Monday, July 28, 2008

Checkmate #28 - DC

Unfortunately, I've recently read that issue #31 will be the final for this series. I'm sad to see this one go. Although I'm sure we'll see a much bigger presence by Checkmate across the DC Universe in the future. Much the way SHIELD is everywhere at Marvel. I just felt that this incarnation was much improved over the previous one. I had hopes that it would also last longer. But, like I said, if nothing else it has served to increase Checkmate's presence. Plus the structure, deployment and readiness of this organization is one that should be felt in every government and super-hero group. It appears that this final story-arc is built to introduce us to Checkmate's, and DC's, newest super-human countermeasure, Chimera. There's creatures from folklore attacking in various spots around the world. Apparently it has something to do with the state of the world we're in. Although I'm sure we'll find out what the real motivations are. Anyways, Chimera has gone to the Antarctica to fight Akhlut who is attacking a navy vessel. There have also been attacks in Peking and Venezuela. As well as weather pattern changes all over the globe. Meanwhile, Chimera's girlfriend . . or, Adam's . . has traveled across Texas to the military base to try to get some answers about Adam's reported death. Things just don't stack up for her. When she arrives she sees a newscast about the attack in Antarctica and recognizes the creature by the rose tattoo on it's neck. She know that it's Adam. I like the way that Bruce Jones has brought this character to life over the previous issues. I know he's a new weapon for Checkmate, but I have a feeling that he's going to be around for a while. I'm also coming to respect Manuel Garcia's pencils. I wasn't sure at first, but . . as this story goes along I'm coming to appreciate them more and more. I just feel like the book has a dark cloud over it since it's nearing it's end. Well . . . I'll at least enjoy the next couple of issues . . while I can.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Simon Dark #10 - DC

Speaking of things hitting the fan . . . everything is going down at the arcane mansion this issue. Everything that this issue has lead to so far, seems to be coming to a head. Now that they've got a large mass of people infected with their demon-soap, this group is attempting to bring across a larger demon. Maybe it's just me, but that just never seems like a good idea. Anyways, Simon and the Detective have gone to the mansion to try to throw a wrench in to things. They do a pretty good job but you just knew eventually they were going to come up against something harder. Enter the 2 demons you see pictured on the cover. Also don't forget that Rachel is still infected. However a very drunk Vincent shows up at their house. He's willing to trade the anti-viral . . the only one in the city . . for Simon's life. However Simon doesn't even know about this yet. I've enjoyed Steve Niles story so far. I appreciate his slow approach to things. When things go to fast it's hard to build the tension or the drama. Every issue of this series, though, has left me hanging. Also, Scott Hampton is absolutely incredible with the art on this series. I love his stuff, and he's really doing a fantastic job here. I'm not sure how long this series is going to go on, or what the intentions are for this character, but I hope he sticks around for quite a while. He's different . . and refreshing . . in an odd zombie, 'walking-dead' kind of way.

Birds of Prey #120 - DC

There's more than a few good things about this book lately. First of all, Tony Bedard has been turning in some good story-lines. He's been reestablishing the team in Platinum Flats, and we've been building on that for the last few issues. It seems now that all of our ducks are in place that the team is finally going to go after this syndicate that runs the town. Also Stephane Roux has been turning in some fantastic covers for this series. She's been on the covers for the last 6 or so issues and they all look wonderful. This one is no exception. Finally,
Nicola Scott has been doing a fantastic job with the interiors, but it looks like she's moving on to other things. This issue Michael O'Hare takes over on pencils. This issue looks fantastic. Michael definitely has a flair for drawing these women. Everyone looks fantastic . . including the new girl Infinity. I'm not sure how long Babs has been using her, but apparently she's the only one that knows about her. We also have 2 surprise guests this issue. First if Gizmo. He's still alive . . I guess . . even though he has a hole in his head. The Syndicate is keeping him locked up, using him for information. And on the final page of the book . . . the Joker is back. He wants to know who's been stealing his Joker-gas while he's been out of town. "I let him go, follow him here, all of which brings us to the zillion-dollar question: who the screamin' blue heck are you?" This continues to be one of my favorite books out there. I love the concept and I love the characters.

Tiny Titans #6 - DC

This book is just silly. Like I've said before, to me, it kind of reads like one of those old Archie comics. The old ones from the 60's that had the 4 or 5 little 4 pages stories. I think it's fresh and entertaining, even if it is aimed at much younger readers. My only complaint is that I wish the art was a little better. I understand the concept and what they're trying to do . . it almost appears as if this book could've been drawn by crayon. However, in the Teen Titans Go! comic they also draw Tiny Titans on the bottom of the pages. Those characters there look a lot better than the one's here. I don't know, maybe the glossier art wouldn't really fit in with the audience of this book. I just think those characters look a lot better than these. But really, that's my only complaint. Like I've said before, if this will get new kids into the hobby, then bring it on. We need all the new . . young . . readers we can get. As the song says . . ". . they're our future . ."

Number of the Beast #7 - WildStorm

Everything is going to hit the fan . . . next issue. We've been building to this over the course of the series. This issue is spent, mostly, explaining to us, and the High, just how we got to this point. The High has gone to Jackson King, and for some reason he's decided to be forthright and tell him everything he knows. It started out with the base in Nevada, which is actually a crashed Daemonite ship. Also it all revolves around a General Zebulon McCandless. He was the first on the site of the crashed ship. Being a very religious man, he believed it to be a sign from the third angel of Apocalypse. From there . . . it just all went down-hill. He captures a Daemonite scientist who offers his knowledge in return for a semblance of life. This leads to the General using that knowledge to wipe all the 'supers' off the planet. He believed they were also a sign of the Apocalypse. He put them in the ships holding cells, where they've been for the last 60 years. However, he was still worried about the 'End of Times'. So when the High splattered himself against the Watchtower, before burying him also in the project, he used his DNA to make clones. Clones that he could control. Clones that he could put in missiles and fire at opponents. Not the best use of a resource, but . . he had a plan. Anyways, those are the missiles headed towards the Nevada base. Meanwhile, the Authority is there fighting the recently released hostages. You know . . hit first, ask questions later. However, Jack and Jenny keep a calm head and when the missiles start heading in, with the High trying to stop them, they quickly 'door' everybody back to the Carrier. The problem is, these cloned Highs also have a similar ability. Shortly after everyone gets on board the Carrier, and really before things can be explained to everyone . . the issue ends with the clones forcing themselves on board. "Reap what you sow. Change or die." That's why I'm talking about everything hitting the fan next issue. I've enjoyed Scott Beatty's story here. My only question is the time-line between when the High got splattered on the Watchtower, and the creation and deployment of all of these clones. It just doesn't seem like there's enough time between. But maybe I'm not reading it right. Anyways Chris Sprouse has done a great job bringing all these characters to life. Now we'll just have to wait for the next issue . . to see who makes it.

Spawn #180 - Image

This issue we find out what the vampire that bit Spawn last issue wanted. Actually, I don't think it was Al. I think the Vampire was after the costume. Apparently it's a symbiont entity that's simple enough for the Vampire to control. With this issue, Al seems to be at war with his costume. And for some reason, the Vampire has tricked Al into thinking that he needs to kill Wanda. Nyx tries to help, but she seems to be way out of her element here. Either that or she needs to figure out another way around it. Al's brother, the Detective, just seems to be lamenting over all the trouble Al's brought to his and his family's life. Deep down he wishes Al had stayed dead. And Cyan is getting visions of her mother's death. As she's getting older she seems to be more and more connected to Al. She knows he's in trouble, but she has no idea what, or if, she can do anything to help. She doesn't even know how to get ahold of him . . until he shows up at her bedroom door. "You're here to kill my mom . . aren't you?" It looks like this will be the final story arc for David Hine and Brian Haberlin. And really, that's too bad. They've both been doing a fantastic job with this series. I've thoroughly enjoyed their work. The only silver lining to this news is that the new creative team will consist of Brian Holguin, Whilce Portacio, and . . . Todd McFarlane? I'm not sure what Todd's going to be doing. In the previews it just says . . "Todd McFarlane is also returning to Spawn, and he is involved in everything related to his flagship book." I guess he'll be doing some writing, pencils or inks, and probably some covers. Anyways all of this takes place with issue #185. Can you believe this book is almost up to #200. Wow! Anyways, enjoy David and Brian's final story-arc. It could prove to be very interesting.

