Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Countdown to Final Crisis #16 - DC

Ok, we've got 15 issues to go, and we're starting to get to the crux of the matter. We're finally starting to see schemes within schemes. For some reason Monarch, and his forces, have decided to target Earth 51 as the drop-point for the beginning of their multi-universal war. It also just happens to be the planet that Ray Palmer was hiding out on. When our Challengers got here, they found out that their "Bob", the Monitor that was guiding them, had alterior motives. It seems that his goal was to merge the 52 Monitors back in to a single entity. That being him. The problem, he found out, is that they've been individuals for to long, and they are starting to exhibit their own personalities and agendas. Reunification is no longer possible. Meanwhile, Monarch is trying to force the Monitors in to action, for some reason that we aren't privy to yet. His goal was to get all the Monitors on this planet. But we don't know why yet. Ray does tell Kyle this issue about this planet's original Dr. Palmer's plan to do something to stop this impending crisis. Ray has taken up his charge, but still doesn't understand everything that is involved. We also find out that this world's Donna is under the control of a Queen Belthera. I'm not sure who she is, or how she fits in to all this, but, I am sure . . . we're going to be seeing more of her. Meanwhile, "Bob", back at the universal nexus . . . the home-base of the Monitors . . . is confronted by Superman-Prime. "I can make life infinitely worse for you . . unless you help me find what I'm looking for." And Jimmy and Forager are in Metropolis trying to figure out what to do next. Forager says that their shared kiss helped her understand him better. "Jimmy . . what you are is a soul-catcher." It's a fantastic series, and a fantastic book. Even if you haven't been buying it all along, you should still get in to it now. Now is the time when all the crap's going to hit the fan. With these last 15 issues, I expect the story-line to be seriously amped up.

Salvation Run #3 - DC

This book is interesting. I'll give it that. My problem is, I don't know what the ultimate purpose, or agenda, of such a book could be. Basically, they've gathered up all the villains on Earth and placed them on an abandoned planet. Now keep in mind that this whole thing was done by Amanda Waller and her Suicide Squad. They're all killers and psychopaths and thieves. How are they ever going to be able to work together? Well, the planet isn't as deserted as it was thought. There seems to be all manner of creatures and monsters here. And what no one seems to have noticed so far is that they all seem to be technology based. So there has to be some raw material, or something they can work with, around here somewhere. Lex has been trying to unite them since he got here. He's trying to use the skills of the people to somehow engineer their escape. But, the Joker is also trying to gather forces. If for no other reason than to counter Lex. So with this diversity, how can they hope to accomplish anything? Maybe this series is going to be the prelude to the new Injustice Society. Or the Legion of Doom. I don't know. I can't really see anything else coming out of this storyline. We do, however, learn this issue that the Martian Manhunter is here, posing as Blockbuster, to keep an eye on the inhabitants progress. But we don't know for who . . or why. So maybe, that bit of information will open up something in the story-line. I don't know. Matthew Sturges and Sean Chen are the creators. I'm buying it because it's directly hooked in to the Countdown story-line. But other than that . . . I'm at a loss. And it has $10 variant covers for each issue also. What a waste.

Green Arrow and Black Canary #4 - DC

All I can say about this issue is . . . . . WOW!!! What a fantastic issue. I was severely upset when I saw that the Green Arrow series was cancelled . . a few months ago now. I just thought that Judd Winick was doing such a fantastic job with that series, and this character in particular, that I thought it was a really waste for it to go by the wayside. Then I heard about this series, and my hope became rekindled. But I still didn't know how, or who, was going to be able to top the incredible run that had been happening month after month in Green Arrow. Then, this series came out, and I saw that Judd was going to remain on the scripting chores. And the first couple issues were very good. But this issue . . . even without a variant cover . . . I think, far surpasses anything we've seen to date. Judd just expressed such raw emotion in his characters this issue. He took a grievous situation and made the way the characters reacted to it . . . . very believable. Ollie was off the hook. If this was a movie, he's win an Oscar for his performance in this issue. And I know that probably seems like hyperbole, but . . pick it up and tell me you don't agree. WOW!! This series, and the characters in it . . . . Ollie, Dinah, Connor, Mia, even Roy . . . has been exceptional. I really was upset when Green Arrow got cancelled. But, I couldn't have asked for anything better than this. It was . . . perfection. And now we find out, because of the Everyman situation, Dinah and Ollie were never actually married. Technically. So things are still up in the air. Fantastic book. I look forward to this one every month!

Green Lantern Corps #20 - DC

Well, with this issue, Guy and Kyle have decided to hang up their Earth-bound shoes, and take up permanent residence on OA. Actually, I think, after the whole war thing, plus they've both been out in space for quite a while now, that when they've come back to their normal lives, they're feeling a bit bored . . and listless. So they've made the decision together, since they couldn't make it on their own, and . . they are partners now in the honor-guard. Plus Guy figures he can just take his Warrior's stuff along, and open up a bar on OA. They do need a little diversity, after-all, from the cafeteria food. Once there, the interaction between Guy, Kyle and Salaak is just priceless. We also follow the Sinestro rings this issue. They're on a course to find new recipients. The Guardians are following them, but, half-way through their flight, something . . or somebody . . blocks their signals from them. They were trying to be pro-active, by finding out who ended up with the rings, but someone doesn't seem to want to let them have that advantage. Meanwhile, Mongul has been trying to learn everything there is to know about the ring that has been delivered to him. He intends to make every use of it's advantage, and, I think, he's decided to appoint himself the leader of the Sinestro Corps. Not a good development. Peter J Tomasi is doing a fantastic job with this book. I just really can't believe how much better it is, this time, as compared to it's last incarnation. But, I thought, Green Lantern Corps Quarterly was fantastic. They did some stuff in that book, that they couldn't do in the regular title. It's worth looking for. If you can find it. Patrick Gleason had some help on the art this issue. Which, I guess, I really can't blame him for, after the last few action packed issues. But, I hope he gets back to the solo stuff soon, because, it's much better that way. I'm sure he appreciates the other guys help this issue. But, they really didn't do the book justice. So hopefully, after a little rest, he'll get back to handling the art chores solo. But, other than that one small complaint, I thought it was a great book.

Simon Dark #4 - DC

This book is really pulling me in. I'm not sure what to classify it under . . yet . . but, I have to say, I really like what Steve Niles is doing with these characters. I also like Scott Hampton's artwork on this series. He's changed his style a bit for this book, and it really fits. We're on issue #4 now, and it feels like we've been introduced to most of the main characters by now. Maybe not everybody, but, enough so that we can start to see how the various aspects of this story are starting to connect. It seems like theirs some kind of "Men's club" in Gotham, that is actually a form of mystical society. I don't think they're Magicians and Warlock's per-se, but, I think they have dabblings in that world. Somehow they're connected to it. The Officer, or Detective, that we've seen the most of, so far, Tom Kirk, was at one time also connected to this group. But we don't know the whole story behind all of that yet. But, what we have witnessed, is that his previous associations help him to better understand how this group works. And they have their man, Vincent, also looking in to this young man. Right now what links them is that they're both trying to figure out the enigma that is Simon. Now, on the other side of the coin, we have Rachel, a local girl who's just moved to town, and Beth Granger, the Coroner. Rachel, for some reason, almost seems connected to Simon. They have similar interests, and actions. And Simon has come to her defense a couple of times now. She doesn't seem to scare him anymore. Beth is just scientifically interested because of the anomoly that landed on her examination table one day. This book seems to have a lot of twists and turns in it. There is a lot of neat ideas floating around in this work, that make sense, but I've never really thought about before. And anything that can provoke that much contemplation, is definitely doing it's job. So far, I'd have to say, our creators have done a fantastic job with this book. My only question is, why is this a DC title, and not a Vertigo one?

the Boys #14 - Dynamite Entertainment

Have I mentioned that this is one of my favorite books on the shelves right now? I'm sure I have. Once or twice. Really, the only problem I have with this issue . . is that Darick doesn't do all the art. His stuff has a realism, or gritty-ness to it that is perfect for this book. However, this issue, Peter Snejbjerg helps him out and . . I don't know . . he stuff, in comparison, just seems kind of . . . vanilla. Do you know what I mean? I mean, Darick has been all over the place the last couple of months, so I'll admit the guy probably needs a little rest. I just really hope this is a temporary thing. This issue wraps up the Glorious Five Year Plan story-line. It was an interesting story. I'm just not sure I buy the whole Russian-mafia thing. It just feels like they tried to shove a lot of information in to this one story-line. I still liked it. And I'm sure some of these characters will be back to give the Butcher grief in the future. I think this storyline, basically, was set up to introduce us to them all. And on that count, it worked. But, if they do ever show their heads again, you'll have to go back and pick up these boods and peruse them over. However, the govenment guy, I think, is going to be a constant thorn in their side. They thought he was working for the CIA, but . . it's something other than that. However, he is very well connected. It's a fantastic book. It has great characters, it has a gritty realism, and it has the best creative team we could ask for. Now all it needs is some loyal fans and readers, and it'll be a huge success.

