Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Astonishing X-Men #30 - Marvel

I can't believe I got 17 Marvel comics this week. That's quite a lot for me. But, since they had, I believe, 34 or 35 titles out . . I guess my list would be rather extensive. I just wasn't expecting this many. I have to say . . I'm a little worried about the future of this comic. I don't know anything, but . . in the previews there's nothing listed past this issue. And they have books listed up till October now. However, in the description this is listed as the conclusion to the first saga by Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi. So . . that would lead us to believe that there's a second saga . . right? I don't know . . like I said, I'm just worried when there's nothing listed for 4 months out. Anyways, as the description says, this issue does indeed wrap up the 'ghost-box' saga. And it appears that Forge has gone quite literally mad. These 'mutants' that he's created were to fight the influx of these teams from this other dimension. That's where the 'ghost-boxes' come in. They were their source of travel. Apparently their world, as Forge surmises, is so barren and desolate that they've been forced to search out other places for their home. Having detected this, and having no mutants to draw upon as a team, he created his own. Now, with the arrival of the X-Men at Wundagore mountain, his base of operations, he's prepared to open the 'ghost-box' and take the fight to their would be invaders. But that's not a fight the X-Men are prepared to fight . . and they're not even sure that the story that Forge is weaving is correct. But he does open the box, and Agent Brand, from her SWORD ship 200 miles up, has a "two-zettawatt quantum laser pointed at your location". When the box opens, Hank tells her to aim at the last location of the phone, and he throws it into the box. How much power is two-zettawatts? "Around ten thousand times the total power received by the Earth from the sun. It would be like landing a piece of star in the room. Even ten miles out, the polariton storm at the edge of the beam's field of effect would have torn buildings and people into foam." Even Logan has to admit, "You know I don't like the woman, but I gotta say, her problem-solvin' skills amuse the crap outta me." The only thing we don't know is if Forge, or any of his mutants survived. And, for all we know, this may have just pissed off the people in the 'other' universe even more. This may not be the last we've heard of them. I thought this was a great book and a fantastic story-line. But, really . . I expected nothing less from Warren. And, as many beautiful covers as we've seen from Simone . . the art in this book, and throughout this arc, is just phenomenal. That may be why there's no book listed also . . they probably both need a rest after this run. I'm holding out hope for a quick return because this book is fantastic. I can't wait to see more. If you aren't reading it, you definitely need to look up the back issues, or the TPB's. You won't be disappointed.

X-Men Forever #2 - Marvel

I think this is kind of a neat, and ambitious idea of Chris Claremont's. Apparently, he's picking up the story, with this series, exactly where he left off, after the Mutant Genesis story-line in 1991. That's 18 years of his vision for the X-Men that it appears that he's going to rewrite. Like I said . . pretty ambitious. Plus, on top of that huge task, he's also going to be putting out this book twice a month. With the September posts, it's already listed up to issue #8. Boy, when this guy takes on a challenge he certainly jumps in with both feet. So, apparently, we have another alternate universe here for the X-Men. Will it ever cross-over with the current Marvel Universe? Who's to say. But with Chris at the helm, I wouldn't put anything past him. Last issue ended with a psychic blast from Jean that knocked out all of the X-Men in the surrounding area. It came from her link to Logan. Who is currently lying in Central Park, disintegrated down to his adamantium skeleton. The X-Men are concerned about what's going on, but they have 2 of their own down also . . Jean and Rogue. Jean was obviously taken down during the attack, but Rogue went down while her and Remy were out by the lake. And they're under attack, in their own mansion, by Sabretooth. He claims he's there to kill Ororo. I think I kind of like the idea of Nick Fury being involved in all of this. I much prefer him to Val Cooper. Plus it affords the X-Men the government contacts that they wouldn't normally have. All in all, I think we're off on an exciting new/old chapter in the X-Men's lives here. It'll be interesting to see how this varies from their current continuity. Like I said . . a very ambitious project. Tom Grummett is the artist . . so far. I'm sure he's not going to be able to maintain a twice a month schedule, but right now they're probably a couple of issue ahead. Hopefully it'll be a few more issues before we get a fill-in. I really like Tom's work, and the way he presents these characters. Actually, I just looked at the previews and they have Paul Smith, with Terry Austin, listed as coming on board with issue #5. And then Steve Scott (?) is listed as the artist for issues #7 & #8. Well, despite that bit of bad news, all in all this is a very exciting book for me and I can't wait to see where the adventure takes us. Now the title seems more like a rally-cry . . "X-Men . . Forever!"

Uncanny X-Men #512 - Marvel

This issue, Hank takes his X-Club . . along with Angel and Psylocke, back into the past to visit Dr James Bradley, Dr Nemesis' parents. He's believed to be one of the first mutants born, and they want to examine the blood of his parents to see why, and find a reason for the mutation. He was born in San Francisco, 1906. However, to me, a couple of things come to light during their visit. First his parents aren't normal people. His father is an inventor who is currently working on a renewable power source. Also his wife seems more like an agent of SHIELD than your normal housewife. Secondly, even back then, the Hellfire Club seems to be involved in things. They want the power-source to use in their automaton . . the first Sentinel. And, even then, they're working constantly on trying to eliminate the outbreak of what they call 'the over-men'. They're afraid of them eliminating, or making obsolete, the human race. "We have a league of sensitives and psychics detecting possible . . evolutionary outbreaks. We've been able to snuff them out on our own, but more and more there are, quite simply, too many." So that tells me, there were already mutant births and children. Dr Bradley wasn't the first. However, he may have been to first to survive. Anyways, during the course of these events, Dr Bradley sees his father killed by the Sentinel when it explodes, which also creates the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. And, after being roughly handled, his mother is having complications with her pregnancy. At the end of the issue, we see that he goes back in time, alone, to assist with his own birth. Plus, I think he also wanted to say goodbye to his mother, who died at that moment. But, to me, that also raises the question . . is Dr Bradley able to travel through time, of his own volition? That part was a little unclear at the end. And, after all of this . . it seems that their trip was a waste of time. They get the blood samples, but they can't bring them back with them. So Dr Bradley instructs Catherine, his mother, to bury them for him in Golden Gate park. Which she does. But, when they return to the present, they find that the vials are on the exact spot where the Celestial is standing. The answer is within their grasp, but there's nothing they can do about it. For now. I thought this was a brilliant story by Matt Fraction. I love the questions that it's raised and the possible plot-threads for future stories. Also, I'm not a huge fan of Yanick Paquette's art, but . . I thought this issue looked pretty good. Maybe it was Karl Story's inks. I don't know. I just thought that Yanick's work looked a lot better here than I've previously seen. The next 2 issues will be part of the Utopia storyline.

Wolverine #75 - Marvel

Well, the Old Man Logan story is over . . for now . . so this title becomes Dark Wolverine, and focus' on Logan's son . . Daken. We knew it was coming sooner or later. This is yet again, another of Norman's lackey's that has his own agenda. We keep forgetting that Daken has this pheromone power. He can put out specific scents, or hormones, to create reactions in the people around him. It's probably a defense mechanism to throw off a combatant when in a fight. But Daken has been using it to drive Bullseye crazy. He also seems to push Gargan's buttons an awful lot. Anyways, they have to present themselves at a gala that Norman is throwing . . lots of Senators, and lobbyist with pull in defense contracting, and Norman wants to show off the weapons at his disposal. It's not a matter of who can use the biggest weapons, it comes down to who has the biggest stock-pile and can pull them out to, when necessary, to impress others. Much like Korea and the United States, I think there's more power in having the weapons and knowing that you can use them, than in unnecessarily flaunting them in front of the whole world. It's like a little kid bringing his biggest toy to the sandbox to try to impress the other kids. Anyways, it's funny how Norman thinks he has these guys on such a short leash, when actually the dogs are barking at the door and messing in each others litter-box. Everything is going along manageably until the Fantastic Four comes busting in. Reed is pissed, and he's holding one of Hawkeye's arrows in his hands, "Actually, you can explain this. I found it in Johnny's leg." Norman looks across the room to Bullseye, who denies his involvement. Hawkeye then glances towards Daken who's holding up a cocktail, with a sinister smile on his face, giving him a toast. This guy is a little sh#$ who seems to like to not only mess in other's litter-boxes, but also to stir them up a bit. He is not giving Bullseye a break what so ever. The next issue is billed as Dark Wolverine vs. the Fantastic Four. That should be interesting. In the final pages we get a rundown of Daken's history, and appearances, against a backdrop of the covers from the various issues that he's been in. It was interesting, if you didn't know all of it. Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu present the story here. I thought it was great. We don't really get to see him in action, but we do see the mental manipulations that he's pulling on those around him. It's a conflict . . or sorts. Just not the usual enraged ones that we see Wolverine in. Guiseppe Camuncoli does the art. I thought it was ok. It looks like this is going to be our focus for a while here.

