Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dark X-Men #2 - Marvel

First of all . . I absolutely love Jae Lee's cover here of Cloak & Dagger. They've been a pair of my favorite characters since their inception back in the 80's. They haven't always been handled right, but . . I think they're a great set of characters and have fantastic potential. Again, we don't focus on the team this issue, but rather how Norman ended up bringing them together. In the first tale, about Cloak & Dagger, Norman travels down to Colombia because Tyrone and Tandy are there fighting their own personal 'drug war'. Norman appeals to their tumultuous tendencies and need for 'justice' by offering them a chance to be role models. Plus, "Imagine what you'd be able to do with the police permanently off your backs? With the support of an arm of Government who didn't mind what you got up to . . globally? And the intelligence we have?" And, there's only a few ground rules that they have to follow. "Fight some anti-mutant bigots now and then. And do what I say, always." In the end, they don't really have a choice. So they come to an agreement and head back to Alcatraz. This story is by Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk. In the second story, by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman, Norman finds Michael Pointer, Weapon Omega, working a little construction site in Alaska . . I think. Anyways, Michael's trying to make up for all the deaths he's caused when he cut a bloody swath across Alaska, Northern Canada and Cleveland. He even knows how many deaths he'd caused . . "Two thousand, two hundred and nine." He doesn't want to join Norman, but . . it seems that Norman has unleashed some MGH and with Michael's co-workers infected by it . . his presence is putting all of them at risk. Norman appeals to this and offers his and Henry McCoy's help in fixing his problem. Of course he doesn't know that Henry is actually the Dark Beast. For all the problems this guy has caused . . I actually feel sorry for him. Norman tells Henry, "That man's no hero, but he'll make a hell of a warden." Finally we see Norman's offer to Daken to be part of his 'new' X-Men. Norman appeals to his hatred for his father by taking him to the Opera . . Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. Daken agrees to Norman's offer, but he also shows him he's not the mindless mongrel that Norman believes him to be. "Oedipus the King was written by Sophocles, and Athenian playwright who lived between 500 and 400BC. Stravinsky's oratorio was first performed in 1927, I think. Jean Cocteau, the French surrealist filmmaker, and poet, wrote the libretto, before it was translated into Latin. At the story's close, Oedipus realizes that he has killed his father and married his mother and goes insane, stabbing out his own eyes. I'll join your X-Men, Norman. But I am not my father. You do not know me and I am not insane. Insanity is putting on a Goblin outfit and laughing like a lunatic when you throw exploding pumpkins at strangers. Wouldn't you say?" I alway like it when Daken puts Norman in his place. You start to wonder . . who's playing who? This chapter was brought to us by Rob Williams and Paco Diaz. Overall I liked the entire issue, but I think Daken's story was my favorite.

X-Men Forever #4 - Marvel

Personally . . I like this book. This was an exciting time in the X-Men era. And with Chris back at the helm . . what else can I say? I just have to remember, as I'm reading it, that this is a divergent time-line. I can't compare it to what's already happened in the X-Men history. Although this, technically, is in the past, it really hasn't happened yet . . or, I guess I should say, is happening as we're reading it. You got that? Anyways, the main differences here are . . Wolverine has been recently killed, by Storm . . Nick Fury is now co-leading the X-Men with Charles . . Sabretooth, who had come to kill Storm, has, with this issue, temporarily joined the team while he watches Scott search for answers . . Kitty has somehow obtained one of Logan's claws in her right arm . . and at the end of this issue, Remy has found a teen-aged Ororo who seems lost and searching for her X-Men family. Oh yeah, and Jean was knocked out when Logan was killed, because of their psychic connection, and while rummaging around in her brain Charles has learned her real feelings toward our crazy Canadian. Also with this issue, we find out that Storm . . the one that killed Logan and is currently running away from the X-Men . . is actually an agent of the Consortium. We don't yet know what the Consortium is, but . . they've sent agents to kill her because she was supposed to clean up this mess she's left behind with the X-Men. Also, to me, this Beast seems a little edgier than the Cat-like man we've come to know over the last 10 to 15 years. Anyways, Tom Grummett has been doing the art for this story-arc and it looks fantastic. It really gives us a feel for the book those 17 or 18 years ago when Chris decided to leave. Issue #5 is going to have a special variant cover of Storm, drawn by Dave Cockrum. I guess it's one of his original designs for the character, with Terry Austin doing the inks. Then, in issue 6, when we start a new story-arc, Paul Smith and Terry Austin will be taking over the art chores. That'll be a blast from the past. I think it's a neat experiment. I'd like to see, maybe in the back of one of these books, the story-line notes Chris had back then to see where these guys were supposed to go after he left. I'm sure he left a plan and some dangling story-lines in place, after he left. I'm just wondering where, along the line, Marvel decided to take the team in a different direction and forget about Chris' plans. I know we'll never see it, but . . I think that would be an interesting addendum.

the New Avengers #55 - Marvel

After reading this book . . I'm really not sure how it's left me feeling. We start out with an ambush by the Hood's gang, at the Hellfire Club, on the New Avengers. Carol ends up having to get a boost from Jessica's powers so that they can get out of this mess. But the Hood's gang ends up with a piece of Stark tech. My question is, what was it even doing there in the first place? Anyways, the guy who finds it, Dr Carr, ends up taking it to Dr Jonah Harrow. He's hoping that together they can reverse engineer it and figure out just what it is. As it turns out it's a power drainer . . a genetic disruptor . . it drains the power from any genetically enhanced people in it's vicinity. Through the process of all of this, the Hood's gang has become very dissatisfied with his leadership. The 2 doctors figure that with this device, they can interest Norman Osborn into buying it, and completely by-pass Parker Robbins' attention. Meanwhile, on the Avengers side of the story, there's several interesting things going on. First of all I think Cap/Bucky is getting pretty fed up with the current living conditions and the effects this group of people is having on his home life. Also Peter seems to be getting really paranoid about people knowing his real name. He doesn't like it being brandied about like they're all best friends or something. Also he and Ronin/Hawkeye are having issues about how Clint is dealing with the whole Norman issue. Clint just wants to kill him, and also blames Peter for not having taken him down any of the times that they faced off . . back when he was the Green Goblin. "If you would have taken care of Osborn when he was the Green Goblin . . we wouldn't even be in this situation." Anyways, it all lead to them facing off with Dr Carr when he takes the device out to test it. He's in Times Square firing randomly and they come to stop him. However, when they come swooping down on him from the rooftops, they all lose their powers and come crashing to the ground. "How about that? It worked." Luckily, other than Dr Harrow I don't think anybody else knows about this test. But . . why did these guys have to be the ones to come running to the rescue? They had to have known it was a trap. I don't know. Like I said . . the whole thing just kind of felt off to me. I can't really explain why . . it just felt, muddled. Brian Bendis wrote it, and Stuart Immonen does the art. I'm not sure if either one of them are to blame. It just didn't seem like things clicked this issue. Or . . maybe it was just me. I guess we'll see what happens next issue.

Dark Reign: Hawkeye #4 - Marvel

Ok . . not so much what I was expecting, but . . it turns out this whole scheme to drive Bullseye crazy . . to try to pin murders and such on him, was actually all set up by an NSA agent that goes by the name of Kingmaker. He's the guy who runs the NSA black-ops unit, and he also created and ran the terror organization the PTSF. But we already found out last issue that organization was just a cover for the NSA so that they could infiltrate other terror groups. What we didn't know is that Kingmaker is actually Lester's father. He burnt him up pretty bad in the Bullseye: Greatest Hits mini-series. So now he wants revenge. Plus, since Lester pretty much destroyed his body . . he wants to perform a brain transplant and move his brain into Lesters. During the ambush they end up getting the drop on Bullseye and when he comes to he's lying on a table being paralyzed by a machine that blocks his nerve signals from his brain. That's when he's told this whole story about Kingmaker, and he finds out that the guy who took him down was Solo. Anyways, they're ready to perform the surgery when Bullseye tells them . . "You're gonna need a Vibranium scalpel. One, my skull is laced with Adamantium . . and two, the Adamantium's blocking your neural inhibitor." As he sits up he says . . "BOO!" Andy Diggle writes this book. I think he's a fantastic writer. Plus it's got to be so much fun to write a character like Bullseye. He's just so far out there that you just don't have to follow the conventional path with him. Plus, I'd think it would be easier to write a 'bad' guy than a 'good' one. There aren't as many rules to follow. Also, Tom Raney does a great job with the art. I'm glad he stuck around for the whole series this time. All in all I've had a lot of fun with this one. To bad there's only one issue to go.

