on. And the next part of her journey? "I went after him. The one who started it all. The one that made me a weapon. The one who made me a killer." While she's saying this, we're seeing the front gate of Xavier's school. I think she's talking about Wolverine. Awesome book. Unfortunately next issue is the last in this series. But I'm sure we'll see more of her in the future.

Ultimate X-Men #81 - Marvel

We got a couple of things going on here. First of all, Charles is gone, so Scott, Jean and Ororo are trying to run the school, as a school. Not a strike-force training ground. Anyways, Mr. Sinister appears to have committed suicide. He's locked in prison, and the guards have found him choked to death. Mastermind is also working on getting Magneto out of prison. Although it's not really Magneto, it's Mystique posing as Magneto, so now Mastermind is going to pose as Magneto, because the real Magneto has summoned Mystique. Gerald, the guy whom Lilandra left behind to oversee the school's operations, and report to her, is definitely up to something. Last issue he made reference to the Hellfire Club. Emma Frost has a new boyfriend, Shinobi Shaw. And it appears that he is who Gerald was trying to call. Meanwhile NightCrawler is in the sewer tunnels looking for the Morlocks. And it appears that he's finally found them. The Beast is not dead. In fact he's alive and breathing and working for Nick Fury. Well . . . working . . . but not necessarily by choice. He's fixed his Blue skin mutation, and now he's working diligently on a cure for the Legacy Virus. We see a Sentinel take out a mutant running through an alley somewhere in Manhattan. And finally we get a few pages on Ororo. She's having one of her bad dreams about the Shadow King. She wakes up and puts it in her computer. Apparently she's keeping a log of them. Then she hears a knock on her door. It appears that Bishop has decided to put together his own X-men team, and he's asking Ororo to be his first recruit. Robert Kirkman is on scripts, and Ben Oliver is on pencils. Ben's pencils are nothing fantastic. But the stories that Robert has been turning in, are more than making up for the artistic shortages. He really seems like he's sinking his teeth in to these characters.

X-Factor #18 - Marvel

This has actually turned out to be a pretty cool book. I really don't understand why they can't keep a regular penciller on hand. But, I guess if that's my worst complaint, they aren't doing so bad. This issue Khoi Pham is on pencils. Like a Spinning Wheel, the creative Merry-go-round continues to turn. Anyways, Jamie has come back to Mutant-town, from his pilgrimage of absorption. If you've been reading the book, you know what I'm talking about. There are a bunch of Govt. people around, but they're actually here for X-cell, what they consider to be a terrorist organization. It's made up of a bunch of former mutants, and Morlocks, who are convinced that it was the Govt. that took away their powers. So they've decided to strike back. They're trying to get Peitro to help them, but he's worried that his power is so powerful that he can't control it. And he doesn't want to hurt anyone. Kind of ironic, really, that Wanda was the one that took everyone's powers away, and Peitro is the one that can give them back. Layla knows what's going on, but she's trying to convince everyone to just let everything play out the way it will. But you know that's not going to happen. So she gives them all an address to go to. It seems like she's sent them all on a fool's errand, but as time progress' they begin to see how all the pieces fit together. And if they don't, we do. Everything starts to converge, and on the final page, they come face to face with . . . Marrow. Overall, a pretty cool book. I like the interaction between the characters. And there really is a neat bunch of characters on this team.