Wolverine Weapon X #3 - Marvel

This is our fourth Wolverine title out there. I thought at first that this was going to be a mini, but now . . I'm not so sure. Right now, it's listed through issue #5, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see. The story that Jason Aaron is presenting here is interesting. Basically, it comes down to Roxxon chemicals obtaining the plans and procedures for the equipment that created Weapon X. By the time Logan figures out what they're doing, they've already used the procedure on 12 hand-picked candidates. Now Logan has gone to Columbia, following thier trail, where Roxxon is working under the name of Blackguard. They have their men working there to control Roxxon's interest in it's oil fields, by eliminating any protesters or activists that may pop up. It's also a field-test of sorts for their new agents. Logan caught up with them last issue. But when he found himself surrounded by them, he retreats to the jungle. This issue he uses some guerrilla warfare to take them out . . one by one. He manages to grab one captive. He's trying to get some information out of him, but he also knows that he's probably not gonna crack. However, he still uses the situation to his advantage by planting a tracking device behind his eye while he's knocked out. The other thing Roxxon has to it's advantage are these bullets that contain 38 types of cancer. They cost $200,000 a piece. However, when Logan gets one of their guns, he puts 5 of them into the guy chasing him. "That's the best $1million I ever spent." Meanwhile, in San Francisco, there's a reporter that's obtained some evidence from one of Roxxon's, or Blackguard's VP's, a Mr Bender, who's just tired of the whole thing. "I recruited these men. At the chief executive's directive. But now I just want out." Someone at Roxxon knows of Bender's twisting alliances and has sent a van of goons after him. But someone else seems to want all of this to come to light as they're all taken out by a sniper in a nearby tower. And, all of this is on a tight time-line for Roxxon because they're currently involved in some Senate hearings where they're counting on acquiring some considerations for defense contracts. We're talking billions of dollars here. We also see Maverick get involved here when he comes to the protection of the reporter. Maybe he was the sniper. I'm not sure. Anyways, the issue ends when Logan follows his rat back to their base, but when he arrives he finds it empty, and the rats eye nailed to the wall. I like all of this espionage and spy stuff. I think it makes for an interesting story. I think Jason is doing a pretty good job with this one. I also enjoyed Ron Garney's pencils. His style is a perfect fit for this book and type of story. My only complaint is that it seems like Wolverine is holding back a bit. But . . it also seems like he's trying to gather information rather than just taking out the opponent. Also, some fantastic covers . . by the way.

X-Factor #45 - Marvel

We still don't know who this Cortex is, but . . we get a little more information as to where he came from. It appears that he can inhabit a person's psych and control them. Kind of like a puppet. So we ended last issue, when Rictor and Guido went to visit John Madrox, the pastor, with an attack by Shatterstar. Although it wasn't really him. Well, it was, but . . he was being controlled by Cortex. Meanwhile, in the future, Jaime is trying to help Scott and Ruby by trying to figure out where, and why, the X-Men keep disappearing. So they decide to go and talk to Doctor Doom, whom is still alive, since he's proficient with time-travel. Now here's where it gets a little confusing. We see that Sebastian and Falcone are monitoring Doctor Doom's residence, and they see Jaime there. But it looks like they're watching him from the present. I could be wrong, but that's how it appears. They are also in charge of Cortex and are controlling him. Not the way he controls others, but through some kind of electro-shock thingy. Now, if they're not in the present, then that means they're in contact with him, and prodding him from the future. But, if they're not in the future, then that means that they're monitoring Doctor Doom, and seem to know everything about the future . . the camps and the rebellion, from the present. Either way, it's all a little confusing. And why couldn't Scott and Ruby go talk to Victor on thier own? It's not like he poses any real threat. He's a decrepit old man, who's got one foot in the grave, and what looks like a severe case of tuberculosis. Why did they need Jamie for that? And . . how come, in the present, Monet and her group of girls are in the same hotel that Victor has taken up residency in the future? And, when Sebastian and Falcone force Cortex to break his connection with Shatterstar, just before he delivers the killing blow to Guido . . when he recovers, he and Rictor soon embrace in a lip-lock? As Guido says, "Uh, kay! Didn't see that comin'." Well we got a little more of the picture this issue, but we still don't know all the identities or players. Peter's trying to leave us with some cliff-hanger endings, and some shockers, but I wasn't expecting this issue to end like this. It doesn't matter to me either way, but . . it's just something that came out of left-field. There's nothing in either of these 2 character's histories that would suggest that they were romantically involved . . or gay. Is it just thrown in there for shock value? We get a few answers this issue, but . .we're left with even more questions. I did enjoy Marco Santucci and Valentine DeLandro's art. It moved the story along at a good pace. Now we just have to hope we get some more answers next issue.

Wolverine First Class #16 - Marvel

I know this book is aimed at a younger audience, but . . this issue would probably be best appreciated by an 8 year old. X-Men first class, to me, is unique because it shows the team in their early years. They're teenagers, but . . it's not necessarily aimed at that audience. It just shows the kids when they were more full of life . . and hope . . the whole world was laid out before them, and it was theirs for the taking. This issue . . I'm not saying it's the series, because I don't feel that it's how the series started . . but, this issue just seems very childish. Allison gets a threat so she goes to Charles. He wants to assign Logan to guard her, but their personalities clash. So he brings in Kitty to try to keep the peace between them. She's all excited because . . well, Dazzler is a rock-star, and she's getting ready to perform at the Mega-Bowl. It's not something every teen-aged kid gets to do. So she's bragging to Theresa. She gets in on the action by asking the professor if she can go along. This is the first thing Kitty's upset about. Then, one of Allison's back-up singers gets sick, and after singer for her, she decides that Theresa is a suitable replacement. So Kitty spends the whole issue sulking and complaining. This impairs her judgement and she jumps the first time she sees a suspicious looking man in the crowd. Afterwards Allison is hit in the face with a pie. It turns out her manager's ex-boyfriend is mad at her for ruining her life and taking her away from him. She's scolded by Logan, and that's the end of the issue. Boring! I was very disappointed with this one. I expected much better from Peter David. By the way, Gurihiru is the artist. If you didn't pick it up . . don't bother.

X-Force #16 - Marvel

This issue wraps up our Messiah War story-line. Well . . maybe 'wraps up' is to broad of a stroke. There's always going to be some loose threads left hanging around. Especially when it comes to characters like Apocalypse and Stryfe. Anyways, the time traveling thing was a point of confusion for me. They go past the point of no return, because Laura can't bring herself to put Kiden out of her misery. She's the one that's creating the time anomaly. Remember in the Nyx series when she could stop time and move around? Anyways, finally Domino shoots her in the head, but the devices had already tried to pull them back but couldn't. So with Archangel bringing back Apocalypse, and him becoming rejuvenated by the Celestial city . . he's finally the one that takes down Stryfe. But in the process, he also sees the potential in Hope. "You are special child. I can feel your strength. You are worthy to host the Apocalypse." But Archangel talks him out of it. Since he save Apocalypse's life, he trades him a life for a life. "Take the girl. I have time. I am infinite. But know this . . we will meet again, when the girl is ready. Remember, Cable, emotion is weakness. And if you do not teach her this before I return for her . . it will be her undoing." Also he doesn't kill Stryfe. "Pathetic wretch . . always searching for a purpose in life. Now I give you one, the greatest any being could have . . to be my vessel!" The ending was a bit confusing for me. I thought they all went back, but apparently they just jumped to some nearby buildings in New York City. I didn't quite understand all of that. And then Laura starts cutting off their time-bands to send them back. But it appears that that band was left behind, only the individual transported. So does that mean that they left some time devices in the future? Like I said, that whole part was all a little confusing to me. But other than that, I did like Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost's story. Although there are still a lot of loose threads. However, Cable comes out next week so . . I'm sure we'll find out then where he and Hope ended up. I enjoy Clayton Crain's art, however . . this issue and last didn't seem up to his usual high standards. The whole thing seemed a little rushed. Of course he's done a lot of work in the last few months. Maybe he just needs a little time off. Anyways, overall I enjoyed the book. We'll just have to wait until next issue to see what's on the plate for this team in the future. And . . are Domino and Vanisher going to stick around? Or not?

