Thursday, November 29, 2007
What a fantastic book. I really like the writing of Marc Guggenheim. We've learned so much about Logan . . . sorry, James . . in the last 2 years. But, there's still little hidden corners here and there that we don't have all the pieces yet. It seems like that is what Marc is trying to do. Provide us with some of the hidden pieces. Or, some of the pieces that didn't seem like they were of much consequence. Such as his name. When his claws appeared for the first time, Rose thought he was a savage. Well the only savage she knew was Logan, so that's what she started calling him. And the name stuck. Also, this issue, when Logan and Doctor Strange are trying to get him out of purgatory, he starts thinking back on his past. He starts thinking that he's been adrift for a little while now. Kind of like he was in the beginning. But he doesn't know why, really. He thinks it was when Lazaer spared him on the killing fields of WWI. But the realization that came after that was just that he really shouldn't even be alive. Then it dawns on him. The change came when the Gorgon killed him. It was the first time that he died, and the Hand had brought him back to life. Well . . the Hand, and, a mysterious red-haired woman. Also there was another man there. He doesn't have a face, and he didn't speak. But, he stood there watching the whole time. So he was involved. With that realization, Logan's soul finds it's way back to his corporeal body. Why then? Because now he has a goal. "I feel good. Better'n good actually. 'Cause I found out who I gotta kill now." I know all these pieces, and answers to the puzzle are going to be long and drawn out. That's ok. That's how we've gotten to know Logan for years. But I really like the way Marc is handling the most recent chapters in his long complicated history. I was starting to think that the only things we were really going to learn about Logan, were over in the Origins book. This story-line is proving me wrong. Add to that the brilliant artistic renderings of Howard Chaykin . . . and I think we have an instant classic on our hands. If you're not reading this book . . . you're crazy. Especially if you're an X-Men addict . . . 'er . . I mean fan . . this is a must have. Pick it up!
As I read through this story-line, and this series, I find myself becoming more and more excited to see what's going to happen, and who the players are going to be, in the new Exiles. Chris Claremont is doing a brilliant job of meshing these two stories together. And with a shelf full of characters to deal with, that's no easy task. Really, the only characters that aren't involved in this issue are Captain Britain, who is in need of medical attention. Which Kitty has gone to another reality to find for him . . . and Nocturne and the Juggernaut seem mysteriously absent. Although, I think Juggy has moved on to other things. We even see Dazzler at the end of this issue. However, Longshot is still lost out there someplace. That or he's waiting to make a grand entrance. Most of this issue is about Roma and Saturnye dealing with the threat of the Fury, that James Jaspers is trying to unleash on them. It take the entirety of the Captain-Corps to even hold them at bay. And it isn't until the Exiles get involved that they even seem to have a chance of beating them. But Roma and Saturnye are smart enough to realize that this battle is only the beginning. And they still have the questions of who unleashed this threat on them, and what do they have to gain by it. Ultimately, I think, it comes down to Roma and her father Merlyn. But, we're not really sure what his game is. Is it one of pure conquest, or is there more at stake here? We aren't going to find out this issue. In fact, this issue ends with Rouge-Morte making a direct assault on lady Roma herself, but then Allison shows up to defend her. I have to say, the first time that we dealt with all this Omniverse stuff . . . Roma, Saturnye and the whole deposing of her father, Merlyn . . . back in the original Excalibur title . . . I thought it was kind of boring. In fact I seem to remember perusing through that story-line rather speedily and not really paying a whole lot of attention. But now . . . now that I know it's all leading to the new Exiles book, and a changing face on the protectors of the Omniverse . . . I have to say, I'm very interested. And nobody would be able to pull this off, and put it all together . . . blow it up, and pick up all the pieces . . . like Chris Claremont. I can't wait to see how this all plays out in the end. It's a fantastic story, and a great series. And . . . . it's only the beginning.
The funny thing about reading a Grant Morrison story is that, while reading it, you're confused and awed at the same time. He breathes such life into his characters. This issue he introduces us to Bar-el and Lilo. I think of Lilo & Stitch every time I see their names, but . . . whatever. Anyways, while Clark was gone on his Bizzaro quest, these two astronauts from Krypton . . that had apparently been lost for years in space . . . found their way to Earth. When they gained their powers they decided it was their duty to tame the savages, and bring the rich Kryptonian culture to this Earth. They had already begun their vision when Superman returned in the make-shift rocket. But instantly they seemed to be at odds over their perceptions of their roles. There's even a little battle, but that comes to a halt when the moon is broken. And eventually, Bar-el and Lilo's bodies betray them. Something they seem to have passed through on their long journey through space, has begun turning certain chemicals in their bodies in to Kryptonite. They're being poisoned from within. The only choice Superman has is to put them in the Phantom Zone so that they can still live. Luckily, the 3 of them make peace before he does so. The thing I love about this series is that it really reminds me of the short little epics that used to run through the Superman books back in the 60's and 70's. You know. Those amazing issues done by the likes of Curt Swan, Cary Bates, Murphy Anderson, and Kurt Shaffenberger . . . just to name a few. Even the way Grant handles the Steve Lombard character reminds me of those . . I guess . . more innocent times. It's really no surprise to me that this series won an Eisner award. I'm just thrilled to death that it's continuing as long as it has. I was expecting it to be just a 4 to 6 issue thing. But we're already coming up on #10. Fantastic! And before I forget, Frank Quitely's take on the Superman cast of characters is spot on. I find it hard to imagine how this could be a more perfect book. Well done, guys!
Black Mask finally makes an appearance in the world of Batman Strikes. Right now, his focus is on consolidating the crime scene in Gotham. His assessment of the situation, as he calls it, it's a "Mom & Pop" operation. Which really insults those that consider themselves masters of their craft. And as the new emerging business man on the Gotham scene, he sees Bruce Wayne as his primary competition. So he tries to make a deal with him. But Bruce is having nothing to do with it. In the end, Bruce turns the table on Black Mask, by offering his henchmen jobs with incentives. As I've said before, this, and the rest of the Johnny DC line, is a great jumping on point for the kids. It's nice simple stories that they can enjoy, and they usually present a pretty rounded perspective of the DC Universe. Plus . . . they're fun.
I've been waiting for this one ever since I saw it announced in the DC schedule. I'm a huge fan of the Teen Titans. And I couldn't believe that I'd get to read one of their books, written by Judd Winick and drawn by Ian Churchill. Talk about a dream come true. We also get to see Ian do his take on the classic Titans also. The first 15 pages of the book, are about an adventure with the Titans of the 80's. You remember, Wonder Girl, Robin, Flash, Cyborg, Changeling, Starfire and Raven. Man they were a good team. This is an adventure where they had to fight Bizarro and the Joker. I'm not sure what the signifigance of that adventure was, but it leads right in to the next 22 pages where Vic is trying to put together a Titan's East. That's right. There's 37 pages in this book. That's incredible. Of course it did cost $1 more, but that's ok. Anyways he starts out with the usual suspects, but most of them are either to busy or just not interested. He end up with Power Boy, Son of Vulcan, Hawk & Dove, Little Barda, Anima and Lagoon Boy. Yeah they aren't all A teamers. But hey, neither were the Teen Titans when they first got started. Anyways Vic decides to put them through a training exercise. He tells Power Boy, "For the first mission the rest of the group will try to nail your butt to a wall." He tells everyone else, "War games! Go catch Power Boy and shut him down." Hawk gives Power Boy a real wallop, but when they go to find him, he's eviscerated on a tree. Shortly after the rest of the team is shot down with what looks like laser fire. And when Vic comes running up to investigate . . . what looks like a huge power surge is dropped straight on top of him. So the issue ends with Power Boy strung up on a tree, the rest of the team shot down in the grass, and the torso of Vic's body laying in the bottom of a smoldering crater. This story is to be continued in the new title . . . Titans #1. But I'm not sure when it's coming out, because I don't see it on the DC schedule yet. Well when I know something, I'll let you know something.
