Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ghost Rider #35 - Marvel

I actually had to force myself to finish reading this one. I started it once, but got pretty bored. I really enjoy Arthur Suydam's art, but . . this cover looks like it was thrown together pretty hastily. That's the first thing I didn't like. Secondly, I'm sorry, but I'm not all that impressed with Tony Moore's interior art. I can see a couple of different influences here, but . . there's really no consistency. There were panels I liked and panels I really didn't. And it was all mixed up so it was hard to point out where it all goes south for me. And this Skin Bender character was just a little to whacked out for me. She looked like someones 90 year old anorexic grandmother who had been subjected to multiple plastic surgery's to make her look like a teen-ager . . or a rag-doll. I'm not sure which. And then we get some bad news. It appears that Ghost Rider will be going on hiatus for a couple of months. It'll be returning in August under a new name - Ghost Rider: Heaven's Fire. Jason Aaron will still be writing it, with Roland Boschi doing the art. It'll pick up exactly where this story leaves off. So I'm not really sure why, but . . it's probably some editorial decision. Anyways, despite what I didn't like about this issue, it was a means to an end. At the end of the story, Johnny turns back into the Ghost Rider, finally, and wipes up the town . . the Skin Bender and all of her demons that were mixed in. But then there's 3 pages near the end where Sister Sara shows up and she convinces Johnny that their fight with Zadkiel is far from over. She tries to get through to him and finally has to remind him where his family is . . "Heaven. They're in heaven . . . . . . let's go." Which is where we'll pick up with the new series. By the end, I understood the reason and the purpose for this story, but . . that really didn't help me to enjoy it much more. I am glad though that Johnny's Ghost Rider is back, and that we'll be back on track with this Zadkiel story-line. So, I guess, I'm optimistically looking forward to the series relaunch. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Moon Knight #30 - Marvel

Well, this issue wraps up the Down South story-line, but . . I gotta say, I thought the whole thing was a bit . . anti-climatic. Moon Knight has switched from his Marc Spector identity to that of Jake Lockely. He's been hanging out down Mexico way trying to stay out of trouble. The problem is . . I don't care if it Mooney, or Marc, or Jake . . trouble always comes looking for him. He took what he thought was a simple job, retrieve a man's daughter who was illegally incarcerated in a Mexican jail. But of course nothing is ever that simple. It turns out this Alcantara guy is actually a drug lord. He's looking to get into bed with the Russian mob. So he plans on killing his daughter for them to show them his strength. Kind of twisted. Huh? Anyways, Moonie gets her out, but before he delivers her he finds out this information. But, Alcantara thinks that something might go wrong so he hires this hit-team, whom think of themselves as professional wrestlers, and call themselves the Zapata brothers. Alcantara wants the boys to retrieve his daughter from Jake, and then kill him. They also find out the true story and decide to team-up with Jake instead. That's where we ended last issue. So the 3 of them make it to Alcantara's compound. The problem is, somebody got there before them. Everybody is slaughtered ripped apart . . basically just torn to shreds. As Moonie surveys the compound he comes upon the Punisher. He's drinking Alcantara's liquor. The problem is . . the Punisher didn't do this either. The Punisher leaves, and Moonie continues looking for Alcantara. He finally finds him and he's scared to death . . but not of him. He scared of the other guy . . the Aztec kind of looking guy wearing the mask and carrying the big ax on his back, Toltec. That's the guy who chopped up all of these people. Moonie and the guy stare each other down for a second, and then . . Moonie leaves. He knows that Toltec will take care of Alcantara, so . . why should he get involved. When he goes outside he finds that the Zapata's, working off of information from the daughter, are raiding Alcantara's cash reserves in his basement. They're pulling out duffel-bags full of money . . filling their whole pick-up truck. Later they, and the daughter, say their goodbyes to Jake and give him a couple of duffel-bags as a parting gift. And that was it. The most action Mooney had was when he was threatening Alcantara . . before he realized that Toltec was hanging overhead waiting his turn. Even the epilogue was boring. Jake is sitting in his hotel room, drinking tequila and sitting next to his pile of money when a news story comes across the TV about Norman Osborn. He's watching the news intently and is coming to a decision. He pours the tequila down the toilet and says, "I'm going home. Only this time . . alone." Ummm . . . ok . . . thanks. Really . . I don't understand why this story couldn't have wrapped up last issue. This one was a real let down. Mike Benson is still writing it, so I don't really understand why this issue was so different from all of the rest. This was basically the wrap-up issue for this story-line, but . . like I said, nothing really happened. I'm also not thrilled with Jefte Palo's art. It's . . ok. It just doesn't really do anything for me. I don't know . . I just hope the next issue is better. If there is a next issue. Nothing's listed.

Elektra - Dark Reign #3 - Marvel

The first 2 issues of this series were spent acclimating Elektra back into our world. This series started immediately after she was brought back to Earth on one of the Skrull ships. We then see her break out of her SHIELD . . now HAMMER, holding cell and escape from the Helicarrier. And at the end of last issue she ends up on the doorstep of Foggy Nelson's office. Nobody has given this poor woman any time to recuperate. She's just gone from one bad situation to the next. Kind of like Indiana Jones. This issue she finds out just what people are willing to do for this 82 million dollar price tag that's been put on her head. This tag-team of assassins come after her, but they quickly find out that even in her weakened state she's probably more than the even the above average merc could handle. They expect her to be a walk in the park, because she's still pretty tore up, but . . she shows them the error of their ways pretty fast. One of them comes in fast and hard, while the other sits blocks away with a sniper rifle. The one is supposed to hack away and tear her down, while the other patiently sits and waits for the shots. There's only 1 problem. Remember last issue? Norman told Bullseye he was allowed to go visit Elektra. The sniper is laying in wait on the roof, when all of the sudden he has a guest. Bullseye, dressed in his Hawkeye uniform, quickly stabs him in the neck with an arrow. "Yeah, she's great, isn't she? Sorry, I get kind of jealous. No one gets to kill her . . but me!" So next issue, are we going to get Bullseye vs Elektra. Ohh . . baby!! Also during this issue, Norman has captured a couple of Skrulls. He wants to know why they were experimenting on Elektra so much. "Sh-she had found a way to hide memories from us . . some sort of mind trick. We had to resort to ancient barbaric techniques . . but the memories were a sacrament! They were to important! The memories of her resurrection." And now Norman's curiosity is truly peaked. I'm a little biased, but . . I really like this series. But what I'm really hoping is that there's something else lined up after these 5 issues. There's nothing listed yet, but . . I'll keep hoping. Jeb Wells is writing this series and Clay Mann is doing the art. I think both are doing a pretty decent job. I'm not thrilled with the art, but . . when it comes down to it, I really don't care. The story and the character is more than enough for me. However, we do get these beautiful Lee Bermejo covers. They really look fantastic. If you aren't reading this one . . you might want to. I have a feeling this story is going to be an important step towards Elektra's future.

the New Avengers #53 - Marvel

A couple of things came to my attention during this issue. First of all, Daimon Hellstorm, the Son of Satan, is a heck of a character. I really liked what I saw of him this issue. Unfortunately he's not the new Master of the Mystic Arts. I think he would be a pretty neat character for a writer to play around with. There's a whole lot of potential there. Secondly, it seems as if the Hood is more demon than man now. Maybe it's because he's in such close proximity to Daimon. Or maybe it's because Daimon basically called him out. But it doesn't seem like there's a whole lot of the Hood left when they're fighting. Also, when it comes down to it, Bucky can be a real SOB. I love the way the Spider-man keeps razzing him by calling him 'Bucky-Cap'. It's hilarious. Anyways, the group has come to New Orleans to help Doctor Strange find the new master. Plus, I think, Steven is hoping that'll he'll be able to influence a bit who the new master is. There's many people out there capable, and willing, but most of them are of questionable character at best. And he definitely doesn't want it to be Dr. Doom. I don't think he's to thrilled about the prospect of it being Daimon either. But, the devil you know . . and all that. Anyways, by the final page it's all moot. He doesn't need to worry any more. Well . . he doesn't need to worry about who it may be, but he may have to worry about who it is. As we see on the last page, with the Eye of Agamotto hanging around his neck . . "My name is Jericho Drumm. They call me Brudder Voodoo. What 'da hell is wrong wit' you people?" Now we just need to verify whether Brother Voodoo is on the side of angels . . or not. I thought this was a great issue by Brian Bendis and Billy Tan. The art in this issue was incredible. I loved every panel of it. I don't really know why, but, especially the scenes that revolved around Daimon. I don't know. There's just something 'cool' about him. Anyways, I really enjoyed the issue, and I can't wait for the next one.