Dead, She Said #2 - IDW Publishing

Ok, this was an interesting book. Coogan is still dead, obviously, so now he's just getting smellier and uglier. And if he wasn't sure about that . . everyone he meets tells him so. He does make some headway with the story though this issue. He's been trying to figure out who killed him. It looks like it was an associate, 'Sticks'. A few weeks ago he had been hired by a Doctor's wife to find out if he was cheating on her. He wasn't, all he was doing was spending all his time in his lab. But, during the course of the stake-out he was spotted by one of the Doctor's cameras. Which is why he hired 'Sticks' to kill him. However, when Coogan arrives at 'Sticks' pad, he's dead, and then the cops come in about a minute later. That's where this issue starts, and, through the course of the interrogation, Coogan and the cops put together the pieces with the Doctor. Now he just has to figure out why he had him killed. We find out it's because he's raising an army of giant ants that seem to do his bidding. Apparently, he didn't want anyone else to know about it. The issue ends when he sends them in to a trailer park to go after some meat for the larvae. This book is interesting because of the 'film-noir' style that Steve Niles is writing it in. I believe this is a mini-series, and next issue may be the last issue. It kind of reminds me of an episode of Tales From the Crypt. Not any specific episode, just that it could be in that series. It would fit. The real reason I bought the book though is because of Berni Wrightson's pencils. He's one of my favorites and I couldn't pass up any new work by him. I believe he's inking his own stuff here also. He fits perfectly with the story because this is definitely his genre. Try it out if you get a chance.

the Amazing Spider-man #565 - Marvel

Unlike most of the letter-writers in this issue, I'm not ready to string up Marc Guggenheim for his efforts on this book. That goes for Bob Gale and Dan Slott also. It appears that there's a whole lot of fans out there that are upset about the story-telling in this book. Everybody loves the art, but they feel there's nothing about the stories that have helped to elevate Spider-man as an icon. To me, that kind of sounds like the complaints about the Image line when it first came out. To be honest with you though, I'm gonna side-step all of that controversy. As for this particular issue, I thought it was a pretty good introduction to the new Kraven character. This time . . it's a teen-age girl. It seems that she's been studying Spider-man for a couple of weeks. She's been watching his behavior, studying his moves, and is trying to narrow down who he is. Unfortunately, Spidey is a creature of habit, so it doesn't take a whole lot of effort on Kraven's part to narrow down his identity. Now that she has, she's decided to take everything away from him. She's going to destroy his life, his friends and family. Which is what she begins to systematically do this issue. However, by the end of this issue we find out that, really, she's still guessing. The issue starts out with the image of Spider-man strung up, and Kraven going on about what she's going to do to him. Then we go back 2 weeks and find out how we got to that point. However, in the final page, when we get back to where we started, we find out that as smart as she is she can still make mistakes. The guy she dressed up in the Spidey outfit and captured is Vin not Peter. Which, I'm sure, next issue is going to lead to a rescue by Spider-man and Daredevil, who made an appearance in this issue. This issue was beautifully drawn by Phil Jimenez. I look forward to any work that he does, and it appears that he's in the rotation now for the art of this book. Personally I think that's great. That means every couple of months we'll get another 2 or 3 issues from him. I thought this was a pretty good issue. Yes it feels like we've been speed-dating, with all these characters that we've been introduced to the last couple of months, but I think, in the long run, it's gonna pay of with some good stories. Right now they're introducing all the substance, the ingredients in the pie . . if you will . . now we just have to wait to see what kind of pie it is they're baking. The question is, I guess . . are you willing to wait?

the Invincible Iron Man #3 - Marvel

This book is so good right now . . I don't know what's better, the story or the art. Both are phenomenal! Matt Fraction is weaving an incredible tale here about the friction between Tony Stark and Ezekial Stane. Basically, Ezekial's father had taken over Stark Industries at one time. Tony got it back but not before affecting Obadiah's son, Ezekial. He wants to be Tony. That's really it in a nut-shell. So he's been doing all kinds of stuff to his body, with all kinds of pirated Stark-tech, until he feels that he's as good as . . or better than, Tony. Which, ultimately, why he blew off the top floor of Starkdynamics Tower in Taipei. He did it because . . he wanted to see if he could survive. Meanwhile Tony is dealing with all the stuff that Tony has to deal with. But now, all of that is multiplied by 10 because of Ezekial's involvement. At least now Tony knows who's been behind all these bombings around the world. Now he just has to figure out what to do about it. Salvador Larroca does the art on this series . . it is fantastic. It's probably some of the best stuff he's done to date. And he's got a lot of good stuff out there. It's hard to believe that with as many irons in the fire as he has, that he can still be this good. He uses a painted style on most of the book, except for the flash-back scenes where he keeps it rather simple. Both styles are equally effective. I've always liked Iron Man. I just can't buy everything, so this was one of the ones I passed up. However, with the launch of the new series, on a lark, I decided to get it. I very happy that I took the chance. So far it's been a great series, and with Matt and Salvador at the helm, I'm sure it will be for some time to come.

New Exiles #8 - Marvel

In typical Chris Claremont fashion, he has us going in a couple of different directions on this issue. First we have Betsy out there, trying to figure out what's been going on inside of her mind, and worried about the Slaymaster catching up to her eventually. She's even more startled when she awakens from a nightmare to find out that she has the lightning bolt tattooed across her face again. But it all has to do with Ogun. Apparently when they came to this world, Ogun's apprentice, Mandarin, had been killed by the Slaymaster shortly before their arrival. Well, somehow, her spirit has come to reside in Betsy which is how she came to Ogun's attention. Now Ogun is willing to teach her what he know's for her help in avenged his pupil. Meanwhile, Remy is out in the ocean trying to stop the approaching French fleet. Somehow, in doing so, he has gained the favor of the Great Ancient Masters of the Ocean. And through them, the respect and help of Queen Fen. We also have the part where Morph and Sage are trying to protect the Queen of England. To do so, they've gone to see Emma Frost at X-Force Academy. And finally back at the Crystal Palace, Kitty is worried because she's been watching the Omniverse die, one universe at a time. But really it shouldn't be happening this fast. She receives some cryptic clues from Heather, who apparently is equally as tied in with the Omniverse. I'm not sure where Creed or Mystiq were this issue, but I'm sure we'll catch up with them in the next. This is a great series and it's made even better under Chris' piloting. I've enjoyed this one for a long time, but it's been getting better every issue. Hopefully, Tom Grummett is back on board for the duration.

Genext #3 - Marvel

I really like this book. It's kind of moot though, because this is a mini-series, and the chances are, when it's all over, we'll never see these characters again. However, with good enough sales, and enough of a demand from the market . . who knows, maybe we'll get another mini shortly after this one's through. We're only on the third issue, and already these characters have grown on me. Chris Claremont has done a good job of keeping the focus on all of the kids, pretty much equally, so they all can become ingrained in our thoughts. I'm also really enjoying the artwork of Patrick Scherberger. The style he's using here fits this book perfectly. It's a book about a group of teen-age kids, and that's exactly how it comes across. He's also very good at his framing sequences. There's a scene where Becka is in the danger room working out, when she looses control of her powers. Hank is in the observation room and has to race to her side to help her. The way Patrick uses his framing to express the action and emotions of the scene were really good. I don't know that a veteran artist could've done it any better. As this series goes along, I also get the impression that we haven't met all of the X-descendants yet. This issue, Emma talks about Janine Gray . . Black Marvel. My only complaint? While I enjoy the unique X-Men stories that they've been reprinting in the back, I don't agree with the extra $1 added to the price-tag. If I had a choice I'd rather not have the story, and pay $1 less per issue. But that's just me. Anyways, I really do like this series, and I think Chris and Patrick are doing a tremendous job.

Young X-Men #4 - Marvel

I knew it. I've known it since issue #1. I knew this wasn't Scott that's been mucking about with these kids. This issue confirms it. I do feel kind of bad for the kids now though, because they're actually the victims here. I figured with Bobby's connections, the old 'New Mutants' gang was probably hanging out at the Hellfire Club because they don't really have any other ties right now. I didn't think they were actually the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. They didn't really expect us to swallow that . . did they? It wasn't who I thought, though, replacing Scott. It turns out that it's Pierce that's been impersonating him. He's called out, just as the kids are running a mission on the Hellfire Club, and they're trying to throw-down with Sam and Bobby. Of course it is like 5 to 2 though, so . . maybe the odds aren't that bad. But, during the middle of the scuffle, they loose contact with Scott . . Pierce, because he's got problems of his own back at the mansion. Or what's left of it. I like this book, I like these characters, and I really hope that they succeed. I mean, considering the last 2 series they've been in, they've probably been around for 3 to 4 years now. So they're not exactly 'brand new'. My only complaint? If you've been following me, you know what it's gonna be . . . Yanick Paquette. First of all I just don't really like his style. Secondly . . I'd just like to see a much stronger artist here. Marc Guggenheim seems to be unraveling . . or raveling (?) . . a pretty meaty story here. This was a pretty stable book . . until recently. Now? Now it's all up in the air. And this is an outstanding group of characters they have to draw from for this team. I just think they deserve better representation. But, it's just my opinion. I'm still gonna buy the book, because I want to see what happens. But, I'll keep thinking . . I could enjoy it more.