the Mighty Avengers #2 - Marvel

Creatively, this is a very nice book. Almost perfect, actually. Brian Michael Bendis is doing the scripts, and Frank Cho is doing the pencils. What more could you ask for? My only real complaint is that this is called the Mighty Avengers. They don't seem all that mighty to me. Well . . . let me take that back. Basically, they got 3 guns to shoot at anything that gets in their way. Iron Man, Sentry, and Ares. Well . . . actually 4, because Wonder Man is almost in that league also. And really, Ms Marvel is not to far behind on the strength scale too. So how do Black Widow and Wasp fit in to this group? I guess mighty is the correct word. But in this issue they've come up against something mightier . . . Ultron. The ironic part about the whole book is that Ultron just stands there. I mean think about it, this robot is so powerful that it doesn't even have to approach it's prey. It just stands there, waits for the opponent to come to him/her, and then beats it down without even breathing heavy. I do wonder where Iron Man is though. At the end of last issue, Iron Man's armor started to morph, and basically . . . he . . became . . . her. If that makes sense. And they really don't even know what they're dealing with until Janet goes up to talk to it, because she's wondering why it looks so much like her. The exchange between them goes like this, "Excuse me, Hi . . . Tony?", "Not Tony.", "um . . . Iron Man?", "Not Iron Man.", "Why do you look exactly like me?", "Because I love you!". Love Hurts. At which point Janet turns around, walks back to Ms. Marvel and says, "um . . does anyone know where my ex-husband is?". Wonder Man asks why. And Janet says, "Because Ultron is back, and it's destroying the world. And it killed Tony Stark to do it." Nice cliff-hanger, huh?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sensational Spiderman #37 - Marvel

Ok, apparently we're no longer going to have Angel Medina on the pencils of this one. That Sucks! But at least we still have our Clayton Crain covers. They're still awesome. Ramon Bachs does the pencils on this issue. He's ok. But he's no Angel. There just isn't the excitement or frame flow that Angel creates. But I guess we can't have everything. Peter is trying to find the whereabouts of the person that is using runaway boys to perform experiments that are variations of how he got his powers. After they gain their powers, he dresses them in a Spider-suit and sends them out into the city to do what they do. The antagonist is Calvin Zabo, or in his other identity, Mr. Hyde. Peter eventually finds Hyde's underground lair, but Hyde is aware of his presence. And Peter finds only 1 more boy, Jordan, a student from his class. He tries to break him free, but he can't. But in the ensuing battle with Hyde, they do end up cracking the glass. Jordan uses that crack to his advantage in breaking free. But on his way out of the sewers he comes across a chemistry lab. He decides to mix some chemicals together and try to kill Hyde. Peter tries to talk him out of it. But Jordan throws the vial anyways. It doesn't kill Hyde, but the chemicals, acid, burn off most of his face. Peter is really worried about Jordan now, because he's going to have to live with what he was willing to do because of what he thought Hyde had done to his mother. It turns out that Hyde did nothing to her. But lie! I would've liked to have seem so more on the fate of Aunt May. But I guess that'll have to wait until next issue. Overall, a nice book though.

Ultimate Spider-Man #108 - Marvel

There really isn't much I can say about a book that's as near perfect as one can be. This issue Moon Knight goes in to his undercover role as an assassin attempting to audition for the Kingpin. The role he's chosen is Ronin. Pretty much exactly the same character as over in the Avengers book. And the Kingpin's test for him? Bring him Spider-man. Meanwhile there's a media frenzy around Peter's school because everyone from E.T. to Time Magazine, is trying to figure out who Spider-man really is. They think they have it narrowed down to the High School that Peter goes to, but they don't really know if it's a student, Faculty or staff. But Spider-man, and Spider-man related incidents keep popping up around the area. And too often to be coincidence. So while Peter is worried about that, he's also trying to play it cool around MJ, because he knows that Kitty, now a student there, is keeping a constant eye on him. And he doesn't want to make her feel any worse than he already does. But then Moon Knight . . . er Ronin, hot-wires a bus and drives it crashing in to the school. Basically he just wants to get Spider-man's attention and call him out. It works. They fight, brutally. But eventually Ronin does beat him and now he's on his way to deliver him to the Kingpin. I really do love this book and this character. I really like how everything is the same as in the Marvel Universe, but . . . not. But it'll be interesting to see how it goes when we get our creative change. But the key word there is change. And change is good. In fact it's what the Ultimate universe is really all about.

