Friday, August 28, 2009

Dark Reign - Elektra #5 - Marvel

This whole story-line has been precipiced upon a misunderstanding that exists between Elektra and pretty much the rest of the world. They see her as evil incarnate because of the attack that she led on SHIELD and their helicarrier, a year or so ago. However, she's claims that she has no knowledge of this. So in her mind, it had to have been her Skrull counterpart. Anyways, that's why there's an $82 million price-tag on her head. She just didn't understand what it was all about. So last issue Norman sends Bullseye / Hawkeye after her. Even with a poison tipped arrow he couldn't take her down. Through her drug-haze she still puts up a good fight and ends up stabbing him in the leg with his own arrow. His back-up HAMMER agent have to take him to get that taken care of right away because she hit the artery. Plus Wolverine has shown up. We also find out that the red-haired girl that's after her isn't an assassin, but rather an ex-SHIELD agent. She's trying to avenge the deaths of all her counterparts aboard the Carrier. She's got the help of another ex-agent . . Agent Brothers. They're the ones that have been stealing money from HAMMER to try to pay these assassins. Anyways, after recuperating for a couple of weeks in Logan's cabin, he tells her where Nico and Brothers are and she goes after them. It happens just as they're trying to make a deal with another assassin, Solo. This alerts HAMMER and puts Norman on them also. He's been busy too, as he's tortured a couple of Skrulls and figured out the exact date of Elektra's abduction. He convinces Elektra that because of all the pain involved in her 'resurrections' . . "You were a good little human. You used a ninja mind trick to 'forget' your various resurrections and the events surrounding them . . including one that took place shortly before you attacked the Blackhawk. Please . . don't take my word for it. I'm sure you know the mind trick I'm talking about. Why don't you take the locks off your memories like a big girl." That's when she remembers everything. She remembers the attack, and she remembers taking down all those SHIELD agents. As she's fighting the Carrier-Commander, he's telling her that there's safety programs and that she won't be able to bring 'her' down. That's when she tell him, "You are wrong. I am Elektra Natchios. Not even the star are safe in the sky." She offers them an 'out', but . . in the end, she has to kill them both. Which greatly pleases Norman. First she got rid of his problem. And secondly he's happy because, "Now we both know what you really are." I wasn't overly thrilled with Clay Mann's art on this series. It was ok, but . . it's just not really my style. However, I was willing to look past that because I love this character so much. I thought Zeb Wells did a great job with this story. I especially liked the way he wrapped everything up. It should make for an interesting future for this character. As I blogged, she's already popped up in the Hulk. So who knows where we'll see her next. Also we had some beautiful Lee Bermejo covers here. I'm sad that it's over, but . . I'm excited to see what happens next.

Sinister Spider-man #3 - Marvel

Mac Gargan is really a disturbed individual. I think these powers and this suit just serve to further exasperate his already demented psychosis. I think maybe this should be called the Disturbed Spider-man. I think Sinister implies that he's trying to be mean. But he's really doing it because he doesn't know any better. It's just part of his nature. It comes to him like breathing. Anyways, the story starts out funny because Mac is trying to figure out just what he has to do to get under Jonah's craw. In the meantime, he decides to leave a half-eaten squirrel on Dexter Bennett's desk. "Turned out it had rabies and I couldn't digest the damn thing." But then Jonah, or rather one of his aides, hands him just what he needs. The Mayor's office is planning a big celebration . ."the 1st Annual Big-Apple Festival" It's scheduled to take place in Times Square, and it'll be the perfect place for him to embarrass the 'hiz'onner'. But then he's called away on a city emergency. There's a nuclear bomb threat, and they'll only talk to Spider-man. This just has 'disaster' written all over it. Plus . . you just know that it's a trap. It turns out it's the Redeemer and his cadre of z-list villains. But all along he's been saying that he's not trying to kill Spider-man . . he's just trying to make him 'better'. So their list of demands include . . a public apology, anger management classes and community service. The fight that ensues between them is hilarious. Actually, it's not even a fight. It's more of a buffet, as far as Mac is concerned. When all's said and done, the only ones left are Redeemer, General Wolfram and Dementoid. Mac probably sympathizes with the latter. Oh yeah, and a beat-up Dr Everything. I guess he ate the other 2. Anyways, Redeemer still has a plan. He has pictures of Spider-man stirring up turmoil all over town between the gangs. He sends them to Jonah. I think Brian Reed is doing a great job with this story. He's really got Mac's character down pat. And the humor he puts in his stories is perfect. I was worried about Chris Bachalo's art. I mean, the first 11 pages really don't look like his stuff. Then I noticed the he's sharing the art chores with Rob Disalvo. I guess that's his stuff in the beginning . . and the end. Chris actually only does about 7 pages in the middle. Rob's stuff is ok. It's no Chris, but . . he has his own style. I can see a few various influences in his work. Anyways, I thought the book was great. It was a fun read. I guess we'll have to see how it all wraps up next issue.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Secret Warriors #7 - Marvel

This is turning out to be one of my favorite Marvel books. I think because I like Nick Fury's character so much. My only kind-of negative comment is that, now that Nick is trying to put his army back together, it seems like the focus has switched away from his Secret Warriors. I think that was a neat twist when this whole thing first started. Without them . . I'm afraid this will turn into any other SHIELD book, or mini that we've seen in the past. I know it's a necessary part of the story-line, but . . I'm just sayin'. These kids are a neat bunch of characters. I'd just like to see them utilized more. That being said . . the book opens with them on a mission with Nick. However, it's the first time we've really seen them in action in about 3 issues. Anyways, Nick needs some funding for his new peace-keeping force, so . . he's decided to take it from a bank in Zurich that his knows is run, and funded, by the Baron. At the end of the operation he staples a note to the bank manager's head . . "Baron, I O U 1.2 billion dollars" Anyways, he knows that the Baron and Norman are eventually going to conspire against him. Afterall, he did hit his helicarrier base pretty hard last issue. So he's got Alex watching out for any ripples in the cosmos. Which he senses about half-way through this issue. This sends Nick out quickly to secure his forces. He orders Daisy to keep everyone inside, locked down. Then he goes out to gather up Agent Garrett, and Black-Widow and Songbird. But that's when they catch up to him. He finds out that Norman has sicked Ares and the Thunderbolts on him. Which should make for a very interesting issue next time. The thing I like about the story here is the military-like precision that Jonathan Hickman has written into it. I mean obviously it has to be that way. Nick is a very disciplined and structured person, but . . Jonathan does a great job of exemplifying that in his stories. Alessandro Vitti's art is ok. I could take it or leave it. I wish Jim Cheung, who does the covers were doing the interiors. But . . we got what we got. The point is . . I really like the book. It has a ton of potential. But I would like to see our 'kids' a little more.

the New Avengers #56 - Marvel

The best part about this issue was watching Bobbi kick some butt. Last issue, one of the Hood's gang, Dr Jonas Harrow had reverse-engineered a piece of Stark tech that was designed to sap a heroes powers. Basically, to shut them down. So one of the Wrecking Crew goes out into Times Square and calls out the Avengers. They want to test it out. When they show up, they all go down like rocks. That is, except for Bobbi who doesn't have any enhanced abilities. She's like the female Batman of the Marvel Universe. Sort of. Maybe not. Anyways, Spider-man tries to help her. He doesn't have any powers right now, but he can still use his web-shooters. Unfortunately, all that does is piss them off. Clint also tries to help to. You know how he feels he has to protect Bobbi all of the time. But that whole thing raises a question. Why did Clint go down? He doesn't really have any enhanced abilities. Just his fighting and archery prowess. Hmmm! Anyways, Luke takes the biggest hit because the device appears to have brought on a heart-attack. He tries to fight back, but he's dealing with his own pain and anguish right now. It's only a matter of time before there's to many of them for Bobbi to fight. That's when the Sentry shows up. He floats in the air and makes his usual threatening announcement, and then . . he drops, powerless and changes into Bob. When the rest of the Dark Avengers show up . . they keep their distance. But that doesn't stop the good Doctor because he hacks into the Patriots armor. Norman is pissed. But there's nothing he can do. He then brings all of them down also. When the awaken, they find themselves surrounded by a plethora of the Hood's followers. Meanwhile, the Hood is in Cuba, with Loki, trying to get his powers back. She turns him on to the Stones of Norn. Which are supposed to give him magical powers, as he's used to, but . . we don't know exactly what's going to happen yet. Basically he's at the whim of the stones. And as Loki mentions, she doesn't know how long they'll decide to stay with him either. Ok, I take my opening statement back. The best thing about this book was watching Norman get humiliated by this Dr. Harrow. The second best thing was watching Bobbi in action. Brian Bendis writes it, and Stuart Immonen does the art. The story was ok. A little simple, but . . ok. But Stuart's art didn't quite look like Stuart's art. It just didn't have that flare that it usually does. There were a few pages that looked pretty sweet, but . . there were lots of panels in-between that looked kind of rushed. I'm not complaining. I really like his stuff. It's just something that I noticed. Overall I liked the book. But . . if the Dark Avengers hadn't shown up . . it would've been kind of boring.