Secret Warriors #6 - Marvel

This is a fantastic book. I love Nick Fury in this setting. He'd gathered up his Secret Warriors during the Skrull Invasion . . when he found out that SHIELD had become infested with them, and he had no idea whom he could trust. Now, he's out to tear down HAMMER. He's gathered up a few of his friends from the Howling Commando's and through them assembled a small team of men and women still loyal to SHIELD and it's cause. This issue they've launched an attack against a HAMMER helicarrier dock. The problem is . . the evil cabal of villains has also come here to try to take out Nick, and HYDRA has also shown up. It's a little more than Nick had planned for. So he calls in Daisy and the Secret Warriors who help turn the tide of the battle. They end up with the ships and about 3000 HAMMER agents who aren't happy with their current positions. I can't wait to see the aneurysm Norman has from all of this. We also find out at the end of this issue that Madame Hydra is actually . . the Contessa. This is something that I don't think Nick knows yet. Hmmm. Unless . . someone hit the panic button that called in Daisy and the boys, but Nick says it wasn't him. While Gorgon and his team lead the assault on the base, Madame Hydra was with the rest of Baron Von Strucker's group in Japan conducting business. Maybe she knew that Nick was in over his head, and . . maybe she hit the button. I don't know. It's all conjecture right now. We don't know if the Contessa is playing Nick, or playing the Baron. Also Nick tells Dum-Dum that he needs at least 3 full divisions . . and he's got 1 month to put it all together. I think Brian Bendis and Jonathan Hickman are doing a fantastic job with this book. I love the story-lines and the characters. Also Stefano Caselli is doing a great job with the art. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book when I started picking it up, but I'm very glad I did. This book has turned out to be everything I hoped for and more.

Fantastic Four #569 - Marvel

I have to be honest with you . . after all the build-up of this story . . and this Marquis of Death character . . I really wasn't to thrilled with the way everything got wrapped up this issue. I know Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham are taking over next issue, but . . with Joe Ahearne helping out Mark Millar on the scripts the last couple of issues . . I gotta wonder just how much Mark was actually involved. The story just didn't seem to have the same focus as the beginning of Mark's run on this book. Also Stuart Immonen steps in on the pencils this issue. The problem came at the end of last issue when Reed literally walks from room to room, but when he walks in on his family it's as if he's been gone for weeks. And the Baxter building is being overrun by FF teams from a myriad of dimensions. Later it's explained that the Marquis threatened them into . . well, fighting themselves. "In their eyes you are the villain. I showed them the endless torture that awaited their dimensions after you refused to stop me. So I gave them a choice. Destroy your world and save their own." Eventually Reed uses a device that Valeria has been working on to absorb all of the other FF members powers into themselves . . amplifying their own powers exponentially. The problem is . . they only have 23.4 seconds before their hearts explode from the exertion. However, Ben has brought Clyde Wyncham to come face to face with his future self . . and they use thier powers on each other trying to take each other out. So when the Reed and Co. do fight him . . the Marquis is greatly diminished in power. The next 23.4 seconds last about 4 pages . . 4 pages of beautiful conflict, but it ends up being Doom that delivers the killing blow. Obviously Reed wasn't going to do it. And then he goes into this long tirade about how he came back from the dawn of time. Also Doom considers himself to be greatly upgraded, because of his ordeal, so . . "All questions of rivalry with you are settled. You are of no consequence. I bear as little animus for you as the brainless Megalodon that tore me asunder." We also find out that Ben has called off the wedding with Debbie. He just doesn't want to put her through the pain of worrying about him every time he leaves on some cosmic adventure, plus he doesn't know what he'd do if one day he returned and she was no longer there. He was trying to be noble, but . . I think he was also selfish. I don't know. Like I said . . I just didn't like the way that this was all wrapped up. I thought it was very anti-climatic. Which is a shame because up until now I thought Mark had a brilliant run.

Dark Reign: the Sinister Spider-man #2 - Marvel

For some reason . . I find this comic weirdly entertaining. First of all I think that Mac Gargan is much more interesting than Eddie Brock. Secondly . . with Chris Bachalo doing the art on this book . . how could I not be thrilled with it? Right from the very beginning, when Mac writes in his notes . . "Thanks to my boss Norman Osborn cappin' the Skrull Queen during the Skrull Invasion, we all moved on-up to the Avengers Tower. They call me Spider-Man, I got a high-rise apartment, my own spaceship and all the strippers I can eat. It's pretty nifty." . . I can see that he has a dark sense of humor. He can't seem to leave J Jonah alone though, because he's the Mayor, and at the end of last issue he tossed a dead hooker into his bedroom at the mansion. He's also decided, much as the real Spider-Man did, to make his presence known in New York if for no other reason than to get under Jonah's craw. This issue he ends up pitting 2 gangs against each other. That appears to be his idea of cleaning up the streets. However, at the end of the issue, Jonah goes to Norman because he wants to have his own Avenger . . "I need a hero. An Avenger. To be the face of Crime-fighting in New York. Your 'American Son' didn't take too well." He's shooting for Ms Marvel, but of course he gets . . Spider-Man. This is funny on so many levels. First of all Jonah doesn't know that this isn't the real Spider-Man. For all he knows, this is the same one he's been giving grief to for all these years. Secondly he has no clue it's Mac, who seriously hates Jonah's guts. You can just see Jonah wincing through the press conference. Anyways, most of this issue, however, is spent introducing us to Dr Shep Gunderson / Redeemer and his group of misfits. We find out a little bit about each one this issue, what they have in common, and that the Redeemer has obtained some mechanized prosthetics to enable him to turn this group into an actual threat. He says he wants to 'save' Spider-Man. Yeah! Anyways, I like Brian Reed's story here. I know Mac is a demented psychopath, but . . he's actually making him a likable . . well, let's say tolerable character. I know in the end this story probably won't change or mean anything, but . . it's still fun.

Ultimate Spider-man: Requiem #2 - Marvel

This was another great edition of the Ultimate Spider-man. Basically . . this whole issue is written and seen from J Jonah Jameson's perspective. Last issue he decided to write a story about Spider-man, because of the brave things he saw him do during this latest disaster. But, as he soon finds out, he's also writing his obituary. So, he decides to confess his sins, and try to put the story straight as to just how much of a selfless hero Spider-man actually was. He remembers another story about Spider-man and the Hulk. It must have been one of the first time that the Hulk appeared in New York because Spider-man has no idea who he is. Anyways, as usual he jumps in without really knowing what's going on, and when some of the Hulk's peripheral damage threatens a bus-load of kids, Spider-man tries to save them from falling off a bridge. Apparently the Hulk saw this also and lends his muscle to the rescue. This calms him down and he switches back to Bruce Banner. Anyways, the point was, when the Army shows up to threaten him, and basically treat him as the same caliber of threat as his alter-ego, Spider-man stands up for him and tries to come between them . . even knowing it's at great personal risk. It was really nice to see that Jonah had done such an about-face on this hero. He then uses his heroism and conviction to try to spark his fellow New Yorkers into doing what needs to be done to help their friends and neighbors through this terrible tragedy. Anyways, in the end, we see that the Ultimates are trying to gather survivors, and clear the wreckage, when Captain America comes across Peter's body under some rubble. Iron Man is also there. He looks dead. And I think Cap believes he may be. Nothing is really said. However . . on the final panel, it looks as if Peters eyes open . . just a little bit. Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley do this final story. It really is a fitting epitaph. In the end, it doesn't really matter whether Peter's alive or not . . well yes it does matter, but . . due to the circumstances, he'll never be the same again. Whether Peter has survived or not . . I think, in his mind, Spider-man is dead. Stuart Immonen also contributes quite a few pages to this book. They also look spectacular. I can't wait to see what happens in the relaunch. Right now, it and the Avengers are scheduled to come out on August 12th.

Ultimatum #5 - Marvel

This issue wraps up this mini-series. I thought Jeph Loeb and David Finch did a fantastic job. We find out that when all's said and done . . the Ultimate Universe . . and this Earth in particular . . still exist. This whole thing was set in motion by Dr Doom. He's the one that had Wanda killed so that Magneto would have to take action. Without going into to much detail about the story . . the thing I like about the Ultimate Universe is that the story-tellers can do all those things they've been dying to do . . or have the characters do, but . . it couldn't have been dared in the regular Marvel Universe. You want some examples? Well . . Magneto takes out Wolverine. I mean down to the atoms. First he uses his powers to turn Scott's visor, and Iron Man's repulsors on him, and then when he still struggles to stab him before he dies, Magneto flays him to the bone, and all the Adamantium on them. With all the firepower assembled against him, it ends up being Nick Fury, with his knowledge that sends Erik into a catastrophic free-fall. He uses Jean to fill his head with all the knowledge that he has about the creation, and beginning of mutants. "Man and mutant. It made things so black and white for you. Everything wrong in your life, everything was because of us humans, homo-sapien. So . . what if you . . by playing God could change all that? Wash away all those . . inferiors? There's only one problem, Erik. The truth. Mutants weren't chosen by God. They weren't genetically gifted. Or aberrations either. They were made in a laboratory by a crazy ass doctor who thought he could change the world. Ordinary men who were used like lab rats to be super-soldiers. That's all you are. You Bastard! Just a man. No different from the millions you killed thinking you'd be making the world a better place. A self-loathing, self-destructive, homo-sapien. It was my sin that kept it hidden. That made it my responsibility to show you the truth. The Ugly Truth!" Erik uses his powers to put the Earth back on it's axis. And then . . Scott takes his head off. Wow! The story ends about a week later when Scott is talking in front of the Senate building because they're getting ready to pass a law to regulate all mutants. He's shot dead, through the head, on the steps of the building. And we find out it was Pietro that did it. We see that this Brotherhood of Evil Mutants consists of Pietro, Mystique and Sabretooth. It's lead by a woman who's identity we haven't seen yet. Oh yeah, and to punish him for his sins, the Thing visits Doom . . and crushes his head between his rock fingers. We also see that Victor has Namor prisoner in a tank . . doing who know what to him. There's really a whole lot of loose plot-threads hanging here to lead us into the next evolution of the Ultimate Universe. I can't wait to read the rest of the Requiem books, and find out where we go from here. I think this is a fantastic franchise, and I'm glad it didn't end here. By the way, at the end of the book there's a list of those who died during Ultimatum. Firestar, Havok and Spider-man are listed as Missing In Action. Also I think it's interesting to note that Wanda, or the Scarlet Witch, isn't listed as one of whom we lost. Hmmm!

