Friday, February 29, 2008

infinity inc. #6 - DC

I like this book, and I like these characters. But, for some reason, I'm having a hard time getting in to this title. Maybe it's because they aren't really a team yet. I mean . . this is a team book . . right? So far we have about 5 or 6 regular characters. Of course John Henry and Natasha are going to be the foundation for this book. Then we have Erik/Erika . . the same person, they can switch back and forth . . Gerome, who can split himself in 2 . . and Lucia, whom I'm not really sure what her powers are yet. She bleeds alot, and that has something to do with it, but we haven't really seen what it does yet. It seems like, with this title, that they're kind of rolling out these characters gradually. John Henry makes a remark this issue that they need to find all of the Everyman Project participants, and find out what's going on with them now. They dealt with Kid Empty the last couple of issues. He had turned bad. Now they're going to have to find this other guy, who recently broke out of a psychiatric facility, Frank Sparrow. Somehow he can influence peoples minds with electrical devices, radios, TV's and such. We see him at the end of this issue at his Uncle Franks's and he's assembling something in the basement. I guess I understand how they're unfolding this team gradually. And maybe it's not even really a team. Maybe it's just John Henry and Natasha doing what they can for the victims of Luthor's project. But I really think they need to pick up the pace a little bit. I want to get in to it, and I want to like it, but . . here we are 6 issues later, and we don't really know a whole lot more than we did at the beginning. Plus, the artwork on this series so far, has really sucked. This issue was an improvement, but not by much. Peter Milligan is a fantastic writer. But it doesn't seem like he's been given much to work with here. Please give this book a chance! A better artist would really help with that.

MidNighter #16 - WildStorm

I think this is a fantastic title. I've always been a huge Authority fan. And I really dig this character. But, since Keith Giffen has come on board as the scripter . . I really feel like the story-lines have become a lot more interesting. With this book, we get a look at an organization that is trying to infiltrate the Authority. But they're going to great lengths, not only to get there, but to cover up their tracks along the way. I think it has something to do with Anthem, but I'm not sure. It's not fully explained, but, what I think is happening is someone is creating these simulacrums, or something, that are going around and gathering up information. When one has reached it's potential, or gathered all that it was supposed to, the next one comes along, kills it, and absorbs what the previous one had. They then become the new generation. Right now they are on generation 8. So I imagine that they've gathered quite a lot of information, or experience. But now this 8th generation . . he calls himself Henry . . is coming right after MidNighter. He comes to Harmony at the end of this issue, and starts working his way around town. Also, Mindy, his computer geek, seems to be established as a regular character in this book now. Like I said, it just seems to me that Keith is making this book, and this character a lot more interesting.

WildStorm - Revelations #3 - WildStorm

This issue our trio of girls goes to Tranquility. And honestly, they get more answers in this issue than the previous 2, and all the Armageddon books combined. Now they're looking for a lost generation of Super-heroes. From what we learn in this issue, it happened around the end of WWII. A whole slew of heroes were sent in to Hiroshima right before the bombing. Then when the bomb hit, and they all disappeared, nobody thought anything of it. But it seems that these were all the heroes that were transported in to our timeline, and then go crazy and wipe out the Earth. So . . now it seems like we know where the people came from . . now they just have to figure out who did it. And why? "Who do we know with connections to spook agencies like I/O or Department PSI with histories of screwing superhumans over?" Well the obvious answer is Backlash's father. Which forces her, at the end of this issue, to call him. Something she really hasn't been looking forward to. I like the way this story is unfolding. I also really like the job that Scott Beatty, Christos Gage and Wes Craig are doing with the book. I'm really interested to see what's going to happen in the WildStorm Universe afterwards.

Justice League Unlimited #42 - DC

Another book with a great message for kids. Una, the Queen from the Royal Flush Gang, recently got out of jail. Wonder Woman shows up to give her a little encouragement. But then her and John Stewart get caught in this good cop / bad cop thing. I thought they played John a little rough on her. But . . I guess it was realistic. Anyways, Wonder Woman is hoping for the best, and John is expecting the worst. And actually, Una kind of straddles the line right up until the end. It looks like she goes back to her evil ways, but then, as the Queen, she convinces this developer to turn his land in Suicide Slums in to a Community Center, a place for Child-care, and a Health Clinic. So she actually ended up doing some good. She got put back in jail, because of her participation with known felons, but . . she actually did ok. Call me corny . . but I kind of like a book with a happy ending and a good message. We don't get those that often. I keep saying it, this is a great line of comics for the kids. A great place for them to start out. And they already know all the characters from TV. Cool!

Nightwing #141 - DC

This is really shaping up in to a very nice title. I know. What am I talking about, it's on issue #141, what do I mean it's shaping up? Well, with this title . . I hate to say . . over the course of it's tenure, it's really gone up and down. And there's been several creative changes. Actually more than several. And it really is a testament to the character that it's been able to survive all of that. Because, some of the changes . . weren't always good ones. However, this new creative team . . Peter J Tomasi, Rags Morales and Michael Bair . . are really stepping up to the plate. All around . . I think it's a fantastic book. Peter is trying to get Dick grounded in New York City. With this issue, he now has a base of operation, a job and a home. And in usual Batman style, he's taking him through the steps of how to become more effective in his crime-fighting responsibilities. "Time is of the essence . . when it comes to helping people in a city this size. I sure as hell need to be quicker than a motorcycle on these congested streets . . if I'm going to get to where I need to be to make a difference." The thing that I like about Dick so much is he's tied to pretty much everyone in the DC Universe. In this issue alone, he has a chat with Superman, the JSA comes over to help him put his tower together, Wally stops by for a visit, and he talks to Bruce or Batman 2 or 3 times. As a crime-fighter, he's very good at networking. And, on top of all of this, he's still looking in to the crimes that have been happening with the grave robbing. At the end of this issue, he finally has a solid lead. But it involves the KGBeast. Rags and Michael are giving this book a fantastic look also. I always felt that Rags deserves more credit than he gets as an illustrator. I really dig his style. So yes . . since the creative change, I think this book is coming along nicely . . and getting better with every issue.

Batman Confidential #12 - DC

The thing I really liked about this issue, is that it showed how essentially Batman is responsible for the Joker. No he doesn't make him do the things he does, but, without the Batman's influence, this guy would've just been another nickle and dime thug. But the Batman gave him delusions of grandeur. And really, Bruce knows that it's his own fault. I think that's why he fights so hard when he does go after the Joker. He feels that he's paying for previous sins. Plus I like how this story-arc showed the guy that became the Joker, going from a common ordinary thug, to psychotic lunatic that he became. He started out just looking for the thrill. But each thrill became less and less intoxicating. He kept having to up the ante. Finally, I think, it became more about connecting with the Bat than necessarily the crime. He puts Batman in a no win situation, but shortly before, he drugs him. So as his adrenaline pumps, the drugs start to kick in, and he's confused about what's going on. "That's right. Laugh a little. Come on in. See all the silly. You must be feeling it now . . . malaise melting . . . thin skin ignored . . . and all those lovely colors. My gift, Batman. You showed me a world worth living in. I had to share it . . I had to show you . . . there's a bunny in the moon for anyone willing to see it." I mean he had to have know that there was no way the Batman was going to let him get away, and there was no way the Batman would kill him or let him die. So before he became incarcerated, he just wanted to make sure he gave the Batman something to think about. And it worked. I thought it was a great book by Michael Green and Denys Cowan. I really like the way this title can go back into the history of the Bat and show us key moments. I think it's a great title.

Supergirl #26 - DC

I have to admit, I really didn't like this issue. I'm a huge Supergirl fan. I think that Kelley Puckett can write some great stories. But . . I think it just came up kind of short this issue. And the pencilling of Drew Johnson and Lee Ferguson was . . . terrible. In my opinion, this issue was the worst to date in this run of Supergirl. Here's what the story boils down to - last issue Reactron beat Supergirl because she's over-thinking things, so this issue Superman offers to take on Reactron while Supergirl performs search & rescue, Superman doesn't fare any better against Reactron and Supergirl is kind of overwhelmed by all the people in need of help so they switch again, this time Supergirl beats him because she grabs his energy source, and Supergirl got a tongue lashing because she told a boy she would save him and he wouldn't die not knowing that he has terminal brain cancer. Really, that sums up the whole book. The only thing to add is when Superman tries to explain to the boy how super-heroes can't do everything, but then Supergirl jumps in and tells him, "I meant every word of what I said to you back at the building. I promise you, Thomas. You're not going to die." I don't know how she plans on accomplishing that, but that's how the issue ends. Overall though, I thought this issue was especially boring, and it really seems like it was thrown together at the last minute. It was a C effort at best, all the way around.