Avengers: the Initiative #27 - Marvel

I thought this was an interesting issue. I thought that the way Christos Gage put this story together was rather inventive. King Blastaar has taken over 42, the Negative Zone prison. Taskmaster needs villains to fill the 52 state Initiative. So, if he doesn't do something about 42, he's going to be stuck with every scumbag petty thief that comes along in order to fill the numbers. He's obviously going to have to go in, but he wants to soften up the competition first. He's gathered together all the losers that have come along to join the Initiative and told them that they would be joining the Shadow Initiative and going on a special mission. But like he tells the Constrictor, this new Shadow Initiative is really just another word for cannon fodder. So anyways, to show us what these guys are going through, Christos introduces us to Johnny Guitar and Dr. Sax. They're 2 petty thieves that have joined the Initiative with hopes of joining the 'big-show'. They've basically been losers their whole life, and this is their chance to become part of something bigger. When they're told they're going to be joining an elite group for a special mission . . they jump at it. But then Johnny finds out the truth about why they're being sent in. Johnny hasn't told Dr. Sax what's going on, so he ends up sacrificing his friendship by hurting him, to save his life. That's probably the most noble thing he's done . . ever. Anyways, the point is . . this whole group is filled with guys with similar stories. The details may be different, but they're basically all the same . . 'little-shots' trying to be 'big-shots'. And . . they pretty much all die during the battle. That pretty much takes up the whole story. The rest is spent showing how Bengal, Komodo and Butterball end up making it through all of this by keeping their heads. Also Hardball ends up helping them out when he releases Dragon Man into the fray. Dragon Man has a crush on Komodo, so . . when he sees her getting hurt he's quick to jump to her aid. By the time Taskmaster, Penance, Scorcher, and others arrive they just have to mop up . . for the most part. Hardball gets some special recognition from Taskmaster for helping them out. And the Brothers Grimm get the message that Tigra sent to them last issue. They return with their brother and find her note . . "You're next. XX - Tigra" For a book that I thought was on it's last leg . . this one seems to be going pretty strong. I didn't think it was going to end because of the talent or anything . . also there's a great cast of characters here. No . . it seemed like it was ending because it appeared that it had run it's course. The Initiative was done. The New Warriors were back in their own book. And we already had 2 teams of Avengers running around out there . . 3 with the Dark Avengers. But then . . along came Norman Osborn. Like a spider to a fly trapped in it's web . . I think Norman saw the flailing Initiative as a chance to further expand his power-base and influence. He could literally have operatives in every single state. Actually . . I hate to admit it, but . . it's brilliant. And . . the Initiative . . and this book have new life. Which I think is fantastic because I've really liked this book right from the beginning. Christos has been plugging away, doing a great job. And I even enjoy Rafa Sandoval's pencils. I'm not thrilled with the Taskmaster, the Constrictor and the Hood being in charge of the whole thing, but . . it's different. And you kind of love to hate it. And . . it definitely keeps you guessing. Keep up the good work guys. I'm looking forward to another 100 issues.

X-Force #18 - Marvel

Man, X-Force and some of the mutants that were captured by the Leper Queen really took a beating last issue. X-Force saves them all, and ends up killing the Leper Queen, but . . in the process Laura got captured. They saved Tabitha, but she still ends up getting carted away by HAMMER. However, Warpath is quickly there to help her escape. At the end of last issue, Josh had healed Hellion and was beginning to work on Surge when she exploded. We, and the rest of X-Force, expect the worst. However, we find out that Hellion was awake just enough to use his TK to funnel the exploding energy out into space. All 3 of them survived, but they're all knocked out and need time to recuperate. However HAMMER did get away with arguably the most dangerous one of all . . X-23, Laura. We find out this issue that Kimura is back and seems to be working with HAMMER. At the end of this issue, as Laura drifts in and out of consciousness, we see that Kimura plans on taking her apart . . piece by piece. Literally. She's already taken her arm off with a chainsaw. Anyways, we also see that Rahne and Hrimhari are trying to escape from the attack by the Frost Giants. We still don't know what this is all about, but . . they seem to be willing to make a stand and live or die together. It seems like this whole thing is happening to give Rahne the focus that she needs back. We also have a scene that sets us up for Warlock's return in New Mutants. Caliban, Eli Bard and Wither have all gathered at Doug Ramsey's grave in Westchester. It appears that they all have some of Warlock inside of them and are trying to give it back. Even though it'll probably kill Caliban. As Caliban is hugging Doug's tombstone, he says "He is here. This is the first, my master. Now . . now it begins." And Wolverine has finally come back to tell Scott how their mission in the future went. He's on edge. He's not happy about the mission but he's really upset because of Laura's capture. Next issue, I think they'll probably begin the hunt. I like the job that Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost are doing here. By the way, when we're in the cemetery, we see a tombstone that says 'Kyle Yost'. I thought that was funny. Anyways, I like the darker edge that they've given this series, and when they show what these characters are willing to do, and how their actions affect them. Yes this team is different than the X-men. But each of these characters making difficult decisions, and are living with the choices that they've made. That kind of baggage is going to leave them 'darker', and more introverted than the rest of the X-men. The problem I see though is that eventually they'll probably get to the point where they trust no one else but those on their team. They know that 'they' would die for each other. At least to me, it seems like that would be the natural progression. I guess we'll have to wait and see. In the absence of Clayton Crain, Mike Choi and Sonja Oback are doing the art. It looks tremendous. It seems that Clayton needed a bit of a break anyways. So I'm glad to see that Mike is keeping up the stunning quality. Overall, I really enjoy this book . . and these characters.

HULK #14 - Marvel

This was a fun issue to read. The picture on the cover doesn't really happen until the very last page of the book. Basically what happens is . . for some reason Domino is staking out a barber-shop in, I assume, NYC. We find out later that it's an old SHIELD location. Anyways, while watching, she sees a guy go into an alley . . and then change into the Red Hulk. As soon as he switches he knows he's being watched and goes after Domino. Of course she slips aways from him . . luck being her thing and all. That's when Samson and General Ross get involved. This scene is set up to show us that obviously neither one of them can be the Red Hulk, because he's talking to both of them, but . . I'm thinking it's a decoy. I'm thinking he's really only talking to one of them, and the other is in his head. We see him talking to both, but . . they don't interact. I'm thinking it's the General. Although I could be wrong. It's happened before. But . . we'll see. I think by the end of this story-line we're going to have an answer to that question. Anyways, we have guest stars galore this issue, as the Red Hulk is assigned to recruit some help on this one. We see Deadpool, the Punisher, Crimson Dynamo, Thunder and Elektra. Of course it's Elektra who finds out where Domino is located. And when the Red Hulk and his team go to confront her, they find out she's brought help of her own, in the form of X-Force. Even through all of this, Jeph Loeb keeps the story upbeat and light-hearted. I liked the way the Red Hulk is sympathizing with Frank when he's watching him work. And the final page sets us up for a glorious 'smack-down' next issue. Ian Churchill does the art this issue, instead of Ed McGuinness. He's done it so it kind of looks like Ed's work, but not really. The full page picture of Elektra was awesome. Overall I thought it was a great issue.