Moon Knight #9 - Marvel

This guy, Marc Spector, is one sick dude. This issue the new Midnight, Jeff Wilde, Marc's once side-kick, comes after him. He's been leaving dead bodies all over town, with a ton of clues, hoping that Marc would come after him. But Marc's been to busy to actually take up that crusade right now. So, Midnight got tired of waiting and decided to come after him. Jeff's father was the original Midnight Man. While fighting Moon Knight he was killed. Moon Knight didn't kill him, but his son still blamed him for it. So now he's a cyborg. Half machine, half man. But my guess is that he's mostly machine. And he's filled with hatred for Marc. So basically he comes to him to call him out. He tells him he wants him to get his team together and come looking for him. He'll be in town, and he wants Marc to find him by Midnight. So Marc gets his pilot, gets the Moon Plane out, and goes looking for him. It doesn't take him long to find where the trouble is, but by the time he gets there, Punisher is there also. Which leads us in to our next issue. Charlie Huston is still writing this book, so it still has the same feel that it's had since the beginning. But now Mico Suayan is on the pencils. He's no David Finch, but he does have a pretty good style. I hate to judge him this early in to his work, so I'll probably wait an issue or 2 before I tell you how I really feel about the creative change. In the meantime, Moon Knight is still a fantastic character. And this month we get him over in the Ultimate Spider-man book also.

PainkillerJane - Episode 6 - Breakdown - SciFi Channel

I have to admit, the story in this episode was a little better. It had a little more substance, and there was actually a twist ending. But I still don't like the fact that this show is called Painkiller Jane, but the shows not really about her. This episode she bent her pinkie back, breaking it, to show the doctor that she was talking to that she was special. And that was the extent of her abilities. That would be like calling Family Ties, Spider-man. They could say that Alex P. Keaton was Spider-man, but you don't get to see him in costume because they want to focus on his family life. There would be vague references to him being Spider-man, but nothing concrete, and nothing that would take away from the story about the family. Do you understand what I'm saying? This show really should be called Neuro-Hunters! Or maybe even Hackers! Because sometimes it seems like the tech-guy in this show contributes more to the story than Jane does. Like I said, this one had a decent story. I just think that since the shows named after her, they should use the character more. This one was about a neuro that could pass along a nightmare to anybody she touched. But truth to tell, I don't even think she knew that she had that ability. She was in a boating fatality when she was 8, in which both her parents were killed. She was found by the Coast Guard drifting in a life raft. So she's been in a mental facility ever since because of her deep psychosis. Well this Doctor that was treating her, fell in love with her. I don't think the feeling was mutual. In fact I think she barely knew he existed. I think that he thought that she was living in constant fear and agony because of this dream. But I think he may have actually been projecting on her because he wanted her to stay there with him. So he finds out that she can transfer this dream to others, and convincing himself that it's relieving her of pain and suffering, he starts doing it to multiple people. But I don't think the dream actually bothered her as much as he thought it did. And I don't think she even knew she was transferring it. Anyways long story short, they arrest him because they think he's doing it, but he's not a neuro. So they have to figure out who he's protecting. When they find her, they find out that he's in love with her. Jane show's him, by breaking her finger, that they can fix her. Something he's never been able to do. He agrees to go along. So he goes to her, supposedly to bring her to them, but when he's with her he asks her to give him everything, all the pain, the whole nightmare. By the time they get to him, he's a raving basket case. Jane asks her, "Do you realize what he just did for you?", and the girl answers, "Isn't that the nice doctor from the hospital?" So he either truly wanted to take all her pain, or he knew it would make him so far gone that he wouldn't have to face what he'd done. Also this episode the doctor on the team discovers that Jane's DNA markers are very close to that of the neuros. McBride, the leader of the team, doesn't want him to tell her because I'm thinking that he's afraid that she'll be more sympathetic towards the neuros. A behaviour that she's already exhibited a couple of times. Like I said, this one really wasn't a bad episode. I just want to see more of the title character and her abilities. I mean it is on Cable, after 10pm, so they can pretty much do what they want. Right? Anyways, please let this show get better.

