Monday, December 29, 2008

DC Universe Holiday Special #1 - DC

This is my last blog for 2008. So I'll do this one and then . . . . I'll see y'all next year. I've always enjoyed these holiday specials from DC. But I think that the recent batch is even better because they've also served to progress the stories of the various characters involved. They aren't just 'holiday' stories. They're also becoming more connected to the main titles and characters portrayed in them. I think that's a good choice. The first is interesting. It's by Matt Cherniss, Peter Johnson, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. By the way, Ivan and Joe make a fantastic art team. Anyways, this story looks like a retelling of Superman's origin, when actually it's a possible origin of Santa Claus. I don't know if y'all know this, but Santa Claus is actually a viable character in the DC Universe. Granted he doesn't show up much, but . . . he's been involved with many of these characters over the years. Look it up some time. Anyways, the second story is by Dan Didio and Ian Churchill. It's a story that resembles Christ's birth. Aquaman saves a ship at sea, that's under attack by pirates, only to find out that the 'precious cargo' on board is actually this woman's baby. And, the woman's name is Mary. It's an event that fills Aquaman with hope. Plus, it's the first time that we've actually seen Aquaman in almost 2 years. Does this mean there's more of him in the future? I hope. The third tale by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen was a Batman tale. Of sorts. It's actually titled Good King Wenceslas, and it's set in a Camelot type setting. It's interesting. I'm not sure what the point was, but . . Dustin's art was incredible. We then move on to a tale about Gotham itself by Joe Kelly and Mick Bertilorenzi. It's called A Day Without Sirens. For some reason there's a day in Gotham where there's no crime . . no emergencies . . no 911 calls. Gordon and the rest of his police force find it to good to believe and are apprehensive all day. As the day progress' they just seem more and more convinced that the dams about to break. So much so that they end up not really enjoying the day at all. It's almost a relief when at 12:01 the phones light back up. We end up finding out that the whole thing was orchestrated by Oracle and Supergirl. We don't really know how, just that they were involved. Next Dick wants to surprise Tim by bringing him a little present. It's Christmas Eve and he knows that he'll be at the theatre watching It's a Wonderful Life, because it was his dad's favorite movie. What they don't realize is that they're also going to find Owen, Boomerang, there too. It's was also his dad's favorite. It was a nice little reconnecting of these characters. This one was done by Art Baltazar, Franco Aureliani and Tim Levins. Next we see a tale of irony about how this one family of thieves has fought a Blue Beetle, of some sort, down through the ages. It was by JC Vaughn and Lee Garbett. Lee's pencils were great. They almost had a Howard Chaykin type feel to them. Anyways, it tells how the current member of this family, recently brought in for the second time by Jaime, has decided to try to break the cycle with his son. He knows that he's also in the business, but . . right now he has a clean record. He doesn't want that to change. He basically talks him in to quitting and going away with his mother. Next is a Huntress tale by Amanda McMurray and Rafael Albuquerque. Basically she's comparing her life as a crime-fighter to that of a principal. She thinks the principals job is harder. But, when breakthroughs are made . . it's also infinitely more rewarding. The next tale was the one I actually like the most. It's about the Teen Titans and it's brought to us by Rex Ogle and Mike Dimotta. First of all the art was incredible. We need to get this guy on a regular book. The story is about the Titans, the current ones, going to NYC for a little vacation of sorts. Jaime has brought along Traci, and Eddie and Amy are there also. To me the best part of the story was the progress that's made with Amy's character and the relationship between Jaime and Eddie. Also Megan shows up for a brief instant. She says that she wanted to stop by quickly and say "Hi!" to Eddie because she's missed him. Cassie makes a great observation. "If we're a family, we're a dysfunctional one at best. We're still a team, we're just . . . changing into something new . . . . . yup, I think the team is evolving. Into something better." The next tale is about the Justice League and Shaggy-man. John Stewart and Roy take him down, after a heist or something, but they're missing the Christmas Party at the satellite. Vixen is giving John grief, "You're gonna have to take him to STAR security, fill our reports, sign papers . . it's gonna take forever." So they show up at the party with Shaggy-man. Roy shot him with an arrow full of some of Batman's tranquilizers, so . . he's pretty loopy right now anyways. So Shaggy-man's there, not really knowing where he is, and taking part in the festivities. However, by the end of the party the tranqs are starting to wear off. He's about to go postal, but . . then they include him in the gift exchange. And all ends well. I know. It's sappy. But it was a nice tale by Alan Burnett and Kevin Maquire. And anytime we get Kevin doing the Justice League . . it's a good thing. Finally we have a tale about Dr Light, Kimiyo Hoshi. It catches us up on her life and what she's doing. Now that the other Doctor Light is dead, her powers have come back and they're stronger than ever. Even though she wears the same costume as the bad Doctor, she won't change it. "The name Doctor Light should be . . will be associated with hope, not evil. It's time to really step up my time as Doctor Light to show the world . . prove to them that light . . light is . . beautiful." It's brought to us by Adam Schlagman and Rodolfo Migliari. And again . . Rodolfo's art is simply stunning. All in all, I thought this was a great book. There's a lot of stories here . . . 10 total . . along with the introduction and ending pages. And, a total of 70 pages of art. That's amazing. Especially in this day and age. Sure it cost $6.99, but . . I think it was worth it. And if it give the reader a message of hope . . then it's done it's job. Happy Holidays everybody!

Trinity #29 - DC

The pieces are all starting to come together, but . . things are a little vague right now. This group that Alfred has put together are following the Harbor Folk. Last issue they witnessed a thief in their midst, but then they also witnessed their choice of punishment as argued by the priests of their trinity of gods. It was in these priests, and their arguments, that they seemed to catch a glimpse of the people that Alfred is attempting to search for. Now, I know they're not on another world, so I have to assume that this is just one of the many 'convulsions' that the Earth is going through. So that would mean that these are actually humans. We're just not seeing them as such right now. Anyways, because of the obvious mistrust in these two tribes, there's almost a was that breaks out. However, unlike their current personalities, this group of people step up and perform a few heroic acts thereby stemming the tide of violence. They've barely caught a glimpse of the Trinity, and already they're affecting their given character and nature. They know it to. Both tribes are on a pilgrimage to their gods . . . Atman, Kellel and Dinanna . . so the group decides to tag along. We also see that Tarot and Charity are having their own crisis of faith. As we've learned, Tarot is actually the Worldsoul. Obviously, she's in terrible shape because of everything that is happened to the world right now. However, Charity has seen that the Dreambound are coming to get Tarot for Le Fey. She doesn't know why, just that's what's going to happen. Tarot however decides to let the fate's occur. She's not going to fight it, or try to hide. She's made the observation that Charity has only seen her abduction. She hasn't seen her fate after she goes with the group. So, I think, she has a glimmer of hope that she may be of more help to the Earth up close and personal to her captors than trying to hide away from them. However, Charity doesn't see the wisdom in this choice of action. In the end though, she is taken and her fate is kind of up in the air. Meanwhile, the JSI is chasing these outbreaks of creation energy all over the globe. But then there's also super-human skirmishes everywhere too. Apparently TVM is absorbing the creation energy around all of these rifts that are popping up. And the skirmishes are distractions to keep the JSI busy and away from the Dreambound's actual plans. Luthor, though, has figured out what they are doing, they just haven't figured out why. And with their forces already spread so thin, because of the skirmishes, the knowledge of what's going on doesn't actually help them because there's nothing they can do about it anyways. You can just feel the frustration on these characters permeating off of the pages. Their whole world right now seems to be frustrated and apprehensive. But . . we're making progress. Although it's hard to believe. But, it's always darkest before the light. I think Kurt Busiek has choreographed a spectacular tale here. I think his pacing is perfect. It's giving us time to see all the intricacies of these various characters and their evolution. I'm also thrilled with Mark Bagley's art on this series, and Fabian Nicieza's co-scripting of the back-up tales. These back-up tales have really become an essential part of this series as they're the stories that really fill in the holes on some of these characters. And of course Tom Derenick does a bang-up job of doing the art for them. With only 20 issues to go, the rides only going to get bumpier as were near the end.

Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #2 - Marvel

Actually . . this comic had me kind of confused. I enjoyed the stories in it, but . . they were entirely different from what I expected. The nearest I can figure is, when this Ghost Box was opened, somehow we slipped into some different dimensions and we're seeing what these worlds look like. And if that's not the case . . . then I am completely lost. Creatively, both stories were fantastic. Of course Warren Ellis wrote them, but Clayton Crain did the art for the first, and Kaare Andrews did the art for the second. The only thing, really, that they both had in common is that they were both kind of apocalyptic type stories. That is to say that they were both stories of the X-Men . . . when they were on their last legs, and there really is no hope for the ones that we see. The first story is about Scott. He's standing in front of this ruby quartz that's about as tall as he is. He's contemplating his inclement action and the strength that it'll take to do so. He thinks about his powers a little bit and his own resistance to them . . a bit. So what he's about to do will take a very concentrated effort and a very focused and precise blast. He's actually patting himself on the back for having the strength to do it. He then focus' on the quartz . . . and takes his own head off. His memories go back to when they arrived at Chaparanga Beach. But then the order of events seems to differ from what we read in the first issue of this mini. Which is part of what lead to my confusion. In the second story, all that's left of the X-Men is Hisako, Logan and Henry. It appears to be about 5 years in the future. Logan is confined to a wheelchair. I guess some fight he got into, he got his skeleton bent. And Henry seems to be digressing rather than evolving as he usually does. Anyways, they're on their way to Kalispell Montana. Supposedly there's a stronghold there, Kitty Pryde is back, and she's helping to get mutants off-world. The problem is, of these 3 . . none can fly. So Hisako decided that she was going to walk them there. It's taken a year. She knows it's probably a trap, but . . they won't know for sure until they get there. And, of course . . it is. But since it took them so long to get there . . everyone else is already dead. There's nobody left. So, out of sympathy, and with a lot of remorse, Hisako uses her armor powers and puts Henry and Logan out of their misery. The story ends with a funeral pyre in the background and Armor slowly walking into the sunset . . . head hung low. "The night is peaceful. There are no ghosts here. Only me. And I won't be here long." They were both good stories. The second was especially powerful. But . . completely not what I expected when I opened this book. So . . I'm still a little confused. I enjoyed the book. But, I have no idea how this story is going to impact the main title. If it will.

the Amazing Spider-man #580 - Marvel

Ok, it's been almost a year now that Spider-man, er . . the Amazing Spider-man, has been on it's 3 times a month schedule. There have been some decent stories in that time. But, there have also been some duds. My biggest complaint however, comes from the lack of character development. We've seen a lot of new characters. In the 12 months that this has been going on, we've seen at least as many new villains. Also there's few new characters in Spidey's supporting cast. But, basically, all we've really gotten so far is introductions. No real background, or introspection to speak of to get us bought into these new characters. Well . . I take that back. We have learned an awful lot about Jackpot. Well . . the second one . . who took the first one's name because she didn't want it. However, now she's dead. The second one, not the first. But Spidey laid a huge guilt trip on the surviving member, so who knows . . Jackpot may be popping back up here sooner or later. I'm really not trying to be a bummer. I love this character, and I've been a fan of this book for a long time. Hell, I got 2 long boxes full of them. But I really think what sets Spider-man apart from the rest of the super-hero community is his large, and interesting supporting cast of characters. We need to see them more. They need to be a more integral part of the story. And there needs to be character development every single story-arc. Hell, every single issue. Without that . . we have a story about what could be any other super-hero bouncing around New York city. I do think that Roger Stern and Lee Weeks turned in a nice story for this issue. Obviously it was a filler. But again, we get a new villain, but all we see of the cast is Spidey and Aunt May. The book isn't bad. Not by any means. But, this is one of those titles that I really expect a lot from. Unfortunately . . we haven't been getting it. Sorry!

Echo #8 - Abstract Studios

Terry Moore is a fantastic writer. I've really enjoyed what he's done with this series so far. This issue we find out just what Julie can do with this piece of armor that's become fused to her. At the end of last issue there was an explosion outside of her and Dillon's hotel room. When they come out . . they find piece of someone strewn all over the outside of the building. It looks like it's one guy. When the rest of the biker guys come, guns blazing . . . they suffer the same fate. We don't actually see the guys face, he's in a trench coat and the shadows most of the issue, but he appears to have the same alloy as Julie does on his hands. He can fire what looks like lightning bolts out of his hands. So Julie tries it. She has to defend herself and Dillon, right? She must have more of the alloy on her, because her bolts seem to have more of an impact. They appear to take the guy down. So Dillon scoops up the unconscious Julie and takes off in the truck. Next we see Raven investigating the scene. It turns out that Julie's blast was so hot that it turned the sand between her and her target into glass. And we see that the guy really isn't dead. Apparently he can bring himself back together from whatever particles he was dissipated into. So now Julie and Dillon are on the run again. There's some maniac that appear to have the same problem as she does. Except, he has a murderous psychotic edge to him. And Raven and HeNRI are still hot on their trail. Terry paces his stories perfectly. And he's brilliant at character development. He does little things to bring you into the characters personality. Such as Raven . . . while she's investigating the scene, she takes a look at the personal affects that were left in the room, and she notices the pillows on the bed. She goes over to look at them and then sniffs. She gets this sly grin across her face, and lays her head down on the pillow. It just seemed like it was taking her back to a simpler time. Only Terry could've pulled that off . . without any words. I know that eventually this'll come out in TPB. Wait if you want. But if you have the opportunity, you should pick up these issues and read them. You won't be disappointed.

The Death-Defying Devil #1 - Dynamite Entertainment

This was an interesting book. I applaud Dynamite Entertainment, as well as Alex Ross, for their vision in trying to bring back these bygone heroes, and solidify them into a single, congruent, world of existence. It has to be a daunting project, trying to keep all of these characters true to form while introducing as many as possible both in the main title, Project Superpowers, and in these spin-off minis. To me it's amazing that someone even cared enough to do so. So far, on a creative level, it seems as if everyone involved has tried their best to produce their best work. This issue is written by Joe Casey and drawn by Edgar Salazar. Overall, I'd have to say it was a great first issue. We don't really learn a lot about the Devil, but . . we do find out that there's someone out there who either doesn't believe that he's who he says he actually is, or . . . he's just upset that he didn't get to parade in front of the world also. And that's this old guy, the Deadly Dreaded Dragon. Actually, I don't think that he was one of the Devil's enemies. I think that he attacks him because he believes he's standing up for a friend of his. I could be wrong. But that was my take on the actions that happened here. I think this title . . this whole project really . . has some huge potential. I appears that were going to get some more of these mini-series that'll introduce us to specific characters. We've gotten the Black Terror and the Devil so far, with Masquerade coming out next. It's a huge under taking. I just hope that they don't lose their momentum.

Gen13 #25 - WildStorm

You know . . on one hand, I really hate what they're doing with this book. I don't really like the art, and the story is just all over the place. However, on the other hand . . . with the end of the world taking place here . . and our kids just trying to survive and find their place in the new environment . . much like StormWatch, the Authority, or WildCATS . . I guess it's nice to have a bit of an upbeat comic that isn't as sombre and depressing as the other ones. I mean, those teams are made up of heroes. So, I would expect their stories to be more in line with the super-hero genre. But, these kids? They aren't heroes. They're just some kids that we're made up from Playdough, and given powers. They've come to rely and trust each other, because . . well, there's really no one else out there like them. Well, I guess I should say, there may be some more of I/O's projects running around out there, but if so . . . they haven't come across them yet. So, really . . they're just trying to make it through the day like the rest of us. Well, a day in the Teenage Wasteland . . I guess. There are some funny moments in this though. Roxy is about to get attacked by a boy she tried to borrow a cigarette off of. "The dating scene's been harsh since the world ended. But when you get that itch you just gotta scratch it." Then he gets the 'no means no' speech as she sends him flying through the sky-light into the storm outside. Meanwhile Grunge, who's trying to cheer Roxy up by turning himself into a giant piece of candy, has attracted something else entirely . . . some giant mutant rodents. I guess they just can't resist a big piece of human shaped candy. He works his way through all of it too . . . Tartie-Sweetz, Taffy, Gummi Yummis, jaw-breakers and who knows what else. The rest of the team are in the mall talking to some of the other refugees when they all start to change . . as did the guy who tried to attack Roxy. It appears that they've all been infected by the Warhol-virus. Not that the kids know what that is. But while fighting them, I think that Caitlin may have been infected. But anyways, now they're on a mission. They've decided that they're heading for Tranquility. But it's on the other side of the country, so they'll be making some stops along the way. Scott Beatty does the story. I liked it. I guess I'd just like to see something a little less . . frantic. But . . it's ok. But I'm still not thrilled about Mike Huddleston's art. It just doesn't really do it for me. Again, it's ok. I just feel like I could be enjoying the book a whole lot more.