New Mutants #4 - Marvel

When the rest of the team doesn't know what to do . . Illyana makes an end-around play and saves the day. Last issue she got pissed about Shan being stuck inside of David's head so she decided to do something about it, and jumped in there herself. She just goes in and starts hacking away at the various personalities. After killing probably a few hundred of them . . remember there's 1000's of them in there now . . she finally gains their cooperation. They open up a path and lead her straight to Shan and Marci. And Marci, who's been there even longer than Shan, leads them straight to 'Davey'. That's when, through her conversations with Marci and David, that they realize that the doll is the key . . it's an anchor of David's, a tie to Moira. They didn't realize it at first because Marci keeps calling it 'Morrie'. Once they have that, and give it back to David . . he's in control again. Meanwhile, Sam, Roberto and Amara are out in the real world fighting Legion, and all his various personalities and powers. Dani wants to help, but since she doesn't have powers anymore Sam's reluctant to put her in the line of fire. She's pissed because Sam sends her away. But, of course, she returns at exactly the right moment and saves Sam's life. However, it appears that they're all about to be undone when Illyana pulls her save and Legion switches back to David. Shortly after, Scott and the X-Men show up. There's a nice scene between Scott and Sam . . who's feeling down about his team getting hurt. It's kind of a 'big-brother' moment. I thought Zeb Wells did a pretty decent job with the story-line through this first arc. We really jumped right back into things with this group. It seems like we're gradually bringing the old team back together. And next issue . . Warlock returns. Diogenes Neves does the art. It's ok. Nothing overly flashy, but a good solid effort. I'm really looking forward to future issues of this title. I loved the first series, and have everything they've been in. I just hope they keep the momentum going and don't put this team through their periods of self-doubt that always seem to plague them. I'm also glad to see Illyana back. Since obviously her story's nowhere near being done. There's a lot of potential with every character in this group. Lots of untapped story-lines.

Dark Avengers #8 - Marvel

I liked this book, but . . to me . . it seemed like more of an X-Men book than the Dark Avengers. The riots are pretty much over, and when Emma and her team go to the hospital to take down Trask. It's so much a 'non-issue' that all we see is them carting off his bio-sentinel self to jail . . no fight to be heard of. I would assume that the threat to the X-Men . . as far as from Trask, is pretty much over. I don't think he'll find the support he needs anymore, now that he's been transformed. I would think that was a mistake, as far as Bastion goes. But who knows. Obviously Trask was just a pawn. Maybe it was a calculated sacrifice. Anyways, most of this issue is seen as Scott's plan taking shape. We find out that Moonstar's trip to Vegas was because she was cutting a deal with Hela. I would think it's probably to get her powers . . or some form of power. Hela agrees to a 'boon', but we don't know the details yet. One of the Cuckoo's have been arrested. Since she's a mutant, she's been taken to Alcatraz. Then, as Trask goes down and Emma and her group begin cleaning up the city, Scott sits back and waits. What he's really waiting on is for the X-Science Team to finish thier task under the Bay. Around the end of the week they finish their assignment, and Scott's team goes into motion. First, with the Cuckoo's help, they release all of the mutant captives from Alcatraz. I assume they got Henry, who was being tortured at the time, but I'm not sure. They don't really show that. There's a big fight between Logan's team and the Dark Beast and Weapon Omega. That's when Emma and her team show up. It turns out they're all still loyal to Scott . . except for Daken and Mimic who are quickly taken out of the picture. Even Namor is going along with Emma. Then the X-Science Teams man-made island, or sanctuary, rises from out of the Bay and all the mutants are transported to it. Scott makes an announcement on TV. It sounds like he wants this island to be a sovereign nation. Maybe? But whatever it is he wants, he's goading Norman and the Dark Avengers into action. "Whatever happens next . . is beyond our control. But all the same . . the whole world is watching." It really isn't until almost the final page that we even get to see the Dark Avengers. Norman's pissed . . to say the least. "Emma Frost! Namor! And Scott @%!@# Summers! Bring me Namor's head . . and Emma Frost's heart. And make sure Summers see you do it!" I mean, overall I thought it was a good book. Lots of action. The story-line moved ahead tremendously. Everything concludes in their second special . . Dark Avengers / Uncanny X-Men: Exodus. But, as I said, this is the Dark Avengers book. I really expected to see them more than probably about 6 panels the whole issue. And Daken doesn't count because he was working as a Dark X-Men the whole issue. Anyways, that being said . . I still liked the book. I enjoyed Matt Fraction's story, and I thought Luke Ross did a tremendous job with the art. I'm not a huge fan of Luke's, but I liked this new painted style that he's been doing. Hopefully next issue we'll get back to the miscreants and psychos that we're used to seeing here.

Wolverine First Class #18 - Marvel

Ok . . I'll really try to not make this post as long as the last. But I really did enjoy that issue of Wolverine. It was fantastic. However, after reading it . . I really thought that this issue would then be a let-down. I mean, this title seems to be aimed at a more teenaged audience, and one less familiar with the character, so . . it's nowhere near as intense as that last issue I read. But . . I have to say, Peter David did a fantastic job with this story. This issue actually focus' mostly on Jamie Maddrox and his Multiple-Man character. With Logan and Kitty helping him out along the way. This seems to be one of the first instances of Jamie noticing that his 'dupes' can develop thier own personality, and in this case . . maybe even wanting to break away from the herd. Literally. Basically, Jamie shows up at the mansion chasing on of his dupes from Muir Island. Since they're connected, he has a sense of him and his where-abouts at all times. However in his explanation to Logan and Kitty, he seems more like a tyrannt than a man whose powers can sometimes be unpredictable. Kitty ends up siding with the 'dupe', and helps him escape to NYC. Long story short, the 'dupe' comes across a person in need and puts his life on the line to help save a family member. As he's dying, he then willingly gives himself back to Jamie. However, in the end, this really changes Jamie's view of his take on life and the rest of the world out there. So he makes a couple more 'dupes', and tells them to go out into the world and explore . . . then come back and show him what they've learned. One asks, "What if one of us doesn't want to reaturn? What if I want to change my name to . . I don't know . . John Maddrox, and live my own life?" Jamie's response is, "I guess I'll deal with that, if and when the time comes." I think I liked this story so much because I'm really diggin' the X-Factor book right now. Jamie's one of it's principle characters. Alot of what happened here plays into that title. Plus, this book has improved dramatically since Peter David took over with issue #13. And, in the end, I think it was just a really well written story. I enjoyed it a lot. Francis Portela does the art.