Avengers: the Initiative #24 - Marvel

Norman Osborne finally does something about the Shadow Initiative this issue. Actually, it's because of the Bengals wife. She's upset because she realizes the hopelessness of their situation. They were sent over there by SHIELD to retrieve Hardball. However, in the process of their mission, SHIELD has been disbanded. So she wants to know, who's going to retrieve her husband? She pleads to Gauntlet to find out what's going on, so he goes to Norman Osborn directly to ask him what he's doing about it. Oh yeah, by the way, here's my submission for the HAMMER acronym this month, Heavy Armament Mobile Military Enforcement Regiment. I took it a little more seriously than I did last month. Anyways, long story short, Constrictor sends out a signal and Ant-Man and HAMMER show up to pull their fat out of the fire. However, a couple of things happen . . Typhoid Mary, or Mutant Zero, goes all schizophrenic on them and then bails when it doesn't look like they have any chance of escaping from HYDRA. When HAMMER does show up, and things start to go south for HYDRA, Scorpion reveals to Hardball that she's only there to try to bring HYDRA down. Somebodies paid her to do it, but we don't know who. Anyways, the point is, she knows that he still has feelings for Komodo, so she lets him know that she's planning on bailing and now is his best chance if he wants to save her. In the end, after everyone has come back and been debriefed, Norman offers Taskmaster a new position, " . . how would you like to run the Initiative?" I'm not sure how much life this book still has left in it, but . . I really like this one. Especially now that Humberto Ramos has come on board as the penciller. I love his stuff. But before that, I really came to like, and care about all of these characters. I think this is a great ensemble, and it'd be a real shame to have it all go away . . or be dismantled by Norman Osborn. It is listed through issue #27 though, so . . maybe we'll make it to 30?

Avengers / Invaders #11 - Marvel / Dynamite Entertainment

The best part about this book is seeing all these characters in action together . . the Invaders and the Avengers. It's fun, even if the Avengers are all in different costumes so that they fit into the time-period of their visit. Anyways, they've all come back to WWII now, and they're trying to stop the Red Skull. It seems that in Paul's zealous ploy to help save his friends in the past, he just didn't think about how much 'others' would want something as powerful as the Cube. He wasn't back home very long before the Cube was taken from him. It made it's way to the Red Skull and then he took over the world. But, the Invaders and Avengers think that they may be able to change all of that. All they have to do is get the Cube back from the Red Skull. Toro brings up a good point . . he and the Human Torch are talking about the Red Skull, and he asks, "Couldn't he just use the Cube to wish us out of existence?" "He could, but that wouldn't serve his crooked sense of imagination.", replies Jim. We also find out that the Skull is having a problem letting his imagination run wild. He says it's becoming more difficult to think. "The Cube does not just change the world. The person who makes the wishes is changed as well. The Cube wants to form itself into a being. It is achieving definition through being commanded by you, herr Skull. And so it draws on the identity of the user." The issue ends with all of the 'heroes' finally making it to Berlin, but the Skull has a lot of tricks up his sleeve to try to keep his enemies at bay. I have a feeling that most of next issue is just going to be a big 'ol slug-fest. But it'll still be cool. Alex Ross and Jim Krueger are doing the scripts on this series, and Steve Sadowski is the penciller. Overall I like the book. Actually, it's kind of like the comics of the 40's and 50's. It was all about the big fight and the 'good-guys' standing up to the bullying 'bad-guys'. . . point the hero-gun and pull the trigger. But next issue will wrap this one up. It's hard to believe 12 issues have come and gone already. I wouldn't be surprised if Dynamite doesn't do another big cross-over series like this with either Marvel or DC. The possibilities are endless.

X-Force #15 - Marvel

I really like this story-line, but . . with this issue in particular, not to much was accomplished. At the end of last issue, Stryfe took off his helmet, and Hope thinks that he is Nathan. Bishop and James have both let their guard down, so now Stryfe knows that Hope is important. He just doesn't know why. It was interesting though that when he scanned her, he found that she had no powers. Anyways, Stryfe is trying to kill Bishop and Warpath. Bishop is trying to kill Hope. And the rest of the X-Men are trying to kill Stryfe. Oh yeah, and Apocalypse wants Warren to kill him. Or maybe Warren just wants to kill him. I'm a little confused about that one. When Apocalypse sensed that Warren was near, he called out to him. But we don't really have a clear understanding as to why. We just see that he's very weak right now. Anyways, when the issue ends it looks like everyone's down except for Stryfe. The X-Men took a good shot at it, but . . Stryfe grabbed Elixir and forced him to heal him. But in the cave, Warren couldn't kill Apocalypse. As much as he hates him, there's also still mercy in there. And even in his Death form, there's still humanity present inside of Warren. However, since he's been spared, Apocalypse decides that it's time for them to go and kill Stryfe together. This issue, really, was just a big slug-fest between all the various factions of this little encounter. There were a few tidbits of information thrown out there, but they were sparse and cryptic at best. I hope in the next issue of Cable the story has a bit more momentum. Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost wrote it, and Clayton Crain does the art. I love Clayton's style, but . . there were some panels near the end of the book that look like they were thrown together rather rapidly. I think the guys gonna need a rest after he finishes this story. So, overall, I liked the book. There just wasn't a lot accomplished as far as the story goes. Bummer!

X-Men Legacy #224 - Marvel

It seems that on Charles' journey here, that he's righting a great many wrongs from his and the X-Men's past. Yes, he's trying to rebuild his own memories, but he's also using the opportunity to 'fix' things, or at least work on them. Think about it, everybody has a list of things that they've wanted to do, or fix, or upgrade over the years. As you get older, the list gets longer and longer. Well now Charles has the opportunity to not only piece his memory back together, but as he does so, he has the time and the patience to take care of all of those little things that have popped up and he never had the chance to work on. Or, maybe they aren't so little, such as helping Rogue with her powers, or allowing Danger to be a free and sentient being when Charles realized what she actually was. Well in this issue, the final part of this story-arc, Charles does just that. When he and Remy first arrived in the Outback, Danger was putting Rogue through her paces, as it were, to get her to face and confront something. These Shi'ar scavengers showed up because they recognized Danger's energy signature, and were hoping to make some money off of her by returning her. They end up working together to find Rogue and Danger. However, they find Danger first. When Charles shuts her down, so that he can reboot her, the scavengers quickly try to take advantage of the situation. But while Danger is shut down, Rogue sense Charles and Remy and comes to their aid. Afterwards, it seems that the reboot worked because Danger seems much more clear and focused now. Then together, her and Charles work on helping Rogue with her powers. It turns out that because of her first incident with Cody Robbins, she began partitioning off parts of her brain. Since she couldn't control them, this happened over and over. Because of that, her powers were never able to develop properly. In essence they were paralyzed or frozen in their nascent stages. After Charles and Danger work on her . . that's all changed. Rogue's powers quickly finished the developmental process that they were denied, and now . . now Rogue has to learn to control them all over again. But . . she will have control. And what she does with her powers, is up to her. I thought this was a great story-line and I especially like the resolutions that were accomplished. I'm glad that Rogue can move on from this state that she's been stuck in, and now we can start delving into the character that is Danger. She's not just a human hating machine anymore. Mike Carey and Scot Eaton have done a great job on this book. I really like this direction and the revelations that are coming from Charles' previous experiences. Keep up the good work, guys.

the Amazing Spider-man #595 - Marvel

This issue starts a 5 part story-line, American Son, by Joe Kelly and Phil Jimenez that will take us right up to the celebratory 600th issue. It was a really good issue, but . . I have to say, it certainly didn't have the implications that I expected it to. This issue we hardly see Peter in costume at all. Most of the issue is spent with him hanging out with Harry. Peter is trying to keep up a front, but he's really peeved about the position of power that Norman has obtained. He trys to go at him through the paper, the Front Line, but they're eager to remind him that in order to print a story they need proof. So, while that method may work, he's going to have to do a lot of digging first. Then he talks to his old buddy Logan. Logan also has some advice for his friend, "Webs . . we here 'cause you want a man out of power of do you want him dead? Cause those are two very different conversations. Look, you gotta change the way you think about this. What we do . . it's a long game. Sure, it comes t'bullets an' blades when some punk starts something you have to finish on the spot . . but for guys like Osborne . . establishment guys . . patience wins every time." Unfortunately that's not what Peter wants to hear. He also gives him one more piece of advice, "One last thing . . time comes an' he slips up . . an' he will . . an' you do find yourself in a position t'give Normie his due . . End it! Permanent! Dig?" Peter and Harry also spend the evening at the Mayor's mansion, J Jonah Jameson. It seems he's having a family dinner, and his father and Aunt May want to announce their engagement. It's all cordial, and tongue-in-cheek until Jonah's special guest shows up . . Norman Osborn. It seems that Jonah's father hates the guy almost as much as Peter does. But Norman's only there because he wants his son Harry back. He wants to pull him back into the fold. He wants him to come work for him at the Avengers. So you'd think this is where the American Son part of the title comes into play, but . . you'd be wrong. No that happens when Menace comes to visit Harry. She changes back into her true identity, Lily, and shows Harry that she's pregnant. Which forces him to accept his father's offer. "Lily, what's done is done. You came to me, that's what matters . . and I'm going to protect you . . and our son. Whatever it takes." It seems a little fishy though that Lily shows up just as Norman is trying to convince Harry to come work for him. So I'm sure she was sent there by Norman. So who's to say this is even Harry's baby? Wouldn't it be a trip if Harry goes through all of this and then finds out that it's actually his fathers? I think that would be the straw that finally broke his back. Anyways, this looks to be a very interesting story-line. I'm thrilled to death that Phil will be doing the art for it. I love his stuff.