Dark Avengers #6 - Marvel

I don't know . . maybe I just like the dark nature of this team. Or maybe I just like the twist on the usual super-hero team paradigm. But I really enjoy this book. Well . . first of all . . I love that Mike Deodato Jr has been on this title the entire time. I love his art. And he definitely has a fantastic handle on all of these characters. I love the way he represents Norman . . his facial expressions, and presence. Especially when he goes off on Namor. I bet there's a lot of people that wish they had the balls to do that. Secondly . . I enjoy the story that Brian Bendis is presenting here. Yes it's shaking up the Marvel Universe, and mutating traditional paradigms, but . . I think that's what the comic world needs right now. You see a lot of the 'earth-shattering', or 'life-changing' stories going on out there, but . . a few months later, everything is back to normal. We get all caught up in these big stories, only to see a year or 2 later that the status-quo returns. Sometimes I think it would be better just to skip them altogether, and just step out of the title for a year or so. When you come back, you generally find that nothing's really changed, and the characters are dealing with their normal everyday problems . . the same as when you left. However, it feels to me like Marvel is trying to change that a bit. I'm sure it's upsetting some long-time readers, but . . life is all about change. And I know that comics aren't about real life, and that's probably good because in comics . . people, characters, fall into the same paradigms for years and years and years. A lot of that can be credited to Brian Bendis, and Joe Quesada for taking some chances . . for trying to change the status-quo. I know that not everybody agrees with me . . or them, but . . you can't really argue the effectiveness. It's made the books interesting again . . and exciting. Anyways, I'll get off my soap-box now . . I really liked this issue. I like the fact that this man, Norman Osborn, who is trying to assume this position, and lead these characters through fear and intimidation . . has things literally falling apart at the seams around him. Right now, almost everyone working for him has their own agenda. And really the only thing that they can all agree on is that Norman is an arrogant ass. Also, we're on issue #6 now and we've only seen this team perform together once . . that was in the Hawkeye mini-series. And . . it was a complete disaster. Sure we've seen these guys perform, but mostly it's been on an individual basis. The only thing they've really done together is pose for the cameras. It the same with this 'cabal' that Norman has assembled. He seems to be leading them, but . . I really think they're only putting up with him for the time being. I think they're all secretly hoping that he'll eventually fail, and when he does they'll have a chance to assume leadership and control. I think they all want the same thing . . in those regards. Anyways, we find out that this attack on San Francisco last issue was by a team of Atlantean terrorists. Norman dispatches Bob out there and instructs him to kill them all, leaving only one survivor to be dragged through the streets. When they get back, they give him to Gargan. Also, currently, Noh-Varr is AWOL. He left after he slept with Moonstone and she revealed to him who they're actually working for, and with. And, on the final page, we see the Norman himself is barely holding it together. It seems that the Green Goblin is trying to get back out again. "Oh Norman . . Norman, Norman . . stop kidding yourself. I'm here. I'm always here." I don't know . . like I said . . I really enjoyed this book. I like that the traditional 'super-heroes' are being thrown on their ear. I'm glad that somebody at least has the balls to try to make things different . . interesting.

the New Avengers #54 - Marvel

Yes . . it's official. Brother Voodoo has accepted the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. Now all he has to do is help Stephen and Daimon beat Dormammu . . and his training can begin. Last issue, the New Avengers landed in New Orleans. Stephen was looking to see who the new Sorcerer Supreme might be. Actually, he was hoping he could get to him/her first so that if it was someone of questionable background . . he might be able to run some interference. His worst fear is that it would become Doctor Doom. But they came here to talk to Daimon Hellstrom. However, shortly before they arrive . . the Hood also tries to run some interference. Well . . not the Hood exactly, but the Hood possessed by Dormammu. So 10 minutes before that, when the Eye of Agamotto shows itself to Jericho Drumm . . and he's talking to the spirit of his dead brother, Daniel . . he's a little freaked out by the offer he's given. However, he does accept and then when he looks out his window, he sees the firefight happening in the streets of his own neighborhood. He's even more apprehensive, when he turns the corner and happens upon the scene . . Stephen, Daimon, and the rest of the New Avengers present . . fighting a behemoth of a demon named Dormammu. However his help is essential. The 3 sorcerers cast a confinement spell and then exorcise the demon Dormammu back to the depths where he came from. Leaving a broken Hood strewn on the streets. However, I don't think it's over quite that easy. As he lays broken in, I'm sure, a prison hospital . . Loki pays him a visit. "I was counting on you for the time of Norman Osborn's fall. But now look at you . . you're no good to me now. Parker . . would you like a second chance?" At the scene of the incident Clint grabs a person with a video-camera and again throws his accusations about Norman out there. He explains how the Avengers are trying to save the world, and that people like the Hood and Madame Masque are the real villains out there. But Norman once again turns it back on Hawkeye and his jaded past. The issue ends with Clint telling Bobbi . . "I thought . . I thought I'd rattle him. I thought the media would go after him. But they didn't . . we're going to have to kill him." I thought this was another great issue by Brian Bendis and Billy Tan. I liked the story, and am intrigued by all the subterfuge that is going on behind Norman's back. But I suppose you don't rise to a position of power like that without a few people trying to take you down. Although . . it's beginning to appear that it's everyone that works for him. You just don't see the loyalty here that you do with the people that are working for Nick Fury. He commands a whole different kind of respect. But . . where do the Avengers go from here?

Avengers / Invaders #12 - Marvel / Dynamite Entertainment

Well, this is it . . the final issue of this cross-over series. Well . . it's kind of a cross-over. It crosses over Dynamite Entertainment with the Marvel Universe, although . . I'm not quite sure why. I mean . . it crosses over the 2 teams of the New Avengers and the Invaders . . both of which are Marvel teams, and Marvel heroes. So why this is published under the Dynamite label . . I'm a little perplexed. But . . it's been a good series, and it's come out pretty regularly, so . . I'm not complaining about the semantics. Although, it probably comes down to the creators . . Alex Ross and Jim Krueger. They're both working on the Project Superpowers series now, so . . maybe they're exclusive to Dynamite. I don't know. My only complaint about this series is that it pretty much ends the way we expect it to. All the heroes that traveled to the past end up defeating the Red Skull and putting history back on track. In the end, they find themselves back in the future, our present, and celebrating with everyone else at the rally, and memorial, for Captain America. Although, I would imagine, they are especially solemn considering that they just got done having an adventure with the man himself. There is a twist though. At one point in the past Bucky has his hands on the Cosmic Cube. He helps to set things right, but he knows he can't do anything to change the past. However, he does help out an old colleague of his in the future . . Thomas Raymond, Toro. He brings him back to life. And the Vision is drawn to him. In the past, as the battle is winding down, he tells the heroes, "I am here to help the Cosmic Cube choose a new form . . choose sentience. It has chosen which sentience it wishes to emulate. I go now to meet that form." Apparently, that's Toro. Also Bucky had a chance to change his past, because he warned himself about the rocket. However in the end . . he chooses to do the heroic thing. "How do I know this rocket won't kill someone if it was left to continue? How can I be less that the hero I am? Even if no one knows. Some stories have to be told. Sometimes it's the writing of them rather than the reading of them that marks us. Even if only to remind ourselves of what we are. And who we will become." The fighting, and the past, ended up being rather predictable. But the story itself . . in the end, was actually rather moving. I thought Alex and Jim did a fantastic job, and I really enjoyed Steve Sadowski's pencils. This is yet another book the I really picked up for the heck of it, but . . I'm glad I did. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Avengers: the Initiative #25 - Marvel

Just when I think this book is winding down to it's end . . Norman Osborn steps in, and now he seems to be all over the place with this group. Of course it's helped that Humberto Ramos has taken on the artistic chores the last few issues. They even have the postings listed through #28 . . with no end is sight. Fan-frikkin-tastic!! I've liked this book since it's inception, but . . I was a little worried about it for a while there. So, the New Warriors have returned MVP's body back to his father. He can't accept Patrick as his clone, but he does want the one that's been posing as his son to stay. It looks like the Scarlet Spider will be joining the New Warriors . . out of necessity, mostly. But right now they're probably the most 'wanted' super-heroes in America. Norman has managed to swing the public opinion against them, again, by blaming most of what happened in Camp Hammond, and Stamford on their actions. It also enabled him to take over the Initiative. Meanwhile, Norman seems to be on a heavy recruiting drive. He's got a Dr Burke working in San Francisco on creating a new team, much like his Avengers, made up of 'villains' and 'heroes' alike. Taskmaster will be in charge of training them, and . . he's starting out with Penance. You remember, from Heroes for Hire. He's also let Tigra and Gauntlet know what his plans are for them. Tigra . . he wants her baby. He wants to study it. "Studying a human/Skrull hybrid could tell us a great deal. Such as how to see through their shape-changing . . and of course, how to create effective biological weapons." With Gauntlet he wants, well . . his Gauntlet. "But . . but sir, it's bonded to my arm. It won't come off." To which Norman replies, "I see, well . . you won't be the first American soldier to give up a limb for his country, hm?", as Ares is standing menacingly behind him. Anyways, they both break free and end up in the sewers, after being chased by some of the Hood's men . . the Initiative's new Chief Operating Officer . . where they are rescued, basically, by the New Warriors. So it appears that they'll also be joining the team. Back to Norman . . he also recruits Diamondback and Trauma. He assigns Prodigy to the Nevada team . . as his voice in the west, replacing Gravity, whom he sends to Wisconsin and the former Great Lake Avengers. "It's just a nightmare . . I'll wake up any second now . . please?" And in New Mexico, he opens the new base for the Initiative . . Camp HAMMER. Obviously, he's been a busy man. I think Christos Gage is doing a fantastic job with this book. He's been here ever since the Annual . . about issue #8, but it really seems like he's been finding his groove in the last 6 to 8 issues. The only bad news is that this is Humberto's last issue. Rafa Sandoval will be taking over next issue. I don't think there will be much of a problem. The book seems pretty strong right now. I look forward to this one every month.