Wolverine #77 - Marvel

I have to say, honestly . . I thought I was going to become bored with this whole Dark Wolverine thing. I mean, Daken's an ok character, but . . he's no Logan. Well, he is kind of. But only on a DNA level. Anyways, I really liked this issue. I like this whole devious, manipulating side of this character. Plus I guess I never really realized how much he uses his other power, his pheromone thing, to get people worked up and easier to manipulate. Last issue he went to talk to the Fantastic Four. Specifically, Reed. But, right from the start it just seemed like he was up to something. I thought for sure he was going to double-cross them and sell 'em out to Norman. The ending even further proved that hypothesis as the Thing punches Daken out of the building, in a cacophony of glass and steel. He says it was to make it look like he wasn't conspiring with the enemy, but . . Bullseye and Norman just happen to be waiting on a nearby roof-top with a camera. This seemed to be the perfect piece of leverage that Norman would need. So this issue, we find that Norman is indeed going to use that video bite as leverage over the FF. "I want full access to your facility. All your files, plans . . whatever I want. And you will not interfere, in any way, with anything I do. Ever!" He threatens their public images, their security clearances, even their children. But Reed and Daken planned for this whole thing. Reed wants all of Norman's information and files, but in order to get it he has to be near his own personal computer, as Norman doesn't trust his network to be linked to anything off-site. The footage plays right into thier hands as Norman calls them to him. Meanwhile, before that exchange, Daken has been in the building working Ares and Gargon into a frenzy. By the time Reed and Norman have their confrontation, which is really all just a stalling tactic so Reed's device can download everything on Norman's computer, Ares and Venom come into the mix, and things really escalate. Norman figures out what Reed's up to with the computer, but by this time he has no other recourse than to delete everything. Including the digital footage of the FF he's transferred here. But that's not quite the end of it. Daken has also used Bullseye's hatred of him in this whole scheme. He doesn't know what Bullseye will do, but . . he knows that he can use it. Bullseye shoots him with an arrow loaded with a bomb, and then explodes it. Thereby creating an egress for the FF. But it also provides him cover and an alibi. He's torn up from the bomb, and all Reed has to do to make the plan work is . . leave him be. Don't try to save him, don't try to help, just go. Let his healing factor eventually take care of the rest. Then, even through all of this, it seems that Daken has an even bigger plan in the works. As he's lying in bed later, recuperating, his thinking . ."Here's the thing Osborn doesn't understand. You can reach the top in an instant. You can burn and kill and lie your way there overnight. But to stay, to become something more than a puppet-king . . you have to build a foundation. Deep roots. Allies. Promises. Debts. Not every revolution begins with a bang. Sometimes just a whisper. The first thread of a well-laid plan. Blood doesn't make you a prince, and it won't build you an empire. But knowing the right people sure as hell will." It seems he already has Moonstone on his side. As well as created doubt and confusion in Ares, Venom and Bullseye. But now? Now he's got the Fantastic Four. He receives a text from Reed that says . ."You're not alone . . . . . We owe you." And that . . that is what the whole purpose of all of this was really about. Daniel Way and Marjorie Lie did a fantastic job with this story. Like I said in the beginning, I was really afraid of becoming bored with this character. But after this issue, I'm seeing Daken in a whole new light. I also really enjoyed Giuseppe Camuncoli's take on this character. His unique style fit expertly into the chaos of this issue. Props to all involved here.

X-Men Forever #6 - Marvel

I really hate to say it, but . . I really didn't like this issue as well as the beginning of this series. This issue just seemed kind of 'forced'. I think everybody is on edge, after the Professor's revelation last issue . . and they're not sure what to make of it. Maybe that's what seemed off. Basically, they all learned that their 'gifts' come with a price. Whenever they use their power, their kind of using up thier own life-force . . the energy that keeps them alive. When they're young, their bodies can recuperate from that . . for the most part. But, as they get older, there begins to become a limit on that energy. The more they use their powers, the closer they come to using that energy up. And when that happens? Well . . you know what happens when that happens. Charles came to this discovery when he noted that there weren't very many mutants that were more than 20 to 30 years old. But the one question I think is glaringly obvious is . . what about Charles? Or what about Sabretooth or even Magneto? I like this new direction these stories seem to be going in, but I think we need to be a little more specific about this discovery. Anyways, so this issue . . this issue they're all recovering from this knowledge and the attack by Storm. A lot has happened in this first few issues . . Wolverine has been killed, Jean's love for him has been exposed, Storm has gone rogue, Nick Fury and SHIELD have become an active part of the X-Men, and these kids that are willing to put their lives on the line to protect each other or anybody else that needs it have found out that they're living on a time-line. A time-line with an expiration date. So then this issue comes along, and . . it slows everything way down. It's not really a recap issue, but . . it kind of focus' more on the characters and how they're adapting to all this recent turmoil and change. And of course by the end of the issue, another emergency pops up and it looks like our kids are going to be heading off to South America. I appreciate Chris Claremont's talents, but . . this issue was kind of boring for me. Really, the only big 'revelation' for me was that there's more of Wolverine inside of Kitty than just his claw. Sabretooth now even considers her 'one of the family'. Paul Smith and Terry Austin do the art, and . . I hate to say it, but I wasn't overly impressed with it either. When Paul did his run on Uncanny in the 80's, I thought it was brilliant. It was crisp, clean, and very well defined. His style now, is nothing like that. I could see glimpses of it. But then there were other panels where a character seems almost cartoonish, or goofy looking. I don't know, maybe he'll improve as time goes along. Overall, I just wasn't that thrilled with this whole issue. Although I'm sure next issue will be better. We have a lot more to see here. I think it'll be interesting to see what other revelations Chris has for us along this new path.

Wolverine Origins #39 - Marvel

Okay . . this is a little complicated, but . . we'll see if I got it right. When Logan joined the X-Men, Charles erased all his memories . . which included all the 'controls' and stuff that Romulus had done to him, and added to his psyche, over the years. Although he didn't remember anything from his past, he also was free from underneath Romulus' thumb. Unknown to him, when his memories came back, so did all that extra baggage. So from that moment, until now . . Logan has really been following Romulus' agenda, when he thought he was working from free-will. Now, come to find out, Romulus has decided that it's time for him to move on. He's to old to be playing this young man's game. But . . he wants a worthy successor. So . . he's got all of his pawns fighting to be the last man standing. The problem is, Logan wasn't even aware of the game. Even though he's probably running the board. That's why Wild-Child waited for him to finish his fight with Omega Red last issue . . and then he could pick up the battered and torn pieces. Now he's going to take a shot at taking out Wolverine. At least until Omega Red comes busting in because he still wants that Carbonadium Synthesizer that Logan's got in his possession. During Wild-Child and Red's fight, Logan makes a run for it. He's kicking himself for playing right into Romulus' hands. He makes it to a warehouse in St Petersburg, where the Black Widow has stashed the Muramasa blade. When Red catches up to him, he's ready for him and takes him down. And on the final page . . we see Romulus. He looks like a much older version of Wolverine . . and more haggard. Except he has 4 claws instead of 3. Next issue is billed as the conclusion of this Romulus storyline. I thought this was a great issue. Daniel Way wrote it, and Scot Eaton does the art. I thought it was clever how, basically . . this whole run has been brought together by this one story-line. Everything is connected. I'm sure we'll get even more insights next issue, but I thought this one was pretty revealing on it's own. After all the various 'origin' stories that we've had about Logan . . maybe now we're going to finally get the true story. I can't wait until next issue.

Dark X-Men: the Beginning #3 - Marvel

In the first story in this book, Emma is trying to figure out why Namor has agreed to join Osborn's X-Men. Surprisingly, Namor has allowed her access to his psyche . . which she readily jumped at. Apparently she wants to make sure that his real reason . . his subconscious reason, is the same as his verbal response. It's funny . . when she's probing his mind she finds out that he's got his responses to the surface world compartmentalized. She sees 3 doors . . Negotiate, Attack, Sue. I don't know if she's just playing coy, but she acts like she doesn't know that one is about Sue Richards. "Odd. I never imagined you'd be one for legal action. There are some really odd sounds coming from behind this one, too." Anyways, it turns out that his curiosity is fueled by his dread of the word 'mutant', and his anxiety about exploring that world since he's discovered he is one. Plus, I think there's a certain amount of attraction between him and Emma. This chapter was brought to us by Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk. In the second story, we see Norman's attempt at wrangling Mystique into his little club. It ends up the bait he needed was Logan. She's still pissed about him leaving her for dead in the Afghan desert. So when he dangles Daken in front of her . . she's practically drooling. And, like any group she joins . . she's going to be the wild-card. This part of the story is by Jason Aaron and Jock. Finally, we see Norman's attempt at getting Jeanne-Marie Beaubier in his group. Basically . . he side-swipes her. He's gotten to her therapist, and after a session gets her to put a contraption on her head. He tells her it's a form of EEG. Actually, it's a thalamizer. "It's primary function is to identify the centers of activity in your parietal cortex and . . by means of inverse induction . . to negate them. Which is to say . . it blocks your consciousness." Basically, it's letting her more 'wild', 'promiscuous' personality out. Which is what Norman wants in the person he wants on the X-Men. What he didn't tell her is that the device can also " . . identify the parts of you postcentral gyrus . . that's where your pain lives . . which your second personality uses the most. Then nuke them. I'm told it's like being flayed by ice. At any rate, you can't just sidestep back to ego #1 'cause it's still blocked." However, Jeanne-Marie has another trick up her sleeve . . she can develop more personalities. Which throws off the device for a little while as it readjusts. She keeps this up until she gets him to the point where he pulls a gun on her. "What's so special about #8?", he asks. "She's reckless!", is her reply, as she grabs the gun and shoots the device off her own head. She then calls Norman out on his own predominant personality, and tells him where to shove his offer. I like this chapter the best of all 3. It was by Simon Spurrier and Paul Davidson. Overall I enjoyed this mini-series. It wasn't really necessary. I don't think it'll lessen your enjoyment of the Utopia story-line. But . . it was a guilty pleasure. Norman doesn't cross paths with this circle of people very often. It was interesting to see how they reacted to each other. That's what I think I liked about that last story-line the best. It was one instance where Norman wasn't able to just steam-roll over somebody. It was poetic justice.

