Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Uncanny X-Men #509 - Marvel

I can't believe I only have 2 Marvel books this week. And, only 1 X-Men book. It seems like that never happens. There were a couple of mini's out this week, but . . for the most part, I'm trying to stay away from those. Partly because of the cover price. Especially the plethora of Wolverine books that have hit the shelves in anticipation of the movie release. But it looks like things will be getting back to normal next week. I think there's 10 or 12 Marvels in the pile next week. Anyways, this book is starting to heat up again. I can't believe that Madelyne Pryor is back. I mean, I knew she would be eventually, but . . . I'm a little confused as to her actual state-of-being. Last issue she took the body of Kwannon and brought it back to life. She wanted to have the empty shell to put the essence of Psylocke into it. I was trying to figure out what she was up to, but this issue we find out that it was really all just a test. She wanted to see if she could do it. "And now we can control her. She does what we say. All of the power and none of the personality. Bodies and minds capable of housing such tremendous psychic powers are rare things, my darling girls, especially dead ones. We needed to reanimate a body capable of containing a psyche that powerful. Now that we've tested and succeeded in doing it once . . . we'll be doing it again. I have no home sisters. This is why I have assembled you. This is why I need your help. What we've done to Psylocke is a test. While her abilities and talents are welcome, the real accomplishment is housing the spirit inside new flesh. There have been but two humans gifted enough to contain power as great as mine. My first host was destroyed irrevocably. And the second? Well. I had thought the X-Men would have caught wind of us and stopped our first ritual. So I wanted them gone." Apparently, Madelyne isn't a whole being. She's an apparition, or some kind of psychic being. That part isn't really explained. So I guess she needs a body so that she can become whole and wreak havoc on the X-Men's lives. The assumption is, she's probably going after Emma. They attack the X-Men in the middle of the night and take them out one by one. But as it turns out, the person that she wants for her host is . . . Logan? That's an interesting twist of events. Also, the members of Hank's little science club decide that since they sent someone into the future, maybe they can send someone into the past. "If we could study the parents of a . . what would we call it, a first-generation mutant? We could see what the genetic indicators and eccentricities made such an evolutionary leap possible." They all assume that Namor was the first mutant, but apparently Hank and Dr Nemesis have been keeping a secret. "Nicely done, Dr McCoy. Lady and gentlemen and Jefferies, what McCoy is so subtly insinuation is . . it's me. I was born in 1906. I am kept alive by an aggressive array of bizarre narcotics of my own invention and my unending annoyance of you all. And I was born here, San Francisco. You want a sample of pre-mutant DNA, my parents are prime candidates." This is what I like about Matt Fractions writing . . he always fills his stories with original ideas. He definitely thinks outside of the box. Between Matt and Greg Land . . this is a heck of a book right now.

Dark Avengers #4 - Marvel

I think this book has a neat feel to it. Really, my only complaint about the whole book is the way Mike Deodato drew Iron Patriot on the front cover. He just doesn't look right. But, other than that . . I loved the book. It's got to be extremely liberating for Brian Bendis to be able to write a super-group like this. They're put together on the team in the traditional sense, but then . . since they're all actually 'bad-guys', they don't have to follow the traditional rules. They can pretty much do whatever they want. Well . . I guess I should say, they can pretty much do whatever Norman will let them do. That's kind of ironic, isn't it? Norman . . the consistent avatar of chaos, is now leading 7 others . . setting the rules . . keeping the leash's short . . having to play the adult, the role model, the parent. Whodathunkit? The part that I like about this team is the way all the characters snipe at each other. If it wasn't for Norman's strict discipline, there wouldn't be any team-work at all. There shouldn't be any team-work. On paper this team shouldn't work. But oddly enough . . Norman is making it work. A couple of things that come out this issue . . apparantly, Dr Doom is in possession of the Cosmic Cube. Does anybody else know that he has that? And why didn't Norman say anything? He's got to know how important and powerful that is. I think Moonstone has the hots for Marvel Boy. Also, something is up with the way that Morgana Le Fay takes out Ares. She does a transforming spell, turning him to stone. It's easy enough for Doom to reverse it, but even Norman asks . . "If she could take him out, why wouldn't she just do it all the way?" So, there might be something fishy there. And Bob . . Bob is an enigma. Last issue Morgana took him out. And by taking him out, I mean she made him disappear from existence. When the fighting ends, and the dust settles, he's no-where to be found. Then, as they're returning to Avengers tower . . all of the sudden it looks like somebody turned on the sun right over the building. It's so bright it's almost blinding. But right in the middle of it . . Bob's floating over the building. Moonstone comments, "Okay, uh, does he officially scare the crap out of anyone else?" And Bullseye asks, "Better question: when he flips out once and for all, what, if anything, could kill him?" On the last page of the issue, Bob is floating . . basking in the radiant rays, blond hair wisping in the wind, with an almost wry or sly look on his face . . it looks like he's exerting no energy whatsoever. He and Norman lock stares. Norman looks genuinely concerned. Maybe Norman isn't as 'in-control' as he thinks he is. Like I said, I really liked the book. Of course it doesn't hurt to have Mike Deodato Jr. doing the artwork. Every panel looked freakin' fantastic. Moonstone and Morgana both looked hot as hell. Which begs the question, how can bad girls look so good?

Masquerade #3 - Dynamite Entertainment

I like this book, and I find this character intriguing. However, this issue . . to me, it was more than a little confusing. The problem I have with this character is that she's a detective who seems to derive answers from her memories and previous events. It's almost like she has this hidden switch that turns on the memories that are specifically related to what's happening around her at that time. Basically, it helps her put 2 and 2 together faster. And that's cool. I mean, she doesn't have any 'super-powers' per-se, but . . she does have this unique deductive skill. Plus . . she's amazingly hot, and has a very strong drive and will. Whether she's a hero or not, that's what she wants to be. Even if she has to prove it . . to everyone. Anyways, the problem I have is . . well, take this story for instance. She's trying to find out what happened to the Face. She's tracked him down with a kidnapping case that led him to an amusement park. It seems to be overrun with criminals and felons. The one she thinks has the answers is named Topsed. Which to me seems like a really silly name. Anyways, as she's working her way through this, she keeps going back to these previous memories. I get the one that her brother betrayed their family for some money. In the process of which, he was killed. But then she also goes back to the memory of when the Fighting Yank tricked her into opening the urn that trapped her. Then she goes back to the memories after her father died. She had a suitor ready to aide and help her with the family business, but . . she decided to be alone. This appears to also be the time that she decide to be Masquerade diligently. She'd wore the costume as a kid but never really thought of, or assumed it as a secret identity. It was all just play, before. And that's how the issue ends. Which is why I'm confused. Is this whole story about her looking for the Face, in the past? Is everything in this issue her thinking of the past? And right now . . if so . . I don't really see how it's all connected. Anyways, like I said . . I like the book. I think that Alex Ross has come up with a terrific idea here, and Phil Hester is doing a good job of interpreting that into this mini. I also think that Carlos Paul's art is improving by leaps and bounds every issue. As a stand alone issue . . this one just really had me confused. Maybe it'll all make more sense after I read #4, the final part of this series. I hope so.

Spawn #191 - Image

This story is really starting to heat up. Last issue, Jim, in his Spawn form went back to the alley. Or, I guess I should say, went to the alley for the first time . . that he knows of. One of the guys on the street thought that he recognized him and led him to his 'throne'. Anyways, while there, thinking, one of the 'angels' comes up on him. She's also talking to him as if she knows him, but it isn't until she's pretty much told him everything that she knows that she realizes this isn't whom she thinks it is. Knowing that she has some of the answers he looking for, he pins her to the wall to get them. Actually, he's trying to get her to stay there until he goes and checks on Sara. He's afraid that the men that are watching her apartment may hurt her. After threatening them, he finds out that they work for a Gilbert Sanchez. So that's his next stop. Meanwhile, the Clown has come upon the scene in the alley and has found the Angel pinned to the wall. He also decides to try to get some information from her, but . . he's willing to torture her along the way. The issue ends with him ripping her wings off. "I've lived long enough to know there are things worse, far worse than death. Especially for an angel. Let me demonstrate." We also catch up with Marc this issue. He's the reporter that's trying to put the story together about what happened at St. Anthony's. He's really confused because he's got a lot of pieces that shouldn't connect, but . . they do. And then when he thinks he's got something, it turns out to be a dead-end. But he knows there's a story there. He just can't figure out what it is. On top of all of this, next issue . . some vampires are thrown into the mix. Personally, I really like this new direction that Todd McFarlane has taken this book. To me it just feels like it's been given a new life. I can't wait to figure out what Jim's secret is. Also, Whilce Portacio is doing an incredible job with the pencils. Every issue has looked phenomenal. 191 issues into it, and this series is just as strong, if not stronger, than ever. Fan-frikkin-tastic!