WildStorm - Revelations #1 - WildStorm

Well, after our WildStorm Armageddon story-line, we finally have this series, Revelations, where we're supposed to find out just what the hell is going on. In the prelude series, the only person sent to the future that actually learned anything was Nemesis. Unfortunately, nobody likes or trusts her, so . . . it's going to be hard for her to find allies. However, she has done so with Savant, and Backlash. It took a little convincing, but she finally convinces them that she's on the up and up. With that out of the way she can then proceed to tell them the story about the future . . . and the destruction of the human race. Now they have to figure out where they're going to get answers from. They decide to start at the top . . . with the Authority. They set up a little distraction so they can go and try to drain the information from their data-banks. But, on the final page, they return from the fiasco, pissed, and before our trio has been able to finish their mission. Scott Beatty and Christos Gage are the writers here. I like the story, and the interaction between characters. Wes Craig does the art. I don't know that I've actually seen his work before, but, I have to say, I like what I see here. The guy shows huge potential. Some of his panels are breathtaking, while a few seem a bit . . . rushed. But he does have good perspective and flow. It's the panels that are great that lead me to believe, with the proper balance of time and attention, he could really be a superstar. I'm sure, by the end of this series, he'll have some of that worked out. Well, from my understanding, this series is going to define the future of the WildStorm Universe. So, you better be paying attention. Being only a 6 issue mini, they're going to have to cover a lot of ground in a short period of times. Keep your arms inside the vehicle at all times, because the rides about to begin.

Midnighter #15 - Wildstorm

Lucas Trent . . er . the Midnighter . . finally gets to beat up on Anthem this issue. And he . . . gives them something to think about. It turns out, this Lucas Trent identity, was who the Midnighter actually was in his previous life. You know. Before Henry Bendix and Jenny turned him in to who he is today. I guess Jenny thought it was to much of an ironic twist to pass up when he asked her for a new identity. So, now that he's had his say with Anthem, he has to decide what he's going to do with that identity. Anthem is still in business, but, now they're on a short leash of the Authority's making. Apollo and Jenny came down to Anthem's headquarters to assist with the negotiations between them and Lucas. Midnighter complains because he insists he didn't need the Authority's help. Jenny explains, "They did. They reached out to us." So now we have the Midnighter with a civilian identity on the side. I guess he's going to keep it. Plus he seems to have a new side-kick, his computer nerd girl Mindy. This is just turning in to a regular Batman & Robin, isn't it? Well . . not exactly. Actually, not at all. I really like what Keith Giffen has done with this book in the short time that he's been here. I'm hoping that he stays on board and continues with his imaginatory brilliance. I think this character is in the best hands now. Let's see what the future brings.

Jonah Hex #27 - DC

I really think Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti are doing a fantastic job with these stories. My only complaint is the art. I know Jordi Bernet has been around for a long time. And he is an icon in the medium. But, his style, just doesn't do it for me. I understand what they're trying to do. Jordi gives them a feel of the "old-time" comics. His work has a more basic, or "primitive" . . if you will . . look to it. And since this book is set in the 1800's . . . it conveys the same message as the story is trying to tell. Like I said, I appreciate what they're trying to do. However, for me, since I'm not a big fan, it just seems kind of . . . distracting. This issue our hapless bounty hunter comes across an admirer. Actually, it was someone who's life he saved when he was a child. His father was killed by some crooked law-men, and when he went to exact revenge, he was over-powered. Jonah became involved, inadvertantly, and ended up killing them all. The kid saw this as a sign and took up the job of ridding his new home country of it's wicked influence. He starting scouring the country-side for crooked law-men, and killing them. In the process he became known as the Star-man, because he would wear the badges of all the men he had taken down. That's when he crosses paths with Jonah. Jonah's after the bounty for him, but he begs him to let him finish the job he's set out to do. He gives Jonah the $1000 that he would've earned from taking him in. And, I think, by the end of the story, Jonah has a kind of mutual respect for him, and the job he's trying to do. They go their separate ways, but, I'm sure their paths will cross again. Overall, I thought it was a good book. I just have that small complaint about the art.

Justice League Unlimited #41 - DC

This was kind of a silly book, but, of course, it had it's "happy" ending. But then, any book that involves the Joker is a little silly . . . and depraved. The Joker's decided that the Batman isn't paying enough attention to him lately. So he's gone looking for him. He finds out that he's been hanging out with his new "friends", the Justice League. So he decides to go visit him at their new satellite headquarters. Not one of his best decisions. But desperate times and all. The point of the story is how easily he handles all these heroes, and their mighty powers. Especially with no special powers of his own. But, since they also know that, they continue to underestimate him. Which, in the end, when he's fighting with rubber chickens, and trick-guns . . . gives him the upper-hand. It also makes his actions harder to predict because they all seem to come out of necessity or desperation. As I've said over and over, I'm very glad that this line of books is out there for the kids. It's hard, sometimes, for them to get in to the major titles, because there's such grand, and long, story-lines. And because there's such a deep, and rich, line of history and continuity. They can be intimidating to the . . . "virgin". But this line takes away that stigma. Anybody can just jump in, anywhere, anytime, and just enjoy the story and characters. And who knows, if they like what they read enough . . . they may just go in search of some of the other titles. I think it's a fantastic marketing ploy. And, while I know that essentially it is just that, I also know that there's a necessity to bring in new readers if the medium is to survive. So I applaud this whole line of books.

Metal Men #5 - DC

This has ended up to be one of the most interesting Metal Men stories in quite a while. I can believe that Duncan Rouleau got some help . . or at least some ideas . . from Grant Morrison, because there is truly some fantastic ideas floating around in this book. Essentially, we're going in 3 different directions at the same time. Actually . . 4, because this issue didn't even touch upon whats currently going on. Will's brother, David Magnus, has gone outside of the time-stream, to try to figure out how to stop, what he sees, as the end of the world. I'm not sure how or why, but he sees the Metal Men as the doom of the human race. He's brought in Will, to try to show him what he's seen, and what he's trying to accomplish. The story goes all the way back to the sinking of Atlantis. There was a mage there with the name of Magnus. It was their great-great-great-great-grandfather. Actually, probably farther back than that, but somehow his magic was infused with alchemy. Which, basically, is what David is trying to show Will is that is where his knowledge and ideas have come from. Basically, his responsometers are a newer form of that alchemic process. And, as history has shown us, anytime alchemy is involved, things often take a negative turn. Which is where, I think, the Heavy-Metal men come in. Anyways, while he's showing all of this, we also have a story going on during the time when Will first came upon the discovery of the responsometers. It involves a Ra's ah Ghul type character, by the name of Solomon Kahn. And there's another part of the story in the future where the Metal Men are fighting a corporation called Magna-tech. The first couple of issue, it was pretty hard to figure out the time-lines of all the various aspects of this story, and how they were all connected. But now, on issue #5, it's all starting to come in to focus. It's been a fantastic book . . story and art wise . . the whole time. It's just been a little confusing. You knew everything was connected. You just didn't know how. But so far, I love it. However, we only have 3 issues to go. These have been some of my favorite characters of all time. I'm just glad they have something out there right now.

Countdown to Mystery #4 - DC

I really like this book. Maybe it's a bit of an indulgence for me, but hey . . . I'm allowed those every now and then. Our stories switch order this issue. But . . that's ok. The Eclipso one was actually more important this time. We are right in tune with the Countdown #17 book that we just read. In it, Eclipso and Mary's relationship finally comes to a head. We saw them explode and land in the ocean, but we didn't see what happened to Jean. In this issue, we still don't get an answer to Jean. Other than seeing her body floating in the water. But Eclipso, for lack of a better body to inhabit, goes straight back to Bruce Gordon. And when Eclipso awakens, he's none to happy about that prospect. Crispus Allen, the Spectre, knew what was going to happen so he contained Bruce before the shift. Not that it does much good. But by the time the sun comes up, he does have him contained. There's also something else going on in this issue. A billionaire, Rosario Corrotto has a homo-magi in his house and he's trying to do . . something. We're not exactly sure yet. All we know it that they're close. The interesting part though, is that in is house is also Plastic-man, the Creeper and the late arrival of Dove. I'm sure this story will somehow intersect with Eclipso, though. That one was brought to us by Matthew Sturges and Stephen Jorge Segovia. He's the first person I've ever seen that's made Eclipso look sexy. Seriously. Anyways, the second story is about Kent trying to deal with all of this weirdness of Fate. He goes off the wagon, and his life starts to spiral out of control. Again! But he's rescued by a young lady who takes him in, offers him shelter and tries to clean him up a bit. Coincidentally, her name is Inza. But, before they can explore that to much, the demon that he recently fought comes after her. "He's destroyed her . . actually destroyed her . . ! Taken a human life and . . . and liquefied it . . ! For no other reason than to torture me!" So now Kent is really in some emotional turmoil. This one was brought to us by Steve Gerber and Justiniano. I assume this is all setting us up for the Doctor Fate series that'll be coming out of this. I assume. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I really like this series.