Ultimate Origins #2 - Marvel

Basically, this series is supposed to show us the origin of the Ultimate Marvel Universe. It's also supposed to show how, and I quote . . "It's all connected. That's the secret!" I was kind of under the impression last issue, that maybe it was all connected because of Doctor Erskine. He's the one that created the Super-Soldier formula, and Steve Rogers, but I was a little confused as to whether he was the same guy that headed up Project-X, where Wolverine was created. In the Ultimate Universe, Wolverine is the first mutant. I was just a little confused because they both happened right around the same time, in the 40's. However, after reading this issue, I don't think that's even the issue, or the connection. This issue starts out with the Fantastic 4 getting called out to Devil's Point Wyoming. There Nick Fury has a top-secret bunker where, basically, he puts everything that he can't make heads or tails of. Anyways, there's a stone carving there, it almost looks like a small pillar, that's just been sitting there for as long as anyone can remember. Nobody's ever moved it, touched it, or had any reason what-so-ever to be concerned with it. Until a few days ago when the jewel on the top of it seemed to come to life. There's a carving that kind of looks like an eye on top, and the jewel is in the center. Anyways, most of this book is spent showing us the origin of Captain America. It's pretty much the same as the regular Marvel Universe, except when everything hits the fan, this stone carving is also sitting on the staging area. No one knows how it got there. I'm guessing it's Celestial in origin, or maybe Uatu. I think that this is the actual connection, not the doctor. But, we'll have to wait until next issue to find out some more. Of course it's written by Brian Bendis. He is, afterall, the Grand-father of the Ultimate universe. And if anyone knows what the secret is here . . it's him. And with Butch Guice on the pencils, you just know it's gonna be a kick-ass book. So far, other than the stone, I haven't really seen anything new yet. So I'm hoping we start getting into the meat of the story pretty soon. I want to find out what this March On Ultimatum is. I guess that's where the Ultimate Universe goes after this series.

Wonder Woman #22 - DC

This is a great book. Although, I'm not sure where Gail Simone's heads at. I've never seen her write anything like this . . it's got to be uncharted territory, but . . it's fantastic. However, when I read it I think two things . . either this would make a great movie or novel, or . . this would make a awesome video-game. I know, completely different, but . . I just get that feeling for some reason. Maybe it's the majesty of the Princess and the realm she's in, her accomplices, or the whole sword & sorcery aspect. Also, I have to say, Aaron Lopresti is a genius. I remember when I first saw him, way back when, in the Ultraverse on Sludge. Even then I thought he was a huge talent. But now? Now I think the guys incredible. I don't know that I've ever seen Wonder Woman look more beautiful or more menacing at the same time. And as beautiful as that horse on the cover is, the white apes in Diana's apartment look even better. The guy can draw anything. Anyways, with the story, by the end of the book Diana obtains the shard of the Rock of Eternity from Stalker. And with it she brings D'grth back to our world. She thinks that'll give her an advantage. Which she'll need if she has any hope of beating this guy. Meanwhile it seems that Tresser is getting closer and closer to finding out Diana's secret. I really like the addition of all these long-lost DC characters to this story . . . Beowulf, Stalker, Claw . . they fit in perfect with the theme of this issue. My only concern is that it looks like Aaron will only be around 1 more issue, for the end of this story, and then he'll just be around for the covers. That's sad! Hopefully though we'll see him somewhere else around the DC Universe.

Justice Society of America #17 - DC

Ok, you all know that I think Geoff Johns is an incredible talent. I think every book that he touches turns to gold. In the short time he's been at DC . . well, not that short . . he's really brought a lot of the character to life. I mean, who thought Booster Gold would be one of the best books out there? But he really has affected a rather significant portion of the DC Universe. However, with all of that, I really think he past accomplishments pale in comparison to the stories he's creating with Alex Ross. These 2 . . together . . is like a dream come true. I'm also a huge fan of Alex's and Jim Krueger's work. But this, I think, is even better than that. The nuances they put into these characters, the little subtle things they say and do . . . their attitudes . . it's just . . brilliant. I really can't give these 2 enough credit for what they've accomplished here. In this issue alone Gog has eradicated famine and disease from the lands he's traveled in Africa, he gives Stargirl a much needed ego boost, he cures Sand, he give Doctor Mid-Nite his vision back, and he sends Powergirl 'home'. Although that one took everyone by surprise. They're not exactly sure where 'home' is. Oh yeah, and Starman? He isn't insane anymore. The problem is, while all of these 'cures' may appear beneficial on the service, you have to wonder how it's gonna change who these people are. They've come to accept their circumstances and become stronger because of them. So . . what now? Well Gog feels that his next feat is to eradicate war. And all the relic heists that Hawkman's been worried about . . I think they're going to lead to the creation of Magog. Remember, according to Superman, he's the one that brings about the downfall of the super-hero era. Man, there's a lot of themes and ideas being tossed around in this book. I love it! And every issue is better than the last. I can't wait to read the Annual.

Final Crisis - Requiem #1 - DC

I have to say, this book was really sad. Well, first of all, I couldn't believe that Libra actually killed J'onn in the first issue of Final Crisis. And then, of course, I thought . . 'Is this a trick? Or . . how are they gonna bring him back?' But after reading this issue, I think this one may be for real. They take J'onn's body to Mars for the funeral, but most of the issue is focused on J'onn's, and Mars', past. As a final act of consciousness . . at the time of his death . . J'onn sends out this telepathic message to, I believe, the people that he trusted the most. With J'onn being the last of his race, basically, all of the racial and ancestral knowledge of his home-planet was kind of downloaded to him. Well, he can't let that die with him, so he sends out this telepathic burst that hits Bruce, Clark, Hal, Dinah and Gypsy. They all begin, unconsciously, to transcribe the knowledge that's been given to them. Superman sums it up the best at the funeral. "The five of us are gathered here because J'onn entrusted each of us with an incredible responsibility in his last moments of life. We're not just caretakers of J'onn's personal history, we're also now the caretakers for a lost race . . a lost planet. And it's a responsibility that I humbly and gladly accept, as obviously you all do . ." Unfortunately, I think he's truly gone. I don't think this one's gonna' be a 'do-over'. But that's ok. There has to be some loss for people to truly appreciate what they have. In the time that they all knew him, he truly touched all of their lives. I believe in the end, they're all better for having known him. What more can a person hope to accomplish, or leave behind? It's a living legacy. I thought it was a terrific story by Peter J Tomasi. He handled all the characterizations perfectly. I actually started to get a little choked up a couple of times while reading it. I also enjoyed Doug Mahnke's artwork. It was really great looking. Much in the manner of his Black Adam series.

100 Bullets #93 - Vertigo

This one kind of reads like an in-between issue. Or . . maybe the set-up for another chapter. I feel like we just have the beginnings of a couple plot-lines here. First of all Grave and Augustus are meeting at Javier's. Graves has brought Dizzy for back-up, and Augustus has brought Lono. I'm not sure what's going on, it's almost like they're having a summit or something. However, even with that . . Graves still has other irons in the fire. They're meeting on the west coast, but back east he has Remi staking out D'arcy's penthouse. "I've been waiting for her to show up to her Gold Coast digs for a few days . . . all by your book . . stake out and eventually who yer after will walk into the bullet meant for them." But you know what they say about . . 'the best laid plans'. No sooner does he get off the phone with Graves than his Aunt calls from his mother's house to tell him that she's had a stroke. He still going to go through with the plan . . . but he's a bit reckless. And he's in a hurry . . he wants to get to his mother. He goes through all the bodyguards like a knife through butter, but while he's at it, D'arcy's main guy, Coop, has gotten him and her to the Panic room. Remi's done his work and set a charge on the transformer to cut the power, but the room still has a heavy door. The issue ends with Coop slamming it on Remi's arm and cutting off both of his hands. Gruesome! Like I said, it kind of feels like an in-between chapter. Like all hell's gonna break loose next issue. Another fantastic installment by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. I'm really getting sad that there's only 7 issues left. Say it isn't so! To all things there is a season. It appears that this book is in it's 'winter'. . . . . . . . . . . . but it still kicks ass!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Batman Strikes #47 - DC

I went to see the Dark Knight movie last weekend, and I gotta' say, in comparison, this version of Batman is pretty weak. But hey, it's a kids book. Right? So it's not going to be all grim and dreary like the movie. It really was a great movie though. The Joker was . . haunting. Anyways, I did actually like this book. We haven't seen the Black Mask in quite awhile, so that was a treat. And of course Batman used his brain, as opposed to his brawn, to beat him. I do worry though, since the cartoon hasn't had any new episodes . . is the draw for the book going to diminish? You would think it would be stronger than ever because of the movie. But . . who knows. Anyways, I like the book and I think it's a great medium for the kids.