Wolverine: First Class #15 - Marvel

This was an ok book. It was a bit sophomoric, but . . it is aimed at the teen-aged audience. Peter David writes it, which is perfect for the type of feel that they're looking for. This is right up his alley. I like it because of the light-hearted nature of the story and the characters. I love the X-Men. But, in the current books, and through the last few years, everything is always so serious and somber. There's been one 'epic' story-line after another for quite a while now. So this book, along with X-Men First Class, gives us a look at the same characters, but . . before the world, and the universe, really, beat them up so badly that they hardly smile and seldom crack a joke anymore. I'm joking! It's not really that bad, but . . I like the feel of these books with the characters when they're a bit younger, and full of hope and vigor. It's much more light-hearted, and honestly it doesn't feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders . . . yet. This issue Kitty is trying to impress some girls at her dance school, so when she sees a picture of Thor in one of their bags, she brags that she knows him. Then, she just has to go home and convince Logan into introducing them. Long story short, Logan does talk him in to making an appearance at Kitty's school, and everybody's happy. Like I said, it was a cute story. Scott Koblish's art is also perfect for the feel of this book. I like picking up these books and reading them. It's a good change of pace.

Wolverine Origins #36 - Marvel

This was a fantastic issue. I have to give Daniel Way credit, he's really done an incredible job with this series. Logan has been trying to catch up with Daken so he can stop him from going through with the Weapon XI procedure. There's only one thing capable of killing Logan, permanently, and that's the Muramasa blade. Romulus has manipulated him into going through the same procedure as Logan, using the metal from the blade instead of Adamantium. When he recently attacked the X-Men, he didn't obtain the sword, but . . they shattered it, and Daken picked up a couple of the pieces. The Tinkerer does the procedure, however, he doesn't do the whole thing, skeleton and all, as we expected. Instead the Tinkerer has manufactured Adamantium sheaths to put into his forearms. "The metal cannot come in to contact with your soft tissues without catastrophic results. You're going to have to be extremely careful when you use yours. The metal from the sword blade, and the organic material it's bonded to, can be broken, shattered. The resulting shrapnel would be . . devastating." So now he has 3 claws like his father, but . . one of them comes out of his forearm. And I'm wondering, if the metal can't come into contact with the soft tissues, how does his arm heal up afterwards when he uses them? Wouldn't it kill the tissue where it comes out at? We'll have to wait and see if that's answered in the future. Anyways, in his desperation to get to his son, he finally comes close to Romulus, but has to let him go. Romulus has Victor Hudson protecting him. So, either Logan fights his way through Victor, if he even can, or he goes to try to save his son. But he can't do both. In the end though, Daken wants Romulus as bad as Logan does, so . . he feels that his father has made the wrong decision. And he stabs his father in the heart. Of course Logan recovers and he finds himself, 5 days later in Russia. Since Daken is taking his place in Osborn's Avengers, he's decided to try to lay low. There's a Wolverine still out there so, no one will even know that he's missing. However, unbeknownst to him, trouble has come his way yet again. While he's relaxing in a local bar, we see that Omega Red is being transferred to a gulag in Siberia. It's only a matter of time before these two cross paths again. I thought this was a pretty good issue. The whole thing with Daken didn't go as I expected, but . . it did follow it's course to it's logical conclusion. Daniel's stories have been great and I really enjoyed Doug Braithwaite's pencils. If it wasn't for Mark Millar's recent story-line, I think I might actually like this title more than the main one. Whodathunkit?

Wolverine #72 - Marvel

I'm not crazy after all. I was a little concerned when I read and posted Wolverine issue #73 2 weeks ago week. I knew the Old Man Logan story was almost at it's end, but . . I couldn't recall how it had ended. I was actually concerned that I had read through it so fast that I didn't remember how it ended. I knew they had made it to New Babylon, but . . I couldn't recall anything after that. I thought I was having a senior moment. Well, as it turns out they were actually published out of order, for some reason. I guess they just wanted to drive some of us readers crazy. They were almost successful. In this issue, we actually find out what had happened 50 years earlier on the day that the heroes died. Well, not the entirety of the battle, but we see when the Red Skull takes down the final combatant . . Captain America. The Red Skull is remembering how he came to be the most powerful man in the world. But then, the fates come upon him. After their recent skirmish over the Super-Soldier formula, the Skull's liaison, Tobias, shows up with the corpses of Hawkeye and his accomplice. Long story short, Logan recovers from his wounds and ends up taking off the Skulls head with Cap's shield. A bit of irony there. Then, after donning the Iron Man armor, he absconds with the money that Tobias had arrived with and heads back to California at full speed. All he's worried about is saving his family. When he gets there he finds old man Donovan at his farm, and he doesn't look to happy. Logan tells him he's got the money to get his family out of trouble with the Hulk gang, and he's 2 weeks early. But Donovan doesn't have any good news for him. "The Hulk gang already been here for their money. They said they got bored." Donovan then begs him not to do anything stupid because he's just going to make life harder for the rest of the families. The issue ends when Logan tells him, " The name isn't Logan, bub . . 'SNIKT!' . . . it's Wolverine." Surprise . . surprise . . this isn't the end of the story. Apparently there's going to be a Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant Sized Special. That one should be interesting and full of a whole lot of bloodshed. I'm not sure when it's coming out, though. I've looked through the solicitations, but they don't have it listed for July or August. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. This has been a fantastic story-arc by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. But if you've been reading it . . you already know that.

WildCats #11 - WildStorm

At the end of last issue Ladytron, Maxine Manchester, left alone in the Halo building, charged with protecting the innocent refugees that are staying there, realized that their building was being overrun by an army of Daemonites. Recently their leader, and lord, Lord Defile had entered into a truce with the WildCATS. It was decided that in order for them both to survive . . as a species, then there needed to be some ground rules set up. However, in the WildCATS absence . . they've gone to Hawaii to confront Majestros, they've decided to forget that agreement and take what they want. Maxine actually puts up a valiant struggle, but in the end she's simply overpowered, both by numbers and by Lord Defile. In the end it appears as if he's about the end her existence as he's also about to take advantage of Spartan's Gateway to the Otherspace. He wants to access the energy that powers the famous Halo batteries. However, at that same time, the WildCATS are on their way back to LA. Nemesis tries to kill Majestros this issue. I don't think that she actually felt that she would be successful, but . . she had to buy the team time to escape with Backlash and Savant. But in doing so, she throws him and herself into an active volcano. In the end, it appears that her only accomplishment was in killing herself. Which only serves to make Majestros even madder because he loved her so. As the WildCATS approach LA . . they can see it on the horizon, it doesn't appear that they're going to make it because Majestros is hot on their tail. All in all, I thought it was a pretty decent story by Christos Gage and Neil Googe. I'm really enjoying Neil's art. I actually read the Deathblow back-up in this book. He's one of my favorite characters. It's a story that takes place before Armageddon and Jackson King reveals to him that when he was exposed to the Gen-Factor he did actually obtain a power . . " . . the most incredible power of all. Michael . . you can't die." I was wondering how he could pop back up in the StormWatch series, when we saw him die at the end of his own. Now we know. Overall I enjoyed the issue, but then . . this is easily my favorite WildStorm series right now.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Star Trek - Paramount Pictures

So, anyways . . after we went to see Wolverine we finally get to see the new Star Trek. Tell me you weren't intrigued by those trailers you saw. They were awesome. And actually, I thought the movie was too. I like Star Trek, but . . I'm not a die-hard Trekkie. I've probably seen most of TOS, and loved ST:TNG. That one was easily my favorite. I've seen most of DS9, but saw none of the Voyager or the Enterprise series. That's a lot of Star Trek to watch. And now . . 11 movies also. Whodathunk that Gene Roddenberry was creating such an iconic giant some 43 years ago. I also read most of the comic books, from Marvel and DC, but . . those just weren't the same thing. Anyways, my point is, I'm pretty familiar with the series. Much more so than my wife. She watched most of ST:TNG with me, but was never really interested in anything else. I actually don't know that she's seen any other Star Trek movies than this one. So, again, we were going at this one from 2 completely different perspectives. The film has some familiar faces in it. Chris Pine plays Kirk. The only thing I really saw him in was Smokin' Aces. But Zachary Quinto plays Spock, which I immediately knew from Heroes. Another one of my favorite shows. I was a bit concerned about comparing him to his Sylar character, but . . those worries quickly proved moot. And of course Leonard Nimoy plays a huge part in this film, but now until about half-way through. The other ones I recognized were Anton Yelchin as Chekov. He was the son in Huff. And of course Eric Bana, who plays the movie's villain, Nero. Winona Ryder also makes a couple of appearances as Spock's mother, but I completely didn't recognize her. The basic set-up of the film is . . in the year 2387 the galaxy is threatened by a super-nova. Spock tries to destroy it by creating an artificial black-hole out of 'red-matter'. However, before he can do so, the super-nova destroys Romulus. Nero, who is a mining captain, and off-planet at the time, finds out what happened and blames Spock for his world's destruction. His ship, as well as Spock's, become caught up in the black-hole and travels back in time. Nero arrives first, some 154 years prior, but Spock doesn't show up for 25 years after that. Nero arrives is a space storm which the USS Kelvin is investigating. Thinking that Nero's ship is causing the storm, and therefore threatening, the Kelvin attacks. However, it's quickly overpowered by the Romulan ship. And, since it's captain is off-ship, trying to prompt a diplomatic dialogue with the alien ship, George Kirk the first-officer, James' father, is in charge when the ship goes down. He does however save most of the crew as he scuttles them off at the last second. Also, to add to the drama, George's wife, who is in labor, delivers during all of this. The last thing George hears, or knows, is that his wife has given birth to their son James. Nero then apparently goes into hiding, waiting for Spock's return. In that time, James grows up as a reckless youth. It's never really addressed but, I assume James' following, and knowledge of Star-fleet is bent out of drive for revenge. Not against Star-fleet, but against whatever it was that killed his father. He's brilliant, but reckless, so he doesn't go far in the school rankings. It's like he's waiting for something to happen. It appears that moment begins when, from his motorcycle, he watches the USS Enterprise being built. From there it seems that he applies himself more . . it also doesn't hurt that he's pretty close friends with Captain Pike. When a lightning storm appears near Vulcan, the cadets are recruited for duty, but Kirk's disappointed when he's not assigned to the Enterprise. That's when his buddy McCoy, whom he's befriended through the academy, helps smuggle him aboard as his ailing patient. Anyways, you can get the rest of the story from any one of a hundred web-sites. Long story short, the past is changed, and the future is opened up for these characters to become the new crew of the Enterprise. Spock's return to the past, and the surviving of Captain Pike, has changed the events of the past. Things are similar to the way they rolled out in TOS, but there's enough variances that if they decide to pursue this new course . . they've erased all problems with continuity. If you haven't seen the movie I know that sounds hokey. But it really works. Through the whole thing, I'm comparing what I know about TOS, to what's playing out on the screen. There, we know, Captain Pike died. So when it seemed like things were going a bit 'off-script' . . such as Uhura becoming romantically involved with the young Spock, and when Vulcan is destroyed, I was thinking, "Uh-oh!" However, it all plays out really well. Pike is promoted to Admiral, James is made Captain of the Enterprise, and Spock . . the old, future, Spock . . goes off to create a Vulcan colony for it's few survivors. The first thing I thought was, "They can go anywhere they want with this now. Whatever happened in TOS doesn't matter anymore . . at least not to this new direction." It was brilliant. It really was. I thought JJ Abrams did a spectacular job with this movie. I really liked the feel and the look of it. I have to admit, there were a couple of slow spots, but . . they didn't last long, and they were all relevant to the story. Also, all the 'new' actors playing the 'old' characters did a tremendous job. Especially Karl Urban, who plays McCoy. His portrayal was spot-on. He was absolutely perfect. I was also impressed with Simon Pegg who plays Scotty. His comments in engineering, and the way he handled the transporter board, really brought back a lot of old memories. They also introduced a new angle with this little alien 'pet' that he has. I thought it was hilarious. Obviously, this movie opens up the franchise again for future projects. And, like I said, the brilliant aspect of this all is, 43 years later, they've set themselves up to start over . . brand new. How perfect is that?