Uncanny X-Men #495 - Marvel

The story-line in this book, by Ed Brubaker, was pretty cool. Again, it's another kind of in-between book. The Mutant Messiah story-line has just ended, and right now the entire X-Men universe is kind of in upheaval. So now we're beginning the whole X-Men Divided story-lines. Which from my understanding is really going to turn the various X-Men titles into their own individual entities. I'm sure there will be some connections here and there. But overall . . pretty much everyone needs to discover their own course. Especially now. Well . . except for X-Force that is. It looks like their going to be Scott's own pistol. He just finds a target and points them at it. But anyways, this issue Scott tells Tony Stark, " . . as of right now, there is no X-Men. Charles Xavier's dreams died in that institute. We're all just mutants now, Tony . . and we don't have secret identities. How you want to deal with that is your problem." And then he and Emma took off for vacation in the Savage Land. Well . . not really a vacation, but . . some time for Scott to think about where they're going and how they're going to get there. And the love between them really does seem real. But, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Wolverine are about to get in to some kind of trouble in Russia. They're on their way there right now, from Germany. And Warren seems to have dived in to the middle of something in San Francisco. Some kind of mind-control, alternate reality type thing. I don't know. I guess we'll find out more next issue. But, what I really wanted to comment on, is that no matter how good the rest of this book is . . . the artwork or Ryan Choi and and Sonia Oback was just off the hook. It was absolutely incredible. Look at that cover. That's how the whole interior of this book looks also. It really is fantastic. There are some panels in here that are worthy of framing and putting on a wall someplace. Especially some of the scenes from the Savage Land. Beautiful stuff. I'm not sure if this is how the book is going to continue, but I sure do hope so. A fantastic issue.

the Boys #15 - Dynamite Entertainment

This is kind of an in-between issue. There's a lot of stuff going on here, as usual, but it's mostly just set-ups for future story-lines. But . . it's never boring. That's not what I'm saying. It's just . . bits and pieces of different things. There's still going to be some fall-out from that whole thing in Russia. The Boys interaction with this Vought-American is definitely not over. I can see some things really coming to a head with all of that. Hughie is in charge of another job, he has to take out the Blarney Cock. But isn't he already dead? Well, from what I understand the Compound V in their systems make it really easy to revive them. Their body anyways. The mind I guess is a different thing. So anyways, Butcher and Mister Legend want him taken out to send a message. And then Hughie wants to come back, cash in his favor from Mister Legend, and find out all he can about Butcher and the Boys. He feels like he only know about half of the story, so he wants to be filled in on the rest. And then there's the girl that went from the Young Americans to join the 7, Annie. She's really become disenfranchised with the whole thing since she's joined the 7. With the new group, it doesn't really feel like she's done anything. No super-heroing, no charity work . . . nothing. Except for some corporate sponsorships, and some political backing. But none of the work that she really got in to the whole game for. So she decides to go back and see her friends at the Young Americans . . and walks in on Drummer Boy and Holy Mary going at it. So basically she feels like the whole world has changed around her. She almost feels like God has abandoned her. She's really feeling lost. But at the end of the issue, her and Hughie end up sitting in the park together talking. Remember, Hughie doesn't know who she is. And, I'm sure, she has no idea what he does. But, they have talked a few times in the park. So I'm sure this is going to play in to future events. I'm just not sure how yet. But overall, I love this book. I love the irreverent look that it gives the super-hero genre. And I really think Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson are both genius'. This is easily one of the top five books out there right now.

Justice Society of America #12 - DC

Words, really, cannot describe just how good this series is. Geoff Johns and Alex Ross have been writing it, and I don't know how those two work it out together, but, whatever they're doing . . . I wish we could bottle it and share it amongst some of the other writers out there. This book really is . . . near perfect. I believe Alex is in on the scripts because of the Kingdom Come tie-in that's running through the story-line right now. A couple of issues ago, the Superman from that time-line showed up at the JSA mansion. And of course, now, it looks like Gog may be showing up on this Earth also. You knew he couldn't be to far behind. And, as has been the theme with this book, they are always on a recruitment drive. Several new members are talked to this issue. I don't know if they'll be joining . . but . . the gauntlet has been tossed, as it were. First we have Jakeem and the Thunderbolt returning to the group. Also Wildcat is trying to work with Judomaster, who will probably be sticking around for a while. The new names they talk to are Amazing-man, Will Everett's grandson . . Mr. America, Jeffrey Graves, who is kind of joining by default because he's looking in to this "Heartbreak Slayer" case, which right now looks like it's Gog . . Black Lightning's other daughter, Jennifer, who hasn't taken a name yet, but Jeff wants her out there in a group that will take care of her . . and Lance, Franklin D Roosevelt's great-grandson, who has some kind of Egyptian device attached to his arm. It just seems like this group is growing all of the time. But that's cool. There's just something about the way that Geoff Johns handles his characters. He can really draw you in to the story. The conversations and interactions between them, are just perfect. And, I'm sorry, but I haven't sung his praises yet . . . Dale Eaglesham has got to be in heaven on this series. He's been around for a little while now, but has never really been in the limelight. Well on this series . . he is out there, front and center. And he is really doing an incredible job. Easily his best ever. All around, these first 12 issues, have really been some of the best I've ever seen. Props to all involved.

Project Superpowers #0 - Dynamite Entertainment

This really was a fantastic book. But then again . . I really expected nothing less with Alex Ross and Jim Krueger at the creative helm. What I was really surprised by, though, was the fantastic interior art of Doug Klauba and Stephen Sadowski. It was fantastic. It wasn't exactly in the style of Alex Ross. Although from what I understand, he did some of the layouts and sketch-work. But that's ok. It was really good. And really, it had it's own style. The story is told through the eyes of one old man, Bruce Carter, the Fighting Yank. As were going through his story, we see several paintings, and all of those were done by Alex Ross. Basically, these heroes that we're going to be seeing fought during WWII. At that time, the Yank was led to believe that Hitler had in his possession Pandora's Box. Which was really an urn. He was led to believe that since the urn had released the world's evil's, that it could also be used to collect them. But things weren't working out exactly as he had planned. Supposedly, when the urn released evil, it also released hope. Which formed itself in the essence of the super-powered humans who would live to fight that evil. So, it was then formulated, that in order to catch the evil, the hope would also have to be contained so that when both were in the jar, they would hold each other there. Ying and Yang if you will. So he had to go around and start capturing all his fellow heroes. Which he did. Gradually over the years. And now here he is, some 50 years later, and there's still evil in the world. The spirit of America comes to him to explain to him that he was misled. So now, he has to go to Tibet to look up one of his brethren, the Green Lama, and find out how to release his compatriots. This was a #0 issue, so obviously it was the set-up for the series. The large cover you see above was the standard duo cover issue. They place together to form the large picture. Although I don't understand why they couldn't just do a wrap-around cover. But since this issue was only $1, I guess I can't complain to much. I didn't get any of the variants though because they were $20 each and there were like 4 or 5 of them. Yeowtch! My wallet would've been screaming. Anyways, the book served it's purpose. The look in to the series was enough to grab my attention. I'll definitely be picking it up to see where it goes from here.

Fantastic Four #553 - Marvel

What can I say? This has just been such an incredible run on this book. Dwayne Mcduffie and Paul Pelletier have really been going all-out on this book. And their effort really shows. Of course I can't complain about the Michael Turner covers either. They've been incredible. But . . all good things must come to an end. And I'd really be remorse about this if it wasn't for the creative team that'll be taking over from them. It's going to be Mark Millar on the scripts, and Bryan Hitch with Paul Neary on the pencils. As Fantastic as this run was . . pun intended . . I think, we ain't seen nothin' yet. This was one of those time-travel stories that I was complaining a bit about in one of my DC blogs. But then, the Fantastic Four deal with time travel all of the time. A whole lot of stuff was explained to us this issue, but, it kind of felt like a science lesson. On one hand, I liked, and appreciated, the detailed descriptions, but, on the other hand, it was . . a bit much. Basically it comes down to Reed's list of ideas. Dr. Doom came back in time because he doesn't want him to initiate plan #101 . . . "fix everything". It turns out that he doesn't want Reed to be the world's savior, because that has always been his goal. Kind of selfish of him, I know. But to make him happy, they end up sending him to a divergent time line, that does need saving, because there are no heroes' there. I'm sure we'll see something about that in the future somewhere. So basically, this story-line served to further Reed's resolve to implement plan #101. Plus, it's really kick-started the rest of the team to get in there and help him. I've really enjoyed this series, over the last year or so. Dwayne and Paul have really done an incredible job. But hey . . . it's Mark Millar. I can't get to mopey about it. Right? I can't wait to see where we go from here.