I kind of understand the premise of this book. What I don't understand is why we'd really care to read it. Basically, Amanda Waller, I think as part of her Suicide Squad operation, has decided that the world has had enough of these super powered psychopaths. So they've been gathering them up, for the last couple of months, and are sending them of to an uninhabited planet for them to live out the rest of their days. The first batch that's sent includes Captain Cold, Abra Kadabra, Weather Wizard, Mirror Master and Heat Wave. But, I thought Heat Wave had gone legit. Maybe I was mistaken. Well the planet they're sent to . . . I guess they're calling it Salvation . . . isn't as uninhabited as they were led to believe. There's all forms of dangers here. But in the 2 weeks that our little band have been here, if they've learned nothing else, it's that they need to work together. They start doing the usual survival stuff. Cataloguing threats. Cataloguing plants and vegetation. And searching for a "safe zone" that they were informed about, by some little monkey like creatures they had captured. But then, 2 weeks later, they hear the roar of another boom tube. They don't really care who they've sent. They think about looking for them for rations or supplies, but they weren't sent with any, why should anyone else be? But they finally decide to find them because . . . there may be some females. As it turns out there's about 23 people in the second wave. But there's still only about 5 women. Those chicks are gonna be busy. But one of them is Killer Frost, so she's kind of out of the picture. So where do we go from here? Are we just gonna watch the group run around the planet like a bunch of chattering chimps? I don't know. And I'm not really sure that I care. Bill Willingham wrote it and Sean Chen does the art.
What a fantastic book. Starting this issue Gail Simone will be the new scribe. So we should only expect great things from the Amazon Princess in the near future. This issue starts a four part-er entitled What you do not yet know. I'm not sure what the significance of that phrase is yet, but I'm sure we'll find out. This issue is also beautifully drawn by Terry and Rachel Dodson. Got a couple of nice covers too. Am I right? Anyways, we find out this issue that Sarge Steel doesn't fully trust Agent Prince. So he's putting a mole into his own organization, Lt. Colonel Candy. Her sole job is to find out just exactly how Diana is tied to the Amazons, and then bring her down. Meanwhile Wonder Woman is off fighting a band of rebel Gorilla City warriors. They're young, but they've attacked Diana, so she has to fight back. At first she fights, but then she uses her status as monarch to quell the violence. By the time she's done, the simians are bowing in the water in observance of her. She does carry herself well. But she can't take them back to the City because Solovar would be very strict in his punishment for their breach of ethics. So she takes them back to her
apartment. Don't know how good of an idea that was, but . . . we'll find out. In the process however, she learned that Grodd is going to attempt to put the Society back together under his leadership. After giving that information to Steel, her and Nemesis are sent to Canada, where the Societies last known base of operations were. They are no longer there, but Captain Nazi is. Surprisingly he is more than they can handle. But honestly, I think that he was just left behind as a diversion. We find out that at the same time, his brethren are invading Paradise Island. They want to use it for their new base of operations. I've always liked the breathe of fresh air that Gail brings in to all of her books. She's another author that really knows how to handle her characters. I'm thrilled to death that she's on this series now. I'm also thrilled that Terry and Rachel have decided to stick around for a little longer. I really thought that they would've been gone by now. But hey, I'm not complaining. Every issue we can get out of them, is another piece of art I get to peruse. Who says the gods don't answer your prayers. This was a fantastic book, and a great beginning to this new storyline. It looks like Gail's going to shake everything up. But . . . that's ok.
This book is more than a little dark. I like it! This Simon Dark seems to be a form of anti-hero. We haven't been given all the pieces yet, but, from what I can piece together so far, he's kind of like a patchwork man. Or child. He seems to have the body . . . stature . . of a young adult. But this issue, as he's lying in the morgue, and they remove his mask, he looks rather young . . . and peckish. Oh yeah, he died this issue. 9 rounds point blank from a service revolver. So he spent the majority of this issue, first in the alley bleeding out, and then lying on the examination table. But this is only issue #2. How could our anti-hero end up dead already? Well he was dead . . . . until he wasn't. (??) He was lying on the table, and the examiner was a little confused about where to start. When she removed his shirt, he was made up of more than a few pieces, all roughly sewn together. As she's discussing with the investigating officer, arguing over which way to proceed, Simon slid off the table and hid . . . when they weren't looking. Granted it was only for a split second, but, I guess that was all the time he needed. All he says is, "I want to go home!" He then takes off down the hallway, and across Gotham towards that goal. I guess. He ends up in the basement of a flower shop. I think that's where he ended up last issue also. So obviously these people have something to do with him. But, like I said, we haven't been given all the pieces yet. It looks like Steve Niles has another hit on his hands. Of course the beautiful art of Scott Hampton doesn't hurt any. If you haven't picked it up yet . . . you really should. Especially since it's only on issue #2, so you should still be able to find #1 sitting on some shelves out there. I would definitely recommend it. For those wondering, the only reason I labeled this as a Batman Nation book, is because it takes place in Gotham. I'm not sure what category to put it under yet. But I'll rectify it when I figure it out.
Ok, yet again, I have to say that I'm glad that this storyline is through. I was really getting bored with this one. I love all these characters, and I relish any chance we have of learning more about Jonn and the Martian race. But this one, just dragged on a little bit longer than it needed to. In the end, it turned out that Jonn simply had to accept the help of his wife and child, as well as that of his friends, his new family, and he would have the strength to defeat and stop his malevolent brother, Ma'alefa'ak. That's a mouthful. Ma' had Jonn on the ropes. To the extent that he was using his physical form to fight and harm his friends. His goal was to break Jonn, and take total control of his mind. Which is why he hid is wife and child away from him, in his mind, because he knew that their love and strength might be more than he could stand up to. Which, with the help of his friends, proved to be the case. It did however, when he broke the connection with Ma', provide a psychic feedback that essentially put him in a coma for a couple of days. The League had to call in Zatanna to help them enter his mind and try to pull him back. They did so, and were successful. Praise be to the gods of Mars. Anyways, it was a decent story, by Justin Gray. I just thought that it dragged on longer than it needed to. I was also happy to see Rick Leonardi the pages of comics. My only complaint with the artwork is that I don't think that the ink did his pencils justice. Much to heavy handed in most cases. But that's just my opinion. Again, I enjoyed the story, I just got bored with it. Next story please!
At the end of the last issue, the Female Furies showed up to confront Cassandra and Hercules. It looked like they were here for a battle, but it turns out they're looking for help. They're also concerned about the recent rash of omnipotent murders. It's not just the New Gods that are being killed. Really, it seems like someone has painted a target on all Fourth Worlds patronages. For some reason, they feel that they need Cassandra's and Hercules help. But mostly Cassandra. Actually they're already working with Hercules. Which is why he showed up in Cassandra's life in the first place. The Furies thought that if they enlisted someone in Cassandra's life to recruit her, they'd have a better chance than if they did so themselves. But, that plan doesn't really work out like they had hoped. They even give Hercules a second chance to show her the error of her ways. But, Cassandra isn't budging. She wants nothing to do with the problems of the New Gods, and even less to be associated with the Female Furies. So now . . they have to take the gloves off. At the end of this issue, it appears that Lashina has taken Cassie's mom captive and is going to use her to barter for her assistance. They really aren't giving her an option. I thought this was a decent story. I'm not a big fan of the artwork, but, most of the time, for me, that's secondary. Personally, I would put a higher value on the quality of story, than the quality of art. But that's just me.
Ok, I apologize. I feel like all I'm doing is complaining about books this afternoon. My bad! Actually, the problem is, this is one of my favorite books. It has been for a long time. I think Brian Azzarello is a genius, and a fantastic storyteller. I also think that Eduardo Risso is a hugely underrated talent. His artwork may not be as flashy, or pop at you, like some, but the details in his work . . . the expressions on his characters faces . . . the way he uses shadows and color to tell a story . . . there's just no one better out there. Also, the angles that he uses for perspective . . . the guys truly one of the best there is. Now, unfortunately, my complaint. Brian's stories tend to be long drawn out epics. I don't think he's had a story line in the series that run for less than four issues. Also, sometimes, even when you think you're done with a story, you find out that it was just actually a small piece of a much larger event. Plus, on top of that, when you look back over the previous 86 issues, you'll find that in some way or another, they're all connected. Everything is a piece of this huge puzzle. Everything has a reason, and everything has it's place. The only problem is, sometimes, as is the case this issue, there's chapters that fall in between events. They seem random, and maybe even senseless, but eventually they serve a purpose. However, in the moment, as when I read this one, I feel like I read the middle of a chapter. I'm not sure how it started. I'm not sure what's going to happen afterwards. All I know is we're given a piece of the puzzle, with no idea what the overall picture looks like. So we just have to remember this issue, and in the future try to realize how what happened here will affect something down the road. Confusing? You better believe it. I don't like the book any less. I just sometimes question the in-between chapters. The overall story sustains me, but sometimes I have to count on the art to get me through some of the less obvious issues.