Secret Warriors #5 - Marvel

Personally, I think this book gets better with every issue. I can tell that Brian Bendis and Jonathan Hickman are getting more and more into this story. I also really enjoyed Stefano Caselli's artwork. He's the one that did the Initiative originally. His style transfers effortlessly to these characters. This issue, Nick decides that it's time to get some of his weaponry back, namely . . the helicarriers. So he's planning an assault on the dock to procure them. However, as Dum-Dum puts it . . "This isn't a frontal assault, it's more like boosting a car. Get in, get the boats, and get out." However, they have a couple of problems facing them. First of all . . this is a HAMMER base now, so . . there's operating staff and assigned agents. They're talking somewhere upwards of 11,000 soldiers. Secondly . . HYDRA has also learned of Nick's plan here. They're not necessarily ready to start their war with Nick, they have other plans currently in the works, but . . they also don't want him to gain any more weaponry. So, shortly after Nick begins their assault, HYDRA is waiting and also attacks. But, as we've seen through the first couple of issues . . Nick isn't a 'one-trick-pony' anymore. Just when HYDRA thinks they have him on the ropes . . his new Secret Warriors come jumping into the mix. "This ain't nowhere close to done." I thought this was a fantastic issue. The thing I get from this one is the intense loyalty of the men who follow Nick. Well . . except for the one whom HYDRA got the information out of. But we don't know who that is yet. Nick will have to deal with that later. There's one scene where the Gorgon throws his sword at Nick, and he's a pretty good swordsman . . one of Nick's men pushes him out of the way and gladly takes the sword for him. Like I said . . that's the kind of loyalty that Nick embodies. Plus, we probably don't know everything yet. I wouldn't doubt that Nick staged this whole thing just to draw HYDRA out. The man has layers upon layers. I started buying this one on a whim . . I'm really getting into it.

Dark Reign Elektra #4 - Marvel

I'm really enjoying the story here. Plus . . we get Bullseye stepping up to the plate this issue. Basically, this whole thing . . the $82 million bounty on Elektra's head, comes down to her attack on the helicarrier, in Arkansas, that crashed. It killed hundreds of SHIELD agents, and wounded even more. So, apparently, this bounty is coming from somewhere within some secret SHIELD funds. Norman didn't even know about them, and Ms Hand is only just finding out now, after doing some heavy digging. Plus the question is raised, was it actually Elektra or her Skrull doppelganger? The time-line for her abduction has never really been verified, so . . they don't really know. Anyways, most of the story is spent on the interaction between Elektra and Bullseye. She had a couple of assassins on her ass last issue, but Bullseye already took one of them out. He wants Elektra all to himself. She ends up saving one of her attackers lives, when Bullseye just wants to kill them out of boredom. And, she ends up putting one of Bullseye/Hawkeye's arrows through his chest. But now she has a platoon of HAMMER agents on her, and . . at the very last second, Wolverine jumps into the fray. I think Zeb Wells is doing a really decent job with this story here. He seems to have a pretty good handle on these characters. And, Clay Mann's pencils are actually . . ok. They're not necessarily the style that I would expect for this book, but . . they do fit the story pretty well. I'm just glad that Elektra's back . . the real Elektra, and that hopefully she'll be getting her own book back again. Soon. Please! Anyways, I really enjoyed it, and I can't wait to see how it all plays itself out. Oh yeah, by the way . . my suggestion for the acronym this month is . . Heavy Armaments Make Much Easier Relationships.

Dark Reign Sinister Spider-man #1 - Marvel

I really don't even know that much about "Mac" Gargan. I used to be into Venom when he first came on the scene . . quite a while ago, but . . I think they over did him. He was everywhere for a while there . . all the Spider-man books, a whole bunch of mini-series and one-shots, he even had his own annual . .or two. Anyways, I just got burnt out on him. Plus, I really didn't like the Eddie Brock character. But now he's back. He's in the Avengers . . or, at least, Norman Osborn's Avengers . . and he's occasionally an interesting character there. So when I saw this mini-series, I thought . . what the heck? Plus, since it's penciled by Chris Bachalo . . it's a definite selling point for me. I was also rather impressed with Brian Reed's story here. Is it just me, or does it seems like Norman's little happy family is starting to come apart at the seams? It seems like everybody is pushing Norman's buttons these days, especially Bullseye and Gargan. Anyways, Gargan, as Spider-man, is sent out to stop a bank robbery. It's by some d-lister named General Wolfram. Gargan decides that he's going to punish Wolfram a little bit and keep the money for himself. "The Police want to know where the money went. And why some dolt calling himself 'General Wolfram' has one fewer arm than when he was last seen with you.", Norman has to ask him, later on. There's 2 important things that come out of this book . . first, we're dealing a little more closely with JJ's administration. For some reason Gargan decides that he needs to get even with JJ, so he dumps a dead prostitute in his bed at the Mayoral Mansion. Things are probably going to get a little heated between these 2. Secondly, there's a psychiatrist, Dr Shep Gunderson, that's trying to get some funding from his honor, for his plan to reduce crime. He wants to set up a program to rehabilitate 'super-villains'. Of course JJ doesn't go for it, so the Dr decides to take matters into his own hands. Operating under the guise of 'the Redeemer', he's got a collection of some of these d-list villains, and he's decided to change his tactics. "I've come to realize that the Mayor was right. Rehabilitation isn't enough. Not when the real evil is still out there. Namely, the evil that put all of you in here. I speak, of course, of . . the Amazing Spider-man. We must find him. Find him . . and redeem him. Should I laugh menacingly now?" So . . is he going after Gargan, or is Peter going to get caught in the cross-fire? It's an interesting premise . . if not entirely original. But . . it's adding a neat twist in that Gargan is actually posing as Spider-man right now. And . . did I mention I love the art?

the Amazing Spider-man #598 - Marvel

I knew it! I just knew it! As soon as I read the first issue of this story-arc . . I just knew that this was going to be Norman's baby . . not Harry's. And this issue Lily shows her true colors. This has been a great story arc. Joe Kelly is one of my favorite writers. We find out this issue that Norman's plans for Harry include putting him in a suit, very similar to the one that the Iron Patriot is wearing, and juicing him with a form of the super-soldier formula. Of course he hasn't told him that he's mixing it with his 'goblin-juice'. Anyways, Harry's sole purpose of even considering any of this is because he thinks that Lily is pregnant with his baby. But, really, Norman anticipates his betrayal. "He'll do it all for his beloved, of course. He'll work with me hoping that some day he'll be able to free Lily from my 'clutches'. But I can string that out forever. Certainly long enough for him to 'Fake it 'til he makes it.' Unless of course, all of this 'sobriety' has gone to his head . . in which case, there's plan B. Harry Osborn becomes a martyr." Lily holds up her act though. Right up until Harry's ready to give her the anti-dote for the 'goblin-juice'. You see, the problem is . . Lily doesn't want to be cured. She's happy the way she is, and she's only playing this role out of her love for Norman. She can't let Harry take that all away. Meanwhile, Norman and Bullseye . . he doesn't even pretend to be Hawkeye this issue . . have been torturing, both physically and mentally, Spider-man this whole time. But when Peter figures out what Norman's plans are . . that finally gives him the anger and hatred, and thereby the strength, to break free. But he's still weak as hell. And with Harry's betrayal, he's beginning to think maybe he was wrong turning on Spider-man. So on the final pages, he finds him, although he barely has the strength to stand . . and Harry's ready to fight back. As he approaches he's donning the Iron Patriot uniform. This was a fantastic book. It's a shame that Phil Jimenez only did the first issue, but . . I think Paulo Siqueira and Marco Checchetto have done a fantastic job here. But we still have an issue to go. So, really . . anything can still happen.

Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1 - Marvel

I was a little disappointed in this book. Not because of the story. I thought the story was great. But because . . I had no idea what this was or was all about. I picked it up, mainly, because it was an X-Men story with Marc Silvestri doing the art. I figured it was another mini-series . . the X-Men have only had about 20 in the last year . . and since Marc was doing the story, with Matt Fraction writing . . and it included the Dark Avengers . . I thought, what the heck. So I'm reading the story . . I'm thinking this is pretty good, I like how they're focusing on the state of affairs at Graymalkin Industries, in San Francisco. Plus, we got Trask stirring up the anti-mutant movement again. Then I get to the last page and find out . . this crosses-over with both books. It'll be in Uncanny X-Men #513, Dark Avengers #7, Uncanny X-Men #514, Dark Avengers #8, and then wrapping up in Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus. That's all well and good, but . . if I hadn't have picked this book up on a whim . . I wouldn't have known what was going on when I picked up #513. I would've been lost, and then I would've had to go back and try to find this book. It just doesn't seem like it was put out there very well. Anyways, besides all of that . . things have been going a little to smooth for the X-Men lately, so I guess it's time to shake up their world a bit. Of course this all goes back to Bastion and his bringing back to life . . kind of . . all of these people that hate the X-Men. Or course, now they'll hate or love whatever Bastion tells them to, as they seem to be an extension of his conscious. Anyways, Trask has this following now . . literally . . and they're marching with him to San Francisco in support of the Mutant Procreation Act. Have you ever heard of anything so absurd? Of course, when they get to San Francisco, now the heart of 'mutant-land', it only takes one or two hot-heads, on either side of the fence, to get things stirred up. And that's exactly what Trask wants. He wants Californians to be afraid of a gather of mutants this large literally in their own back-yards. And, once it gets on the news, it's only a matter of time before Norman Osborn thinks of using this to further embellish his 'saving graces' into the public conscious. I'm surprised he didn't wet himself on his flight out to California. Once there, Norman wants Scott Summers to put out in front of the public as the face of 'mutant-kind'. And don't forget, Emma is part of that secret cabal that's been working with Norman for a while now. So who knows how she's manipulated all of this to her advantage. At the end of the story, we find out that Henry and Charles have been captured. Wherever they're keeping them they seem to have some kind of inhibiting system that's sapping their powers. So . . overall, I think this is going to be a really interesting story. It's always interesting when the X-Men's lives are thrown into turmoil. Which seems to be a pretty constant state of affairs. But we have a great cast of characters here, and a fantastic creative team. So I'm looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. Despite the faux-pas with the advertising.

WildCATS #12 - WildStorm

This is the WildCats that I've come to know and love over the years. Yes the teams a bit more eclectic right now, but . . that's ok. There's a lot of great characters in this book. And when Defile and Majestros go at it this issue . . well, that was classic. I do have a bit of sad news though . . this is Neil Googe's last issue. I liked his work on this book, although I think he was a little more experimental on Tranquility. The guys got a ton of potential, I'm just wondering where he'll turn up next. Ramon Perez does the last couple pages of this book. And next issue, Shawn Moll and Drew Geraci take over the book. This issue, to take out Defile, and hopefully Majestros, Hadrian accesses the universe where he got the power for his Halo batteries. It used to be an easy jump when he had Void's powers. This time it almost wipes him out trying to do it. But . . he's got people to save. So he opens up a small access window and hopefully sucks the two fighters into it. Of course it also takes out the Halo building in the process. "Gentlemen, and lady. I hereby announce the closing of the Halo Corporation. Thank you for your patronage." So now the team gets to start anew. It looks like they're going to start out in the forests of Nevada. Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering . . Majestros did survive the blast. But did you ever think otherwise? This was a good issue by Christos Gage. I'm interested to see how the book is going to change next issue.

Madame Xanadu #12 - Vertigo

This book is kind of an indulgence for me. It's not the type of book I would normally be drawn to, but . . I find myself enjoying the stories here. I thought it was really good during the first 10 issues, but now . . now Matt Wagner is joined by Michael Wm. Kaluta. His artistic talent and style are perfect for this book. The star of our book, Madame Xanadu has recently found herself at the dawn of the age of heroes. Although she doesn't know that yet. And she's coming up against some forces that she doesn't recognize. We know the man as Al Nar, but . . we don't know yet what his true nature or intentions are. As this story is unfolding, the good Madame is also remembering her time in Spain in the 1490's. She had taken a partner in Marisol Del Rios. Which is really the only reason she had decided to stay as the country was in the vicious grip of the Catholic Religion. "The church has so villified both the natural and the feminine, folks see a devil behind every anomaly. The land is beautiful but, were it not for Marisol . . I could not long stomach this country and it's despotic religion." I'm not sure what that story has to do with the one Nimue finds herself in currently, but . . I'm sure they're connected somehow. Speaking of Nimue . . I noticed on the new series Merlin, Nimue is introduced this episode. Just thought I'd bring it up. Anyways, as I said, I really enjoy this series, both with the story and art. I find myself looking forward to it every month.

the Last Days of Animal Man #2 - DC

I always liked Buddy Baker. I've always thought he was a great character. It makes me sad to see what he's going through in this series . . actually, what he's been going through for the last few years, really. This issue he's saved . . after his powers fritz-ed out on him at the end of last issue . . by Green Lantern. But this Blue Whale is no Green Lantern that I've ever seen. He claims that Buddy is a friend, of friends. That's why he came to his rescue. But Buddy is more upset about the possibility of losing his powers, and feeling sorry for himself, than actually realizing that, even though he's a Green Lantern, this Blue Whale is someone who cares. And someone who may be able to help. But Buddy pushes him away before that can be explored. And then he's attacked by the Mirror Master's daughter. Who? Well, we get a little retroactive continuity here and are introduced to Evan McCulloch's daughter. She calls herself Prisimatik. She goes after Buddy because she wants to make a name for herself and she thought she'd start with someone she was pretty sure she could beat. The problem is . . Buddy's pissed. And he realizes that his powers work when he's in close proximity of other animals. So . . he heads for the zoo. Of course she follows him there, and he's lead her right to the Silverback Gorilla cage. He almost beats her to death . . until the Justice League steps in. "Your wife called us. Ellen thought you might be in trouble when you didn't take her call. Looks like she was right." Actually, I really like the story that Gerry Conway and Chris Batista are presenting here. I didn't really expect much, but . . I like what we've gotten so far. It says it's the Last Days of Animal Man, but . . it doesn't say it's the last days of Buddy Baker. So, I'm assuming, Buddy is going to lose his powers, or . . they're going to change. He may not be Animal Man anymore, but . . that doesn't mean that he still won't be a hero. Again, we're only on issue #2 of 6, so we're really just at the beginning of our story. There's a whole lot of places that this could go, still. There's some fantastic potential here. If Gerry and Chris are daring enough.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #2 - DC

I have to say . . this issue had me a little confused. I know we're following Mark Richards on his quest to become a hero. Well . . maybe not a hero, but at least someone who can make a difference in the world that he's come to find himself in. But despite all the gangs and stuff . . he also seems to be surrounded by a lot of magic and mysticism. The line between the two is kind of blurry sometimes. Anyways, he's found out that his son want to join a gang. He wants to get inked and get some street cred. However, most of the people around here know who Mark is. So, I'm guessing this gang that he's trying to join is using him as a way to hurt Mark. And then there's the little mystery about the tat that seems to have disappeared from Mark. It's been sighted at a couple of crime scenes, but Mark isn't involved. I'm guessing somehow his son is connected. I don't know. Like I said . . that's where the whole thing gets a little confusing. All I know is that Leon has some sort of magical sword, or knife, that he's been using for the gang. Somehow this is connected but we don't have all the pieces yet. Mark has the same suspicions and hits the streets looking for Leon, hoping to keep him out of as much trouble as possible. But he should also be concerned about keeping himself out of trouble. The issue ends with him in the grip of Cannon and Slipknot. I'm not sure who they are, but we always have next issue. Eric Wallace is doing this story. I really do like the story, I'm just a bit confused about all the gangs and magic and what-not. It's all overlapping, but we aren't shown how it's all connected. I also like Fabrizio Florentino's art. I like the style that he's using on this book, and I can definitely tell that he's got a Mark Texiera influence to his stuff. This is only issue 2 of 6, so . . we'll just have to watch and see how this all plays out. I can't believe he's a member of the Justice League already.

Teen Titans #72 - DC

Ok . . Bryan Q Miller comes on board this issue as the new scripter. Let's see what he can do with these kids. Joe Bennett is the penciller . . and his stuff looks pretty damn good. On the very first page of the issue, we see that one of the Titans has died, but . . we don't know who it is. The story then goes back a day to lead us up to those events. Personally . . I think this current team definitely has potential, but . . everybody has to figure out the dynamics of the group and the roles that each of them play in it. It's pretty balanced now . . between males and females, and I like that the realistic approach has been taken as far as the tensions that would naturally arise between them. Especially with Jamie Reyes, the Blue Beetle. He's definitely noticed the opposite sex around him. But the main part of this story is about the Calculator and him wanting to get his revenge on this group for what's happened to his daughter. Of course he doesn't take any of the blame himself. Why would he do that? Anyways, in the opening salvo this issue, he's separated Cassie from the rest of the group. He has her in alone Alcatraz with the Fearsome Five. At the end of the issue it appears that she may be the one who dies. But . . I think that would be a little to obvious. There's got to be a twist next issue. And speaking of twists . . this issue starts the back-up stories, and this one is about the Ravager. Right now she's probably my favorite Titan . . even though we don't technically know if she's in or out right now. Anyways, she's finds herself out in the wilderness when her bike breaks down. When she gets to the local bar / diner . . she tries to be cordial but then ends up viciously attacked by the locals. They're trying to hide or protect something, but we don't know what yet. The story ends with her lying on the floor in a pool of her own blood. This part of the story is by Sean McKeever and Yildiray Cinar. Yes it was $3.99, but . . we got 40 pages of art. That's better than what they do over at the Marvel-ous competition. But I know . . it's still $3.99. Outrageous! But what are you gonna do? Either buy them . . or don't. That's the only options we have.