Spawn #194 - Image

Apparently, somewhere between the solicitation of this book, and when it was actually released . . plans were changed for this storyline. In the solicitation it reads, "Endgame - Part 10: Get ready for Violator vs Spawn! Violator returns to have his first encounter with the new Spawn. Meanwhile, the Clown continues to manipulate from behind the scenes." Plus it shows the wrong cover. This issue is nothing like that. Here, we're introduced to some new characters . . a crime-family of sorts that seems to be headed by a Mr. Nortega. They have something to do with St Anthony's hospital. They're worried about all the press coverage it's been getting with the recent debacle, but they're most concerned with retrieving 'Patient 47', Jim Downing, the new Spawn. However, I gotta believe they're more than just some normal crime-family. Somehow this hospital has to be connected with Malebolgia or hell . . or something. We don't get into the specifics much this issue, I think this was just a 'meet and greet' for us readers. However, the one guy that does come back to the family with information, Gilbert Sanchez, is quickly 'dispatched' after he reveals him knowledge. "How dare any of you entrust our secrets to rank amateurs! Our livelihoods are at stake and you're sending boys to do mens' work!" Meanwhile, Jim is searching for Gilbert because of his 'visits' to Sara's apartment. He doesn't have many friends so he's very protective of her. And, the Clown has escaped incarceration. He was only actually there to Claudio a message anyways. But . . now Sam & Twitch have another mystery on their hands. Also the reporter for the Clarion, Marc Rosen, isn't giving up on the story yet. He's convinced that there's something going on with St Anthony's. This issue he gets an anonymous tip about Jim's name and identity. Then, I'm a bit confused. Jim goes to Gilbert's house to talk to him, but . . Mr Nortega had Gilbert killed in the beginning of the issue. Anyways, they start to talk, but then we see on the final page that his house is blown up. Whilce Portacio is back on the pencils this issue, so the book looks fantastic. I'm a huge fan of this book. I actually like the way Todd makes his story-lines go on for such an extended period of time. It's kind of the way life is. It's not neat and tidy . . it's messy, and convoluted. And things don't always get wrapped up quick and easy. It just astounds me that it's been almost 20 years already. Where does the time go?

WildCATS #13 - WildStorm

Ok, the WildCATS have taken most of the refugees out to the forests in Nevada. You remember, they had an adventure there a few issues ago. But the main focus of this story is that the WildCATS are teaming up with Team 7 to go after Tao. We also see the reintroduction of Void and Max Faraday this issue. We don't actually see Max, but . . they are talking about him and his powers. I think he's one of those things they were talking about in the preview . . he's an 'out', in case they want to have a 'reset' for this whole Armageddon business. It's also nice to see Jodi reunited with her dad again. Anyways, their plan is to strike at Tao at his compound in Utah. Right now, though, Tao is near omnipotent. He's been siphoning off Void's, and Providence's energy. But he's doing it slowly . . so it doesn't drive him mad. The team ends up there, and doesn't have to much of a problem with Tao's men, but . . Kenesha jumps the gun and trys to take on Tao herself . . mano-e-mano, as it were. She doesn't really stand much of a chance. However, before he can mess he up to badly, Lynch and company show up, and Spartan reacquaints himself with his old friend . . actually, he's more familiar with the powers than the person . . Void. So Lynch and company pool their resources to strike at Tao, and while they do . . Spartan again absorbs Void and her powers. "Not Spartan. Not anymore. Call me Jack Marlowe." That's an interesting development. This has been one of my favorite WildStorm books for quite a while now. Actually, ever since Jim Lee created them. But . . you have to admit, there were a few flat years in the middle there. However, I feel like we're finally starting to get back on track here. I'm really enjoying these issues, and looking forward to every one. Christos Gage is doing a great job with the story, and the characters. And I really enjoyed the new art team of Shawn Moll and Drew Geraci. They really gave the book a neat feel. Plus . . look at the awesome cover by Ryan Sook. For the $3 cover charge . . . what more could you ask for?

This is - WildStorm Universe #0 - WildStorm

This was a free preview of the WildStorm Universe, so . . it was the right price. What can I say. I'll take anything that's free. It focus' on the team books, and I thought it was interesting that DV8 was coming back. They talk about each of the teams . . what they've been through . . where they may be heading. They talked about how they have some resets in place, in case they wanted to give up these post-Armageddon story-lines, but . . it doesn't look like they'll be using them. At least not anytime soon. WildCATS focus, it seems, will once again be on the conflict between the Kherubim and the Daemonites on Earth. Plus, now that Defile and Majestros have destroyed the Halo building, it looks like they're going to have to find a new place to live. Also, with issue #19, Adam Beechen and Tim Seeley will take over the creative chores. There's a nice picture of the team in here by Howard Porter. It looks like the Authority will continue proceeding the way they have. Hopefully Jack and Apollo will get their individual issues worked out. They're pictured in here by Drew Johnson. They'll also get new talent with Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman on issue #17, and then Al Barrionuevo takes over the art on issue #18. Gen13 looks like they'll also be getting a new creative team . . finally . . which will consist of Phil Hester and Cruddie Torian, with issue #33. Their picture in here is by Pete Woods. StormWatch has a fantastic picture in here by Carlos D'Anda. They don't have a creative change coming up, but . . at the end of the last issue we did see SkyWatch getting blown up. So their future appears to be up in the air . . literally. Then we move on to DV8. I had no clue that they'd be returning, but they say "Just prior to Armageddon, a secret warehouse was broken into where some of the Deviants were seen in cryo-stasis among hundreds of other super humans. The current status of the Deviants is unknown. For now." They don't have an issue date listed, but the creative team will consist of Brian Wood and Rebekah Isaacs. Rebekah also does the art for the team in this book. They also give us a bit of unexpected news that Tranquility will also be back. Gail Simone and Horacio Domingues will be contributing a new mini-series called Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave. It seems right now that the WildStorm Universe is split into 2 groups . . the 'Image' team books, and the franchised stuff. And of course the ton of TPBs they put out. Which recently it seems that they're responsible for reprinting the ABC Comics stuff . . Promethea, Tom Strong, etc.. In the end . . it's a good thing this was free. Actually, I would've felt cheated if I'd have even paid a quarter for it. But . . it did have a beautiful Shane Davis wrap-around cover. So I guess all is not lost.

Madame Xanadu #13 - Vertigo

This is another book that I picked up on a whim, but I've really come to like . . a lot. This issue, Nimue comes in contact with Wesley Dodds. She's still looking into the murder of Colin Shepherd and Abraham Fields. She feels that there are mystical forces at work . . maybe a spell that's been cast, but she can't figure out where it's coming from or how these families are connected. When she goes to see the man whom she believes will be the third victim, Richard Miller she finds out that the 3 men came to America together in '09. They were the oldest of friends, but upon landing in the new land, they began drifting in their own separate directions. I just can't figure out why she's not focusing more of her attention on Al Nar. She knows that he's connected, but does she know that he's the man with the large black dog that she's been warning everyone about? Anyways, Richard goes uptown for a little 'strange', and he comes across Al Nar, and his dog, in a back alley. Luckily he makes it to a taxi and gets away safely. Maybe now he'll heed Nimue's warning. In the background story, Nimue and her mistress Marisol are getting closer and closer to being discover by the Church. It's only a matter of time before they become affected by the Inquisition. I'm just a little confused as to what that story, in 1493, has to do with the current one in 1940. I don't see a connection . . yet. Although I'm sure there is one. Matt Wagner is doing a great job with this book. His stories are intricate and interesting. I like the way he's putting a noir kind of feeling into the 1940 one. Nimue, or Xanadu, is actually kind of turning out to be a skilled detective in this time-period. Also it's a wonderful treat to have Michael Wm. Kaluta doing the art. He's an Icon in the business, and it's great to see his talent utilized on this title . . one that he helped create. This book continues to impress me . . issue after issue.