Legion of Super-heroes in the 31st Century #16 - DC

This is a cute little book. It's a story about a boy, Floyd, who wants to be a Legionnaire. The problem is, his only power is that his arm is detachable. Not a lot of tactical abilities there. But, he doesn't give up on his dream. Finally, one day he runs away from home and goes to the Legion headquarters so he can try-out. Not necessarily that they're doing try-outs, but . . I guess he thinks he can just crash his way in. Well, as it happens, when he arrives, Star-finger is also there trying to wreak some havoc. So, Arm-Fall-Off-boy throws his arm at Star-finger. Which takes him by surprise. While he's standing there holding it . . Arm-Fall-Off-boy uses the arm to knock him out. They can't let him into the Legion, just because of that, but Dream-girl feels sorry for him so she decides to let him wear a flight-ring. You guessed it . . . his arm floats away. I thought it was a cute book. Like I said, these Johnny DC titles are perfect for kids just getting in to the hobby. They aren't to heavy, and they're usually one issue stories. And, in this case, it's also a great cast of characters. So . . it's got my vote.

Huntress - Year One #5 - DC

Well, this is Helena's first encounter with . . . Bruce Wayne. Helena has kept her arrival in Gotham a secret, but then she hears about Tony's wedding and decides to crash the reception. As it turns out it's being held at Wayne Manor. Bruce is trying to bring down Nino, Gotham's crime boss, and Tony's father. He's holding the reception at his house because, as Bruce Wayne, he's trying to set him up. Unfortunately, when they're talking about their plans . . that's when Helena shows up. So she thinks that Bruce is just as dirty as Nino. Needless to say, thier first encounter isn't amicable. At the same event she meets Batgirl, Barbara, for the first time, and . . indirectly, Selina. None of them know what to make of this new girl on the scene. However, Catwoman is the first one to extend the hand of kindness to her. Helena asks her why, and she replys, ". . . because I don't want you getting beaten or co-opted by the Bat. You will be if you don't have a strong operation. We need more strong women in Gotham. Especially ones who answer to no one." Nino ends up dead, and Tony's going to be the new Dom. But the issue ends when Helena is looking into how the Mayor is connected to the family. He's got notes in his desk about how he helped during the recovery when Gotham's levies broke. The problem is . . that hasn't happened yet. Ivory Madison has given us a pretty thorough understanding of Helena's motivations. My only complaint about her writing is that I think some things are a bit over explained. I'm sure that's fine, especially for someone who may not be familiar with this character, but for those of us that are . . it was a bit long-winded. But, I do understand why she did it. I still think it's a great story. I'm also impressed with Cliff Richards pencils. I think the pace of this book may have gotten to him though . . . 6 issues in 12 weeks. The pencils on this issue are quite as strong as those on the first. I still think he's a pretty good artist though. That's a lot of pages to do in a 3 month period. Only 1 more issue to go though. Personally, I think the Huntress is strong enough for her own book, but . . I'm only one voice.

Batman Confidential #19 - DC

What can I say? Batgirl . . Catwoman . . and Kevin Maguire. Can you say . . . Meeooww!? Nobody draws these two babes like Kevin does. And with this story-arc we get 5 issues of his stuff. Fan-frikkin-tastic! Anyways, we finally find out this issue just what is the deal with the notebook. It seems that Jim was looking in to the Russian Mobs. Well a friend of Selina's is being held by them . . white slavery, or wives for sale, or whatever . . and she wants to get her free. She thinks that the information in Jim's book will help to nail her handlers. This is a Fabian Nicieza story, so of course it has great interaction between the characters. That's the way he writes 'em, and he's doing a really good job with this one. From what I understand, this is really the first time that Selina and Barbara have met. All they know of each other is the other's reputation. However, by the end of the book . . when they blow up the Russian warehouse, and probably most of the pier along with it . . they've gotten the Batman's attention and he's wants to know what's going on . . . " . . but I think I'm actually afraid to ask . ." This is a great story-arc and we still have 2 issues to go.

Joker's Asylum: Penguin #1 - DC

Ok. With this book . . Bring Me to Life by Evanescence popped into my head. I'm not sure why. So as I'm writing this, it's blasting out of my computer speakers. What an awesome song! The thing that really gets me about it is Amy Lee's voice. It's . . haunting. Sorry. Anyways, I have to admit this issue of Asylum was better than the last. I'm sorry, but I just thought the Joker issue was a let down. This issue also didn't have much murder and mayhem. At least not directly portrayed. However, in this issue, there was a lot of implied violence. By that I mean, the Penguin took care of things, people, the way he takes care of them . . without getting his own hands dirty. But you know who delivered the killing stroke. I thought Jason Aaron did a really good job with this story. We see a roller-coaster of emotion go through Oswald's being. You kind of felt sorry for the guy . . not the heinous acts of violence that were a result of his misery, but for the little fella' . . ya, I could feel his pain. But what I was really looking forward to with this book was Jason Pearson's art. He's the guy who did Body Bags for Dark Horse. I think he's great but he hasn't done a whole lot of work between then and now. Just a few issues here and there. Which is really a shame because the guys incredibly talented. Anyways, It'll be interesting to see what they do with the Poison Ivy one, next.

Green Arrow and Black Canary #10 - DC

The thing I like about Judd Winick's stories are how much fun he brings to them. This issue, for example, is full of action. Our group of heroes have come face to face with the League of Assassins. But we've got a pretty good little group put together here. And the interaction between them is hilarious. We've got Plastic Man in this group. Of course he's gonna' be a cut-up. Also, Batman has joined in, obviously. Although, I think he's here more for the League than necessarily for Connor. But I'm sure he does feel Ollie's pain. I know everyone won't agree with me, but I think Mike Norton is doing a pretty good job with the pencils on this series. I like his style. Sure I wish Cliff Chiang was still drawing it, but hey . . at least we get a cover out of him. I looked ahead in the preview, to see if maybe Cliff would be coming back to us, but . . . it looks like this is the creative team for the foreseeable future. But that's ok. Judd writes good action, and Mike draws it well. When it comes down to it, that's all we can ask for. This book is still in my top . . probably, 12, picks every month. I really like it alot . . . the characters and the writing. The art too, if I must confess. If you've read my personal info you know that I'm a big music buff also. Anyways, when I read a book, or write about it, I like to pick out some music that helps me with the motivation. For some reason when I picked up this book I thought of Karn Evil 9, by ELP. So that's what I'm listening to while doing this blog. I gotta say . . it's doing the trick. Sorry! Just wanted to share that with you.

Detective Comics #846 - DC

Ok, we all know about the big event that's going on throughout the Batman titles . . RIP. Through all the other books, Batman is dealing with this new criminal, the Black Glove and also the International Club of Villains. Well now, things are about to get even worse. Thomas Elliot has heard of Batman's problems with the Black Glove and has decided that it's time for him to make a reappearance. He wants to be the one to tear Batman's, and Bruce's, life apart. And as Hush . . he may just be able to do that. Most of this book is spent filling us in on Thomas' past. It's trying to show us the reason why he hates the Wayne family so much. But really, all it shows us is that Thomas was a deeply disturbed child and already had the hatred in him, from somewhere, before the Wayne's ever became involved in his life. The ties that he created in his own little mind, to connect that hatred with the Wayne family . . are tenuous at best. But, it has put him in the position where 'he' wants to be the one to take Bruce down. If that means taking out every one of Batman's enemies in the process . . then so be it. But nobody is going to interfere with his plans. The issue ends with him shooting Doctor Aesop, whom Batman and Catwoman were after, and then telling him . . . "This is neither the time nor the place of our ultimate confrontation. But, for now, I'll leave you with my favorite maxim from the fallen Aesop . .' . . beware the man who can strike from a distance!'" And with that . . he's gone. For now. Paul Dini writes this story, and Dustin Nguyen is the penciller. I know this one won't get as much publicity as the RIP arc, but . . I think it may be just as important. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Booster Gold #1,000,000 - DC