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Twentieth Century Fox

I finally got a chance to go see the new X-Men movie last week. We actually did a double feature where we went to see it, and the new Star Trek movie. But I'll get in to that more later. I have to say, when I saw the trailers for this movie, I thought they looked pretty good. However, I was concerned about the casting of Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth. I just didn't know for sure that he'd be able to pull it off. However, after watching the movie, and just immersing myself into it . . I think he did a pretty decent job. Of course the special affects and CGI helped a lot, but . . you know. Anyways, I went with my wife who liked the first 3 movies, but still doesn't read the comics. To me that's the hard thing about the X-Men books, I'm not sure where to have her start. So, she knows the characters, mostly, but not all of the stories. Kind of the opposite of me. Which I thought was cool because she'd have a different approach to the movie than I would. Afterwards she said the background stories, how they all came together, and Wolverine's origin, was the most interesting to her. Although, for a Wolverine movie, I have to say I thought there was an awful lot left out. I know . . they're on a time limit, but . . I thought there was some important stuff we didn't get to see. Sure the first 15 or 20 minutes are mostly about Logan, but after that . . it could've been called X-Men Origins: Weapon X. And I know that's a big part of Logan's past, but . . it almost presented Sabretooth and Deadpool as more interesting characters. I also didn't like the way, at the end of the movie, that they explain Logan's years of memory loss . . an Adamantium bullet to the forehead by Stryker. I just didn't like that whole explanation. But, having said all that, I have to admit that I'm a person who watches a movie and really gets into it. I just tune out everything around me, and all of life's problems, and just really immerse myself into the story. I don't think about whether a special effect, or stunt is believable, or even realistic. And, in the case of comic-book movies, I try hard not to compare what I'm seeing to what I've read over the years. I want to be completely unbiased when I watch a movie for the first time. So, to that point while my wife said that she enjoyed the whole movie, I have to admit that I got a little bored with it. Like I said, I don't want to compare the movie to what I've read, but . . I've still read it, so I knew most of the story. Yes there was artistic license taken here and there, but . . to me the movie just spent to much time explaining things. I can appreciate how that's necessary, as my wife didn't know this story, but to the informed viewer . . it all dragged on a little to long. Which to me, is why I always consider the sequel to a movie better than the original. Originals always spend so much time explaining things, and giving you the background stories that you don't get a lot of new material or action. However, in the sequels, they generally assume that the viewer saw the first so they're aware of what happened. It doesn't need to be re-explained. Sometimes they do, but . . it's brief. Therefore we get a lot more original story and action. Anyways, overall I have to say, I did like the movie, however, I thought it dragged in spots. I still think Hugh Jackman is fantastic as Logan, and while I was skeptical about Ryan Reynolds . . I really thought the guy pulled off Deadpool. I would enjoy a sequel. And if they're taking votes . . I would definitely vote for a Deadpool movie. Can you imagine it? Fan-frikkin-tastic!

The Soloist - Universal / Dreamworks

I went to see a few movies this week so, I thought I'd jot down some notes on what I thought about them. I'm usually the action/adventure type person . . especially the comic based movies, but my wife really wanted to see this one, so . . I have to give in every now and then. Right? Anyways, this movie is about an LA reporter, Steve Lopez and a homeless man he meets, Nathaniel Ayers. When it comes down to it, these 2 men are in similar situations, although their circumstances are drastically different. Steve is a reporter who, I felt, loved what he did. The problem is, it's a tough living. You're always looking for the next story, and you're only as good as your last one. To make matters worse, he works for his ex-wife. It's not a terrible situation, but . . she's always reminding him about his short-comings . . or at least what she viewed in their marriage. And, with the internet and all, there's always the threat of lay-offs or cut-backs. Basically, he's a prisoner of his job . . corporate America. On the other hand, Nathaniel is schizophrenic and because he can't afford meds or treatment, he ends up homeless. However, he's a music prodigy. And this is what brings him to Steve's attention. He's also doing what he loves . . playing music, but . . when it comes down to it he is also a prisoner. A prisoner of his own mind. To me, there were 2 main struggles in the movie. First Steve isn't looking to care about this person, he just wants a good story . . one that's worth printing. So he starts digging into Nathaniel's past and finds out that he had actually gone to Julliard. He wasn't there long though because that's about the same time that his mind started putting him through turmoil. He still had all of his talent, he just couldn't deal with the people, or the pressure, or any other number of things. And he finds out that his sister is still around. The problem is, it's hard for anyone to get this intimate with someone, learning their personal information, dealing with their ups and downs, and not become personally involved. On the other hand, from Nathaniel's point of view, this is probably the first person that's paid him this much attention in quite a while. Afterall, to most of us, homeless people are invisible. Or we want them to be. Anyways, Nathaniel starts to form an emotional attachment to Steve. Even though he knows that feelings are one of the things he has a hard time dealing with. So now Steve has to deal with the fact that he cares about Nathaniel, even though he didn't want to, and he's formed an attachment, which his ex-wife is all to willing to point out that he's not very good at. With Steve's attention and prodding, Nathaniel begins to hope and dream. Even though he knows that going to take him back down the path of dealing with things he's not ready to deal with. And of course, with all of this raw emotion there ends up being a violent confrontation . . basically Nathaniel attacks Steve out of anger, hurt and frustration. In the end they end up becoming friends, and from what I understand they are right up to this day. The movie had a lot of emotions in it. You like Steve, you hate Steve, you feel sorry for Steve. Nathaniel is a really complex character. He's a character that most of us don't want to deal with, and don't really want to learn anything about. However, once we do . . it's hard not to like the guy. He's a man dealing with a disease, just like a lot of people. His just happens to be more 'in your face'. He doesn't look or act like a 'normal' person. I thought Robert Downey Jr and Jamie Foxx played their parts brilliantly. They were both very believable, and you could feel their angst and frustration throughout the whole movie. My only complaint is that, as a viewer, you're on an emotional roller-coaster throughout the movie. But, that's ok. That's what the movie should do. Where I think the problem lay, is the movie tried to address to many themes. At times it was hard to tell specifically which theme was making you angry, or sad, or frustrated. There was a lot of stuff being thrown at you in this movie. The basic story, I thought, was great. I think it just got a little muddled with all the subtext. But, that being said, I think it's definitely a movie that everyone should see. If for no other reason than for people to realize that homeless people are real people. They aren't any less real than any of us. Their circumstances are just different. And we all need to remember . . " . . there, but for the grace of god . ."