Final Crisis Aftermath - Ink #3 - DC

I really like this mini-series. I think this whole story with Mark Richards, the Tattooed Man, is turning out to be very interesting. I think he's a great character. He's trying to follow the path of righteousness . . become a hero, to his family, himself and his community, but . . he's having a hard time balancing it all. "One thing they don't warn you about in hero school, is that the folks you care about are weaknesses the other side can use against you." Which is true, but . . there has to be a way he can keep them all out of harms way, but still be able to live with, and spend time with them. Last issue Slipknot and Cannon came after Mark and his son. But it all started with a drive-by from the Ded Boyz, a local gang. So, after Mark chases them all off, this issue, he turns in his son, Leon, as the killer of Phat Diamond. He knows he didn't do it, because Mark did, but . . in jail, Mark feels like he's safe. Like he won't get caught up in the cross-fire of everything he's trying to do . . be Liberty Hill's protector. Anyways, during all this, Mark's also having problems with his Tats. Some of them seem to be taking on a life of their own. One, Altera, a demon woman, even seems to be coming on to him. Later on, in the process of finding Cannon . . Mark wants to know who hired him, and why . . Cannon is underneath a power plant trying to get charged up. When he starts to talk to Mark, whomever is controlling him takes over like a cheap marionette. Cannon ends up blowing up the facility, but Altera pushes Mark out in time to save his life. What's going on with these powers? Also, while Mark was out looking, the Ded Boyz did another drive-by and killed a young local girl. Now they're all pounding on Mark's door. They want to know what happened to his promise to keep Liberty Hill safe? Eric Wallace is really doing a nice job with this story. He's really drawing the reader into the plight of the main character, and his family. We really feel his frustration, and have compassion for him. And Fabrizio Fiorentino's artwork is just incredible. It really gives the story a fantastic feel. Personally, I'd really like to see more of this character, after this series. He's definitely intriguing.

the Last Days of Animal Man #3 - DC

Ok, we find out this issue that this story is actually taking place about 15 years in the future. On the cover we see that Buddy is being helped by the League of Titans. I thought that maybe it was an alternate universe. But Buddy is talking to Kory and it's been 15 years since they got stuck in space together. Last issue he beat up Prismatik pretty bad. He'd just had it confirmed that he's actually losing his powers . . it's not in his head, and he took out his anger and frustration on Primatik. He beats her up so bad she's sent straight to the prison hospital. It's a special prison, Highpoint Federal Maximum Security Facility, that was built in 2018 especially for super powered people. Anyways, Red Tornado and Superman figure out that he's loosing his powers on a cellular level. His DNA is actually degrading to what it was before he was experimented on by the aliens. It's not going to affect his health. He'll still be a normal human. He just won't have any powers. But that's still more than he can bear. Then he remembers that the kids were born after his DNA was changed, so maybe there's a way he can use theirs to repair his own. In the process of asking for their help, he figures out that during his life as a super-hero, he neglected his life as a father and a husband. He feels that Ellen doesn't understand his frustration and loss. Maxine gave up on him a long time ago. And Cliff wants to be just like him. He's sunk himself so deep into his job as a lawyer that he works 80 hour weeks and doesn't have time for a social life. "What I do is more important than my personal life. It's the only way to live, dad! Out in the world. Fighting the good fight, being a man! The world needs it's heroes." During all of this, Prismatik breaks out of prison, and helps Bloodrage get out also. Anyways, in the end, Buddy finds out from Red Tornado that there's nothing he can do to reverse the process. But, he will be a normal, functioning human. This doesn't ease Buddy's anguish much. He turns to Kory. They've known each other for 20 years now, and this is the first time he kisses her. "She knows me. She understands me. She can make this right. She can make everything all right." I think Gerry Conway is doing a great job with this story. Also Chris Batista is turning in some great art. Now I'm wondering if this is maybe a dream sequence? DC doesn't do to many of these alternate future stories, so . . I'm thinking there's got to be more to it. We just don't have the full story of what's going on yet. Hmmm! I'm wondering . . .

Billy Batson and the Magic of SHAZAM! #6 - DC

Well, Art Baltazar & Franco are still on this book . . they do the story, but Stephen DeStefano does the art this issue. Will he be the regular artist? Some of you may know him from the 'Mazing Man book. It's from quite a while ago, actually. I liked his take on this character though. I like this book, because . . even though it's aimed at kids, it really stays in the same tradition as previous titles of this character's. They've all been a bit 'cartoonish' and sophomoric, but . . that seems to be the trademark of this character. He never really takes himself to seriously. This issue Billy and Mary are trying to find Dr. Sivana. He's recently escaped from prison. But, in the meantime, Billy runs across what looks like a giant caveman, but . . he calls himself King Kull. I'm not sure what his story is, we don't really get in to it, but . . he seems to have some kind of matter-changing technology. He has this remote type looking device that he can use to turn wood into steel. I'm sure there's other applications also, but . . that's what he uses it for most of this issue. Anyways, in the end, Billy uses his device against him. SHAZAM! covers Kull in sand, and then turns it all to metal . . putting the guy in a body sized cage. However, they don't re-apprehend Sivana and he finds the Kings statue and takes it for himself. I'm not sure why, but I'm sure we'll find out more next issue. I like this book. It's fun. Plus SHAZAM! is one of my favorite characters. Keep up the good work, guys.

Wonder Woman #34 - DC

I just love Gail Simone's humor. And . . it's perfect for this book. Dinah and Diana have to go undercover to Japan and enter Roulette's fighting rinks. Supposedly, according to Professor Morrow, that's where Genocide's body is being held. Anyways, Dinah is trying to pick an outfit for Diana when she mentions, "We have an issue here . . the sexier the outfit, the fewer questions asked. But that mean exposing our community's second most famous bosom." This confuses Diana, and she asks for explanation. "Well, yeah. After Power Girl, of course. You mean you haven't seen all the websites? Trust me on this, those things are considered like a national treasure." But then, she can also push the emotional buttons. When Diana is questioning Professor Morrow, she asks him why he's willing to destroy his own creation. His reply . . "Do you know my name Wonder Woman? My real name. Tomek Ovadya Morah. My family was from Nasielsk, a little town outside Warsaw. I can't be part of anything called Genocide, Wonder Woman. I beg you. Destroy that aberration." Meanwhile, back on Themyscira, the new 'pecking order' is being established. King Achilles has 'respectfully requested' that General Phillipus and her soldiers relinquish their weapons. He's not happy with the way it's being handled, but . . he was so ordered by Zeus. He also asks Alkyone, and her companions to be his personal guard, and for Alkyone to become his Queen. At the end of the issue, after the Orphan Sisters, Dinah and Diana, have defeated Lira and Muck, someone else is asking Sgt Steel to fight in the ring. Do you still remember that Sgt Steel is actually Doctor Psycho? Anyways, she tells him ". . I am the Goddess of Violence, and she killed my father. Do I need more reason?" Apparently someone can see through Diana's disguise. This should be a good story-arc, with Dinah and Diana working together. They make a good team. Again this issue was brilliantly drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

Teen Titans #73 - DC

Well . . the kids are finally fighting . . together, as a team. But then . . they sort of had to. They had to come together to save Cassie from Shimmer, Mammoth and Jinx over on Alcatraz. The problem is . . we don't really know what this group is up to yet because they're being led, and manipulated, by the Calculator. He's still pissed at the Titans for letting his daughter, Wendy, get hurt. Also, this issue, and last, has started out with the scene of a burial. We don't know who dies yet, but the casket has a Teen Titans symbol on it. The only people we can rule out right now is Cassie and M'gann. Other than that, any of the group is up for grabs. Anyways, we have a few problems going on right now. First, and foremost, the team does make it to Alcatraz, to get Cassie, but not before Shimmer and her team make an escape. Luckily Traci 13's spell, to penetrate Jinx's energy field, disrupts her enough that she can only teleport them across the bay to the pier. They'll be easy enough to find, but they've got their other 2 members there with them. They are now the new Fearsome Five, and with Shimmer, Mammoth and Jinx comes Nano and Rumble. The other problem is, on their way out, Shimmer killed all the rest of the inmates with Mustard Gas. And Mammoth, who wanted to kill Geiger, stuck him with an iron rod which has turned him into a human atomic bomb. Unfortunately no one knows this yet except for Eddie who's picked up the radiation on the Towers monitors. And someone is after Kid Eternity. All in all I thought it was a decent story. I thought it was funny when, in Cassie's absence, they're trying to decide who the leader should be. They default to Jaime because . ."Why shouldn't it be you who makes the call, Jaime? You've got all the spaceman tech built in. None of the rest of us has that." So far, I think Bryan Q Miller is doing a pretty decent job. I also enjoyed Joe Bennett's pencils. In the backup, Rose finds out that she's going to have to lay off the Ephedrine, or else it could kill her. Also, the town she's stuck in, in the Northwest Territory of Canada, seems a little . . odd. They seem to come to her aid, medical and room and board, but in the end we find out that someone has set her up, by putting her in a cabin way on the outskirts of town, and plans on killing her while she sleeps. Her story just keeps going from bad to worse. This chapter was brought to us by Sean McKeever and Yildiray Cinar. I liked this issue. If the last 2 are any indication, it appears that Bryan may have these guys back on track pretty soon.

Justice League of America #35 - DC

On the cover it says "The Return (but not who you think)". I thought they were talking about the Royal Flush Gang, but apparently they were talking about the Batman shadow in the corner. I was hoping it wasn't really the Royal Flush Gang. Anyways, the actual 'return' is meant for Plastic Man. It appears that he's back in the saddle again. Unfortunately the Royal Flush Gang are actually back, also. So of course this story takes place in Las Vegas. However, this time, it appears that the Gang isn't following their own path but that of a leader . . or 'Wildcard'. We find out at the end that Professor Amos Fortune, and Roulette are pitting their players against one another. Fortune has the Royal Flush Gang, and Roulette is complaining because she was allowed the Justice League, but then only Red Tornado, Vixen, Plastic Man, Firestorm and Doctor Light showed up. Certainly not the a-list of heroes that she was expecting. There's a $25 million cash prize sitting around the casino, but after they fight the League nothing appears to be missing. However, they did have someone working on the inside and they stole the new nanotech that the casino was using for it's slots. Right now, nobody even knows it's missing. This was an ok story. It's only chapter one, so we don't really know what the Professor or Roulette are up to . . just yet. I liked Eddy Barrows' cover. Len Wein does the story, with Tom Derenick on art. Overall it was an ok book, but I always find things a little boring when it comes to the Royal Flush Gang. Maybe things will be a little different since they have a 'Wildcard', but . . I guess we'll have to wait and see. This issue didn't impress me much, but it also wasn't completely boring. It all just seems a little tame after the Cry For Justice book.