the All New Atom #19 - DC

Ryan comes across a few more oddities about Ivy Town this issue. One, he doesn't even realize. There's an expedition team that been lost under the town. There were same caves that one of the Professor's decided to take a field trip through, and shortly after there was a cave-in. So after 3 days of no contact, the Atom got involved. Also because his buddy Panda was part of the group. Anyways, on the way down through the tunnels, he's hit in the back of the head and knocked out. When he awakes he's in a kind of Puritan town that, obviously, way underground. He and Panda are both in the stockades. Now, what Ryan doesn't realize is that the ones who knocked him out, and the one's holding him captive, I think, are 2 separate entities. But, Ryan didn't see the first bunch, so he doesn't know that. Now, I could be wrong, but, I think, that's the case. Anyways, long story short, it obviously has something to do with Ivy Town's weirdness. But there also seems to be a large amount of radioactivity present down there too. So now, it's a mystery for Ryan. After he saves the group he went down there to get, he goes back for a soil and air sample. Plus he has to reward the little girl that helped him. Also, the leader of the town, whom he had to beat to free the captives, disappeared in a cloud of smoke. So I don't really think that threats gone yet. Plus Ryan still has to deal with the Dept. of Metahuman Affairs having the town under marshall law. Oh yeah, and Wonder Woman offered him membership in to the JLA last issue. Lots of stuff going on in the mighty mite's mind. Keith Champagne writes it, and Jerry Ordway does the pencils. I haven't seen Jerry's pencils lately, but it was a nice change of pace this issue. Overall, I thought, it was a good book.

Countdown presents - Lord Havok and the Extremists #3 - DC

Well, Liam Sharp didn't stick around on this series very long. That's to bad too. I really like his stuff. Especially on this sci-fi / adventure type stuff. But . . he did do the cover. So I guess that's something. However, Frank Tieri is still on the scripts. So the story will still be on track. Mark Robinson does the pencils this issue. He's

no Liam, but his stuff does have a neat style to it. This issue picks up after Monarch has asked Lord Havok to join his multi-dimensional army. Havok has refutely denied him. Yes his strength could help them achieve their goals, but I think Havok realizes that they would lose more out of the bargain than they would gain. Plus, as he suspects, Monarch's minions begin hunting down and killing Havok's men this issue. It seems kind of weird to see the origin and the death of a character in the same issue. But that's what we get this time. We see the birth and the death of Tracer. And it looks like we're going to get the same treatment next issue with Dreamslayer. I like this book, and these characters, but I am concerned. I'm concerned about where they're going to go after this mini. I mean, if this is their coming-out party, and their swan-song all in one, then, really, what's the point. What's are motivation to invest an interest in these characters if they're just going to be killed off by the end of the story? And why go to all the trouble in the first place to create them, if they're just going to be thrown away? I'm just asking because I have heard or seen anything yet as to their future. Any information would be good.

Teen Titans - Year 1 #1 - DC

I wasn't sure what I was going to think of this, when I saw it advertised. I was even less hopeful after reading the Metamorpho mini-series. But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It starts out simple enough. Robin is down in the Bat-cave looking for some on-line buddies to chat with. But there seems to be something going on the lives of these young heroes mentors. They all seem to be a bit more on edge, or aggressive lately. I imagine, that's going to the the "tie that binds" in the upcoming issues. We see a glimpse of all for of them this issue. The strangest one, seems to be Garth. We're not really sure what's going on with him, just yet, but, he really seems to be out of his element. Even though, water is his element. I'm sure it'll progress as we go through the 6 issues. What we see on their personalities, so far, this issue is that Robin is lonely. Maybe lonely isn't the right word. He's probably just looking for associates his own age. Wally is impatient. But hasn't he always been. Donna is inquisitive. She's new to man's world and, I think, she refuses to let it overwhelm her. And Garth . . . Garth seems to be the outcast. Like I said, he seems to be completely out of his element. But, we don't really know what's going on with him . . yet. However, there is a back-up story going on that seems to be dealing directly with his situation. However, this issue . . . all we see is . . fish. I think it's a fantastic beginning to this mini-series. Amy Wolfram seems to have a handle on these characters. And I really like the style, and mood, of Karl Kerschl, Serge LaPointe and Steph Peru's art. I assume that's pencils, inks and colors, but . . I'm not really sure. The end result, however, looks pretty nice. I really can't wait to see the rest of this series.

Detective Comics #840 - DC

This issue puts the threat of Ra's on ice. At least for now. After the developments in the Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul story-line, Batman has come back to Gotham. Unfortunately . . . so has Ra's. He's decided to make this his base of operations. Ra's seems . . . different. I guess being dead can do that to you. But I think it's more because of the body he's assumed . . . his son the White Ghost. I'm sure Ra's essence has completely dominated, if not obliterated, that of his son's. But, it seems like there may be a bit of the other one in there. I don't think Ra's even realizes it. But it seems to be affecting his motivations. Anyways, Batman can't just let Ra's do whatever he wants, and, being who he is, he can't just kill him. So, he ends up doing the next best thing. He creates a new identity for him, has him seriously sedated, and has put him in Arkham Asylum. His new name is Terry Gene Kase and he's supposed to be serving a life sentence. That'll have him out of the picture for a little while. But you just know, he'll be resurfacing sooner or later. A fantastic book by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen. I'm surprised Paul has any room left on his plate, after on the work he's doing over on Countdown. But this was an excellent story.

Supergirl #25 - DC

Ok, I was excited to learn that Drew Johnson would be the new penciller. Especially seeing as how Kelley Puckett would be remaining the scriptor. But, this issue it's split between him and Lee Ferguson. And I have to say, the end result, isn't all that good looking. I complained about Renato Guedes on his fill in issue for this book. But now, this stuff with Lee, isn't a whole lot better. I'm really not trying to rag on the talent of these creators. I just want to see this book succeed. I really think this character can make it . . this time. 4th or 5th times the charm. Right? But, unless they amp up the talent a bit, I'm afraid that people are going to lose interest. And this chapter in Kara's life, will go the way of the rest of them. Into oblivion. The stories pretty good. Last issue Kal took Kara to a spot where, with the physics of light, they could see in to the past of Krypton. The problem is, what he thought was a gift, actually stirred up a lot of old memories of her home. She didn't leave when she was a baby. She left when she was a teenager. So she remembers a lot more than Kal does. She remembers faces, and interactions, accomplishments, and disappointments. And, lately, she's really kind of sunk into an abyss with those feelings. But she doesn't get to dwell on them for to long, because Reactron shows up and decides to smack her down a little bit. She tries to talk to him. Find out what's going on, and how and why he's changed. But all he seems to want to do is show her what he's capable of. On the final page, we see the 2 of them in the middle of what looks like a mushroom cloud. I'm begging the editorial staff. Please don't let this book diminish in to another stereotype. Kara . . Supergirl . . deserves better than that. But, it seems like that's the direction we're heading. Please . . can we get a little more effort here?

Countdown to Final Crisis #17 - DC

Last issue we found Ray Palmer . . finally . . on Earth 51. He had created this nice little life for himself there with a new Jean and all his old friends. In fact, he'd forgotten about his old life all-together, except for the nightmares that haunt someone who's lost so much. That is until our Challengers show up. And more specifically, "Bob", whom, now that they've found him, demands that he be killed. It turns out this was the Monitor's plan all along. He and another, Solomon, had decided to create this "crisis", so that the necessity would arise for them all to be bonded in to one Monitor . . again. But when the other Monitor's find out this was their plan, they're outraged. But they aren't going to have much time to fight amongst themselves because at that time, Monarch and his multi-verse spanning army show up. It turns out he was the one that had planted Ray Palmer here in order to draw out the Monitors. Which he's done. And now he's planning on wiping them out. Meanwhile, Mary and Jean . . the other Jean . . . have had a falling out. Mary's tired of being used by her and has decided to take her out. Even if it means losing her powers. She speaks the magic word, and brings the lightning bolt down on both of them. They both revert to human form, and fall in to the ocean. We're not sure what's happened to Jean yet. But, Mary has rolled up on the shores of Themyscira. That should be an interesting development. Everything is starting to come to a head, and the last 16 issues should be very interesting. I'm starting to wonder though, where we're going to go after this, because I honestly don't think they can wrap everything up in this series. But, I guess, we'll see.