Madame Xanadu #11 - Vertigo

The story around Madame Xanadu is now focused in the 1940's. In Manhattan to be specific. At the end of the last issue she opened her doors to her shoppe, ready to offer her talents to those in need. "Enter Freely and be Unafraid", is the saying on her window. It appears that one of her first cases involves a wealthy socialite who's father has just been murdered. Nimue's involvement becomes necessary when we find out the details of his demise. It seems he was burned alive in his own apartment. We don't learn a lot this issue other than her father was an importer. In the last few months he'd become recluse, after opening his business to one Husam Al Nar. Although, right now, we don't really know what the connection is between this man and her father's murder. However, we see that the circumstances involved in his death brings Nimue's attention to memories from 15th century Spain. It was at the time of the inquisitions and she was living with, and loving, a beautiful maiden named Marisol. Really, this issue just serves to lay the groundwork for the story to come. It's an informative issue, but largely uneventful. However, I assume since it's set in the 40's, Michael Wm. Kaluta has come on board as the penciller. Which is really fantastic, especially considering that the guys in his 60's. The artwork throughout the issue looks incredible. The guy is still an unbelievable talent. And as always, Matt Wagner's story is fantastic. I can't believe in 11 issues we've followed Nimue's travels from the times of Camelot to the 40's streets of New York City. To bring her up to date, we still have 60 years to go. Matt's doing a great job, and it's about time we've seen this fantastic character's life unfolded. She's been around for quite a while, but we've never really known much about her history. Her first appearance was Doorway to Nightmare #1 in 1978. And although she was created by David Michelinie and Val Mayerik, she was initially designed, as far as her look, by Michael Wm Kaluta. So, he has a vested interest in this characters history. Honestly, I think this series gets better with every issue.

The Last Days of Animal Man #1 - DC

I was a huge fan of this original series. Especially the Grant Morrison issues. He really was the one responsible for bringing this character out of the closet . . as it were . . and back into the limelight. He brought him up to date and reintegrated him as an essential character in the DC Universe. However, ever since Grant left that series, it seems as if everyone has been on this quest to deconstruct this character. Especially in the last couple of years where he's appeared in 52, and Countdown, and as part of an ensemble in a couple of minis. It was great to see him again, but it just didn't seem like anyone realized the potential that this character has. Which, unfortunately, had me worried when I saw that Gerry Conway was going to be the writer for this book. Not to take anything away from Gerry's talent . . he's been around a long time, and has contributed a lot of work, and classics, to the DC Universe, but . . he's never really been thought of along the lines of the groundbreaking writers such as Grant, or Alan Moore, or even Keith Giffen. But, that may all change with this series. Really though, it depends on how this one plays out. It's set in the near future, and we come into Buddy's life as he's really having problems connecting with the Earth's morphogenetic field. In fact he's completely lost touch with the Galactic morphogenetic field that he's been using the last couple of years. Essentially I see this series going one of 2 directions, either this will be used as a foundation for reinventing and invigorating this character, or . . this truly will be the chronicle of the Last Days of Animal Man . . quite literally. I would really much prefer to see him reinvented and brought back out of the closet. And if Gerry can pull that off . . it would be incredible. Unfortunately, I think the other possibility will be the actuality. And that's sad. But . . . there's still hope, so . . we'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, we'll get the privilege of some fantastic Brian Bolland covers, and . . Chris Batista does a pretty good job at the interiors. It really has an overall feel for the old book. Personally, I can't wait to see how it all plays out.

Green Lantern #41 - DC

This is another fantastic issue in this riveting series. Geoff Johns is really outdoing himself on this one. And now that Phillip Tan has come on board as the penciller . . I have to say, he's equally as impressive. This one's got me so drawn in, not only have I been buying the variant issues . . at $25 bucks a pop, but I've also picked up the 2nd printings. All the covers are amazing. Blackest Night is easily going to be the biggest story of the summer. Most of this issue is spent with Larfreeze telling us, or rather Hal, about the story of how he and the Guardians met . . the pact that was created between them billions of years ago. But first we see that John Stewart, while fighting the Orange constructs, has finally come face to face with Zamaron's newest Star Sapphire . . Fatality. At first he thinks she's there after him, as always, but really . . she's come to help, out of love. We also catch up with Sinestro. He's on Ungara and he appears to be at someone's grave-stone. It also seems as if he's preparing an attack against Zamaron. We don't know why yet, but . . "I will see you on Zamaron. And then love will do what it always does, my corps . . it will die!" We also catch up with that Lantern that talks to the dead, I can't remember his name, but he's on a mission for the Guardians in sector 666 looking for the corpse of the Anti-Monitor. And finally we learn the story about Larfreeze because Hal has made a deal with him. Hal's wearing the Blue ring and Larfreeze is bewildered by it. Hal offers it to him, as it hasn't served him much, in exchange for the story that no one seems to be willing to tell . . the agreement between Larfreeze and the Guardians. But that story isn't really the surprising part . . it pretty much goes as expected. Except for 2 things. First of all, the Orange ring and it's Lantern was already on Okaara when Larfreeze came across it. And the Guardians knew of it. When they come down in the pit where Larfreeze and his companion are fighting over it's possession, they tell them that the ring isn't what they're after. "We do not want it. We are here for what you stole from us. The relic in your satchel. Give us back the 'box' that you took from Maltus, and as long as the Orange light stays within the Vega system, it is yours. Free from our interference." And, as it turns out, the item in the box was actually Parallax. Which gives us, and Hal, really, quite a bit to think about. However, Hal isn't thinking about it to long as Larfreeze feels that he's welshing on their agreement when he won't give him the ring. The truth is . . he can't get it off. It told him it wouldn't come off until he found 'hope'. So Larfreeze proceeds to cut off his hand. I really didn't see that one coming. The issue ends with the ring talking to him, "Larfreeze of Ogatoo. Welcome to the Blue Lantern Corps." And the next issue is titled . . "AGENT . . BLUE?" Wow! That was an incredible issue. I just couldn't believe the intensity of that one. Just when I think Geoff has given this book all he's got . . it seems like he pulls something out of somewhere. This title and the Corps title is at the top of my reading list right now. And . . deservedly so. They are both fantastic. If you aren't on this train yet, you really need to be. You have no idea what you're missing. And it's only gonna get better.

Gotham Gazette: Batman Alive? #1 - DC

In the first part of this story . . Batman Dead? . . we see how some of the various characters in Gotham were reacting and adjusting to Batman's disappearance. This issue we see how some of those same characters have renewed their lives and agendas now that Batman has been spotted over thier city. Dick has finally decided to take up and assume the mantle that was left behind by his mentor and friend. And it seems as if these characters, and the city, have breathed a collective sigh of relief. I like the introduction of this Veil character. She's almost like the Phantom Stranger of Gotham. She watches, and monitors and interprets, but . . I don't see her getting directly involved in things. Stephanie has renewed her purpose. She knows that currently she's working outside of the 'approved' vigilante 'family' . . there's an oxymoron if I ever heard one, but . . she's still dedicated to trying to make her city better. I love the dialogue between her and Tim. He apologizes to her. Not for what he said, but for the delivery. He also wants to say good-bye, as he's about to leave on his own mission. Things seem to be getting pretty back to normal for Harvey, Jamie and Commissioner Gordon. Harvey's trying to figure out the mystery of Azrael and just exactly what went down at the church. Leslie is back in business at the clinic. She's got the Cavalier, Mortimer Drake, as her body-guard. And she tells Dick, "If I'm going to do this all over again, I will do more than heal wounds, Richard . . I have to save souls. Starting with my own . . " And finally Vicki Vale seems to have found a new mission in life. She's tired of all the excuses that Bruce, and his 'family', have offered her over the years. She's now on a mission to figure out what's going on here, and she's starting to make some connections. "Yeah, I could believe it. But proving it will be a whole 'nother matter . ." So . . things have changed, and I'm sure they will continue to do so, but as the Veil notices "The city has a feeling as if a proper order has been restored. Feeling alive. The city lives . . and so does her Batman." I think Fabian Nicieza has done a terrific job with this issue . . as he did with it's predecessor. It's a great introduction for this new direction. The talent of art on this issue was equally comparable. It includes Dustin Nguyen, Guillem March, ChrisCross, Jamie McKelvie, Alex Konat and Mark McKenna. Now it's time to open the gates . . let the race begin.

Superman #688 - DC

With Mon-El filling in for Superman, this issue finally gives us a little insight into him as a character. We find out that the 'cure' that Superman gave him, wasn't so much a cure as it isolated the cells that are lead poisoned. It somehow encapsulates them so that the disease can't spread. However, being a 'super' and all, his immune system is also hyped up. Therefore, it's seeing these encapsulated cells as a disease that it needs to fight. The bad news is, eventually the immune system will win. It will eradicate Mon-El's system of this 'cure' that it sees as an outside presence. And to further complicate matters, the 'cure' is fighting back. That's what caused his powers to disappear last issue. Since his powers are what gives his immune system the power to fight it, the 'cure' is trying to short out his powers to give itself a better chance. After examining him, Dr Light gives him about 18 months . . tops. He tells Jim Harper that he wants to devote himself to the mission, and promise, that he made to Superman. And in doing so, he wants Jim to teach him everything he knows about fighting. "If I'm going to keep doing this, I need to be on whether I am super or not." Jim and Mon-El also get a visit from Squad K. It takes a little convincing, but they show them that Mon-El is not Kryptonian. Also Jim launches a secret mission that helps him to recover his friend, Tellus. He's the Legion telepath from the future. However, in the process his team comes across a monitoring room where they see multiple screens full of 'supers' that someone is keeping an eye on. They don't know who they are, but we see that they're mostly the Milestone and Archie characters that are becoming embedded into the DC Universe. And Magog too. It seems that all of this comes back again to General Lane and his project 7734. In the end though, Mon-El comes across someone that points out some of the stuff he's missing in life. He goes out to witness a piece of it all, and comes to the realization . . "After all I have seen . . I know . . sadly, I realize . . I want to live." I thought this issue was a great look into Mon-El's character and it really gave the reader a reason to empathize with him. He's fighting something he can't just use his strength against. Kind of like the rest of us. James Robinson is doing a great job with these stories. We all knew he would, and it seems like he's found his groove. I'm still not thrilled with Renato Guedes' artwork, but . . it's growing on me. I enjoyed this entire issue.