Fantastic Four #570 - Marvel

First of all I want to say that I think Dale Eaglesham is a completely underrated artist. He'll get more of the recognition he deserves here than he did on JSA. But personally I thought that was a fantastic series. The first couple pages of this book were perfect. For those fans out there in spasms because Mark Millar and Paul Neary aren't here any more . . all I can say is . . give it a shot. Yes it's different, but . . sometimes different is good. And, even though we're going a different direction now, there's still aspects of Mark's run that are hanging around. There's no doubt that Mark made a huge impact on this franchise. He introduced some fantastic . . pun intended . . ideas that'll be a part of this book for a long time to come. I'm sure Jonathan Hickman will be equally original. Well . . maybe not equally, but I'm sure he'll put his own spin on things . . his unique perspective. Anyways, this issue we're going back to the idea that was introduced after the Initiative . . idea #101 . . 'solve everything'. The thing that I noticed this issue, which I liked, is that most of the ideas, the big moments, were tucked away in little moments that didn't seem that important. The FF stop another attack by Bentley Whittman . . the Wizard, this issue . . but, it's afterwards when Reed goes to confront Bentley that the idea for a new story-line is created. He says to Reed, "You see the same things I do. Math is the language of God, Richards. We've both done the calculations . . this world is going to tear itself apart and there's nothing either of us can do to stop it." During that exchange, there's a little boy clone of Bentley's milling about. So later when Reed's telling the story to the kids . . their version of a bed-time story . . Franklin asks his dad, "What about the little boy?" Reed gives him a watered down version of how the system works, but Franklin says . . "But your going to help him . . you have to try, right?" I think that little innocent statement get's Reed's head going, so he goes down into his 'idea' room to do some thinking. He's thinking about a machine that he created that provided answers to impossible questions. The machine was pure knowledge, and he thought much to dangerous to fall into the wrong hands, so he hid it here in his room of 'ideas'. But one of the questions he asked it was . . "Who else seeks the answers to these same questions?" That was an epiphany, and question that will change everything. As it turns out he decides to turn the machine on, and he gets some visitors. They're all different versions of himself from various dimensions. They take him to a special place . . "A construct nestled inside a fabricated pocket reality. It's a place outside of both the universal structure and the space that exists between them. Here, the rules that govern all reality do not apply. It is here that we do our work." And by 'we', he means 100's of different versions of himself. Basically, from this point, they 'police' reality. They monitor all the various dimensions, looking for problem spots, and then they take a reactive position. And he meets the creators of this 'world'. They're 3 much older versions of himself, and they're all wearing a version of the Infinity Gauntlet . . with all the gems. I'm just wondering, but . . isn't that kind of what Valeria did with the Fantasticar when they went to visit Ireland? Anyways, as epic as that appears to be, Johnny and Ben are also starting out on a new adventure. Johnny wants to get Ben away, so he's taking him to Nu-World for a couple of days. However, it occurs to me . . the FF aren't aware of the Marquis' visit there before he came to their world. They have no idea what they're walking in to. I thought this issue was a fantastic point for Jonathan to start his run here. I think he's incorporating some of Mark's fantastic ideas . . and coming up with a few of his own. I know Mark is a comic 'god', but . . I think this run is going to be every bit the equal of his. And, did I mention that I love Dale's work?

The Red Circle - the Shield #1 - DC

This issue, much like the Web wasn't so much an origin issue as an issue to catch us up on the current status of this character. Lieutenant Joseph Higgins is stationed in Afghanistan. He's recently contacted the Web, via his web-page, to ask for help in finding his father, William. He hasn't seen him in 5 years. Or, if not finding him, at least determining whether he's alive or not. Shortly thereafter the Lieutenant is hit by an ambush and mortally wounded. That's when he's picked up and subjected to the Shield project. "We were able to merge the epidermal layer of his skin with a new form of nanotechnology that in it's relaxed state is virtually invisible. But upon reflex action, or mental command, it encases his body in a hardened war-suit that is nearly indestructible. It also gives him extraordinary strength, limited flight, full access to infrared, ultraviolet and other high-spectrum data, and the ability to monitor communications on every known frequency." Now, unless they change continuity, Joseph's grandfather, Joe Higgins, was the original Shield. Believe it or not, it's said that the Shield actually preceded Captain America by a few months in the 40's. Anyways, Joseph's father, William Higgins, was also the Shield at one time. It's revealed to us at the end of this book that his father is still alive and living in California. He's working with Dr Dickering, the Hangman. Which I'm sure can't be a coincidence. They're working on some secret project. On the final page we see that all of these characters are connected. From here we move right into the Shield's and the Web's series, with back-ups on Inferno and the Hangman. I thought JMS did a great job tying this all together. It appears that Eric Trautmann will be writing the Shield series, while Angela Robinson will be taking on the Web. And JMS will be moving on over to the Brave & the Bold. Also Scott McDaniel was the artist for this issue.

Herogasm #4 - Dynamite Entertainment

In this issue the Boys are still watching over the proceeding at Herogasm, but . . it seems that the real purpose of this story is to show Vought-American's involvement in the government . . specifically, the White House. Last issue the Female captured Agent Lucero for the Boys, and they began interrogating him. This issue, they have Agent Lucero convinced that their from somewhere within the intelligence community, and their looking into Vic the VP's affairs. Somehow, this all revolves around 9/11, 2001 also. I thought that the Seven had taken down the plane of terrorists? But that's not how Agent Lucero describes it. Actually President Shaefer was all over it in the Situation Room. But . . he was supposed to be out of town . . Florida. He cancelled his trip at the last second. Vic, the VP, who seems to be under Vought's influence . . in not just flat out controlled by . . I think was supposed to handle the situation. Which would probably up his credibility. But since the President was in control, he had to play second fiddle. That is until somebody took a fire extinguisher upside the Presidents head. So anyways, now Vic is in position to assume the office . . which the guy from Vought has informed him will happen within the year . . and then he be elected to his own term, and "You'll implement policy initiated by us and us alone." So anyways, it looks like this whole thing is set up to show us just how much influence Vought-American has over the government. And obviously the Boys are here to do something about that. Which, afterwards will either make it harder for the Boys because they may lose their connection with the agency, or . . it may be easier because the Boys will put a stop to all of this . . or at least throw a serious wrench in Vought's plans . . making them the 'darlings' of the agency. Can you imagine Butcher being invited to prom? Anyways, this issue doesn't focus as much on the Herogasm part of the story, but rather on the covert government manipulation that is proceeding under the cover of all this hedonism. Overall I thought it was an ok book. But we didn't get to see much of the Boys this issue. Most of the time was spent explaining this government part of the story to us. As usual, this series is brought to us by Garth Ennis and John McCrea.