Avengers - the Initiative #9 - Marvel

I like this book. But . . it seems to be getting "out there" just a little bit. Henry Pym, Henry Gyrich and the Baron have been working behind the scenes and creating clones of MVP. Remember, he was their fallen comrade from right in the beginning of the series. Well, they've been using these clones to create new heroes. The Scarlet Spiders are these clones. They sent one clone back to his father so that he wouldn't start questioning things. And they have plans to work more in to the system. Well this issue, they decide to use one to try to get Tactigon to work. That was the weapon that originally took MVP out. But after it did so, it was removed from the arm of the girl that was wielding it, and they haven't been able to get it to work since. That is until they attach it to this MVP clone's arm. Then it seems to draw all the memories back in to it's head of how it was killed. It then begins working it's way through the Initiative camp, taking out a lot of people. Including Henry Pym. It's also after the Gauntlet whom is in the infirmary. He had a similar device attached to his arm, and when they removed it, not only did it shut down, but so did he. But we find out, I think, because of the reactivation of this Tactigon, that Gauntlet's body seems to be on autopilot, and it is on it's way down to the weapons locker to get his own weapon back. I think somehow they're linked, because he spouting some kind of alien language as he's on his way there. I originally picked up this book on a lark. I really liked the Avenger's books, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Plus I thought it would be a mini-series. But, as we've gotten farther in to it, I have to admit that I really like it. I think Dan Slott and Chris Gage are doing a great job with the stories and characters. And I've really come to like Stefano Caselli's artwork. It's not flashy. It's not . . incredible. But . . it is perfect for this book. Overall I think this has turned out to be a very good series.

Jack of Fables #19 - Vertigo

Look at that cover. Is that cool as hell, or what? The interior art on this book has never been fantastic, but I'll tell you what . . the story more than makes up for it. Bill Willingham's mind works in some mysterious ways. Matthew Sturges has been helping him out of late. But I really think he just tries to keep the guy on track. If his stories went in the directions that his mind does, well . . . they'd be pretty hard to follow. He really does come up with some fanatical . . er, I mean, fantastic ideas. I don't know how the guy does it. This story-line, our group has gone to Americana. Like the Golden Boroughs, this is where the Myths and Fables live. But this one is strictly for the American Myths and Fables. This issue is really a tour of the whole area. They visit Gangland, where Jack cashes in on his experience with hustling moonshine, then the Great White North. Which to them is really boring. Off to the Colonies, the Big City, Antebellum, Lone Star, and finally the Frontier. Where they think they've reached their goal. "Wait . . my ASS! Hillary . . look at my ass!", shouts Humpty. Remember, the treasure map is tattooed on his ass. "See? It's the oil-derrick thingy from the map! We're here! We made it! We found the lost city of Gold!" So now next issue, we'll see what they have to go through to claim their treasure. I really like this book. But, it is out there. Cool!

Ultimate X-Men #90 - Marvel

I know you're not supposed to 'dis the X-Men, but . . . this title is really boring me. And it has for the previous 6 or 7 issues. It just seems like so much . . minutia. It's all just rehashed stuff. I haven't seen one original idea in this book . . in those 6 or 7 months. Yeah we saw Sinister this issue, and he's different from our Sinister. But really . . who cares. And honestly, who didn't know that it was going to be Apocalypse at the end of the book? I mean, we all saw it coming from a mile away. Yeah it was nice to see Salvador Larroca doing the pencils. But hey . . you can't have him try to save every book that's in trouble out there. I mean . . he's only 1 guy. And I think Marvel is spreading him thin enough as it is. Really . . all I want from this book . . . is to live up to the standard of expectation that we've come to expect from the rest of the Ultimate Universe. Bobby Drake showed up over in Ultimate Spider-man, and that was more interesting than this issue. Let's see some originality here. Some fresh ideas. Or even new perspectives on old ones. I'm sorry. I know I went through all this last month on this book. And, I promised myself I wouldn't do the same thing this issue. But I love the Ultimate Universe. I love it's freshness. I love what it stands for. And to me . . . this book doesn't stand up with the rest of them. Sorry!

Black Adam #6 - DC

This is the last book in this series. But . . it doesn't really wrap up the story. Black Adam has obtained the final piece of Isis' amulet, and the bone from her ring finger. So now, he's heading back to Fate's tower to have

Felix Faust bring his beloved back to life. But, on the way, he stops in Fawcett City for a little sightseeing. And, by accident, discovers the word that Billy tried to keep hidden from him to give him his Black Adam powers back. It turns out to be Chocolate Egg Cream. Who knew? Besides Billy that is. Anyways, he get to the tower and has Faust perform the ceremony, but for some reason it doesn't work. He's beating up Faust when he appears to be possessed by Isis' spirit. Basically she condemns him for everything that he's done wrong and then she curses him. He goes running off screaming, and seeks solitude back in the Kahndaq embassy. And that's the end of the book. But, what Adam didn't see is that Faust pulled a fast one on him. He replaced Isis' bones with those of Ralph Digby's. So of course the spell wouldn't work. And the possession? A simple sham and trick for a sorcerer. After Adam leaves, he does indeed bring her back to life and apparantly has his own plans for her. They leave the tower together, and that's the last we see of them. So . . obviously . . the story isn't done here. But it'll be interesting to see where it does indeed go. Brilliant story by Peter J Tomasi. And the artwork by Doug Mahnke was simply breathtaking. Easily some of his best work to date. If you didn't pick this series up, I'm sure it'll be out in TPB soon. You should definitely read it.

Green Lantern #27 - DC

Finally! We finally learn what the Alpha-Lanterns are. And . . . it doesn't look like a good thing. Last issue, Laira, on of the lost Lanterns, murdered Amon Sur. Admittedly, he deserved it. But . . he really should've been arrested and brought to trial. Basically, he had wiped out one of the other Lantern's families, and wanted his action to spur other members of the Sinestro Corps to do the same. Again, spreading fear through the galaxy. As he's spouting all of this off, Liara had just had enough and took him out. This issue they have returned to OA with her to stand judgement. But, right now, the Guardians don't have a system in place for that. Enter . . the Alpha-Lanterns. "An Alpha-Lantern is the highest honor one can achieve within the Corps. In times of necessity, an Alpha-Lantern will not only patrol their sector . . they will investigate inappropriate and unlawful behavior within the Corps. The Alpha-Lantern will mainline your mind directly to the book of OA. Your body directly to the central power battery. And Alpha-Lantern need never charge it's rings, an Alpha-Lantern need never sleep. And upon acceptance, and Alpha-Lantern will receive an additional power ring. But in exchange for this honor and power, you must leave who and what you are forever behind in order to move forward." They've chosen, Varix, Chaselon, Kraken, Green Man, Boodikka and John Stewart. John Stewart is the only one that denies the responsibility. "I'm not leaping into anything until I know more about the changes within the book of OA. So . . . no thanks." To which the Guardians ominously respond, "We are disappointed, John Stewart. Very disappointed!" But, what they failed to mention to them is that in order to receive the power, they also have to go through cosmic surgery. "The Alpha-Lanterns will embody the best elements of each military faction we had a hand in creating. The sentient drive and thought process of the Green Lanterns. And the efficiency and logic of the Manhunters." So basically . . they're a melding of man and machine. And that's what they look like too. Pretty ominous and scary. Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore! But this doesn't conclude the story. That'll be next issue. A brilliant story by Geoff Johns and fantastic artwork by Mike McKone.