House of Mystery #8 - Vertigo

Unlike the last book, this story . . I could give a crap about. I really just don't see what the payoff is going to be here. And these little filler stories in the middle? They're ok, but . . there's not always a point to them. However, this one was more of an extension of the main story. This one actually gave us a little background on Harry and his run-in with Abel. I like Luca Rossi's style of art. It's . . just different. It's hard to explain, but I like it. And this issue they got Henry Flint to do the fill-in story. You remember him, from the Omega Men mini-series. And he used to do Grimjack way back when for First Comics. Anyways, he also has a cool style. This story is trying to explain to us just what it is that's going on in the basement. But it still doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Somehow Harry and Fig are intimately connected to this house. We don't know all the 'hows' & 'whys' yet, but . . . that seems to be what they're trying to explain. Also, we seem to have this big Spider kind of character who's called Bette Noir. I guess she's like the ultimate nightmare. She lives in the basement. And this has something to do with Harry's first waitress, Miranda. Who now seems to be stuck in a self-narrating story. Then out of nowhere . . we get this page of art and dialogue that shows Cress, I think, shagging everybody she can through the time that she's been here. Including Harry. I'm not sure what that was all about, but it must have something to do with the story. I guess this book has potential. It just seems like we're getting a lot of random pieces right now. It would be really hard for someone to just pick up this book that hasn't been there since issue #1. They'd be completely lost. I guess you could wait for the TPB. If you're that interested.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

100 Bullets #98 - Vertigo

Now that we're getting near the end, it appears that everything is coming together. Or is it? This chapter is called Five Rook(ed)s. I assume they're taking about who's left of the trust . . Augustus, Graves, Megan, Tibo and Crete. Apparently, they're all getting ready for a sit-down. They feel that it's time to bury the hatchet . . I hope they don't mean literally . . and get their little program back on track. A war just hurts everybody's pocketbook. There is a bit of a problem though. There's still a handful of Minutemen out there . . . Cole, Jack, Loop, Medici, Dizzy, Lono . . I think I'm leaving a couple out. I don't think they've all gotten the word that the war's over . . yet. "The war may be over, but for some fighters, that ain't a reality yet . . . " Cole and Loop are hanging out when they come across Jack by accident. As they're talking they're trying to put together the pieces of what's really going on. They feel like they've all been played. However, they may not have long to think about it because it looks like Lono has sent someone over to take care of all three of them. But I'm not sure who he's working for. You can see him in the shadows, but you can't quite make out who it is. I definitely don't think that this series is going to end the way the Sopranos did. To me, that was a major let-down. But, I guess it did leave them open for a movie, or sequel, or whatever down the line. Hard telling if we'll ever see it though. Anyways, I really think that this series is going to end with guns blazing. The sad part is . . . there's only 2 issues left. I remember this series when it started . . like it was yesterday. Or at least last month. This series had me hooked from the very beginning. Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso have done a terrific job with each and every on of these issues. And they've been there from the beginning, stroking their baby . . keeping with their vision. They've even had Dave Johnson as the cover artist on each and every issue. I'm sure they'll all go on to other things, but this project? I think this is the project that they'll all look back on with fondness . . for years to come. A fantastic series . . from start to finish.

Booster Gold #15 - DC

Ok, I've got good news and bad news here. The good news is Dan Jurgens is back. He's back on the artistic chores . . thank god!, and now he's also doing the script. I guess he was the most obvious choice since he's been on this book from the very beginning with Geoff Johns. The bad news? Dan Jurgens is doing the scripts. Ok, back up . . I really don't mean for it to sound that way. I'm sure Dan has a feel for this book, the character, and the ultimate direction it was heading. And I'm sure he'll do his best to travel along that path. But, first of all . . . while he can write engaging, and action filled stories . . . he can't handle the character development and interaction the way that Geoff did. And, really . . you can feel that missing already. Secondly, I really had the feeling that Michael was becoming a character that we could like again. I know that the rest of the world has to think that he's this media grabbing buffoon, but . . we all knew that he was actually a hero. And a likeable guy. But it seems like Dan starts to take him in the opposite direction a bit this issue. They still haven't got this whole museum and knife thing straightened out. I promise not to go on my 'time-traveling' tirade this time. Although I could. Suffice it to say . . it's a mess. And it doesn't look like it's going to get cleared up any time soon. Anyways, he's in this museum and comes into contact with Elongated Man. I was thinking that Michael was acting like a moron to set the stage for his future meeting with Ralph, but before he even begins to talk to him . . . while he's talking to Skeets . . he makes the comment, "Lost in thought, little buddy. Pondering the possibilities. Limitless possibilities . . . . Action Figures! An entire line of Booster Gold action figures." Combine that with his 2 glaring mistakes . . going back in time to get some 'real' Italian food, while his sister poses for Da Vinci, and involving, and revealing to Ralph their time-travel mission . . . and I think he's fallen off the wagon. Which is really a shame, because he really seemed like he was becoming a likeable character to me. Hopefully this degeneration doesn't continue. I like this book. Even if the time stories give me a headache. And I really like this character. Just please, please don't go back to his stereotypical idiocy. He deserves better than that. I guess I'll just have to wait and see how he's handled next issue.

Green Arrow and Black Canary #15 - DC

This issue, really, was just a quick introduction to our new creative team of Andrew Kreisberg and Mike Norton. The only really new material in this book was the first 2 pages, and the last six. Basically, this super-powered bad guy is holding Diana at knife point. He wants Ollie to surrender . . he's on a nearby roof looking down on him. The gist of the story is that, as he releases the arrow, figuring it'll take about 1.7 seconds to reach him . . he starts speculating on everything that can happen, and how your life can change in 1.7 seconds. From there it's basically his life flashing before his eyes. He starts from the very beginning . . his life as a playboy billionaire . . and goes right up until the moment, and the circumstances, that brought them to where they are right now. Of course, between the 2 of them they take this guy down, but in the process . . as he's speculating that "In 1.078 seconds, everything can change.", they fail to notice that one of his arrows has gone through the wall of a nearby apartment and it looks like it's struck this guy. I don't know if who he is is important, but . . he kind of looks like the Fiddler. One thing I did get out of this story though is that apparently Andrew wants to focus on just Dinah and Ollie. Mia's heading off to London to be with Dodger, and Connor . . . Connor wants to find himself. He tells Ollie, "This isn't a reflection on you. It's about my reflection. The one that stares back at me in the mirror. It's not mine yet. I don't know if it's because I've lost something . . or maybe now I realize that I need something I've never had. But even if I don't know who I am . . . I know where home is." I don't really have a read on Andrew yet, because, well . . . there wasn't much of a story here. But I did like the way he handled the situation with Ollie, Dinah, Mia and Connor. It was all pretty touching. Hopefully next issue we'll get into a real story-arc. Mike's not actually new to this book. He's been on board ever since Cliff Chiang left. But he's one of those artist that once he gets into a book, he can really make it his own. I'm looking for good things from him. So . . next issue . . I'll let you know how I feel.

Secret Six #4 - DC

Ok, here's the gist of the story . . . there's this metal card . . about the size of a playing card. It's got writing on it . . it's in Aramaic or Hebrew or something. Basically, it says "Get out of Hell Free!". Supposedly Neron made it. We don't really know why, or who he gave it to, but somehow Tarantula ended up with it. Well, the Secret Six were hired to abduct Tarantula, who happens to be on the West coast, get the card from her and return it to Gotham . . . on the East coast. Meanwhile there's this guy Junior, who's one twisted Fubar. He's also learned of the existence of this card. He's done every depraved and sick act you can think of, so he sees this as his one chance at redemption. He tries to go to a church to confess his sins, but the priest won't give him absolution. "I can't give you penance until you have repented! The act of contrition!" Junior refuses to repent . . so he kills the priest . . or eats him, I'm not sure which. "Backup plan unworkable. Need card after all!" So, the Six have Tarantula and the card. The problem is Junior put a bounty on them . . . 20 million a head. So now, anyone looking to make a buck . . . quite a lot of bucks, actually . . have painted a target on their heads and are shooting to kill. The other problem is, once the Six learn what the card is, they start speculating amongst themselves what they could do with it. Tarantula sums it up pretty well . . "There is no happy ending. And this is why. One card. Five of you. And only the Devil is laughing." The issue ends with our little group becoming the guests of Miss Jeanette at the Nocturne hotel in Las Vegas. Somehow she's an acquaintance of Scandal. All except for Bane that is, he's already been taken captive by Junior. Anyways, they're surprised by a boat-load of bad guys, and even if they thought they could get out of this mess they find out that the meal they just ate was prepared by Cheshire. Gail Simone writes it, and she does a fantastic job. I love her humor, and the personality that she express' in each of these characters. Nicola Scott is the artist. She is really doing an incredible job. I was sad when she left the Birds of Prey, but I think she's doing an even better job on this series. But there's only 2 issues to go. I wonder where she'll end up next. This was a great issue in a fantastic series.