Project Superpowers Chapter Two #2 - Dynamite Entertainment

There's a whole lot going on in this issue, and some of it I'm a bit confused about. First of all we're reintroduced to Captain Future. Actually, we caught up to him last issue in the Caribbean having drunken sex with . . well, anyone he could. Other than that, we don't find out a whole lot more about him, other than that he's extremely powerful. At one point he says he's not a man . . repeatedly. On the opening page we get a eulogy from Zeus about how man has squandered his potential. I'm wondering if Captain Future has something to do with him. Truth & Dare show up during the fight with Captain Future also. And when Future strikes Samson, he takes him down. "But I don't understand . . nothing's supposed to harm me . . .", he says as he falls to the ground with his chest smoldering. Truth & Dare also go back to New York City with the rest of the heroes. Truth makes an interesting comment. He says that he recognizes Captain Future. But when he's questioned by the Lama, he says, "You are not ready to know the truth about yourself. Just as you are not ready to face the reality of Captain Future." We see that a plethora of people have gathered around the recently defeated Pentagon. It appears that the average man on the street is on the heroes side. They applaud them for what they've done. Meanwhile, the Inheritors, who are going around trying to build up a power base by gathering up the forgotten heroes, have come across nothing but damage and misery. Their first target Cat-man seems to have reverted to an animalistic state. When they go after the Eagle, they find him floating in the Middle East. He appears to be burning from the inside out. The Boy King is deeply perplexed over the results of thier mission. It's definitely not going as expected. The Face, Marvelo and Skyman have gathered together in a bar. Marvelo ask them, "Tell me, what did you dream of in the urn?" Some of the heroes have gone off to Philly to help out Justine with a terrorist cell of the Claw . . including Truth & Dare. The Lama brings Samson back, but he's deeply distressed about his current failings. "None but the lord himself can hurt me. That's what I was promised. None but God himself could cause me harm." And the Dynamic family seem to be working in league with Captain Future. He's at one of the Dynamic's bases, and they seem to be giving him a female 'super' that they captured. As she grovels on the ground at the Captain's feet, she asks him what he wants with her. "Only what was mine to begin with. Only what was mine to begin with." Whatever that means. It just seemed like there was a whole lot of cryptic clues this issue. Not enough to really tell us anything, but enough to whet out appetite. Really, that's the only problem I have with this series. It almost seems like there's to many characters here. Just when it seems like we get to know one, 3 more are introduced to us. It's hard to keep up with them all, and it seems like we don't get much of an explanation . . or at least very detailed. After the story there's a 2-page spread about the Boy King. That seems to be the best way to get information about some of these characters. Don't get me wrong, I think Alex Ross and Jim Krueger are doing a good job with the story here. They just don't have that much space to work with. The front cover explanation page shows pictures of 18 different heroes. And, besides all the ones captured in the urn, we also find out that like Truth & Dare, there's other new ones that are following in their heroes footsteps. We just haven't meet them yet. I do however think that Edgar Salazar's art improves with every issue. There were some stunning looking panels in this book. Anyways, I guess I'll just keep plugging away at it, and hopefully it'll all become clearer.

WildCATS #14 - WildStorm

Alright, finally . . Max Faraday is back. Spartan and the rest of the WildCATS tried to take on Tao last issue. They weren't very successful. That is until Spartan took on most of Void's powers, again, and became Jack Marlowe. But really all he could do was distract Tao for a bit, while Lynch came up with another plan. He ends up getting all of them out of there, reasonably intact, but Providence has to give up her life to do so. Now they're in North Dakota. With Lynch's knowledge and Marlowe's powers, it's pretty easy for them to find Max . . when they put their minds to it. He finds Max hidden in his own reality . . a reality of endless beaches, and an endless honeymoon. He's in a resort with his wife, sister and brother-in-law. They don't even know that Armageddon has happened. And we find out that Max is beating himself up because . . when Armageddon happened, he tried to save as many people as he could. "But you don't know what it's like. How many people there are in the world. How many lives. How many souls. Big, sweeping gestures are easy. It's the small stuff that's hard. I couldn't stop it. I couldn't save everyone." So he shows them St Louis. A city that's untouched by Armageddon, and housing all of the people he could gather. Marlowe asks, "Can there really be this many people in such a small space?" Max tells him, "Sure, if you can warp space. But guys . . this is just the beginning." Whatever that means. And Tao is watching their every move. "We'll most definitely have to do something about that." I enjoyed Christos Gages story. Like I said, it was good to see Max back. Also Shawn Moll did a great job on the art. Right now this is probably my favorite WildStorm book. I love these characters. Ok . . 19 books later and I'm finally on the last of the DC books this week. And I didn't really think it was that heavy of a week. Whodathunkit? Oh well . . now I just have my 15 Marvel titles to go. Time to dig in.

Madame Xanadu #14 - Vertigo

Well this issue gives us a little more information into these 3 men . . Colin Shepherd, Abraham Fields and Richard Miller. We also find out how Nimue's memories of the past are connected to her current trials. It seems that all 3 men's families come from Spain, in the 1490's. They were Jew's living in the Catholic country during the times of the inquisitions. In order to avoid unspeakable acts committed on their families and children, then made an unholy alliance with the Cardinal. They would watch for, and report other crimes against the church. One of the families that they turned in, an Arab, had an uncle that was a powerful sorcerer. He vowed to gain vengeance on the men who hurt his family. From that point on, the three families were cursed and pursued by a demon most foul. They fled from place to place . . generation to generation, until the 3 men landed in America . . the land of hope and opportunity. Well, it appears that curse has finally caught up with them. Nimue's memories of Spain, and her lovely Marisol, are around that same time . . a few years earlier actually. So she knows what these families were subjected to . . the atrocities they were confronted with. Now she just has to figure out whether to put a stop to it, or just let the man with the dog complete his mission. I think we know which path she'll choose. Madame Xanadu, on one of her excursions, comes into contact with the Sandman this issue. Remember . . that's also a theme to this story . . bringing Nimue into the Age of Heroes. The Golden Age. Matt Wagner writes a very compelling story here. It's gruesome, but honest. And of course Michael Wm. Kaluta expertly illustrates his work. We only have 1 more issue left in this story arc . . which is sad. But then Amy Reeder Hadley returns with issue #16. I really like this book . . alot.

Billy Batson and the Magic of SHAZAM! #7 - DC

I know this book's juvenile, but . . I like it. It's a fun read. I think Art Baltazar and Franco have done a good job with the stories so far. Now we have Byron Vaughns doing the art. It looked ok. It fit the 'kid' theme of this book. I just miss Mike Hunkle's stuff. Anyways, Dr Sivana is back and he's looking for a way to take down the Big Red Cheese. He's brought one of his robots back. He's powering it with the lightning of SHAZAM!, which he's captured rather duplicitously, and he's got Tawky Tawny as the heart of the beast. I'm sure Billy and Mary can beat it, but now they're going to have to be extra careful. Anyways, all of this is occurring because SHAZAM!, the wizard back at the Rock of Eternity, is concerned because the statues of the seven deadly sins seem to be opening thier eyes ever so slightly. Which I guess means that evil is creeping out into the world. Like I said, I like this book. It's a quick read. And Captain Marvel is one of my favorite characters. Barring any other source of new material . . this is my monthly fix. Plus I think it's a book that the kids will like also.