Army @ Love #2 - Vertigo

This is a pretty cool book, really. My only problem is that it's issue #2 and I'm still trying to get in to it. But it's written and drawn by Rick Veitch, so you know it's going to be awesome. I'll let Colonel Healey, the main character, explain it to you, "My civilian job was figuring out why consumers choose the products they do. Specifically young adults. See, the military's problem was it had gone looking for recruits in the same old manner it always had. But today's kids are just too savvy to fall for that kind of propagandized idealism. So I conceived and formed the Motivation and Morale initiative. With the goal of rebuilding the all-volunteer army by stealth-targeting today's young consumer . . . and hitting them where they live. You might ask how I motivate a modern American kid to give up his life of privilege, submit to the military and go to a foreign land to kill people? And the answer is I offer them something they can't get on-line or in the movies. Something we call "Peak life experience." I knew from selling cola that I could easily hook kids on sugar. It turns out that the steady diet of movies and video games in their total media environment had addicted them to small amounts of adrenaline. And combat is an adrenaline junkie's dream. The master stroke was blending that realization with the secret sauce. There had always been sexual tension in the military, but by putting women in to combat. We made it a key selling point. Women were the biggest underutilized segment in the whole demographic. Tapping into it instantly doubled the size of our potential market for new recruits. More important it shaped the whole package into a very simple message: danger! sex! power! drugs! high tech! And these kids hear it loud and clear." And that sums up what this book is about. Colonel Healey is the head of Motivation and Morale and they've brought all kinds of new ideas to the combat zone. Cell phones, retreats, something the recruits call the "Hot Zone Club", kind of like the mile high club, and other things to. Which is why the MOMO division is the most popular in the Army. I'm telling you, only Rick could think this stuff up. And with him at the helm you just know that this book is going to be edgy, controversial and the subject of much debate. And in the meantime we'll all be along for the ride.

Hellblazer #231 - Vertigo

Leonardo Manco has been on and off this book as the artist for quite a while now. But I gotta say, the stuff he put in this particular issue, looks pretty good. I'm not exactly sure what he's doing different, but I like it. And look at that Lee Bermejo cover. Is that just brilliant, or what? Maybe it's just me, but I feel like Andy Diggle, the writer is bringing new life back to this book. John is back to his old shifty underhanded ways, this issue and last. Basically, an old friend of his has asked for his help. He's a gangster, and he's in jail, but that doesn't leave him without power or influence. He's asked John to help his daughter move on. This guy got close to her, to get close to her dad, and then when he didn't need her anymore, " . . . snuffed her out like a candle. Like a fuckin' candle . . ." Well for some reason his daughter's stuck her, so he wants John to help her move on. John knows it's because she wants revenge for her death. Which is what lead us to this watery death trap. Webb, her boyfriend, has John tied to a pylon, waiting for the tide to come in. So John invokes her spirit to scare him, and to help her get revenge, but instead he shoots himself in the head. And without the revenge she can't move on. So he opens a gate for her, but because of how she lived her life, she ends up in hell. But the real reason all this happens is because of what the father offers John as payment. "You do this thing for me an' I promise you anythin' . . anythin' at all . . . if it's within my power, it's yours for the askin'." So we're not sure what John asked for, but on the last page he heads off to collect. "Job done. It's time to collect. I used to be a player. And I'm done with being played. It's time to get back in the game . . . . and break the fucking bank." This is the John Constantine that we all loved in the beginning. And I'm glad to see he's back.

the Spirit #5 - DC

Maybe it's me, but I just don't get the attraction to this book. I mean yeah it's got a retro look. And it's nostalgic. But the stories are pretty simple, and lame. This one is about some gangsters trying to sell off some old Russian army rations, by repackaging them, and coming up with a spiffy campaign. And they probably would've gotten away with it to, if they hadn't used the Spirit as their logo. He started looking in to it. But the whole thing doesn't comes together until one of the guys escapes the Spirit, when he come after them for a bank robbery they pulled. The guy runs to the Cossack, his real boss, who is upset because he lost the money. He's going to kill him, but he offers up the beans operation to him in return for his life. Well when the Cossack gets involved, that's when the Spirit finds out where the operation is at. They end up taking it down, capturing the Cossack, and burning up the factory with all the beans in it. Yippee! I don't know. We're 5 issues in to the series, and I really haven't gotten any more enthusiastic about the book. I'm trying to remain open minded here. But I don't know how much longer I'll be buying this one.