Simon Dark #15 - DC

Ok, it now appears that there's someone out there . . roaming around Gotham . . similar to Simon, but without the altruistic goals. Simon has a way of 'reading' people. I don't think it's like he's reading their minds. It's more like he has a window into their soul . . their true character. And, I guess, when he looks through this window he sees what the person is capable of, or what they're planning on doing. That's why he took out the guy last issue, near the school, by chopping off his head. He saw what he was planning on doing to some kids. But Tom and Rachel don't necessarily agree with his methods. Then there's this guy Gus who created Simon. He wants to talk to Simon, but since Simon isn't interested in his conversation, he records something for him. A confession, of sorts. During that, he states how he created something before Simon. "My first experiment went horribly wrong. I created a thing of flesh and organic materials from the Earth, and for a short while, it worked. I was forced to destroy me creation and vowed to abandon the experiments forever." I'm thinking . . that's the guy who's wondering around killing people. It seems that he's searching for someone, or something. Tom confronts him in the park, but when he sees the scars around Toms wrist . . he knows that he's close. The question is, close to what? Is he trying to get at the cult? Or is he trying to get at Gus? Or maybe, he's got some sibling issues with his replacement . . Simon. Anyways, I thought it was a great chapter in Simon's story. Steve Niles and Scott Hampton are still doing an excellent job with this book. After the first story-arc . . which filled the first 12 issues . . I was afraid that the character would flounder a bit. Maybe even disappear all together. But now that we've got the connection to the cult behind him, I think we can finally start some serious character development for Simon and his supporting cast. I like what's been done with this book so far, and it appears that Steve's planning on keeping him on the same dark path. The book gets more interesting every issue.

Nightwing #151 - DC

I loved this book. I thought it gave us a great view into the life of Dick Grayson. I think, it also served to emphasize just how different his life is that Bruce's. But unfortunately, also . . how much they all seem to miss him. Right now, it seems like they're all kind of floundering a little bit. This issue we find out that Carol Bermingham, you know that DA that Harvey wanted Nightwing to protect from himself . . well, she's not really dead. The whole thing was staged. She's actually in witness protection and living in Northbranch Minnesota. I thought it was funny though, when he goes to visit her, he comes through the front door under guise of pizza delivery. But when he leaves, he goes out the window. I guess old habits die hard. I hope he didn't trample her Geraniums or anything. I also enjoyed the conversation between Nightwing and Two-face. Even though they're speaking through 3 inches of glass at Arkham, they definitely don't pull their punches. I think it was Nightwings way of letting Harvey know that he'd be watching him, and . . . he's not Batman. He's not under any delusion that there's any part of Harvey still left in there. Dick's girlfriend, Deb, has decided that she's going to move back home to San Jose. She just doesn't like the craziness of the city. And she's choosing not to live in fear. And Nightwing, with Superman and John Stewart, finish the task of putting all the heroes that have passed in a mausoleum under JLA headquarters. They just want to know that the bodies of their fallen comrades will be left unmolested. Dick pushes himself yet again by doing a free-fall from the troposphere . . over 22 miles up. Alfred and Tim are praising him for his efforts, but Dick replies, "Didn't do it for the record books Alfred. Did it for me." And finally we see the 3 of them have a quiet movie night, together, back at the mansion. Most assuredly something that Bruce wouldn't have done. I like how Peter J Tomasi has wrapped up all of these various story-lines. He puts everything in a neat little package. And Doug Mahnke's art was simply incredible. But I get the feeling that this book is kind of the calm before the storm. According to the next issue blurb, "Dick Grayson inherits the sins of the father as he comes face-to-face with the Demon's Head himself . . Ra's al Ghul!" After his recent encounters with Talia, that should prove very interesting. I thought this was a great issue.

Batman Confidential #24 - DC

I know it's inevitable, but in comics . . . no one ever really ages. If they did, they'd eventually lose all their good characters. Clark & Bruce would be like 70 or 80. Jay Garrick and Allen Scott would probably be over 100. What kind of serious adventure could they have? Anyways, that's basically what this story is about. This is supposed to be one of the first times Batman and Joker have crossed. Hell, they don't even call him the Joker yet. It doesn't appear that Batman has Robin yet. And the Commissioner and Batman are still working out their relationship. But while the Mayor is reaming Gordon for the way the trial is being handled, he makes the comment "You people are making the Saddam trial look like Inherit the Wind." Now, while the movie is from the 50's, Saddam's trial took place in 2004. Then he also makes the comment, "I want that freak in a prison cell. Not in some glorified rest home watching the View between art therapy and nap time." So basically they're saying that this story probably took place within the last 5 years. Now, like I said, while I can appreciate the necessity for these types of stories, the problem I have is that unless it's an all-sweeping action . . throughout the entire DC Universe . . there's going to be contradictions in other titles. Dick Grayson may make a comment about Kramer vs Kramer, or something, when according to this he probably shouldn't have even been around yet. And, on top of that, Batman goes into the jail to try to get close to the Joker and see if he can figure him out a bit. The problem is, he goes in as Matches Malone. Of course the Joker sees right through the disguise and calls him out. But now Batman has lost that identity for future use should he need it to infiltrate Joker's gang or something. It doesn't seem like a very wise choice to me. Now that's not to say that I didn't enjoy the book. I always love a good Joker story. And, except for the few bad references, I thought that Andrew Kreisberg did a good job with it. Scott McDanial always makes a story look good with the interior art. And Stephane Roux, yet again, delivers a fantastic cover. Like I said, I know a story like this is necessary sometimes. I just don't know, with everything that's going on in the DC Universe right now, that now is the time.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Detective Comics #851 - DC

This was a great issue of Detective. But then . . Denny O'Neil always did write a fantastic Batman story. Guillem March does the interior art, as well as the cover at the right. I thought his work was ok. Nothing spectacular, but it was pretty decent. The other cover though is by Tony S Daniel. I much prefer that one. Which is why I guess I was willing to pay $10 for it. I'll tell you what . . DC is really pushing these alternate covers. I usually don't mind to much paying for the $10 ones, but . . the covers that come out for Batman are $25. And they've been coming out every issue since this RIP story-line. Also it kills me when they have 3 or 4 $10 covers out in the same week. Are they trying to break me, or what? I know. "Just say NO!" I try. I really do. Anyways, we get a new character introduced to us this issue. Her name is Millicent Mayne, and she's the face of Gotham . . literally. She was an actress . . before all of the earthquakes. But living through that . . seemed to awaken something in her. She became one with the city, and all the souls that inhabited it. But as time passed, that feeling started to fade. But she kept up her duty to the city through charities and fund-raisers. However, one of the members of Two-faces gang doesn't like how she represents herself. So when he goes to her most recent fund-raiser to rob it, he confronts her and throws acid in her face. Now she looks like a female Two-face. But, while in excruciating pain, she's also relieved because the incident has seemed to reconnect her with the city. She's one with it again, and now she feels whole. Nightwing has also recently returned to the city to fill in a bit for the Batman's absence. I'm thinking he's not going to be back long before his path crosses with Millicent's. This issue ends with him going after Two-face, but instead is lying unconscious in one of his warehouses while his gang is burning it to the ground. Apparently the next couple of months are going to be spent with some 2 part stories that run between Batman and Detective. This is the first of those. I assume we'll be doing that until we find out where the Batman is. This arc is called Last Rights. The next is . . "Whatever happened to the Caped Crusader?". I guess I shouldn't feel to bad. I checked on Mile High Comics and they're still asking a pretty hefty price for all the variant covers during RIP. Of course, I don't know if they'll stay there, but . . . they're looking good right now.

Action Comics #872 - DC

Geoff Johns has done it again. He's taken Action Comics . . . which, while I'm a huge Superman fan, I have to admit was only mediocre at best . . and turned it into a must read month after month. The thing I like about Geoff's writing . . besides the great character development, the spot-on interaction and dialogue, his fantastic story-telling abilities, and his unique perspective on the whole 'super-hero' genre . . besides all of that . . I like the way he writes these 4 to 6 issue story-arcs. They seem to reach a conclusion and be self-contained, but . . then when the next story-arc occurs . . everything that happened in the last, or even the one before that, has an effect on the current one. I guess it would be more accurate to call the 4 to 6 issues stories as chapters in the overall canvas that he's creating. But you don't really see the big picture until he's a couple of story-arcs down the line. Right now Superman is dealing with New Krypton. Last issue the citizens of Kandor, lead by Alura, Kara's mom, decided that they were going to help out Superman by gathering up all of the villains that he regularly fights and send them all to the Phantom Zone. There's a couple of problems with that. First of all, in their zeal, they killed 7 guards at Stryker's Island, while apprehending the Parasite. Secondly, they've put all these criminals in the Phantom Zone . . without a trial or sentencing . . with General Zod, Mon-el and Chris. Superman isn't very happy about that. Now they're trying to figure out a way to free all of the other cities that Brainiac has captured and bottled . . . thousands of cities. Also in all of the various world's he's been to . . he collected people also. His collection is a huge menagerie that Alura is calling his 'memory hive'. He also has some humans there, specifically the Creature Commandos. Meanwhile Luthor is working with General Lane to try to figure out a way to stop this Kryptonian invasion. They're also trying to figure out how to access and obtain information from Brainiac. This issue a plan is implemented. They have Reactron and Corben, in disguise, tearing up Metropolis, knowing that some errant Kandorians are going to come along and scoop them up. When they take them to Kandor, Reactron reveals himself and that he's powered by Gold Kryptonite. It removes a Kryptonians power for 15 seconds. Which is more than enough for them to start blowing their heads off. Which appears to include Zor . . Kara's dad. Meanwhile we get a glimpse of Nightwing and Flamebird getting ready to patrol Gotham. And the Guardian . . remember from Cadmus? . . is trying to assemble his own strike force to do something about Kandor. While I appreciate what the Kandorians are trying to do . . save the people in the cities and the memory hive . . I really don't think the Earth is big enough for their goals. I'm thinking that they're going to have to find another planet, or planets, to take mission of mercy to. And what about all of these villains? I almost feel sorry for them. First they spend all that time on the planet that was trying to kill them in Salvation Run. And now? Now they're all locked up in a different dimension where they're intangible and have no hope of escape. They really haven't been able to catch a break. And Superman and Supergirl? They're caught up in the middle of everything. I really think that Geoff and Pete Woods outdid themselves with this issue. It was a fantastic read and I really can't wait for the next part of the story in Supergirl #36.