Justice Society of America #29 - DC

I have to say . . when I picked up this book, I was a little worried about what I was gonna' say . . or how I was going to feel about it. I loved Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham's run here. I thought it was near perfect. So . . as much as I admire Bill Willingham's talent, along with Matthew Sturges and Jesus Merino . . I just didn't see how it had a chance of standing up to what we've come to expect from this book. Boy was I wrong. They start out there run on this book in full throttle. First of all, something is seriously wrong with Obsidian. He's degraded to an egg-like state, and Jay and Michael are both confounded by what to do about it . . let alone what's wrong with him in the first place. Anyways, Wildcat is called out by a d-list villain named Tapeworm. But the Society decides to play it safe anyways and send everyone out to meet him. However, upon arrival, they find out that the whole thing was an ambush. There's a league of villains waiting for them and they all seem to have specific targets as to who they should fight. They've trained and planned for this attack. But, we don't know why yet. We also get 2 new recruits this issue. It seems that Mr America had a teen sidekick during WWII. The original All-American Kid was killed during the war. But when this new kid . . the original All-American Kid's great nephew . . finds out that he could become a legacy hero, he decides to train himself to become Mr America's new sidekick. And his roommate is another new hero . . King, King Chimera. He's very pompous and arrogant, as he comes from royalty, but with his powers he can manipulate light and sound to create illusions. When the rest of the team goes out to face Tapeworm, the new kids stay behind with Mr Terrific. Which may have been a mistake because now Michael doesn't have anyone to watch is back. It appears that there's some mental manipulation going on and someone gains control of the new All-American Kid. He has to 'obey', and is led down into Michael's lab where he stabs him repeatedly. This is the first issue with our new 'talent', and right now we don't know who is going to survive to reach the next one. Overall I thought it was a great issue. Bill and Matthew did a great job with the characters, and I really, really like Jesus' art for this issue. He does his own inks, and it looked really sharp. I started out this issue worried, but it ended in eager anticipation for the next. I can't wait to see where we go from here. And what about Magog?

Superman #690 - DC

This book, it seems, has lots of pieces to many different stories. I'm not sure why they all ended up in this issue of Superman, but . . they did. So we'll go from there. The first part of the story is that of John Henry being manipulated and duped by Atlas. He came to John Henry as a friend . . a man of like mind, but after entering into Iron-Works, he quickly dropped his disguise and let John Henry know that he was there to take him down. John Henry puts up a good fight, but . . in the end . . it was inevitable that Atlas would overpower him. I mean . . he's Atlas. But, I think he played his hand a little early because he calls up General Lane right away to let him know that he's accomplished his mission. I don't think that John Henry is dead, he might not even be unconscious. So now, if so, he knows that General Lane is alive and involved in all of this. That's two people now . . him, and Lois. Even though it's only 2 people, that's an intimidating force to have against you. Anyways, we also get a glimpse of Jim Harper and the Science Police. Wilcox and Romundi have been selected as Team Leaders, and Kent . . Mon-el . . and Harper have been selected as plainclothes. "It seems a force of 'rocket cops' freaks out as many of the public as it does assure them. Go figure." Jim is also exploring a friendship . . relationship (?) . . with Kimiyo, Doctor Light. I'm not really sure where that's headed. Zatara is attacked by the Parasite. We don't really know why. And he finds out that Mark Merlin is still alive. He wants Zatara's help in finding Prince Ra Man. And finally, in an event that takes place before Green Lantern #33, Tellus comes into contact with Sodam Yat and stops him from trying to reach Mon-El. "If you meet Mon-El now . . the future will be such that evil will win out over good." He agrees as long as Tellus delivers some crystals to him to let him know about his people and his planet. It was an interesting book by James Robinson and Pere Perez. But . . it seemed like a fill-in type issue to me. The only real important part of the story, I think, was the first 11 pages with John Henry and Atlas. I guess they couldn't proceed any farther with that story right now, and had to insert some other plot-threads. Overall, I'd have to say I didn't really like the way the whole thing was put together. It all seemed a bit 'choppy', and I really expect much better from James. Sorry. I was disappointed.

Detective Comics #855 - DC

Wow! What a fantastic book. JH Williams III really opened up on his art in this one. This issue had more of his 'Promethea' feel to it, than did the last one. So I guess it's just natural that Greg Rucka has given us a Carroll-inspired sociopath here. "The new High Madame . . the new leader . . of the Religion of Crime . . is a lunatic who thinks she's Alice Pleasance Liddell?" It all comes together for Kate when she's questioning Alice and Alice says to her, "I thing you might do something better with the time, than wasting it asking riddles that have no answers." But Kate just wants to know why she's so important to this Religion of Crime. What role does she play, or is destined to play, in their future. However, the interrogation doesn't last long as Alice has a drug-laced razor-blade hidden in her mouth. Which was an odd, sick, kind of scene. Shortly after getting cut, Kate begins to hallucinate. She tries to get away, or at least some distance, in the gardens below the castle, but Alice and her followers are quickly on the hunt. However, it's also not long before the Colonel . . her father (?) . . also realizes that she's in trouble. He comes to Kates aid, guns draws, just as Alice and her minions approach. But . . there's also something growling in the woods . . behind him . .werewolves, maybe, or were-men? We'll have to wait until next issue to find out. Overall I thought it was a fantastic story, and beautifully drawn. In the backup, Renee is trying to find Hector Soliz' daughter. She's come to Varga's house to find out. And he leads her to someone named Chandless. She doesn't make much progress there though as she's taken down shortly after infiltrating his offices. Greg and Cully Hamner bring us this story. I'm glad we're finally starting to get to see some more of the Question. He/she is a fantastic character and I hate that she's been relegated to the sidelines of late. Overall, I thought this was a great issue.

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #3 - DC

First of all, I can't believe that no one has pictures of these 'variant' covers posted yet. They're some great covers, but unless you paid $25 for the issues, you don't get to see what they look like. I think that's sad. Anyways, we get some origin stories this issue. We actually get to see Kilowog's origin. Well . . not exactly the origin, but . . we do pick up on his story from the first days of him being recruited into the Corps. We find out that he was recruited around the same time as Tomar-re. I didn't actually think that he had been in the Corps that long. Anyways, he's put through the paces by his drill instructor, Lantern Ermey. He's actually the one that came up with the term 'Poozer'. "That's what I call useless rookies, Poozer. Especially you, Brillolog from planet Ballowax!" He kind of reminds me of Guy Gardner. Anyways, we see from this story that there's going to be some personal demons Kilowog is going to have to face with these Black Lanterns . . including his fellow recruits and Lantern Ermey. That should prove interesting. This story was brought to us by Peter J Tomasi and Chris Samnee. Next we get the origin of Arisia. On her world, the Lantern heritage stayed within the same family. Brother, Uncle, Cousin . . whatever. At the beginning of the story Arisia's father is their current Green Lantern, and he's doing everything he can to train his daughter and prepare her for her destiny. However, when he dies, her Uncle takes up the mantle first. Then sadly, and joyously, he Uncle dies and she assumes the ring. The people that she's going to have to face are going to be members of her own family. How sick is that? This story was also by Peter, with Mike Mayhew doing the art. It really looked incredible. Finally, for the third story, we see the sketch pages of Blackest Night #0, with director commentary by Geoff Johns, Editor Eddie Berganza and Associate Editor Adam Schlagman. I thought it was fantastic. First of all, the pencil drawing by Ivan Reis were just incredible. I can't believe how talented this guy is, and I'm glad that others are finally starting to notice. Ivan is really an artist in every sense of the word. I also liked all the commentary because it game me some insight into subtle nuances and 'themes' that I hadn't realized. Especially when Eddie comments, "It's ironic that the fastest man alive needs to catch up." Barry and Hal are the main characters of this story, but the dark and light of the DCU are what the really theme is. This is exemplified by Batman and Green Lantern. But we get a hint that the Flash, Barry, and the Atom are going to play big parts in all of this. And that Green Lantern #44 is a very important issue. It's funny when Eddie asks Geoff how he came up with the Oath. "I started backward with 'the Dead shall rise'." "The Blackest Night fall from the skies . . the darkness grows as all light dies . . we crave your hears and your demise . . by my Black Hand . . the dead shall rise!" And finally Geoff reveals, "Scar is our corrupted Guardian. Scar is nothing compared to the being behind the Black Lanterns." I don't usually like when stuff is reprinted . . especially this soon after coming out, but . . I thoroughly enjoyed it this time. First of all, not everyone had access to it . . 'Free Comic-book Day' and all. The pencil drawings were incredible, and . . the commentary really shed a lot of light onto the whole project. I thought it was fantastic.