Uncanny X-Men #494 - Marvel

We're up to Chapter 10 in the Messiah Complex story-line. And while we don't seem to be making progress very fast. There is definitely a lot of stuff going on in this story. I can see why it had to be spread across all of the X-titles. We ended last issue with Bishop standing over the new-born mutant baby. He had already taken down Forge and Wolverine, and was now getting ready to take out the baby. But then he's blindsided by the Marauders. The next few pages are a battle between him and Gambit. The rest of the Marauders get their licks in, but it's mostly Gambit. And eventually, he takes him down. So now . . the baby is in their hands. Shortly after is when Scott's team, and the newly reformed X-Force shows up. It appears that one team is going to go after the Marauders, and the other is going after Cable. But, at the end of this issue, we see that Cable is turning to someone he hasn't confided in a long time . . . Xavier. "Charles, listen to me . . nothing here is what it seems . . and right now, you're the only one left who can help me save the future." Pretty ominous, huh? Anyways in that future, Jamie and Layle have made it in to the mutant concentration camp. They got separated, but, after being tattooed, have found each other again. Layla informs him that now she now knows why they're there. "You have to meet him . . . Lucas Bishop . . . this is where he grew up." And they show the picture of what looks to be about a 10 year old boy. Ed Brubaker does the script and Billy Tan handles the pencils. Overall, I think it's an amazing book. I can't see this going on to much longer though, because we're getting close to issue #500. That should be interesting. The next chapter goes to X-Factor. I find myself eagerly awaiting this story-line every week. And with some of the changes I've heard about . . . all across this franchise . . . we have a long way to go before things are going to settle down.

Moon Knight #14 - Marvel

Well, now we have Javier Saltares and Mark Texeira on this book. Javier is still over on Ghost Rider. But, Tom Palmer is doing his finishes there. I really thought it was just Mark on this book. Javier's name isn't credited on the cover. But on the inside he's listed as doing layouts. I'm really not trying to make a big deal out of this. It's just that I really like the two of them together. But, I miss 'em over on Ghost Rider. And it looks like Authur Suydam is doing the covers on this book, as well as Wolverine. His covers definitely create . . or present . . a certain type of atmosphere. Next month's has a kind of Norman Rockwell feel to it. If you can believe that. As far as the story goes . . . it was . . . interesting. We're unaware of the motivation right now, but Marc recently registered with the Super-human Initiative. He's a card carrying hero now. But that certainly hasn't changed his style. He's every bit as rough on his victims as he ever was. And the public is starting to take notice. As is Tony. But nothings being done yet. At least not until it's discovered what he does at the end of this book. He's looking for his next victim . . 'er . . project . . and he's fed the name of Simon Maddicks, Killer Shrike. He's the one that hurt DuChamp. He's out of prison now. He hasn't done anything wrong . . yet. But now, he's on Marc's radar. So he goes to give him a message. He wants to let him know that he's being watched. So he breaks in to his apartment and throws him down a flight of steps. He's got 2 problems. One . . there's witness'. And two . . he threw the wrong guy down the steps. After it happens, a crowd gathers in the hallway of the apartment building. In that crowd . . we see the face of Simon. Uh-oh! I think the public concern over his tactics are definitely going to demand some more attention. Mike Benson is on the scripts now. But Charlie Huston is still helping with the plots. So the story, and transition should be pretty seamless. I really like this book. But, I gotta say, this whole Bushman character really bugs me. And I know his incessant chattering must really get on Marc's nerves. But, I guess, that's the point.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ultimate Human #1 - Marvel

Finally! Finally after all these years in the Ultimate Universe. Finally we get to see some of the differences in the Hulk over here. And with Warren Ellis writing the story, I'm sure we're going to get a lot more than we expected. There's some fantastic stuff here. When Tony and Bruce are talking about what happened to him . . and what's happening to him at all times . . it just all makes so much sense. It's never really been explained the way they're explaining it . . . but . . it just all makes so much sense. Basically, Bruce has come to Tony because he wants Tony to fix him. He's a scientist, so he knows all about what makes Tony tick. He knows who and what he is, and how he's linked to his Iron Man suit. He also, in his own head, has worked out how that technology can be used to . . maybe . . shut down inside of him, that change that's tearing apart his life. And Tony, being the brilliant man and thinker that he is, is always ready to rise to a challenge. Even one as formidable . . . and dangerous . . . as this will no doubt prove to be. But he's not the only one interested in these events. Over in London, the Thinker, or the Leader, or whatever he's calling himself, is also interested in what these 2 brilliant minds are going to come up with. So much so, that he's prepared himself, in wait, for just this contingency, that he knew eventually would happen. Basically, he wants a sample of both of their blood. The irony of the situation here . . . as is always the case in the Ultimate Universe . . . is that this version of the Leader is actually Pete Wisdom. Yes, the same Pete Wisdom from Excalibur, and Pryde & Wisdom fame. But apparently here, after being kicked out of MI6, he's turned . . . for lack of a better word . . . to the dark side. So Tony has taken up the task of studying Bruce, and his transformation. And he's made 2 startling discoveries. One, there is nothing going on in Bruce that anywhere near resembles what they thought they would find. And two, Tony has nothing capable of containing the rampaging fury. No matter how much he thought he had prepared. To quote one of his assistants, "I don't think I like it when he's angry!" This is a fantastic beginning to this mini-series. And I'm sure with Warren Ellis and Cary Nord at the helm, it's bound to be an instant classic.

X-Men - Emperor Vulcan #4 - Marvel

I don't know. Maybe it's just me. I'm just still finding myself rather bored with this series. Not that there's not a lot of action . . because there is. It's just . . . I find myself not really caring about what happens here. These particular characters are just not all that interesting to me. Take Havok for instance. This is what? . . the 2nd or 3rd . . or more . . . times that he's been separated from the core X-Men group to go out and do his own thing. Hell, one time he was even in an alternate dimension. But . . . he always ends up coming back. So yes he on the opposite side of the Universe. And yes he's doing his own thing by leading the Starjammers . . . assuming his recently deceased father's position. But . . so what? When all's said and done, he can just head right back towards Earth and be done with the whole thing. Basically this story has just put a few details in place. Vulcan is now the new Emperor of the Shi'ar Empire. A new alien race has emerged, the Scy'Ar Tal. They are the sworn enemies of the Shi'ar. And it looks like, this issue, Havok and Vulcan have figured out a way to bring them down. But all that's going to do is put Earth now on their list of sworn enemies. And in particular, the Summers family. But the stories not done yet. There's still one more issue to go. Alex and Vulcan had formed an alliance to help beat the common enemy. But, now that he appears defeated, Vulcan is ready to pounce on Alex and his band of space travellers. Have they forgotten that it ain't over until the fat lady sings? Just because the Scy'Ar Tal appear to be down, doesn't mean that they're beaten yet. So the results of this little drama are still up in the air. And as a warrior and strategist, they should know that you never leave anything to chance. So we'll just have to wait and see what happens next issue. I think Christopher Yost and Paco Diaz Luque are doing a fine job with this story. But, like I said, to me, it's just . . . boring. It's just so much minutia. But again, that's just my opinion.

X-Men - First Class vol 2 #7 - Marvel

I liked this story. As I like this series overall. But, this particular issue seemed like a set-up, really, for some future story. I don't know if it'll be in this book, or one of the regular X-titles, but the menace that they faced here, I think, will definitely be back. Last issue, somehow, everyone lost their powers. Just like somebody turned off a light switch. Some were happy, some were sad, but all of them were confused. Shortly after that, the school was attacked by nothing short of a platoon of Sentinels. It looked like the end. But they gained renewed hope when Scott destroyed one with nothing but his wits. But one Sentinel is a lot different than 99 of them. So it really looked overwhelming. That is until the Sentinels looked in the building, and since are X-men are now de-powered, didn't find the mutant cell they were looking for. So they left. But before they left, they had gathered some information from Cerebro which told them where to find Wanda and Pietro. Which then became their next destination. Being the heroes that they are, the X-men and the Professor immediately jumped in the jet to try to intercept them. They didn't make it, but on the way there their powers came back on. But now, they were hyper-charged, or evolved or something. Basically they were all at their maximum potential. Anyways, long story short, they used these powers to beat the Sentinels, saved Wanda and Pietro, and then went back to the school to find this alien organism that was out behind it, and had caused all of this to happen. Basically it took there X-gene in them and devolved it back to it's preliminary stages. It then evolved it to it's maximum potential. Like it was rebuilding it or something. That's what caused the fluctuations in their powers. The Professor learned that it had come from this asteroid that was flying through our galaxy, so basically he had to find a way to send it back. If he didn't, it probably would've done the same thing to every species on Earth, trying to fix them. He does that, but the story ends with it drifting in space. So, I think, it'll probably be back. Anyways, it was an interesting story by Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz. And that's the neat thing about having this series set in our team's early history. They can introduce us to stuff . . back then . . and then when it pops up in current story, they have a self written explanation. Kind of like retro-active continuity. It's pretty smart, when you think about it.