This was our second installment into the mystery that is the WildStorm Armageddon. Maximum Man is the target this issue, that Void uses to transport to the future to try to find some answers. He actually does get more than the MidNighter did in the previous installment, but when returned to the present, he remembers nothing. It seems to me, in the future, that for some reason all super-powered beings, past or present, dead or alive, have come to roost on this planet at the same time. This means that old alliances, grudges or hostilities are renewed. Which apparently leads to them running rampant all over the globe. Therefore, with super-powered beings, the residual damage of their conflicts, pretty much wipe out the towns, cities or landscape in their paths. And also, most of the normals. But during this process, a lot of the normals were taken away. Nobody seems to know how or where, but that they just all started disappearing. Most of them, probably out of ignorance, see it as the rapture. But we still don't know what brought all of this in to being. Where did it start? And . . . why? We are really getting bite sized pieces with each of these installments. And how come Void seems to be the only one that sees that there's even a threat on the horizon? And why does she have to go through others to try to figure out what's going on? It's piqued my curiosity, but I really hope that we get some kind of answers soon.
I really think this book has a lot of potential. However, this particular issue, kind of let me down. Not so much in the story department, there's really a lot of stuff going on. It's a little confusing right now, because we don't have a handle on who all the players are yet. But, overall it's a good story. It's trying to cover a lot of ground quickly, which is where I think some of the confusion comes in. But I think, after a couple more issues, we'll be better equipped to differentiate between all the kids. The only ones I really know who they are for sure is John Henry, or course, Natasha and Nuklon. But that's really only because he looks so different from the rest. But beyond that . . what's going on with their powers . . . we don't have that sorted out yet. No I think the disappointment came in terms of the visuals. Max Fiumara has done all 3 issues to date, but he had some help this issue from Travel Foreman. I'm not sure what the extent of his involvement was, but there are some pages in here, that are very simple and . . . well, basically not up to standard. And I'm not sure what's up with the whole color thing. I'm sure it's for effect, but I'm not sure what the effect they're trying to attain is. Anyways, like I said, I think this book has a ton of potential. After all Peter Milligan is writing it. I just think we need to do something about this art . . . before the book is cancelled. It's a great concept, it's a unique cast of characters, and it's all pulled together by a fantastic writer. This, however, is a visual medium. In order for this book to really have a chance on the shelves, it needs to have a better artist. Or at least a more consistent one. I'm really not trying to rag on anybody, but I'd really like for this book to have a chance to succeed. I'm just saying.
This was an interesting issue. Kind of simple. But it is, after all, for kids. Basically, Batman and the Elongated Man have gone to help Bobbo search for Gorilla City. It's vanished. To the more mature readers, this issue was kind of redundant. We know what happened. But, as I said, it's written for kids. And it's a way of teaching them some of the intricacies of the DC Universe. Basically, Grodd has switched the frequencies on the cloaking device so the city is now also invisible to the simian eye. It turns out, it's not really Bobbo they're working with, but rather Grodd himself. He called in the League, hoping that the Flash would show up, and he could exact some revenge. But our Leaguers are sharp too. They brought along the Martian Manhunter, but kept him hidden until they needed him. Long story short, they defeat Grodd and save the city. Like I said, this is a great book for kids, and a great way for them to jump in to the DC Universe.
Once again, I'm truly amazed that it's the year 2007, and I'm totally in to a Western themed title. It just baffles me. But in a good way. Russ Heath does the interior and exterior art for this issue. This guys been around for a long time, but I gotta tell you, he's just as talented as he ever was. This was a really nice issue. It's supposedly from book written by Jonah's grandson, Woodson. It relates a story that happened to Jonah a few years prior to his death in 1904. Jonah actually has a son out there, who he's never met. Until now. Jonah's out in the hills, panhandling, when some outlaws come running up on him. Because of the way they're riding, Jonah figures that the rurales are after them. Which makes them bad men. He figures if he can hold them up, until the rurales arrives, maybe he can collect a reward. Long story short, he starts taking them out one by one, but eventually they rally on his position and are about to give him a beat down. Luckily, that's exactly when the rurales finally catch up. They're being led by a tracker who's helping them find some of their more elusive lawbreakers. It's his son . . . Jason. Afterwards they go to a bar for drinks. Jonah wants to be left alone, but Jason, suspecting who he is, won't let that happen. They get in a fight, and Jonah tells him there's a reason his mother took him away. She didn't want him to turn out like his father. As he's walking away, and out of town, he walks past Jason's wife and child. But he doesn't know that. He's just walked past his own grandchild. When his wife asks who that man was, Jason replies "That . . . . that was nobody." Fantastic story and art. I really like this book. I know it's not to most peoples tastes. And that's ok. But, to me . . . . it's a good read.
Finally. Firestorm is back in the mix here. I was beginning to think that we had all forgot about him. Buddy Blank, his grandson, Karate Kid and Una have all gone to Bludhaven. It's their next stop in the race to find a cure for whatever's happening to KK. He's not so much worried about himself, but more for what the Brother Eye told him, that he could be the herald of the great disaster. It just so happens that Firestorm has arrived in town at the exact same time. He's looking for Professor Stein. But, the Atomic Knights have appointed themselves the protectors of the realm, so first they have to get past them. Plus Firestorm doesn't know if he should trust this new group of kids. Meanwhile Deadshot is hot on the trail of the Piper and Trickster. Jimmy Olsen has arrived on Apokolips, but he's not sure why. All he knows is that he's trying to help the Forager, but she's nowhere to be found. Eclipso and Mary Marvel have also arrived there, but for a different reason. Eclipso is offering up Mary as a supplicant to Darkseid. And while all of this is happening, our reluctant heroes are fighting the Knights, who are actually the good guys. Kind of ironic, eh? Long story short, they work their way through the underground tunnels to finally come across a very secure chamber. "Someone went to a lot of trouble to secure this portal. That's never good news." They finally get in to find Desaad holding the Professor captive, and torturing him. He then activate a force-field around our little group, now holding them hostage. Firestorm tries to get free by using his powers, but they have an unexpected effect. The feedback breaks down the Firestorm Matrix, and allows Desaad to jump in and take control. Desaad is now Firestorm, with Jason and Gehenna as the passengers. This doesn't bode well. And what about KK who's literally dying as he's standing around watching all of this unfold? That's why they call them cliffhanger endings. And this series full of them. Read . . and enjoy!
I gotta say, I wasn't really looking forward to reading this issue. Only, because I wasn't a huge fan of the original Red Rain storyline. It was ok. I'm just not a big vampire type of guy. Plus I know, when all is said and done, that this issue isn't really going to bring us any closer to finding Ray. But sometimes the trip is just as important as the destination. I do like that Kelley Jones actually did the artwork for this issue, and cover. But, as I said, after reading it, this was just a quick stop on our Challengers trip. Actually, you could take the Challengers frames out of the book, and this would be a self contained Red Rain story-line. Basically, Dick Grayson is searching for Batman. Batman's been turned in to a vampire, but is still using, his now literal, appearance to scare and hold Gotham at peace. He still considers it his town. But Dick can't get past the fact that he took his parents away from him. Barbara Gordon has survived a recent attack from the Bat, so Dick asks her out to try to get some information from her. Sensing what he's really after, she turns in to a vampire and tries to take him out. Instead, Dick ends up shoving a stake through her heart. But, from the little information he did get from her, he is able to figure out that the Batman is somewhere under Gotham. He goes to confront him. He finds him sleeping. As he's ready to plunge a stake through his heart, our Challengers show up and try to dissuade him from becoming that which he hunts. But the Batman uses the distraction to turn him in to just that. The Challengers take off for the next world, Gotham by Gaslight, and the final page is a Kelley Jones spread of the new vampiric Dynamic Duo. "Together. Forever." It was a decent issue. It just didn't really accomplish anything. Other than showing us another of the 52 universes. Number 43 to be exact.