We get a teaser on the cover . . . "Who is Peter Platinum?", but honestly, we barely even touch on his character. We find out that he stole his idea from Booster, being the ultimate super-hero franchise, and we know that Rip Hunter has taken away his costume before . . because it employs some of Rips own time-travelling technology. But, really, that's all we know about the guy. I think his main purpose was to make Booster think about the type of hero that he's encouraged . . although not directly. This issue is mostly about Booster coming to terms with what he's doing, and how he feels about being the unknown hero. But then, when he's at his lowest, Batman springs a surprise on him. He's got pictures of Booster's attempt to try to save Barbara from being shot by the Joker. Apparently the Joker has some kind of Joker-cam on him. Anyways, Bruce has had them for years because he could tell from the picture that the Booster in them was older than Michael at the time. And Bruce also offers him some words of encouragement . . "I don't know what you're up to, but I can see the pain and punishment you took from the Joker. You were literally tortured. You risked your life for a chance she might walk again . . . . Let the world think you're crazy if that's what it takes to be the best you can be, Michael. You proved me wrong. You proved yourself wrong. If you ever need someone to talk to . . I might not be Ted Kord, but I'll listen . . . Whatever you're doing . . keep it up." But the other surprise is what really keeps him in the game . . . Rip has brought back Michael's sister, Michelle, from the future. There she died in an explosion. But Rip grabbed her out right before it happens. Now, Michael is truly 100% in the game. As the final surprise, Michael and Michelle go off to spend some time together. After they leave, Rip is feeling a little sentimental and whispers . . . "Keep it up . . . dad." I gotta say . . I sort of suspected that . . but I didn't want to make the leap. But, I also don't think that Rip will ever tell him. So next issue . . issue #11, is going to kind of wrap up this first year's story. And then . . we get a new creative team. It starts out with Chuck Dixon writing the next couple of issues, and then Rick Remender will take over the stories with Pat Olliffe and Jerry Ordway doing the art. I'm really sad to see Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz leave this book. They've really been doing a terrific job. But we do get an issue or 2 more of Dan Jurgens art. I also have to give a hats off to him, also. His pencils, with Norm Rapmund's ink, have really brought this book to life. Or maybe I should say, back to life, because this series is miles ahead of the previous one. I'm really enjoying it, and I hope it sticks around for the long run. We'll see!

Action Comics #867 - DC

Geoff Johns is fantastic on this book. He's perfect with this character. Most of this issue is with Kal-el talking to Kara about Krypton. The conversation that they have, and the subtle nuances in Kara's inflection when she's talking about Krypton . . you can just feel her hurt that she was stuck in cryogenic sleep for so long. Also, when she talks about how she wishes she was a baby when she left Krypton, so she wouldn't remember so much about it, you can truly feel the remorse in her voice. This is the part of the story that Geoff is just incredible with. It pulls you in to the story and makes you care about the characters. And now, Geoff and James Robinson are going to be working in sync between this title and the regular Superman title . . . this franchise is just going to get stronger and stronger. And that's not even saying anything about Gary Franks fantastic pencils. The part that I like the best about this book right now is that with Gary's pencils, you almost get the feeling of the stories from the '70's. Except Geoff writes it, so it's an obviously much better story. Now before you get all upset . . I loved those stories in the 70's. But, you have to admit, they didn't come anywhere near some of the themes that have been presented in this book in the last couple of years. At the time I liked them, but at the time, we also didn't know what we didn't know. You know? And now, with this story-arc, we seem to be reinventing Brainiac. As much as I liked the last Legion story-arc, and the Last Son story-arc before that, I think this one's going to be even better. And, really, it's just getting started. Did you get your copy?

Trinity #6 - DC

Kurt Busiek has Wonder Woman asking some tough questions this issue. She, more than the other two, is really thinking about what this 'Trinity' means. Of course the dreams are bothering her, but she's also trying to figure out how the three of them are connected. That also happens to be the same thing that's on Tarot's mind. Jose, Gangbuster, has her holed away so that the gangs can't get to her and she's sitting around reading her cards . . over . . and over . . and over . . well, you get the picture. And she keeps coming up with the same thing . . 'Trinities' . . over . . and over . . and over. I think she's learning as she goes along. She's starting to figure out how to tap in to the power of the cards and let them give her knowledge and visions. She see's the 'Trinity' . . Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman . . and is starting to understand more about each of them respectively. And I think she may have found the connection she was looking for. But, as soon as she does, some Werewolf looking things come crashing in and abduct her . . leaving Jose behind . . to pick up the pieces. This leads directly into the back-up story by Kurt and Fabian. Hawkman is looking in to some museum robberies, across the country, but the thing they have in common is that they're trying to get mystical Egyptian artifacts, and . . . they're all being committed by common Gotham city criminals. Somehow the gang the Jose's chasing, and the Werewolf looking creatures are also connected to this. So it looks like Hawkman and Gangbuster may be forming a temporary alliance. Of course Mark Bagley did a fantastic job with the art on the lead story, and Scott McDaniel beautifully illustrates the back-up. I assume this is going to be a 52 issue series like the last two, and we're only on issue #6, but . . I think the book is progressing rather nicely. I think it has a faster pace than the last one actually. And the best is yet to come.

Angel: Revelations #2 - Marvel

I think Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has put together a good origin story here. I especially like the way he's portraying Angel, the main character, and how he's reacting to the changes he's going through. He's the spoiled rich character, but . . he's not. I think he's knows what he's got and appreciates it, but at the same time . . he knows what others expect of him . . how they expect him to act. I think, at his core, he's not really that person. But if he was to act the way he felt, instead of how other perceive him . . he'd probably be more of an outcast than if . . he had wings coming out of his back. He's trying to defend this little sophomore, Andrew Palmer, but by doing so he may be separating himself even farther from his 'friends'. And by befriending him, he may have exposed his secret to him also. It's a story that gets you thinking. Warren isn't the shallow rich-kid that everyone thinks he is. But, as thought provoking as the story is, the real star of this book is Adam Pollina. I always like his stuff back on X-Force, but he's kind of adapted a different style with this book. And you can tell he's kind of experimenting with it as he goes along. It really is perfect for this book. It fits the story and the character perfectly. I thought that this would be a decent book, but I didn't really expect this much from it. I like it . . alot!

Cable #5 - Marvel

Ok! I finally feel like the story is progressing a little bit. I've been questioning why Cable would even come to this time period. It didn't make a lot of sense to me because there seemed to be nothing here for him . . no supplies, no preparations . . nothing. But, I guess . . that was the point. He wanted to take the baby someplace where no one would be looking for him. Someplace where they wouldn't be expecting him to stop. Well he accomplished that, basically, except Bishop was the one looking for him. And when he gets something between his teeth, he can be pretty tenacious. By the end of this story, Cable realizes that his time-traveling technology isn't completely broken . . he just can't go back in time. So to avoid Bishop, again . . he goes 85 years into the future. However, back where Bishop is, Cable has inspired Sophie not to just let things progress the way they have. She's decided to take matter into her own hands. So I don't believe that the story about her is complete yet. So anyways, it appears now that Cable has a little breathing room. So maybe he can get around to raising this little girl instead of just reacting to all of the violence around her. So far I like the story Duane Swierczynski has told here. It's not the same as Cable's original book . . or the Cable / Deadpool series. But . . that's ok. If it was . . why bother changing the book and title. And of course I love Ariel Olivetti's artwork. It continues to be incredible issue after issue. It looks like I'm in this one for the long run.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

the Amazing Spider-man #564 - Marvel

First of all, this issue is graced by a fantastic cover by Bachalo and Townsend. I realize they can't do the interiors of ever issue, so . . it's great to see them on the covers. The interior art is done by Paulo Siqueira. It is absolutely perfect. Paulo hasn't been on the scene that long, but I'll tell you what, this guy has made some incredible leaps in talent. Every single panel of this book was fantastic. I even had to read the story twice, because I was so into the images the first time. I remember when I first saw his work on Birds of Prey. I could tell he had talent then, but now . . he's really come a long way. This was an ok story. Basically, Peter's on his way to a job interview when he spots a car racing down the road putting everyone's life in danger. So being the responsible person he is . . he chases it down and finds out that it's Overdrive. They chase each other through town, and 2 or 3 car changes later Overdrive makes his getaway. But he did save the kids on the school-bus, and he got the sonic pulse generator that Overdrive had stolen. But that's not the end. We then see the same story but from Peter's room-mate's perspective, Officer Vince Gonzales. Then we see it from Overdrives perspective as he's getting beat up by Mr. Negative's goons for not returning with the pulse gun. They even had each section written by a different writer . . . Marc Guggenheim, Bob Gale and Dan Slott. I thought it was interesting, but there wasn't anything new that was really learned from the different point of views. They could've done the same thing with only 1 writer by just rearranging the story a bit. To me it was just a gimmick that really didn't offer any reward. However, it was all worth it for Paulo's art. I hope he comes back for more.

Avenger / Invaders #3 - Marvel / Dynamite Entertainment

Well, all the Invaders have been captured by SHIELD . . except for Namor. He's hit the high-tide and has gone underwater to view the condition of his kingdom. He's not very happy about what he's found. It's not long before he comes face to face with . . . well, himself. It's and older, wiser, more confident version of himself, but . . it's still . . him. It's not long before they begin to clash over their individual ideas of how they should handle this incursion into the younger Namor's life. Meanwhile, up on the SHIELD helicarrier Bucky is in the process of extraditing his teammates. Well . . until they get to the edge of the ship and realize just how far up they are. "Whoa! Maybe it really is 2008." Tony tries to confront Bucky, with Cap's shield, but Bucky, under the influence that the group that's holding them is just another form of Nazis, isn't really listening to reason. He knocks him out and takes the shield. "There's only one person who gets to carry this shield." The Avengers are also trying to work out a way of freeing the Invaders. Well . . the New Avengers. You know, the team that Spider-man and Wolverine are on. They're concerned about the ramifications of these heroes coming forward in time. So, they want to get them out and back to where they belong. But I think the real problem is going to be the American soldier that came through time with them. The problem is, they don't even know he's there. And, since the rest of his company died that day at Monte Cassino . . . no one even knows he's missing. He's found his future self in Fort Washington, and is trying to catch up on everything that's happened. I'm thinking that since the rest of his company died . . he's thinking that by coming forward in time . . basically, he's sharing their fate. And, he really has nothing to go back to. So even if the New Avengers accomplish their goal with the Invaders . . things aren't really gonna be fixed until they track this guy down. As usual Alex Ross and Jim Krueger are doing a fantastic job with this series. Their character development and interactions are incredible. They really make a fantastic creative team. But, the part that's really surprising me is the wonderful art of Steve Sadowski. He's really brought these characters . . and Alex and Jim's vision . . to life. I know he's been around for a while, and his stuff's always been . . ok. On this series though . . he's really brought his work to a new level. This book is obviously a classic in the making and so far it's living up to the hype. This is one mini-series you don't want to miss.

Astonishing X-Men #25 - Marvel

What an amazing issue. First of all Simone Bianchi's artwork is simply incredible. As fabulous as the cover looks . . the inside is even better. Then . . Warren Ellis takes over as the writer with this issue . . and in usual fashion, he's brought a boat-load of ideas on board already. I know some people won't agree with me, but . . as much as I loved the first 24 issues . . I'm afraid this run, with Warren and Simone, for as long as it may last . . may be even better. I think the things they have in store for this team . . and with it's new, current, direction . . we may just surpass what this book has already achieved. And the best part of the whole thing? This is just the beginning. I like that I picked up the sketchbook because it prepared me more for the changes that take place here. You wouldn't necessarily need it, to enjoy the story, but . . I think it helped with the set-up, so then . . I could just enjoy the new direction . . soak it all in. This issue also introduced us to a new threat. Well . . actually two of them. The first is Chaparanga Beach. It's kind of like our airplane graveyard in Arizona, except it's a graveyard for spaceships. The problem is . . at any one time, people figure there's probably 3 to 5 of them that are actually functional. But that pales compared to the evidence that the X-Men have found that there may be a new form of mutant out there . . . triploids. Or, a mutant with 3 sets of chromosomes. However, the third is artificial, so that means . . they're man-made mutants . . as being a triploid doesn't occur naturally in human nature. For the first issue of this new direction, they really gave us a lot to thing about and swallow. I frikkin' love it! If you had any reservations about the continuation of this series, you can toss them to the wind. Buckle in and get ready for a hell of a ride!

Echo #4 - Abstract Studio

This is really turning in to a thrilling story. I know. That sounds odd from a Terry Moore book. I mean usually there's so much character development and interaction in his stories that they would seem to fall under the soap-opera banner. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. Part of what I love about his books are how much you come to care about the characters. And, on top of everything else, he always brings that to every issue. But, because of the situation of the characters in this story . . . we're starting to get some 'adventure' going on here. Everything revolves around Annie Trotter and Julie. Julie's the girl who gave up her life in the first issue so that all of this could happen. She was the one that wore the 'beta-suit', and was test flying it over Moon Lake when they shot her down. Which is when Annie became part of the story. She became the recipient of the suit. This issue another character gets introduced to us, which I think is going to become friends, at least, with Annie . . . Dillon, Julie's boyfriend. He doesn't know what happened to Julie . . and nobodies telling him anything. So he takes it on his own to do some investigating. That's when he runs into Annie, almost literally, out at Moon Lake. She's there because that's where this all started. He's there because he knows Julie was doing some kind of testing there, and there was a recent explosion. He's trying to figure out how it's all connected. However . . since it was the recent sight of a military accident . . they are also there. They confront the trespassers . . Annie and Dillon . . separately, they haven't really met yet. But when they start confronting Annie, the results are . . . shocking . . nay, explosive. Which is how this issue ends. I think this was another brilliant installment by Terry. We really progressed with the story this issue, and I love these cliff-hanger endings.

Noble Causes #35 - Image

You know, sometimes when I'm reading this book I'm thinking, 'Why do the Noble's even need the Blackthorn's as a nemesis? Or . . any villain for that matter? When it comes down to it . . the things they fight for in life . . the things they try to achieve individually, or as a family . . in most cases, they are their own worst enemy.' There's just so much subterfuge, back-stabbing, and dissension within their own family . . inside their own little world, now that they live out on an island separated from the rest of the normal world . . not unlike the Titans sitting up on Mt. Olympus . . . that they really don't even need a rogue's gallery, or whatever, because most of their time could be spent cleaning up their own messes. In fact, in this story-arc, any villains that have become involved . . they've brought into the mix. In fact the biggest threat right now, Amy Wells, Surge's new girlfriend, they themselves invited out to the island to spend time with them. Since that fateful decision she's been leaving a path of destruction in her wake making it look like it's anyone else's fault but hers. Because of that, they had to abduct Bonechill to try to use his blood to help Frost. This time they go after Tank, and then Crucible, to try to figure out how they shut down their security system, why, and who initiated it. But really? This all comes down to the chaos, mistrust and dysfunctional nature of thier own family. And correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Colonel and Doc Noble switch bodies somehow, a couple of story-arc's ago? I'm wondering why they haven't fixed that, and, if so, how come the Colonel is acting like such a father-figure to everyone, when, obviously, he's not? I seem to remember some kind of agreement they came to about the family, until the situation can be fixed. Anyways, I guess my question is, when are we going to get in to that some more? As you can tell . . I love this book. Every issue I'm amazed by the talent of Jay Faerber. I also think that I'm actually coming around with Yildiary Cinar's art, also. We've always had relatively new artists on this book, and they've always, over time, made it their own. I feel that Yildiary has accomplished that already. I'm just thrilled that we're back on track after the short hiatus. Keep 'em comin'!

the Boys #20 - Dynamite Entertainment

Now that we've had some adventures with 'the Boys' . . and seen them in action . . now we get some of the background on this world about where the 'heroes' came from and why 'the Boys' . . specifically Butcher . . have such a hard on for them. Hughie sat down with the Legend last issue . . you know that guy that sits in the comic shop and seems to know everything? Anyways, he's telling him about how Vought American brought about the Super-hero Age. I like the way Garth Ennis is doing this because the way the Legend is telling him . . he kind of sounds like a conspiracy nut. Which, for this book, fits in perfectly. It's got all the classics too . . Vought American, a great war machine . . the Government involvement . . ties to the world economy . . and next issue, how 'the 7' tried to avert the 9/11 disaster, but ended up in making things worse. We also get a little glimpse in to just how much resentment Butcher holds for 'the 7', while he's having a conversation with the Homelander. Actually, Butcher doesn't say much but he still ends up pissing off the Homelander enough that he breaks the truce between 'the 7' and 'the Boys'. "If this is how you want it, that's okay by us. As of this moment you can start doing your worst. But I can hear your heartbeat. I can smell your sweat. And I can tell you here and now, you truly are out of your . . . " So, it sounds to me like all bets are off between the 2 groups right now. Somehow I have the feeling that's not necessarily good for either side. Next issue though, we find out more about this world's 9/11. By the way Darick Robertson's art is just as incredible as Garth's story. They meld together like butter. Sorry! A little SNL reference there. But I don't know how to write a Barbara accent. Anyways, this remains one of my favorite books every month. Fan-frikkin-tastic!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor #4 - WildStorm

I'm really liking this secret origin story of Jack Hawksmoor. First of all, I think Mike Costa is doing an incredible job with this story. We're seeing Jack's problems with the city of San Francisco, and his personal problems . . as far as relationships go. Then he's infusing that story with bits and pieces of Jack's early life. This issue we learn about his mother and sister, Katy. He blames the city for their deaths because it called him away from them, when they were on a bridge, and then the big quake hit. He was to far away to save them. But I have a feeling we don't know the whole story there. Anyways, we also have these people that supposedly are from the future and came back to perform the operations on Jack when he was a kid, turning him in to who he is today. Then there's the little baubles hidden all around the city . . they've been there for years . . that negate Jack's powers. On top of all that, Jack gets the ultimate stab in the back when, at the end of this issue, we find out that Juliet was also in on the whole thing. Apparently he's been set-up right from the start. Secondly, I'm really impressed with the artwork of Fiona Staples. I think she shows incredible talent and potential. She's not quite there yet, but overall I really like her perspective and style. I also like the way her work is colored and shaded. It gives it a certain feeling. I've always liked Jack's character, but . . he wasn't my favorite. However, with this series, and the insights were gaining, I see there's alot more to him than we ever realized.

JSA Classified #39 - DC

For a final issue, this one was actually pretty decent. It wraps up the story-line where the people were stealing the boxers abilities. Last issue, while trying to figure out what was going on, Ted went investigating and ended up trapped in the contraption that he had come to destroy. This Dr. had figured out a way, basically, to sap the knowledge of fighters and then transfer it to younger people. The problem? It left the people giving the knowledge in a stroke-like state. Which is how Ted starts out this issue. But with his friends help, particularly Alan, he finds his way back. This time when Ted returns, the Dr. has given all the young boxers his abilities. Now comes the question . . can be beat himself? It was a nice story of tragedy over triumph, and was particularly heart-felt because he had done all of this for his old friend Jimmy Deacons. I was started to get a little bored with all of these Wildcat issues, but . . I have to admit that I enjoyed this one. Mike W Barr did the story, with Shawn Martinbrough on the pencils. However, this is another book that has sadly reached it's end. This one is particularly sad though because we're not going to have this outlet anymore for all of these JSA characters. Yes we'll see them every month in their own book, but . . you can only focus on so many characters in 20 pages a month. And, especially in the JSA, there's a lot of interesting and deserving characters. DC must have some big plans for the rest of the summer, and into the fall, because this is now 6 titles that have fallen to the wayside in as many weeks. It'll be interesting to see what they use to fill those empty slots. But I have to say, overall, this title ended on an up note. But I'll still miss it.

the All New Atom #25 - DC

Well . . it had to happen sooner or later, but . . this is the final issue. I actually find that kind of sad, because . . I really grew to like this book. Sure, at first, I was upset that they had replaced Ray Palmer, but in the end . . I really grew to like Ryan Choi. I think that feeling though, really, was just out of nostalgia. Plus, truth be told . . I never thought that Ray was really all that interesting of a character. The only time I really liked him was for that brief stint where he somehow became younger and joined the Titans for a little while. Plus he's been gone now for, what? . . 3 years? We really didn't know for sure that he's ever be back. Anyways, this issue, from what I understand, these new creatures that Ryan's found in his bloodstream are somehow connected to his use of the belt. They're also the reason that he can now shrink and regrow without the belt. Ray also helps him to expedite the resolution of this story. He gives him tracers, to take down to the people that are trapped, and then he's got a sort of 'boom-tube' set up to bring them back. In the process, though, Ryan loses his friend Panda. We also find out the Lady Chronus is actually Jia . . which I suspected. And that Dwarfstar is her son. I really didn't see that one coming. But . . he's not her only son . . he's her 'firstborn'. In the end, Ray basically tries to talk Ryan out of ever being the Atom again, but . . he's not do be dissuaded. Knowing now that Lady Chronus is Jia . . what's happened to Panda . . and what he's gone through, I think now he sees this as personal. The issue ends with him in the Atom costume saying, "I'm the Atom and I've got work to do!" I have no doubt that we'll see him around the DC Universe. Maybe even in the JLA. I think Ray's going to be working more with Booster's time squad, or maybe he, Donna and Kyle really will become the gatekeepers of the multiverse. Only time will tell . . and . . . some of these fantastic stories we have going on this summer. Either way . . I don't feel this is the end of either of their stories.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blue Beetle #28 - DC

I have to say I had kind of mixed feelings about this issue. Next issue Matt Sturges takes over on the scripting chores, beginning some new adventures for Jamie. This issue, while I enjoyed it, kind of felt like a fill in issue to me. It didn't seem overly thought out or constructed. I felt like this Dr. Mephistopheles was just kind of thrown in here to take up some space. I mean, the threat wasn't even real. Peacemaker and Dani Garrett show up, to explain to the gang who this guy is. Other than that though, they really served no purpose. In fact, it seems like the Dr., and his pet . . yes that's his pet on the cover . . are simply trying to survive. Basically he has a pet bulldog that he can somehow put into this transformation. But any damage that's been done has really been only for survival. Well . . that, and I'm sure the rambunctious playful demeanor of a pet dog. So, sooner or later, Jamie would've caught them in the act, or come across them. And seeing as how this Dr. is probably close to 100 years old, and this dog seems to be the only thing he has left . . Jamie can't bring himself to harm either of them. So there really isn't a whole lot of resolution to this story either. I really felt like Will Pfeifer just kind of threw this story together on his way to do something else. It didn't feel like a lot of effort was put in to this one. Actually, this almost felt like a final issue type story. You know, something just to fill in that last book. Anyways, next issue, Matt with be taking over on the scripts and Rafael will be back on the art. I'd like to get my hopes up, but . . I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Jonah Hex #33 - DC

To me, the story in this issue is really what this book is all about. We read about a little boys memory. It was the day his father died, and the day a man named Jonah Hex saved his life. As in the times of old, more often than not, these stories were . . embellished a bit to make them more exciting and entertaining. Thus was the folklore and the tall-tales of the west born. In this instance, though . . there really was no need to embellish. The boy was out hunting with his father, as he often had, when his father was surprised by a hidden bear trap. From there, his life, and health, went downhill. He used his warm body to keep his son warm on his final night. However, seeing as how they were in the remote winter woods of Canada, his continued survival would be up to him. Which needed to begin immediately because when he woke, probably following the trail of blood, he was surrounded by a pack of hungry wolves. That's when Jonah enters the boys life. He must've been in the area and quickly assessed what was about to happen. In front of the boy, with gun and blade, he quickly takes out the entire wolf-pack. What happens next, between Hex and the boy, is a series of events where unwittingly they end up saving each other. In the end, Jonah was the lone gun-man. He wasn't looking to adopt anyone, or become a father. He leaves the boy . . alone. Although, he was in a cabin in a Mountie fort. "I often consider that day in the woods when my father died. I consider how Hex saved my from the wolves . . . only to throw me to them again. In the end I realized that my father taught me about horses. And Jonah Hex taught me how to deal with wolves." The story was written by the usual team of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. However the art this issue was by Darwyn Cooke. I thought his interpretation of this story was absolutely incredible. I respect Darwyn, but I don't always like his 'retro' style of art. I will say though, I found this issue to be fantastic. I really enjoyed the story and the art. Leaving me . . pleasantly surprised. I definitely have to give all the creative talent involved kudos for this issue.

Batman #678 - DC

This was an incredible issue. The only problem I had with it . . it left me with more questions than answers. But . . we're only in part 3 of Batman RIP, so . . it may be another issue or 2 before this all starts to come together . . . or all starts to come apart . . depending on how you look at it. We start out with Bruce wandering the streets of Gotham. Apparently he's coming down from some Crystal Meth that, from what I can gather, the guy who's leading the Black Hand gave him. But we still don't know who this Black Hand is. And, speaking of that, remember when Batman & Robin went to that island for that crime mystery? They met with the International Club of Heroes . . . well, I guess, there's also a Club of Villains. Is that who the Black Hand is, or is it someone entirely different? I'm a little confused about that part. Anyways, whichever club they belong to, they have some of them chasing down Robin and Nightwing. Robin has apparently given them the slip, but Nightwing? Nightwing . . . ends up in Arkham? "We believe his name is Pierrot Lunaire, a one-time enemy of the French crimefighter Musketeer . . . he seems to have settle in nicely after a beating and a few Thorazine shots. Or was it the other way around?" Also it appears that the Black Hand has taken up residency in the Bat-cave. Remember at the end of last issue . . they beat the snot out of Alfred. However, by the end of the issue, since Bruce has somehow ended up in crime-alley . . he makes himself a makeshift Batman costume and he's calling himself, " . . the Batman of Zur-en-arrh." Whatever the hell that means. I'm continually amazed at just how much 'stuff' Grant Morrison can put into one of these issues. Or any of his books for that matter. The guys a story-telling demon . . or something. Maybe he's related to Etrigan. Would that make him a Prose-Demon? Anyways, this is a fantastic story-arc and I'm left in breathless anticipation for each issue. Of course the incredible renderings to Tony Daniel doesn't hurt the overall quality of the book either. If you aren't getting this book . . you're really missing out. Get it!

Jack of Fables #23 - Vertigo

I'm telling you . . I really don't know where Bill Willingham, and Matthew Sturges, pull these stories from. I could just see these two in a brain-storming session throwing ideas back and forth at each other. One of them probably comes up with some ridiculous idea, and then they probably just blurt out wherever they think the story could go from there. Honestly, there's really no rhyme or reason here. Other than the initial story premise. I'm not a big fan of Tony Akins' art, but . . I have to give the guy credit for keeping up with these two. What an arduous journey that must be. He's been on this book since it's inception, so . . he's kind of the heart of the book. I may not always like his style, but . . it's what I've come to expect when I pick up this title. And I'm never disappointed. Apparently were going to have some kind of showdown next issue, but this month . . Jack, and the Jack Candle gang, are right in the middle . . and they don't even know it. Jack, and his gang, is after someone who took his merchandise from a local gunsmith. I'm guessing it's John . . . he said he had black hair and an Indian side-kick. But then Jack is being pursued by Bigby and his talking horse. They're from the Golden Burroughs and they've been tasked with the assignment of finding and retrieving Jack. I wonder how many have been assigned that task over the years? Anyways, this issue is filled with Bill and Matt's usual ironic and sly humor. Again, I'm not sure how these guys construct their stories, but . . apparently it's effective for them. It's a crazy title, but I like it.

Madame Xanadu #1 - Vertigo

I 'get' the story that's presented here. I'm just not sure I understand how it's all related to Madame Xanadu. If I'm correct, I think that this wood nymph, Nimue, is the Madame. I guess this is how she appeared around the time of Camelot . . as a 16 year old wood nymph. And, if I'm correct, her one sister, Morgana, is actually Morgan Le Fey. And the magician that she sleeps with, for him to do favors for her, is actually Merlin. That's if I'm understanding what I'm reading here correctly. But, since were dealing with magic . . things are always left a little open to interpretation. Therefore, I think what we're getting here is actually some of Madame Xanadu's history. Which means that she's very old. The magician makes reference to her being at least 160 years old, if not older, at the time of Camelot. So . . . that makes her positively ancient now. From what we see this issue, I think I like the way the story is progressing. It'll be interesting to see what her powers are now . . in modern times. And how many of her old 'relatives' are still around. So far . . as if I had any doubt . . I'm enjoying the story that Matt Wagner is constructing here. But what really surprised me is the artwork of Amy Reeder Hadley. I don't know who she is, or where she came from, but I'm really liking the style that she's using here. I like the soft, crisp lines and the kind of wispy background. It really has a good feel to it. But, it's only the first issue, so it's a little hard for me to determine the quality of the book. I don't have anything to compare it to. All I know is that I enjoyed it. I thought it was a light pleasant read. We'll see if I still feel that way after a couple more issues.

House of Mystery #3 - Vertigo

This issue starts out with this beautiful Sam Weber cover. I've never heard of him before, but I love this cover. This issue was, really . . all about Fig. Somehow she has a connection to this house, but we haven't been able to figure it out yet. We know that before she came here, she thought she had built the house because she had drawn up the plans for it. Last issue we found out that most of the inhabitants, except a select few, are confined to the house. If the others try to go out the front door, all they see is vast emptiness. But for the select few, they can find some solace from all the visitors within, out in the front yard . . or, the yard around the house. But, they can't go any farther than that. This issue we find out that Fig actually talks to the house . . . and it talks back. But, since no one else can do it, and no one else hears it . . I don't know if she actually believes that it's happening. All this overwhelming evidence has been heaped upon her, but she hasn't accepted her fate . . . this is where she'll be spending the rest of her existence. And that's what most of this issue is about . . her futile attempts at escape. She can see past the gates and the walls . . she just can't physically get there. The last couple pages show the eternal prisons that others are trapped in, and believe me . . she definitely doesn't have the worst deal. There also was a quick little 5 page story in the middle, as relayed by one of the house guests. It was by Matthew Sturges and Zachary Baldus. The story was ok, but Zachary's art was incredible. The main part of the book is by Matthew and Luca Rossi on art. I really like Luca's style. I think it fits this book well. I know we're only on issue #3, but, so far, I like the book. I like the direction that it appears that the books going in, however, after this story-arc is done, it'll be interesting to see how they progress further. I assume this part is to introduce us to Fig, so, I assume, she'll be playing a major part in the future of the house . . and the book. I'm sure we'll see Cain and Abel around here at some time or another, but I'm kind of glad that they aren't in every issue. I may have just spoken to soon though. We'll see.

infinity inc. #11 - DC

Well it appears that my worst fears have been realized . . . next issue will be the final issue of this book. I'm sure the sales weren't very good . . it didn't start out very well. The story was good, but we've gone through about 4 or 5 artists in it's short run. Plus there was a few short delays here and there. However, it looks like after next issue . . they're pulling the plug. That's really to bad. These are some great characters. There's a lot of fresh, new ideas in this book. But, probably for marketing reasons . . that's that. In fact they're killing a couple of them off next issue also. So there probably won't be much of a team left. We've seen this Professor Fogel character pop up in the last couple of issues, and in this one we find out that he's somehow connected to the Dark-Side Club. Now, we know that the Dark-Side Club is actually Darkseid's group from Apokolips. Fogel tells one of Gerome's dupes, "I am a child of Apokolips. I am partner to the mighty Darkseid. His inquisitor supreme. And when I have to be . . . I'm a complete bastard." I'm guessing . . he's Desaad in human form. But I'm just guessing. However, if that's the case, we may see the surviving members in the books with the Dark-Side Club in them. Maybe they'll be some of Granny's children, or . . who knows. Also, we finally got a decent artist for this issue . . and the next. Javier Aranda does the art for these 2 issues. You can tell he's a new-comer, but . . he actually shows a lot of potential. I think he would've been an excellent addition to this book. Unfortunately, all of this contemplation is for naught. Next issue will be the last . . and they'll tell us to keep an eye out for them in the future . . but, they'll just fade away. It's kind of sad really.

Supergirl #31 - DC

I liked this issue . . both the story and the art, but overall . . . it just felt like a lesson in futility. I like what Kelley Puckett is trying to do here. The lesson, for Supergirl, is that even with her incredible powers . . she's not a god. There are some things she just can't do. And there comes a time when you just have to throw in the towel. You can try over and over to fix something, but . . some things are unfix-able. In the case of this little boy, Tommy, Kara's come up short over and over. She's tried to tackle the problem from every angle she can think of . . . and some she shouldn't have even thought of. But . . she's making no head-way. I think part of the problem . . the reason she won't give up, is because Kal-el keeps telling her she should. I think she just wants to prove him wrong. Or at least wrong about her. But she's acting like the spoiled teen-ager who thinks she has all the answers, when she doesn't even know all of the questions. She doesn't know what she doesn't know. And even after this issue . . the torment to Tommy's parents . . she still refuses to give up, and the story's going to be continued in the next issue. But hey, if the story can get me to think about something this much . . it must've made an impact. Right? Brad Walker does the art. He first showed up in . . I think it was, Action Comics . . a year or so ago. For the short time he's been on the job . . the guy has some huge talent. He's not quite there yet, but . . he's very, very close. He show's some moments of brilliance. But really . . . I think Supergirl just needs to let it go.

Joker's Asylum: Joker #1 - DC

I thought this would be an awesome book. It's the Joker. He has his own book. He's telling a story about himself. The sky's the limit . . . right? Well . . that's what I thought. What we got . . was a different matter. First of all I have a problem with the artwork of Alex Sanchez. It was the same problem I had when he did the art in the JSA Classified books. I will say, the guy shows incredible potential. He's on the verge of being really good. But . . he does his own inks, and I think . . that can be a good thing and a bad thing. It's good because you don't loose the feel of your work because of somebody else's influence. It think it's bad because I think sometimes you need that other person's influence to let you know when something isn't working, or, sometimes, to cover up minor mistakes. To me, it just feels like the guys trying to do to much here. You can definitely see it in his faces. The third panel on page 6, he didn't put as much detail into the faces, and they look a lot better than Joker's face in the first panel . . because he tried to do to much there. Anyways, I don't want to just rag on Alex because the story wasn't very good either. Every time there was a moment of anticipation . . and you thought the Joker was going to do something outrageous . . it fizzled out. After the third time . . it was just a big let down. Now, I understand what Arvid Nelson was trying to get across. He was saying that there's just as many 'evil' people out there, but they don't appear 'evil', or they're not out-right 'evil' because . . . they're just doing their job . . . they're just going with the flow . . . nobody else did anything . . . I'm just doing what I'm told . . . yada, yada yada! He's trying to say that it's easy to judge the person that does the out-right act of violence . . the Joker . . but what about the people that went along with it? They didn't try to stop it . . when they could have. Aren't they just as much accountable for the results as the actual perpetrator? Anyways . . I think, that's what he was trying to get across. But . . . it came up short . . and I think, a little lame. To me, this issue was a waste of $3. Even with the awesome Andy Kubert cover. We'll see what happens next issue when the Joker talks about the Penguin. Jason Aaron's writing it, and Jason Pearson is on the art. I have high hopes just because of Jason Pearson. But . . I guess we'll have to wait and see.