Ultimate Power #9 - Marvel

What an incredible book. Of course the story, by Jeph Loeb, was superb. And the artwork of Greg Land, was again . . . off the charts. We found out last issue that the probe that Reed had sent here was actually harmless. But, what he didn't know, is that Fury had intercepted it and had Doom make some alterations. Obviously when Doom found out they were coming to another world, he secreted himself aboard there ship, and then waited for the time to come forth and announce that this world would be his new playground. I mean, why not? The virus had already knocked out most of the world's competition, so all that stood between him and complete domination is the Squadron. But . . and I'm not sure why . . . Doom was actually one of his robots. So between this large group of heroes . . they took him out pretty handily. That was when Fury decided that the only way to stop the conflict is to introduce another threat. A threat that is larger than both sides, and will bring the two together. So he drops the Hulk on them. The second Squadron came from Wanda's magiks. She literally split each person in two to create the newer versions. The problem was that it made it difficult for both to function. So together, they went to her and begged her to fix it. She does eventually, but not until after they beat the Hulk. Also, the Hulk, literally, was beaten by Spider-man and Sue. Of course the knock-out blow came from Ben. But those 2 set it up. At the end, Spider-man reveals to everyone that the probe was altered by Doom, so they shouldn't be trying to punish Reed. Instead, they should look to Fury and Emil Burbank. They were co-conspirators in this endeavor. There's a few things that came out of this story. First, this is where Carol Danver takes of SHIELD. So now we know where Fury's been these last couple months. Secondly, Zarda has come to our world to keep an eye on the Ultimates. Which sets up future story-lines. And finally, up until this point, nobody really knew the extent of Wanda's powers. So, from now on, she's going to be someone they're going to have to keep an extra close eye on. This was a great series. I'm kinda' sorry to see it end. But, in ushered in a few interesting changes in the Ultimate Universe. Now we'll sit back and watch what happens.

Ultimate Spider-man #117 - Marvel

Wow!! Really . . that's all I can say about this issue . . Wow! Norman broke out of the Triskelion. He decided to use the media to try to take down Fury. He doesn't know that Fury's over in that other dimension with the Squadron Supreme right now. And he's probably not coming home anytime soon. Anyways, Peter of course gets mixed up in the whole thing. Then Carol Danvers, Fury's replacement, decides to use the same trick Norman did to get his attention. She poses a fake news conference with Harry as her star witness. He's going on about how his father is a liar and a psychopath, he can't be trusted, and basically he ruined his life. You know . . . all the stuff a father wouldn't want to see broadcast on national TV. Well . . it does the trick. And Norman heads straight for them. Actually, sooner than they expected. Even before they could get the non-essential people out of harms way. Including Harry. Harry's Oz formula kicks in, and we end up with 2 Goblins fighting it out on the carrier. Peter also shows up eventually. But even between Harry and Peter, they can't seem to make a dent in bringing down Norman from his rampage. And in the end . . . he beats the life out of his son. Literally! When he realizes what he's done, he's standing over his son's body and he morphs back in to his human form. He's standing there . . looking . . in the rain, and all he says is "Kill me . . . Please kill me." To which Carol responds, "Gladly!", and she shoots him in the side of the head. By this time, Peter has worked his way back to the ship, after getting knocked a mile or so away. After holding Harry's body for awhile he goes straight to Carol. "My friend is dead! You stay away from me. You get me?? You're not Fury and I don't know you. From here on out, you stay the hell away from me!!" The issue ends with Peter standing up in class the next day wanting to talk about the friend he's just lost. Actually, that all of them lost. It ends very emotionally. Brian Bendis has delivered another amazing chapter in the life of this young hero. And Stuart Immomen has done a great job of filling the shoes of Mark Bagley. This is, and has continued to be, one of the best Spider-man titles . . ever! A fantastic book, and series.

Avengers - the Initiative #8 - Marvel

This has actually turned out to be a very good series. This issue we see back to the very beginning of the Initiative, when Tony, Reed and Hank are all in Reed's "idea" room, and are tossing ideas back and forth. Hank is really the one who came up with the 50 State Initiative. The only thing they're worried about is having enough "cadets" to fill all the ranks. So they're looking at different ideas to get the sheer numbers. Villains, clones, SPIN-tech, nanotech, soma-tech, Guardsman armor, "Iron-Spider" suits, and a revised Ant-Man/Giant-Man suit . . . . are all considered. And, I think, to one point or another, have all been used. The reason it's going to be set up in Stamford is to give the civilians a sense of protection from just the sheer number of "heroes" that will be in their community. But, of course, what we see this issue, is how the best ideas can ofter go astray. I mean, for the most part, with these "cadets" here . . . when it comes down to it . . . we're really just dealing with teen-agers. They're impulsive, they act on emotion, and they make mistakes. Which is why they've come to handle them in a "boot-camp" type of situation and training. After all, if a kid with these types of powers makes a mistake, the results could be a lot more disastrous. So Gyrich has brought in the Taskmaster to be their new drill Sergeant. And yes, I'm talking about the Taskmaster from Moon Knight. Kind of a scary thought, huh? But it may be to little, to late because things already get out of hand this issue. Cassie's father Scott was also an Ant-Man. When the Taskmaster and a recruit, in the new Ant-Man armor, start joking around about him, it's a bit more than she can take. She goes up to Giant size, and tries to bully her way through the crowd. The new recruit, in the the new Ant-Man armor, decides this is his chance to show what he's got, so he also goes up to Giant size and starts beating her up. Which infuriates Hank, so he also goes to Giant size to beat him up. In the melee that follows one of the "cadets", Hardball, threatens to let the world know what happened to MVP if Gyrich doesn't get off their case. So now, Gyrich, Hank and the Baron have a decision to make. Do they make more MVP clones to fill the ranks? It's an easy fix, and they seem to be more subservient. Obviously they make that choice, but, it may be a mistake, because on the final page of this issue, one of them has a wounded Hank dead in his sights. I have to admit, I really like what Dan Slott and Christos Gage are doing with these stories. And, while I wasn't thrilled with Stefano Caselli's art at first, I'm really coming around. This particular issue . . . looked amazing. Fantastic stuff all around.

Batman #672 - DC

I think we've discovered the new team to beat, creatively, when it comes to Batman. This team-up of Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel, is going to go down in history with some of the greats. Loeb and Lee, Moench and Aparo, Grant and Breyfogle, Starlin and Aparo, Miller and Mazzucchelli, Moench and Newton, Englehart and Rogers . . . . just to name a few. The stuff they're doing on this book is just fantastic. This issue we finally get the third man. The story started out a few issues ago, where these 3 bad cops basically went over the edge. They started dressing up like Batman and exacting their own brand of vigilante justice. Batman took down 2 of them, but he knew there was going to be a third. He shows up at the police station looking for Commissioner Vane, not knowing that Gordon is back at the post now. With the Commish being held hostage on the roof, of course Batman has to swoop in and try to save the day. But as Batman says, or thinks, "Any idiot can dress like a bat. But this one is trained . . motivated . . dangerous." And this guy seems to be ready for him. While he's trying to save Jim, he gets shot square in the chest. Of course he has his armor on, but still, the force of the blast is more than a normal human body is built for. So it starts to knock him unconscious. But there's 2 more complications. One . . . he also shoots Jim square in the chest, and I'm sure he's not wearing the type of armor Batman is. Secondly . . . as he's passing out . . . Bruce realizes that he's also going in to cardiac arrest. So is this the end of the Batman? And why does he envision what looks like Bat-Mite on the final page? This book, really, couldn't get any better. This run of Grant's . . . going on 20 issues now . . . is going to go down as one of the best the Batman history. At least that's my opinion.

Green Lantern #26 - DC

Really, my only complaint about this issue is that . . . . I miss Ivan Reis. I love the way he draws this book. But . . . Mike McKone is on in the interim, so . . I can't complain to much. Plus, after the job he did on last issue . . the double sized issue . . . I guess the guys allowed some breathing room. The cover talks about the Alpha Lanterns. But really, all we get this issue is a glimpse at them. There's a double page spread, where we see what they look like. But really, that's all we get of them this issue. Not much more of an explanation, besides that. We also learn that there's going to be a total of 10 new laws written in to the book of OA. The Guardians realize that the first law . . . allowing lethal force against a member of the Sinestro Corps . . may have been a mistake. But, since their number is 9 now, instead of 12, they believe it's a necessary risk. They elude to the 2nd law a bit, but don't go in to to much detail. I kind of feel that the Alpha Lanterns have something to do with that, or are somehow a product or result of it. But, really, that's just speculation on my part. Mostly what we see this issue is how our various Earth-bound Lanterns are dealing with the after-affects of having gone through that war. Plus they have to deal with the new influx in to Coast City. The book ends with the Lost Lanterns. What starts out as a mission of mercy, could end up changing all of them forever. The Lost Lanterns want to go to Ke'hann's home to inform his family of their loss, and return his body to them. It's not something that the Lanterns usually do. But, since the Lost Lanterns are such a cohesive group, they're making an exception. The problem is, when they get there, Amon Sur is also there. And he has slaughtered everybody. His plan was to wait for the Lanterns, be taken to the Sci-cells on OA, and then let his deed spread through the Lantern ranks causing more fear and anguish. However, Laira, who is leading this trip, was in love with Ke'hann, so she's exceptionally distraught. It doesn't take much taunting from Amon for Laira to raise up her ring and kill him. Which, basically, is going to put the whole group at risk. In the blurb for the next issue, it says " . . the trial of the Lost Lantern begins!" Of course, since Geoff Johns wrote it, it's a fantastic story. And honestly, Mike really did do a great job on the art. Ivan's just one of my favorite's. But Mike's more than adept to fill his shoes. This was just another great installment of an incredible series. In my eyes, this cast of characters is at a level they've never reached before. It really is amazing.