Aquaman : Sword of Atlantis #51 - DC

First of all, we have to welcome Michael Wm. Kaluta as our new cover artist. The one I have here is just a sketch, unfortunately. But the finished cover is astounding. As is the preview for next months. Anyways, we start out this issue with the JLA visiting Atlantis. Unfortunately they're visiting for Authur's funeral. They finally find out that the Dweller was Authur, and then someone shows up, that looks like a copy almost of our young Arty, but with more fishy features, and kills him. So we got Atlantis ruined from the Spectre's attack, Mera back at the helm but unsure how to rebuild, the land of Dyss who sent the odd looking young man to kill Authur, Topo who keeps talking of "hatches" and this issue finally gets everyone's attention so that he can explain just what they are, Tempest who has lost a year of his life his powers and his wife and son, this young Arty who now has to protect Topo so that the soldiers form Dyss don't attack him and Atlantis loses the use of the "hatches", and when they all get back to Sub-Diego they find out that Black Manta has taken over. Are these guys ever going to get a break. Well Tad Williams is a the creative helm, and Shawn McManus is the new penciller, it seems. I say that because unfortunately he never sticks around for long. We got a lot of plot lines going, I just hope we can keep up on them all without becoming to confused. So far I like it, I'm just wondering where we're going with it all.

Flash #11 - DC

Ok, with this book, I've found out where Tony Daniel landed. Right here in the pages of our ever-loving flash. Do you remember how the last issue ended? Bart was being attempted to be taken down by the Reverse Flash, and . . . . his grandmother. This issue we find out why. We all know that Inertia is putting all the rogues back together in one big fighting unit. Well the reason he's doing that is because he wants to build some kind of tower that will stop time. He's told the Rogues that once they build the tower, time will stop only for them, and the would will be their oyster. Welcome to the Pleasuredome. Anyways, Grandma has future knowledge of this event and knows what it's going, or supposed, to do to Bart. That's why she's trying to stop him. To save him really. Well Bart is someone that believes that the future happens as it happens. No predestiny. And nothing that can't be changed. But as he finds out at the end of this issue, the events are already in motion. And since Bart is being arrested for the attack on the Police Station by Steppenwolf, the only way to go out to handle that attack is to reveal his identity. Something he was trying desperately not to do. But as exciting as this book was, the story is really just starting here. There's also 2 covers on this book. The one you see by Tony Daniel, and another by Ethan Van Sciver. Both are awesome. I really like what Marc Guggenheim is doing with this story, and this book. And now with the addition of Tony Daniel on pencils, I think we're in for an incredible run. Pun intended.

Shadowpact #12 - DC

With this issue, we finally learn the fate of Nightmaster, Jim Rook. The Enchantress has been up for 10 days, trying to keep a protection spell around Jim. She thought that is she slowed down time around him, then the effects of the sword wouldn't be as instantaneous, and maybe they would figure out a way to keep him alive. Well as it turns out, the Sword of Night can't harm it's wielder. But Jim didn't know that. The instant he died, and his spirit tried to pass on, he came in contact with his father. It turns out that the sword has a soul. Currently it is the soul of his father. That soul guides it's wielder into becoming the hero that he's supposed to be. The problem is, Jim wasn't listening. So his father fills him in on the whole back story, then Jim slips back in to his body. With this new knowledge in his head, and at the amazement of Blue Devil, who is the only one in the room to witness his resurrection, Jim sits up and pulls the sword out of his chest. So everybody from the team gathers in the bar and has a welcome back to life party for him. We catch up on where everyone's been, and we get to see the Etrigan coat rack again. Bill Willingham and Tom Derenick have been doing a great job with this book. It'll be interesting to see what they do with this character in the future. But this opens up a whole realm of possibilities for him.