Justice Society of America #28 - DC

I know this story-arc is just some filler until Bill Willingham and Jesus Merino take over the creative reigns, but . . I really didn't like this story very much. All in all, I thought it was kind of boring. Jerry Ordway writes and draws it, and he brings the Spectre back into the JSA fold with this story. Which is cool, but . . I still wasn't all that thrilled with it. Basically these lost souls from the bombing of Hiroshima had decided to make someone pay for their anguish. It's not really clear why, but they choose Jay, Alan, Ted, Rick and Jesse. I know they were involved in the war, but no one would think that they held any responsibility for the bombing. Anyways, long story short . . they transport them back to August 6th, 1945. Of course they stop them, but they have to convince the rest of the spirits that the guy leading the charge is using them all by trying to manipulate these events to become corporeal again. Once they do that, the spirits let down their guard enough that the Spectre can return everybody from whence they came. And we find out that the spirit had left a little of his essence in Courtney, just in case his other plan failed. So what? Who cares? The only thing I liked about the whole story was at the end when Albert convinces Courtney that he doesn't want to pursue a relationship with her. "I do love you Courtney . . but like a sister. It has to be this way. You're a kid." I'm sure that made her feel like a pile of dung. Afterwards we find out that it was Alan, Jay and Ted that convinced Albert to dump her. " He does it, but he doesn't feel very good about it. He'll get over it, just like Captain Marvel did when you warned him off of Stargirl." I'm not sure what this is all about but . . . it certainly leaves a lot of questions to be answered. Overall, I'd have to say I was pretty disappointed in this book. Which is really hard for me to say because I've been in their corner this whole series. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens when Bill and Jesus come on board.

Justice League of America #34 - DC

I've never really been a big Starbreaker fan. He's a villain that has plagued the League for years and years, and honestly . . I just wish he's go away. But . . that's not really what this story-arc has been all about. Yes Starbreaker has contributed to the events that have occurred here, but . . the real story here is about the Shadow-cabinet and the Milestone Universe. They're now part of the DC Universe, but . . it wasn't an easy fit. At the end of the issue Dharma explains it to Icon and Superman. "Our troubles began a universe away. The death of a god ripped the fabric of space-time. This was an event I long foresaw, but did not comprehend until almost too late. This event released forces that destroyed the universe where I, and many others, resided. You too, Icon. But the avert also presented an opportunity. Not long before the end, I had tapped into a source of unfathomable power called the Rift. I used . . am using . .the Rift's great power to merge the two universes. I altered history and memories of the inhabitants of both, but only enough to smooth out any inconsistencies. Now, I hold it all together, with Rift's creative energy, and the force of my will. I can save untold trillions of lives, if you but allow it. Otherwise, the two realities will naturally drift apart. Leaving one universe healthy, and the other to dissolution." During this speech, Superman remembers that him and Icon worked together to save both their universes. But now . . now he feels like he's known him for years. Of course with the lives of trillions in their hands their choice is obvious . . "I don't really remember any other history besides the current one. And I like this world." Dharma tells them, "Then I will do my job. And you do yours. Keep our secret. Keep the world safe . . and I will try to keep it all together." So . . like I said . . that's what this whole story-arc came down to . . the integration of their universe into ours . . er, I mean, the DC Universe. It was interesting, and I thought Dwayne McDuffie did a good job of explaining it all. So now . . maybe we'll see one of these guys in the League . . as Static has joined the Teen Titans . . and maybe well get some more stories about the Shadow Cabinet. They seem like a pretty interesting group of characters. Adrian Syaf w/Eddy Barrows does the art. I thought it looked pretty good. A little inconsistent in spots, but . . overall, pretty good.

Superman #689 - DC

This issue kind of serves as and 'around the world in 80 days' tour for Mon-El. I don't really understand why, but . . he decides to take in some of the sights and wonders. As he's moving from place to place, he notices a couple of things. First of all, it seems as if trouble follows him. I think he's beginning to understand why Superman was so adamant that he take his place while he's gone. Secondly, he noticing that the variety of heroes around this world, are just as eclectic as it's people. The Guardian says goodbye to Tellus as he's off on his mission. "Things need to be don. I must do them . . for the good of everyone. The universe . . one that is yet to come." So I'm sure that's going to be a story for another time. Morgan Edge is back. As the owner of WGBS, he's decided to give the world his twisted view of what's going on. We get a little more insight into General Lane and his project 7734. But the most important part of that is . . General Lane has planned to have John Henry killed. And the pieces are falling into place even as he's talking about it. Atlas, last issue, befriended John Henry when he met him in a diner. He claims to have similar interests and background. So then John Henry takes him to Ironworks to show him around. It's not until they're deep within their corridors that he drops the pretense and tells John Henry who he is and why he's there. However, if he, or the General, think that John Henry is going to be a push-over . . they've got another thing coming. I have a feeling, next issue . . they're going to find out they bit off a little more than they can chew. All in all I thought James Robinson and Renato Guedes gave us a pretty good issue here. It doesn't move the story along very much, but . . it does put some more pieces in place for the drama that's about to unfold.

Gotham City Sirens #1 - DC

This book, I think, has an interesting premise to it. Ivy and Harley are currently living with Eddie Nigma, the Riddler. But . . it's not really by choice. Ivy's got him pretty doped up so, he just agrees with everything she tells him. These 2 should be pretty well off, since Selina gave them $30 million of Hush's money. But . . Ivy's sent hers off to various eco-friendly movements, and Harley? Harley's running through hers like the Joker runs through boutonnieres. Anyways, Ivy happens along Selina as she trying to save a woman from an attacker. He's some new guy in town, with a gimmick, trying to make a name for himself. However, Ivy notices that Selina's not moving as fast as she used to, and she's not hitting with the same power. It has something to do with what Hush put her through, but . . we aren't going to find out any more about that this issue. Anyways, long story short, Selina has a lead on an abandoned property . . an animal shelter of all things, and she offers to make it the new home for this trio of sassy ladies. First Ivy checks with Zatanna to make sure she didn't put some kind of mind-control on Selina when she magically healed her from her heart operation . . Ivy wants to make sure Selina isn't trying to lead them down the path of righteousness. Then once they're in their new digs . . "If you're really serious about this 'all for one' stuff, you'll be glad to tell us . . who is Batman?" This should be an interesting grouping of individuals. I think Harley will pretty much go along with whatever the other 2 decide, but . . I'd think there would be a little power struggle between Ivy and Selina. Ivy definitely has the demeanor and arrogance to be their leader, but . . Selina has the better head on her shoulders. But then . . Ivy's the most powerful of them all. She's probably the one that needs the others the least. Which leads me to another question which occurs to me . . could this be a rotating cast? I don't know. It's to early to tell. But, I like what Paul Dini and Guillem March are doing so far. I don't think it'll have the same chemistry as Birds of Prey, but . . we'll just have to wait and see how this all plays out.

Wonder Woman #33 - DC

This issue is the conclusion of the Rise of the Olympian story-line, but . . it seems to me more like the end of the prologue. Last issue we saw that Wonder Woman had sunk the psychopath Genocide to the bottom of the ocean. She was going to let her die there. But, even she couldn't be that heartless, even to such a ruthless enemy, in the end. So she went down to get her. However, before she could be reached, Poseidon and his son, Euphemus, had claimed her for their own. She's then returned to Themyscira, battered and weak . . Euphemus' creatures of the deep are not far behind. Knowing that they don't stand a chance against them alone, Hippolyta summons everyone, even the prisoners and their sisters the Bana-Mighdall to help in defending their island. It's not long before the seriously hurt Diana does what she must to join the battle herself. In the end though, we learn that this whole thing revolves around the machinations of father and son gods . . Zeus and Ares. They're the ones that have created such a complicated series of events here. Zeus had created the Olympians to replace the Amazons. Ares wanted to wipe out both races simply because they were endeared to Zeus. However, when the Olympians join the battle, Wonder Woman goes after Ares and splits his head with her ax. You know he's not dead . . gods don't work that way, but . . the battle is diminished. This is how Zeus explains it . . "I did this for you, and for your people, child. I gave them an end to their immortality. A chance to at long last, lie beside their swords rather than wield them in never-ending servitude. I brought back you people, for you, as a vow to Athena. I raised an army to relieve your sisters, and I built this island to house them. For you. I raised a champion. to take your place, Princess. So that you may be the wife and mother you were always meant to be. With whatever man has the honor to have you. And when you foolishly made a pact with a peasant god, I broke that pact. And put that god's heart in Achilles. For you. Now remove this foolish token and show me the love and gratitude your lord and creator deserves, dear, dear child." Needless to say . . Diana is pissed. She declares him a murderer . . as she punches him in the jaw. Which, in Zeus' eyes has crossed the line. Subjects of a God should never be able to strike said God. But she's just sick of the games that these Gods play with their fragile lives. She declares that she will have no god, and she will no longer be an Amazon. Unfortunately, her mother cannot follow her lead because she has served Zeus much longer than her daughter. Achilles begins to question Zeus, but he's quickly scolded. As Diana is leaving, she tells Achilles . . "You will protect my people. You will value their lives as your own. I want your word, Olympian." And with that Diana is gone from Themyscira. However, in the end, Captain Alykone, who was scolded during the battle by Diana, finds a totem that contains Genocide's essence. "Hello, Genocide. I am to be your mother." This has been a fantastic tale that Gail Simone has weaved. Like I said in the beginning though, this feels more like the end of the prologue to me. Plus we still have a ton of unanswered questions about Genocide, and Zeus' and Ares' ultimate motives. Zeus portrays himself as the benevolent God, but . . if that were true, why did he have to resort to so much deception? This is another point in our Wonder Woman's life where she begins her path down a separate road . . a road less traveled. That really seems to be a recurring theme in her history, and . . it looks like it's time for it to happen again. By the way . . fantastic artwork by Aaron Lopresti. Also . . sorry so long winded.