Man-0-man is this story starting out at a breakneck speed. It's like riding a roller-coaster, but starting out at the top of the hill. In the first chapter, a new mutant had been born in Cooperstown Alaska. The Marauders, lead by Sinister, and the Purifiers were the first on the scene. One to capture the child, the other to kill what they viewed as the mutant Antichrist. In the process, they pretty much wiped out the town. The battle was so brutal that they actually left a few of their own behind when they left. Which is what the X-Men discovered when they arrived, shortly after the conflagration. They assessed the situation, did what they could for the survivors, and then immediately set out after Sinister, whom they felt was the surest bet for the location of the child. But then, Predator-X arrived. This being was created by the Purifiers. Sensing a new food source, it had come to devour the child. Lacking any other food source, I believe, it ate the Marauders that had been left behind. Now Scott is doing what he does best. He's got Wolverine, Angel, Night-Crawler and Colossus out looking for Exodus' followers. They know he's with Sinister, so maybe his people know where he's at. Charles and Hank are trying to fix Cerebra and Hank is looking in to the tech that the Purifiers left behind. He's also called in Jamie and Rictor, and by association Layla, from X-Factor for support. He wants Rictor to infiltrate the Purifies, since he's technically not a mutant any more, and Jamie and Layla are off to see Forge. Meanwhile, all of them are in the cross-hairs of Predator-X, who is racing savagely towards them. This was a fantastic issue by Ed Bubaker and Billy Tan. Both covers by David Finch and Marc Silvestri were also amazing. Billy Tan is an incredible talent and has an amazing eye. But, his style is just not my favorite. It's got everything I like, but for some reason has never really been my cup of tea. That was . . . until this issue. I thought that his work, his style, and his framing were brilliant. His action sequences on pages 7,8,9 and 10 were some of the best I've ever seen. Anywhere! And I'm really appreciating how he uses the out of focus technique in some of his frames. Fantastic issue, and fantastic story-line. I'll definitely be riding this coaster to the end.
This is another Marvel book that doesn't really tell us what's going on, but serves the purpose more of setting us up for a future storyline. We learn this issue that Black-Bolt is also a Skrull. After Jessica brought the Elektra / Skrull to Tony, he decided that it was time to get the Illuminati together again. He needed to show them the true threat that they faced, and because he felt responsible for what was happening because of their previous actions. They go through the usual posturing and arguing, and can only agree upon the fact that they need to dissect the specimen and figure out why they can't detect or track it. Even if they have to go down to a cellular level. Their real argument comes from taking the responsibility that their visit to the Skrull home-world was the fire that ignited the current act of war. And also because some of them wanted to believe that this was just a singular threat. Not the conspiracy of war that Tony was attempting to illustrate. But, when they're ready to take the body away, that's when Black-Bolt shows his true form and tries to take out the rest of their little contingent. He turns out to be some kind of Super-Skrull, and it takes all of their efforts to defeat him. Unfortunately, it's only a prelude to an attack, apparently, by the squadron he was leading. This will prove to much for them, so Tony uses a little used tactic by tapping in to a half dozen neighboring nuclear plants for power, and blows them up in one big surge. Now, with a brief respite, they're again left with the question of what to do. And again, they can't agree on an answer. They only thing they can agree on, is that they no longer trust one another. Namor is the first to take off, but eventually they all follow suit. This issue started with Tony sitting alone over the dead body of Elektra. And that's exactly how it ends. Like I said, not a lot of answers handed out. Just a whole lot more questions. The next issue blurb says, "The Skrull threat continues in Secret Invasion!" So we've gone from Civil War, to World War Hulk to Secret Invasion. It seems like the Marvel Universe can't really catch a break right now.
Ok, we finally roll in to the first issue of the Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul story-line. Peter Milligan is writing it, and Freddie E Williams II draws it. And as you can see, there's also a fantastic Andy Kubert cover. In the prologue, Damian has figured out that Ra's wants to use his body, literally, for his resurrection. That's what he's been bred and trained for. What he didn't count on though, was that after giving birth, and watching him grow, Talia has developed feelings for him. As any mother should. I don't think she really understood the full scope of Ra's plan, originally. But, now that she seems to have a handle on what he really wants to do, I believe, she's having misgivings about losing her son. No matter how much of a brat, and a psycho, he is. So Damian has gone to his father for help. Unfortunately, since Batman has recently learned of Ra's plan to return, he has headed across the globe in search of him. So when Damian arrives, the only 2 there are Robin and Alfred. Well with Damian, Robin takes a hit first and ask questions later attitude. He doesn't like him or trust him. We also find out this issue that Merlyn is working with Ra's. He's trying to help him find the seven pieces of the Invisible Map. Damian knocks out Robin, and has enough time to go upstairs and try to talk to Alfred. Of course Alfred is the voice of compassion, and tries to find out what's going on with the young lad. Alfred agrees to help him, but when Robin finally comes up to see what's going on, he sees Damian's actions as an assault, and the fight resumes. However, outside, the mansion is about to be swarmed by a gaggle of Ra's ninja assassins. This story resumes in NightWing 138. Where I guess NightWing, Robin and Damian are all going to have to work together. This should prove interesting. Anyways, fantastic book, and a great storyline. I can't wait to see how it all works out.
It seems like the purpose of this issue was to introduce another variable in to the conflict that's going on between the Ghost Rider and Lucifer. The story was written by Stuart Moore. It was ok. I just thought it lacked a little of the personal interactions that can make a book great. It was pretty straight forward, in that it chronicled a conflict between our two antagonists. But then it also introduced Mister Eleven. Which I believe refers to him being the eleventh disciple? But I could be wrong. It's never really fully explained other than showing us a flashback of him being around during the crucifixion. The artist, pencils and tones . . . which is a fancy way of saying that he inked his own stuff . . . was by Ben Oliver. While I did like the art, I thought that he was trying to hard to make it look like the Mark Texiera / Salvador Larocca stuff. It kind of has that same feel to it, but, not nearly as good. Personally, I think I would've rather have seen something different, than something trying to mimic and fail. But that's just my opinion. Like I said it was decent, but kind of distracting in that I was comparing a lot. Anyways, this Mister Eleven is some kind of angel / demon that rides the fence in the war between the two realities. In his long history, he's been an agent and a spy for both. He puts himself between them to try to garner the Rider's confidence. But, I'm not really sure why. But after Lucifer is dispatched, he asks the Rider to show him his true face. But of course he's worn so many masks through the years, that that's really impossible. He shows up as demon, and angel. Johnny thinks him dead, but really he's just transferred his essence in to a bird and flown away. And for some reason it seems as if Johnny's gained a new enemy here. As the birds flying away, he's thinking "You'll see me again Johnny. When the skies crack open . . . the masks fall away . . . and all hell rains down like fire upon the Earth. And on that day . . . that terrible, terrible day . . . may heaven help you." Like I said, I'm not quite sure what that was all about, but I am sure that we haven't seen the last of this guy.
This is one of those books that I feel is getting better. I liked the first story arc, but really, it was just the kind of thing I'd expect from the MidNighter. Now that Keith Giffen has taken over on the stories, we're getting some new ideas, and fresh perspectives. I think that there's a lot of room for this character to grow. And I think Keith will take us on that journey. This issue Jon Landry is on pencils, and I gotta say . . I'm kind of diggin' it. He's almost got a little J Scott Campbell style to him. Especially on his women. Anthem sends one of their response teams, Liberty One, after the MidNighter this issue. Actually, he went to their door to ask some questions, but it gave them the perfect opportunity to make it look like he attacked them. Anyways, there's a couple of girls on the team, and when Jon draws them, you'd swear they came right out of a Danger Girls comic. The MidNighter starts doing some digging this issue, and finds out that there were other towns, besides Harmony, that were basically obliterated by some post-humans. That's when Anthem swoops in, offers the town protection, and then puts them under their thumb. It seems like a classic protection scam, but on an amped up scale. And they're really good at playing the media. They have their own post-human teams. But in the media, nobody questions that. They only see that they're taking down proposed post-human threats. Which thereby legitimizes and escalates the value of the services they offer. They're building their own media hype. So to end this issue, MidNighter is taken in to Anthem custody, and in the sewers, where Mindy the tech-geek provides him with intell, a Bellweather shows up and shoots her. It seems like this op has really gone in to the crap-bin now. But that just gives him more to work with next issue.