Countdown to Final Crisis #13 - DC

Sometimes I really can't believe how good this book is. Especially coming out on a weekly title. And, admit it, even thought this title has changed from 52 to Countdown . . it's really the same book. Just a different focus. So they've really been doing this now for about 90 issues. That really is incredible, if you stop to think about it. Anyways, this whole thing about Earth 51 . . being the perfect Earth, and where Ray Palmer was working to stop the coming Crisis . . it's all moot now. Why? Because Superman-prime and Monarch have completely obliterated it. Well actually, not just the Earth, but the whole universe that it exists in. During their fight, Superman decided to rip Monarch's suit off, and the obliteration is a result of that action. But not to worry, none of our main characters perished. I'm sure Superman-prime and Monarch are floating around out there somewhere. And the Monitor of this Universe? Apparently she was the only one spared. Also our Challengers, Jason, Kyle, Donna and Ray, have all gone off the Apokolips. Solomon, the Monitor back at their base of operations, has beaten Forerunner. Didn't really think there was much of a chance there. And now Solomon and Darkseid seem to be in this chess match with the rest of the multi-verse as their playing board. We're down to the final 12. This is when things could get really hairy. We're already seeing preview of the new Final Crisis book by Grant Morrison and JG Jones. It's going to be a 7 issue series, like the first Identity Crisis book. It's listed for May. Start saving your pennies now.

the Trials of SHAZAM! #11 - DC

I have to say, when Howard Porter left this series, and Mauro Cascioli came on board . . I was a bit concerned. I'm a huge Howard fan, and I really like the way he started this series. But, after a few issues of Mauro's work . . . I've really come around. This guy is fantastic. And he really is getting better and better every issue. Some of the panels in this particular issue, are simply stunning. Right from the very first page, his stuff jumps right out at you. And the last page? The picture of the JLA? It's would be worthy of Alex Ross. Yes it's that good. Freddy really seems to be taking control of his situation. I guess it's that wisdom of Solomon thing kicking in. He's always been kind of a joke of a character. Not to be mean. But . . he really has. Not the brightest bulb in the pack. But this series is going to turn all of that around. Last issue, he and Sabina started their search for Mercury. He's been in hiding. Freddy asks for the help of DC's magical constituent, Zatanna and Shadowpact, but he really doesn't think they're going to be effective. "They're not going to find him. They play to fair." But, he has to cover all of his bases. Sabina, on the other hand, decides to take the more direct approach. The Gods have been living in hiding in human form. So she gets Mercury's kids and threatens them. He has no choice but to come out of hiding. By the time Freddy and Billy arrive on the scene, she has already stolen his powers from him. So now, she's at least as strong as Freddy. But . . they still have Zeus to worry about. His power will be the deciding factor in this little war of magic. But of course that's going to be left for next issue. And, as I eluded to before, Freddy's not going to take any chances. He's called in the JLA to help him on this one. "Zeus will never give her power. Not willingly. She will try to magically compel him to do it. She will conjure a spell. An old one. A blood spell. A sacrifice. She needs to kill one million people. This is why I called all of you. Shadowpact is on the job, and some other magical heavy hitters. But . . . this is a war of magic, but . . . I wanted you all here. I need your help." To which Superman replies, "It's okay Freddy . . . just tell us what you need us to do." And with that, the final issue . . is going to be epic. My only complaint is that this 12 issue series, has now dragged out to almost 18 months. But, the finished product has been excellent the whole time, so . . I guess I can't complain to much. This is a fantastic book. A great series and storyline. And one of my favorite characters in the DC Universe. I really hope he gets his own book after this.

the Death of the New Gods #5 - DC

Jim Starlin is really doing a fantastic job with this book. Both the story, and the artwork, is incredible. Matt Banning and Art Thibert have been inking his stuff, and it really looks nice. Props to all the creative talent involved. Last issue, Metron went back in time and found the original entity of the "source". That's not entirely what he is, but that's what he's let all of his creations believe. He explains it all to Metron. How he was split in 2 eons ago. How he was gone for awhile. How and why he created the New Gods. And how and why he's decided to start over . . re-merging with his other half, and create a new Fifth World. It's his other half that has been stealing the souls of the rest of the Fourth World inhabitants. They are collecting them in the other Source-Wall, which everyone has been wondering about, and intend on using them to empower their dual endeavors and to act as the raw material for their rebirth. It turns out his other self has morphed into the creature they call the Anti-Life Entity. Or, more importantly, I think that is who Scott Free is becoming when he transforms. And somehow, Himon or the Commander is involved in all of this. On a side note, is it just me, or in the panel at the top of page 34, does the Commander kind of look like Samuel L Jackson? Just wondering. Anyways, Scott is convince that Arion is the God-killer, and is off the get him. And meanwhile in the shadows, Darkseid sits thinking. "As this cosmic drama neared it's end it became abundantly clear that all involved were committing one common error. It is all terribly ironic, really, considering the past. You see, all concerned were making the mistake of not paying enough attention to what I was up to. And that would prove to be a truly catastrophic mistake." Like I said, it's a fantastic book and story-line. I can't wait to see how it all plays out. And if Jim Starlin continues his role, and becomes the creator, or author of this new Fifth World . . . it's going to be sheer genius. The King is dead. Long live the King.

Ultimate Spider-man #118 - Marvel

This looks like it could become a "Spidey and his Friends" title pretty soon. He's coming out of class, and he gets dropped in on by everybody this issue. First Johnny Storm shows up outside, to talk to Kitty. But since she and Pete are talking, he's dragged in to it. Which also includes Kenny, because he's kind of dating Kitty. And don't forget MJ. Well . . then Bobby Drake shows up. He wants to tell Kitty how sorry he is about the way things went down back at the school, that he misses her, and he has a note for her from Logan. We don't find out what that's about yet, but, I'm sure we will. And finally Johnny has expressed an interest in Liz, so he's trying to talk to her. They decide to all get together and have a day at the beach. Now keep in mind that all of this is going on outside of Pete's school, so as they're all standing in the yard discussing things, everyone else in the school is gathering around and looking on. Pete is starting to get worried, but MJ reassures him, "No one is looking at you! Trust me!" I don't think she meant for it to sound that condescending, but . . . it does. But the real news is while they're out on the beach. Liz hasn't been feeling good lately. Actually it's been coming and going. But at the end of this issue . . . it looks like she's going to be this Universe's Firestar. I could be wrong, but that's the feeling I'm getting. So if Pete starts hanging out with her and Bobby . . . it's "Spidey and Friends" all over again. A great book by Bendis and Stuart Immonen. They really haven't missed a beat since Mark left. It's still a really cool book. And next issue, we have . . . Magneto?

the Mighty Avengers #8 - Marvel

I don't really have a problem with this book . . . per se. But, I do have a problem with how far behind schedule it is. I know. I went in to all of this with the last blog I did on this book. But seriously, this book is way behind. And I'm sure that's part of the reason that Frank Cho is off of it, and Mark Bagley is in as the new artist. And since this team . . Mark and Brian Bendis . . did so well on the Ultimate Spider-man, I'm sure that they'll have this book back up and running in no time. I really don't blame them. Who I blame is the editorial staff for letting it get this far out of control. Personally, what I would've done, is jump the story ahead a couple of issues, getting it back in line with the rest of the titles, and then do a reissue of the "missing issues" or the "in-between issues". Because the problem isn't necessarily with this particular issue, but it is confusing if someone picks up this title, and then other Marvel titles. This one is literally about 6 months behind. It's abhorrent! But, since I went on about it last time, I'll chill out a bit this month. Also because it looks like Brian and Mark are going to pump out the issues for a little while. So they should be caught up, in 2 or 3 months. First of all, I'm glad to see these two working together again. They make a great team. I'm also glad that they didn't just drop this title altogether, which really could've been the other alternative. It's a good cast of characters, so I think it has a lot of potential. Once they get past this . . hiccup! They fight the symbiote assault this issue, and Tony has figured out that it originated in Latervia. So next issue . . they're off to fight Dr. Doom. I really do like this book. I just hope it gets back on track.

the New Avengers Annual #2 - Marvel

Everything comes to a head this issue. This new Hood character, who's been gathering up his gang for the last few issues, decides to make an assault on the Avengers. Last issue they grabbed Tigra, and then robbed a bank of millions of dollars. But this led to a bunch of them being captured by SHIELD. So the Hood goes to break them out, while the Avengers are off fighting in the Hulk-war. When the Avengers return to Doctor Strange's house, they are worn out, tired, and Doctor Strange seems to be having some issues. It turns out that during the fight, Doctor Strange got his hands crushed again. Also, he's been using some dark magic, that he doesn't normally use, and he's having a hard time controlling it. Well the Hood finds out from Tigra that the Avengers are still holed up in the house. Since the Hood himself is allied with some sort of demon, he can help him see through the mystical shields. And at the worst time possible, for the Avengers, they attack. In their weakened state it's all they can do to hold their own. And really the Hood's gang seems to be on the verge of overpowering them, when the beleaguered Doctor rises and cast some kind of spell over all of them that knocks them out. Wong brings the good guys out of it, but they still feel the pain from the spell. That's when the Doctor informs them of the struggles he's having, and that he's no longer going to be able to offer them shelter. He needs to focus on atoning for his sins, and getting his magics back in order, so . . they're all going to have to leave. And, on top of that, since the SHIELD agents watching the house saw most of the skirmish, Carol Danvers and a squad of SHIELD agents are hovering over the blown out roof, ready to take in the criminals. But does that list include the Avengers? It appears that Carol is feeling benevolent today, because she lets them slide. The Hood has scampered off to lick his wounds, and to consult his demon on what to do next. And, in the skirmish, Jessica and the baby slipped away, but on the final page we see them at the doorstep of Stark Tower. "My name is Jessica Jones. I'd . . I'd like to register, please. Please let me in. Please . . I need to protect my child. Please let me in." Brian Michael Bendis wrote this issue, so it fits right in with what's going on in the Avengers titles. He has a very cohesive group of books here. Carlo Pagulayan does the art. I've never heard of this guy, but I will say, I like his style. It's nothing overly flashy, but . . it has a definite look and feel to it. Plus I really like the way his frames flow. The story goes smoothly from frame to frame, page to page. I'm not sure how new he is to the industry, but if so, he's got some huge potential. Overall, I thought it was a very good annual.