52/WW III Parts 1 thru 4 - DC

My first impression, of these books, and this story, is that it would be a world changing event that would be told through these four issues. Well . . . then I read 52 #50. And that is where the real World War III happened. Well . . . not so much happened, as was told there. So then I started to question, what are these books going to be for. Then I read them. What a fantastic way to tell a story. The overall effects and after-effects of Black Adam's rampage is told in the pages of 52 #50. But to get all the nuances, and the subtle changes to all the characters, you have to pick up these books. Remember in my 52 blogs, how I was complaining that we hadn't seen anything about the changes in the Aquaman character, or how the Teen Titans ended up where they did, or of all the changes that had happened to Firestorm but hadn't been explained yet? Well all that and more is shown and explained here in these books. And that is what the purpose of these books are. To fill in all the little cracks that couldn't be told, or there wasn't enough room for in the regular 52 title. And what a cool way to do it. I mean really. Think about what this whole creative staff has gone through for the last year or so. They've been putting out a weekly book, keeping things on track on a week to week, probably even day to day basis. All for our creative enjoyment. Honestly, what more could you ask for out of a creative assignment this big. But our guys did good. They kept the pace going. They kept the stories interesting. And they got attention to all the characters that they wanted to. But I think in the process, the story grew larger than they expected. So in order to tie this whole huge story in to the One Year Later stories, which they said in the beginning they were going to do, they had to come up with another way to tie up all the loose ends. Hence, this book was probably born. I mean we see all the characters that I've been asking questions about and more in the pages of these four issues. Let me list a couple of the things that start to get tied up, or at least tied in to the stories of the One Year Later line, that came out almost a year ago. First we find out what happened to Martian Manhunter and where he's been all this time. And really this whole story is told from his perspective. Next we find out what happened to Father Time and his associates. But, I don't think they're done. I just think that Father Time is going to be changed. Next we start to see what's brought Nightwing to New York and his renewed deliberation with the criminal element. We start to learn some more
about the Firestorm mystery. What happened to Professor Stein, how did he get Jason and Cyborg apart, and how did Jason and Firehawk get to be such teammate and tied together so tightly in the matrix. And that was all in the first issue. In book two, Supergirl returns from the future. Sub-Diego, at the bequest of Aquaman, because all of it's inhabitants are now drowning in the ocean, is risen again to it's air breathing status. But in doing so the gods have exacted a toll on Aquaman, turning him in to a creature not recognizable. We get a little glimpse of Harvey's fight to keep Gotham safe in Batman's absence. And how Deathstoke uses that same absence to turn Batgirl over to his side. During all this we see Booster Gold popping in and out of frames. He keeps saying, "This is not the right time. I'm too soon." We witness the reformation of the JSA, to help with the world plight. Black Adam kills Young Frankenstein and Terra of the Teen Titans. Amanda Waller is starting to put her Suicide Squad back together, under the tutelage of Rick Flag, who is still alive, and Ben Turner, the Bronze Tiger. Bones sets Kate and Damon up in their own law firm. And Jonn Jonzz decides to purge himself, and the world, of all the lies that he's told and woven over the course of his occupancy on earth. This is a realization that he comes to when he's watching everyone else go through their own trials and tribulations. We see a lot of friendships that are born, and a lot of new alliances that are created. And in this storyline we get more of the details on how Shazam was actually able to take Black Adam down. And the integral part of the whole operation that fell on Jonn's shoulders. And finally, at the end, we see the Monitor Satellite. They've been watching this whole skirmish go down. But their observations are just as chilling as what's just happened. "This chapter is closed. One man's war against the planet has ended. Some have lived. Some have died. Others have . . . . changed. They must evolve or they will not be prepared. Their darkest hour has not yet arrived." What an ominous note to end the series on. But, what a fantastic story it was. Again, think about it. With this storyline, these creators have put out 56 books in 52 weeks. That's just incredible. I know that there's going to be some people out there that aren't going to like whatever's been done to one of their favorite characters, but I say "So what!". These creators have built a storyline, that has evolved a great number of characters, and some might say the whole DC universe. Let's go with it. So some of the characters have changed. That's what happens sometimes. So we aren't going to like some of those changes. So what! I love what they've done, and I love that the status quo now is that there is no status quo. That's awesome. And it opens up the DC universe to a ton of possibilities. I say hat's off and congrats to all involved for bringing us such an incredible creation over the last year. And the best part is knowing that this is only the beginning.