Avengers / Invaders #10 - Marvel / Dynamite Entertainment

Well, the first 10 issues of this book have led up to a good old-fashioned fist fight that I'm sure we'll see in the final 2 issues. Paul Anslem, the soldier that accidentally came forward in time with the Invaders, was the first to return to the past. The problem? He grabbed the Cosmic Cube on the way into the mist and took it into the past with him. By the time the Invaders, and the Avengers also got back there . . the entire face of the world had changed. In this world the Nazi's had indeed won the war, but it wasn't under the maniacal machinations of the Fuhrer . . it was under the heavy fist of the Red Skull. Now the heroes have to attempt to retrieve the Cube and hopefully 'fix' the world. The Avengers have disguised themselves as heroes of the war to better blend in. This issue they go to Wakanda for the Black Panther's help. He has a machine that can burrow though the Earth and is cloaked from the enemies gaze. With this they hope to enter the enemy territory behind the wall that surrounds most of Europe. The problem though is going to be getting to the Cube. It appears that the Red Skull won't let it out of his grasp. And that's not all he holds dear. On the final page he enters into a room where he's got all the 'heroes' of the war pinned to the wall like so many captured butterflies. Like I said, I think it's just going to be a major slug-fest next issue. Oh yeah, we see Nick Fury and his Howling Commando's this issue also. That was neat. I mean, don't get me wrong. All in all it's a pretty cool story. I just think it's going to end the way all the great war-comics did . . the 'good guys' fight the 'bad guys' . . ground is lost, and gained . . along with soldiers. But in the end . . 'good' overcomes 'evil'. It's simple. But, it's tried and true. Another fantastic issue by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and Steve Sadowski. We've only got 2 to go. Enjoy it while you can.

Madame Xanadu #10 - Vertigo

This issue brings Nimue up to date on her story, and into the current DC Universe . . . or at least the beginning of the Age of Heroes. It also resolves her story, sort of, with the Phantom Stranger. She's been ready to condemn the Stranger for his inability, or unwillingness, to help in a couple of situations that she's seen him in. She sees his actions as an insensitive response to events that caused misery, heartache and loss of life. He seemed to know what was unfolding, but refused to do anything to alleviate the negative aspects. But then . . then Nimue witness' the birth of the Age of Heroes. Or, more specifically, the death of Jim Corrigan and the birth of the Spectre. I think with this event she realizes that even though she could've stopped a person or 2 from suffering that the overall event was more important than individual responses. Plus, I think she feels a little guilty. "What have I done? Out of spite. Through caprice. By connivance. I . . have unleashed the Spirit of Vengeance on an unsuspecting world!" She's torn. She thought she was doing the right thing, but . . was she acting simply out of her feelings for the Stranger? In the months ahead she contemplates her actions and comes up with a decision . . . "It is not enough to simply gaze into eternity for the satisfaction of my own desires and curiosity. To expiate my past misdeeds, I must offer my assistance to any who have need and all who ask. Finally, this is the path that destiny has chosen for me. The future . . has only just begun." And that's when she hangs up her sign . . 'Madame Xanadu - enter freely and be unafraid'. I thought these first 10 issues were a fantastic 'origin' of one of DC's most enigmatic mystical characters. I mean, she's been in and out of several 'magic' stories over the course of the DC history, but she's only ever really had 1 issue to herself. And that was way back in the 70's. And who better to write this tale than Matt Wagner? He really did a terrific job with this story. Plus we got introduced to the new talent of Amy Reeder Hadley. She also did a fantastic job. But . . that's not the end of the story. There's still more to tell, and next month Matt is joined by Michael Wm. Kaluta on a new 6 part story. I can't wait. So far I'm thoroughly impressed with this title.

Superman / Batman #59 - DC

This one ended up being an interesting issue, and story-line. I thought that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning did a great job with this one. The whole thing was resolved, and explained, but . . it wasn't over done. With all the various aspects and ideas that were introduced in this story . . the whole sub-microscopic world and everything . . this one could've taken a long time to roll-out, and explain. Basically, the Nanites were trying to 'over-load' Superman. When he exploded, it would've caused a rift in the space-time continuum that would've allowed the Nanites to invade the macroverse, our world. That was the immediate threat. But, Batman also had to worry about how long they were down here. With no direct contact with the sun's energy, Superman would eventually wither up and die. Anyways, Batman uses the parasites that took out his ship, on the way in, to suck out the excess energy from Superman's body. Then, they went after the Core . . the leader of the Nanites, and the source of their code. Batman surmised that they could use him to 'fix' the rest of the Nanites, and use his power against him by turning it into a beacon for Robin and John Henry to find them. Of course they accomplish all of this and spend the next couple days helping this world's denizens rebuild. Finally, they get out and find out that the whole thing only lasted a couple of minutes in real-world time. Things about the Prankster weren't really explained, but . . I still liked the book. It was a nice little story that wasn't overly complicated. Big 'revelations' or 'twists' weren't attempted, and the whole thing came across as a nice little tale. I also enjoyed Whilce Portacio's art. He's a great artist and he did a good job interpreting this new world and it's inhabitants. To me, this book really has the feel of the old World's Finest Comics. To those that don't know . . that's a compliment.

Batman: Gotham after Midnight #12 - DC

I was just saying how I was missing my monthly influx of Bat-titles . . and then this issue comes out. I was really looking forward to this series. I mean why not? Steve Niles is doing the story and Kelley Jones does the art. What's not to love? Well, with all that anticipation, I have to say that I was thoroughly disappointed with the way that this series wrapped up. Basically, it could've ended last issue. When Midnight was in the Wind-mill last issue, and it went up in flames . . everyone, except Batman, assumed that he/she was dead. Only Batman thinks that it was all some kind of ruse. During the fire he believes that he sees a glimpse of April's face. Basically this entire issue was spent with Batman confirming his suspicions and revealing that Midnight is indeed April. It all has to do with her father, a corrupt cop in Gotham's past history of governmental corruption. Apparently everyone that's been killed was somehow connected to April's father, John Clarkson. But, honestly, the whole thing left me thinking . . 'Who cares?' I mean it's not like we didn't see it coming. We all had our suspicions. It wasn't really a huge leap in logic. However, this entire issue is spent explaining it to us and how everything was connected. Boring! Then to top it off, Alfred goes on a 3 page rant scolding his 'boss' and consoling him at the same time about the loss of his perceived love. It was all rather long winded and I think unnecessary. Midnight faked her death. End of story. She's still out there. Who cares? And now Batman finds himself with a new 'rogue' in his gallery. I still feel this whole thing could've been done in a 4 issue mini-series. Don't get me wrong, Steve is a talented writer. I was just disappointed in the way this whole thing rolled out. Kelley's artwork was perfect, as always. However, this issue . . the panels were completely overrun with dialogue. It went on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on . . . . .

Superman #687 - DC

With Superman off planet for the foreseeable future, there's still quite a lot of stuff going down in Metropolis. But, just like anyone else, in their absence . . the world still has to go on, with or without them. Superman has his 'friends' watching the city for him . . Mon-el, Guardian, John Henry, along with some of his various JLA teammates . . but there's still some people out there who have plans and ideas for the vacuum created by the 'man-of-steel's' absence. We get a look at a few this issue, and how their trying to gauge the current state-of-affairs of the city. Chief among the culprits is Lex Luthor and General Lane with their Project 7734. Jimmy noticed that '7734' looks like 'hELL' upside down on a calculator. I'm not sure what the signifigance is, but . . when I see the text I'm already starting to call it Project Hell in my mind. Anyways, they're keeping an eye on Superman's 'friends', and I think trying to figure out what to do about them. Also don't forget that Intergang is still out there. They're lying low right now, but . . you never know when they'll make a return appearance. Atlas is also trying to figure out more about the 'city-from-the-future' that he's come to. Right now, under guise, he's got John Henry showing him around. And now Parasite is on the scene. He hasn't done anything yet, but it's only a matter of time. Actually, there seems to be a lot of Superman's 'rogues' popping up. Shrapnel also makes an appearance this issue. I think they're all testing the waters . . as it were. The issue ends with 2 major things happening . . first Jim Harper is putting together a special team to go and get Tellus. He's that Legion telepath that lives in the water tank, like a big fish. I'm interested in that storyline because I am kind of wondering what he's doing back in our time anyways. And it seems that someone has decided to step up and take action against Mon-el because on the final page, as he's flying across the city, his powers go out. I think James Robinson is doing a good job of weaving many various things into the storyline here. I really like that about his style . . his stories are very multifaceted. I'm still not thrilled with Renato Guedes pencils, but . . he's the regular artist on this series, so I think I'm getting used to them. He seems to have a pretty good feel for this book and the characters, his style just doesn't overly excite me. But . . that's just me.