Detective #854 - DC

I couldn't wait to get this comic. Especially with JH Williams III doing the art. It was fantastic, as expected, but he uses a little bit different style than he did on Promethea. Actually, on the pages where Kate is in her Batwoman identity, the art is very similar . . although darker. But in the scenes of her private life, that's where he uses his new style. You can tell it's still his work . . it's just down-played a bit. Anyways, she's still connected to the crime-bible somehow. She seems to be an obsession with them, but she doesn't know why. However, the 13 covens that make up the religion are about to get a new leader. That's why Kate's so active this issue. She's trying to find out when she's coming to town, and who she is. We also see Batman/Dick this issue. They seem to have a working relationship . . "This one's yours. I'll be watching if you need help. Do something about your hair. One pull, the fights over for you." We also see that Kate's mentor, and 'coach', appears to be her father. Apparently her mother has passed, so this is his life's work now. He's retired military. Anyways, Greg Rucka is weaving a nice little tale here. It ends with Kate in the presence of the new leader. She calls herself Alice, and I think she considers herself their queen. All in all I thought it was a decent start to this new direction. Personally, I can't wait to see where it goes. This issue also includes a Question back-up story. I think Renee is going to fit very well into this role. Now that she's back in Gotham, her first 'job' is to find the sister of an immigrant who was smuggled into the country, but then never seen again. I think he's afraid that her 'mule' has turned her to prostitution. It's by Greg and Cully Hamner. This issue actually kind of reminded me of the Detective issues of the 70's. You know, the 60 or 80 page giant ones that contained 3 or 4 stories. That's where we first met the Manhunter by Walt Simonson. Anyways, those were classic.

Green Lantern #42 - DC

The anticipation and suspense that has been building over the last 6, or so issues here is palpable. Especially when you can almost taste the avarice that is emoting from Agent Orange, Larfleeze. And the end of the last issue, Larfleeze wanted the Blue ring so bad that he ripped off Hal's arm to get it. We find out at the beginning of this issue, that was all an illusion created by the Blue ring to show Larfleeze what he wanted. The rest of the Green Lantern Corp is there, as well as the guardians, but the focus of the conflict is on Larfleeze and Hal. The problem is, they're pretty evenly matched. Larfleeze is in constant contact with his Lantern, so . . it's constantly recharging. While Has has both the Blue and the Green rings on, so his ring is being amped up. Quarter is not given on either side . . until Hal gets the idea of separating Larfleeze from his Lantern. The problem is . . he can't contain the power and it begins to change him almost immediately. He doesn't hang on to it long, but it does shift Larfleeze's focus from the grander battle with the rest of the corps to almost entirely on Hal's shoulders . . all 7839% of his power after his anger has only served to super-charge him. Which then focuses all of the Corps attention directly on to him. During this whole battle the Blue ring has been constantly asking Hal, "What do you hope for?" . . over and over and over. Finally Has says, "As soon as we get out of this . . I hope you stop asking me that question." "Sincerity registered. Power levels 100%. All will be well." The power levels continue to diminish, and finally . ."Power levels 1%. Blue Lantern invalid. Disengaging. Scanning space sector 2828 for replacement sentient initiated." All Hal can think is . ."You've got to be kidding me." The good new is, between the Corps and this sudden influx of Blue energy, Larfleeze decides to retreat. Well . . that and his attention is focused on the Blue ring as it flies out of it's sight. In the process of it's leaving, Hal gets a vision. He saw tomorrow and in it is Sinestro. He's telling him, "I can't do this without you." The Guardians immediately declare a cease-fire and begin negotiating with Larfleeze. They're nothing if not diplomatic. But the rest of the Corps are pissed. Finally the Guardians dismiss them all back to OA as they've reached an agreement. Then we find out what Larfleeze wanted . . "I want . . I want to know where I can find a Blue ring." We then see, on Odym, this handful of characters being assaulted by a sky-full of Orange constructs. During this battle, John was shielding from the fighting by Fatality. She wanted him to know that she loves him, she forgives him, and she wants him to forgive himself. And then she's gone. This issue ends with a look into Ash's and Saarek's mission to find the corpse of the Anti-Monitor. The problem is, it's taken them directly into the path of the Black Lantern. Things are about to get interesting. Correction . . more interesting. This was a fantastic issue. I can't believe the Geoff Johns and Phillip Tan can outdo themselves with every single issue. I'm telling you, during this story you can just feel all the emotions dripping off these pages . . greed, avarice, frustration, anger . . pretty much the whole spectrum, except for hope and love. There's some in there, but . . it doesn't get much light. And the connection between the emotional spectrum and the spectrum of light, that has been used and explained over the tenure of this book is just a brilliant concept. It's an idea that feels like it's been there from the very beginning, but nobody really explained or pointed out. To me . . this is probably the best book on the market right now. Considering how far it's come, from when I was reading some of those story-lines in the 70's and 80's . . that's saying quite a bit.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Music

Really, the only thing I get into more that comics . . well, maybe not more, but . . equally . . is music. Not for any reason, but I thought I'd share with you some of the recent music I'd acquired. I have 2 sources, BMG music club, and the library. I have 2 problems with BMG, though. First, and foremost, is their shipping practices. $2.67 per CD? So, if you get a double-disk of something, it's automatically $5.34. I think that's insane. But . . I guess they have to make money somewhere. But now, all of that's changing because they're switching thier name to The main difference is, you join their club and all CD's are $6.99 with no shipping. It probably ends up being about the same costs but they've got rid of that monthly solicitation thing. My 2nd problem is, their new titles are always at a premium price and it seems like it takes them forever to discount. Also they don't seem to get the 'brand new' titles right away. So when something comes out that I really want, like Chickenfoot or the new Black Eyed Peas, I just have to suck it up and go to Best Buy. Luckily, those 2 were both $9.99 when they first came out. Anyways, my most recent CD's from BMG include Kiss (Love Gun, Dynasty and Destroyer) and Bon Jovi . . their first and One Wild Night. I had some free CD credits I had to use up before they switched over so I picked up some stuff I didn't have on CD. But in the end, they're never really free. In the last few months I've also gotten . . the Killers, Fall Out Boy, the Babys, Hinder, Hoobastank and Godsmack from them. My most recent trip to the library includes . . Gavin Rossdale, Tesla, Luscious Jackson, Heart, Counting Crows, AC/DC and David Bowie. And I know you're going to ask so, yes I do have an I-pod. But I don't do Rhapsody or Apple or anything. I do use them for ideas for music sometimes, or to sample songs. However I think 99 cents for a song is a bit steep. Plus, since my tastes are so eclectic, if I did that I'd be all over the place. Anyways, I just wanted to ramble for a little bit. Thanks for listening.

Herogasm #2 - Dynamite Entertainment

I know . . it was bad enough that I picked up issue #1 of this series . . with all it's sex and hedonism . . but then I continue to follow it with this issue? My comic guy already had these books bagged and boarded by the time I got to the shop Wednesday. He said there was some publicity about how 'dirty' and 'raunchy' this title was, he couldn't take the chance of some kid walking into the shop and picking it up. When did the day arrive that we have to be carded to buy comic books? This isn't the norm. The Boys story-line just happened to go in this direction, and Garth Ennis decided that he wanted to push the envelope a little farther. With all the sexual innuendo and promiscuity of the Boys series . . tell me you didn't see this coming somewhere along the line? And, you know in the end, all the media is really doing is driving up the resale value of these books. Thanks for that . . by the way. Besides all the obvious porn . . this book does actually serve to further the Boys story-line. After you work around all the pictures of naked 'supers'. We find out this issue that this whole thing is put together yearly by Vought-American. It's a way for their 'agents' to unwind. And this year they have a special guest . . the VP. Anyways, Vought has decided to send another group, Payback, after the Boys, unaware that Butcher and company are already there watching all the proceedings. So the Boys are the target of Vought, obviously, and the target of the Boys? The VP. After seeing Darick Robertson's pencils for so long in the regular title, John McCrea's fall kind of short. It's very cartoonish. I'm not discounting John's style . . it's just very different from Darick's. With Garth writing it, the story, obviously, could have just run through the Boys title. But . . for obvious reasons, it can't. If you can just take the story for the story . . it's an ok book. The gratuitous sex, and violence and naked 'supers' is a bit over the top, but . . this book is set up as a way to spoof the super-hero genre . . this just takes it one step farther.