52 - Week Fifty - DC

What an intense book. This issue starts world war III. And it's a war of Black Adam against the world. He's finally broken free of the scientists on Oolong island, and he's looking for some retribution for what was done to his beloved country, and his entire family for that matter. He's already made Biayla pay for harboring the Horseman that ran there to hide. He's attempted to make the scientists pay that created all this carnage and destruction, and set it loose on the world. Now he wants to make China pay for it's involvement. And every country in the world sends everything it's got after him. But Black Adam just mows them down like so much wheat. There's not much anybody can do to stand up against him. Billy even petitions the Egyptian gods, whom Black Adam receives his powers from to strike down with their lightning and remove his powers, but they just laugh at him. So he decides he's going to have to come up with a plan. Basically what he does is call down his own lightning, but then before it can transform him, he races it down to Black Adam, so it strikes them both simultaneously. This works, but he could change back anytime he wanted. So Shazam, being the new guardian of magic, decides he's going to change his magic word. And he'll never tell anyone what that is. On the final pages, T.O.Morrow has returned to his laboratory where he's been digging in to the Red Tornado head that he found, but before he can make any progress, Booster Gold and Rip Hunter show up to recruit him for the mission they're working on. Fantastic book. Justiniano does the finish art over Giffen's layout, and the end result is fantastic. What a perfect artistic choice for an all out carnage issue like this one. With another beautiful cover by J.G.Jones.

Legion of Super-heroes in the 31st Century #1 - DC

This is the newest addition to the Johnny DC line. It's pretty cool too. It's set up pretty much the same way as the first episode of the cartoon, showing Clark first coming to the 31st century. But they do it in a little different way than the cartoon did. I'm just happy that the Legion's getting some of the attention that it deserves. And I'm glad that a new group of readers are going to be exposed to them. This is a fantastic team of heroes, and characters. This should've happened a long time ago for them. And like I always say when I read these books, I know their set up for kids, but sometimes it just nice to read something that's fun to read. So I say "Hooray" for the Johnny DC line. Thanks!

Robin #161 - DC

Adam Beechen is really doing a nice job with this book. I hadn't really heard of him before, so when he came on board I didn't know what to expect, but I really like what he's done so far. Also Freddie E. Williams really seems to be growing in to his role of artist. Again, not overly thrilled when he first came on board, but he really is getting better and better. This issue Robin is still on the track of the chemicals, drugs, that are turning a local street gang in to a group of rampaging, psychotic meta-humans. The problem also is that the longer they're in to this drug, the more they're degenerating. The first thing they're losing control of is their social skills, but I have a feeling it's going to be pretty much every body function after that. Somehow he has to tie all this to a local pharmaceutical company, Strader. He knows the drugs are coming from them, he just doesn't understand why, or what their goal is. Also he's having a hard time locking down substantial proof of their corroboration. He actually makes it in to the company headquarters, as Tim, on a research assignment. This helps him hack in to their computers. But they also know of this breech. So by the time Robin finds the gangs hideout, there's also a squad of mercenaries, hired by Strader, there to eliminate loose ends. But the loose ends are comatose and pretty much dead anyways. Now Robin just has to keep someone alive long enough to get some info out of them. No problem. Yeah. Right! But overall I'm very pleased with the direction this book has taken of late. Which is good, because Robin is a fantastic character.