Wonder Woman #31 - DC

To me, the only downfall about this issue is that Aaron Lopresti didn't do the interior art. However, we do get his cover, shown here. Bernard Chang does the interiors. At first I didn't know if I'd like it or not, I've really been diggin' Aaron's stuff, but . . overall, I thought Bernard gave this issue a really good feel. Don't get me wrong, I like Bernard's style, I was just really looking forward to Aaron's interpretation. Anyways . . we get a pretty big revelation this issue. And, we don't see much of Genocide this issue. First of all, after Diana has spent some time recuperating, we get caught up on what the Olympians have been doing. Those are Zeus' creation, that were originally called the Manazons. What a terrible name. It is funny though. Anyways, they seem to be trying to bring peace to the world, but as Athena reveals to Diana, Ares is secretly manipulating them . . "The Olympians are is Russia, Diana. Outside Moscow. They do not know it, but Ares has chosen them to start the conflict that destroys the world, in the name of peace." So basically, even with all the stuff going on with Genocide and Diana worrying about Etta's recovery . . Athena still has no choice but to call her in to action. "I am sorry, Diana. But you know your duty . . go save us all. Daughter." Meanwhile, back on Themyscira, Ares is also trying to stir up things with the Amazons. Queen Hippolyta has recently been encouraged by the return of her sisters, and is even welcoming the Bana-Mighdall back. But this doesn't please everyone. Ares is trying to stir stuff up with Alkyone, the Captain of the Queen's personal guard. She's trying to negotiate with Ares for the 'key' to 3 more that are prisoners still. I'm not sure who she's talking about. I'm sure she's doing what she thinks is best for the Queen, but even Ares warns her . . "No bargain with me seems to ever quite work as imagined." Anyways, Athena provides the startling revelation. I was thinking that TO Morrow had used Knockout's body for Genocide. The look and stature is kind of the same, and . . . Knockout is dead. But Athena tells Diana . . "Genocide is the new Prometheus, Diana. And the corpse, the great warrior she was made from . . . is you." Apparently it's some future version of her, or her after she dies. We're not quite sure which. "This is Ares' doing. That vessel is filled with his godly essence. It no longer knows any part of you. You must face this Diana. Who else can wield the lasso made only for your hand? In trying to create peace, the Olympians, Zeus' creations, will start Earth's final war." I really didn't see that one coming. I think Gail Simone is doing a fantastic job with this series. I love the 'trials' that she's putting Diana through, and the hint of love that she's found with Tom. It'll be interesting to see what role these Olympians play in Diana's, and the Amazons future. I think their intentions are good, they're just being manipulated by Ares right now. Out from under his influence, I think that they may be able to coexist with the Amazons. Plus we still need to learn more about Achilles. I love the look and feel of this book right now, and that's all on Gail's shoulders. Thanks!

Battle for the Cowl: the Underground #1 - DC

The thing I like the most about this Battle for the Cowl story-line . . I'm kind of getting my monthly fix of Batman related stories. Right now . . I'm kind of missing that. This issue catches us up on what's going on with the seedier side of Gotham. Black Mask . . if it really is the Black Mask, the original I mean . . the Black Mask is trying to reassert control over Gotham. He's recently blown up Arkham, to free the inmates, and then made the mover to have them all working under him. We find out this issue, from Firefly I think, that the Black Mask has put some kind of chemical into them so he can control them. Not like 'remote control', but rather if they don't do what he asks he can kill them. Poison Ivy decides to burn the chemical out, so she's free. Anyways, the Penguin is so spooked by the Black Mask that he's actually gone to Eddie to ask him to find him . . so he can kill him . . 'eventually'. Eddie runs in to Harley, who's bored and wants something to do, so now . . I guess she's his sidekick. He has to gather information about the Black Mask so he decides to go to the woman who killed him . . Holly. Since Harley and Holly are still room-mates, she's not so hard to find. Since Ivy is free now, she also returns to Harley's apartment. There's no love lost between Ivy and Eddie, but it is nice to see all the girl's back together. We also find out that Selina is out there trying to aid in the fight to restore order to Gotham. She's been actively working with Oracle and Nightwing. But she's gets thrown off a roof-top by Jason Todd, who's running around in a Batman costume killing criminals. Batman is another character who has a great supporting cast . . both in character and sheer numbers. There's plenty of characters . . enough to fill a couple of books a month. Which is kind of where this particular issue comes into play. It gives us a bit of a closer look at some of the players in Gotham. I thought that Chris Yost and Pablo Raimondi did a great job with this issue. It was nice seeing all these characters in action again. Like I said, I'm starting to miss my monthly Batman fix. Hopefully all of that will be rectified soon. It won't be the same, but . . it's close.

Teen Titans #70 - DC

First of all I want to say that Joe Bennett's art is fantastic. I'm not sure what he did different this issue . . maybe it's his inkers, I'm not sure . . but whatever they did, it looks great. I'm also really diggin' how Sean McKeever is rolling out this story-line. Last issue ended with the Teen Titans aiming their T-Wing straight at the Titans, in New York City. It looked really bad, but . . common sense prevailed and together both teams pull themselves out of this mess. They still crash the T-Wing, but luckily it's in the river. Joey makes an appearance, kind of, as he takes over Raven so he can talk to Rose. Oh yeah, she was stowed away on the T-Wing because she wanted to be there if the Titans tried to take out her brother. Also, because she precognitive and she foresaw Vigilante trying to kill her Joey. When Vigilante rears his head, Rose is ready to take it off. But again the Titans talk her down, and it looks like this is where the team-up actually begins. The stage is set. Joey's got all of the preparations accounted for, and on the final page he makes an appearance, in some rich guy's body at the Hamilton Grande at Central Park. It's the D'Olivia grand opening. And as he comes walking through the door in a 007 type tux, he says . . "This is a party to die for. As all of you are about to find out." It was good to see Rose back in the action again this issue. I think she's a terrific character. And she definitely adds something to the team. If nothing else, maybe she can keep Bombshell in check. Honestly, not a lot happened this issue. A couple fights, and the understanding between the Titans and Vigilante. But other than that, there was just a lot of character development. Which . . is ok. With all these new people on the team, and the 2 teams teaming up . . kind of . . it was a necessary component. Also there were some really touching moments between Gar and Vic. Vic is in some trouble and is barely hanging on, and Gar . . Gar's worried about losing his best friend. I believe there's 2 chapters left in this story-arc, so . . anything can still happen.

Justice Society of America #26 - DC

As you can tell, there were 3 covers to this issue. Basically they're a huge gate-fold picture, by Alex Ross obviously, of all of the members of the JSA. In case you can't figure it out, the one with Mr Terrific is on the left. The one with Stargirl is in the middle. And the one with Powergirl is on the right. I couldn't get them lined up side by side, but I think you can get the gist of things by looking at the images. Personally, I think Alex Ross is a virtuoso. But his instrument in the drawing pencil. I'm sure they'll probably put this out in poster form, but . . I haven't seen it yet. Anyways, I can't believe that Geoff Johns can put out so many good books every month. I just got done reading Legion of 3 Worlds, and now I pick this one out of the stack. It must be my lucky day. Unfortunately though, I think this is going to be Geoff's and Dale Eaglesham's final issue with this title. Next month we have a fill-in issue by Jerry Ordway. Then, the following month, we start with a brand new creative team. It'll consist of Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges and Jesus Merino. But enough about the future. This issue was kind of a 'Day-in-the-life' type issue. Basically, everybody missed Courntney's birthday because of Black Adam's attack on the Rock of Eternity. Last week Courtney said it was 'no big deal'. But this week? This week she's upset that nobody did anything for her. So when her and Mary Marvel get home . . of course everyone it there waiting for her to give her a surprise party. With Geoff writing this final issue, there's more than a few touching moments in it. Which really is Geoff's strength . . his character development. Obviously Courtney and Mary are best friends now. There's also a touching moment between Wildcat and his son. And also between Courtney and Jakeem. Amazingly enough. Starman acts just as goofy as ever, and I love the report between Damage and Doc Midnight. Also between Damage and Atom Smasher. And, when the new kids on the block give Courtney a picture to thank her for everything she's taught them . . it's very touching. Especially when Jay, Alan and tell her . . "You've been on this team a long time now, Courtney . . you've proven yourself time and time again. Today, you've been passing on everything you've learned and, more important, everything you believe in. When the Vets stand together, Court, Stargirl stands with them. You've grown up." All in all it was just a really 'feel-good' type of issue. It was a great way for the guys to leave this series. I'm sure there will be enough turmoil around the next corner . . around every corner, that it was just nice to see everybody together, enjoying each other's company, and enjoying life. I've been with the Justice Society through, probably, 4 or 5 various incarnations. I'd have to say that these 26 issues . . to me . . rank up there as the 'best of the best'. I've thoroughly enjoyed Geoff and Dale's work on this series. I hope that Bill, Matt and Jesus can live up to the high standards that have been set before them. I really do. This team . . and these characters deserve it.