Project Superpowers - Chapter Two #0 - Dynamite Entertainment

As with Chapter One of this series, it looks as though this next edition will introduce us to even more heroes . . and villains. Well . . I guess the correct term would be . . reintroducing us . . since most of the characters seem to come from the pulp comics of the 40's and 50's. Specifically a line of comics called Nedor Comics. Alot of these characters were also reintroduced to us in Americomics . . remember them?, and some in Alan Moore's ABC line of comics. Chapter One brought them back into our world . . when they were released from the Urn by the Fighting Yank . . the man who had originally imprisoned them. That series also served to bring them up-to-date as characters . . updating their powers and abilities. The changes from the original comics . . who knew? . . were attributed to their confinement and stay with-in the Urn. We're also given a base of operations for them . . New York City. Basically, the Green Lama has made it a Utopia, has assured their fellow time-lost heroes that they will be welcomed and made at home, and . . they served notice to the rest of the world that now that they were back . . "They'll be watching!" They don't like the shape of the world . . it's politics or paradigms, that have evolved because of their absence. In that series, we also learn of a cabal . . the true leaders of the world, the Supremacy, and some of their machinations. This is a prelude to Chapter Two. It appears in it the Supremacy has decided that they've had enough of these 'heroes' actions. They've taken over New York City and attacked the White House. They've decided that it's time for them to strike back. So they're going to destroy New York City, and declare all of these 'supers' terrorists. We also find out that President West is actually a super-villain in disguise, Power Nelson. Although, I'm sure the line between 'super-villain' and 'super-patriot' is very vague at best. Oh yeah, and all the former side-kicks have banded together into a group, the Inheritors, and have decided that although they may not like the current state of the world, they like even less the path that their mentors have chosen to fix things. They are going to directly oppose their former guardians. As I said, this is the prelude so . . the stage has been set . . lets get ready to . . . well, you know. As usual, Alex Ross and Jim Krueger are the masterminds behind this series. Edgar Salazar does the art. I said in my last blog that the end of the Masquerade series really put me off. Hopefully this series will appease my tastes a little better.

Masquerade #4 - Dynamite Entertainment

Every once and a while I come across a comic that stalls me. Well . . that is to say that it stalls my blogging, because I'm not sure how I want to approach the review. This just happened to be that comic, this month. I don't really know why . . it just left me feeling . . well, nothing really. I read the book, I understood the story, but . . I didn't really care. I just felt like I was reading it to read it, and there was no 'buy-in' from me as the consumer. It's not that I've lost interest in the Project Superpowers from Dynamite. I still think it's a neat concept, and I applaud Alex Ross and Jim Krueger for basically creating a unique and separate comic-book universe here. This character just doesn't really do anything for me. This issue basically just recaps her story from when she started back in the 40's. She started out assuming the role of hero, without really having any distinguishing abilities to back it up. She was a 'wanna-be'. But, she was still part of the family of 'super-heroes' that existed at the time. She had some connections. Which, in the end, is why the Yank pulled her into the Urn with the rest of his comrades. So, now that she's returned, she's gone through the usual disorientation that has affected the rest or her friends, and she's finding out that the Urn has changed her. I'm not really sure of the purpose of putting this into the plot. It's been recurring through the initial series, and some of these minis . . the concept that the Urn has changed almost everybody that was within it, and now they're individually finding different or strange abilities. These heroes have been basically brought to us from scratch. Their origins and abilities have been defined as the 'project' has unfolded. So . . why is it necessary to put this twist in the plot when Alex or Jim could've basically done anything they wanted with these characters right from the very beginning. I've done a little research and I've seen that most of the characters have come from an old comic line, Nedor Comics, which operated from 1949 to 1956. And, with that in mind, I understand Alex and Jim's need to update the characters. But, seeing as how the books, and the characters are, I'm sure, hardly remembered . . I don't see why such an elaborate explanation has to be provided. Just say that they've changed and start them on their new path. We see in this issue that Masquerade has a 'possession' power. Whether she had that before, or not . . I don't know. I don't really care. Also I wasn't even really sure what had happened until I read the credits in Project Superpowers: Chapter 2, where they list the characters and their abilities. The book was . . ok. Phil Hestor does the story, and Carlos Paul does the art. It's . . adequate. But like I said, it just left me feeling . . nothing.

Dark Reign Hawkeye #1, #2 & #3 - Marvel

Honestly, I wouldn't have bought this series had it been about Hawkeye alone. He's not one of my favorite characters or anything. However . . I think Bullseye is fantastic. I know he's an ass . . a real scum of the Earth, but . . I just find his character intriguing. I always liked him in Daredevil. Yes, I used to read that series a long time ago. And, there was a mini-series a few years ago by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon, Bullseye: Greatest Hits, that was pretty cool. So . . I thought I'd give it a shot. But, I missed the first 2 issues so now I have to do these 3 together. The other thing that caught my eye . . this series is by Andy Diggle and Tom Raney, so . . I had to give it a shot. I love Andy's work. And I definitely wasn't disappointed by the story here. It seems to me that Bullseye just wants to push the envelope. Well, to be fair, all of Norman's team here seem to be on their own agenda. That's kind of obvious when they try to work together to take down a Hulk-buster that's heading for the Federal Reserve. Everyone is taking their shots, but in the end it's Bullseye/Hawkeye that stops the rampage. Unfortunately he leaves the suit standing in the middle of the street and no one else knows that the fight is over. They end up knocking it over and it kills 3 dozen innocent civilians. It's funny watching Norman trying to back-pedal that one. Later when Norman is chewing him out . . "You want me to run around in this stupid outfit and pretend to be some kind of Hero? Fine . . but if you ever expect me to hold back . . then you don't know me at all. Besides, that wasn't me. That was . . gravity. They had it coming. Rubber-neckers." Like I said . . he's a real piece of work. Then, later that night, Bullseye/Hawkeye stops a lady from being attacked. He kills 2 of the assailants and then pins the third to the van with arrows through his hands. The lady is very relieved. She doesn't even care that he killed 2 of them . . she just wants . . Hawkeye's autograph. Needless to say, that doesn't sit to well with him and he shoves the pen through her eye. And then he sends the van, with the guy still pinned to it like a giant butterfly, off the roof of the parking garage . . . directly on top of a police cruiser. And to make matters worse . . it's all being caught by a news-copter directly over-head. So what does he do? What do you think? He kills the camera-man, the reporter and blows up the copter with the pilot inside. This guy is a public relations nightmare. HAMMER then shuts down the broadcasting station, under the guise of 'National Security'. But it's still a big mess that Norman has to try to work his way out of, and . . Ben Urich is hot on the story. But rather than discipline Bullseye/Hawkeye, Norman gives him a job . . he wants him to take out a group . . the PTSF . . "Peace Though Superior Firepower". He tells him where their hideout is, and that he wants him to kill them all. But when he gets there, they're all already dead, and they have a bullseye carved into each of their foreheads . . his signature MO. He then thinks he sees himself there too. Or . . someone dressed in his old costume. It turns out there's a couple of things wrong here. First of all . . Bullseye/Hawkeye thinks he's going crazy. Then they find a Senator, Irving Gray, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, dead . . with a bullseye carved in his forehead. Norman wants to know what's going on, but Bullseye/Hawkeye doesn't know, or remember, anything. To make matters worse, Ben finds out . . and I'm sure Norman knows as well . . that Senator Gray used to oversee an NSA based black-ops outfit in South America. Bullseye was his #1 operative. And the PTSF was also an NSA front organization. It was a group that was used to lure in 'real' bad guys, like AIM and HYDRA. And Irving Gray was the man who approved it's creation. So . . I'm thinking that either Norman was eliminating one of his competition in the government, or . . he's doing a really good job of setting up Bullseye/Hawkeye to take the fall down the line. The third issue ends with Bullseye/Hawkeye thinking that he sees himself . . his old self, Bullseye . . standing out on the ledge of the Avengers building. They fight for a couple of pages, until Bullseye/Hawkeye gets the upper-hand, but then . . then he turns around and sees about 15 of himself. Apparently someone is in the business of cloning this guy. That or he's figured out how to copy Madrox's powers. All in all I thought it was a pretty decent story. All the subterfuge and back-stabbing is great. What else would you expect from a group comprised of these individuals, and . . they have Norman Osborn as their leader. What a role-model. I actually like that I read the 3 issues together because the story flowed real smooth between them. When all's said and done, I have a feeling that Bullseye/Hawkeye won't be on this team anymore . . either because he's fed up with the games, and Norman trying to keep a leash on him, or . . Norman's going to kill him. At one point he tells him, "Have fun. Oh, and Hawkeye? One last thing . . screw this up for me, and I'll have the Sentry throw you into the heart of the sun." Don't we all wish that we could say that to our subordinates at one time or another? I'm just playin'. Seriously!