X-Men - Emperor Vulcan #5 - Marvel

I hate to say this, but I just really wasn't all that thrilled with this title. Christopher Yost wrote it, and Paco Diaz Luque did the art. Honestly, to me, the best part about the whole series were the Billy Tan covers. And the ending . . wasn't any better than the rest of it. Vulcan ends up taking over Finality. He wants to use their warping abilities to send a star into the middle of the Scy'Ar Tal fleet. Havok and the rest StarJammers put up a heck of a fight. Vulcan ends up defeating the Scy'Ar Tal, but it almost cost them all the M'Kraan Crystal. Also, Major General Ka'Ardum, whom was helping Lilandra, switches sides. When he sees what Vulcan is willing to do to defeat their enemy, he thinks the Empire stands a better chance with him at the realm. But he doesn't turn on Lilandra, he does give her the chance to run away. Which she does. In the process of destroying the Scy'Ar Tal, Havok does destroy Finality. So Vulcan won't be able to use that weapon again. But, between Vulcan and Deathbird, they capture all of the StarJammers. So, at the end of the issue, Vulcan is standing triumphant over the Shi'ar Empire. The Starjammers are in custody. And Lilandra and Xavier free from their grasp. For now. Vulcan vows, "Now the Empire's destiny will be fulfilled. We sill destroy all those who will stand in our way, including the one you call Mummudrai . . . the one called Xavier. Together we will expand . . we will conquer. The Shi'ar empire will rise again!!" And, in the epilogue, we find out the the Scy'Ar Tal had indeed stolen the M'kraan crystal much in the same way that they claimed the Shi'ar had stolen it from them. So I guess the message is, who's really right and who's really wrong? But this series leaves a lot more questions than it answers. So obviously . . . there will be more. Yippee!

JSA Classified #34 - DC

This issue was interesting. A bit predictable. But interesting. It appears that these classified titles are where DC is testing new talent of late. This issue it seems we have a new writer, by the name of James Peaty. He writes an interesting story. Like I said, it was predictable, but I would guess there's really only so much you can do with these characters on one of these titles. They did bring back the Time Commander here though. But . . . he didn't last long. He grabs the hourglass from around Rick's neck . . . he wants to absorb the Chronal energy . . but it turns out to be more than he can handle. And is dissipates him where he stands. But really the story was about the husband and wife team of Hour-man and Liberty Belle. The Time Commander had kidnapped Liberty, to draw out Rick. And because they share such a love, he was stopping at nothing until his wife was returned to him. It was kind of a touching story. Freddie E Williams II does the art. Is it just me, or does he and Adam Beechen seem to be all over the place in the DC Universe right now? It was ok. But the part I really didn't like was the whole time-travel theme. It seems like that theme is getting tossed around quite a bit right now. Action Comics, Teen Titans, Booster Gold, and now JSA Classified have all had that theme as a basis in their books in the last couple of months. It's ok, every now and then. But it seems like it's getting thrown around an awful lot lately. And you know what they say about to much of a good thing. But overall, I thought it was a decent book. And, it had a happy ending.

Action Comics #861 - DC

What a pair of fantastic covers. The one underneath is by Gary Frank. And anyone who knows anything about the Legion, knows that the one on the right is by long-time Legion artist Mike Grell. He was on the Legion for quite a while. It was right after it switched over from the Superboy title. Man, that brings back memories. And now, in Action Comics, we have Superman and the Legion back together again. Unfortunately it's not just a reunion visit. Brainiac 5 has sent for Superman, because in the future, the new JLA is trying to corrupt the legend of the man. First they're absolving the myth that Superman was an alien, from Krypton no less. And then, they're spewing the hate that Superman's chief mission on Earth was to defend it against aliens. And rid the Earth of them when able. What a bunch of malarkey. But . . they are the JLA. So they do have some sway with the public opinion. The problem, really, is that with all this anti-alien sentiment coming from Earth, and their resignation from the United Planets, the rest of the Cosmos is getting ready to declare war on them. Brainy, who was recently in an alien internment camp, made his way out, and back to Colu. There he working his way in to the position of Ruler of the planet. He had to do so because the rest of the universe is looking to Colu to formulate a plan of attack. In his position of power, he could delay the implementation of that plan. Which is what he's had to do for the last 6 months while he's been waiting for Superman to arrive. The other problem is, during that time, the JLA has been using Sun-boy as an energy source, and, has been twisting that energy to turn all of the suns red. Meaning that Superman is powerless, no matter what planet he's on. But Earth-man, the current leader of the JLA, finds that Brainy has a mole in their operations, in the form of Chameleon Girl. So once he figures out that Brainy's been watching them, it's a simple jump for them to decide to anonymously rat him out to his Coluan subjects. Which means that he will no longer be in his position of power. "With me not there to slow down their progress, Colu will finish formulating the United Planets' strike plans in less than four hours. That means in four hours . . . the universe goes to war." Geoff Johns and Gary Frank are really doing an incredible job with this book. It's nice to see the Legion getting all the recognition and publicity that it's been getting lately. Plus they're coming up on their 50th anniversary. It's hard to believe that this group of hero's has been around for that long. Anyways, fantastic book. And, if you like this issue, you should really pick up the regular Legion title. It's new author is a little known Legion scribe from years past known as Jim Shooter.

Batman #673 - DC

So . . is the Batman dead? Or isn't he? Well this issue doesn't really answer the question, but, you just know, after 60 some years, that he's not going away like that. So my guess is no . . . he's not dead. But, it does seem like his role and status in the DC Universe might be going through a little bit of change. Of course with Grant Morrison writing it . . there has to be change. That's what he's all about. He loves to plant new ideas, or variations of old themes, in his stories. And he has a lot of themes to work with here. From what I can tell this issue, it's kind of a fever dream that Bruce is going through after his recent heart-attack. And he's dreaming of Joe Chill. Also Bat-Mite is there for some reason. I really think Grant should explore this character more. It's almost like he's Bruce's own Mr. Mxyzptlk. It could prove interesting. Anyways, he goes through this whole scenario in his head, and on the final page, the "other" Batman that he was fighting . . when he had the heart-attack . . brings him back to life. And as Bruce is strapped in a chair with the "other" Batman holding a drill over his head, he asks "How lucky do you feel right now, Batman?" I could just hear Clint Eastwood's voice saying that line. Anyways, Grant and Tony Daniel really seem to be working well together. I've been a fan of Tony's for quite a while, but he really seems to be outdoing himself on this issue. But then I imagine working with someone like Grant, would tend to bring out the best in someone. His stories would make them want to be even more creative. It's hard to believe that almost 700 issues in to this title, and it's close to the best it's ever been . . right now! This was an incredible book.

the Spirit #13 - DC

Honestly, I'm still having a bit of a hard time getting in to this book. It was a little better this issue, because I had 3 different short stories to choose from. And, I especially liked the first one, because it was drawn by Eduardo Risso. He really is a fantastic talent. Also, it looks like they're going to be switching creators next issue. Cooke and Bone are leaving, and it looks like Mark Evanier, Sergio Aragones and Mike Ploog are coming aboard. As well as Paul Smith. That's quite a list of names there. I can't believe that this book could draw upon such incredible talent. I guess it's just an homage to Will Eisner's incredible vision. I really do have respect for this book . . and this character. It's just, to me, it's kind of hard to get in to. It's usually a quick, fun read. But it just all seems kind of . . . old-fashioned. But, I guess, that's the intent. It's just not my cup of tea. But it does make me ask myself, when is someone going to start paying homage to Jack Kirby? And what character would they possibly do?

Countdown to Adventure #6 - DC

This book has actually gotten quite good. First I think that Adam Beechen is doing a fantastic job with this story. Allan Goldman, who is on pencils, first came to our attention in the Superman titles. But, in the short time that he's been around, he has really blossomed in to a first rate artist. I really like how he does his action scenes. And in this book . . really . . it's one big action scene. With all the chaos that's been happening on Rann, Adam and his wife and daughter decide to go back to Earth and try to regroup, or at least get some help. But they soon find out that in Buddy's home town, they're dealing with just as much insanity. Actually more, since the aliens have shown up and decided to sterilize the Earth. Since Buddy seems to be the carrier, they have him in their possession, and once the group is all back together, they have no choice but to try to free him. And we know, obviously, that all of this is coming back to Lady Styx. Once they get Buddy, and they already know that solar radiation seems to be the only thing that can kick this, they decide to go back to Rann and try to recharge Koriand'r under it's triple suns. This is what they mean by stepping from the frying pan in to the fire. In the backup story, Forerunner has gotten a Hawkman of her own. His name is Golden Eagle. Wasn't there a Teen Titan named Golden Eagle, way back when, in one of their incarnations? Just wondering. Anyways she gets him in battle, by besting him. Much in the same way that she obtain the Thanagarian fighter ship last issue. And their next stop is the Source wall. This is a great book, that really has gotten better with every issue. But now . . we only have 2 issues to go. I really think we need a new Adventure Comics title out there. And after a 25 year absence it can start up with issue #504. What do you think?