Wednesday Comics #4 - DC

Ok . . now that we're on issue #4 . . we've had 4 full pages of story and art from each of these characters . . I'm finally starting to get into a couple of the stories. Batman's story is about a rich Gotham socialite, Franklin Glass. It's obvious that he was killed either by his 'trophy' wife or his son. Bruce/Batman just hasn't figured out whom it is . . yet. In Kamandi, our hero has leaped into danger because of the hope of finding another of his kind . . a young girl. However, in doing so, he and Prince Tuftan have jumped from the frying pan into the fire . . the hands of their enemy, the Apes. The Superman story is a bit more confusing. He's being drawn to Smallville for some reason, but we don't really know why yet. All we know is that whatever it is . . it's making him feel like Metropolis just isn't his home. Hal saw an old friend, Joseph Dillon . . Dill, turn into a monster on live television last issue. As he flies out to help, he has memories of how they first met . . as recruits for a space program. Rex Mason is going after the Star of Atlantis, a diamond, for Simon Stagg, and Sapphire. But the US Government is after it also. They've brought in thier own female Metamorpho, Urania Blackwell, CIA. But, there's also someone else, mysterious, that we haven't met yet. He also wants the diamond and he says that Rex is going to get it for him. Hmmm . . mystery and intrigue. In the Teen Titans story, it appears that this Trident is from the future. Somehow he has it in his head that the Titans will turn on the population and cause untold damage. He's convinced that they have to die . . now! Paul Pope shows us a dark, dreary look at Rann. Last time Adam Strange escaped his blue Orangutan jailers, and this time the female does. Supergirl and Krypto watch Streaky rip the tail wing off a passing airplane, because it has a picture of a mouse on it. We find out that the bank robbery that the Metal Men inadvertently walked into was actually staged by someone who knows and hates Doc Magnus. And now he's even more pissed. Wonder Woman, to me, has the worst story of the bunch. This issue she travels to the underworld and battles a Granny Cipactl. I don't know who this is. But she has what she calls a mirror that is actually the Queens shield that was forged by the gods. Diana decides that she's going to return it . . but at what cost? I really liked this story the least. We see Sgt Rock getting interrogated, while Easy Co., in their search for him, find a community of survivors living in the caves underground. They were trying to evade the Nazis. The Flash story is a bit confusing as there are 2 Flashs and 2 Barry Allens. I guess one of them went back in time 10 minutes to stop Gorilla Grodd. We also see that Iris is having a huge problem with Barry. It seems as if she's almost ready to leave him. We watch the Demon and Cat-Woman fight each other, as Selina has been turned into some kind of large 'cat-beast'. And finally, Hawkman is trying to stop the Makkorthites from invading Earth. But he's going to have to stop a plane from crashing before he continues any farther. I've kind of got a feeling for all of them now, except for Wonder Woman. I'm struggling with that one for some reason. Anyways, overall I enjoyed the issue, it's just the 'bite-sized' pieces of information that we're getting is frustrating. But . . it is an experiment. Right? I appreciate the effort by all the creators involved, but I'm still struggling with the price and the relevancy of these stories.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

X-Force #17 - Marvel

The only problem I have with Clayton Crain's art is that he puts so much into it . . he can only do so many issues before he needs a 'break'. Luckily, on this book, when that happens he's filled in by Mike Choi and Sonia Oback. They do a style very similar to his . . it's not as gritty, but . . it still has that 'painted' look to it. I like it that more and more artists have been going this direction. It's really taken the artists limits of the medium, in leaps and bounds, into the future. Anyways, this issue Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost begin a 'new' storyline . . or, at least, a new chapter of the last one. Now that the 'gang' has returned from the future, they are just as embroiled in turmoil at the UN because they have to try to save the lives of Surge and Hellion. They are both the next victims in Bastion's little plan to make it look like all mutants are unstable. He's injected them with the Legacy Virus and has them 'primed' near the UN for maximum effectiveness when their powers overload. This'll be the third or fourth attack where he's manipulated events with some unsuspecting mutant. But his whole goal is to 'stoke the fires'. Which is why he's preparing to do all of this at the same time that he's got Lang and Trask addressing the UN security council. They are proposing that a separate program is set up to police mutant activity around the globe. "Today is about humanity standing united in the face of terror . . mutant terror. We present . . the Mutant Response Division. Combining next generation Sentinel technology and the best soldiers humanity has to offer, the MRD will police mutantkind across the world. With support and funding from the UN, the MRD can take the fight to mutant terrorists wherever they are, in any nation. With our technology, they will not be able to hide." But, like I said, meanwhile Logan and crew, especially Elixir, is out on the street trying to stop the attack and save Nori's life. But we're not sure if they can do both. At the last minute Warren takes her to the air, but Domino . . from a mile or so away, sees a huge electrical surge in the air over the UN on the final page. Oh yeah . . and when Laura landed, she kills the Leper Queen who is holding Boom-Boom hostage. And . . Rahne and Hrimhari have problems of their own. They're enjoying a moment of romantic bliss back at the Warren's aerie when the house is attacked by . . Frost Giants. So, this is a new chapter, but . . there's still a lot of unresolved issues that are carried over from the last part . . actually, from before they went into the future. There's a lot going on, and right now it seems as if everyone on the team is in some kind of danger. This is an intense book . . I'll give it that. I feel like were stuck on the verge of the whole 'mutant/human' war thing that we had running through the X-books in the 80's and early 90's. I know that it's inevitable with these characters . . and mutants in general, but . . we've been down this road before. The only difference I see this time around it that most mutants . . 'good' or 'bad' . . are all in the same camp this time. It should make it easier for them to fight back, as the won't be fighting each other at the same time, but . . it also makes them, in general, a more specific target . . easier to aim at. I'm not sure yet if they're better or worse off this time.

Wolverine First Class #17 - Marvel

I have to admit . . this was a pretty decent issue. It was definitely better than what I expected from the cover. It seems that Peter David has finally found his groove here. He's managed to balance the 'simpler' type story . . with this book being aimed at the teen-aged audience, and the newer X-Men follower . . he's managed to balance the story with the subtle humor that is a staple of his work, without making it come across as 'immature', or 'sophomoric'. Don't be quick to stand up for him. It's happened before. However, now, with this book, he seems to have a very nice balance going. It made for an interesting book, and fun to read. I'm all for more Wolverine stories out there. As long they're not just 'stuff' for 'stuff's' sake. Keep them relevant and meaningful in the characters continuity. And yes, that's happened before too. Especially some of the stories in Marvel Comics Presents. Anyways, in this book, Logan slips into his Patch persona to stir up some old memories in a young political candidate. "Ghosts from the past", as it were. However, it seems in this instance that there is some hope for the younger generation. Not all kids have to follow in their father's footsteps. The intentions and ambitions seem benevolent, but . . we'll have to wait and see if this kid can 'walk the talk'. As Logan tells him in the end, "Good luck with the campaign. And just so you know . . I'll be keeping my eye on you." To me, there's nothing wrong with having someone around to keep you honest. I also enjoyed Ronan Cliquet's art in this issue. I thought he did a great job. It definitely had a Mark Texiera influence to it. Like I said, overall this was a pretty decent issue. Well . . except for the cover, that is.

Wolverine Origins #38 - Marvel

I like this book. I always have. Unfortunately, I read the Dark Wolverine story-line first, so . . this one fell kind of flat for me. Yes there's a whole lot of action . . Logan is fighting Omega Red practically the whole issue. But, the motivation and progression of the story just didn't seem all that interesting . . not nearly as interesting as Daken's story. Anyways, Logan ends up in this prison in Siberia. He's on the trail of Romulus. He should know that he's going to be put through the paces before he even comes close to confronting the guy. Anyways, Omega Red has just happened to have been transferred here shortly before Logan arrives. Coinkidink? I don't think so. Logan also has the Carbonadium Synthesizer with him. Which is something that Red wants . . well, pretty much more than anything. However, Logan can't let him have it because with it . . Red would be pretty much near unstoppable. In the end, Logan ends up stopping him by impaling him with some prison bars. This won't kill him, but Logan's hoping it'll at least slow him down while he takes some time to recuperate. However, the only way to get out of this hell-hole is to head out alone . . susceptible to the frigid environment, which also isn't conducive to his recovery. He doesn't get far before he collapses from sheer exhaustion in the snow. Unfortunately for him . . Wild-child is hot on his tail. Also he's talking to somebody, but . . we don't know who. Not yet, anyways. I liked the book. I think Daniel Way is doing a great job with it. But, like I said, I just read the other one first and I found that one to be way more exciting . . and interesting. Plus we just got done with the whole Logan / Daken storyline here . . and that one was pretty good. I enjoyed Scot Eaton's interior art, but . . I wasn't to thrilled with Doug Braithwaite's cover. It's way convoluted . . there's just to much going on. I have a feeling we're going to be on this Romulus path for a while though. I guess I'll just have to sit back and enjoy.