Green Lantern #40 - DC

While I miss Ivan Reis' pencils on this book right now, I also have to admit that Philip Tan is doing an equally incredible job with his own version of these characters. The art on this book is incredible. I guess it helps to have such fantastic characters to work with. But, even without Ivan, Geoff Johns is still here and he and Phillip really seem to be putting together an instant classic. By the way, the cover on the left is by Phillip Tan. I saved this sketch cover, but the finished work looks even better. Then, on the right, and below, we have a cover by, I guess, a new artist by the name of Rodolfo Migliari. He did last months also, and they both looked great. So I imagine that we'll see more of this guy in the future. Anyways, this issue we expound more upon the new law in the book of OA . . "The Vega system is not longer outside of the Green Lantern Corps' jurisdiction." This is one that could end up causing a whole lot of problems. Basically the Guardians have cut off the Vega system because Larfreeze is there with the Orange rings. Basically it sounds like they told him they'd leave him alone if he left them alone. But now, with the interference of the Controllers, the Guardians feel that it's time for them to take matters into their own hands. Part of the problem though is that the 'hands-off' policy worked out well for the Okaarans, as well as the Psions and the Spider-guild. So the tryst of the 'blue-man group' here is going to cause waves of trouble that will probably engulf the whole universe. At the very least, this little corner of it. Meanwhile, back on Zamaron, Fatality has been successfully inducted into the Star Sapphires. Now that she's full of love, she's decided that she's going to forgive John Stewart, and she's ready to go to him immediately to tell him. Hal Jordan is still splitting his power with the Blue Ring on his left hand . . even though he doesn't even know how to make it work. It keeps asking him what he hopes for, but . . Hal doesn't have a lot to hope for right now. This Larfreeze is kind of unique though. He has hundreds of rings, just like the Corps, but he keeps them all to himself. Apparently when he goes up against an adversary he consumes them completely. Once he's done . . "Consumption complete. Identity stolen. Replicating. Gretti of sector 2828. You belong to Agent Orange." Which is what Larfreeze calls himself. Right now it appears that the Corps members have no way of fighting Agent Orange. "These Orange Lanterns are absorbing our constructs! Even those created by the Guardians! They are 'eating' my magicks as well." But then . . Larfreeze gets a sniff of Hal and his Blue ring. "What is that? It smells new!" After his Orange talons pulls him underground Hal comes face to face with him. He looks like a mad-dog drooling over it's prey. After sensing this new thing with Hal, all he can say is . . "I want one!" Next issue is the 'Secret Origin of Agent Orange'. I don't know who's worse, Larfreeze or Atrocitus. Who, along with Sinestro, will probably end up here because of Hal. And Fatality is on her way here because of John. So eventually, all the various spectrums will be in one place . . Vega. Doesn't anybody see a problem arising here? I think Scar does because she's conveniently left herself out of this battle. Actually I think she's the one trying to push all of the pieces together. This story is getting more and more heated as it goes along. We haven't even reached Blackest Night yet. I do have one question though, we were introduced to a guy back in the Secret Origins issue that is somehow connected to Blackest Night, or he's connected to 'death'. I'm not sure which. Anyways, my question is . . what ever happened to him, William Hand? Where's he at, and when is he going to pop up his head again? Just wondering. Anyways, I absolutely loved this issue. Really, I'm diggin' this whole franchise right now. As we get closer to the big story, both of the Green Lantern books just get more and more intense.

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4 - DC

I couldn't wait to read this one. Geoff Johns and George Perez? Pinch me, I think I'm dreaming. I couldn't have asked for a better creative duo. And honestly, after reading this issue . . it was everything I expected and more. As we found out last issue Bart Allen was brought back. It turns out that when the Rogues turned on him, they didn't actually kill him. Yes they did, but . . because of the accelerated aging thing, the Speed-Force pulled his essence, his soul out before he died. The aging thing was like a cancer that would've killed him in a couple of months anyways. So when his body died, he said it was like he was having an out of body experience. And that wasn't even the major revelation of this issue. Let's see . . what else happened. Oh yeah, Dirk came back. After he finds out that one of the other Sun-boys were killed, he gets the strength to reignite his fire . . as it were. We watch Superboy-Prime kill Legionnaires right and left. It'll be interesting to see who's left standing when this is all over. Now I kind of understand why the had to cancel the monthly title temporarily . . I hope. The Legion, and it's ranks may be entirely different when the dust settles. Also the Time-Trapper has pulled Superman and the 3 founders of the Legion into the future . . to the end of time, where he's trapped. He goes on a rant about how he's been trying to erase the Legion, and Superman. But he's always been thwarted. "I pulled Superboy-Prime out of the time stream to be my greatest weapon. And no, the irony does not escape me. I've spent my existence trying to erase Superman's influence from the timeline. Working backwards from this moment, this prison, my focus had always been on the Legion . . for what they did to me. But after countless failures, I went to the root of my pain. With time in a state of malleability following the first crisis . . I attempted to remove any true memories of Superboy from the Legion. But still, I couldn't erase you. So I've decided to replace you. And I wanted the heart of the Legion, the 3 founders and their inspiration, to witness the fall of the Superman Dynasty. While you painfully die . . AT MY HAND!!" Now for the real surprise . . Starman had gone back in time to begin an experiment for Brainiac 5. He has a specific task. Lets see if you can guess what's coming up. His task involves digging up a body, one with Kent on the gravestone, and burying a Kryptonian Chrysalis deep beneath the Fortress. "It's the same one that regenerated Superman's body when he was left for dead by Doomsday. It took the chamber months to heal Superman from the wounds he suffered. In this case, the healing process has taken over a thousand years. And it's still not complete. This fresh human DNA will finish the other half of the healing process. Initiate DNA integration." Which is where the next clue comes in. The other part of Brainiac's plan was when Polar Boy went back in time to retrieve the fresh human DNA . . . "A fresh strand of Lex Luthor's hair." Are you starting to put the pieces together yet. Brainiac has brought back . . he's regenerated . . . Connor . . Superboy. But he doesn't really have time to celebrate his return. When he finds out that Superboy-Prime is there . . he's out for blood. Literally. But again, this wasn't even the biggest revelation. Superman, at the end of time, is fighting the Time-Trapper. In all of the years that the Legion has been around . . Adventure Comics #247, 1958 . . we've never known who the Time-Trapper really was. There's been clues . . there's been hints, but . . nothing has ever really been confirmed. Until now. Superman gets up close and personal with him, and is ripping off his shroud . . while Irma has realized . . "The Time Trapper! He's never done it before, but . . he's lowering his mental defenses." On the final page of this issue, we finally find out who the Time Trapper is. It's a much older, grey and bearded . . . Superboy-Prime. I definitely didn't see that one coming. I'm telling you . . this issue was just loaded with one surprise after another. And they each got better and better. My only concern is . . how are they going to top this with the next issue? Are there more secrets out there that we don't know? And how can they possibly wrap this up in one issue? I can't wait for the final issue of this to come out. Geoff Johns really seems like he's at the top of his game here. And George Perez? George is freakin' phenomenal! This is probably some of his best work I've seen! Ever! With him doing 30 pages of art for the issues, we've had to wait a little while between them. But . . it's all worth it. I could care less. This was one of the best issues I've read in months. If you aren't reading this one, you are definitely missing out. And if you want to get caught up . . you better hurry. There's only 1 issue left.

Trinity #48 - DC

This issue our Trinity performs the hard part of their task . . to cut off the source of Morgaine Le Fey's power . . Krona. Actually, I think he's somehow tapped into the creation energy, and with the Worldsoul weakened, Le Fey has been able to tap into him. Which is why she was trying to control the waves of energy that were assaulting the Earth. Anyways, Batman's plan is to try to give Tarot, and the Worldsoul, also Enigma's daughter Stephanie, time to recuperate from Krona's meddling and become whole again. Luckily, Le Fey's camp is already in civil war. Enigma and Vox have both turned on her, and the Dreambound are now fighting on the side of good. Really, all she has left is Despero, but . . I don't think he's going to take her commanding him very much longer. Plus, being the warrior that he is, I think he's soon going to realize he's on the losing side of this battle. Anyways, Superman uses Tarot, Sun-Chained-in-Ink, and the Void Hound to encase Krona in basically the same spell that Le Fey had used on the Trinity. Somehow, Superman is channeling the energy through those 3, and then the rest of the heroes, to trap him. But what are they going to do now? Well . . that's the question for the final chapters. I think we only have 3 issues left, so . . they're going to have to wrap this up pretty quickly. And then we'll find out just what exactly this has done . . what changes have been wrought across the DC Universe. The 2 things I notice right now are Tomorrow Woman, and the Dreambound. I think we're going to see both of them make some big impacts across some story-arcs this summer. And who knows what else will come out of this. We're nearing the end, and it's getting more and more exciting. Kudos to Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley, Fabian Nicieza and Scott McDaniel. Thanks for all your hard work.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Astonishing X-Men #29 - Marvel