Justice Society of America #27 - DC

This issue starts out with the usual 'super-hero' miscommunication. Obsidian, Todd, has covered the mansion with his dark power, and in the process pushed everyone out except for Alan, Jay, Ted and Jesse. He claims he's trying to protect them. But Rick Tyler, through his Miraclo pill, has had a vision of the future and is really upset by what happens to everyone, including his wife. I should say, especially his wife. With no visible threat, he, and thereby the others outside, assume that Todd is actually trying to hurt them, or tear the team apart. But there's something else at work here . . a spirit. Or as Judomaster later explains, " . . Borei. Maybe Shinigami.", a death-spirit. It gets to the mansion by assuming control of a man and walking him all the way there from Fawcett City. But then it jumps in to Courtney's form and uses her power to disrupt Todd's shadow shell. We find out that it's actually a collection of souls that have been trapped in limbo , " . . because we couldn't set aside our anger, or thirst for revenge." We find out that the lead soul is actually a Japanese assassin, Kung, from WWII. They're upset about what happened to Hiroshima. So he transports the 5 of them . . Rick is now in the bunch . . straight to Japan . . August 5th, 1945. " . . I was killed, along with over seventy thousand of my fellow Nipponese. I want you all to suffer the same fate as my countrymen!" Meanwhile, back at the mansion, they're still trying to sort out what has happened. But, as usual, they're all about to just be thrown into the mix. On the last page the Spectre appears above and inside the mansion. "Through your actions, the outer darkness has been breached. Those willing to be judged must come with me to make matters right. Your teammates' lives hang in the balance." This conflict has just jumped to a whole new level. This storyline is being written and drawn by Jerry Ordway. Personally, I think he did a fantastic job. Unfortunately, with issue #30, our new creative team of Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges and Jesus Merino step up to the plate. So this story-line is really just a fill-in until that happens. Not that it's unfortunate that we're getting a new creative team, but . . it's unfortunate that we won't get to see more of Jerry's work.

Justice League of America #33 - DC

As we get farther and farther into this storyline, we see that this really is all about the Milestone characters. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I'm not really sure which just yet, I never really followed that line of characters, or books. So I have no preconceived notions of who or what they are. As I'm sure is the same with most of the rest of the readers. I mean, obviously the line was cancelled for a reason. Not enough interest or lack of readers was I'm sure principal among them. Anyways, the Justice League is thoroughly enmeshed into their world with this issue. Dr Light jumped into Starbreakers warp last issue, only to find herself immersed in darkness. But she soon discovers that she's actually in his dark-matter field. It's what he uses to transport from place to place as it's " . . a finite piece of nothingness that happens to touch every point in infinity." With that realization, she then uses it to follow him. The strength of the dark-matter also seems to be what gives Starbreaker his power. Well, that and eating the suns of the systems that he finds himself in. Which begs the question, why hasn't he attempted to do so here, yet? Our rag-tag team here quickly hooks up with Hardware, and they find themselves going to try to help Dr Light. After following Starbreaker, she is at the Shadow Cabinet's secret headquarters in the Himalayas. When they get there they find out that Starbreaker has taken down most of the Cabinet already and is currently fighting Icon to a standstill. While they're ready for a fight, Dr Light begs them to aid Dharma, the Cabinet's leader, whom Starbreaker has just tried to kill by slashing his neck. Icon quickly tells them . . "Your help may be too late . . Starbreaker just killed the man who was holding the universe together." We see 2 earths floating over Dharma's body . . intertwined. I assume they represent the DC Universe and the Milestone Universe. Which, I also assume, is how they're going to become enmeshed into one. All of this was very interesting, and actually kept my interest this issue, but . . to me the important part of the story was when Anansi, the god in Mari's totem, brought forth Paladin. While in the Shadow Cabinets hide-out, Anansi contacts her. "Normally, except through you, I have no influence outside of the Tantu Totem. But this place overflows with power. So, tapping that power, spider spins his web . . . if necessary, he will do what must be done.", and Paladin comes walking out of her dream. He's a cowboy looking dude. But, what really gets me, and Mari and Zatanna, is how much he looks exactly like . . Bruce. He may not be him. Maybe his appearance is just coincidentally that striking, but . . underneath his 'cowboy' leathers it appears that he's wearing Batman's tunic. We can see the emblem underneath the open part of his coat. Maybe Anansi created him out of an amalgamation of references. This issue we don't know anything . . other than . . he's here to help. That and, I assume, be an extension . . the physical manifestation, of Anansi's power and purpose. Overall though, it turned out to be a very interesting issue. The kind of issue that leaves you wanting more. So in that respect, Dwayne McDuffie accomplished what, as a writer, he set out to do. I really liked the story this issue. Rags Morales steps in for the pencils on this one. Personally, I think Rags is a greatly underrated, and under-appreciated talent. I think he does a fantastic job. But, I've said that before. This issue was a fantastic effort by all involved.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #1 - DC

I really wasn't sure what to expect from this series, but after reading it I have to say . . I really, really liked it. Mark Richards, the Tattooed Man, played such a small role in the Crisis . . really, just a little bit at the end, that we really didn't get to much information about him as a character. We saw his abilities, and what he's capable of . . also that he stepped up to do the right thing, and pick the right side when he needed to, but . . we really didn't get much of a look into what makes him a man, who he really is. That all changes this issue. We start out seeing that, mostly, he's a guy who looks out for himself. However, when thrust into a situation, as in a bank robbery this issue, he will step up and do what is necessary. He's not necessarily trying to be a hero, but, I think, he's just frustrated by the unbalanced nature of crime and evil. Now, I think, he feels he has a chance to even the sides a little bit. And, if he gets a little bit of the spotlight, and some notoriety at the same time, well . . who doesn't like a little gratification and appreciation being spread their way? At the end of Crisis, I think it was Zatanna, but I could be wrong, that gave Mark honorary membership into the Justice League. So now he feels that he deserves the respect that appropriated for a man of that position. However his wife is quick to remind him, "I don't remember Superman bragging about per Diem's to his wife. A piece of plastic doesn't make you somebody they respect. The man inside you does. Most heroes come and go, but the ones who stay are those who do more than stop bullets and leap tall buildings. They show us how to be better people." And even if he can't be everything for everybody, she wants him to at least step up and start with one person . . not herself . . " . . our son. Do you have any idea where he is right now?" Their son , Leon, is hooked up with some people in the wrong crowd. Unfortunately, they've convinced him that he needs to prove himself, and more importantly prove that he's not his father. This part of the city, Liberty Hill, is ripe with corruption. So by the end of the issue, the cops have framed Mark for a murder that Leon committed to join the local gang. So when he tells the police, very angrily, that he'll find the killer for them . . he doesn't realized that he's just put himself on a path towards his own son. I thought this was a great first issue. Mark's character kind of puts me in mind of a very early Luke Cage. You know, full of anger and trying to prove himself. I thought Eric Wallace did a great job with the story. I really like the way the whole thing rolled out. And Fabrizio Florentino's pencils were incredible. This is a series that I'm definitely looking forward to keeping an eye on.

Wonder Woman #32 - DC

Ever since Diana found out last issue that Genocide is actually her own future self . . as a corpse . . she's really gone after this chick with a vengeance. This issue, she just pounds, and pounds, and pounds away at her. And, in case you're wondering where this new Olympian is during all of this . . I mean, even though their opposites and their missions are different, their ultimate goal is still the same, the improvement of mankind . . it appears that Zeus has him off on the side-lines watching. "I wanted you to understand, Achilles. I wanted you to see exactly whose mantle you are going to take up. This is no mere king or petty, self-gratified professional warrior, whose position you will usurp on my behalf. This is the daughter of the hunter's moon, boy. And you would do well to take her measure and hope you have a fraction of her steel!" So, while I, and I'm sure the rest of the readers, were lead to believe that Zeus was just trying to replace Diana, and the Amazons, it appears that maybe he knows more about the future of this contest than we do. And, as has been the case all along, Ares also figures greatly into the future of Diana and her people. During their battle, Diana rips her lasso out of Genocide's body. She then dumps her almost lifeless corpse into the deepest part of the ocean, hoping that the time and tides will do her bidding, finishing her off. But, when it comes down to it, even she can't leave an enemy to such a fate. So she dives in after her. However, the short time she's in the water is long enough for the fates to make their move. Euphemus, one of Poseidon's children, retrieved Genocide's body immediately when it entered his father's domain, and brought it straight to Ares at Thalarion. Ares considers Genocide, " . . my future Queen's body . .", and upon retrieval tells Euphemus "It's time to break Zeus' heart forever . . summon every foul thing that's ever lived in the seas, send them here and to Themyscira. We have 2 cultures to exterminate today." It appears that Ares wants to wipe out the Amazons and the Olympians. They may have to come together to fight for something afterall . . whether that's what Zeus wants, or not. This has been a fantastic story-line. I think Gail Simone is doing an incredible job. The only thing we haven't really found out about yet is this curse that Diana has mentioned that is part of the burden of carrying the lasso. I assume that is why Genocide had it, and Diana had to rip it out of her, but . . we don't really know the specifics yet. And, I can't say enough about Aaron Lopresti's pencils. The art on this book has been fantastic. His action sequences, and framing seems to improve with every passing issue. And the detail, and feeling he puts into his characters faces is simply incredible. Their emotions jump right off the page at us. This truly is a classic in the making. I can't wait to see how it all plays out. Gail, Aaron . . thanks for all the hard work!