Wolverine #76 - Marvel

Either Daken is a whole heck of a lot smarter than anyone has previously given him credit for, or . . he's a master strategist. Or . . maybe he just likes to play games. We already saw his attempt to set-up Bullseye by nailing Johnny, of the Fantastic Four, with the arrow that he had been shot with. Of course when the FF came busting into the reception that the Dark Avengers were at, it was a pretty easy leap to assume that Bullseye had done something he shouldn't have. Anyways, this issue, Norman lets Daken know that he's on to him. Although Daken is still trying to blame it on Bullseye. He even goes to the extent of going to the Baxter Building himself, alone, to talk to the FF. Daken weaves a pretty good story, and it looks like Reed is willing to go along with his scheme to bring Norman down. However, there's a few things that don't seem right. First of all, Daken had to have known that Bullseye was following him. I can't imagine that even Bullseye is so good that Daken wouldn't have picked up his scent. Plus, I think, Daken is tossing around some of his pheromone magic and putting Bullseye on edge, if not just making him downright paranoid. So, anyways, he also knows that even if Bullseye wasn't on his tail, Norman would be on both of theirs. One way or another somebody would find out where he went. So he goes to the FF and weaves his tale of woe. He wants to get out from under Norman's thumb, plus he doesn't want to turn into the person that he will become if he continues down Norman's path. Boo-hoo . . woe is he! Then to sell it . . he asks the Thing to help him make his exit a bloody one. He says he wants to make it look like they didn't part on good terms. But . . he also sends a text to Norman and tells him to have his camera ready. He does . . and he gets pictures of the Thing and Daken exiting the building through a side wall. Yes it looks the way he explained it to the FF, but . . it also looks like he's trying to gain some points with the 'ol boss by setting up the FF and making them look bad. To which, I'm sure, Norman can use his media acumen to twist into some bad press for the FF . . of which whom Reed is one of Norman's staunchest adversaries. Or . . Daken could be doing this just to score points and get Norman off his back . . and then continue to try to bring him down unfettered. Hmmm! "Which way do we go, George? Which way do we go?" Like I said, Daken is trying to accomplish something here, but just what it is has yet to be determined. Norman really should not underestimate this guy. I thought Daniel Way & Marjorie Liu did a terrific job with this story. It's full of intricacy and deception, and . . a whole lot of misdirection. It'll be interesting to see what Daken's ultimate goal is from all of this. I also enjoyed Giuseppe Camuncoli's pencils. Normally his style wouldn't do much for me, but . . I thought he fit this book well. Overall, I'm really enjoying this Dark Wolverine story-line.

Avengers: the Initiative #26 - Marvel

Unfortunately, the reason it took me so long to post this one is . . I'm really not sure how it left me feeling. I think I'm starting to get enough of this whole 'Norman Osborn is the King of the Marvel Universe' thing. Enough is enough already. My only consolation is that eventually someone is going to turn on him and take him down. I mean, he's not really omnipotent or anything, he's just a man, so . . even though he believes he has absolute control, it's really all just an illusion . . an illusion of his own making, so he may actually be the sculptor of his own demise. It may be his alter-persona, the Green Goblin, that actually turns the tide on him. More and more it seems like it's taking all of his energy to keep that side of his personality in check. Anyways, with this issue Norman has securely cemented his role as the leader of the Initiative . . taken it under his wing, as it were. He's got the whole country thinking that the New Warriors are just a band of misfits and criminals . . that's rather ironic, and he's established a few more teams for the 50 state Initiative . . the Force of Nature for Oregon, the U-Foes for North Carolina, Psionex for Maryland and the Women Warriors for Delaware. The Constrictor even makes a sobering public speech about how he's been the victim, when he lost his arms, but then he was redeemed when he decided to register and fight alongside the 'good-guys'. He lays it on pretty thick. The public apparently believes him but it may be because it's so deep that they're choking on it. But the New Warriors don't believe it. In fact the Night-Thrasher is so worried about the U-Foes being put in place to tamper with the banking center in Charlotte that he's hacked and installed a Trojan-horse just in case they decide to play around. And don't forget that Tigra and Gauntlet have joined up with them also. Meanwhile, Osborn has been busy turning a previous Hulk-buster base into the new Camp Hammer, the new home of the Initiative. And the Hood and Taskmaster are busy getting everyone in line. We also see that Taskmaster has Trauma working on Penance. I think Trauma actually wants to help him, as inconceivable as that may be, but Taskmaster just wants to make sure he tows the line and follows orders when it comes time to use him. And things are about to heat up as the Initiative is about to get ready to deal with 42, the prison in the Negative Zone. Their re-forming the Shadow Initiative, with the incentive to Komodo being that he ex in also in that prison, but . . but they're loading up the team with cannon-fodder because they don't expect to win. They just want to soften the place up before they send in a real team. Also Tigra decides to make a move on the Hood by beating up one of his men, Percy from the Brothers Grimm, and taping it and sending it to him . . much as he did to her. I understand her frustration and anger, but . . I think she may be crossing a line with this one. One that she may not be able to un-cross. Overall I really enjoy this book. I always have. I'm just getting tired of this whole thing with Norman. And, unfortunately, now that Norman's taken over the Initiative, I gotta ask myself . . is this the same book now that I've come to love? I'm just not sure. However, I did think that Christos Gage and Rafa Sandoval did a terrific job with the creative side. I'm just not sure if I should continue to follow this book, or . . I may find more satisfaction in following the New Warriors. Hmmm!

the Incredible Hulk #600 - Marvel

Another humongous book by Marvel this week. I would say it's about the same size as Amazing #600, but . . there are a few ads in this one. Sure they're all for Marvel stuff, but . . they're still ads. And in this one we get a reprint from Hulk Gray #1. I guess they used up all their new material in Amazing. I liked the main story in the book . . it was narrated by Ben Urich. However, unlike the 65 page lead story in Amazing, this one was only 29 pages. It's by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness, as in the regular Hulk title, but Mark Farmer does the inks on this one. Don't get me wrong. I think Mark is very talented, but . . I much prefer Dexter Vines' lines over Ed's stuff. I know, Mark Farmer does some of the pencils on the regular book also, but . . it just looks different in this book. To me, it just didn't have the same 'cartoonish' type feel to it. You know . . that 'fun' look. Anyways, this first story is about the cost and price of keeping secrets. Jenn turns Ben on to the secret about the Red Hulk. She's hoping that somehow he'll get some news out there and maybe get something rolling . . media, police or otherwise . . into looking at this freak and where he came from. So far it seems as if he can run amok without consequence. Unfortunately, Ben does get the story, but . . he also attracts the attention of the Red Hulk. "Do you know how many buildings were knocked down the last time the Hulk went on a rampage? Twenty? Ten? Let's say it was only one. What if it were the building where everyone at Front Line worked? During a staff meeting. The entire staff meeting. Robbie Robertson. Peter Parker. Maybe you called in sick that day. You could write all about it." And the part about all of this that really has Ben pissed off? It's not the very thinly veiled threat. And it's not the Pulitzer that he's giving up by sitting on this story. No, what has Ben pissed off is that this story is so much more than "Who is the Red Hulk?" . . some important questions that need answering, but . . he'll never be able to submit it. "MODOK has activated the terrorist group AIM. General Ross has committed treason. Together, they've started a gamma radiated super soldier program. If all you do is focus on the Red Hulk, you're going to miss the big picture. There is a war coming. The one we won't win." The next story by Stan Lee and Rodney Buchemi, I thought, was a bit . . 'simple'. It's a story about one of the fights between the Hulk and the Red Hulk in Canada. The authorities get involved, as does the Wendi-Hulk. Everyone can see that even though the Hulk is the mindless one, it's the Red Hulk that's perpetuating this battle and putting everyone in danger. During the battle, the Hulk actually tries to stop more than a few people from getting hurt. Eventually the fight gets so bad that Galactus has to get involved. It would be a simple task for him to eliminate one of them. The problem? "Which is which? . . . Sorry. Can't help you. I'm color blind!" First of all, why would Galactus even get involved? Secondly, why would he talk to the 'ants' that run amok on the ground . . they're beneath him. And finally . . what a cheesy way to end the story. We then have a story about She-Hulk and ARMOR. It's by Fred Van Lente and Michael Ryan. To be honest with you . . I got bored with this one and didn't even finish it. After the first 3 pages is was all just 'blah, blah, blah, blah blah'. Although, it's an important story about Lyra because it's going to carry over into the Incredible Hulk #601. I just got really bored with it. Finally we end up with a cover gallery. We get 7 pages of full-pages splashes of upcoming covers. I thought that was a bit much. And then we get the 600+ covers from the entire Hulk run . . much as we did at the end of Captain America #600. It was interesting, but, I thought, a bit indulgent. Overall, I'd have to say that I was disappointed by the book. Especially after reading Amazing #600. That book was so full of great stuff. This one seemed like they just shoved a bunch of stuff in there to reach the 100 pages . . probably less, actually with all of the ads. And tell me the story by Stan wasn't quickly put together on some afternoon because they needed a story to fill 10 more pages. Stan is an Icon . . hell, he created this character. I expected so much more from one of his stories. Again, I bought both covers so this one cost me $9.98 also. But, unlike the Amazing book . . pun intended . . I felt like I was cheated on this one. I just expected so much more.