First of all . . I just want to say what a beautiful job I think Simone Bianchi is doing on the art of this book. It's really incredible. As amazing as the covers are . . the inside is equally impressive. This is a book where after you read it, you then have to go back and study the previous pages to appreciate all the subtle nuances the Simone puts into each panel. It's stunning, really! Anyways, Warren Ellis does the story, so of course it's intricate, involved and detailed. It appears that when Forge was trying to figure out the extent of M-Day . . basically wondering whether it's affects could be felt throughout the various dimensions, he discovered that while the majority of the world's were similarly affected, there were also world's out there that had mutants in bounty. So during this process, it's my guess that he alerted one of these world's to our own mutant crisis, and they saw it as a place they could plant stakes and claim as their own. Which then, of course, to fight the threat Forge did the obvious thing and created his own new species of mutants. The members of Scott's team are fighting various members of one of these groups in the lost city of Tian in a cloaked stretch of forest in China. We also find out that somehow Forge is also in league with the High-Evolutionary. We're not sure yet if they're working together, or if he's just operating out of one of his sights, but . . somehow the High-Evolutionary is involved. The problem is, it's his sight at Wundagore Mountain. The X-Men go in to confront Forge, but . . I think they're a bit more optimistic as to Forge's intentions than Forge himself. I get the feeling that Forge knows that he's crossed a line somewhere. This is probably my favorite X-title . . for the obvious reasons . . Warren and Simone. Also, during the complete run of this series I've just really enjoyed the way these characters have been handled. It's really been unique and original. I'm not sure how long they plan on staying on this book, but my hope is it's for the foreseeable future. This book is awesome.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kick-Ass #6 - Marvel - Icon

I get the feeling that Mark Millar just has no inhibitions when he's writing this title. I mean, overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but . . it was a bit on the gruesome side. However, it did have an incredible ending. Dave and the Red-Mist are teaming up, because Hit-Girl has asked them to join her and Big Daddy in helping to take down the mob. They're all geeked out because of the thought of being on a 'super-team'. Dave's even brought along a folder with names and logos that he's thought up. I'm surprised they didn't wet themselves on the way over. Anyways, they end up in this warehouse, that's supposed to be Hit-Girl's secret hide-out. However when they arrive they find out that the mob has actually found them first, and beat the crap out of them by the time they enter. Also . . . surprisingly . . . . well . . I just can't do it. There's a major twist here at the end, and . . I gotta say, I never saw it coming. Let's just say . . it's a major cliff-hanger ending. Anyways, up until that point in the issue, we see how Hit-Girl and Big Daddy came in to being. It's actually a Punisher-esque kind of story. Big Daddy is an ex-cop who's had his family killed and now he wants to bite back. All he has left is this little 7 or 8 year old girl so . . he's going to work with what he's got. The issue starts out with him firing a gun on her point blank so she can get used to what the Kelvar feels like. "Don't be such a baby, Mindy. It only hurts for a second. The force of the bullet takes you right off your feet, but it's really no more painful than a punch in the chest. You'll be fine, sugar-plum. . . . . BLAAMMM!! . . . See? Wasn't so bad? The Kelvar's crying more than you are, baby. Besides, now you know what it feels like, you won't be scared when some scrawny junkie asshole pulls a forty-five. What do we do when a junkie pulls a forty-five?" To which Mindy quickly replies, "Knife in the nuts?" And, really . . that was probably the most normal part of her training. We then see how she adapted and progressed through various fights. Later they're contemplating what life will be like after the accomplish their goals, and that's when Mindy gets the idea to ask Kick-Ass and Red-Mist to join up with them. I think she hopes that with their help they'll be able to get to a normal life faster. John Romita Jr. does an absolutely perfect job on the art in this series. He really conveys the emotion that Mark emotes through his stories. They both appear to work off each other very well. I can't wait to see what happens in the next issue.

Ghost Rider #34 - Marvel

I thought this was an interesting book. We kind of gave the Zadkiel story-line a break for a minute and instead focused on an urban-legend out there . . the Highwayman. There's probably some of you that recognize this character, but I'm guessing . . you're few and far between. We find out on the letters page that Jason Aaron was at a convention recently where he got talked into picking up the entire run of US-1. It was an 80's series, in the Marvel Universe . . obviously, about a trucker. I guess the Highwayman came from that series. I have a few of the books, but it's been so long since I've read them . . I don't really remember much about it except maybe a couple of the covers, and the logo. Anyways, with this issue, we revisit the origin of the Highwayman, and I'm guessing that Jason thought that this character was a perfect fit for a run-in with the Ghost Rider. Whom at the current time . . this issue . . happens to be Danny Ketch. Apparently, Johnny doesn't have any powers left. And really all that Danny has left is what he was able to sneak out of Heaven with. This was an interesting issue. I chuckled in a few spots. It was a welcome diversion, but . . now I'd like to see where we're going with Zadkiel. I think this new artist, Tony Moore shows some potential. A lot of his stuff looks very similar to Art Adams. But, he doesn't have the consistency yet. I also think he hasn't defined his own style yet. I can see various influences, but . . he has to do it the way he sees it. Like I said, I think he has a ton of potential. He just needs some time. Like I said, overall I enjoyed the book. But now . . lets get back to our regular scheduled programming. Please!

Elektra - Dark Reign #2 - Marvel

Well . . Elektra is back and she is pissed. Last issue we found out that when Elektra returned she was taken into custody by SHIELD. The problem was . . SHIELD wasn't a functioning entity for much longer after that. It appears that she was kind of lost in the shuffle for a minute, but then when Norman Osborn, and HAMMER realized what they had in their possession . . they quickly gained a renewed interest. So that's where she's been for the last few months . . being studied, analyzed and tortured. That is until Paladin shows up trying to collect a bounty. 82 million dollars to be exact. Anyways, of course he bungles things and allows the margin of error that Elektra needs to take advantage of the situation. So now Elektra, after figuring out how to get off the Helicarrier, has to also figure out who wants her dead and why. The only real clue we have is something these merc's keep saying, "Time to make the stars safe again." This issue is mostly spent with her fighting all of these HAMMER agents and working her way towards the exit. You knew she was going to beat them and get off the ship, but . . it was still fun to watch. The interesting part is that when she finally does get free . . she goes to Foggy for help. Not that he's all that interesting in helping her, but . . he also can tell how much shes hurting. And then on the final pages . . Norman tells Bullseye that he want Elektra taken out. "I'm authorizing your request to 'visit' Elektra." Jeb Wells writes the book. I think he's putting together an interesting story here. Clay Mann does the art. Personally, I wish they would've gotten a better artist. Not that I have anything against Clay, it's just . . his style doesn't really do it for me. But, overall, I still liked the book. Elektra is one of my favorite characters, and it looks like this is going to be a classic Elektra story-line.

the Amazing Spider-man #592 - Marvel

First of all, this issue sports a fantastic cover by Joe Quesada. We haven't seen a lot of his work lately, since he's so busy. It looks good. Anyways, this story seems to revolve around the relationship between JJJ and Spidey. Now that he's Mayor, Jonah has decided to redouble his efforts to rid his town of the 'web-crawling menace'. We always knew that Jonah had a soft spot for 'ol Spidey, but now . . now I think he's starting to go over the edge a bit. Spidey goes to his office to try to make peace with him, but he's fired on by a team of SWAT agents. "You've budgeted a dedicated SWAT team for me? In this financial climate? You're a lunatic." But Jonah just screams out the window, My Anti-Spider squad will hunt you down around the clock! You're finished in my city . . and there's nothing you can do about it!" So what does Peter decide to do? " . . being hounded and hunted 24/7 by a guy who's crazy enough to impose a tax on babies' pacifiers to buy bullets . . wow. Every day I'm at large, it's only gonna make Jonah angrier . . heh . . in fact, it'll drive him nuts. Having Spider-man in his face morning, noon and night would absolutely make Jonah lose his mind! Look out, Big Apple! As of this moment . . your friendly neighborhood Spider-man is on swing-shift!" We also find out that the Vulture may be back. I think it's him. I'm not sure. But if so . . he's deadlier than ever. Peter has someone hanging out in his apartment. We don't know who it is yet, but she's been cleaning up for him and organizing his mail while he's been gone for the last 6 weeks. And . . while at Aunt May's showering, Peter accidentally walks in and finds Aunt May and Jonah's father sleeping together. There's a vision that he'll never be able to erase from his eyes. Mark Waid and Mike McKone are in charge of the book right now. This one, I thought, had a pretty good feel to it, but . . there's still an awful lot of his supporting cast that didn't get any focus. I still firmly believe that it's the support cast that really makes this book. I like this format, the multiple issues a month, but . . I'm thinking they're gonna have to relaunch another Spidey title in order to cover all the characters that are involved. There's just not enough room in one title. Even if it does come out 3 times a month. But, that's just my opinion.