Teen Titans #71 - DC

Is Ravager in the group . . or is Ravager out of the group? Right now . . it's kind of hard to say. Eddie's rooting for her. But, unfortunately, I think Ravager is her own worst enemy. She's been pumping up on Ephedrine, trying enhance her precog abilities, but . . I think she's only taking the worst out of her visions. To me, it seems like she's got this attitude because she knows that eventually the team will turn on her . . or kick her out. So she's already put up these walls, distancing herself, so that when it does happen she can say it was inevitable, or not her fault. She's especially hard on Cassie. But, hey . . Cassie's the leader. She has to look out for every-one's interest, and the best interest of the team. Even if it's not to the benefit of one of it's members. But I don't think that Cassie is necessarily trying to ostracize Rose. I think she's just trying to make sure that she's not a threat to the team or herself. When they go out into a skirmish, she needs to know that Rose is with them 100%, and not on her own agenda. Unfortunately, I think Cassie is being overly optimistic because . . we all already know that Rose does what Rose wants . . when and how 'she' wants. I don't think the caring and loving that Cassie is trying to convey . . even if it's tough-love . . is going to be enough to change Rose's core character. Personally, I think she would be fantastic with this group. But, when it comes down to it, I also think that she's really a 'solo' character. She can operate with a group, but . . that's not really who she is. And if Cassie truly cares about her the way she claims, she has to realize that and allow her to be herself. Even if she gets hurt, cut or bruised along the way. I know Cassie wants to protect everyone, but . . some people you have to let fend for themselves. Rose is one of those people. By the end of the issue it appears that Rose is choosing her own path. In this issue I also liked the development of Bombshell's character. Rose tests her, but . . she lives up to the challenge. And, it seems that her and Cassie's relationship is improving. So . . who knows? Even though Rose left, I thought it was a very good issue. Sean McKeever is definitely finding his own path for these characters. I think he's found his groove with the stories, and he's just getting started. It's only going to get better. Yildiray Cinar, from Noble Causes fame, does the art. I really liked it. This guy has a lot of talent and potential. I'm looking forward to next issue.

Trinity #52 - DC

This is it! The final issue of this series. Can you believe it's been a year already? What really gets me is that it's been 3 years since the beginning of 52. Wow! One of the books last week, I forget which, had 2 characters talking about something, and one them mentions the number 52. The other responds with, "I thought we were done with that?" Hilarious. Anyways, this issue opens with a great gate-fold cover by Mark Bagley. Speaking of which . . he's really done a great job on this series. That's one of the things that's impressed my about this run . . the consistency of creative talent. Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley did at least half of the book, the entire run. Kudos for their stamina. Fabian Nicieza was also around for the entire thing as the scripter of the other half of the book. And Scott McDaniel, Tom Derenick and Mike Norton switched off on the pencilling of that half. I thought it was a stellar performance by all involved. This issue is mostly a 'cooling off' issue. Most of our heroes spend it at the Keystone Coffee Pier mingling and sharing their experiences, that they currently still remember . . even if it is like a foggy dream. The worldsoul is putting the finishing touches on reassembling the world, so once she does . . everything else is going to seem like a dream that you can't quite recall. There are a few important 'take aways' though, from this issue and actually the series. The world of the Crime Syndicate is going to be changed quite a bit. I also imagine it's going to be a bit of time before we see them again . . at least in our world. Enigma and Steph are back there now, and they're intent on making it a better place. It'll be interesting to see the future conflict between them and the Crime Syndicate. Plus, if I'm not mistaken, I think Steph has merged with the Void Hound. But I could be wrong there. All in all, they're going to have an interesting future as they all put their world back together. The Green Lanterns have taken care of Despero and his fleet. He's going to be imprisoned on OA. Which is interesting because he'll be there for the 'jail-break'. I wonder what his involvement will be? Plus there's Kanjar-Ro. He's survived through all of this, and actually gotten away with some of Krona's knowledge. I think he's a threat for a little bit farther in the future. But, he'll definitely be back. As will Morgaine Le Fey. Jason Blood has captured her in some kind of rune stone, but . . they all know they can't hold her forever. "But for a time, at least . . she will make and excellent bookend on the library shelves of Jason Blood." You should always worry about someone who talks about themselves in the third person. It's just not right. We also have Charity, Tarot and Gangbuster whom I think are all going to be making their marks on the DC Universe. These 3 are definitely going to be 3 to watch. Their adventures have literally just begun. Xalitan Xor, Konvikt, is also still around. It turns out that the noncombatant he'd killed was Crimelord Vittaglia's son. So as his penance, he's taken on his security and protection as his sole cause in life. I think he's picked the wrong horse in that race, but . . it'll propel Vittaglia's status to a whole new level. Introducing us to an all new villain. Hey, not everything that comes out of this can be about the 'good guys'. Right? Tomorrow Woman is still alive . . as promised in the stories. And she seems to have based herself in Los Angeles. And the Dreambound not only have been cleared of all charges, but . . they seem to have captured the media's attention and hearts. They look to be the new media darlings. Needless to say, their adventures have also only just begun. By the end of the issue it appears that everything is getting back to 'normal', as a catastrophe presents itself and the 'heroes' go to confront it together . . as they always have. "It's big . . but we can handle it." Oh yeah, and Krona? Krona appears to be caught in the center of all the energy that's putting the world, and all of reality really back together. "At the heart of it, in the searing, roiling caldera of the unleashed energy, a figure huddles and gasps . . ." This is a prison that I don't think he's going to be getting out of anytime soon. Overall, I really enjoyed this series. I like the way it's progressed, and the interesting story-lines that have come out of it. As we move on, it'll be interesting to see how it . . and these new characters, and plot-directions, will affect the future of the DC Universe. Again, kudos to all involved for the fantastic effort. On our end . . it was definitely worth it. Thanks!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Uncanny X-Men #510 - Marvel

Ok, I was wrong last time. It wasn't Logan they were after, but rather something that he had in his possession. What?, you may ask. Well . . we'll get to that a little later. Right now Madelyne's sisterhood consists of Spiral, Lady Deathstrike, the Mastermind sisters and Chimera. Well, them and of course Psylocke. It's not really her . . she is dead afterall. But . . it is her body. Madelyne is striking at the X-Men through magic and powers. By combining the 2 she was able to take the team completely by surprise. There's only 1 small problem. It's been quite a while since she's seen this team. So . . there's quite a few gifted children running around here that she knows nothing about. Most noticeably, Pixie. After all, you have to fight fire with fire, or . . . magic with magic. Right? Anyways, it seems that the kids are enough of a distraction to cause a crimp in their plans, and then Pixie sends it over the edge. Well, that and Emma takes out Lady Mastermind. Once she falls, it's only a matter of time before she frees the rest of the X-Men. But, as I said earlier, it turns out that they weren't really after anybody here. I think that the damage they cause was really just to show that they could do it. Once they see that things are starting to degrade, Madelyne makes her way in to Logan's room and retrieves the piece that she came for. The only real loss that they endure is that Logan hangs on to Psylocke as they disappear. Well, that and Pixie figures out that it was Empath, down in the holding cells, that drew the women here. So she . . messes him up a little bit. Also, luckily, because of Elixir and the Cuckoos, the X-Men also don't suffer any real damage. Well, other than their egos are bruised a bit. Hank has some ideas for improving the restraining quarters that they currently have on grounds. And the science-squad sat this one out in the vault. "Logan, the science team is quarantined to the vault in case of security breach. My orders. I won't allow for those assets to be endangered by combat. We need the big thinkers thinking their big thoughts down there." This was a fantastic issue by Matt Fraction and Greg Land. I give Greg grief for not sticking around long, but . . when he is here . . he's fantastic. Great looking stuff. Oh yeah! And what they took from Logan's room? "A lock of hair slim. A kept a lock of Jeanie's hair. Now it's gone."
I think even Peter David would have a hard time beating that ending.

Wolverine - Weapon X #2 - Marvel

At the end of last issue, Logan had discovered that there was a group called Blackguard. Apparently they had gotten their hands on the old Weapon X files, including how to synthesize Adamantium. When he found their base, he discovered that they had already put the technology to use . . . 12 times. So now he's on his way to Columbia. He'd discovered that Blackguard was operating out of this country. But nobody knew to much about them. Logan swaggers into the local bar and decides to let them come to him. He makes enough noise that there's no way they couldn't know that he's there. Of course, when he comes out of the bar, they're in the nearby woods waiting for him. It isn't to long though before they find him coming after them. When they switch to combat mode they aren't to much for conversation. Logan's fighting them to see what they're made of. "Animal like senses, enhanced strength and reflexes. Probably drug induced. Maybe some bionic implants as well. Healing factor. Artificially engineered. Techno-organic. These fellas ain't mutants. They got nanites in their blood to regrow tissue. Unbreakable Adamantium bones. These boys got the complete make-over. About the only thing they missing is . .", ZZikt . ."Oh, you gotta be kidding me. Some sort of energy blades." It appears that Logan may have met his match in these fellas. But at least there's only 2 of them . . . well, at least until the other 10 arrive. Logan may have bit off a little more than he can chew here. Oh, and I forgot to mention, when they first targeted him they were going to shoot him with bullets that would implant him with 28 different kinds of cancer. They figured if they didn't kill him, they'd at least slow him down. Anyways, Logan decides to choose the better part of valor . . and he high-tails it into the woods. There, I think he's planning on picking them off 1 at a time. And, there's a reporter at the San Francisco post that's decided to do some digging into Logan's past. She makes some calls, to no avail, but . . she's already got a nibble. Somebody calls her back and tells her she should be looking into Blackguard. It's just the beginning of a story-line, but . . it could be interesting. So now we're off on our way with yet another Wolverine title. This one is by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney. So far . . I like the book. It's interesting, and hopefully we'll get some more information about Weapon X. My only concern is that, now . . there may be to many Wolverine books out there. You think? Naaahh!