Birds of Prey #105 - DC

Last issue the Birds went to Russia to retrieve some tech that they were told that this Russian general had. This is also the first mission orchestrated by Spy-Smasher, who is assuming command of the Birds. It's a long story, but it has to do with her and Oracle. Anyways, they come face to face with the Secret Six, or 5 as of now, and find out that the tech was actually Tora, from Max Lord's JLA reign. Wasn't she dead? And really . . . for a long time? Well somehow this general got hold of her body and has been using a Rocket Red suit as a life support system. She's not really conscious, but she does have a pulse. Well, the Birds have 2 aces up their sleeves on this mission, Hawkgirl and ManHunter. But even that may not be enough with everything that they're facing. The Secret Six get back up to full compensation this issue also, with the addition of Harley Quinn. The general is sending his people to retrieve Tora, in the remote farming village where our Birds are hiding her, but the Secret Six get there first. And on the final page they're threatening to twist off Hawkgirls head if they don't turn over Tora to them. Everybody's going to be Kung-Fu fighting next issue. Fantastic issue by Gail Simone and Nicola Scott. Nicola recently came on board as the penciller, and she is very quickly coming up to speed as an up and coming superstar. She's really getting a good feel for these characters and this book. Next issue I think our Birds and the Six are going to have to team up to have any hopes of getting out of this country alive. And I'm sure we'll have another shake-up in our team when all is said and done. I just want to know how bad girls can look so good?

Grifter / Midnighter #2 - Wildstorm

Our story starts to heat up a little bit this issue. It seems as if Grifter and the MidNighter, although they fight on the same side, the side of the angels, have been co-opted by their organizations, to be on opposite sides of the current op. Grifter is supposed to kill this prince, and MidNighter is supposed to protect him. Since both sides probably knew who was going to be working for the other, you have to think that they were hoping that the two would eliminate each other. Well . . . that's not how it worked out. Mainly because the prince turned out to be some kind of shape-shifter. And somehow this all plays in to the vision that the MidNighter has been having. It turns out that this shape-shifter is holding the real prince captive, and took his place as an indulgence of sorts. I really think he did it to get Grifter and the MidNighter on board for whatever his real purpose is. I say he, but we don't really know if the shape-shifter is a he or a she. But anyways, Grifter is ready to take off and go after the real prince, the mission he was hired for, but before he can do so the 3 of them are attacked by some kind of aliens. I really like the way Chuck Dixon just gives us bits and pieces of information as the story unfolds. I don't like to be spoon fed stuff. And Chuck definitely doesn't do that. He'll start to wrap it up for us in issue 5 or 6, but in the meantime, we kind of have to figure it out for ourselves, and come up with our own assumptions. Just the way I like it. I also enjoyed Ryan Benjamin's pencils on this issue. He does the cover also, which is incredible. Overall a nice book, and it should play out to be quite a yarn by the time all is said and done.

Manhunter #30 - DC

The only thing I'm really sorry for, with this book, is that I didn't get on board sooner. When it first came out, I just thought, "Yay. Another ManHunter." I felt kind of let down by the last 2 incarnations, so I really didn't know if I should stick my neck out for another. But, I gotta tell you, I really enjoyed the last 6 or 7 issues. I got sucked in with the Blue Beetle storyline. And I liked it so much, and the developing Wonder Woman storyline, that I went back and picked up the 3 or 4 issues before that, that were still on the shelves. And like I said, overall I've been pretty pleased with it. There's a great group of characters here. Of course Kate and her son Ramsey, but then there's Cameron, her sister Terry and her boyfriend Dylan, and of course Mark Shaw whom the Order of St Dumas is desperately trying to bring back in to their fold. Oh, I almost forgot Trapp, the resident bad guy whom always seems to be lurking over on of their shoulders. Anyways, fantastic cast of characters. Also this issue we find out that the Grand Jury has decided not to indict Wonder Woman for the death of Max Lord. This is a huge relief for everyone involved. And on top of all that, there really is a good creative team on this book also. Marc Andreyko is the writer. He has a great grasp of all these characters, and does an excellent job with his story flow. I also like Javier Pina, the penciller. I wasn't sure at first, but he's gotten better with every issue I've read. And his feel for this book and the story is near perfect. Finally, the last bit of good news, since this was the last issue . . . . "To be Continued! Really! We have a next issue!". Awesome! The next issue blurb says that Kate will return later this summer. Fantastic! I didn't really care, a couple of months ago, but now . . . I can't wait for the story to pick back up.