Avengers: Initiative #23 - Marvel

Well . . it's nothing but bad news for the Initiative right now. First Ragnarok broke out and created mayhem in Stamford. The city that was once almost destroyed by the New Warriors, now has almost been destroyed again by a secret that it's current protectors were keeping from it . . well, from everyone really. At the same time the new New Warriors show up. But they're not really here to fight Ragnarok, even though they do help. No, they're here to expose the Initiative's other secret, that Michael Van Patrick, MVP, was killed in a training accident and they've been using his body for experiments and cloning. Justice is more than happy to tell that to the press, and anyone else willing to listen. One of which is Norman Osborne. He quickly flies in and takes control. He doesn't shut down the Initiative . . if anything he's redoubling their efforts. He vows that all 50 states will have some form of protection. "There will be someone watching over you. Sooner than you imagine." Which sounds rather ominous. But he has decided . . "What will never happen again is something like this. No Initiative headquarters, training or research facility should be located in or near a major population center. Ladies and gentlemen, as of this moment . . Camp Hammond is closed forever." It appears that all of this happens before he goes on TV to announce his new Avengers. As he's flying off, the citizens of Stamford come streaming in to destroy the base . . by hand, if they have to. We also catch up on our Shadow Initiative this issue. Our team has come face-to-face with Hardball and Scorpion in Madripoor. Hardball quickly takes down Komodo with 'spin-tech' . . Super-Power-Inhibiting-Nanobots. This is something that nobody knew that HYDRA figured out, so now . . now the teams mission has changed. They all escape, except for Komodo who's been captured, but as they're trying to figure out there next step they hear the news that SHIELD has been dissolved. So now, besides everything else that has gone wrong . . they don't know how they're going to get home. "What part of expendable didn't you understand?" I think Christos Gage and Humberto Ramos are doing a fantastic job with this book. This has actually been one of my favorite Avengers books, during it's entire run, but now . . now I think it's as strong or stronger than ever. Which is kind of a shame . . since it's supposed to be nearing it's end. However, they've recently posted the previews for issue #26. So who knows. I hope it sticks around. We'll see.

the New Avengers #52 - Marvel

The art on this book right now is fantastic. Doctor Strange has come back . . he's looking for the next Sorcerer Supreme, and the story is bouncing back and forth between the events that led him back to the Avengers, and the interaction he is having with the team currently. Chris Bachalo is doing the art for the good Doctor's scenes, and Billy Tan is illustrating the regular Avengers team. They're both fantastic artists, so the book has a really unique feel to it right now. The problem Doctor Strange is having is that the Hood is in league with Dormammu and is trying to stop the Doctor from passing his secrets along to whomever he figures out that it is. The Hood, and thereby Dormammu, want those secrets for themselves. The other problem is, Steven has no idea who the next Sorcerer Supreme may be. He's trying to talk to everyone he can think of, to figure it out, but he's not having much luck. Last issue he spent some time with Wiccan from the Young Avengers. This issue . . actually at the end, the rest of the Avengers go along with him and they end up in New Orleans. As they're nearing their target it dawns on Luke who they're here to see . . Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan. On the way there, Doctor Strange informs them that the rules are different in the mystical realms . ."Is it only for good guys? Good, bad, those labels have no real meaning here. Could it be someone who abuses the magics for personal gain? Maybe." And then they start tossing out names . . names that they're worried it may be . . Doctor Doom, or . . Wanda Maximoff. But before the Avengers can arrive, the Hood comes crashing through Daimon's door . . guns blazing, with his demon splashed bullets. Brian Bendis is still writing this book, and I really like the feel of this story. It'd be kind of hard for the Mighty Avengers and the New Avengers to interact right now, given their various story-lines, so . . I'm thinking that this magical mystery tour may be the best way to keep them out of the lime-light for the time being. I thought this was a great book.

the Mighty Avengers #24 - Marvel

This issue mostly was about bringing Quicksilver back into the Avengers fold. Norman Osborne's other team, the Cabal . . much like Xavier's secret Illuminati, this group consists of Norman, Doctor Doom, Emma Frost, Namor, the Hood and Loki . . the Cabal is trying to shape world events in their favor. The main problem I see right now is a whole lot of infighting. None of them seem to be on the same page. To further prove this, Loki is posing as the Scarlet Witch and has been calling this new team of Avengers into action. I think she's doing it mainly to put a thorn in Norman's side. Which is where Quicksilver comes in. He's heard that his sister has shown back up with this group and he wants to know why. He wants to know what their connection to her is. So while Loki . . er, the Scarlet Witch, has tasked the team with crisis' all over the globe, Pietro has been chasing them trying to catch up. He seems to be the same impulsive liar as always. During one of the events there's a press conference and one of the reporters targets Pietro. " . . given your recent troubles . . with the Inhumans, superhumans, and the mutant communities . . do you feel that you deserve a coveted spot on an Avengers Team?" To which Pietro responds, " . . there's something your viewers need to know. Most of this is new to me. You see, for the past few years, I'd been replaced by a Skrull. I've only recently come back to Earth along with the rest of the abductees . ." Jarvis and Hank both know that he's lying. He's also lying about wanting to be an Avenger again. The only reason he's here is to find out about his sister. However, that may all be moot. HAMMER has recently figured out how to target Pym particles and has attacked Hanks lab that was anchored in Chicago. However, when HAMMER attacks, Jocasta, who's inside with Jarvis, makes a decision to cast off that anchor. "This 'Pym-pocket' we're in, it used to exist in two places at once . . Chicago, and this side dimension. I cut our tether to the real world. Don't worry. We're not trapped. Yet. The doors still work. But they're fading one-by-one. In less than 48 hours . . they'll all be gone. Then this lab, along with all of Hank's . . secret projects . . will be stranded outside of space and time." When the team comes back from France, they come back to the lab not knowing that they may very well soon be trapped. This book is becoming intriguing. I was a little concerned with Dan Slott taking over on the stories. Not with his talent, but . . Brian Bendis has been steering the Avengers for the last couple of years. I was worried that things may flounder for a bit. However, that was needless concern. Dan seems to have a pretty good direction planned out here. It'll be interesting to see where this all takes us. Plus . . I kind of like the dynamics of the new team. Some times it's good to shake up the traditional paradigm. Rafa Sandoval is the current penciller of the book.

HULK #11 - Marvel

This issue is really just one big slug-fest. The Grandmaster and the Collector have each picked a Hulk for their team. They have then given them each 3 allies to fight by their sides. Although, they aren't really fighting side-by-side. They've paired them off and sent them to different dimensions to fight to the death. Dr Strange battles Baron Mordo, the Silver Surfer battles Terrax, Namor battles Tiger Shark, and the Hulk battles the Red Hulk. I'm not sure why they don't have them all fighting together. They're too evenly matched and no quarter is gained or given. When the cosmic brothers finally figure this out, they decide to add something else to each battle to hopefully turn the tide. Galactus is introduce the Dr Strange's fight, Dormammu to Namor's, and the Psycho-man to the Silver Surfer's. Apparently no added incentive is needed with the Hulk's. The issue ends with the Red Hulk picking up the trident of Poseidon and impaling the Green Hulk with it. "Mission accomplished. THE HULK IS DEAD." Obviously that's not how the story is going to end, but . . we have to wait until next issue to see what's going to happen. Jeph Loeb writes this book. And, while I'm enjoying the story, it doesn't really have the same depth or meaning that usually comes with one of Jeph's story-arcs. I mean, it's ok. It's fun. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of character development. Like I said, it's just been mostly a big slug-fest. But sometimes . . that's ok too. Ed McGuinness does the art. It's fantastic. Last week-end I happened to be rummaging through some boxes at a local comic-shop and came across some old Vengeance of Vampirella books, by Harris, that Ed did the art for. They're from 1995, and I assume are some of Ed's earliest work. It was interesting to see how much he's adjusted and grown since then. Anyways, I liked the book. It just didn't have a whole lot of depth. But . . that's ok. As long as it's ok with the rest of the readers.

Wolverine First Class #14 - Marvel

This issue was ok. It didn't overly exite me, but . . it wasn't terrible. Last issue Daredevil and Elektra showed up. I was hoping they'd be a more integral part of the story, but . . they helped Wolverine out, but . . it really didn't matter much whether they were there or not. Elektra's only real purpose was to educate Wolverine as to the masks origins and intents. As it turns out, the mask is actually a demon in mask form. Daredevil didn't really do much other than to be a distraction for some of the Hand members. The mask ends up coming into the possession of Kitty's friend Sarah. She came along with her and Logan to the museum. Anyways, the mask talks to her, she puts it on and is instantly transformed. Everybody is ready to kill the demon, except for Kitty. She's concerned about her friend. In the end, Kitty saves the day when she uses her power to separate Sarah from the mask. Then Wolverine destroys it. Apparently Peter David is now the writer of this series. I would imagine that this book would be a little hard to script because you can't deviate to much from established continuity. There's not a whole lot of artistic license that can be taken with the characters. But he did keep the story kind of upbeat, which really has been the theme of these First Class books. They tend to be more 'fun' than the regular X-titles. Also Ronan Cliquet is the artist now. Again, his style is brighter and cleaner than some of the other titles. I think this book is aimed towards a teen-aged audience. So the themes are a little more light-hearted. However, overall I enjoy the book. It's a nice departure from the regular X-titles. At some point or another, it almost always makes me laugh.