HULK #12 - Marvel

I like this book. I think that Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness are brilliant. But, I have to say . . I think this whole thing with the Gamemaster and the Collector . . that whole thing was all a bit silly. I mean . . we knew how it was going to end. Well, maybe not the specifics, but overall . . they'd all be brought back to life and sent back to where they originally came from with no memory of the events that transpired. At the end of last issue the Red Hulk kills the Hulk. However, Gamemaster and the Collector won't let things stand there. They send the Red Hulk back in to see which team actually wins . . the Defenders or the Offenders. It turns out that all the Red Hulk cares about it that he wins. He goes to each arena, the Microverse, the Dark Dimension, and Zenn-La and kills all of the participants. Well, all except for Galactus. Mostly because I don't think he'd be able to, but also because when he found out he'd gotten wrapped up in the guys games, he was really pissed at Gamemaster and the Collector. Red Hulk probably figures that he can do more damage to them than he ever could. He wins either way. However, as expected, in the end, they bring everyone back to life and send them off to their previously acquired locations, and time. So it's all a big 'what if?' story, or imaginary tale. All of it means nothing. I hate it when that happens. Out of this whole story-line I learned 2 things, both about the Red Hulk. One, he can absorb energy. He prefers gamma radiation, but in this issue he absorbs the Silver Surfer's cosmic energy. Two, somewhere along the line Bruce Banner broke whomever heart the Red Hulk is. I think that's why he hates him so much. Could the Red Hulk be a woman? I don't know. So for me . . the last 3 issues have amounted to that little piece of information. What a waste!

the Amazing Spider-man #594 - Marvel

This issue actually seemed more like the normal Amazing books, than some of the others did. Peter's bad luck is back, and it seems like he goes from one bad situation to the next. He starts out on a roof having just been blinded by this new Vulture character. He's beat up pretty badly until he calms down and tries to use his 'spider-sense' to locate the guy . . before he hits him again. He webs up his face and the guy finally takes off. This Vulture usually goes after the weak or downtrodden, so Spidey probably put up more of a fight than he's used to. Then, when he goes back to his apartment, he finds out that he's got a guest staying there . . Vin's sister, Michelle. Unfortunately since his costume has been torn to shreds he's wandering around naked when he comes across her. So now, she thinks he's a pervert. Then, when he lays a trap for this new Vulture, by webbing up a mugger, he ends up destroying his new-found public image. In the alley the Vulture takes to the air, but Spidey has the brilliant idea of tailing along by attaching himself to his feet. So now he's flailing around in the air behind him. Unfortunately, they end up at Yankee stadium during Legends day. So they're packed. He comes swinging in and takes out the press-box because of his momentum. He ends up beating the Vulture by breaking his arms and webbing him up, but . . he's still blamed by all the fans for ruining their beautiful day of baseball. The next day the headline of the DB reads, "Yankees game called on account of Bug! City to Spider-man: Drop Dead!" Ouch! That's a blow to someones ego. Poor Peter. He can never catch a break. But what really has Peter upset is that when he smashed into the press-box, he saw Norman Osborn standing there. He's upset because he can't believe that the man he's fought so much has risen to this height of power. Oh yeah, and JJ's dad proposes to Aunt May. All in all, I thought it was a pretty good issue. Mark Waid, Mike McKone and Barry Kitson did a really good job with this one. Next month Phil Jimenez is finally back. I can't wait. Also, this month's cover is by Joe Quesada . . again.

Captain America #48, #49 & #50 - Marvel

I've thought about this for the last month or so. I've been reading in a couple other blogs how happy they are with the stories that they're reading in this book. Honestly, I haven't picked up this one since issue #25 . . the one where Steve died. So, with issue #50 out this week, and #600 next month, I thought I'd give it a shot and just give an honest opinion of how I feel about the story. However, it wouldn't be fair to just read a single issue and try to form an assessment. I mean, every title has it's ups and downs. So I decided to go back a couple of issues. I've read #48, #49 and #50 together. And that should probably prepare me for #600 next month. I wanted to do the same thing with Thor, but . . I'm not really into that character all that much. Well . . here goes nothing. I was kind of surprised after reading these issues because, honestly all 3 felt completely different. Which, to be fair, is because they were all parts of different story-lines. I had no doubt that I would like Ed Brubaker's stories. I loved his stuff on the X-Men. Issue #48 was wrapping up a story about Bucky in his Winter Soldier guise. In 1948, Bucky, with the invaders, had rescued this 12 year old Chinese scientist named Zhang Chin. Later, as the Winter Soldier, he was tasked with eliminating the same scientist. He didn't do it, but he did kill a woman who turned out to be someone Zhang loved. Now it appears that Zhang is back and he's using the old body of the Human Torch to create some new epidemic. In a nutshell, he wants to 'trim' the world's population by 35 to 50 percent. "Our world is falling apart . . it's resources are depleting. Food is becoming more scarce . . Earth itself has turned against us. Just imagine the effects of that kind of a global pandemic . . how far less toxic our smaller population will be to the ecosystem." Also, besides having the Human Torch's body, Zhang has also capture Namor and is using him as a test subject. Long story short, the Black Widow shows up and between them they stop the release of the virus and release Namor. Zhang had a person in his employ, The Man With No Face, whom I thought was an interesting character. However, with just this one issue to go off of, I didn't really learn all that much about him. Namor kicks his ass pretty good, and in the end . . snaps his neck. In the end they finally give Jim Hammond the burial that he deserves. This one was brilliantly drawn by Butch Guice and Luke Ross. Now issue #49 went a different direction and was all about Sharon Carter. She and Sam Wilson are living in her family estate in Virginia . . just as friends, strictly platonic . . and she's trying to piece together the memories that she's missing. I like the way Ed relates her condition to that of Sharon's Aunt Peggy. Sharon visits her often, but she's got advancing Alzheimer's. The difference is, Aunt Peggy doesn't know that she's missing memories . . parts of her life, but Sharon does. And it's driving her crazy. They're both actually in very similar situations. It's just . . one's cognizant, and one isn't. Anyways, most of the issue is focused on Sharon and Sam's friendship, and reliving Sharon's, and some of Aunt Peggy's memories. Also, Sam is looking for this 'Evil Cap' or 'Bad Cap'. He looks and acts exactly like Steve, but . . without the personality or convictions. Two things come out at the end. First Sharon discovers that she was pregnant at one time. She didn't even know. Sam fills her in on the specifics. Really, the revelation is almost more than she can bare. Finally, we see Aunt Peggy at the end and she thinks she's having a conversation with Steve, her one-time lover. Actually, it's 'Bad Cap'. I guess he's fishing for information about Steve, or the war. Oh yeah, and Sharon has a dream about an event she doesn't remember. She captured by Zola and the Red Skull, and she's witnessing some kind of experiment that they're working on. She's mostly out of it . . drugged maybe, but she can make out a form. It looks like they're working with a time-platform . . maybe? . . and they're trying to draw a figure out of it. She can't really make the person out, but . . she thinks, or hopes, that it's Steve. But that's really all the information that we get. This one had some fantastic art by Luke Ross. Finally, in issue #50 we learn some more about Bucky. Basically we see how his 'mission' in life has effected his birthdays over the years. It's his birthday now, and he's being chased by guys in high-tech suits that are trying to kill him. But, as we see through the flash-backs that it's pretty normal for his life to be in jeopardy on, or because of, his birthday. You would almost think he has some kind of birthday curse. Through the flash-backs we see a lot of Bucky's past, and his relationship with Steve. And then we find out that the guys who are trying to kill him are actually a para-military group who worship Cap. They're trying to kill Bucky because they don't feel that he's the 'real' Cap. "Believe me, I know that better than anyone . . but I'm tryin' . . . " However, the issue ends on a good note when he returns home to find out that the Avengers have all got together to give him a birthday worth remembering. It was actually a very touching issue, and it really made you think about everything that Bucky's been through over the years. The many, many years . . and many, many birthdays. There was a back-up also which filled in a lot of the holes . . at least for myself, on the history of both Cap and Bucky. The main story's fantastic art was again by Luke Ross. But the back-up was by Marcos Martin. Marcos' work almost had a Tim Sale influence to it. Or maybe even Darwyn Cooke. Really, it was the perfect style for this part of the story. Anyways, overall I'd have to say, I didn't get exactly what I was expecting out of these books, but . . I still thought they were very, very good. They piqued my interest enough that I'm looking forward to issue #600. I can't wait to see what they pull out for that one.