the Last Days of Animal Man #4 - DC

Ok . . so now we know this story is set in the future. 2014 to be exact. Buddy belongs to the League of Titans, who is trying to help him reverse his power loss, and they have a base in New York Harbor. Last issue ended with Buddy in a lip-lock with Kory. Don't worry. He knows it's wrong. It was just a moment of weakness. However, he doesn't have long to dwell on it because soon Bloodrage and Prismatik attack. Bloodrage is trying to take out Buddy, while Prismatik is using Kory's powers against her. In the end though . . through the pain . . Buddy comes to a realization. "Maybe I'm no longer the man I thought I was. Maybe I'm 'only' human, with limits, going through a rough time, just like everybody else. But even if I don't have super-powers, I still have a choice. Curl up and die. Or live what's left of my life." They don't beat up the bad guys so much as knock them down long enough for them to escape. Buddy picks up the battered Kory and teleports straight to his home. Where he finds his wife and kids waiting for him. Meanwhile, Prismatik, who wants to make a name for herself, has sent out an emergency summons to the League of Titans. I think she's going to try to take them all on. I really enjoyed this story by Gerry Conway and Chris Batista. And I gotta' say, part of the reason I liked it so much is because . . take away the super-heroics and costumes . . when I turned a landmark age I have to say I felt a lot like Buddy does. I felt lost and unfocused. Unsure of whether I was the person I was supposed to be, or wanted to be. My problems weren't nearly in league with Buddy's but, I also felt despair and loneliness. Even though I had plenty of loved ones all around me. It was a hard, and emotional time. But . . like Buddy . . I just kept pushing along. Eventually I figured out . . we're who we are. We're who we made ourselves to be. In the end we can't place the blame anywhere but on our own shoulders. And no one can pick us up and pull us along but ourselves. If we don't like a decision that we've made, a path that we've chosen, then . . now is as good a day as any to do something new . . make a different choice. The only limitation is ourselves. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to jump on that emotional soap-box, but . . this story really kind of touched home with me. Thanks, Gerry.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #4 - DC

Well . . I think what happened here is . . Mark thinks he killed Diamond . . one of the Ded Boyz. And . . so do the police. However, I think it was one of his tattoos. At the time though, Mark didn't believe it because . . how could a tattoo act on it's own without him telling it what to do? Well it turns out that there's someone else in control . . a 'Mister S' . . actually, SYNck. He thinks that he's controlling the tattoos, by releasing them, but all he's really doing is allowing them to give in to their true nature. That's why K-Dan is loyal to Mark and helping him, but Altera is on her own agenda. Anyways, last issue a little girl was killed in some cross-fire and now all of Liberty Hill is up in arms. They're mad about these gangs making their home hell, but they're also mad at Mark, the Tattoed Man because he said that he would protect them. They want to know where he's at. So Mark is out there trying to make a difference, and the police have let his son Leon go. He almost gets attacked by the Ded Boyz, but Altera comes to his aid. "I'm Leon's new best friend. You're welcome. Just don't forget to tell your daddy."Anyways, the police come after him, but Mark, with K-Dan's help is like a one-man army. However, after the police are dispatched, someone else steps in to take Mark down . . SYNck. It turns out that this 'Mister S' is actually Mark's brother Devon . . his dead brother. Huh? I'm sure we'll find out more next issue. I really like this series. I think Eric Wallace has put together a great story here. I think this prepares this character to go on to other things after this. He's already an honorary member of the JLA. I also think that Fabrizio Fiorentino is doing a great job with the art. It's vibrant and colorful and fits this story perfectly. Unfortunately there's only 2 issues to go. But that's still a lot of story.

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen - Special #2 - DC

This Jimmy Olsen special is really not that much different from the last. In the last one he had just heard about Project 7734. This time he's digging into it wholeheartedly. First he asks for Mon El's help. He's sure that Jonathan Drew, Codename: Assassin, is out to kill him. He's just not sure why he hasn't done it yet. Then he finds someone on-line, a conspiracy nut, who also has information on project 7734. I liked the tie-in here to the Everyman project and Infinity Inc. It turns out the conspiracy nut is actually Erik Storn, Fury. You know, the guy that could turn into Erika. Anyways, before Jimmy could get to him/her Drew had had them a visit first. He tried to find out what he knew, but Erik didn't share the information between his 2 personalities . . in case of just such an eventuality. With no information, Drew set his house on fire and leaves him there to die. That's where Jimmy comes in. He gets Erik out of the house, but he's to far gone to save. He does however get some information from him. He puts him in contact with Natasha, John Henry's daughter. She was approached by Col Tim Zanetti, Jr. His father, Tim Sr, had been part of a military project 20 years ago . . project Breach that turned him into an atomic creature known as Breach. Tim Jr wanted to find out if he was still alive. He's not. But, Breach's origin closely parallels the actual test subject that Project 7734 has . . Nathaniel Adam, Captain Atom. Also, Tim Jr has set up Natasha with a fake military ID, and she is now working undercover inside of Project 7734. This issue Jimmy finally learns that the leaders name is General Lane. Jimmy meets her in a library in River City. She's scared of Metropolis right now. However, as he leaves . . Drew is outside waiting for him. Jimmy tries to reach Mon El, but apparently this is right after his attack in the subways. He's presumed dead. There's some pursuit around town, but the issue ends with Jimmy on the pier, and Drew putting 2 bullets in his chest. He falls into the water, and the story is titled . . the Death of Jimmy Olsen. James Robinson does another fantastic job here. This Codename: Patriot story-line is really heating up. Plus, we're not sure yet what Atlas has done to John Henry. Is he dead? I thought this was a great issue. Bernard Chang provides the art. I thought all 38 pages looked great.

Batman - the Widening Gyre #1 - DC

Unfortunately, DC's mini-series have also gone up to $3.99 per issue. But . . in this instance at least, we get 40 pages of art. Actually, 45 counting the Superman preview. So . . I guess it's not all bad. Plus, we get this beautiful Bill Sienkiewicz cover. I'm thrilled to see he's doing regular work again. He's been popping up all over the DC for the last year or 2. Anyways, this is another Batman mini-series by Kevin Smith. You know . . Bob, of Jay & Silent Bob? Anyways, he's proven himself to be a fantastic writer, and this is the beginning of another 6 issue adventure of his. There's a focus this issue on the relationship between Bruce and Dick. I'm not sure what the importance of that is to this story, but . . this is just the set-up issue, so I'm sure we'll find out. Our story is set in Arkham. Batman thinks that Pamela has taken the place hostage, but upon entering, and working his way to her, he finds out that she's actually trying to build a defense. A defense against the Demon. This all starts with a college student that Dick finds dead. He's got branches and limbs protruding from every orifice on his body. Obviously Ivy's work. It turns out that he was the bag-man for Ivy, taking a tonic she created to Jason regularly to keep his demon self sedated. Obviously, it didn't work as advertised. Anyways, in trying to save Ivy Batman gets pummelled mercilessly by the Demon. He believes he's on death's door. That is until someone new shows up. Some guy, dressed in an Anubis kind of mask and cape, has dumped 2 gallons of holy-water on the Demon from the roof. "I'd have been here sooner, but it was hell finding a stew pot in the rectory kitchen. Pun intended. You're good down there now thought . . right? 'Course you are. You're the original bad-ass." We see Bruce's badly beaten face and he thinks . . "Hmm. New guy. The player to be named later." Overall I thought it was a fantastic first issue. I'm not a huge fan of Walter Flanagan's art, but . . I thought his style fit this story very well. Plus . . when Ivy's hanging in the courtyard . . she looks . . HOT! "Y'know what I've always liked about you, Batman? I mean aside from your rock-hard abs, and what I'm sure is a tireless tongue? You never call me by my slave name. Mmmmm . . you know what gynoecium is, Batman? Well my gynoecium's on fire for you right now. How 'bout it, Bats? Wanna commune with nature?" That's the other thing I like about Kevin's work . . his sense of humor. I thought this was a great start to this series.

Gotham City Sirens #3 - DC

This book is growing on me real fast. Of course it doesn't hurt that Scott Lobdell is writing some great stories here. We're only on issue #3 and already Scott seems to have a fantastic grasp of these characters. This issue is actually spent mostly following Edward Nigma. There's been some seeming suicides lately in town, but Edward is starting to see a connection between them. Specifically that there's clues being left to their next crime . . much in the way he used to. We get to see a little interaction between him and Batman, Dick. And Edward is sensing that there's something different about him. But he's willing to play along. It turns out there's a new Riddler in town and she calls herself Conundrum. There's actually 3 people in the group, and again their being directed by somebody else. We don't know who that is . . yet. Anyways, Edward and Dick work together to bring him down, and we see that these guys' relationship is off on much the same note as it was with Bruce. Meanwhile, Selina and Ivy spend most of the issue looking for Harley. It's not like she hasn't disappeared before, but . . this time they think there's some foul play involved. On the final page, Dick and then Selina find out that she's been spotted around town with Bruce. Whom we know to be Thomas Elliott. And after what Selina and her cohorts put Hush through . . this can't be anything good for Harley. Like I said, I really enjoyed the story. I also thought Guillem March's pencils were cool. He's got a different kind of style to him which I thought fit quite well with this title. I don't know that I particularly like the way he portrays Batman, but . . he does a beautiful job with the women. And since that's what this book is about . . he's in the perfect spot. I think this is going to be a good title to follow.