Teen Titans Go! #51 - DC

As you can tell from the cover . . this issue heralds the return of Terra. Kind of. Actually, her brother Brion comes looking for her. In doing so, the young readers of this book, learn a little more about the background of this popular Teen Titan, and he rock-like brother, literally, Brian. He knew that she was in America, and with the Titans. But, he hadn't heard anything about her lately. Beast Boy relays the whole sordid tale to him. After some effort, they finally take him to her school where she's living out her live Terra-free. Supposedly, she has no memories of her days with the Titans or of her history or powers. When she went in to the rock form, after the Titan's fight with Slade, they assume it was a form of cocoon. A way to shelter herself from a world that she didn't like. So now she's living a happy-go-lucky life of a carefree teenage girl. But, I think, there's more going on under there than she's letting on. She doesn't acknowledge Brion's presence, but, I think, she knew he was there. I think there's more in the future for this little girl. I love this book. I love these characters. And I love this imprint on the DC line of books. If you have a young'in that may be interested in comics . . this Johnny DC line is definitely the ones to get for them. They couldn't ask for a better start in to this crazy comic culture.

Army @ Love #11 - Vertigo

This book is great. It pokes fun at so many of today's conventions . . I'm surprised it isn't banned. That's a joke! But, seriously . . . .
There's a lot of stuff going on in this title. Imagine the Young and the Restless, or Days of Our Lives . . . but with the Mid-East as the location. And the Military as the family business. From what I understand, this is going to be Rick Veitch's first chapter in this title. Next issue is supposed to be the final title of that chapter. But I can't imagine this not coming back. Even if the story, or the artwork isn't for everyone . . . everyone has to admit that the broad leaps it takes in the next generation of warfare . . are hilarious. And . . reasonably possible. For real! "Most of the new stuff is nuke-powered these day. Runs forever. Civilians aren't supposed to know though." Plus there's so many story-lines running through this book, that there's no way they're going to be able to wrap it up with only one more issue. Rick Veitch has always taken a different look at the world. Or . . the same look as we all do, but with the possibilities and motivations skewed just a bit. And if the world looks back . . . he usually just spits in their eye. I almost feel like he's saying, "If you don't like it . . . then don't give me so much crap to work with." Obviously this will be out in a TPB pretty soon. Probably 2 volumes, 1 thru 6, and 7 thru 12. If you haven't read it yet, you really should try to get ahold of it and think about the messages that are coming across here. It's definitely a book for our times.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #5 - DC

This whole series has apparantly come down to fighting one of their own. The Red Bee is basically trying to take over the world. She's in the hive mind now, so she theorizes that the world would be a better place if they adopt that culture. But it's not really going to be a choice. She's already got the rest of the Freedom Fighters tied up and is using them as either mating material, or food for the newborn. She figures their powers will be absorbed in to the collective making them stronger. But, of course, a couple of plans are in place. First, Sam has reached out to Happy Terrill, the first Ray, and asked him to gather a friend to help. So he goes out to the Sahara to ask for the aid of Thomas Corbet. Or, as he's better known, Neon the Unknown. Also there's Lester and Emma, who are trying to rework the experiments that originally shrunk him. They're to important of characters to be on the sidelines, so I'm guessing that somehow they're going to be coming in to play. And somehow, Emma is pregnant. I'm not sure what the signifigance of that is. But . . it's out there. This issue we also see the origin of Andy, the new Human Bomb. He was in Bludhaven when Chemo was dropped, and SHADE found him after he exploded. When the Red Bee is mating with him, he is also building up a energy surge, but the Bee orders Lady Liberty to absorb his charge and dispense it. Supposedly, that's the end of Lady Liberty. Also, I hope they haven't all forgot, that this whole thing started when SHADE tried to create a team to replace the current one. That's really when things started going wrong and this whole thing happened with Red Bee. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray again do the story. And Renato Arlem is the artist in residence. It's a good book, but right now I feel like the story is a bit convoluted. I'm sure it'll sort itself out in the next 3 issues. But, for now, there's just a lot of variables that we don't know about yet.

Superman / Batman #45 - DC

This is another book with a fantastic creative team on it. Michael Green does the story, and Shane Davis and Matt Banning do the art. Shane Davis hasn't been around that long, but I'm telling you this guy is destined for greatness. I really liked him on the Mystery in Space mini series. But with Matt Banning on inks, his stuff is even better here. I mean, just look at that cover. Wow! This is chapter 2 of the story where Superman and Batman have decided to rid the Earth of all the Kryptonite. But as they're under the ocean, taking out a large deposit that just happens to be over the ruins of an ancient Atlantean city, Aquaman brings to their attention, "You're trying to clean . . the whole planet. What made you think anyone would want that? Except you. Didn't think of that, did you?" That kind of shuts both of them up. I also liked this issue that we got to see the return of Hiro. He's the new Toyman, the little teenage Asian boy. He offers his help in scrubbing the Earth of it's particulates. The Kryptonite dust as it were. He's a neat character. I think they're making a mistake by under-utilizing him. But, that's just my opinion. This has been a great title since it's inception. And with the new story-arc, and creative team, it looks like it's going to maintain that excellence for quite some time. Truly. . the World's Finest.

the Ultimates 3 - #2 - Marvel

This title has a few things going for it. First . . . it's the Ultimates. And of course that means we're in the Ultimate Universe. Yay! Then . . it's written by Jeph Loeb. And last, but not least, it's drawn by Joe Madureira. There's really not much else this book could do to be near perfect. Unless it was free of course! Ha-ha, just playin'! It really is a great book though. Like I said, this book has everything. It even has Spider-man. He's in a neat little fight with Hawkeye in the beginning. But mostly this issue is about the attack on the Avengers . . whoops . . sorry, the Ultimates, by the Brotherhood of Evil. Last issue the Scarlet Witch was shot down. This issue, Magneto and his team have come to retrieve her body. This team consists of the Blob, Lorelei, Sabretooth, Mystique and Jamie Madrox. They do so, and in the process, take Quicksilver with them also. But after they leave, they find out they have even more problems. Knocking on their door is none other than . . . Wolverine. Nice cliffhanger. The real hot part about this book though is Valkrie. The bio says that 6 weeks ago she was an ordinary groupie that now possess' the power of a goddess. They aren't sure how she got those powers, or how she enthralled Thor so quickly. But she is . . . HOT! Lorelei comes to disable Thor . . you know, take out the big-guns quick . . and Valkrie is jumping around fighting her and Thor. And I'm telling you, this chick is HOT! Meoww! Plus Mystique goes up to try to confuse Tony, by posing as Natasha, and she is equally as hot! So really, in my opinion, this book has everything. Action, intrigue, sex, great characters, great story, and great art. This is the third incarnation of the group, and, in my opinion, the best yet. Now we'll just have to see if they can survive the long run. Let's hope so.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Countdown to Final Crisis #14 - DC

Apparently this Earth 51 is to play a pivotal part in this whole Final Crisis thing. Because, the last few issues, this is where we've spent most of our time. But, it seems like Monarch's troops are destroying the whole thing. And now a Monitor . . Bob, I think . . has sent Superman-prime there because he has convinced him that this is the "perfect Earth" that he's been looking for. Meanwhile, Donna has defeated the other Wonder Girl, and has secretly taken her place. She did so to infiltrate her boss' headquarters . . Queen Belthera. She successfully does so, and then successfully defeats the Queen. Putting her in charge of all of her troops. "Ascension by combat! Hail to the Queen!" But that's ok, because later in the story when Monarch's troops are attacking, Donna has enough of her own to sway the battle. Jason, who was originally abducted, has convinced this world's Batman of who he is. In doing so, Bruce has decided to let him return to the mantle of his fallen comrade, Red Robin. He's also swayed him to take a more active role in what's going on in his world. In the last few years he's isolated himself from the rest of the world. But now, this world's Batman and Red Robin . . are back. And they are 2 peas in a pod, because neither of them have the compuncture against lethal violence that the team from our world does. Actually they both seem to relish in it. But it seems that all of this may be moot, because on the final page, Monarch and Superman-prime come face to face. And Superman is pissed. This issue has a neat origin of Gorilla Grodd in the back by Art Adams. A fantastic book. With only 13 issue to go . . there's going to be alot happening here.