Justice League of America #27 - DC

First of all . . I have to admit . . I didn't really follow the Milestone comic imprint. At all. It was one of the first imprints DC did, not counting Vertigo, and I just wasn't that interested. However I will say that Ed Benes gives these characters some great life in this issue. The problem I'm having is . . I don't really know if they're 'good guys' or 'bad guys'. I mean, they kind of get off to a bad start in the beginning of the book, but . . I really think they're just looking for help. Then later on, Hardware and Iota break into the Justice League satellite to steal, what looks to be, some hazardous materials. I'm not really sure what that's all about. But it brings them head to head with the Justice League. "My name is Icon. My associates are the Shadow Cabinet. Some of you know me. All of you should accept me at my word. Allow us to pass, or I cannot guarantee your safety." That's kind of a demanding statement . . coming from someone who's just broke into someone else's headquarters. Should they really be taking that posture? I don't know. They look like some cool characters, but . . their imprint didn't last very long. Do they really think they're going to be that much of a draw now that they're integrated into the mainstream DC Universe? Does anybody really miss them? I'm glad for the infusion of 'new blood'. I think we need that every now and again. I guess I should reserve judgement until I see how this all plays itself out. Like I said . . Ed makes them all look fantastic. But, I really don't expect anything less from him. I assume that Dwayne McDuffie will get some more personal introductions going with the next issue. We see all their faces and their names, but . . we really don't know a whole lot about them right now. If they want us to buy into the characters . . we've got to get to know them better. We'll see where we go from here.

Green Lantern Corps #31 - DC

Wow! This Kryb character . . one of the Sinestro Corps, is one sick twisted SOB. There's a couple of important things that happen this issue. First of all, the Guardians add another law to the Book of Oa. "Physical relationships and love between Green Lanterns is forbidden within the Corps." That's not to say they can't have families and lives. They just can't do it with other Corps members. I don't think that's entirely unreasonable. Although I would imagine it would be pretty hard to hold down a steady relationship with a whole sector of space to patrol. Next we see a new Sapphire inducted in the Purple Corps, Miri. "Now that you've touched the Pure Heart, you are officially one of us. Charged not just to spread love, but to save love." That kind of seems like an ambiguous credo to follow, but . . it's what they believe. If they can do it . . more power to them. But most of this issue is spent with Matoo Pree trying to protect he unborn child from Kryb. The problem is, when she tries to fight him . . another group of Lanterns were sent after him, but he cover them in some kind of slim that works it's way into their bloodstream and now he controls them body and soul . . . she puts up a pretty good fight for a while, but then she's overwhelmed by the other Lanterns. She's knocked unconscious, and on the final page of the issue, all the other Lanterns are holding her down and it looks like Kryb is going to take the baby himself. Peter J Tomasi is doing a great job with the stories in this book. Obviously with this huge cast of characters, he has to keep many fronts going at the same time. I think he's doing a great job keeping that all straight. I'm also thrilled with Patrick Gleason's pencils. He's been a mainstay on pretty much this entire series, and it's definitely benefited because of him. He really give this book a great feel. He also does a great job of drawing all these various alien races. To me this book is almost as strong as the regular Green Lantern book. And that's saying a lot.

Superman / Batman #54 - DC

I'm going to start with the art again on this issue. Personally, I love Rags Morales' style. I think he draws some fantastic stuff. For some reason though, this guy is seriously underrated. He's been in the business for quite a while now, and you can tell because he has perfect page flow. His panels, and pages, flow seamlessly from one to another. Really, I just can't praise this guy enough. I really hope he gets the recognition he deserves. Anyways, on to the story. Last issue Batman obtained Superman's powers when Superman was hit by a blast from the Silver Banshee. She was after a brooch . . which we find out this issue was from Cawdor castle in Scotland, it's the same place where Macbeth took place . . . but when Superman tried to stop her, she his him with one of her patented howls. So this issue, Superman is trying to teach him how to control those powers. He's being overwhelmed with power, but if he can't control it he could do more damage than good. But, I think he's also being corrupted by that power. When he goes out on patrol, he tells Robin to stay behind. "You'll only slow me down. I'm not stopping tonight. I'm starting at the river and covering every inch of this city. You can't keep up. Every other night we leave some rock unturned, some crime unpunished. Gotham's just too big. But tonight I'm cleaning up the city once and for all." However, while he's pushing himself to the limits and taking his obsession to a new level . . he flies to Santa Prisca to take out Bane . . he forgets to keep an eye on his now powerless best friend. Lois and Clark are on a date and on the way home they here a scream come from down an alley. Of course Clark rushes in to try to help whoever's being hurt, but in the process he takes a bullet to the chest. The issue ends with Batman up in the atmosphere surveying the world, and Clark lying shot in an alley with Lois crying over him. Apparently Michael Green and Mike Johnson are going to be the regular scripters on this book now. I'm thinking they've done the last 8 or 10 issues. I think they're doing a pretty decent job so far. In this story I think they're doing a good job of chronicling Bruce's transformation. You know what they say . . absolute power corrupts, absolutely! I think Batman's on his way there.

Titans #8 - DC

First of all, I want to say that Howard Porter is one of my favorite artists. He's not overly flashy, with that painted style or anything . . I just like his stuff. I have ever since he did that run on Justice League. He just has a good style, and he draws some great action sequences. Now, as far as this whole Jericho thing . . I'm starting to think that Jericho hasn't necessarily turned all bad . . I think he's just trying to get through to these guys. I'm thinking that because he was trapped inside of Scratch for so long . . he's probably a little jumpy, and paranoid. I mean, after-all, that was kind of an alien conscious he's stuck in there with for so long . . constantly fighting to control him, and trying to keep him out of trouble. But, I am wondering . . how have his powers amped up so much? Or did they? We go through this whole story only to find out at the end that it all happened in Dick's mind. Last issue Jericho jumped to him, but he kept himself hidden so Dick didn't even know he was in there. Then, in order to gain control, he gets Dick to unconsciously inject himself with a hallucinogen, and then takes him through this whole scenario where he's beaten the entire team and destroyed their complex. So, all of the amped up stuff we saw him do . . . he actually did on the psychic plane . . inside of Dick's head. And, if he's in control of the scenario, he can pretty much do whatever he wants. So we haven't actually seen him do anything above and beyond . . besides hiding out in Dick's head without him knowing it. According to the next issue blurb . . we'll be seeing Jericho's story then. That could prove to be very interesting. I hope we find out where this story fits with the events in DC Decision also. Judd Winick is a great team writer. He does a fantastic job keeping all of his character's personalities separate and true to nature. He also writes some great interaction and dialogue between them all. I thought it was great when everybody was giving Garfield hell for not updated his security interview. "I got kind of busy and, well . . I don't really have any secrets. You all know me! I don't possess a filter between my brain and my mouth, or more importantly, have a sense of what's socially acceptable to discuss openly." Plus I'm really happy to see all of these characters back together again. They make a great team.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Final Crisis #5 - DC

What a fantastic issue in this series. I couldn't wait to get to this one. Grant Morrison is truly a genius. As we get further and further into this series, we get a better picture of how all of this stuff all fits together. All of the various minis that have come out of this, as well as his work over in Batman, and . . I believe . . the Seven Soldiers of Victory mega-epic that he did a few years ago . . . they're all connected. We just haven't been able do discern the big picture yet. But it's there. We're seeing more and more of it every month. So far, from the Seven Soldiers story, we're beginning to see Frankenstein's involvement, and with the last issue, the arrival of Grant's Mister Miracle, Shiloh Norman. Also there were some Japanese science heroes or something that were introduced in the prelude to all of this? They finally arrived with Shiloh last issue. Now they're all in the Checkmate castle, and with Mr Terrific, they're trying to assist with humanity's last stand. In the beginning of this book, we find out that one of the Alpha-Lanterns, Kraken, has been compromised by Darkseid also. She has been taken over by Granny Goodness and is trying to use subterfuge to approach and obtain the central power battery on OA. She attempts to frame Hal for deicide, but it's really just all a cover to mask her involvement. We also find out that the Lanterns now know of what's happening on Earth and are starting to feels it's ripples across other sectors. So a group of them are attempting to go there to make a difference. Meanwhile, also back at the Checkmate castle, Renee is there and is talking to Amanda and Khalid. They have a plan for, what they call, " . . the day the super-heroes failed to save us . .", and they want Renee to play a specific part in it. They also have, "Generation zero Biomacs", which look like the old OMAC's from the Jack Kirby mini-series. I think that's a great tip of the hat to the man who also created the Fourth World, the New Gods and . . . Darkseid. Man . . 'the King' had some tremendous vision. Anyways, I'm thinking that these 'Biomacs' are going to be their soldiers, and they're looking to Renee to lead their army. But it appears that the final battle is going to occur in the place that is also the rise of Darkseid . . . Bludhaven. Everything seems to be centered around this decimated city. The heroes come there this issue to try to make a stand. Also Darkseid's Furies . . his plague goddess . . Wonder Woman . . is also there. As are Kalibak and his Tiger-Clan. One of the keys, I think, is going to be this collection of humans that Darkseid's gathered in the bowels of the city. They're all people that for some reason are immune to the anti-life equation. One of them appears to be a dreamer . . she can summon things that she dreams and then draws. Also another seems to be able to harness the powers of the gods through his Rubik's cube. " . . there's a magical minimum number of moves you can solve a Rubik Cube with . . they call it the 'Number of God' . . . nobody ever did it in less than 18." But later, when some of Darkseid's minions come to gather them for interrogation and dissection . . . he does it in 17 . . and a wave of energy wipes them out. And, on the final page, we find out that Static is one of these people. So somehow, the Milestone characters that are beginning to become infused into the DC Universe are also going to be involved. We also get a slight hint into the Batman's fate. At the end of the last Batman issue, we saw that they had him hooked up to a machine and were doing something with him and a warehouse full of clones. This issue when Darkseid's minions are on their knees confessing their sins to him, Simyan tells him, " . . Mokkari has failed you, great one! The Batman psycho-merge killed the clone army these fools tried to build!" So, that could be good news or bad. In a way it tells us that Batman is still alive. But, we don't know the specifics of what happened so . . I'd only be guessing at what his ultimate fate is. But obviously he did something to throw a wrench into their plans. This issue JG Jones got some help on the art from Carlos Pacheco, Marco Rudy and Jesus Merino. The whole issue looked terrific. The artists each handled a specific aspect of the story. In the beginning, Carlos does all of the Green Lantern work. Overall, I thought the book came off very well. The thing I really love about this series is the way they're incorporating all of these mini's into the story. It's like this title lays out the main groundwork and story progression, and then the mini's serve to fill in all of the gaps . . the parts of the story that we don't necessarily see here, but is equally important. So far . . I think the plan is working out great. It's a brilliant masterpiece . . not only on Grant's part but by all of those involved in it's production. Kudos to all. And . . thanks!

Final Crisis: Revelations #4 - DC

Wow! It seems that Cain . . Vandal Savage . . has remade the world in Darkseid's image. I'm not sure what our little group of revolutionists can do from this point. At the end of this book . . it appears that all is hopeless. But . . we still have one more issue to go. And as you should know . . from the out-come of a lot of NFL games this year . . a lot can happen in the last 5 minutes. Greg Rucka is doing a tremendous job of interpreting this tale. It'll be very interesting to see what happens to the Spectre/Crispus Allen and Radiant/Sister Clarice after all of this plays itself out. During this tale, it appears that Radiant has Cain in a stand-off. He has gathered up a lot of people that have been converted by the anti-life equation, but Radiant holds them off, with her energy, while freeing and protecting a handful of those converted inside, what looks like, a church. During that time, the Question/Renee tries to figure out the secret of the Spear of Destiny. She knows that it is the key somehow, and that she's immune to it's power, but . . she hasn't quite figured out how those pieces all fit together yet. Also during all of this, Cain has made the Spectre his slave by separating him from his host, Crispus. Anyways, it seems as if the Question is about to figure something out when Radiant goes outside and puts herself in Cain's line of fire. I think she knows what Renee is about to do, or supposed to do, but she can't tell her herself. So, I'm thinking, that this ploy, putting herself out there in front of Cain, is a sacrifice play that she's making so Renee can do what she's supposed to. She actually kind of goads Cain into using the Spectre's obedience to make him recreate everything. That's why, at the end of this issue, it appears that all is lost. But I'm thinking, this is all part of Radiant's plan, and Renee's epiphany. Next issue, I'm hoping, we'll see how it all fits together. It shouldn't be to hard they just have to . . . figure out how to put Crispus and the Spectre back together, then get the Spectre to un-create what he's created . . they have to figure out how to put down Cain, and separate the Spear of Destiny from his grasp . . and they have to figure out how to free the converted from their anti-life slavery. It shouldn't be too hard to pack all of that into 1 issue. Right? Also, I'm sorry . . I can't finish here without praising Philip Tan for his amazing work. The pencils, and images, in this book are absolutely perfect. You can just feel the frustration and anger and hopelessness exuding off of these pages. Philip does an incredible job of creating images of all of the emotions entwined in this story. His image of the Huntress jumping down and attacking Cain was fantastic. I can't wait to see what they do for the final issue of this series. It's truly a masterpiece.

Trinity #28 - DC

Well, things seem to be starting to converge in the world right now. The energies of the Trinity seem to be the 'draw-string', let's say, that seems to be gradually pulling everything together. It doesn't all make sense right now, to those not in the know, but . . things are gradually trying to straighten themselves out. Alfred has gathered up a few close to the trinity . . himself, Dick, Donna, Nemesis, Lois and Kara . . and they're trying to figure out what they can do to try to help the process along. They end up in Happy Harbor in the old JLA cave. After some mystical tampering they find themselves in outside of some kind of village. They think it's the past, but I'm thinking it's actually the present . . but altered by all of this swirling energy. There's an incident going on down there, and they go to a priestess for judgement. The man is a thief, so it's swift. But then, 2 other priestess' appear and seem to balance the first's judgement. The preistess' wear robes that are similar to our Trinity. But the real surprise comes when they turn around and find that the mountain is now a huge monument in the form of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. As usual, Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley do a fantastic job with this story. In the back-up, we see what the Dreambound have been up to, in the name of the Evil Trinity. It's starts out with a prison break, but then we see that they're just trying to build an army that will cause a distraction and spread the Society thin. They're hoping that they can do their job without really being noticed much. It appears that their job is to go around to all of these 'disturbances' or shifts, around the world, and siphon off the creation energy from them. Obviously, Le Fey wants it to make their group that much stronger. A few things of interest were . . . Luthor is helping the Society. Mainly because they want a 'think-tank' to figure out what's going on and Luther is one of the 5 biggest minds around . . . including Magnus, Morrow, Sivana and Irons. Also, on this world Triumph is a member of the Society. So I'm wondering if we're going to see him again, back on our world, when all of this is straightened out. And finally, when Tomorrow Woman confronts the Dreambound in Metropolis at the sight of their latest energy siphon, TVM uses that energy on her . . and turns her into some type of humanoid robot. Another interesting chapter, and a little bit more that's sorted out for us. Excellent work again by Busiek, with the help of Fabian Nicieza and Tom Derenick. The pieces are all gradually coming together. We're on the down side of the slope now, so it's only a matter of time before everything start to sort itself out. I wonder if we're going to find out what the Trinity has been doing this whole time? Only a little more than 20 issues to go.

Nyx: No Way Home #4 - Marvel

I like this book. It's interesting. But . . it's all just kind of vanilla to me. By that, I guess, I mean that it's an interesting story, but . . there's really not a whole lot of excitement going on. At the end of the book, there's a twist that looks like it's going to make things a lot more interesting, but . . it'll still be kind of vanilla to me. Kiden, the lead character is really a gung-ho type of person. She definitely takes control of this little group of misfits. She's trying to keep them out of trouble, and under the radar, but . . things just keep happening. Recently Tatiana was shot and now she's in the hospital. Also Bobby, in his attempt to help things by possessing the gangster that was threatening them all, is now without his memories. However, as they attempt to rescue Tatiana, he does seem to remember a doctor who worked at the shelters. He remembers hearing rumors that she also helped people out on the sly out of her apartment. It turns out that it's Cecilia, Cecilia Reyes. You remember. Wasn't she Hanks love interest at one time? I remember that they wanted her to join the X-Men, but she opted to stay out with the 'real' people and help out with her medical abilities. She's a mutant, but it's more of a defensive power than anything else. Anyways, now they're under her care. I think the X-Men are going to get involved because she goes out and calls him to ask for a favor. Now, the part that may prove to be a little more interesting. Throughout this book, there's a woman following Kiden. It appears that she can see her even when she's using her mutant powers to stop time. So that would suggest that she's also a mutant. She confronts her later on in the book and their exchange is kind of interesting. First Kiden tries to use her power on her, but . . it doesn't work. "You'll have to do a lot better than that. You have a lot to learn. It's my job to teach you. But I'm much harder to kill than that other man. When you're ready to learn . . when you're ready to get out of this mess . . look for me." She gives her a business card that says Empire State University. We don't find out who it is she's working for though. She's goes back to the place where they're holding Palmer, and someone is talking to them over the speaker-phone. What's interesting is that Kiden's father is there also. He's shot, and dead, but . . he appears to be a zombie or maybe possessed by someone. I think that Marjorie Liu is doing a decent job with this story. But, to me . . it just seems more like an episode of a soap-opera . . with a few people with extraordinary abilities involved. Like I said it's just not that exciting. But, it is interesting. Personally, I think part of the problem is Kalman Andrasofszky's art. To me, it really doesn't do the story justice. Although, it is in the same style as that of the first series. So, I'm guessing, that's why the choice was made. It's not terrible art. It just really doesn't do anything for me. Like I said in the beginning of this series, I really only picked this up because I did enjoy the last series. So I thought I'd give it a chance. It was ok. I just don't think it's worth the $25 I'll have spent by the time I buy all 6 issues. Sorry!

x-infernus #1 - Marvel

First of all, this issue sports a fantastic cover by David Finch. I mean look at it. Meeoowww! If it wasn't for the hoofed feet, she'd be pretty hot. Why is it the bad girls always look so good? Anyways, it appears that this series is going to sort out all of this stuff that's happened between Illyana and Pixie. CB Cebulski is the writer, and Giuseppe Camuncoli is the penciler. Right now Illyana is storming through Limbo looking for her soulsword and her amulet. Pixie, meanwhile, is in San Francisco being tested by Kurt. He's trying to figure out the extent and accuracy of her teleporting powers. But, I'm thinking, they aren't really powers. She's kind of a witch, like Illyana. So if she teleports, it's with some form of spell or incantation. Which she tries to explain to Kurt, but I don't think he's listening. "I decided that, you know, what's the difference if I do one teleport or two if it's a spell that I'm using. And I thought . . ." Also there's third party involved. It's Belasco's daughter. I think she calls herself Witchfire. With him dead, she wants control of his realm and his seat at the table of power. She has the Amulet and with it the lost bloodstones. By the way, we know that Pixie also has a soulsword . . actually, it's a dagger now. Kurt starts asking questions about it and she gets upset with him for it. She decides to pull it out anyways, but in the effort she's overcome with some raw emotions and immediately sinks it into Kurt's chest. Hank comes to help, and with his suggestion she attempts to pull it out. But she's having a hard time . . it's connected to something. After pulling it all the way out, she finds out that it's attached to Illyana's soulsword. That can't be good. And as soon as it's pulled out . . Illyana shows up demanding it's return. I'm starting to think that Illyana, Pixie and Witchfire are all intimately involved and connected through all of this. So much so that they may be aspects of the same person . . . maybe? I'm just guessing right now. But to me, they almost seem like they're all Illyana. Or, at least, aspects of her during various parts of her life. Is that how Belasco chose to hide the sword and amulet . . by separating her various selves . . without her knowledge? I really hope that this series answers the questions about Illyana. This, really, has been going on for way to long. I think that we finally need to have a definitive version of just what and who is Illyana, and how she fits in to this world . . or with Limbo. The various aspects of her character have been up in the air for far to long. I don't know how Peter's been able to deal with this for as long as he has. She's dead, but . . she isn't. He just can't get to her. We'll just have to wait and see where we go from here.

Cable #9 - Marvel

I like this book. Cable is one of my favorite characters, and I think Duane Swierczynski is doing a great job with his portrayal. However . . we're in the realm of this whole time-paradox thing again. To me, these themes tend to be more of a headache than they're worth. Ok, here's the way the plan is explained. First of all, Nathan is hiding in New Liberty. It's an urban legend. Even in the future . . the far future . . they talk about it like it's a myth. Nobody actually saw it, and nobody knew where it was. It's protected behind an impenetrable force field. But Nathan found his way in. Luckily Bishop doesn't know where he's at, but even if he did . . he wouldn't know where to find New Liberty anyways. So his plan was to go back to our time, steal some WMD's and go and destroy the future. He figured if Nathan had no place to jump to, it would be easier to narrow his chance for escape. Now, the problem I have is . . which future did he destroy. I mean . . aren't all futures just possibilities? So the one's he destroyed might not necessarily be the one's that Nathan would jump to? And how exactly is he justifying these actions? Is he thinking that since it's the future, and he's in the past, that he's actually not killing these people because they haven't been born yet? And if they haven't been born yet, who's to say that the future couldn't just roll out the same? Even if it was different, it would still be there. Right? Anyways, this is the thing about these time-travel stories that really give me a headache. There's 2 saving graces to this book. First is Nathan's character. He's a great character to watch and read about. And he always has an adventure to follow. Secondly is Ariel Olivetti's incredible art. He has been doing a fantastic job with this book and he continues to amaze me every issue. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy this book, and I've liked the stories so far. It's just that all of this time-travel stuff . . with all of it's various possibilities . . drive me crazy. The stories themselves are fun, but there's just to many variables and options available for it to be even remotely realistic. I know that's a jaded view, but . . that's how these stories leave me feeling.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

the New Avengers #47 - Marvel

This is blog #3000. I was going to try to pick a special book for this one, but then . . I figured I needed to stay on track, so I just went with whatever popped up next in the pile. As it turns out . . it was the New Avengers. I like this book. Through this Secret Invasion story-line, it seems like the stories were getting in this book are the peripheral ones. We see glimpses of the actual conflict and such, but . . mostly we see the stories of how what's going on out there is affecting the members of this group. This issue we focus on Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. Oh yeah, and their baby. We see how Luke and Jessica are trying to be the best parents they can be. They know that their daughter is going to be growing up in a crazy world out there . . especially considering the line of work that her parents are involved in. But, they're desperately trying to make her life appear, and be, as normal as possible. To see Luke freak out over the changing of some diapers is hilarious. We also get a glimpse into how these 2 first met. Well . . I should say, not necessarily how they met, but the time when Luke first fell in love with her. He was searching for his father . . desperately trying to make contact with him and show him that he was someone he could be proud of. He had exhausted many options and eventually went to Jessica's agency. She eventually found him. Reconciliations were not made, but . . I think Luke, with Jessica's help, began to accept his father's decision. He didn't understand it, but . . he accepted it. It was through this process, and Jessica's caring and nurturing, that Luke came to love her. And through all of that, he came to love this new addition to his life . . this little baby girl. So, on the final page, when we find out that the Skrulls have broken into Stark towers and have stolen their baby . . . the anguish and frustration on Luke's and Jessica's face is all that much more profound. You can feel it oozing of off the page. I thought Brian Bendis did a great job with this issue. He really brought us into the characters lives and illustrated how important the are to each other. Then, at the end, we can feel what they're feeling when it's all ripped apart. I thought he expressed the story perfectly. I was equally impressed with Billy Tan and Michael Gaydos' art. It wasn't perfect . . it wasn't flashy. But, I think, it expressed the feelings and emotions of the story perfectly. It ended up being a pretty moving issue. What more could you ask for? I enjoyed it thoroughly.

the Amazing Spider-man #579 - Marvel

I really liked this story. I've talked and talked about how, to me, the strength of this character is his supporting cast. All the people that are involved in Peter's, and Spider-man's life are what make this book so thoroughly entertaining. But, with that being said . . this whole issue is focused on Spider-man and his attempt to get all of these people out of the sub-way tunnel that collapsed around them last issue. None of the traditional supporting cast was anywhere to be found . . thank god, or they'd be stuck down here too, but . . he still interacted with the people that he was involved with. And it was that interaction, and their conversations, that really made this book interesting to me. Especially the new character that was introduced . . JJ's father. Apparently he's been out of JJ's life for quite a while but moved back to the city about a year ago. The people on this sub-way car that we're attacked . . essentially, that's what it was . . are all juror's on a mob trial. JJ's father is a member of this jury. There was a bomb placed on the car, and then the Shocker was hired to make sure the job was finished. Anyways, the escape from this situation seems pretty hopeless, but Spider-man is doing everything he can. In the process he tries to keep the people interacting through conversation so, hopefully, he can keep their mind off of just how serious their situation really is. Eventually they do get out, but not without some serious effort on Spider-man's part. JJ shows up at the scene because he sees a picture of the Jurors when they're reporting the story on TV. I'm not sure if he recognized his father or not, but he races down there pretty fast. And Spider-man can't wait to rub it in his face that now he's going to owe him one. In all of the confusion, though, JJ's father slips away and neither of them see him again. I thought that Mark Waid did a good job with this story. Even without all of his supporting cast, he still kept the book interesting and emotionally moving. I wasn't overly thrilled with Marcos Martin's pencils, but . . there are some moments of brilliance. I think that's what frustrates me about artists sometimes . . their lack of consistency. Like in this book, there's some panels that are absolutely incredible, but then . . some that look like they could be out of a kid's book. Maybe I'm being overly critical. I mean, I couldn't do what Marcos does . . even the simple stuff. I'll just say that his work didn't thrill me this issue . . and leave it at that. But, overall . . I did enjoy the book. Thanks!

Weapon X - First Class #2 - Marvel

Another X-Men mini-series! Although I had to get this one because I've liked the rest of the First Class run with the X-Men and Wolverine. As with the last blog, I feel that this story could've run in the other title, Wolverine: First Class, but . . then again maybe not because Kitty's not involved. I kind of get the feeling that they're 'testing the waters' here. What we have here is almost the same as the Original Sins story-line that just ran through the Origins book. Charles is delving into Logan's mind to help him recover some of his lost memories. In the Original Sins story-line, they spent a lot of time there also. But this, I believe, is one of their earlier attempts at reconstructing some of his memories. This is another retelling of the story where the Weapon X program made him into a killing machine. This issue covers the story where they pumped his skeleton full of the Adamantium. But I think the real point of this particular story is to delve more into the characters surrounding Logan . . the scientists who did this to him . . Doc Cornelius, Professor Horton and Ms Hines. Apparently the Professor didn't warn Cornelius or Ms Hines, Hinesy, that Logan was a mutant. They had no idea. It'll be interesting to see how the personalities of these 3 also affected the finished product . . Wolverine. Marc Sumerak and Mark Robinson brought us this story. It was ok . . for what it was. But if you already read Marvel Comics Presents #72 through #84, you've already seen this story in it's entirety . . and in a much better presentation. But . . it is what it is. In the back of the book there's a little 9 page story about Deadpool and his relationship to all that's going on in the main story. It was told in the usual dead-pan style that his stories are, but what really surprised me was the art. Tim Seeley does the art for this part of the story, and it was really pretty sharp looking. I much preferred it to Mark's art in the lead. And then of course there's Michael Ryan's fantastic cover. I thought the book was ok. But, if you religiously follow the X-Men, there wasn't really anything new presented here. You've seen it all before.

Wolverine: Manifest Destiny #2 - Marvel

I also enjoyed this book. Again . . there's a serious proliferation of Wolverine books out there right now. Especially with all these mini-series and one-shots coming out. I'm going to say, right now, that I'm not going to be buying all of them. I just can't. I love this character, but . . it's a serious drain on my weekly expenses. The same goes for all of the X-Men minis. I'm going to get the ones that appeal to my eye, or I think might have a significant effect on the X-Men family, or community, but . . there's a lot of stuff out there right now. I like the Marvel Origins, or the 'year 1' type stories, but . . the rest is just that . . stories. Some are important . . some not. So I'm going to stick with the main titles, and I'll give the minis a look when I think they deserve one. Sorry! I know that sounds a bit pessimistic, but . . I have to be realistic too. Anyways, my only real complaint about this book is that it seems that it could've been a Wolverine Origins story. We're going back about 50 years into Logan's past and seeing how he changed Lin's life . . I'm sorry, Black Dragon . . and perspective. But everything that happens here, and in the past, seems to be leading up to his reintroduction to Master Po. That is of course after Master Po rescues him off the street after he's been beaten down like an animal. Now he has to give himself up to Master Po, and submit to his training. Otherwise he's going to have no hope of beating the Black Dragon or her minions . . . Rock of the Buddha, Fist of Fire, Storm Sword and Soulstriker. By the way, this was a great introduction to an interesting cast of characters. I kind of feel like they could maybe replace the Ravagers. But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. I think Jason Aaron is doing a good job with this story-line. I like the way it's unfolding and this past history that we're getting about Logan. However, I'd have to say that the real star of this book is Stephen Segovia. His artwork is looking fantastic. I'm not sure what he's doing different . . lines, inking, coloring . . but whatever it is, it comes off great in the finished product. Of course I think the theme and setting for this book helps a lot also. I still feel that it could've been in the Origins book, but . . I'm enjoying it nonetheless.

X-Men: Manifest Destiny #4 - Marvel

Surprisingly, I like this book. I mean . . I'm not surprised that I like the characters, but . . with all of the X-Men books out there, and now all of these mini-series coming out . . there's a serious proliferation of the market going on right now. You'd think that the stories would just get repetitive, or tedious. But with the X-Men, they do a good job of keeping things interesting. Even with the overabundance. I still think this book reminds me of Marvel Comics Presents. I think it's the format with the 3 short stories. To me, the best story continues to be the Bobby Drake/Mystique story-line in the front of the book. I'm not sure what Mystique's motivations or goals are for pushing Bobby this hard, but . . she really seems to be testing the limits of his capabilities. Tough love . . if you will. Mike Carey and Michael Ryan are doing a fantastic job with this part of the book. Our second story about Mercury, by CB Cebulski and Andre Coelho was ok. It wasn't as action packed, but it was nice to see Cessily again. She's been out of the picture for a little while . . ever since they made that beast out of her skin. However, I think that with this story . . and her little therapy session with X-23 . . that we may be seeing more of her soon. And finally we get a glimpse at Kurt and how he's dealing with his loss. He's got a couple of problems actually. First he's trying to figure out hope to cope with Kitty, and secondly he's feeling that the 'new' X-Men are younger and stronger. "Pixie has already proven to be a stronger teleporter than myself. And with so few students, my services are hardly required . . .", so right now he's easily distracted . . and not much help in a fight. But I think he's selling himself short. He's going through danger-room scenarios and he's having a hard time keeping focused. But I think when the chips are down . . and someones life is actually on the line . . he's more than proven himself ready and able to step up to the plate and be part of the team. It was a nice little self-reflection story by James Asmus and Takeshi Miyazawa. Like I said, overall I enjoyed the book. I especially liked the Humberto Ramos cover. Fantastic!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Have you hugged someone today?

First of all, I want to say that this isn't a bitch-fest for me. I'm not writing to try to complain, or grovel, or to try to make anyone feel sorry for me. I've just had a lot of stuff go on in the last few weeks and I think, personally, it'll just help me sort it all out if I write it down. I took a vacation last week from work, and ended up spending most of it trying to help my parents move. I'm not complaining. I'm the oldest son, so . . that's what I do. It's just . . the whole situation was rather depressing. Not necessarily for my parents. They're more comfortable now. They're in a home that's better suited for their needs and mobility. This is about the 3rd or 4th time I've helped them move in the last . . . oh, 10 to 12 years. I actually get down about a couple of things. First is my mother's health. She's been fighting a blood disease for about 20, or so, years. It's a very expensive fight and my father has to do everything he can to help her, work with her and comfort her. She has a treatment about every 4 or 5 weeks. The week before she's very susceptible to illness and is especially weak. The week after . . . it takes her about 5 to 7 days to recover. So she gets about 2 weeks a month where she feels almost normal. Therefore whenever they move, they have less and less stuff. Their budget gets tighter every single year. Sometimes every single month. But . . they're fighting. Mom reads constantly, and dad does his best to stay busy. I think so things don't overwhelm him. Anyways, the part about this that gets me down is, obviously, I've seen the progression of their lives for many years now. Whenever I help them move, I'm reminded first how fleeting life really is. It's hard to watch your parents get old. And secondly how the acquisition of money or 'things' really just isn't that important. As we go through our lives we spend different periods of time attempting to acquire something. Whether it's days, weeks, months, years . . . we have a yearning for something that we think we need . . something that will make us whole . . or happier. But we never are more 'whole', or happier. At least not because of something that we 'got'. In fact most of the time when we reach those goals, we just move on to another one. That then becomes the 'important' one. Do you see where I'm going with this? Years from now, the things that we 'want' or strive for today . . . really don't mean diddly. They usually end up on the top shelf of some closet . . or a garage sale. The second thing that really gets me down about this whole thing is that I always wish I could do more for them. Time always seems to be the biggest factor. They live about 40 minutes from me and I do have to work for a living. Unfortunately my job is one that requires my attention pretty much 24/7. I can't leave work at work. I would if I could, but . . I can't. Between that and my wife's job, it's hard to find the time to even visit, let alone spending the day to help them with whatever. I usually try to call and talk to them everyday, but . . it just doesn't seem like enough. I also do whatever I can, whenever I can, but still . . it just doesn't seem like enough. And then of course the holiday season serves to stir everything up and bring all those feelings and emotions to the top of the glass. I'll be spending Christmas day with them. Part of that will be visiting, but then I'll feel like I need to do something. Even if it's just trying to help them organize or put away stuff from their recent move. The problem I have is . . it just never feels like enough. I know a lot of people have a lot of problems out there. Some worse, some not. I guess the point I'm trying to make is . . . spend some time with the people that are important to you. Spend some time, and let them know that they're important to you. Give 'em a hug. And enjoy the moments that you have together. The moments don't last, but . . the memories do. Make some . . while you can.