This is a pretty decent book. It's main purpose seems to be bringing Rex's origin into the 21st century. The story has remained pretty much the same, it just has a modern feel to it now. Dan Jurgens has remained true to the original. I'm sure we'll get a few new ideas by the end of the series. But overall, we know what's going to happen. I think that Mike Norton is an "up-n-comer" in the artist circles. His work has greatly improved over on the Atom. I don't think it's as good here . . . but . . . I do think that his style lends very well to this story. On the Atom he's got a flashy, kind of action based style. And it works with the weirdness of Ivytown. It just feels like he's toned it down a bit for this book. And like I said, that style seems to work here. Oh, and I can't forget the Kevin Nowlan covers. They're fantastic. Anyways, we're introduced to a nemesis' of Stagg's this issue, Maxwell Tremaine. He's brought Rex to his island because he's an arms merchant, and he's hoping Rex will help him develop and test new weapons. Of course Rex thinks that's obscene. But Maxwell has also brought the Orb with him, so he forces Rex into some field tests. In the process Rex takes out some pretty high-tech weapons. And by the time he's done, Stagg and Java and Sapphire have shown up. Sapphire say "Isn't daddy awesome? He knew exactly who kidnapped you and where to find you!" To which Rex responds, "Yeah . . real lifesaver. So why can't I help thinking that I went from the frying pan . . . smack dab in to the fire?" My only problem with the book so far, is how Rex seems so adept with his powers, so quickly. He gives Stagg a quick explanation this issue, "Damned if I know! It's instinctual mostly. Or an automatic reflex. I see a need . . an image flashes in my mind of a solution and my body adapts!" Ok! But before the accident, Rex didn't really seem like that much of a thinker to me. And definitely not a scientist or chemist. So it just seems a little hokie,to me, that he's been able to adjust so quickly. Maybe I'm reading more in to it than I should, but I think we need a better explanation. However I still like the book, and the character.
This book is really kind of funny. Not Ha-Ha! funny. More like ironic funny. We start out with Ryan feeling pretty good about himself because he feels like he's really getting through to his students. It seems like they're really paying attention. Come to find out, though, they're really only paying attention because they want to know all the details about his adventures as the Atom. Then you have his relationship with Prof. Doris Zuel. She the woman that was taken over by the god that lives in the sewers of the city. She's also like the woman in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. But when she gets large, she gets psychotic. However, for some reason, Ryan is attracted to her. I think he also likes the attention though. So they decide to go on a date. It happens though right when Diana and Nemesis have rolled in to town to assess the danger Ivytown posses on the rest of the nation. There's also a new weirdo in town. He's got a symbiotic twin growing out of his chest who appears to have mental powers. And he seems to be intent on turning all of Ryan's friends against him. So when Diana shows up on Ryan's date, and turns in to Wonder Woman, Dr. Zuel is convinced that Ryan has turned on her. Which sends her in to a rage. Ryan wants to help Wonder Woman, but he also feels sorry for Doris. So he has to come between them to get Wonder Woman to stand down. But it's to late because Nemesis has decided, ". . . . invoke territorial martial law. Circle this town with everything we've got and take it off the grid. Total quarantine . . . . for sake of the world we shut Ivy down for good." I have to say, I think Mike Norton's pencils are getting better and better every issue. Of course Trevor Scott's inks could be helping too. But hey, if that's the case, just keep the team together. Because they're putting out some really nice looking stuff. And I'm still enjoying the Ladronn covers.
Ok, I think I understand what's going on now. It seems that Will's brother David thinks that he's doing what's in Will's, and the world's, best interest. He's always felt responsible for his brother, so when he heard that a bunch of scientists were working at Oolong island, and that Will and the likes of Morrow and Sivana were involved, he had to go and try to smack some sense in to his little brother. However, he arrived after all the hoopla, and found the place mostly empty. But while there, he discovered that some of the tech they had left behind had kind of come to life. They were trying to rebuild Morrow's Ever-ware tech. The machine that let him grab technology through time. But David sat down in the chair and kicked it in to gear by accident. In doing so, he started bouncing around time. During this adventure, he discovered a distress call from the Metal Men, sometime in the near future, saying that they had destroyed all life on Earth. So now, he's been trying to stall Will's invention of them, by interfering in his brother's life during the early days of their inception. Now, at the same time, it also appears that UNION was locked in to a robot body. That robot happened to be in the likeness of Morrow. So how long has UNION been assuming the Doc's identity? That we don't know yet. We also don't know who built the robot or why. But he's the one responsible for the machine that's been turning the Metal Men in to the Heavy Metal Men. There also seems to be some type of Alchemy group out there that's also after Will. They're like the Metal Men, but made of base elements instead of metals. They call themselves the Gogoloth, and consist of Granite, Lye, Bizmuth and Onyx. I haven't quite figured out what their role in this whole little drama is, but I'm sure it's not good. Anyways, all of this has happened in the first 4 issues. And we're only half way through the series. Duncan Rouleau has, so far, done a fantastic job with this series. Sometimes it does kind of feel like a science class when I'm reading it, but if you were a robot made out of reactive metals, you'd probably talk that way to. But I really like some of the ideas that Duncan's created in this book. Yes the first 3 issue were a little confusing, but now that the pieces are starting to fall together . . . it's all making a twisted kind of sense. Which I think is cool. Overall, I'd have to give it an A-.
Basically what's going on here is, Void shows up and takes MidNighter in to the future to show him what is happening. We don't really find out how far it is in the future, but I'm guessing, at most, it's a couple of months to a year. Two things are happening actually. First there seems to be a mental breakdown of all the supers on Earth. Void has given him the task of finding out what happened, so that he can try to prevent it. It doesn't take long for him to run in to a bunch of supers. And of course they hit first and ask questions later. But he does finally talk one down and calms her enough to ask some questions. " . . . Armageddon, the survivors are calling it. The sky crackling with energy. Post-Humans fighting each other, taking out whole cities." She also talks about "norms" disappearing, and the Carrier crashing in to London. He eventually makes it on to the Carrier, and finds out that they've tried to gather up all the "norms" they could, and are trying to keep them safe on the upper levels. The levels that are actually higher than the Earth's atmosphere. But eventually post-humans that don't have to breathe make it up there, so they have to stay on board to protect them. The Carrier crashed because of something to do with the containment field around the baby-universe the powers the ship. Jenny got to it and transported it somewhere, but it still took down their ship. Before he can find out much else, Void shows back up and takes him home. I'm really not sure what's going on yet. I know that this story-line is going to cross over in to all of the WildStorm books. I'm guessing that we're not going to get to much information with each issue. I think Void is trying to put it all together, but she's going to utilize different resources to do so. But it's going to leave a bunch of heroes with a pretty grim outlook for their future. Tranquility is the next installment, and I think WetWorks after that. Hopefully, by that time, we'll have a better idea of what the overall agenda is supposed to be. I'll be sure to let you know . . . as I know. What else can I do?