Countdown Presents - Lord Havok and the Extremists #4 - DC

Another great story by Frank Tieri and Liam Sharp. Yes . . Liam actually does the pencils this issue. Yay! Anyways, this is another story-line in which I'm not exactly sure what the outcome, or resolution, of this whole thing is supposed to be. It looks like this is one of the Earth's that Monarch is going to destroy. He's taken a special interest in it because of Lord Havok's refusal to join his army. He's even gone to the point of helping the current President, Americommando. He's taken out targets, and people, to make it look like the Extremists are out of control. And to sway the opinion towards Americommando's resolution to declare all-out war on them. This issue also gives us a bit of a look in to Dreamslayer. But anyways, my question is, if this world is just going to be destroyed, than, really, what is the purpose of all of this. We're getting introduced to, and shown the origins of, all of the Extremists. But why? If they're all going away after this series, then really, what's the point. I like them. I think they're interesting. I just wish I knew what was going to happen afterwards. My only assumption is that there will be some kind of book, or books, that will highlight some of the various Earth's after this whole Final Crisis thing. But I've seen the previews up to June or July . . . and I see nothing. There's a few new titles coming out, but nothing that has to do with characters that are not already established in the DC Universe. I guess that must be the point . . to keep us waiting.

Crime Bible - the Five Lessons of Blood #4 - DC

So now I understand that this whole series boils down to the Question . . Renee Montoya. Apparently, this is where she earns her stripes, and shows everybody that she's the new Question. She's even got Professor Rodor's help. Like he has much of a choice. Charlie left them, both, the Lighthouse. His former base of operations, and now theirs. But currently she's obsessed with this Crime Bible. Rightfully so, though. They keep coming after her. This issue she finally heads out to Hub City. There have been 17 policemen killed in the last 3 weeks, and now an attempt has been made on the Mayor . . Myra. It turns out though that her attempt was a feint to try to draw out the Question. But Renee isn't the Question she wanted. Long story short, the Commissioner has a short list of all the good cops. Cops he can trust. And those are the ones that have been taken out. But now there's only a few left. Including himself. It turns out it is one of his own men, Munroe, that are behind the attacks. He's also been swayed by the Crime Bible and is doing it in homage to them, and to collect the badges. When Munroe abducts the Commish himself, Renee is following them and goes back to his "workshop". In his haste to escape he comes across Flay, who as he's holding him over the edge of the building, tells Renee "You were strong . . . he was weak. And now . . you've murdered him." Not literally, obviously. But he's saying that it was her fault. As he leaves, he gives her the coordinates of where they will meet in 4 weeks, and the warning that if she doesn't come, " . . I will visit the fourth lesson upon everyone who has ever had meaning in your life . . ." The lessons so far have been Deceit, Lust, Greed and Murder. After that, I'm not sure what the final lesson could be. But I'm sure Greg Rucka will have an interesting story to tell us next issue.

Gotham Underground #4 - DC

This has proven to be an interesting story-line. It seems like the purpose of it is to highlight all of the characters in the Batman-family . . . good, and bad. This issue we see a new crime-boss on the scene. I think his name is Scars. I could be wrong. He's kind of a patchwork man. His face is made up of 7 or 8 pieces that look like they were all haphazardly sewn together to create his own. He's also in to collecting body parts, as he hires a hooker for the sole purpose of removing her rather attractive ear. I know. Go figure! Apparently, somehow, he's hooked up with Mannheim and the Church of the Crime Bible. Anyways, Batman is still in prison, but he's faked his death because he wants to see what they're holding in the room behind the infirmary. He finds out it's the Great White Shark who is literally on his death-bed. Meanwhile Scarface and his gang have decided to make a run at the Iceberg Lounge. They want to find out what's been happening to all the other villains. But Penguin has his own group of metas waiting for them. They stop them and send them running where they find the Scarecrow who says he can lead them away. They end up in an alley where Tobias Whale has shooters waiting on the rook . . and they take them all out like fish in a barrel. We also find out that Dick is now posing as one of the gang members in Penguins little troupe. But, the Vigilante is on his trail. And Robin has gone to Barbara, with the Spoiler, to see if she can help figure out what's going on. But the Spoiler comes to, goes invisible, and takes out all of Barbara's equipment. Like I said, we're covering the whole spectrum of the Batman family here. There's even an appearance in here by the Commissioner and Harvey. I'm just wondering what the ultimate goal of this story-line is. We're about half-way through, there's 9 issues, but I don't see the connecting thread yet. Well, except that they're all in Gotham. Frank Tieri writes it and J Calafiore does the art. It really is a fantastic series. I'm just wondering where they're going with it.

X-Men #207 - Marvel

What a great book . . . and story-line. This one wraps up the whole Messiah Complex thing. Well . . it doesn't wrap it up, but . . it is the final chapter. In typical Marvel fashion, it leaves more questions unanswered. And, of course, it's the jumping off point for a couple of new books. First there's the new X-Force, which has already come out. And it looks . . incredible. Plus, at the end of this issue, we see what happens to Cable and the baby. They both end up going in to the future, to live their lives. I'm not trying to give away the ending there, because really it's just the beginning for the new Cable series. They also shake up everything else in the Marvel Universe that is the X-Men. First of all, we don't really know who lived, who died, or who was injured from this whole war between the X-Men and the Marauders. It appears that Pixie has taken one of them out with her soul-dagger. The first person she's killed. I think. And Rogue has taken out Mystique. It appears that the baby did indeed cure her, but when Mystique explains to her what she had to do to fix her up . . . she's horrified. So she decides to punish her by wiping her mind clean. But it isn't until afterwards that she realizes that when the baby cured her, it not only took away Strain 88 and the Hecatomb, but it also took away everyone else that had been trapped in her mind with her. She was completely clear. Well . . until Mystique joined them. And X-Force, or more specifically Wolverine, take out Predator-X. At least that's what it looks like. Wolverine jumps in and guts him from the inside. Finally, Cable, Scott and Charles have to decide what to do with the baby. Cable and Charles already know what they want to do, but they have to convince Scott. I may be wrong, but I think this baby, is actually the future Rachel. When Scott holds her, and sees her potential . . he concedes to Cable and Charles' decision. But, as they're 'porting in to the time stream, Bishop, for some reason, decides to take matters in to his own hands. He tries to take the baby out the old fashioned way . . with bullets. He misses Cable and the baby . . but hits Charles . . repeatedly . . in the head. I don't think he's dead. But, at the very least, he's brain damaged. Seeing this turn of events, Scott decides to disband the X-Men. Mike Carey and Chris Bachalo bring us this issue. It's an excellent final chapter to this story-line. An end to the beginning . . as it were. Now we'll just have to wait to see what the future holds . . literally.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #50 - Marvel

This issue extends the Thanos / Ronan storyline from a year ago, or so. When our group returns from the Russian wastelands, they find part of Manhattan encases within a cube shaped energy field. Obviously, this has something to do with Reeds work. Since they are the only ones that can access it, they go in to the Baxter building and find that it was reacting to the threat of a Seed team that had been sent there by the Halcyon. Reed, who has been single minded in creating the Cube, ever since returning from their world, never stopped to consider why the information may have been planted in his brain. Apparently it was a weapon that Thanos possessed some 30,000 years ago, and with it he almost entirely exterminated the Halcyon. Which is why they are so determined to get it back, now that it has been re-created. However, being the genius he is, Reed also programed it only to accept his commands. I'm sure that can be changed, but, for now, he's the only one that can control it. He uses that control to dispense the Seed team and send it back to it's ship. But Halcyon isn't going to give in that easily. If they can't take the control mechanism, then they'll just take the entire cube, including part of Manhattan, with them. On the final page they appear to have some towing ships in place and are removing the cube, and part of the bedrock of the island with it, to take back to their world . . I guess. Mike Carey writes this issue. He wrote the original story also. But this time Tyler Kirkham does the art. It's not as stylized as Pasqual Ferry's, but . . it's nice. I believe he's a TopCow artist, so it definitely has that Image feel to it. You know what I mean. Overall . . I thought it was a good book.