Green Lantern / Sinestro Corps - Secret Files and Origins #1 - DC

Right now I am a huge fan of anything Green. All these series are great. And now we get a kind of Bible on all the characters. But it's not just that, this issue gives us information on anything to do with the Green Lantern Corps. From Lanterns, to various space sectors, to the intricacies of the planet OA. It's all here. There's even a double page spread on the fallen Lanterns. There's 87 listed here total. And there's Bios on over 200 Lanterns. It's just amazing. But what's equally amazing is all the talent that participated here. In the artist category we have Howard Porter, Fred Haynes, Joe Prado, Ty Templeton, Pat Broderick, of course Ivan Reis, Scott Kolins, Patrick Gleason, Guy Major, Tom Nguyen, Romeo Tanghal, Dave Gibbons, Jerry Ordway, Mike McKone, Jonboy Meyers, Jerome Moore, Angel Unzueta, Mark Robinson, Marshall Rogers, Ryan Sook, Joe Staton, Terry Beatty, Adam Hughes, Graham Nolan, Ethan Van Sciver, Gil Kane, Paris Cullins, Tony Harris, George Tuska, Mike DeCarlo . . . . . and that's just going through the first 10 or 12 pages. They've really pulled out all the stops on this issue. And it's put together by Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates. I hope he got some down time after putting all of this together. Seriously, this will probably be the Bible for the Corps for a while to came. They even talk about Superman-Prime, the Anti-Monitor, Cyborg-Superman and the unknown Black Lantern. The books got a lot of information in it, and if you're a Green Lantern fan . . . you really need to get it. You won't be disappointed.

JLA Classified #49 - DC

This is a real human interest kind of story. And . . . I really liked it. Basically there's this alien race that claims that it won our solar system in a battle. So they're on their way to Earth to collect their rewards. The JLA have gone to Mars to try to intercept them on their way. There's a heated battle. But this story isn't really about the JLA. This story is about the loved ones they left behind while they've gone off to try to save the Earth again. We see it from Lois Lane and Alfred Pennyworth's perspective. Lois has shown up at the Wayne manor for an interview, but, of course, Bruce isn't there. And with the whole world worried about whether or not the heroes will win, there's really nothing else for her to do. So Alfred invites her in for a cup of tea. They sit, and they talk, and they try to put the world's worries out of their minds for a little while. Then, after about 4 hours they get the new that the JLA has won. They've stayed off the invading force. A sigh of relief and joy sweeps the planet. Then we see how the heroes cope. Flash goes and swipes up his girlfriend from the TV station and takes her out for a long passionate kiss. Bruce returns home, and once in the safety of his manor and his trusted companion Alfred, promptly falls asleep. Superman goes to finish his interview with Lois, before he got called away, and she asks that if before they start the interview, if she can just have a hug. And Diana returns to Themyscira to a very relieved Queen Hippolyta. It was a nice change of pace from the usual "beat-em-up" stories. It was written by Andrew Kreisberg. I assume he's new to the craft. He did an excellent job with this book. It's drawn by Paulo Siqueira. He first came to our attention over in Birds of Prey, and, I gotta say, this guy shows some serious talent. He's improved dramatically from his first issues there. And, if he keeps going in this direction, he's definitely on track to be a super-star. His stuff is really that good. He did the cover too. And the inside stuff looks as good or better. This was a great issue.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #4 - DC

Ok. Red Bee was altered by that alien race of insects, but . . . we didn't really know how much until this issue. She's being held as SHADE headquarters by Robbins. He claims he's only running tests on her, but now that he knows how powerful she really is, he wants her on his team that's going to replace the Freedom Fighters, the Crusaders. He telepathically tries to control her, but her mind is to strong for him. In fact, she turns the tables on him and ends up snapping his neck in the struggle. As soon as she does, everyone who was under his influence . . . all the Crusaders . . . get their minds back. That's when Uncle Sam shows up with the rest of the team. He would've been there sooner but he was trying to deal with a problem in the lower levels of the Pentagon. Darrel Dane, the original Doll-Man, has been stuck here, by Father Time for some experiment that seems to have gotten completely out of control. He and a whole squadron of soldiers have been miniaturized for months, which is seriously affecting their moods and sanity. At first he fights Sam and the new Doll-Man, but eventually Sam gets him to listen to the voice of reason. He's going to get Emma to look at her father's notes and figure out if there's a way to reverse the process. Anyways, when Sam arrives, Red Bee has already killed Robbins. And now, she wants the world to become her collective. Yes she wants to be the Queen, and the whole world will become her drones. And, by the end of this issue, it looks like she's at least over will-powered everyone within this facility. Including the Freedom Fighters. So how are they going to get out of this one? This story was brought to us by the usual team of Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Renato Arlem. It was a great issue in a wonderful series. Nice cliff-hanger ending too!

the Brave and the Bold #9 - DC

The emphasis of the book now is . . . the Challengers of the Unknown are trying to figure out who this Megistus is. They've been sifting through this Book of Destiny for weeks, and they keep coming across the name . . . Megistus. There's a lot of character in this particular issue, but really it's just 3 little short stories that give us a little insight in to this character. The first one is with the Metal Men and Dial H for Hero. Basically, there's this giant robot lizard thingy attacking Manhattan. And there's a giant wrestler fighting it. Turns out the wrestler is a Dial H hero. The Metal Men try to help, just as Robby Reed has to undial to get free of the lizards grasp. He drops the dial and Tin picks it up. He dials up Manbot the Mighty. A real pompous hero covered in armor. The rest of the group makes him change back because he's to annoying. Anyways, as they're fighting the robot it keep saying "Me-gis-tus". Over and over again. And, really, that's the only reference we have out of this story. In the second we have we have the Boy Commandos and Blackhawk trying to fight off some Nazi's near a pyramid, during WWII, because they don't want them to get the Orb of Ra. As they're fighting, Brooklyn is abducted by one of the mummy's inside. They are to procure the Orb for Megistus, but he wants a demonstration of it's power first. Long story short, Brooklyn gets free, they lock the mummy's in, and there's no way for them to get the Orb to Megistus. Or is there? Finally in the third story, Ryan Choi is at a guest lecture in Ivytown. He sees Carter Hall in the audience. And then things are interrupted by the Warlock of Ys. He's one of Hawkman's nemesis. Ryan and Carter both go after him, but it turns out that their powers are negating each other. Until Ryan gets the idea to push the 2 together, which creates an energy release that shields them from the Warlock's blast. Unfortunately it also creates some kind of rift in space that the Warlock is sucked in to. Nobody knows where it's gone. But then, in the Challengers lab, the page of the book seem to have come to a life of their own. They basically look like a paper-mache monster. I guess we're to assume that this is Megistus. But according to the book, as Ys is reaching out of the void, so to is Megistus' paper hand reaching out in to the lab. So is Ys, Megistus? And if so, why is he mentioned so much in the book? And did Carter and Ryan accidentally create him? Well, these are all questions that are going to have to wait until next issue. As at the end of this one, June finds herself firmly in the paper monster's grasp. Very interesting. Another star-studded issue brought to us by Mark Waid and George Perez. I'm glad this book is back.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Countdown to Final Crisis #18 - DC

With this issue, we finally catch up with Ray Palmer. Basically, after Jean went away, he just wanted to get away from it all. On one of his trips he ran in to this sorceress. It was the one our Challengers ran in to in the microscopic universe. She gave Ray the low-down on the multi-verse. So he decided to learn how to slip between worlds on a quantum level. He was looking for a place to call home. He finally ended up on Earth 51. It was much like our. Soon he found their Ray Palmer. He had also discovered the multi-verse, and was getting ready to test a portal that he designed to access it. He wasn't so lucky though. It blew up in his face. So Ray decided he was going to take his place. But this Ray hadn't even met Jean yet. So that was the next thing he set out to do. Then he began juggling his life, with the experiment that this world's Ray Palmer had begun, and a life with this world's new Justice League. The project turned out to be a necessity. Ray had discovered the multi-verse, but he had also discovered a flaw. Our Ray had to continue his work, " . . if I didn't . . the consequences could be catastrophic. Not only for this world, but for all the universes." As he's discovered in his house, by our Challengers, he's relating this story to his friends Barry and Ralph and their wives. Finally as he's telling it he stops and asks, "How do you . . . ? Who the hell are you anyway?". Bob replies, "I am a Monitor. My sole purpose is to become aware of and eliminate multiversal anomalies. Ray Palmer who is not of this Earth . . . . consider yourself eliminated." Where did that come from? I thought he was looking for Ray to help him, or at least to help the multi-verse. What gives? Well as we near the end of this series, and the Great Conflict, I'm sure the stuff's going to be coming at us fast and furious. It also seems like something is going to have to go on after this series, because it looks like we have more questions now than we did before. Keep it coming. 17 issues to go. Woo-doggie!