the Amazing Spider-man #600 - Marvel

Honestly, I'm not sure where to start with this book. It was massive . . . over 100 pages. And the only ads were inside the front and back cover . . amazing! Also . . it only sold for $4.99. Well . . I paid $9.98 because I bought both covers, but . . you know. The first story by Dan Slott and John Romita Jr. was 65 pages. How do they do it? The story was mostly about the upcoming wedding of Aunt May and J Jonah Jameson Sr., but . . we also got introduced to the new and improved Doctor Octopus. Well . . he's improved. But it was mostly out of necessity. It seems that all the pummeling that the good doctor has taken over the years has finally caught up with him . . "All that additional radiation in your system . . it's preventing your body from healing itself. I hate to tell you this, Otto . . but your condition is degenerative. You're looking at a year . . eighteen months at the most . . until . . ." But the doctor refuses to accept this diagnosis. Yes his body is failing, but . . he feels his mind is as sharp as ever. The little spider/octopus kind of things that we've been seeing in the background scurrying about the city . . their a product of Octavius' and they're his way of getting into every system and piece of electronics in the city. He wants to control them all remotely . . like he does his arms, basically. Anyways, in the end, of course he goes down, but . . he does escape. And he's got a renewed hatred for the Spider-man. What I really liked about this story though is the inclusion of almost all of Peter's supporting cast. Really, the only person . . actually, people missing were the Osborns . . Harry and Norman. On the last page . . even MJ shows up. Overall, I thought it was a good story . . especially the parts about Aunt May. The next little story is about Spider-man going to a therapist. It's called Identity Crisis and it's about Spider-man trying to figure out who he is with all the changes he's gone through over the years. The thing I had a question about though . . as always . . is how Peter remembers MJ. I thought Mephisto erased all of that. "How about MJ? First we were friends, then we were married. Then we weren't. Then she was pregnant, then she wasn't! I tell ya doc I don't know what's real and what isn't anymore!" I thought he wasn't supposed to remember any of that. That story was by Stan Lee and Marcos Martin. Then there's a touching story by Mark Waid and Colleen Doran. It's actually about Uncle Ben. It's when Peter was young and Ben was trying to be a father figure for him. It's touching how they come together. There's another little story by Bob Gale and Mario Alberti. Peter is sitting in a park resting and he's listening to a couple of kids talk about how cool they think it would be to be Spider-man. That is until the one kid starts to look at the reality of the situation. There's a story about Aunt May a few weeks before the wedding. She's talking to Ben at his grave, trying to decide if she's doing the right thing or not. It's my Marc Guggenheim and Mitch Breitweiser. Then Peter and Norah go to the Smithsonian and crack jokes about an outdated piece of super-hero gear . . the Spider-mobile. Zeb Wells and Derec Donovan contribute this piece. And finally Kelly and Fiumara help us catch up with Madame Web. We get a little glimpse of Spider-man's possible future, but the most important thing is that she finds out that someone is hunting the spiders. It appears that Madame is their first victim. As a final treat the issue is littered with "Spider-man covers that you'll never see!" They're mostly by McKone, except for one by Janson. Overall I thought it was a heck of an issue. Especially for $4.99.

Personal - Question?

I seem to be having a bit of a problem here, lately, and I'm wondering if anyone else is experiencing it. It's a minor inconvenience, but . . it still aggravates me just the same. During the blogging process, I hit spell-check several times. But I use the Google spell-check instead of the Blogger one. I like the way it works better. Personal preference, I guess. Anyways, it's never really been an issue before. I just hit spell-check, correct my mistakes, and then save. Then I turn off spell-check and go back to blogging. However, lately, after turning off spell-check, I can't bring up the Icon again in the blogger text. I can't really do anything. So then I have to go back to 'edit posts' and then back into the blog I'm working on so that I can continue. Like I said, I know it's a minor inconvenience, but . . it's really kind of a pain in the ass also. I was just wondering if anyone else was having a problem with this issue. I've submitted complaints and issues into the blogger help site before, but . . that's really an unsatisfying process as you never really hear back from anyone personally. I know. I know that they're probably swamping with issues and questions from their worldwide audience . . they can't address each one on a personal basis, but . . you don't really know that anythings been fixed until one day it just is. So . . I just wanted to complain a little bit, see if anyone else was experiencing the same thing, and make sure it wasn't just my computer acting 'funky'. It's not like it hasn't done that before. So . . anyone? Comments? Advice? Help?

Project Superpowers: Chapter Two - featuring The Inheritors #1 - Dynamite Entertainment

Dynamite really seems to be trying to corner the market on these alternate covers. Each issue of this Project Superpowers . . chapter one, the minis, and now chapter two . . all come with at least 3 different covers. I haven't been buying them though, as usually the least of them is $25. I understand the concept . . the incentive for the retailers and collectors alike, but . . don't they realize that with all these $10 and $25 covers that they're just taking away from people buying more titles every week? I know there's times that I would like to try something new . . go in a different direction, but then there's a variant or 2 available . . I get them, and then can't afford to maybe pick up something new. I imagine it's good for the sales of the title, and the revenues of the company producing them, but . . overall, I don't think it's really helping the collectors and through them the comic-book industry in general. Anyways, sorry . . that's not what this blog is about. I just had to get on my soapbox for a second there. I really do like this book. Alex Ross and Jim Krueger can really shove a whole lot of information into one issue. Edgar Salazar does the art for this issue. We pick up here where we ended in issue #0. The Green Lama has taken his group of heroes and they've attacked the Pentagon. However, President West is there waiting and we find out that he's actually a 'meta' himself . . Power Nelson. In the end, the Lama and his team take down the President and the Patriots. Then they take them all captive. Meanwhile, the Lama goes to confront the Supremacy personally. Also meanwhile, all of the heroes sidekicks and proteges have gathered together under the banner of the Inheritors. They don't know all the reasoning behind what their mentors are doing, but . . they've seen the news and the overall affect that their actions are having on the world. They feel that it's their job to let them know that they've fallen off track. But, they aren't very powerful right now. So they've decided to boost their ranks . ." . . find more heroes who were trapped in the urn and are still wandering the world. People like Captain Future. The size of this army will leave no alternative for our former allies, but to simply surrender." Their first target is Man-Cat. He reverted to a bestial nature, upon release from the urn, and is currently wandering the jungles of Burma. We also see that Captain Future has returned. He's currently in the Caribbean, and seems to be making his way around the large contingent of women on the island. But when Truth & Dare confront him, Truth finds out that he's not whom he claims to be. But that'll have to be a mystery for a future issue. Then in the back of the book we get a quick origin of the Death-Defying Devil, and some one pages sketches of the Black Terror, the Inheritors, the Patriots, the Supremacy, Captain Future, Man-Cat, Burning Eagle, Black Owl, Sisters Scarlet, Silver Streak, the Ghost, the Big Shots, the Super-Mysterymen, and Truth & Dare. Like I said, a whole lot of information in one issue. There are 7 different covers for this particular issue . . varying in price. Anyways, I like the book . . I like the concept and characters . . but I just can't bring myself to buy into all of the hype. I'll just buy the book on the shelf, follow the story, and leave it at that.

Herogasm #3 - Dynamite Entertainment

I know . . I know. But once I started it, I have to finish it. That's just how I am. Plus it is the Boys . . so I do want to see how it comes out. Although, I have to say, now that I've read it . . I'm even more confused than I was before. I thought the boys were going after the VP. They dropped one of the metas in his hot-tub . . Doofus. He's kind of like this Earth's version of the Thing. However in the confusion, at the end of the book, we find out that they were really after one of his Secret Service contingent . . agent Michael Lucero. Plus, while Hughie was in the sewers, preparing the way for Frenchie's escape, he was attacked by Black Noir. He's also one of the Seven. Although, I don't know if 'attack' is the right word. Really, he just sneaks up behind him, holds him in the air, and then pulls down Hughie's pants. He then gives him a 'thumbs-up' and hits his head on the ceiling, knocking him out. We have no idea what that was all about. Unless, maybe he know something about Starlight. So anyways, now I'm confused as to what this is all about. Garth Ennis writes this mini, as well as the main title, but John McCrea does the art on this one. Usually, somewhere along the line, I do become a little confused on the Boys' storylines. They always start out in one direction, but then usually end up somewhere else. It's part of what I like about this title . . they're not predictable. But this one really has me scratching my head. Now I have to get issue #4 to see how it all wraps up. That's ok though . . it's a fun ride anyways.

Hellblazer #257 - Vertigo

First of all . . this issue has a fantastic cover by Simon Bisley. This issue, John is feeling the effects of this romance potion that he got from Epiphany. He had decided that he might've blown it with Phoebe, but . . he was actually missing her. However, he didn't think that there was any way she'd give him a second chance. However, on his way to see her, he had to stop at Julian's for some more of the 'skin' he's been using to treat his 'rash'. But . . he's becoming addicting to it. He doesn't like being a slave to anyone . . or anything. So, while there, he uses a bit of the potion on Julian. You know John's a crafty devil . . you didn't see that one coming? Anyways, Phoebe seems to be giving him everything he wants, and Julian can't stop thinking about him. Phoebe's lust is just an act though. She thought that John might be up to something so she had a colleague of hers analyze the wine that John had given her. She know something is up, but she doesn't know what. Julian on the other had, is obsessed. He offers John his hearts desires, but before he is tempted John lights his apartment, and all the dead skin on fire. Now he has 2 problems, first he has to go cold turkey on this treatment that he's exposed himself to. And secondly . . he wants to come clean with Phoebe. He still wants her . . he just doesn't want her like this. Luckily though, when he does finally get the story out to Phoebe, she does have some compassion and helps John get through the rough couple days of detox. Immediately after he gets pulled away when his mate Chas is having some problems. But it isn't long before he realizes that he's been set up . . Julian was pulling him away so that he could go after Phoebe. Now we just have to hope that John gets back in time. This is another fantastic story by Peter Milligan. Unfortunately it doesn't look like Andy Diggle will be getting back to this title any time soon. But they've actually upped the ante a bit by getting Peter on board. So far he's shown that he's a master at this type of story. I also think that Guiseppe Camuncoli is doing a good job of making this character his own. This series goes up and down for me sometimes, but . . right now I definitely feel like they're on the right track. Not bad for an alternative book that's been around for over 20 years now.