Amazing Spider-man #548 - Marvel

This issue wraps up the first chapter of our Brand New Day story-line. It's interesting. I don't really see anything new or original in the way Spidey is being handled . . by the creative crew that is. But . . it's interesting. They seem to be doing everything they can to not even mention Mary Jane. They come close to bringing her up every now and then . . . but then . . nothing. This chapter seems to serve mainly to introduce us to the Negative Man character. We actually even find out who he really is . . . this guy that works with Aunt May at the shelter that in which she volunteers. But I don't believe that he knows the connection yet. Oh yeah, there's also the bit about the Spider-mugger guy. He made the connection last issue, with the web-slinger . . that maybe the guy he ripped off was actually Spider-man. Brilliant leap of logic there. So, he goes back to the fence to try to get the wallet back. Like that was going to work. The fence beats the information out of him, and kills him. So now, apparently, he knows who Spider-man is. Maybe. We don't really know for sure yet. There's actually a couple of things that are kind of left up in the air after this issue. But then . . this is just the beginning of the Brand New Day. So they can't leave things to tidy after just one chapter. It appears to me that the way Marvel is going to be handling this is that every month, with the 3 issues, it'll kind of be like separate mini-series. Different artists each month, but probably the same writer. I'm sure some story-arc's will run 6 or 9 issues, but I'm guessing generally it'll run in 3 issue cycles. The first one here is brought to us by the fantastic team of Dan Slott, Steve McNiven and Dexter Vines. Like I said . . interesting. But nothing really new. I'm still wondering how this is all going to affect the Avengers story-lines. Hopefully we'll find out soon.

Teen Titans #55 - DC

Well . . it looks like the on-again, off-again romance of Tim and Cassie is . . . well . . . off. Maybe for good. You have to admit though, in typical teenage boy fashion, Tim is coming on a bit strong. He's trying to dominate the relationship already. But Cassie isn't the type of girl to be dominated. Strong-willed women always make the best partners, but . . damn . . do they make you work for it. Plus, if you think about it, I think they're confusing the adrenaline and emotions brought out when they're in combat, with the emotions that they think they're feeling for each other. Plus, they're both affected by the loss of Connor, and I think, they think, that their connection will fill that hole. Not gonna' happen! Another budding romance in Titans tower, is Ravager and Kid Devil. Kid Devil is really starting to fall hard for her. So much so that he's really jealous when Ravager starts paying attention, and spending time with the Blue Beetle. But really, I think, she's just toying with the Devil. She knows how much it bothers him, and we know that the Beetle already has a girl-friend, so . . I don't think he's really going to be tempted. But . . you never know. Stranger things have happened. But right now it's like a love-fest soap-opera in the "tower of passion". Our team is kind of dwindling though. We're down to Robin, Kid Devil, Ravager, and Miss Martian now. And Meg's having some serious issues of her own. So my guess is, Sean McKeever is going to rebuild the team from here. Which is cool, I just hope him and Jamal Igle give it a good feel. That's why it was so popular this time around . . . the look and feel of the book when it first started. I really hope they're up to the challenge. Because I love this team.

Hellblazer #240 - Vertigo

So that last issue . . with the Shaman if Africa sending one of his people out to find Constantine with a root? That was all a set-up for this new story-arc, the Laughing Magician. John learns this issue . . . he learns, but doesn't accept . . that he's been a constant in the realm of magic for a very long time. "You are the Laughing Magician. You have always been the Laughing Magician. Many times I sent my spirit back and forth, from the dawn of man to the palace at the end of all things . . and always I saw you there . . shouting defiance at the gods of Man's own creation. The thumb on the balance . . you are the constant one." This is also where he learns about Mako the war mage. He's also a magiphage, a devourer of magicians. Right now he's begun to hunt Constantine, with the goal of feeding on his powers. The problem is, John is a man who believes in free-will. So he's not one to give in easily to "destiny". "You wanna know the truth? There's no big mystery to it . . I'll tell you the ultimate secret of Magic. Any cunt could do it!" But whether he believes what the Shaman is telling him or not . . . Mako has still come to ground in England, and has a taste for the powers John may or may not have. Regardless of whatever John believes, Mako, apparantly, does believe it. This is a fantastic beginning to what looks to be a really cool story-arc. I feel like we're getting John back to his roots . . or back to the beginning as it were. Andy Diggle is really doing a fantastic job with this title, for the short time that he's been on it. There's a lot of good stuff in this book. Plus, as I've said before, Leonardo Manco really seems like he's stepped up his work. Ever since Andy took over the stories, it really seems like there's a renewed effort on this book. This, again, is the book I fell in love with 20 some years ago. Simply fantastic.

Authority Prime #4 - Wildstorm

This issue, really, is just another big old slug-fest. We learn that Henry Bendix is alive and well. Sort of. He's actually a holo-gram, but . . it appears that this holo-gram is just as demented and twisted as the original. When the Authority and StormWatch finally realize that they're to evenly matched, Jackson King and the Midnighter decide to play nice. Well . . that and this Henry holo-gram has just released a slew of clones of some of their most powerful team-mates. So . . they're kind of going to have to work together . . or be eliminated. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of grey area here. Through some team-work, and trial and error, they finally bring all the contestants down. Actually they beat the living crap out of all of them. But, before the dust can settle, Henry approaches Rose . . and really without to much convincing, gets her to switch sides. She was in love with the guy after all. Sort of. It was sad, twisted and a little more than weird . . but I guess you could call it love. Henry's whispering in her ear, "Rose Tattoo is and has always been the spirit of murder. It's the natural way of things, nothing can change that. Say it, Rose. Don't hold back any longer. Tell me what you want to do." To which Rose responds, "Kill them all." What a way to end the story. With Christos Gage writing, and Darick Robertson drawing it, I can't wait to see next issue. Again, the only problem with Darick's art is that, because of this book, he's had to have some fill-ins over on the Boys. But, hopefully he'll get back to that soon. If you like the Authority, you'll love this book.

Countdown to Mystery #5 - DC

I really like the direction that both of these stories are taking. Eclipso has moved to the front of the book. But really, I don't think it really matters who has the first story . . I feel that they're both equally as important. When you think about it, these 2 characters, Eclipso and Doctor Fate, have both been around almost as long as DC itself. They're both underutilized characters, in my opinion, that are ingrained deeply in to the DC Universe and continuity, but neither has gotten the spotlight that they deserve. I like how they've taken the Eclipso character back to it's origins with Dr. Bruce Gordon. And with that reemergence, they can experiment with these new laws of magic that are supposed to have changed in the DC Universe. Here we see that Bruce is now more in control of the powers that Eclipso offers. He can actually be the dominant personality. That is . . until he loses his cool. Then the Eclipso part takes over. That's what happens this issue when Dr. Gordon decides to use his new-found powers to go to a Russian base and try to expound upon some research they had been trying to do there. But he's confronted by the post-human aftermath of their failed experiments. And that's when he loses his cool. Eclipso takes over and ends up killing them all. Crispus Allen is also along for the ride. He's the new Spectre and he's been assigned to make sure Dr. Gordon realizes his new potential. In the Doctor Fate storyline, Kent is wrestling with the guilt of having killed his new friend Inza because of his association with Negal. He let his guard down for a moment, and Negal used the opening to take Inza. Kent's not sure if she's dead, but if now, she may actually be worse off being held captive in Negal's realm. Eventually he ends up back at the store that the witch runs, who helped him a couple of issues ago. She shows him a picture dating back to WWII, showing him that his helmet has been around for a long time. Both stories are great, and I like where they're headed. Like I said, I also like that they're focusing some attention on these 2 characters that really are a part of the DC Universe foundation. It'll be interesting to see what they do with them, after this series.

Astonishing X-Men #24 - Marvel

This issue is the wrap up to the 24 issue run of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. It's finally over! I don't mean that negatively. I mean that . . finally . . we get to see how they're going to wrap this whole thing up, and set up the ending for the next creative team, so they'll be able to hop right in. Right? Wrong! They're going to drag 1 more book out of this. We're going to get a Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men #1. Of course. Why would I think anything else? It becomes fairly obvious, about half way through this book, that there's no way for them to wrap this story-line this issue. I'm actually kind of wondering how they're even going to wrap it up with 1 more issue. There's going to be a lot of stuff packed in to that one issue. But . . since it's Joss and John . . we'll deal with it . . and smile. And bend over and say . . "Thank You! May I have another?". I'm just playin'! I love this book as much as the rest of you. It's easily the best X-Men book on the shelves. Joss is incredible with his scripts. And John . . . what can I say? John is a treasure. The only bad thing about him being on this book is that he hasn't put out as many Planetary issues. But again . . since it's John . . we can wait. I still say, if they don't use these guys for another X-Men movie . . . they're crazy. They have the perfect feel for it. In case you haven't noticed . . I'm trying to stay away from any details about the story. The book is so good, that you should have to go out a pick up a copy. Or two! You want to get both covers . . right? The book . . and the entire run, for that matter . . . really is that good. I'm sure it'll be out in TPB soon enough. So then you really have no excuse.