Crime Bible : The Five Lessons of Blood #3 - DC

Well . . . it seems like these lessons . . . these lessons of blood that this series is teaching . . are specifically aimed at Renee. The lesson this issue is . . Greed. Flay, the leader of the Religion of Crime, has brought the Black Book, the Bastard's Folio, " . . the second rarest known edition of the black book in existence.", to Gotham. He wants Penguin to sell it for him. Renee has also come to Gotham because she's been following Flay. She finds out about the sale and goes to Kate, Batwoman, to ask her for help. Of course she agrees, as they were once lovers. They go to the sale and, long story short, they end up with the book. But it's not going to be as easy as that for Renee. Kate wants to destroy the book. She can see, and sense, it's evil influence. But Renee . . . Renee is obsessed with it. She's read, cover to cover, every edition that she's come across. She claims she wants to know her enemy. It really has become an obsession. And now Kate is concerned for her, because she can see what it's doing to Renee. Something Renee doesn't seem to want to acknowledge. But, if you remember the first Question, he was a bit of a conspiracy nut himself. I'm starting to think that the obsession comes with the role. It's basically the essence of the Question. So, maybe, in order to truly become the Question, that's the frame of mind she has to be in. Anyways, after a fight, and a falling out, Renee does indeed end up with the edition. But as she's leaving town, she opens it to find it blank. Well . . . except for 2 pages. One reads, "The word is not for you.", and the other reads, "Yet!". It seems like Renee is burning an awful lot of bridges for this knowledge. Is she going to find if it's all worth it? And is she going to like the person she'll become after? Lots and lots of . . . . Questions!

Authority Prime #3 - WildStorm

Well the Authority and StormWatch are going at it like there's no tomorrow. Neither side is giving the other quarter. And it seems that both sides are pretty evenly matched. And basically, that's how the story goes for the first 19 pages of this issues. Just a bid old bar brawl. Who's swingin' the biggest . . . . well you know what I mean. So with all this fighting going on, there's actually only 3 pages of story. Because of the fighting, and the endangerment to the StormWatch facility, the automated defenses have been activated. And apparently that includes clones of some of their strongest team-mates. When they come out of the bunker to defend it they see Lamplighter and Amaze. But they also see . . . Apollo. Or a version thereof. It also looks like they're being led by, none other than . . . Henry Bendix himself. So what's going on here? Well with 19 pages of fighting, there isn't any room left to finish the story. So we'll have to come back next issue to find some answers. I like the Authority. I like StormWatch. I think Christos Gage and Darrick Robertson are doing a fantastic job with this series. But this issue falls in that area of story-lines that I hate. This issue could probably be left completely out of the mix . . . well except for the last 3 pages . . . and it wouldn't make a bit of difference. I hate it when that happens. But, I'll be back next issue, because of the cliff-hanger ending. I don't really have a choice.

52 Aftermath: the Four Horsemen #5 - DC

I'm beginning to think that these Four Horsemen may be one of the biggest threats that our Justice Leaguers have ever dealt with. They've faced Apokoliptian threats before. But this? This is a whole new ball-game. And although the big three, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, are at the front of the field . . there's no way they're going to win this without the help from a lot of different fronts. Even Snapper Carr. Wonder Woman is back at Oolong island. They're facing the threat of a hoard of undead soldiers being led by War. There's some kind of project that they're working on there that is using a lot of their power. If Dr.Cale would divert the energy from there to the shields, they probably wouldn't have anything to worry about. But she won't. And it seems like only her and Dr. Caulder know what the project is. When War finally does break through, Cale makes a bee-line for the project, but, finds it gone. Superman uses some brute strength to beat the one that's come after him. And Bruce ends up using his noodle to outwit his Apokoliptian threat. That only leaves Death and War. Right now War should be happy, because that's exactly what he's getting. Between the island troops, security, the Doom Patrol and Wonder Woman, War is going to get exactly what he wished for. The wild card, seems to be Death. He's up to something, but they can't figure out what it is. But seeing as how next issue is the last, my guess is all hell's going to break loose. Keith Giffen and Pat Olliffe have done a fantastic job with this series. I can't wait to see how it ends.

Blue Beetle #22 - DC

Things are really starting to heat up with this whole Scarab / Breach war thing that's going on. The Reach have recently come to Earth. They've represented themselves as altruistic. Actually . . they're here to take over. We find out this issue that they've had a long elaborate plan going for quite a while now. Jamie and Danni have found something under a volcano. It turns out to be, what looks like a Breach city. Ok . . I'll try to explain this, without taking up to much space. The Breach has been flooding our world with a drug that, over time, will make us susceptible to their suggestions. And by over time, I mean about 100 years. That's the only way they could do it in such small amounts as to be undetectable by anyone. Well . . . except for Blue Beetle that is. Anyways, they find this city that is filled with people in suspended animation. The only living being is it's guardian, Tovar the Lava King. So he says over the last 1000 years he's been building these cities around the globe to house all his species inhabitants, who were put into coma's by Atlantean magic. They're trying to gather their own power until they have enough to break the spell. He's estimating it should take about a 100 years. Kind of coincidental? Well it turns out that Tovar is another Reach construct. He's not real. His memories, his life, his family . . . none of it real. What was supposed to happen is that in a 1oo years, when they lifeless husks had gained their energy, the cities would explode and destroy the surface world. That's when the Reach would swoop in, offer to save the peoples of the planet, and suggest that they all come with them. With the aid of the drug . . they will. The Reach would then rape our planet of it's natural resources, and the people would become their slaves in space. But Jamie has exposed their plan, and with Tovar's help, has already destroyed one of their "cities". As Jamie and Danni escape, in Ted Kord's Beetle-ship, he, and the Scarab, send a message to the Reach . . . "We're Coming!" I can't believe how good this issue was, especially considering how I felt about the series when it first started. It's got the same creative team, John Rogers and Rafael Albuquerque . . . but . . . they seem to be doing a better job. I'm glad to see it. And I've really come to like this Jamie Reyes character. Who knew?

Action Comics #860 - DC

All I can say about this issue is . . . WOW!! Geoff Johns and Gary Frank have really pulled out all the stops on this one. What we see pictured on the cover her is the Justice League of Earth. They've been trying to convince Earth, for years, that Superman was not at extraterrestrial, but actually a human, like them. And he fought to preserve their planet and it's "Human" species. They claim that's why he was always fighting aliens. This brought about alien-racism and deportation. Aliens were no longer welcome on Earth. Which, unfortunately, included a large portion of the Legion. So, Brainiac 5 has sent back a message to Superman, and a time-bubble, requesting his help. However, when he arrives, he finds out that Earth now has a red sun. He's essentially powerless. Well . . except for his power of persuasion and motivation. So they've set out to find Brainiac. He was last known to be in the alien concentration camp. But when they finally get inside they find that he has left for his home planet of Colu. They do free another Legionnaire while there though . . . Polar Boy. He, and his contacts with the Substitute Legion, prove to be a valuable asset. They eventually make it to Colu, only to find that they are involved in their own race war. Because of what's happened on Earth, any and all being that have come in to contact with humans are being eradicated. It has to do with their new leader. Who we find out at the end . . . is actually . . . Brainiac 5. "I am Brainiac 5. The undisputed leader of the intelligence collection of Colu. You and your small-minded companions have interrupted the information flow. For that crime and the crime of being tainted by humans . . . you are to be terminated." What a great story-line. My only question is, how does this story affect what's going on in the regular Legion title? I assume that this one is farther in the future. But, that hasn't really been explained to us yet. But, despite that, I'm still enjoying this story. Long Live the Legion!!