Justice Society of America #30 - DC

I have to say . . when I first heard that Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges would be taking over the writing chores on this book . . I was a bit concerned. I mean . . Bill's an amazing talent, but . . sometimes he's a bit out there. And after reading their collaboration on Jack of Fables, well . . I was just concerned. Don't get me wrong, that's a good book, but . . sometimes it seems like it's been written during a fever-dream. Anyways, it seems like they're taking a more serious approach to this book, and it's stories. I thought this issue was fantastic. Last issue all of the JSA were drawn out by what they thought was 1 lone villain, when actually it was a legion. They're all taken down because of their overconfidence, and the villains were given specific targets . . except for Jay and Stargirl. For some reason they're not allowed to touch her. So when only she and Jay are left, when he runs off is search of help, she takes advantage of this twisted chivalry and starts taking out the villains one at a time. Why not? She's allowed to touch them. Anyways, Jay brings back Fate, but . . of course it's this new guy and he doesn't really know what he's doing. But . . he fakes it. And none of them are prepared . . "None of us were trained to deal with a god-level power like Doctor Fate! I never agreed to this!" The way he fakes it through the whole scene was actually pretty funny. Anyways, I think all of this is to show the rift that's growing in the ranks of the JSA. Magog, and several others, feel that their fights and attacks should be more military in nature . . more structured. They should have a definite protocol or procedure when it comes to a situation like this. And it's definitely beginning to cause a rift in the ranks. Especially when they return to the mansion only to find Mr Terrific on the brink of death. The differences in opinion reach a fevered pitch when Ted and Magog start fighting. Anyways, they've figured out that this attack actually started with the problem with Obsidian. Whoever is behind this had to take him out first so that they would have access to the house. Now they just have to figure out who's behind it all . . and save Michael. Along with how much I enjoyed the story . . I equally enjoyed Jesus Merino's pencils. That was my other concern. I'd really gotten used to Dale Eaglesham's art. Jesus' style is different, but it grows on you real fast. There were some fantastic looking panels in this book. I think the future of this book looks fantastic. I'm just wondering who's going to be on which side of this rift . . and how it's going to affect the team . . overall.

Detective Comics #856 - DC

Last issue Kate came face to face with the new High Madame of the Crime Bible, Alice. However, the issue ended when it looked like they were being attacked by . . Werewolves. As it turns out they're actually a group of meta-morphs from the previous faction of the religion that don't agree with what Madame Alice is trying to accomplish here. So they're actually trying to save Kate and her father. The reason they don't agree with it anymore is because the prophecy of Kate's death didn't come true. "The prophecy said Batwoman had to die for the new world to rise. It gave the time and place . . yet here you are. So the prophecy was wrong. Which means you're supposed to live." Plus they just think that Alice is off her nut. He also tells Kate that Alice isn't there for her. She's there for Gotham. "This is Sodom and Gomorrah to them, and that makes it their Vatican city. Their Mecca, their Jerusalem. She wants to succeed where he failed. Mannheim tried to destroy Gotham." However we still don't know what they mean when they call Kate the 'twice named'. Unless . . it's just so simple . . Kate and Batwoman? But why would that make her important to them. All answers for the future, I guess. They spend most of the issue at a gala in Gotham, until her father is called away. Unfortunately, it looks like it was a trap setup by Alice. The issue ends with her having attacked . . or killed(?), the group of men and Kate finds out that she's got them. I thought it was a great story by Greg Rucka. And JH Williams III's art was simply incredible. All his scenes with Batwoman and Alice were of the psychedelic kind of style that he used with Promethea. The visuals and colors were incredible. I also enjoyed his new style that he uses on the scenes with Kate. Overall it provides an interesting contrast between the 2 factions of her personality. Then on the back-up story we see Renee in action as the Question. The gang has captured her, given her drugs and dumped her in the river . . in the trunk of a car. Of course she gets out and goes after one of their thugs. She finds out that this 'ring' . . these traffickers in human misery . . particularly women, is much bigger and more far reaching than she realized. The story ends when she's shot, but . . they're really after the guy that's feeding her information. His life is forfeit. I'm glad to see Renee again. I really think they need to do more with her character. This chapter is brought to us by Greg and Cully Hamner. Overall . . a fantastic issue of Detective.

Teen Titans #74 - DC

This story has been building for a couple of issues. We knew that a Titan was about to die . . we just didn't know who. As it turns out . . it was Eddie. Not a complete surprise there. It was kind of touching though how he stood up for his team, when no one else was there to handle it but him. Also it was ironic that a boy named Kid Devil died in a blaze of fire. Hmmm . . ironic? Or serendipity? Only the future will tell. Anyways, the rest of the team was fighting the new Fearsome Five. The Calculator has sicked them on the Titans because of what happened to his son and daughter . . Wendy and Marvin. Although the Titans don't know this yet. The Titans end up beating them rather soundly. Mostly due to the magical effort of Traci 13, and then the fury of Cassie after she realizes what's happened to Eddie. Later Aquagirl comes on to Jaime. We also see another decisive moment in the future of the team. After Eddie's funeral Cassie has decided to call it quits. She's tired of friends dying, and she doesn't know that she's fit for this role. However, Bombshell ends up talking her out of it. "Someone did this to us. Maybe it's time we started learning from our mistakes . . instead of running away from them." The next morning she gives the rest of the team a little speech . ."This isn't a right. It's a privilege. We aren't a club. We're a team. And Eddie knew that. We aren't children anymore. We're heroes. It's about time we started acting that way." The story ends with a view of the Calculator. He's got Kid Eternity as a hostage. Why? It appears he wants to spend a little time with Marvin. I think Bryan Q Miller is going to be an excellent addition to this book. It seems like they've finally hit bottom, and are on their way to climbing back up. I also enjoyed Joe Bennett's art. In the back-up feature Ravager finds out the price for stumbling into some shady deals. When she stumbled into this bar, literally, she didn't realize that the guy she started talking to was a crime-boss, Will. She just thought he was a nice guy. But I guess he was talking to her to find out how much she knew, and if she, or the Titans, were interested in his operation. Whatever that may be. We still don't know what's going on, all we know is that he's willing to send everything he's got after her. She ends up in the bottom of a frozen lake. I'm sure she'll survive, but the bad guys think she's dead. It's an interesting story, and it's nice to see that she's actually trying to not be like her dad. Sean McKeever and Yildiray Cinar provide the talent. Overall I thought it was a decent issue. Like I said, it looks like we're heading in the right direction. We still don't see Bart or Connor yet. I wonder when they'll show up? On a completely different note, I noticed that at Mile High Comics they have the last 20 or so issues in this series listed at $1.25. That's good for anyone interested in getting them. But it's bad for people who already paid cover . . like me.

Batman and Robin #3 - DC

The stories that Grant Morrison writes are amazing. They're filled with subtleties and nuances that no one else would ever think of. Sure, sometimes they're a little out there . . Professor Pyg's rant in this book was, at the least, disturbing. But, I just think, that's the way Grant's mind works. It's all part of the process . . the genius. Anyways, we find out that Professor Pyg was actually Lazlo Valentin, a circus 'boss'. "He becomes Pyg, financing his experiments by selling next generation narcotics to small-time Russian gangsters. He invented an addictive identity-destroying drug int he form of a virus. The gangs were using it to control women. Until Pyg finally realized the potential of what he'd created. Infect the city. Hold it ransom. Revolutionize the drug trade." However, Robin makes a couple of mistakes this issue. First of all, he went looking for the circus without doing his research. That's how he got jumped and taken hostage. