Saturday, November 29, 2008

the Amazing Spider-man #576 - Marvel

This was a fantastic issue. First of all I absolutely love Chris Bachalo's art. And I really thought he outdid himself this issue. The opening page where we see Spider-man all beat up and bloodied . . I thought it was great. It almost reminded me of the type of scenes we used to see in those Frank Miller Sin City books. It was a great piece of work. I know it sounds a little morbid, but . . I think it'd make a great poster. But that's just me. Anyways, this continues Joe Kelly's story about the new and improved Hammerhead. To me though, the best part of the story is the way that, no matter what they've done to him or how they've treated him, Spider-man is still trying to stick up for these kids and make sure that this jerk's offer doesn't become one of the choices in their lives. They already don't have a whole lot of positive options, but they definitely don't need someone offering them another dead-end path. I also like this little love/hate relationship that seems to be brewing between Norah and Peter. She's a spitfire. And Peter's probably the only one that would be able to handle her. But, it's slow in coming so . . I think we're going to have to wait a little while to see how it all plays out. I feel like this book is really starting to get back on track again. Of course have a couple of issues here or there with art by Chris doesn't hurt much either.

Cable #8 - Marvel

This book is getting a little confusing. Right now they're keeping it in check pretty good, but . . it's really close to becoming convoluted. Duane Swierczynski and Ariel Olivetti are still the creative team . . thank god! And they're not really the problem . . I don't think. I think the problem is all of this cross-time stuff and trying to keep everything straight. Bishop has come back to the present to gather up some more supplies for his hunt. But, in the process, the X-Men were able to track and capture him. Now they're holding him and interrogating him to try to get some information as to what's happened to Nathan and the baby. While Scott and Emma are doing that, Hank is trying everything he can to get the time chip in his cybernetic arm to work. Meanwhile, in the future, in New Liberty, it appears that the United States government has found their little refuge and are drafting all of it's inhabitants into their fight to save America. The problem is . . they aren't really men. They're actually more cockroach than man, and it looks like Nathan's going to have to have to take a stand and fight. Something that he's been desperately trying to avoid, but . . the girl isn't giving him much of a choice. I like this book. I really do, but . . . first of all, I think that this cockroach thing is a little bit out there. And I'm not really comfortable with all of the lines that Scott seems to be crossing lately. Eventually he's going to get to a point that he can't come back from. I'm also not comfortable with how far removed this book seems to be from the regular X-Men titles. It doesn't have much to do with any of them . . really. But don't get me wrong, I still love Nathan's character, and I really want to see where this story is going. I just think we can do without all of the sci-fi stuff. I feel like I'm in an episode of Mystery Science Theatre.

Avengers: the Initiative - Special #1 - Marvel

I loved this book. I'm not sure why it couldn't be done in a regular issue of the Initiative, but . . I still thought it was great. Basically, we meet the members of the Arizona team and the Nevada team. But really, the crux of the story is about the relationship between Hardball and Komodo. These two are going at it hot and heavy. They have been since the early issue of the Initiative. But, we learn a couple of things about Roger this issue. First he has an older brother that used to be a professional wrestler. That is until somebody came along and crippled him. We also find out . . . what we didn't know until now, is that Hardball has ties to HYDRA. Somehow they found out that he got his powers from the Power Broker . . he started out as a thief to pay for them. So they came along and paid off his parents bills and now are offering to heal his brother. All he has to do is steal the formula that his girlfriend, Melati, stole from Dr. Connors so that all of HYDRA will be able to regenerate the way that Komodo and the Lizard do. I thought that love would conquer all and together they would find a way to beat this Senator Woodman, that's threatening him, but . . stories don't always have a happy ending. The rest of the team find out what's going on and come to assist in the fight. But it soon becomes obvious to Roger that the only way he's going to be able to beat Woodman . . especially after he takes the formula himself . . and stop him from hurting his friends, is to kill him. He also knows that HYDRA isn't going to let go of him just like that. So he thinks that he'll make the most of this mess and at the very least he'll move into the Senator's position. He leaves Melati in one of his energy bubbles, as he leaves in the Senator's car. It was a sad ending, but . . I thought it was pretty realistic. I mean, things played out the way they probably would have in the real world. That is if people had powers in the real world and got themselves into these fantastic situations. Overall, I thought Christos Gage and Steve Yu did a great job with this issue. I even liked the backup story. It was basically a retelling or Trauma's origins and how he ended up at the camp. But then, for a twist, we find out that Nightmare is his real father. I didn't see that one coming. I really like this book. It's a shame that it will probably be going away pretty soon. I don't see it lasting much longer than the Secret Invasion. But hopefully they'll find someplace for all of these kids. It's a great bunch of characters.

the Invincible Iron Man #7 - Marvel

I really, really, enjoyed this issue. My only negative comment about the whole thing is that, for some reason, Matt Fraction's dialogue . . in a couple of spots . . was a little choppy . . for some reason. I'm not exactly sure why, but there were a couple of panels that I had to re-read to figure out exactly what they were trying to say. However, that being said . . I thought the story and the interaction between Spider-man and Tony was brilliant. I liked the way that Spidey was being a thorn in Iron Man's side, while at the same time just trying to help . . and of course trying to get a story for the Front Line. I also thought that the interactions between Ben and Peter were also perfect. The big thing I got out of this story though, is that with everything being thrown at Tony right now . . he's finally willing to admit that he doesn't have the answer to everything. He wants to be the strong 'Superman' for everyone that's looking to him to lead the way. But, really . . he's just trying to keep up like everyone else. "This . . all of this . . Stark, SHIELD . . it's all just poised on the razor's edge. Stane's attacks, the rifts between the good guys, the bad guys consolidating . . . I don't know if I'm strong enough and smart enough to keep it together." Of course with the recent explosion at the Triskellion . . and the fact that he probably hasn't slept in 3 or 4 days . . it's not doing a lot for his state of mind either. Anyways, I just thought that this issue was a fantastic wrap-up . . epilogue . . for the Five Nightmares storyline. And with Salvador Larroca doing the art . . as usual . . it really is a perfect issue. Props to all involved with it. On another note, as I'm writing this I just happen to be listening to the Brit Box. It's a box-set of a whole bunch of British music. Anyways, I'm writing this and the Smiths, How Soon is Now? comes on. You know the song, it was the theme song for Charmed. Anyways, I just think that it's the perfect song for the feel and theme of this book. Sorry. Just thought I'd share that with you.

Ultimatum #1 - Marvel

Ok, this one starts out with the $3.99 price-tag also, but . . . with Jeph Loeb and David Finch at the creative helm . . I really can't complain all that much. But you know what? That's ok. For the quality, I'm willing to pay the price. And this was one fantastic book. It starts out with us basically checking in on each and every character in the Ultimate Universe. It's a day like every other day, and people are going about their usual everyday stuff . . unaware that their entire existence is about to be turned on it's head. I'm not exactly sure what Magneto does, but . . he's got natural disasters covering the globe. Since most of our characters reside in, or around, New York City, that's where we see the brunt of the damage. Basically the whole city is flooded under about 100 feet of water. I'm not exactly sure how he accomplished that, but . . . I'm sure we'll get into more of the details in the next issue or two. We also see, in Latveria . . that he's put the whole country in the middle of Antarctica . . or, at least, it's weather. Apparently it also happened just as fast because there's people in the streets frozen in their tracks. Charles is the one who ends up broadcasting to all the survivors . . a call to arms, if you will. "I know what has transpired. Even more terrible . . I know how and why . . and he will not stop until it is worse. Much worse. We need to band together. Put any differences aside for the battle to come. I'm sending you my X-Men . . what's left of them. They will have the coordinates, but here is a mental image of where you must go. This is where you will find him. He does not fear your arrival. You have to stop Magneto." And all it says for the next issue is, "It Gets Worse!" This really was a fantastic issue. I just hope when all's said and done that there's still an Ultimate Universe to read. There's definitely going to be changes. Heck, in the first wave . . literally . . he already wiped out some of our favorite characters. I don't think anything is off limits for this one. Are you ready?

Weapon X: First Class - #1 - Marvel

Well with all of these X-Men mini-series that are coming out right now . . my total number of X-related titles has just surpassed my total number of Bat-related titles. That's the first time in 3 years that's happened. It's been pretty close for a couple of months now, but usually Batman edges out. Not anymore though. Between Bat-titles and X-titles, it makes up about a quarter of what I read. That's a lot of books. Anyways, we have a new X-mini-series now . . Weapon X - First Class. I guess they're taking the theme on the road. With the Weapon X theme in this book, they cover both the angles. There's a Wolverine story in the front, and a Sabretooth story in the back. The creative credits go to Marc Sumerak and Mark Robinson with Wolverine, and Marc and Tim Seeley on the Sabretooth story. In the first chapter, basically, it's retelling the story of when Wolverine had first joined the X-men, and he used to have regular sessions with Charles as he was trying to help him piece together his fragmented memories. This issue is basically just them getting into his head and starting to poke around. The story was decent, although there wasn't anything really new here. If you're an X-Men fan, you've pretty much know this story verbatim. I thought Mark's art was a little cheesy. Again I'm reminded of Marvel Comics Presents. I think because when they were trying so hard to keep a Wolverine story in every issue, it got to the point where anyone and everyone was contributing something. Almost to the point where it just seemed like the character was being diluted down. That's the best way I can describe it. Like I said, the story was ok, but I definitely don't think it was worth $4. The Sabretooth story was an encounter that Charles made Creed forget. At one time, I think before Logan actually joined the team, Charles confronted Creed to ask him to join him. Needless to say he wasn't graciously accepted, and before he left Charles made Creed forget it ever happened. The art in this one was much better than the first story. My only question is, why couldn't this story just have been done in the Wolverine - First Class book? Did we really need a special mini-series for it. And I'm going to have to start watching my books better, because apparently Marvel is starting out the $3.99 price point with it's special issues and mini-series. So I may be passing on some of the ones coming up soon. There is more pages here . . 21 on the first story, and 10 on the second. But, I'd rather have 18 pages of good stuff for $2.99 than more pages of mediocre crap for a buck more. "The times they are a changin'."

X-Men - Pixies and Demons - Director's Cut #1 - Marvel

I liked this book. Apparently it was the comic that came out on Free Comic Book Day. Who knew? I've been collecting for about 30 years now, and I've never, ever, gotten a free comic on Free Comic Book Day. Of course I don't usually frequent the shop on Saturday, so . . you know. Anyways, Mike Carey wrote it and the incredible art was by Greg Land. It's kind of an in-between story. When the X-Men moved out to the West Coast we saw Pixie in the New Mutants book, and then, next thing you know, after they move out to San Francisco . . there she is. Where apparently there was a little time in-between when she wasn't sure what her status was with the school. So, she moved back to Wales and started going back to her old school. But she ends up having a little problem while she's there. Some of the towns people are disappearing, and nobody seems to notice, or care. It turns out that down in the local mine is a N'Garai Queen, and all these drones are feeding her . . humans. Next thing you know . . here's comes the X-Men to her rescue. They never really do say how they found out that she needed the help. Oh that's right, never mind. She made a phone call one day when she was in school and left a message. My bad. Anyways, overall I thought it was an ok book. It was kind of a quick read, but . . the art was amazing. As always.

X-Men: Manifest Destiny #3 - Marvel

I like this book. It reminds me a little bit of Marvel Comics Presents . . just in the way that it's formatted. But . . that's not necessarily a bad thing. I kind of liked that title. At least in the beginning. Anyways, in the first story, Bobby's gotten himself out of another jam the Mystique has put him in. I'm not exactly sure why she's pushing him so much, but . . he is growing, and learning more about his powers because of it. Last time she overdosed him with some neurotoxin. He had to find a creative way to purge it from his system. This time she's trying to kill him with a gun. The story ends with her holding a shotgun to his chest. "You want to finish this . . you'll have to look me in the eye as you pull that trigger." Mike Carey and Michael Ryan are doing a pretty good job on that story. In the second one we learn about the origins of Jonas Graymalkin. Apparently he's 200 years old and received his powers when his father buried him alive back during the revolutionary war. It really didn't have anything to do with the war. As it turns out . . he was gay. Back then, that was an abomination. His father beat him with a shovel and then buried him. Somehow during the time he was buried his powers manifested. That's why he gets more powerful in the dark, and has no powers in the sunlight. Marc Guggenheim wrote it and Yanick Paquette did the art. I have to say, in this instance, I actually liked Yanick's art. Finally we have a story about Peter. Basically, he's just down because of Cat, and everyone is trying to cheer him up. It's actually kind of humorous . . in their attempts, but . . Peter's just in that mood that he doesn't really want to be cheered up. Later on, when he's walking alone through the park, a little girl asks for his help because her cats stuck in a tree, and that is finally what cheers him up. This one is by Chris Yost and Humberto Ramos. Of course I loved it, because of Humberto's art . . mostly. Overall, I thought the book was ok. I'm not sure why these stories couldn't be done as back-ups, but . . whatever. I guess it's there way of getting another $4 out of us.

Top 10: Season Two #2 - America's Best Comics

I liked this book. To me, it had a lot of the same feel as the original series. I know. Alan Moore is no longer associated with the book, but I think this Zander Cannon is approaching the story in a lot of the same ways as he did. I mean there's always a ton of stuff going on. With all the various characters in the precinct, we always seem to have 4 or 5 short story-lines going on each issue. And then 1 or 2 main story-lines that cross-over from issue to issue. Also I have to say, maybe it's just me, but the roll-call room, and the discussion about assignments, really reminds me of Hillstreet Blues. I know that sounds silly, but . . it does in a way. The only thing that I really think is different than the Moore version is the depth of characters. We've seen, and interacted, with a lot of them in these first 2 issues, but, so far, none of them have really stood out and grabbed us like Smax and Toybox did in the first series. That's just a minor complaint though. I really think Zander is doing a great job. Especially considering the huge shoes he has to fill. I also think it helps the feel of the series with Gene Ha's art. He was the artist on the original after all. Anyways, I like this series. I think it's neat to have this Police drama genre, but set in an outrageous Sci-fi environment. Using my other reference, it's almost like a crossing of Hillstreet Blues and Babylon 5. Both of which are very big compliments to be compared to. Keep up the good work. "And, be careful out there!"

the Authority #4 - WildStorm

This issue, the British Government extends it's hand in friendship to the Authority. They're hunkered down in a bunker complex in Rendlesham. They've got lots of stuff there . . stuff that would be of interest to the Authority. They're hoping that if they extend their hand in kindness that together they may be able to help each other in mending the world. Yeah? Right! And they don't have any alterior motive to their actions. That's why when they came upon Swift they forcibly subdued her and brought her to the bunker in restraints. But they're completely above board. Meanwhile, back on the Carrier, Angie is taking some of the refugees out on another scavenger hunt. They're looking for any tech that may be lying around. But during the course of the outing they find out that one of their number has been infected. He's been infected with the Warhol virus. I'm not sure what it does or why, but it turns him into this giant mutant looking creature. Much like the one on the cover. But uglier. Anyways, he just keeps growing and growing like a mongoloid shaped water balloon, until he hits himself against something and burst into a million wet slimy pieces. And Jack still doesn't look any better than he did in previous issues. I think his disconnection with the cities is really affecting his physical and emotional state. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are doing a great job with this story. You can really feel the dread and hopelessness from these characters. It permeates off of the page. I also enjoy Simon Coleby's art. But I was really impressed with Pete Woods art in the back-up story. It looks phenomenal. It's a story about Kaizen Gamorra, by Christos Gage. I like this title, but this entire issue was about Angie and Swift. Hopefully next issue, we'll see the rest of the team.

Army @ Love: the Art of War #4 - Vertigo

I love the cover of this issue. Really, it's what I love about every issue . . the wry, ironic humor that's littered throughout each story. Like when Rick Veitch, the author, is being held prisoner in Gonlocomo Bay, Cuba, in the beginning of the story . . "Army at Love is just a goddamn story! It's not real! You know that . . right?" Anyways, the whole issue is strewn with this insane tripe. But the way Rick pushes the envelope of conventional story telling every issue . . it's just brilliant. This issue they finally break the code on the temporal message that's been sent to them from the future. "I'd like to thank Polka Cola, official sponsors of this historic communication between eras. They've helped us harness our latest technology so we might share with you some exceptionally good news . . and unfortunately some bad news of a quite unorthodox nature. First off, you'll be delighted to know that, here in the future, the war is considered a complete success. Technological advances and creative marketing have made our little sandbox an indispensable component of world prosperity! 94% of our target demographic wants to enlist and fight so we're making them pay for the privilege! Who'd have thought, eh? Well, I did! And I'll be taking full credit when I run for President next year. Now. About that bad news. You might want to be sitting down for this . . . " We don't actually hear what it is, but Woyner and Lieutenant Frick are so distraught that they can't get up from their seats. "It doesn't matter. Nothing matters anymore." I love this book. It's hard to believe that Rick is allowed to make such a political statement without much more censoring from the government or media. But, if they did that . . really, they'd just be proving his point.

House of Mystery #7 - Vertigo

In all honesty, this book has me completely baffled. Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges write it, and their story is all over the place. I understand that Fig, Harry and Ann are looking for a way out of the house. I also get that Fig has some kind of map, or blue-print, in her head because she somehow seems to be intimately connected to these walls and floors. But it just seems like they don't really have a plan as to what they're doing. And then, when you factor in the other players in this little drama, Cressida and Poet, things really seem to go off without an idea or motive. I mean really, what was the point of the page with the guys from all the different times? There's a punk rocker from 1974, and astronaut from 2000, and a college student from 2008. That's not even mentioning "Stormfort, fourth year of Hrogtar." What was that all about? And don't even get me started on the story that Poet tells this issue. The art in it was great, by David Petersen. But the story . . the story was pointless and riddled with tripe. It was a complete waste of time. And then, just for laughs, they throw in the mystery of a previous resident, Miranda, and then have a gutted alien of some kind gurgling her name on the basement floor. The whole issue seemed rather pointless, and besides moving us a little farther along in the basement, didn't really have a goal or motive. It looks like this is another book that's going to have to be taken off my monthly list. There's just no consistency here. The story really feels like it's going every which way.

Terra #1 - DC

I thought this was a pretty decent first issue. I thought that Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray did a decent job with the story. We have a bit of a mystery here. Obviously, if this is Terra, this would be the third one. At the end of the book, after taking quite a beating with some lava, Power Girl takes her to Doctor Midnight to get her checked out. After examining her blood he cross references her DNA. " . . with the samples I have from the recently deceased Tara Markova . . . they're a perfect genetic match." How can that be? But really, that's just the beginning of the mystery. This Terra seems to be much more comfortable with the civilizations living beneath the Earth's crust, than with those on the surface. During the course of this story she talks about at least 4 different groups of being that live beneath the surface. She talks about them as if they were her neighbors or something. Another question I have is that in the recent issue of the Terror Titans, we see that Terra is partaking in the fights, which means she must be a prisoner. So does this series take place before or after that story? Amanda Conner does the pencils for this issue. And actually, it was ok. I'm not always thrilled with her work, but . . I kind of liked what she did with this story. This issue we're basically just keeping up with the action. She seems to be a very busy girl. We don't get a whole lot of background. But I'm sure that'll be coming in the next issue or 2. I'm interested to see how they're going to explain all of this. Good luck!

Jonah Hex #37 - DC

I like this book, and I like the character of Jonah Hex. However, this is another book that may have to be removed from my monthly list should the book prices take the hike that's expected. Like I've said before, I just have to be pragmatic. I like the diversion that this book provides monthly, but . . I can't necessarily say that it's worth the price just to keep getting it and keep the collection rolling along. And this month . . I don't even like the way that Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray ended the story. It actually doesn't make a whole lot of sense. When I was reading it, the story was going along just fine, and then . . . it was like, with only 2 pages left, they had to hurry up and wrap it up so next month we could move on to a different adventure. There were little things throughout the story that I thought were going to pan out into bigger ideas, but then . . . nothing. They were just words being tossed around, that actually didn't contribute in any way to the story or the resolution. And like I've said before, I'm not a big fan of Jordi Bernet's art. Although I have to say that they did something on the inside work to make it a little more tolerable. The guys obviously very talented. It's just not my cup of tea. I hate to say it, but . . when the prices rise, it'll probably be the end of this book . . for me. That's sad.

Vixen: Return of the Lion #2 - DC

I thought this was a great story. Now that I've read the story in Justice League, about how Anasi was playing with Mari's powers, but have now given them back to her . . I'm not as confused as when I read the first issue. I just should've read Justice League first. Who knew? Anyways, the writer of this story . . G Willow Wilson, I don't recognize the name . . he's doing a great job with this character. He's taken her back to her home so that she can reconnect with her powers, and the Earth. But there's a man there who's trying to usurp the power of the land and make it his own, Kwesi. This is Mari's journey to reconnect with her Totem. She has to learn not to rely as much upon her powers, or her team-mates and instead be one with the land, and the animals, to utilize her real strength. I think that G Willow Wilson is going to do a good job guiding her along that journey. Also there's a new artist here, Cafu. And his work is equally as brilliant. He's not a really flashy type artist . . not an Adam Hughes or Greg Land. But, his stuff is real crisp and clean. And the flow of his panels is terrific. I think that Mari is a vastly underutilized character, so I'm glad to see that we're looking into her origins a bit, and trying to get her back on track so she'll be a better participant in the League. She's got a lot of potential. It's just . . nobody has really taken her there yet. Hopefully, with this series, some of that will be realized.

Superman / Supergirl - Maelstrom #1 - DC

We're dealing with 2 stories here really. First we have Maelstrom. She's one of the children from Granny Goodness' section zero. Now that she's out, and in position for the great Darkseid, she has only one goal with her life . . to capture the eye and the heart of the mighty one and become the new bride of Apokolips. Here plan is simple . . go to Earth and bring back the head of Darkseid's greatest nemesis . . Superman. Well . . it's simple in it's complexity, but not in it's execution. That may be a little harder than she thought. The second part of the story is Superman feeling guilty for the way he's treated Kara since she's arrived. He's been so busy that he hasn't been able to spend the proper amount of time with her, and he feels guilty that she hasn't been trained properly. So that's his new mission. So his plans are to take a week off, have Power Girl watch Metropolis, and train her. But you know what they say about the best laid plans. Phil Noto does the art, and it's really good. Anyways, I'm thinking that this story should've been published about 8 months ago. I like the approach that Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are taking with it, but . . Apokolips is dead and gone. Right? Like I said, this story should've been published about 8 months ago, but now . . with everything that's happened, or is happening . . it just seems odd to me. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that they're attempting what they're attempting here. It just that the timing is awkward. I know. It's just me. Anyone else would just read the story and be content with the outcome, but no. I have to think about all of the continuity and other things that are going on in the DC Universe right now. Sorry! That's just the way my head works.

Secret Six #3 - DC

I like this group of miscreants. They just have a certain edge to them, that I think makes them 'cool'. Anyways, they've obtained the Tarantula and with her resistant help, they've now obtained the card that they were after. But Cheetah, Bolt and some other guy are right on their tale. We find out a little more about this mystery guy this issue. Basically he's considered an urban legend amongst the underworld of the West Coast, Junior. But that doesn't mean that they were any less scared of him. He ran the entire West Coast with a phone and a notepad. And now he's trying to coordinate the retrieval of this card. We find out most of this information from Tarantula. After she left the FBI, she went undercover to try to get close to anyone that could give her a lead on the guy. As it turns out, she got in with Junior's accountant, Ira Benjamin Shelton. Anyways, they've got Tarantula, and they've got the card, now all they have to do is get across the United States, and back to Gotham, to deliver it to their contact at Arkham. That in itself would be a task, but, along the way, everybody who's looking to make a buck is going to be gunning for these guys and trying to make the delivery themselves. They've got a continent wide obstacle course to overcome. All for this one card. What is it, by the way? Oh it's just a card that Neron made. There's something written on it in Aramaic. It says "Get out of Hell Free!" Gail Simone writes this mini-series, as with the last, so you know that it's got just the right amount of humor in it. I love the way she's handling these characters. I'm guessing that the Tarantula makes Six, because they haven't really picked up anyone else yet. But that's ok. Also, Nicola Scott's artwork is terrific, as usual. I'm not particularly fond of the cover, but . . her work on the inside is flawless. She's come a long way since she first started out in Birds of Prey.

Final Crisis: Resist #1 - DC

This was a thrilling issue. It kind of reminds me of the scene at the end of I Am Legend. You know, the movie with Will Smith. He's locked inside that glass room with all of the beast's pounding at the glass to get to him. Well that's how Mr Terrific, Taleb, Thinker and Snapper Carr feel right now. Checkmate has gathered up some of it's surviving members and has gone to the Antarctica to secure the Code Zoo and the Arcane Locker. Both weapons that they prefer the enemy not get their hands on. Unfortunately, as Thomas Jagger and Beatrice stand outside of the facility guarding it, Tora approaches . . and she's already submitted. Soon the 3 of them enter the facility and quickly infect the rest. Only the 3 men, and the AI construct were able to avoid submission by locking themselves inside the chamber that contains the Code Zoo. Now, it's the 4 of them against the world. Michael has Snapper use his 'porting abilities to make snatch and grabs around the world for food and supplies. He's also looking for other survivors that may be able to help them. From what I understand, this goes on for about 3 weeks, with no other survivors in sight. Well . . there is one. Snapper came across the Cheetah when he went up to the JLA satellite . . they thought Firehawk needed some help. But it was a trap. However, at the time, she didn't want any help. Later though when he's trying to get medical supplies from a hospital, he comes across her again. After they have a little 'encounter', they're attacked by Grodd. They barely get away, but Snapper is affected enough that it's hampering his powers. That's when they come up with an idea. They already have weapons laying all over the globe, they just have to figure out how to turn them on . . 11.4 million people out there that still have OMAC latency. " . . people out there still carrying the OMAC nanotech." But they have a few obstacles to overcome. First they have to get the code to activate them. Sasha can do it, but she's also fighting the submission . . the process will probably kill her. Then, to deliver it, they'll need all the inhabitants of the Code Zoo's cooperation. And finally, once activated, they'll have to figure out how to get the cooperation of the activated OMAC's. None of them small problems to overcome. But, by the end of the issue, they do . . and now they have their army to help them resist! A very action packed issue by Greg Rucka and Eric Trautman. I thought it was phenomenal. Ryan Sook does the art and it is absolutely flawless. This was a great addition to the Final Crisis story thus far. The only question is . . will it be enough? Will this army be enough to sway the tide that's washing over the planet? Buckle yourselves in, and hang on to your seats. The ride isn't nearly over yet!

Justice Society of America #20 - DC

Another incredible issue in this fantastic series. Geoff Johns and Alex Ross are doing a brilliant job of constructing this story, and handling the interaction between all of these characters. They make a fantastic team. The main opponent in this series is Karen Star, Power Girl. She's on from Earth 2 and a member of Justice Society Infinity. Picture the JSA and the original Infinity Inc merged together. Anyways, she's frustrated because Kara, the Power Girl from our Earth, has recently traveled there and Karen believes that she has something to do with her cousin Kal-L's disappearance. As we progress through this story, you can just feel her frustration and anger permeating off of the pages. Which is a talent Geoff and Alex both have with their characters. We don't make a whole lot of progress with the Gog story here . . eventually both set of characters are returned to their respective Earths. But they both feel losses because each Earth has things that the other has already lost . . . parents, children, team-mates . . they're each reminded of what they once had. We also find out that Starman's uniform is actually a map to the multiverse. Something that he wasn't aware of until he was sane enough to tell the rest of the team. "My ability to increase gravity and even manifest miniature black holes allows me to not only travel through time, but to other parallel worlds. My uniform is my guide . . the the new multiverse . . ." In the end I think Kara knows that she's home, because she's with the people that care about here. I thought this was a great book by Geoff, Alex, Dale Eaglesham and Jerry Ordway. But, before you read the next issue of JSA, you're supposed to read Kingdom Come Superman #1, Magog #1, and the Kingdom #1. That's a lot of reading before you can pick up issue #21. But, if the same creative team is involved with all or them . . it'll be nothing short of fantastic.

Adventure Comics Special featuring the Guardian #1 - DC

This issue is actually like a 1-shot, within a 1-shot. Let me explain. The Jimmy Olsen special takes place between the pages of the Atlas story-line that ran through the Superman books. Actually, near, or at, the end of that story-line would be more accurate. Well in that book, Jimmy travels to New Mexico to find Jim Harper, actually the second one . . the clone that actually worked and was the Guardian for a while. This issue takes place between pages 53 and 54 of that book. That's when Jimmy finds Jim's trailer, and then leaves after they've talked. This particular issue, details that conversation, and gives us some insight into the choices that Jim's made because of it. Basically Jim became disillusioned with his role at Cadmus, after finding a testing facility with clones of his father, the original Jim Harper, in various stages of evolution. In his words, " . . I saw a Bosch painting of my alternative existences. None of them being anything but vile and sick and an insult to the memory of the first Jim Harper and Paul Kirk, too, for that matter." So he destroyed them all and took himself out of the picture. Jimmy actually does help him though, because he tells him that it was Jonathan Drew, Codename: Assassin, that had killed the original Jim Harper. He didn't know that. And in turn, he gives Jimmy some information in confirming that the government does indeed have a plan to kill Superman. In the end we find out 2 things. First it appears that Jim has a daughter, Gwendoline. We later find out that it was actually one of the clones at the facility, and he rescued her. We also see that because of his conversation with Jimmy, he's decided to return to the real world, and we see him on the outskirts of Metropolis just as the Kryptonians from Kandor are entering. I thought James Robinson did an excellent job with this story. I really like the way these 1-shots are all flowing together with the regular Superman titles. The artist was Pere Perez. I wasn't thrilled at first. But, as we started moving along through the book, I got more and more accustomed to it. By the end, I thought his style fit the story perfectly. I think it'll be good to see the Guardian back in the picture again.

Terror Titans #2 - DC

So far, I'm thrilled with what Sean McKeever and Joe Bennett are doing with this series. I really think that the only reason the Ravager is involved with these Terror Titans, is to find out what they're up to, and to get some payback for what they did to Kid Devil. But, she doesn't really try to hide that. The Ravager and the Clock King are similar in that they both have precognitive abilities. I'm thinking that the Clock King is hoping that in due time, and some manipulating on his part, that Ravager will realize that she's better suited by his side than with the Titans. And I think she's using that hopeful optimism to remain in their ranks, even though the rest of them have no confusion as to why she's here. Sure she's a lot more ruthless and deliberate here, but . . she doesn't have the same restraints here as she would at the tower. I think that the reason she wants to fight in the ring so much is so that she can put down some of these other 'heroes' without killing them. Sure she may maim them, but . . at least they'll be alive to talk about it. If 2 of the drugged out heroes end up in the ring together . . they may end up killing each other. It also appears that the Clock King is trying to make an attempt at a coup. I believe he wants to take over and run the Dark Side Club. But for some reason, he always seems to be playing with, or goading his own team. He's always picking at the Persuader. Now he's got her and Dreadbolt out on, I think, a false lead looking for Red X. Isn't that the character that Robin played in that episode of Teen Titans Go!? They never do find him, but instead Dreadbolt comes across his father, Bolt. Although, Clock King wants Dreadbolt to claim his legacy by killing his father, so maybe this was his plan all along. Clock King's also got something suspicious going on with Copperhead. But I'm not sure where that's going yet. So far I think this is a great series. I don't think, however, that we know everything that's going on here yet. We have a few issues to go yet, so . . we'll see.

Trinity #23 - DC

It appears that everything is going to hell on this new 'converted' Earth. At first we just had a handful of people that had noticed the subtle differences in the current scheme of things. But now . . now things are happening constantly, and blatantly, so it's hard for the casual observer to not notice that their world is changing before their eyes. I'm not sure if it's falling apart . . or all coming together. The story ends with Le Fey standing over Paris and burning it to the ground. "Now that's what Paris should be like . . " Like I said, I'm not sure if the acquisition of power has just made her mad, or if this is all part of her plans for the future of Earth. It also seems as if her and Enigma have parted ways. And Firestorm is still trying to get his message across. I thought Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley did a fantastic job with this part of the story. In the back-up feature, we find out that John Stewart, Kanjar Ro, Despero, and Krona are all going to be crossing paths. John is trying to come to terms with this alien techno-virus that seems to be growing inside of him. Kanjar Ro, with the unveiling of his recent deception, is trying to put Earth in his dust as he wheels out of Dodge. But, he also doesn't want to let loose of the recent opportunity that's been afforded him. So he's on his way back his planet, where Despero is, to retrieve the Cosmic Egg. However, Despero is on his way to Earth, and they're all traveling via the worm-hole that John recently created with his techno-virus. The anomoly of the worm-hole has also garnered Krona's attention. As I said, they all seem to be on a collision course for each other. Kurt, Fabian Nicieza and Tom Derenick have put together an intriguing opening chapter for this part of the story. I can't wait to see where we go from here. Overall, I thought this issue was an excellent addition to an already great series. See you next week!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #1 - Marvel

This mini-series is basically an extension of the story that is currently running through the Astonishing X-Men book. It's written by Warren Ellis, so it fit's perfectly in with that title. We know what the X-Men know, currently, but this title provides some insight into the man who brought the Ghost Box to our world in the first place. And he's a mean, ruthless son of a bitch. We get a little background into his missions. It seems that our world is the third recent attempt by him to annex, or destroy, alternate Earths. In the other 2 instances he ends up annexing the Earths although with great personal loss to the inhabitants of each. We find out some more about his nature, and that of the boxes. But we don't really see who's pulling his strings, and what their ultimate objective is. That, I think, is going to be the big revelation next issue. I thought this was a terrific book. Alan Davis and Mark Farmer do the art in the beginning chapter, but then Adi Granov does the art in the second part. You know . . two different worlds, so two different artists. Anyways, I have to say . . I enjoyed Adi's work much more than Alan's. Alan's stuff seemed kind of hurried and sloppy. While Adi's work was very crisp and clean. Both parts of the story worked to connect the overall theme . . I just preferred the second part to the beginning chapter. And I loved Simone Bianchi's cover. There's a page in the back where it show how she worked the page, from beginning sketches to end. I thought it was pretty neat. I'd like to see more of these extensions to the Astonishing X-Men stories. I think it's an incredible book, and there's a lot more story that could be told. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a new trend.

the Amazing Spider-man Annual #1 / #35 - Marvel

As stated on the cover, this issue was mainly about revealing the secret . . secrets . . of Jackpot. I thought that Marc Guggenheim and Mike McKone did a fantastic job with this issue. Originally Jackpot confides in Spidey and tells her that her civilian identity is that of Sara Ehret. However, when Spidey looks her up . . her civilian address . . he finds the real Sara and she adamantly denies that she has anything to do with the Jackpot character. Spidey believes her, but . . thinks that she is up to something. So he uses a little subterfuge to obtain a fingerprint. With the help of Betty Brandt and AFIS, he discovers that her true identity is Alana Jobson. All of this happens through the course of them fighting Blindside, Peter trying to figure out how Blindside's powers work, and both of them looking into this new 'Kingpin' on the scene Walter Declun. The reason that's all relevant is because it's all connected. Declun, the Mogul, is trying to establish himself into a 'Kingpin' type role. One of the companies he buys is a pharmacutical company which has a scientist in it's employ which has created Oedipus. It's a neurotoxin that creates temporary blindness. The scientist supposedly steals it and becomes Blindside. However, Spidey and Jackpot think that he's just a hired gun for Declun. After explaining the situation Reed Richards gives Spidey an antidote for the neurotoxin and, with that in hand, Spidey decides to go after Blindside in his home. This is after he confronts Alana and finds out that she has been creating her powers through a mixture of chemicals and hormones. She didn't have any powers, but wanted to be a hero. So when Sara, an Initiative cadet, decided to drop out of the program, Alana basically bought her identity from her. Anyways, Spidey goes to confront Blindside. He finds out that Blindside has a super-powered girlfriend, Commanda. And, during the heat of the situation, when it looks like combined these 2 may be able to beat Spidey, he finds out that he's been followed to Blindside's home by Jackpot. During the ensuing battle, Blindside hits Jackpot with his neurotoxin. Of course Spidey has the antidote, and the 2 of them subdue the bad guys. All in all a good days work. That is until Jackpot collapses, because of the chemical mixture coursing through her body, and dies. Distraught, Spidey goes to Reed for consolation. It turns out it was the addition of the neurotoxin, not the antidote, that caused the lethal chemical imbalance. And Spidey also confronts Sara on how she was the one who caused Alana's death, by putting her in a situation she wasn't prepared for . . and the speech about powers and responsibilities. I think he's going to guilt her into becoming Jackpot again. Overall I liked the book. I thought it was a good wrap-up for this story . . Jackpot's origin . . and now both characters, Spidey and Jackpot, can get back on track doing what they do best.

Ultimate Spider-man Annual #3 - Marvel

I thought this was a fantastic annual. But since Brian Bendis wrote it, it's pretty much going to be the same as the series. And, in fact, it was. Which is a good thing. I wasn't however as thrilled with David Lafuente's artwork. At first I didn't like it at all. But then, in the middle, he did some pages that were set up much in the same way as Stuart Immonen has been doing them . . in the regular title . . and those worked much better for me. So overall, I'd have to say that I had mixed feelings about the book. But since it is Spider-man . . and the Ultimate Universe . . I'd have to say that the good out-favors the bad. A couple of things stood out for me in this issue. First, and most importantly, was the advances and progress that Peter and MJ are making in their relationship. This issue they had the "I want to do it, but . . I think we should wait." conversation. And it was handled perfectly. I'm glad that they haven't decided to take MJ out of the picture in this book, since they've all but negated her over in Amazing Spider-man. I think she's a huge part of what makes this book so great. Secondly, this issue we're introduced to the Ultimate Universe's version of Mysterio. Which, ultimately . . pun intended . . is what this whole issue was really about. He doesn't really call himself Mysterio. He doesn't actually call himself anything . . yet. That's actually a name that the police gave him. But as with the original, he commits his crimes through misdirection and deception. We just don't know the full extent of what he does yet. Or who he is. All we've seen him do so far is some bank robberies. But when Spider-man crosses his path near the end of the book . . they've put themselves on each other's radar. So this is only the beginning of his role in the Ultimate Universe. Keep it coming guys. I love this book.

Avengers: the Initiative #18 - Marvel

This issue was just more of the Skrull Secret Invasion stuff. Basically, the Skrull Kill Crew is jumping around to the various Initiative groups . . in every state . . and finding out who the Skrull infiltrator is . . and killing him. They even turned poor little Cloud 9 into an Initiative sniper. I wonder if she ever once thought that would be her role on the team? But the creepiest part of the book was when we find out that the Kill Crew are carrying around the heads of the original Kill Crew with them. "Their bodies . . wasted away by the same Skrull disease that gave us our powers. We've been keeping their heads preserved in cryo-stasis." So, while they have developed a taste for eating the Skrull meat of their victims . . how disgusting is that . . they also blend some of it up, to feed the heads intravenously. They don't really say how the heads of Moonstomp, Catwalk and Dice help them, but apparently they do because they refer to this as their 'final mission'. It also appears that they've killed one of their own, Devil-slayer. He's been the one 'porting' them from team to team . . state to state . . while never giving thought to his own personal well being. At the end of the issue he collapses from the extreme effort. I think he's dead. Also it appears that this Kill Crew and Nick Fury's secret team are on a collision course. We get a glimpse of Fury's team, which now includes some of the Initiative cadets . . and I think eventually they're going to cross paths. But what's going to happen to the Skrull that's on his team? Granted he's decided to fight for the Earthlings, but . . 3-D Man is still going to see him as a Skrull. That should be an interesting meeting. I'm still enjoying this book, but . . I don't think it's going to be around much longer than the Secret Invasion storyline. I think when it ends . . the Initiative is through. Dan Slott and Christos Gage are the writers. Steve Kurth did the art. Overall, I thought it was an enjoyable book, and was a good effort by all involved. I'm just wondering how many issues we have left.

Ultimate Captain America Annual #1 - Marvel

I really like this issue. I thought that Jeph Loeb did a fantastic job with the story. I also really enjoyed Rafa Sandoval and Marko Djurdjevic's artwork. There were some pages that were really incredible. But, going into this, I had to ask myself why there was a Captain America annual happening in the Ultimate Universe. I mean sure he's an important and strong character, and all. But, up until now, he really hasn't played all that important of a role in the Ultimate Universe. Well, except for in the Ultimates . . of course. But now I'm thinking that these annuals have more to do with the March on Ultimatum storyline, than anything else. What this issue does is kind of fills in the gaps on what happened to the Black Panther at the end of the Secret Origins mini series. It also explains why, on the Ultimate team, Cap was a robot and Steve was filling in as the Black Panther. Well . . it doesn't really explain the robot part, but . . we do get an understanding as to why Steve was covering up T'Challa's departure. I assume the robot was all just part of Tony's involvement. But . . I could be wrong. Overall, though . . I thought it was a pretty decent issue. Maybe we do need to explore the Captain America character a little more in the Ultimate Universe. We'll have to see what the future holds.

Wolverine Origins #29 - Marvel

This was an incredible book. I know that the story-lines between this and the X-Men have been coordinated, but . . . I just thought that Daniel Way did an brilliant job here. The story was magnificent. And, every nuance between Logan and Charles perfect. Again, my only question is, 'Who actually committed the Original Sin?'. I thought going into this that since this was a Wolverine story, that it was him. But now, the more I read it, I'm beginning to think it was Charles. True Logan has a lot to be accountable for . . killing the Wendigo . . coming to the team for the express purpose of killing Charles . . and a whole slew of other unmentionable acts . . but how many of those acts were actually his choice, and how many was he programmed to execute? Charles, on the other hand, knew during his battle with the Hulk that Logan was only doing what he was programmed for. He also got the impression from his mind, at the time, that he was here to kill Charles. But he let him into the X-Men anyways. Why? Because he needed a weapon. And then . . . Charles did a little psychic reprogramming of his own. " . . . blocking effectively, all of your embedded programming. When you wake, you will remember only that you've forgotten." But Logan's worried that he won't remember who he is. "You will remember who you are. Logan . . . you will remember that you are an X-Man. And that is the only thing that matters." Which, to me, raises another question. If Daken has this psychic bomb planted within his thoughts, supposedly by Romulus . . why didn't Logan have the same thing? Which in turn raises the ultimate question . . . is Romulus actually . . . Charles? I know it's a leap. But, I don't think it's that much of a stretch. We just don't know his reasons, or goals . . or his ultimate motivation. Yet! And maybe, somehow . . he programmed himself to forget about everything from his past. Or maybe just a certain part of it. I'm not necessarily saying that Charles is a 'bad-guy'. Just that he may be the person who put all of these pieces into motion . . . for whatever reason. You don't have to agree with me. Just think about it.

Wolverine First Class #8 - Marvel

To me, this book has definitely taken over the place I had in my heart for X-Men First Class. I'm really enjoying these early adventures of Logan's and Cat's. They have a special chemistry together that we haven't seen in quite a while. But we get a little bit of that from Cat over in Exiles. Even though she is a different Cat. And it's Creed instead of Logan. Anyways, I thought Fred Van Lente did a good job with this story. And I enjoyed the pencillings of Steven Cummings. This was one of the first times that our duo traveled to Russia. On this encounter they come face to face with the Soviet Super-soldiers. They're trying to save Peter, but what they don't know is that he's actually working with the Soviets, his own people after all, to try to avert a disaster that may take place because of a decaying Nuclear plant. But, in order to do so, he's going to need Cat's help, which is why she was abducted. And then of course Logan comes along, guns blazing and in full berserker mode. He doesn't stop to ask questions, he just lashes out at the perceived target. But what apparently none of them understand is that this was actually a testing facility, by the Soviet government, in which they were trying to create more mutants, and thereby more Super-soldiers. They did have one success, but it was so powerful that it's decided on it's own to take the plant, and everything around it, down for the persecutions that the mutants have suffered by it. It calls itself the Collective. Basically, it absorbs other mutants into it creating a very powerful, multi-talented, single being. And it ends up absorbing Logan and Cat. However Cat, because of her strong emotional ties to Peter, and her overwhelming feelings and worry for him . . . she ends up taking over control of the collective and uses it's powers to defuse the situation and then un-collect the mutants. I thought it was a pretty decent book. Like I said it's good to see these 2 strong characters together again as they were earlier in their careers. It's an excellent substitute for the now defunct X-Men First Class.

X-Men: Secret Invasion #3 - Marvel

I liked this mini-series . . despite it's ties to the Secret Invasion. But it seems like the whole point is going to be whether the X-Men can make the tough decision that stands before them. Basically, the Skrulls have come to the West-coast thinking that it's lack of affiliated super-heroes would make it an easy target. Their intelligence however hadn't informed them of the recent relocation of the X-Men. They confront them on a couple of fronts here. First of all the entire team is involved in guerrilla attacks on the Skrulls all over town. They're hoping that they'll keep them off balance while they use Kurt and Victor go about gathering information. Also they have Emma attacking them on the psychic front, in a place they call the Wall. From what I can understand, it's a psychic barrier, and I think communication device, that's been created by linking all of their greatest minds together. It almost traps her. But they had to boast in front of her, and we all know that anything Emma sees as a challenge just serves to make her stronger. Also Kurt is still arguing with the Skrull crystal, the Bible, as it is still trying to convert him over to their religion. But he does take the device to Hank this issue. However, the real meat of the story is involved with Hank and his findings while he's examining the dead Super-Skrull. After some comments from Kurt about how the crystal keeps talking about mutants and Skrulls as if they're cousins, that he comes to the conclusion of how to cripple their attackers. Unfortunately it involves the Legacy Virus, and the decision by the X-Men if they want to partake in genocide. Because, basically, it'll wipe out their whole race. Mike Carey writes this series, and it's actually pretty moving in it's ramifications and repercussions. Ma Sepulveda does the art. I never heard of him/her before, but . . it's ok. It's not the best art I've seen, but it's not the worst either. Like I've said before, I bought this book because it's an X-Men mini. Not because it has anything to do with the Secret Invasion. Plus, I like those Terry Dodson covers. Very . . . titillating.

X-Force #8 - Marvel

The strike-teams been taken off of their original mission. They were originally set up to strike at, and destabilize, the Purifiers. Basically they did that. However, before they completed their plans the Purifiers succeeded in bringing back Bastion . . and he in turn brought back a lot of the X-Men's dead enemies. So, you would think, their next target would be Bastion and these abominations that are posing as instigators of the anti-mutant movement . . while really all under Bastion's control. But, in the meantime, a different threat has arisen. In Japan, the Vanisher, for some reason, has stolen a sample of the Legacy Virus. They don't know why, and they don't know who he's working for. So the more immediate threat is to do something about him. It's actually kind of neat how they go about convincing him to work with them. It involves the use of Elixir's powers . . in a way that hadn't been attempted before. And, in the process of tracking the Vanisher, they come across Domino. We haven't seen her face in a while. She claims that she's after the same target, but . . I'm thinking that she's up to something else entirely. We just don't know what it is yet. We also see James on a journey to visit his brother's grave. But he's coming upon some unexpected obstacles along the way. Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost are the writers of this series . . as they have since the beginning. I like their work on this series. But the star of this particular book is Mike Choi . . whom has taken over the art chores from Clayton Crain. Mike's work doesn't have the grittiness of Clayton's, but that's it's only real shortcoming. I like the finished work alot, but . . it just lacks that 'edge' that Clayton's work gave us. However, it's still phenomenal. I like this group of characters that's been put together, and the way they interact with each other. It would be an interesting addition for Domino to join, but . . I don't really see her being here long term. Also Warren seems to be going through some interesting changes. I can't wait to see where we go from here.

X-Men First Class: Giant Sized #1 - Marvel

I enjoyed this book. But, I don't know if it was as much as the regular series. I know. I know. It's pretty much done by the same creative team. Jeff Parker is really the driving force behind the book . . as with the series. It just had some different artists . . Jeff Parker, Kevin Nowlan, David Williams, Nick Kilislian and Michael Cho. I don't know exactly how to explain it . . the book just kind of felt like it lost the charm that it had through it's first 2 series. Maybe it's just me. The theme of the book was that Agent Baker had found some possible extra-terrestrial operations on Earth and wanted to get the X-Men to look into them for him. From there it kind of revolves around a Professor Philo who is trying to imitate life . . with plants, to satisfy his food source research. Through sheer boredom he's basically created a new life form out of plants. But then, the part I really didn't like, was that they worked in a tie to the Secret Invasion on the last page. Basically we oversee the Skrulls talking about their long-term plans, and that this Agent Baker is actually one of their sleeper agents. That part I didn't like. The rest of it was decent . . it just wasn't as charming and fun as the regular series. The series is supposed to be back in February. I'll probably give it another shot. I just didn't particularly like this issue. Sorry!

the Amazing Spider-man #575 - Marvel

I actually thought this was another good installment into this series by writer Joe Kelly and artist Chris Bachalo. Or course the artwork of Chris' went a long way to sell me on this particular issue. I love his stuff. Although, the story was good to. I was a little confused coming into it, because apparently it picks up immediately following Amazing Spider-man: Extra! . . which I didn't read, but . . it didn't take me to long to catch up. The real point of this story was to introduce us to Mr Negative's newest enforcer . . whom we haven't seen much of since the end of Civil War . . Hammerhead. I know. You're thinking . . 'Hammerhead? What a loser!' But, this isn't the old Hammerhead, who we all loved and despised . . if for no other reason than that Spidey could get a good work-out, or at least some cardio, whenever they crossed paths. No this is the new and improved . . definitely different . . Hammerhead. My only complaint this issue is that we didn't get to see much of Spidey's supporting cast. We saw some of the staff of the Bugle . . I'm sorry, the Front Line . . and we got introduced to a new interest, Norah Winters. But really . . that was about it. However, to me . . as Amazing as this character is, one of his strong suits is definitely the variety and characters that comprise his supporting cast. His interactions with them, and the way their lives all revolve around each other, is definitely one of the big pieces of the puzzle that makes this such an enjoyable series. So, it was noticeable that most of them were absent. I also want to know what's going on with them. But still, overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. I loved Spidey's banter. It was right on the mark. That's why I say . . when I have to start cutting back . . that this will definitely be one of the titles that stays on my list.

Project Superpowers #7 - Dynamite Entertainment

These first seven issues are apparently only the first chapter in this new franchise created by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger. From this opening salvo, we branch off into some solo titles . . Black Terror, the Death Defying Devil . . . and then, I guess, back into the second chapter of this magnificent series. This issue really wraps up the first story-arc quite nicely. Basically, all of the heroes that were released are over in the middle-east fighting off the 'zombies', basically, or everyone who's died in the last 50 years defending our country. I'm a little confused as to why the fight is taking place over there, as opposed to our home soil, but I think it all goes back to the experiments that were being done to re-animate dead soldiers. Basically, that's where the testing ground was. I believe this was all part of the evil machinations of the Supremacy. They're the ones who really run the world right now, and the Dynamic family have become their personal soldiers. Anyways, this story started out with the Fighting Yank . . he's the one that originally betrayed all of his colleagues by trapping them in the urn . . and later came to free them by breaking it. However, that act of attrition wasn't enough for most of the freed 'supers', and eventually one of them shot him down. Now as he lies dying, he finds out that the only way he can survive, and offer any kind of help to his friends, is to assume the curse of his ancestor's spirit that's haunted him for all of these years. This leads to the Green Lama making a proclamation of live TV that . . . " . . we shall become a check to balance the corruption of the nations of the world." I'm not sure if they know yet about the Supremacy . . . ultimately their arch-nemesis, but . . they've just issued a proclamation of war to them. I thought this was a pretty good opening chapter. We got introduced to a whole lot of new characters here, but they pretty much glossed over most of them. I'm sure we'll be getting into specifics in future story-arcs. This chapter just focused on a handful of them. Which is good, because the alternative would've been a bit overwhelming. I also thought that this book was a pretty good introduction to Carlos Paul's artistic work. This series . . and these characters . . have a bright future in front of them.

the Boys #24 - Dynamite Entertainment

This was another great installment in this fantastic book. Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson really seem to love what they're doing on this one. This time, at the bequest of their CIA handler Rayner, they're going after the G-Men. Actually, I'm not entirely sure that's right . . it seems that this time their goal is just to plant some bugs and, in the future, gather some more intel into their escapades. However, as is usually the case with the Boys . . things seldom seem to unfold as originally planned. Also, with this story-line, it seems that all of the Boys characters . . Butcher, Hughie, MM, Frenchie and the Female . . are all going to be taking part in the proceedings in one way or another. Obviously they've all been in every issue, but . . most of the time their individual use is diminished, or at least not focused on as much as Butcher's or Hughie's. Hughie, who has infiltrated the G-Men as Bagpipe . . I'm not sure what his talents would be . . he's starting to feel that he's at a Fraternity more so than a group of 'supers'. At one point they do a prank call to the Seven and Hughie actually talks to Annie by accident. Luckily neither of them immediately recognize the other. But that introduction is coming pretty soon . . I have a feeling. I have to say . . as corny as it sounds . . this book is a bright spot in my reading schedule every month. I love the way it's written. I love the way it's drawn. And I love the artistic license it takes with the 'super' genre, and the irony that Garth infuses the stories with. I stand by my statement that month after month this continues to be the best, and most relevant, book on the stands. Congratulations to all involved for their skewed masterpiece here. It's definitely deserving of all of it's praise.

Spawn #185 - Image

I thought this was an amazing book. It's a little hard to get a specific read on the story . . it's the first chapter in a new direction for our favorite hell-spawn. But we get lots and lots of hints as to the changes that'll be coming our way . . or I should say, the way of Al Simmons. If he really is a participating character anymore. At the end of this issue, it appears that he's shed his Earthly shell for good. We also see the return of the Clown this issue. It's good to see Todd back at the helm of this book. It's been in more than capable hands the last few years . . there's been some terrific story-lines, but . . it's just nice to see the creator back at the helm of his own book. And with Wilce Portacio doing the art . . the whole issue looks tremendous. I tried not to get to sucked up into the cover game. I did get the 2 50/50 covers . . Todd's shown above, and Greg Capullo's headless Spawn cover . . but there's like 4 or 5 different covers. I didn't get that far into it. Like I said, this issue, we see lots of hints of things . . story-lines . . evolving into shape, but it's vague enough that Todd doesn't tip his hand to soon about future plans. It's hard to believe that this book has been around for some 16 years now and it's still going this strong. In fact, right now, it may be in the best place it's ever been . . since the very beginning. I can't wait to see more.

Madame Xanadu #5 - Vertigo

This is another book that I kind of picked up on a whim. But, to me . . the selling point is that Matt Wagner is writing it. I think he's just amazing. And the way he has this character, Madame Xanadu, going across the lines of history . . being audience, and sometimes a participant, in history's major events . . is just brilliant. I'm also very impressed by the artwork of Amy Reeder Hadley. I'm really enjoying her style and her crisp clean lines. This time Nimue finds herself in Paris shortly before the revolution. She's a guest of Marie Antoinette. I think she enjoys the opulence, but has to cut her time short when she starts to glean what the future holds for the monarch and the country. We see a little more of her relationship with the Phantom Stranger also this issue. The thing I like about this series so far is the path they've chosen for the story. Obviously were working forward in time to the current Madame Xanadu. However, in the process, were cutting a swath through history, and learning the trials that are going to make her into the woman she is today. At the same time, we get a glimpse of all of these important points in history, and how Nimue played a small role in their outcome. Some with positive results, and some . . . bringing a head to a situation that already exists, because of her 'difference'. As is the result, at the end of this story, with Marie Antoinette. I think the entire creative staff of this book is doing a tremendous job. This is a book that keeps my interest, and makes me wonder what's going to happen next. In the end, that's all I really ask for to make me feel as if I've gotten my money's worth.

Jack of Fables #27 - Vertigo

Before I get started here, I should apologize. I'm probably going to seem a bit more negative than usual . . or maybe just a bit more critical. I keep thinking about this price hike that's coming down the pike . . and it's really got me peeved. The simple truth is . . I'm going to have to cut some books off of my monthly list. There's books I really like, and there's books I'm interested in. The problem I have is that the books I really like all fall into the same genre . . super-heroes. It's what I was raised on, and read for the last 30 or so years. But the other stuff, the stuff I'm just interested in, is a welcome change of pace. It's stuff like this book, Madame Xanadu, Ex Machina, various mini-series, Jungle Girl, Hulk, Iron Man, etc., etc.. Right now I'm considering a future of Superman, Batman, X-Men and probably Spider-man. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but . . it doesn't leave much in the way of variety. But, I also have to be pragmatic. I can't keep shelling out what I am on a weekly basis. And I certainly can't afford to spend more for the same amount of books. So, I'm just going to have to 'grow-up' and realize that every hobby . . no matter how enjoyable . . has it's limits. Which is really bringing me down because I think my overall view and appreciation of the comic industry has grown in the last 10 years or so because of all of that variety. So anyways, over the course of the next few weeks or so, I'm probably going to be more critical of what I read because . . I'm going to have to decide what's to be cut. And I'm sorry to say, it's probably going to be some of these Vertigo titles . . including this one. I really enjoy the stories here by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges. The way they write is amazing. Their minds are all over the place. But, sometimes, it just doesn't keep my interest. With this issue, we're on the third chapter of this story about the Page sisters . . . and Bookburners attempt at overthrowing the Golden Boughs. I like it. I like the variety. But, it just doesn't jump off the page at me. I find my mind drifting as I read it. I read it because it's different. But, at the end, I find myself thinking . . "Who really cares?". And, I hate to admit, it's one of those books that I keep getting, not necessarily because of the story, but . . because I have them all . . I want it to be complete. Anymore, that can't be a consideration. I'm going to have to stick to the books I like. Somewhere along the line, this one probably won't be in that list anymore.

Superman #681 - DC

I know that Superman is the guy that's full of hope and compassion . . and all that, but . . even he's got to know that this is probably going to be a bad idea. And by 'this', I mean the gathering of all of these Kryptonians on Earth. And, leading their delegation straight to the President of the United States . . . arguably the most powerful man in the world? I think the Justice League is on the right track when, on his way to Kandor, they intercept him to ask if he's thought this whole thing through or not. And the ending? Whenever an immovable force presents itself . . an immovable object rises up to meet it. Or, I should say, comes crashing down to Earth like a comet from the Heavens . . . Doomsday! Even if these 100,000, or so, Kryptonians behave themselves . . he had to have known that somebody, or something, would raise it's hand in opposition. It was inevitable. The human race is built to survive. However, in order to survive this . . someones going to have to step up and represent them . . in force. But, Doomsday? James Robinson has presented up with an interesting, and unique, situation here. My curiosity is piqued as to how this whole situation is going to unfold. I don't know if I'm actually getting used to Renato Guedes art . . or what . . but, in this issue, I actually felt that his pencils fit this story. Better than in previous issues. I still think I'd like to have a different artist on this series, but . . it appears that Renato is making some progress. Or, as I said, I'm just getting used to it. Either way it'll be interesting to see how the people of Earth react. Do they see Doomsday as a threat, or . . is 100,000+ Kryptonians the bigger threat?

the War that Time Forgot #6 - DC

I have to say, again . . . for some reason Al Barrionuevo is just not performing . . sorry, utilizing his talents . . as well as I've seem from him in previous series. This guys a heck of an artist. But, for some reason, on this series his work only seems . . adequate. And it really pails in comparison to Michael Wm. Kaluta's cover. That's a piece of art. Anyways, the other complaint I have about this series is the pace of the story. In a nutshell, that's what really bothers me about these 12 issue maxi-series. There's an awful lot of story here that could be paced a bit faster. Personally, I don't see any reason that this series couldn't have been fit into 6 or even 8 issues. This issue brings all of the different factions together, as well as some visuals of the future race, or aliens, that are watching the proceedings here. But there's really not a reason that couldn't have been fit into the previous issue. Again, I don't want to put the blame onto Bruce Jones' shoulders, but . . he is the writer. Unless of course it was an editorial edict that this series needed to be 12 issues. Because I've got news for ya' . . anyone can fill up 12 issues, but . . there's an awful lot of minutia. I'm sorry. I'm not trying to be all negative. But, if the price of all of these books are going up to $3.99, I'm going to have to be a lot pickier about where I spend my hard earned money. Which means, in order to spend the same amount of money weekly . . I'm going to have to get less books. And that means that I'm not going to be able to pick up as much stuff on a whim. Which in turn means that when I do pick up something I wouldn't normally, I would like it to be with the best possible talent and the best use of the space allotted for the story. I'm sorry. Overall, I thought this book was ok. The story did progress . . although, minimally. However, I will say, if this series had started out at $3.99 an issue . . I wouldn't have bought it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reign in Hell #4 - DC

What a fantastic series. I absolutely love what Keith Giffen and Tom Derenick are doing here. But it wouldn't be complete without the fabulous finishes of Bill Sienwiewicz. The last few issues I keep talking about what an extremely complex world that the boys have created here. And then, by populating it with not only a plethora of hellish hosts, but most of the magical heroes of the DC Universe as well . . . there's so much going on, you can't help but get drawn in to the story. This issue though, we finally learn who it is that's been locked up down here and everyone, including the demon horde, is afraid of. Blue Devil and Etrigan are going at it in Labyrinth . . which is where he's locked up. They're going at it so hard that the other demon soldiers that are nearby are scurrying off for fear that they might break him out. "What!? Worse'n being handed over to the renderers 'n' winding up as wall mortar in some scut-b'damned torment ghetto?", to which his comrade replies "Way worse if those two kick around enough to free him!" Any guess who you think it is? Let's put it this way, once he's out Satanus and Neron may be the least of each other's worries. There may be a new lord of Hell. Blue Devil and Etrigan do indeed fight had enough to break him out. And after the explosion, as he's walking out of the pit that he's been imprisoned in for who only knows how long, he has some words of advice. "School's in, y' bushwackin' dweeb-monkeys. T'day's lesson . . . payback's a bitch!" Next issue's credits? "FRAG-TASTIC! THE REAL LOBO'S BACK?" Oh man . . I can't wait to see what's going to happen next.

Checkmate #31 - DC

I really liked this book, and I'm sad that this is the final issue. There's so much more potential with this story . . . and this series. I even have to say, with this particular issue, that I enjoyed Manuel Garcia's pencils in it. I thought they fit the feel of the story very well. My only complaint is the conclusion. I mean . . we have all this build up on this new character . . Chimera. We feel sorry for him because he's basically a soldier that was experimented on . . after some serious injuries . . and was transformed into this new creature . . I guess, enhanced soldier or hero would actually be the right phrase. But, we feel sorry for him because it seems like he's lost all of his humanity with the transformation. There's this big build up with the mythical monsters that seem to have arisen from the ashes of folklore and are now threatening to lay waste to the world. Everywhere people are talking about it, they're talking about how this is Armageddon. There's also a lot of build up with Chimera's girlfriend . . in his previous life . . Chloe. She sees Chimera on TV and recognizes the rose tattoo on his neck. So she's been doing everything she can to get to Adam and see if she can reach him. She finally reaches him, and the final creature . . Qi Yu . . a 3 headed dragon . . abducts her. So, after all this build-up . . . Chimera figures out the one thing that'll scare Qi Yu . . the Angel Gabriel . . he turns in to him, and defeats him. That's it. Armageddon was supposedly stopped, by stopping this one creature. Chloe is rescued. And, apparently, now Adam Sharp can turn back in to his human form and everyone lives happily ever after. What the Hell!? Talk about an anti-climatic ending. One page Chimera turns into Gabriel and the Qi Yu is shrieking in agony . . . 2 pages later, the stories over with. They got a neat new character his with a whole lot of potential. But, I don't really feel like Bruce Jones did him any justice with this story. I'm not sure if they just had to finish this book up real fast or something, but . . I just feel like we were cheated with this ending. And what's going to happen with our world peace-keeping organization? Will they be back after Final Crisis, or what? I liked this book, but . . I was frustrated after reading it.

Rann-Thanagar Holy War #6 - DC

This is basically a recap issue. Not a recap of the whole series, but . . a retelling of the origins and evolution of the Nameless One . . Synnar. It has all the grandeur and posturing of one of Jim Starlin's cosmic odysseys. It's actually quite beautiful in it's scope and scale. He's trying to rise to power without the attention of anyone . . including the Supreme Being, God . . until he feels that he's amped up enough to be considered a legitimate threat. But right now our group of heroes are trapped on the planet that Synnar is transforming into his new seat of power. And apparently he's got the whole sector of space closed off with a force-field so that no one can interfere with his plans. However, it appears that Lady Styx, and her fleet of followers are on their way to this location also. Our warriors try to put up a fight. Actually they kind of lose track of Bizarro . . their only real power-house. When he's caught the attention of Synnar . . Synnar takes him down rather abruptly. Their resolve becomes dissipated rather quickly. "Adam, our prospects for survival are rapidly swirling down the drain. Bizarro was the heaviest hitter in our arsenal. Now he's out of action before we even begin taking on the worst nightmare any of us can imagine. In other words, we are very and extremely screwed. We desperately need a savior of our own!" I wondering if they might end up turning to Lady Styx . . making a deal with the devil, as it were. I love what Jim has created here. It's a fantastic tale. I'm also enjoying Ron Lim pencils on it. I wish Jim was pencilling his own stuff, but . . Ron's a pretty decent fill in. With only 2 issues to go . . the best is yet to come.

Legion of Super-heroes #47 - DC

I really like this book. I love these characters . . have for quite a while. And, I think Jim Shooter is doing an excellent job of developing some interesting story-lines here. But, I think I've found out the answer to how the Legion of 3 Worlds storyline is going to affect this book . . . it's going to be cancelled. On the bright side though . . I don't think it'll be for good. I'm thinking that the outcome of the Final Crisis mini is going to cause the Legion to become different when the dust settles. So I'm sure there will be another Legion book . . it'll just be different. And probably start over from #1. I just hope that Jim sticks around for the creative part of the process. I think he's really got an excellent handle on these characters and this title. This issue Brainy actually proposes to Dream Girl. We also find out that Princess Projectra has a hard on for bringing down the UP and the Legion, for not protecting her home-world from destruction. She's become a big fan of ancient comics, and I'm thinking that someone she's trying to gather information from them. But, I haven't figured that out yet. Rick Leonardi and Dan Green do the art on this issue, and Rick . . . Rick is back in the form that I love. Remember how good his stuff looked when he did Spider-man 2099? Well that's how his pencils look here also. It's good to see him back in the groove of things. Anyways, I'm lamenting over this books cancellation, but I'm also hopeful for their return in a new book. These characters have been around for 40 some years now. They can't just go away . . just like that. I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens. Long Live the Legion!