Jack of Fables #18 - Vertigo

I like this book. I really do. I just don't know where they come up with the stuff for this. I thought with Matthew Sturges influence, Bill Willingham's stories would seem less like an acid trip, but . . . . not so much. It's really almost like a nite at the improv. I feel like these guys are just winging it as they go. And wherever the story goes . . . the story goes. It's kind of a neat concept. And, it definitely keeps you guessing. And honestly, it's almost impossible to tell where these stories are going to end up.
Last issue basically all of our characters had jumped on a train and were heading to Americana. The home of the American fables. I think Huck Finn and Jim were in the same boxcar as the rest of our fellas. And Page. Anyways they get off in Steamboat. They're looking for a treasure that Humpty promised Jack. But they've got a little problem. The map was tattooed on Humpty's ass, and after the ride in the train, a piece is missing. But Page has found it. She won't cooperate with Jack though, unless he goes on her little mission with her though. They hop another train and go to Idyll. It a town filled with nothing but Zombies. Well . . except for the Librarian, that is. And that's who Page has come to see, because she believes him to be her father. He refutely denies it, and invites them in for a book burning that he's holding. She's dismayed, so they head back to Steamboat. Where next issue, they'll pick up on Jack's mission, to find his gold. Tell me that doesn't sound like a dream. Or an acid trip. Or something. I really don't know where they come up with this stuff. But, the story definitely keeps moving, and it keeps you guessing every step of the way. Cool stuff.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Amazing Spider-man #545 - Marvel

This is the last chapter of the One More Day story-line. And it is . . . simply fantastic. Basically, everything that's been done in the last year or so . . . actually, all the way back to Peter and MJ's wedding . . . is undone. Mephisto has offered Peter a chance for Aunt May to come back, but, in order to do so, he has to relinquish his other love . . . MJ. His reward is that he'll hear the suffering of both of their souls as they live out the rest of their lives knowing what they've forsaken. Consciously they won't know. But a piece of their soul will. But before the deed is done, MJ asks that Peter's "outing" also be forgotten. She offers up something to Mephisto for the favor, but we don't really know what that is . . . as she whispers it in his ear. She didn't want Peter to know. And to pour salt in the wound, Mephisto tells them that the "possibilities" that he was shown last chapter also involved a young female guide. He wants to know why Peter never questioned who that was? He was trying to hurt him even more, because the girl was the daughter, that now . . . they'll never have. The daughter that would be the best of both of them. And with that . . . things are changed. Peter wakes up the next morning in his bed, in Aunt May's house, as he smells her cooking breakfast. But he's in a hurry to go to a party that he and Flash had planned because today . . Norman is coming home. This was the final story in the 8 year run of writer J Michael Straczynski. And he really finished it off with a bang. Also Joe Quesada did the pencils for this issue, as he has for all 4 chapters of this story. The whole issue, really, is fantastic. And we all bid a fond farewell to Joe. But now, we start our 3-a-month Amazing Spider-man series. This should prove interesting. At all times, keep your arms inside the ride. And . . away we go . . . .

Ultimate Fantastic Four #49 - Marvel

This particular issue was kind of a let down to me. Unless it's setting up something for the future . . . I don't really know what the whole purpose of it was. A Dr. Kragoff invited Reed and Sue to Russia, for a science symposium. Supposedly. What he really wanted was Sue's DNA to try to bring his wife back to life. Yeah . . . that sounds like a plan that's going to work. Anyways, Sue is mad at Reed because he's been spending so much time in the lab, so she goes on her own. Another brilliant move. Well . . her plane is shot down. She's abducted by the good doctor. And as he's explaining his plans to her, he is killed by his assistant Rutskeye. She decides that she wants Sue's powers for her own. Well in the scuffle, Rutskeye gets caught in the labs laser and transforms herself in to the Red Ghost. She also apparently can absorb the DNA of those around her, so she becomes a mass collective of all the various lab animals that are in her immediate vicinity. Reed finds out what's happening, so of course he and Johnny and Ben rush off to Syberia. There, somehow, they hook up with the Crimson Dynamo. Reed wants to get Sue out. Rutskeye wants to keep Sue in. Both guys fight. The lab explodes. And our team of heroes are only saved because of Sue's trusty energy field bubbles. Bing Bang Boom! They head back home. But when they get to New York, they find out that the city is encased in some kind of energy cube. Hmmm! I wonder if this has anything to do with the cosmic cube thingy that Reeds been trying to build? To coincidental? We'll see. Anyways, I thought that this issue just lacked the usual pizazz that comes with these Ultimate titles. It was just kind of . . . . there. Something to do on a Saturday afternoon. Know what I mean? Just not to thrilled with it. It was brought to us by Mike Carey and Mark Brooks.

Giant Sized Avengers #1 - Marvel

This was an interesting book. But, I have to admit, I wasn't really overly thrilled about it. It was just . . . . ok. It's set up in a third person type of story-frame. Basically, the title tells it all, "Gossip Girls". Jan, Carol and Wanda have just completed a mission and have come back to Stark Towers to . . . . well . . . clean up after the mess. To unwind they start telling each other stories. Like I said, it was interesting, but . . . it was also kind of dull. The whole thing was framed together by C B Cebulski and Jim Cheung. Now I do have to admit that I did like Jim's art. Especially with the three women. Meoww! Anyways, they then go off in to there stories. The first is about Jarvis. He's submitting an article to a magazine about Butlering . . is that a word? . . and he has to do it in a way that doesn't divulge any of his charges secrets. He does it pretty well, by writing a story about parties in the manor. Not so much what happens, but how to clean up afterwards. The next is kind of a stupid story about how Thor, Iron-man, Cap and Gyrich ended up in the other dimension and the aliens there took something Gyrich said to be a kind of gospel. Kind of a strange one. Next is a story about a magician . . I guess . . who's travelled across various realities and dimensions, and has fought and beaten the Avengers in every one. However, when he comes here, the Avengers he finds are Luke Cage, Spider-man and Wolverine. Not at all what he was expecting. Which of course leads to his demise, because he wasn't prepared. And finally, they talk about how Spider-man was brought in to the fold, and why his particular personality is good for the over-all team. Like I said . . . interesting . . . but boring. And we round out this book with 2 reprints from Avengers #58 and #201. That's really about all I can say about it, without sounding like I'm just repeating myself. If you're a hard-core Avengers fan . . you should probably get it. If not . . . definitely skip it. But that's just my opinion.

X-Men #206 - Marvel

I really like the way this whole story, Messiah Complex, is shaping up. Much better than the Endangered Species story-line that was the back-up. But, I'm sure some of the themes that were explored there will make their way in to the main story-lines. It was, after-all, kind of the prologue to this story-line. The only thing I find disenheartening is that, I know, when all is said and done with this . . . there's going to be some major changes in all of these titles and teams. There has to be. Jamie and Layla have finally made it in to the inner bowels of the relocation camp in the future. And it's not turning out to be like anything that they expected. They find out 2 pieces of information. First, this is where Bishop came from. Why? Because they end up with the same tattoo on their face that he has. Secondly, someone makes reference to the six-minute war. "I lost both my kids in the six-minute war, you mutie sow. Know where I'd like to put this needle?" In the present Scott has put together a team to go after Cable. But, of course, they arrive there just a bit to late. Wolverine did everything he could to bring him in, but he tricked them and escaped with their Blackbird. Also in that skirmish, Caliban has been killed. Which, really, has affected Warpath the most. He's really, really upset about the whole thing. Our young team of X-Men, are back at the school trying to get Cerebro back up and functioning. The Cuckoo's, who had absorbed all of David's knowledge, have recently given it back to him. So he, and they, are trying to get it fixed. When they do they find out that Cable is heading straight to Dallas for Forge. But when Cable finally gets to Eagle Plaza, he finds Forge lying on the ground shot. As he's looking for clues, he himself is shot in the back. The issue ends with the baby lying on the floor, and Bishop holding a gun over her head. This was a fantastic chapter by Mike Carey and Chris Bachalo. The next chapter takes place in Uncanny X-Men #494. I can't wait.

Teen Titans #54 - DC

This really has turned into one of my favorite books out there. I was worried about the creative change. But Sean McKeever and Eddy Barrows really seem to have a grip on things. Plus, they really hit the ground running with this whole Titans of Tomorrow . . Today story-line. They've finally reached the turning point that will decide if this future comes to pass. But in order for them to do it, Ravager, Blue Beetle and Supergirl, all have to die. They were the 3 that stood in Batman's way . . Robin actually . . when he formulated his plan to make the world a Utopia. Of course I'm sure that plan was twisted a bit by Lex's involvement. He claims to be altruistic, but . . . we all know Lex. Also the tides are turned when Jamie convinces Flash to help him fight the Starros. And both Tims have a heart to heart. But when Connor slashes out at the younger Tim, for betraying him with Cassie, the Batman-Tim jumps in to his rescue. Which then changes their future, and they all start to fade away. But, some seeds of doubt have been planted. The mistrust issue with Ravager have been raised again, M'gann has some things to think about, and Red Devil tries to sow some seeds of mistrust regarding Blue Beetle. And of course they know never to get involved with Lex. Right? But in the epilogue we jump 8 years in to the future, where Tim is celebrating his birthday with Cassie. M'gann also joins the party with Lex. Apparently she's gone to him for some reason, and together they try to convince Tim to become the Batman. The issue ends with them looking at about 5 cloning chambers. You can see Connor and Bart, but . . who's the 2 females? Of course . . it's never the end. A fantastic book and a great cast of characters. Like I said . . one of my favorites.