Saturday, November 24, 2007
It seems that all the DC books are getting in to these trans-dimensional stories lately. This one has to do with a Teen Titan that has come over from a different dimension. His name is Kilowatt. He helps the team, until Raven can figure out a way to send him home. She thinks she's got it, does so . . . . . but, it's the wrong world. The one she sends him to is filled with evil Titans. So the team goes there and has to try to rescue him. So they end up fighting . . . . themselves. It's pretty much a stalemate, but then they get enough of a respite to slip back through the door to their home world. That's when she decides to use Herald's Gabriel horn to summon doors to all the different dimensions, enabling Kilowatt to look through them and try to find the right world to return to. It was an interesting story. Now that they've opened up this whole multi-dimensional thing, it seems like we're getting views of all kinds of different worlds, in a plethora of DC books. That's ok. As long as they don't let it get to far out of hand. But anyways, this, as I've said before, is a great book for kids to jump in to the DC Universe. And I think it's pretty cool that it's being drawn by Todd Nauck now. He's definitely used to dealing with these young heroes. After all he did do pretty much the whole Young Justice series. So I think overall, this is a great book, with a fantastic cast of characters.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not exactly sure what happened this issue. First of all, we have Kelley Puckett, Drew Johnson and Ray Snyder taking over with this issue. We start out the issue with Batman testing Supergirl. But before he can scold her to much, she gets a distress call from her cousin. Superman is helping the Green Lantern Corp fend off another attack. But the only way they're going to stop this from continually happening is to find the enemies command center. In order to do that, they have to follow one of the courier ships back to their base. Superman would normally be the man to do this, but he's got his hands a little full right now. So he's asked Kara. She's agreed but the only way she'll be able to follow is by proximity. She'll be detected by sensors any other way she tries. So they've instructed her to fly above the ship and keep a 10 meter distance at all times. But she's in outer space, and as Superman has told her, she'll only be able to hold her breathe for about 2 hours. She follows the ship, but somehow they know she's there. They end up sending her careening into a sun. And then they fire on her. She runs out of time, and breath, so she uses the portal device to take her back to Superman. Essentially . . . she failed. She goes back home, and as she looks at the test that Batman had left for her earlier, her mind starts racing. She looks at the portal device and says "Two hours.", and it looks like a light switch has gone off in her head. She then jumps back in to the portal . . . . and the issue ends. I'm more than a little confused. Something is screwy . . . but . . . I don't know what it is. It could be Batman, Superman, the whole following the ship scenario. But it won't do me any good to guess because I won't know a thing until next issue. I'd like to say that it was a good first issue for our creative team, but, since I don't really know what happened, at best I'd have to say . . . it was a good start. Hopefully after next issue . . . I'll be able to form a more solid opinion.
At the end of last issue, we saw the buxom Shanna rescue her charges from the teeth of certain death. The Sabretooths were sure to make a meal out of all of them. They went to the rooftops, to try to gain high ground, and hopefully to find a way out of the city. Neanderthal Nazis? What a predicament. But, come to find out, the Velociraptors are also able to climb. So even though they escaped the obvious threat, they still have to deal with the one that was waiting for them. Well 2 actually. As they run across the rooftops, they run right in to the waiting arms of the Axe-man and his nefarious squad of henchmen. But Shanna, being the strategist that she is, uses one to take out the other. After all, the Velociraptors are just hungry. Why not feed them the bad guys? My only real complaint is in the recap in the beginning. They talk about Dirk and his crew being pirates. And then later describes them as pirate heroes. Isn't that an oxymoron? Anyways, I thought it was a decent mini-series. Kind of an Indiana Jones type theme here. Well . . . that is if Indiana Jones was played by Pamela Anderson. I could just see this being a movie, and Shanna being very close to barely keeping her loincloth on. It would either make a great action movie . . . . or a great porno. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti kept us on the edge of our seats. And Khari Evans kept us drooling. What more could I ask for?
I have to admit that I'm glad they finally wrapped up this storyline. I really was bored with it. I understand that Arvid Nelson is new to the storytelling biz. And our artist Alex Sanchez is also new. Both actually show very strong potential. But, with this story, I felt it just got boring. Maybe it was the whole thing about dealing with the Nazi's. Or maybe I just got bored with the story and the art. It's hard for me to pin it down to one thing. All I know is that after the second issue . . . I just wasn't feeling it anymore. And . . . . that's really all I have to say about it. Next story please!!
Friday, November 23, 2007
Ok, this issue wraps up the 3rd Kryptonian story-line. The thing that gets me though, is that now we actually have 6 Kryptonians on Earth now. You know . . I take that back . . . it's 7, with the addition of the new Superman from the Kingdom Come universe. That's the story-line that's taking place over in Justice Society right now. But anyways, we have Superman, Powergirl, Supergirl, Chris, Krypto and Karsta Wor-Ul. But, Karsta seems to be the only one that doesn't have a hero gene. Which I don't understand because she was in the Kryptonian Navy. So she obviously knows what service and duty means. But when Amalak attacks, all she's worried about is her exit strategy. That didn't seem very "Kryptonian" to me. However, when worse came to worse, and Amalak had everybody pretty much on the ropes in the fortress, she did come back to provide the deciding factor. So I guess there is something to be said for blood and all. My only question about all this is, will we ever see one of those Son of Superman / Son of Batman story-lines like we used to see all those years ago in World's Finest? Since we have Chris and Damian now. Just an idea. But overall I thought it was a nice story. Of course they capture Amalak. But now they have the mystery of Kandor to unravel. And, if Karsta could survive all these years, whose to say that one of the other service people that she started out with didn't make it also? They might be roaming around out there someplace. Great effort by Kurt Busiek and Rick Leonardi. Now we just need to wrap up the Arion storyline.
First of all I just want to say that I hate the fact, as I'm sure do a lot of readers, that next issue will be the last for Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. They created this book, and brought it to life. By doing so they've invigorated our senses over the last 4 years. They've also spoiled us. They've shown us what a brilliant book can be attained when the perfect union or writer and artist is created. I know that they'll both go on to other projects. They're both fantastically talented. But . . . this chemistry will probably never happen again. And that's sad. We're almost at the end of our current storyline. And even though Colossus is responsible, according to legend, for the destruction of this planet, we've been eluded to the fact that it may not be as cut and dry as we were lead to believe. Yes Colossus is an integral part, but he may not be the primary catalyst that we thought he was going to be. And Scott, by the end of this issue, is proving why he's the obvious leader of this group. And yes, that means he didn't die at the end of last issue. Did you really think he would? So next issue, everything comes to a head. The thing that makes this book so magical, is Joss' handling of the characters. The interaction and dialogue between them is fantastic. Sometimes in comics, the dialogue especially seems "canned" or forced. But Joss has a way of making it feel natural and real. Then, you add to this the beautiful pencils of John Cassaday, and you truly have a work of art. John, with this book, has taken a kind of cinematic style to his framing sequences. While reading this series, you can really see the story unfolding on the big screen. He already was incredibly talented with his frame flow. But then to add this cinematic element to it, plus his "tell-all" expressions that he displays on all of his characters faces, and we truly have a masterpiece here. I really can't applaud it enough. And, we still have next issue to look forward to. It's going to be sad to see them go. But, I truly think that, this will be one of those stories and series that will stand the test of time. There's going to be numerous presentations of these pieces coming out. And I still think, if there's another X-men movie, that they'd be silly not to have Joss write it.
This is another great installment in the Fantastic franchise. But, it also looks to be the beginning of a big storyline. We start out, as usual, with the fantastic Michael Turner cover. This guy has really been turning out some beautiful pieces. It would be nice to see a book . . a collection . . of his covers. I'm sure we will. Inside this issue, I really can't over emphasize what a stupendous job I think Paul Pelletier is doing. Like I've said before, I've been a fan of his for a very long time. I loved him on Exiles. I loved him on Outsiders. I even loved him . . . way back . . . on Ex-Mutants. But the guy just keeps getting better. Right now, it seems like, this is the book he was born to do. He has to be having a terrific time doing it, because it really shows in his work. But, or course, it all comes together because of Dwayne McDuffie's incredible stories. This story, is actually going to take us 75 years in to the future. Or, I guess, it would be more accurate to say that the future is coming back to us. I've never hidden the fact that I'm not a big fan of time travel stories. To many inconsistencies and variables. Plus, when alls said and done, there always seems to be numerous flaws that come in to glaring clarity. To me, it just doesn't lend itself to a clean concise story. However, in some cases, as is the case here, I do like the intentions or implications of said story. Even though they're messy and hard to clean up, they do often present a plethora of unique, and invigorating ideas. Which is how this one is starting out. So I have to give it the benefit of the doubt. This issue is really the prologue, so we don't get all the specifics yet. But, T'challa, Namor and Doom have come back from the future to warn Reed of a bad decision that he has made. Or actually, is about to. Doom reveals Reed's ideas room to the rest of the FF. Sue had seen it recently, during the Civil War, but no one else knew of it's existence. And the history they've come to prevent is also linked to the Civil War. Or, more specifically, to Reed's "100 ideas". Apparently that's what's going to start the whole thing, and what's going to lead to Reed's "Idea 101". Which is the one they have to stop. Basically Reed wants to change everything. He wants to fix the world. And, according to our future icons, it works. But, in the process, Reed becomes more and more obsessed, as he is wanton to do, and less and less attentive to Sue's needs. Sometime in the future, Sue turns to Namor for comfort and ends up leaving Reed. Which sends Reed over the edge. So Reed decides to fix the problem, and on the final page of this issue, blows the future Namor's head off. This storyline could have some interesting consequences. And it looks to have an original take on the whole time travel thing. But, we'll have to get further in to the story to tell whether or not Dwayne's going to be able to pull it off. Either way, it'll be a Fantastic story. Pun intended.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Another fantastic issue written by Geoff Johns. I'm telling you, this guy amazes me more and more with every comic he puts out every month. But to add icing to the cake, Gary Frank takes over on the artistic chores this month. And as you can see, he's put out 2 amazing covers for the first issue. The one on the right is the variant. Of course I had to get both. What can I say? I'm a sucker. But since the Justice League isn't doing the multiple covers any more, I guess I have a little breathing room. Right? At least that's the way I look at it. Anyways, this story starts out much like Superman's origin, except it's an alien planet in the year 3008 that's exploding. They decide to send their son to Earth because, " . . more that a thousand years ago, Earth embraced the doomed planet Krypton's great gift . . . their last son . . . . . Earth made him into the greatest hero who ever lived." And off goes the rocket. However when it lands this time, it's a completely different Earth from that which was so accepting of their first alien visitor. The family that finds him, looks upon him with disdain. " . . . it's a child. And alien child . . . . we must do what all law-abiding citizens would . . . we kill it." We then go back in time to our own era. Superman has encountered a Brainiac robot that's walking through down town. His obvious response is the direct approach, but upon attacking it, a view screen emerges with the image of Brainiac 5 in it. Before he can go any farther Brainiac 5 has to shock Superman in to remembering his friends from the future. So then we get a little flashback scene of when Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl first came back to see him, when he was an awkward teenager. This story is tied in with the previous one that ran the League and Society books. "We all agreed not to get you involved in this . . . . but . . . no choice any longer. Their mission proved unsuccessful, and my experiment tapping into the speed force is going to take more time." He then presents him with a time-sphere that's been calibrated for the year 3008. The same year that the alien had come to Earth. A coinkidink? As Superman leaves, the Brainiac robot explodes. And it seems like Superman's time travel is a lot rougher than it's supposed to be. First of all, when he lands, he finds that the Legion are now outlaws. Then, when Colossal Boy, Wildfire and Dawnstar decide that they should probably just send him back the time sphere explodes. Superman also finds out that no one has seen or heard from Brainiac 5 for more than 6 months and that the Earth now has a red sun, so he has no powers. This is looking to be another incredible story. I'm kinda wondering though, if this is going to have anything to do with the Final Crisis storyline. Anyways, it's nice to see one of the original books brought back to greatness like this. I can't wait to see where we go from here.
We're almost to the final chapter of this story. Which is good, because when this is over, I think, we go right into the next chapter of the Ultimate Universe. And that one's going to contain some new books, including the Ultimates 3, and Iron Man II. I couldn't have gotten better news. But, back to this one, somehow, I guess I missed it, Wanda conjured up another version of the Squadron Supreme. But this one is younger than the version they're fighting. Eventually the two teams start fighting each other, which gives our group a little breathing room. So everything is being set in place for our final showdown next issue. Fury has confessed to Peter that it was actually Doom's interference with Reed's probes that have caused all this damage. Reed has found out from Emil Burbank that he has been falsely accused and made out to be the scapegoat. The 2 Squadron teams have begun fighting each other, like I said, taking some of the pressure off our group. Dr. Doom has decided that this world will be his next to be conquered. And, as a backup plan, Fury has unleashed his secret weapon . . . the Hulk. But we do find out, when the Thing clobbers him, that the Doom we're dealing with is actually one of his robots. So either Dooms not really here, or he's hiding someplace out of the range of all the turmoil. The issue ends with the Hulk jumping down into the melee, from the Helicarrier, and Spider-man riding him like a bucking bronco. This has been fantastic series, and story, by Jeph Loeb. Of course we all know how brilliant he is. But the real treat has been the artwork of Greg Land. It is simply amazing. I'm sure that that's part of the reason with the delay in the issues though. I'm sure with as much work as he's putting in to it, it's gotta be hard to turn out 22 pages every month. But you know what? It's worth the wait. And, I can't wait to see where the Ultimate Universe goes from here.
In this book, we finally get to see the story of Dr. Fate played out. Which is good, because it's been a while since 52 ended, and since the 5 one-shots, where different people got a chance at the helmet, we really haven't seen a whole lot as far as his development goes. Well that changes here. The helmet has come back to Earth, and it's attached itself to one Kent V Nelson, a psychologist from California. Right now he's bumming around Las Vegas, but, with his reception of the helmet, he's come in to contact with the Devourer of Souls. His story, as well as Kents is told to us this issue. I especially like the way Kent is trying to adjust to the helmet telling him what to do. He's following the instructions, eventually, but he's very tepid about where the experience is taking him, because he doesn't trust the intentions yet. He ends up going to the realm of the Devourer, but he's not strong enough to defeat him yet. However, he does get his friend Burr out of it's depths. So I guess he does attain a small victory. But he also garners the attention of a new enemy. It's a pretty cool story by Steve Gerber, with fantastic art by Justiniano. We also get a fantastic Paul Gulacy cover. The backup story is about Eclipso. But it also pulls Crispus Allen and the Spectre in to it. And Plastic-man, and his son Ernie are also involved. We don't really know why yet, but they are. And Plastic-man, for some reason, is pulled back in to his life of crime by Woozie Winks. Oh yeah, Jack Ryder and the Creeper are also going to be involved in the drama that's unfolding. Like I said, I'm not sure where we're going with all of this, but it should be an interesting ride.
I guess this must be Countdown week. Including that title, and the one's related to it, there's about 5 different things out this week. I like this mini-series so far though. Basically, we're following the lives of the space-travelers from 52, after they've returned to Earth. There seems to be a virus, or something, that's starting to sweep over Buddy's community. People are going in to these blind rages, where they're ready to kill or maim anything they can get their hands on. Including friends and loved ones. But, it's also happening on Rann. From reading the stories, I'm guessing that somehow it's connected to Buddy. The movie set that he's working on, has been recently shut down, because the star of the movie has disappeared. But, where no one has made the connection yet, the star, Hazard, has actually gone to Rann. Sardath decided that he wanted to give Adam some time off. He wanted to give him some time with his family. But, I think, before he left Earth, Buddy infected Hazard. Now Hazard, who has been running rampant all over Rann trying to prove himself, is infecting that planet. It only seems to affect 1 out of every 3 people. But still, that's an awful lot of raving lunatics to have running around. But they're starting to suspect that it has something to do with Lady Styx, because they keep saying, "Believe in her." At the end of this issue, and alien space craft shows up and it appears as if they're looking for a way to cure the virus. The good news is, they've put up a force-field to contain the outbreak. It won't spread any farther than San Diego. The bad news is . . . they put up a force-field to contain the outbreak. That means that Kory and Buddy are locking in with thousands of raving lunatics, and they won't be able to get any help from an outside source. The backup story continues the origin of Forerunner. With everything she, and her race, have gone through, you almost feel sorry for her. She's landed on Earth 33, in her quest to search for warriors for Monarch. It's a world much like ours, but ruled by Magiks and Sorcery. They have all our heroes, but they're all magic based. And, since they know of the Forerunner tradition, they immediately attack and contain her. But, come to find out, they are being led by an Oracle. An Oracle that turns out to be in disguise, because she's actually Dark Angel, Forerunner's sworn enemy.
I guess because this is the middle of the series, but they take a different story-telling approach this issue. They've also changed the title. This whole issue is told from the Monitors perspective. The one that's been trying to rally them all together, is going through all the individual stories and trying to get his comrades to see the connections. He really wants them to rally, and try to thwart whatever it is that Bob, the rogue monitor, is trying to accomplish with his Challengers. But he has an agenda too. We don't know what it is yet, but I'm sure we'll be seeing it unfold in future issues. We do know, that he thinks everything that's happening is because of one person. "There is no doubt in my mind that these events are being orchestrated by a single will . . . or, at the very least, multiple wills working toward a shared goal. All we must determine is . . . . who has the most to gain?" Also, for some reason, our challengers have stayed on Earth 8, the world of Lord Havok. They could've jumped to a different Earth, but rather they just jumped farther away from his castle. And, on Earth 15, someone has abducted Lex Luthor. We don't see the face, but from what we can see of the costume, it looks like Superman. Well not the Superman, but when he first came back from the Doomsday incident, and was dressed in black, with long hair. Like I said, from the uniform and shadows . . . . that's what it looks like. Finally, my understanding is that at the end of this series, we'll see how all the Crisis stories fit together. We have Crisis, Identity Crisis, and Infinite Crisis. Then this one's going to be the Final Crisis. Obviously there's been a plan in place ever since Identity Crisis came out. So for the last 4 years, this is what they've been building to. I think it's brilliant that they're tying it in to the original Crisis also, because by doing that they're truly solidifying the DC Universe and continuity. Also I think that if they didn't do that, the story told here would've negated that series. And truly that one was the building block for all the stories after it. Yes they're going to be reversing it, essentially. But, I think by tying them all together, we're going to see the threads of connection, and they will all serve a purpose in the grand scheme. So, if you don't have the original Crisis books, you should probably get on E-bay and start looking. There's going to be a lot of people out there doing the same thing. Just a forewarning.
This book is going to be hard for me to describe, because I'm having a hard time getting the gist of just what exactly is going on here. Apparently this Crime Bible has been around for quite a while. But, there's only supposed to be three copies in existence, " . . the Prophet's Codex, the Sana'a edition, and the high madame's binding" But this Professor, Stanton T Carlyle, has put out a book about it, where he describes the bible in pretty accurate detail. It's called, A Blasphemous Mythology: the Religion of Crime. Because of that, someone is questioning his motives. Apparently it's the Question, who according to prophesy plays some kind of role in everything that this crime bible is attempting to bring about. "You publish a book pretending to debunk the religion of crime . . . but really it's a means to introduce key passages of the black book to the widest possible audience. Of course a little scandal would help that along nicely . . . like the murder of your wife and your son by adherents angry at you for spilling their secrets. The scissors are a nice touch. Several of Peter Kurten's victims were stabbed to death with scissors, weren't they? And whatever happens . . if you're caught, if you blame it on the religion . . the scandal alone sells a couple million extra copies. That's a lot of people learning the vile word without even knowing it." But the one thing she's got wrong, that's explained to her by one of the Order of the Stone that tries to prevent her intervention in their plans, is that it wasn't Stanton that was going to kill his wife. It was his wife, Giselle, that would prove to be the murderer. And after she kills Stanton, she goes after her son. But the Question is quick enough to stop that from happening. So now, after rereading it, and commenting on it, I think this is more a book about the Question, with the Crime Bible as the motivation. Which is good, because we haven't seen her since the end of 52. It's indeed an interesting book, by Greg Rucka. Really my only complaint is in their pick for artist . . Tom Mandrake. And really that complaint is just a personal preference. Tom's a good artist. And over the course of this book, there are some panels that are beautiful. But, there's more panels that are just . . . . muddy. I just don't really like the way he does his inks and shading. But, like I said, that's just my preference. As far as the book goes, this is just the first issue, so I'll have to save my opinion for a few more installments. But it's a decent start.
This is another chapter of Freddy's saga. Judd Winick is doing a great job with this story. But actually, I would expect nothing less. I do have a sad confession to make about this book though. I am a huge Howard Porter fan. I've liked him even before the JLA became hip. His stuff way back on the Ray, I thought, was fantastic. Especially for somebody following up on Joe Quesada's mini series. Then I really dug his stuff on the JLA, and also his different style in the beginning of this series. But now, this series, has garnered a new artist in Mauro Cascioli. And, while I'm sad to see that Howard is no longer on this series, I have to say, Mauro's work is simply amazing. Think Adam Hughes, crossed with Simon Bisley. I even think the work in this book is better than Ariel Olivetti's. That's my opinion. You may not agree with me. But, I think, if you can pick this up and read it, I think you'll be equally impressed. Anyways, last issue, Atlas died. I'm not really sure how a god can die . . . but he did. So Billy is shouldering his burden, literally, until Freddy can convince Apollo to take over for him. But Apollo has become happy in his new role in the human world. He's a husband, a father and a healer . . in the form of a doctor. But he hadn't realized, when he reverted to his godly form, to battle Freddy, all of that disappeared. "You've sired children as a man, now you've become a god again. They're gone. Magic has righted itself. It's as if . . . it's like you never existed as a mortal." And Apollo's pissed. So he takes a stand. "I want my life back. Find another to stand in my place and you can have all of my gift. For now, as a reminder . . . as a marker on your debt . . . half of my gift will go to another." So now half of his power has gone to Sabina. And as Sabina feels the surge of power, she says "Is it me, or did everything just get a lot more interesting?" This was already a good series, with a great story. But now, with the addition of Cascioli on art, Sabina's words were never more accurate. Even if she is a bad-guy . . . or girl.
I really like what Tony Bedard and Dennis Calero are doing with this book. My only problem is . . . and it's really just my problem . . . but I can't help but feel that all of this is moot. Jim Shooter's going to be taking over this book pretty soon, and I just don't see what the point of all of this is. But like I said, that's just me. I need to enjoy the moment. I need to enjoy the current story-line. But, I tend to be a person that looks ahead. I do the same thing when I'm reading the books. I read some, look ahead, and then read some more. Especially if I know that it has some type of dramatic, or cliff-hanger, ending. I spoil it for myself every time. I guess it's just a flaw in my character. Anyways, with this book, we're still on the hunt for Cosmic Boy. But I get the feeling that Brainiac 5 knew exactly what he was doing when he split the group in to these smaller teams, and what they were going to be facing. I think he knows exactly where Cosmic Boy is, but he's keeping everyone busy in the meantime. . . for some reason. But as with most things involving Brainiac, you never really know, or get the grand scope of, his intentions, until all has been said and done. When you look back, it all makes sense. But in the moment . . . he's always suspect. Such as Timber Wolf, Atom Girl or Shadow Lass when them come in to confrontation with Starfire on Lallor. He knew exactly what he was doing. And, how could he accidentally stumble across a assassination attempt on the President? Then we have Supergirl, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl running in to some type of evolved humanoid in the Gobi rain-forest. Actually it kind of surprises me that we still have a rain-forest in the 31st century. Anyways, this guy reverts to his caveman form for physical confrontation. We don't know the full extent of this story, but I'm sure we'll find out more next issue. And finally, Brainiac seems to have some type of plan going for incursion back into the 21st century. Does this have something to do with the Lightning Lad storyline that ran through the JLA? Or maybe the current storyline running through Action? Either way . . the Legion seems to be all over the place right now. And Starfire . . . who's actually called ERG 1 right now . . . has something to do with next issue's story. So apparently, Shadow Lass' team was sent there specifically to recruit him. Like I said, schemes within schemes. But overall, I thought it was a good book. It's got a great story-line, and superb art.
Uh-oh! We got another Batman classic in the making. You better jump on it while you can. And this one . . . this is actually just a prelude. The premise is . . Ra's al Ghul is trying to come back . . . again. And they've given this historic storyline to Grant Morrison to script. You just know that it's going to be wild. Grant's one that's known for working a story from different angles anyways. But with this one, the possibilities for him . . . I'm willing to bet . . . are staggering. He has such a rich story to work from here. Also some things that haven't truly been defined through the years. So I'm guessing, without a doubt, that he's going to come up with something that's utterly amazing. Also, to drive that point home, Tony S Daniel is the penciller. There already is a vast comic library of his work. But now? Now he's going to add an historic Batman story-line to his resume. Simply fantastic. We don't know all the specifics of the story yet, but, Ra's appears to be back in a mummy like form. Talia is also here, of course. She's been raising Damian, she thought, to assume Ra's mantle. But it looks like his purposes are going to be a little more literal. I believe that Ra's wants to transfer his consciousness in to the child. I think he wants him to be his literal successor. But Damian has grown pretty strong in spirit, and isn't to keen on giving up his body to this . . . . mummy. Also Batman gets his first hints as to Ra's plans. He doesn't know what's all entailed . . as far as Talia and Damian go . . but he does find out that he's looking for a comeback. This story-line will be crossing over in to all the Batman titles this month. From here we go straight to Robin, where Damian will confront Tim. Through this issue, Damian has been wearing the Robin outfit the whole time. I'm serious. If you don't pick up any of the Batman titles . . . this is the story-line to get. And you better get it while you can.