Wolverine Origins #35 - Marvel

There's a few things going on right now, but . . the most important of which is Daken's desire to use the Murumasa blade to make himself the ultimate weapon. It turns out the the true nature of Wolverine's origin was to turn him into the ultimate weapon. The only weapon capable of taking down a super-hero. But now, nothing can take down Logan, except for this blade. Daken wants to bond the metal to his skin, much in the same way as was done to his father, except with Adamantium, and thereby turning himself into the ultimate weapon. The part I don't get it . . even though the blade will cut through anything, the power of forged steel and magic . . it's still, in itself, breakable. That's what happens this issue when unable to take the blade from the X-Men, Daken settles for a little piece of it's tip. So, while he would be able to take out his father, in the end it really wouldn't leave him any more or less protected. Would it? I'm a little confused about that part. But he has got the Tinkerer, so apparently he's going to give it a shot. Anyways, while Logan is trying to stop all of this, he's also got another mystery running through his head . . who is Romulus, and what is he hoping to gain by controlling and manipulating him his whole life? And . . how is this all related to the information that Nick Fury has given him? It seems that everything is connected to the Hudsons. Weapon X, Alpha-Flight, the Hudson Bay Trading Co., even Logan's real family . . he's also a Hudson . . it's all connected. And it's all connected to Romulus. At the end of this issue, while trying to keep an eye on the Tinkerer, Logan is attacked by yet another Hudson . .Victor Hudson. He was born blind and mute, but one day Romulus took him back and turned him into a walking weapon of brute force. I've enjoyed the approach Daniel Way has taken with this series since issue #1. I think he's doing a great job. He's had several shorter story-arc's, but in the end . . everything is connected. We don't always see the big picture until later on, but when we do . . it works it's way into a masterpiece of story-telling. Currently Doug Braithwaite is the artist in residence. His stuff is ok. I liked Steve Dillon's take better, but . . that's just me. Overall, I love this book.

X-Force #14 - Marvel

We still don't now what Hope's secret, or power is, but . . I think she's the key to this whole thing. In the last chapter, Wolverine and X-Force have jumped into the future to come to Nathan's aid. However, the future they've come to is also where Stryfe is currently residing. Bishop found him, shortly after he found the sleeping god Apocalypse, and used Apocalypse to entice him to travel with him. Together, they supposedly took Apocalypse down. Now Bishop has offered Stryfe Nathan, his biological brother . . sort of. So this issue is mostly about the battle between Stryfe, Nathan and X-Force. The only ace-in-the-hole that Cable has going for him is that Stryfe still doesn't know about Hope. He's counting on Bishop not telling him either, because that would also disrupt Bishop's plans. So they're fighting Stryfe while trying to keep Hope safe. Wolverine has tasked James with that responsibility. "No matter what happens . . you're in charge of that kid. Not me, not Cable . . you. Your life, our lives . . none of it matters. You keep her breathing, you hear me?" The issue ends with Stryfe holding most of them captive, and . . Warren takes off to the Adirondacks to find a barely alive Apocalypse. "I never believed Death would come for me . . . but I'm so pleased it's you . . . my last and greatest Horseman." Wow! That's a lot of stuff to swallow for one issue. Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost do the story. Clayton Crain does the art. As usual, it's a fantastic issue. I'm not sure how all of this is going to wrap up, but . . I have a feeling it's going to be a doozy. I can't wait for the next issue of Cable.

the War that Time Forgot #12 - DC

This issue finally wraps up this story-line. I've been a little hard on this book. I really have no ill-will towards Bruce Jones or Al Barrionuevo . . whom finally makes it back this issue. My beef is with the whole book overall. And my biggest concern is this 12 issue format. I know some stories need that amount of space to convey their message, but . . there's also stories that don't. And I think this was one of them. In the stories that don't necessarily need that amount of space, you get a lot of filler in the middle. Unfortunately, I think that's kind of what happened on this book. This story was interesting. It was unique. However, due to it being stretched out . . the reader kind of lost interest towards the end. At least I did. To look back on it, as a whole, and summarize it . . it actually has a lot of neat ideas. However, as you go issue by issue . . some of those are buried under the sheer weight of the project. I loved the covers, and for the most part I loved Al's work. It was a neat idea to perform a kind of social experiment to see if it was possible to change the future. The idea that plucking key people out of specific battles could change the overall violent nature of a species, was . . inspired. And in the end . . it works. The future is saved. I don't know. Like I said . . it was . . ok. Maybe it just wasn't my cup of tea. In the end, everyone is returned to their proper time, and . . Carson and Akisha go back to the future. I would imagine their romance will blossom further there. If you're interested, I'm sure there will be a TPB out soon.

Ex Machina #41 - WildStorm

This comic shows you what can be done with not a single page of super-heroics. Well . . there is a scene set in the past where Mayor Hundred, then the Great Machine, is fighting his nemesis who controls animals the way he controls technology. They're having an argument over ideology and the Great Machine ends up taking him over the edge of the building into a pool below. However, the important part of this issue is that the Mayor announces that he won't be running for reelection because he doesn't want to waste his last year in office campaigning. He wants to spend his last year trying to fix the city. He wants to get the budget out of the black and he wants to finally make an impact in the New York City school system. When alls said and done, he's hoping that his Deputy Mayor Wylie will be able to pick up where he leaves off. We see a little bit about January and Kremlin. She's still trying to make him pay for Journal's death. Also, Suzanne Padilla, the journalist, ambushes Bradbury to try to get him to say something about the White Box. And, down on the streets, it appears that we have some kind of rat infestation getting ready to take over the city. The problem is, these rats are attacking. Obviously it has to do with the guy the Great Machine was fighting in the beginning of the story. I love this book. It's well scripted and thought out. Brian K Vaughan does a great job with his stories. Tony Harris has been on this book since issue #1, and he also does a great job. His art has given this book the feel that it has. Unfortunately, this book is underrated and doesn't get the attention that it deserves. It really is a fantastic piece of work. But we need people to spread the word. I'd really hate to see this book fall by the way-side just because of sales.

WildCATS #10 - WildStorm

We finally get to see Majestros and Hadrian go at it this issue. Well . . kind of. In the long run, Hadrian knows he doesn't have a chance against Majestros power, but . . he has to stall him for as long as he can. In Hawaii, Zealot has discovered that Savant is being held prisoner. She also finds out that it's because wants to create a royal family . . an heir. But Savant is his daughter? "Not like that. A test tube thing. My egg, his sperm. Inbreeding's not unheard of among Kheran royalty." Zealot also finds out that she wasn't his first choice, he offered the same thing to Nemesis and Backlash, but they turned him down. So, Hadrian is trying to keep Majestros busy in Beijing, but . . he's heard the alarms when Zealot releases Savant. And he's pissed. The WildCATS try to get all the women off island, but . . they don't get very far before Majestros returns. He makes pretty short work of their heavy hitters. He's approaching the ship of women, and Grifter, as the issue ends. Meanwhile Maxine, back at the Halo tower, realizes that the whole building is about to be over-run by Daemonites. It looks like she's going to be in for the fight of her life. I believe that Christos Gage is becoming more adept with his handling of these characters. I like what I'm seeing. I still think he needs to get everyone more involved though. But, it looks like it's improving. And I'm a huge fan of Neal Googe's art. I'd just like to see him open up a little more. I've seen it in the past. Take some artistic license. When he does, it looks fantastic. Overall, I think this book is heading in the right direction.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hellblazer #254 - Vertigo

This could be an interesting story. The Scab story has wrapped up and now we're on to Regeneration. It's funny buy Peter Milligan's stories never end up being what you think they're about. The last story-line . . at first we thought the title was literal . . John was covered with a scab, hence the name. Actually, it ended up being about the Scabs that had to fill in on the docks when this guy forced the unions to go on strike . . way back when. This story starts out with John having visions of this Plague Doctor from back in England during 1665. That's when the great plague was making it's way across Europe. We start out assuming that Regeneration has something to do with that. However, by the end of the book we find out that it actually has something to do with the construction site for the 2012 Olympics that'll be coming to England. John's walking across England and comes upon the site by accident. The road's blocked and he see's the construction and stuff going on behind the blockade. There's a plague announcing the site on the wall, but there's also some graffiti. It has a picture of what looks like the Plague Doctor, and it says "Fu#$ the Olympics". The construction worker says to him, "Regeneration, innit." I'm not sure what he meant by that. Anyways, he goes back to his flat and finds Emil there. He's upset because he isn't happy about the Olympics coming to town, and he's been speaking up about it. "The destruction of allotments, the eviction of travellers, the much vaunted regeneration that's little more than a shopping mall in Stratford. All costing millions." After some conversation, Emil decides to take him down to the construction site. He explains to him that the images of the Doctor are basically a symbol of their resistance. On the way he tells him, "It's the poor who suffer, of course, the marginalized. Same thing happened during the great plague. The wealthy fled London . . but armed guards kept the poor inside the city . . the only way they could get out was if they had a Certificate of Health. Probably about as easy to get hold of as tickets to the Olympics will be. There's a plague pit somewhere around here. The Olympic village is being built upon those poor souls' final resting place." So that, as we say, is the meat and potatoes of the story. That's how what John's been having visions of is connected to what's going on in London. Somehow these spirits, from the plague, seem to be rebelling about the desecration of their ground. When John finds the location, there appears to be a tremor and the ground opens up. Out of it comes the Plague Doctor covered in blood . ."You. You are the one . . I've been waiting for." In typical Constantine fashion, John replies "Well . . . I suppose this beats staying in and watching television." I think this looks to be an interesting story. But it's only a 2 parter, so . . it'll be wrapped up next issue. We still have some residuals left over from the last story-line though. John still has a bit of a scab, and . . he still has to deal with Phoebe. And the question . . does he want to be alone, or not? This issue is drawn by Goran Sudzuka. It's in a completely different style that what we're used to with this book, but . . I think it looks nice. Sometimes it's good to be different. This issue seems to be the beginning of an interesting story-line. I'll be interested to see how it all plays out.

Detective Comics #853 - DC

This book took a little while to come out. Almost 4 months, to be exact. But . . I definitely think it was worth it. Well, except that it pretty much confirms our worst fears . . Batman is truly dead. Or . . is he? I like the way that Neil Gaiman put this story together. It's all told in a rather obtuse fashion because . . well, we don't really know if any of this is real or not. It all may just be part of Batman's near-death-experience. Or . . it could just be his life flashing before his eyes as he departs. We're not really sure. And, I don't think it really matters. More or less, this is the process of Batman sorting out everything that's happened, and the current situation so that he has some semblance of continuity in his subconscious. He knows whats happened, and he knows where he probably is. But, he also know that he's still connected to an awful lot out there . . people, places, family and recognized paradigms. He's sorting through it all the best he can . . with his mothers help. "I get it. I mean, I really get it. The end of the story of Batman is, he's dead. Because, in the end, the Batman dies. What else am I going to do? Retire and play golf? It doesn't work that way. It can't. I fight until I drop. And one day, I will drop. But until then, I fight." But then we seem to get the sense that there's a rebirth process going on. "You don't get Heaven or Hell. Do you know the only reward you get for being Batman? You get to be Batman. And . . when you're a child . . you get a handful of years of real happiness, with your father, with me. It's more than some people get. You're done, now, Bruce, this time. You can stop fighting now . . just for a few more years . . it's over." He's thinking of the Bat-signal in the night sky and the bat turns in to hands. Out stretched hands looking to receive . . a new born. "Mrs. Wayne? It's a boy." "Hello, Bruce. Hello." So where does that leave us? With more questions than answers, obviously. Like I said . . I'm not sure if this was all a dream . . a near death experience . . or just . . someones way of saying 'goodbye'. I'm just not sure. Andy Kubert does the art for this story, and . . it was fantastic. The whole book looked simply incredible. It was perfect. In future issues it looks like Batwoman will be taking the lead in this book. At least until we discern the final fate of Batman and the rest of the Bat-family. This story however, Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, was perfectly done . . both in story and art.

Supergirl #40 - DC

There's a few details that we finally learn the truth behind, this issue. Last issue Supergirl turned herself in . . sort of . . to Inspector Henderson. He has to uphold the law, but . . he also has to find, and take care of Reactron and Superwoman. So they have a working relationship. Although that's tenuous at best because Major Lane, having learned about their involvement, is ready to arrest Kara and bring Bill up on charges of treason. Kara has surmised that Superwoman is Thara Ak-var. But, if that's the case then that means that she was involved in the murder of her father. That's something she's finding hard to swallow. She races out when Major Lane tells them about a Superwoman sighting. However, when she arrives she finds out it was all a set-up so that Reactron could get the drop on her. They have a fight, but the main thing to come out of all of this is the revelation Kara makes about Superwoman's identity. She goes back to Inspector Henderson's office as Superwoman is attacking him, and confirms her suspicions that Superwoman is indeed . . Major Lane. We also learn this issue that Lana Lang is somehow connected to all of this . . in way that we hadn't even begun to suspect. We don't know all of the details yet, but . . it's definitely not good for her health. I'm starting to get in to this story that Sterling Gates has going on here. I wasn't sure at first, but . . it looks like the wait is going to end up paying off. And of course Jamal Igle does a fabulous job on pencils again . . as usual. I was worried about the direction and future of this book, but . . it appears that my worries were in vain. I just needed to be a little patient. And this whole story-line . . New Krypton, Superwoman, Major and General Lane's involvement, Luthor's involvement . . is really all just beginning. We've got a lot of story to go.

Justice League of America #32 - DC

Unfortunately it appears that Ed Benes is no longer on this book, but . . he does do the cover. Somehow I got this earlier black & white version. I actually like it better than the finished one, so I went ahead and left it here. Right now it appears that we have an interim team. With the 'big 3' going off to do other things . . some good, some bad, some alive, some not . . and Hal and Ollie starting their own splinter of the League, Dinah felt that she had no other choice but disband the Justice League of America. "The Hall of Justice is open for tours, and still fully funded by the Justice League Foundation. The Watchtower is shut down to traffic. Communications and database access are still available to anyone with active JLA credentials. Oracle's coordinating." However, there are still some members that are fully committed to the League. They include Dr Light, Firestorm, John Stewart, Zatanna and Vixen. Red Tornado said he would come back after taking care of some personal business. And the rest of the group is hoping that Dinah will see their need for leadership and come back as the chairperson. Which it looks like they'll be needing sooner than later. After the Shadow Cabinet restored Dr Light's powers she agreed to go to the Shadow-Thief to try and figure out how he was able to access the Dark Matter that he stole from their teleporters. So she and Firestorm have gone to Van Kull prison to confront him. The problem is . . he was really just a conduit. All of this time he's actually been in service of Starbreaker. At the end of the issue, Starbreaker and the Shadow Thief escape into the shadow realm . . with Dr Light hot on their heals. "We have to go after her! You don't understand John. We have to go after her now! She just jumped into the Shadow-Thief . . and she's afraid of the dark." Maybe it's just me, but I think that Sean McKeever is doing a better job with these stories now that he doesn't have to write about any of the 'big-guns'. Maybe it's less pressure, or maybe he just has more fun with these characters. Their images aren't as set in stone so they're easier to play around with . . a little. I really liked the interaction between the characters. I also enjoyed Rags Morales' pencils. But then again . . I always do. I think the guy is incredibly talented. Overall I liked the book. Sure it's not the 'heavy-hitting' League, but . . it's still the League.

Outsiders #17 - DC

This is another great issue of this fantastic title. I love the new direction that Peter J Tomasi and Lee Garbrett are taking us in. The whole book . . story and art, just feels fantastic. We learned last issue that one of these 'unknown evils' that Batman, and Alfred were talking about were these 'Insiders'. They appear to be a group of people that have been around for a long time, much in the same manner as Vandal Savage, and have appeared to have twisted world events to their liking as they've moved along through time. 'Shapers of the world', as it were. There appears to be meteorites deposited around the world that some how aid in their longevity. That's how the Outsiders became involved when last issue the 'Insiders' sent one of their agents after a piece and caused a mine to collapse in Germany. This issue they catch up to the culprit, who is encased in a giant robot-type construct, only to have him liquefied, literally, before they can question him. They do however figure out that the purpose of all of this was the acquisition of the rock. But, they also lose that. However, when they return to their orbital station, they have enough of the dust left to examine. Which is where they start putting the pieces together. But Metamorpho gets to close to the sample and somehow absorbs it. He has no idea how or if it'll affect him. And we find out at the end of the issue that one of the 'Insiders', Sofia, has gone after someone to help them with their problem . . Slade Wilson. I love the dark tone that Peter's taking with this book. This issue was mostly about Geo-Force, Black Lightning and the Owlman. They seemed to work well together. This title has some fantastic potential. If you're not picking this one up, now is a good time to start. You could start with issue #16. However, the Outsiders Special would probably be an even better place. You won't be disappointed.

Battle for the Cowl: Arkham Asylum #1 - DC

Well, it appears that eventually Arkham Asylum is going to re-emerge out of it's devastation. It's just a matter of Dr Jerry Arkham rebuilding it with his Uncle's vision. Jerry is the nephew of Amadeus Arkham. He's long dead, but he was the original constructor and vision behind the Asylum. However, after residing a working here for so long, even his vision was changed. According to his journal . . "The house is an organism, hungry for madness." And, "Madness is born in the blood. It is my birthright." Obviously this place had a profound affect on him. He also left behind plans for his 'ultimate' Asylum. It looked like it was drawn in a fever-dream and had influences from many different sources. However, with the destruction of Arkham at the hands of the Joker, this 'new' Asylum has become Jerry's dream. We also find out, as he roams through the fallen walls and timbers, that deep underneath the Asylum was a place where Jerry held only his most special patients . . people that we've never even heard of. There's Alessio Morandi an Italian artist that had his face ripped off, as a young man, by his father. Also someone Jerry calls the Mirror Man. Five years ago he walked out of a forest in Haiti. No one knows his name or history. He spends all of his time in contemplation of his own reflection . . in the mirrors. Hence the name. And then there's the Hamburger Lady . . Myrna. She's been a resident here since before Jerry came along. Her face is said to be so disfigured as to drive the viewer mad. Basically, upon surveying the wreckage, Jerry finds only 2 things to have survived . . the blueprints of his Uncles, and . . his children . . his 3 favorite patients. He takes them out of the wreckage to begin anew, but asks Alessio to put on a happy face before they leave. On the final page we see that the face he's drawn looks eerily like the Joker's. I thought this was a great book. It'll be interesting to see where Arkham goes from here. David Hine, as usual, did a terrific job with the story. And I really loved Jeremy Haun's pencils. I can't wait to see where this goes from here.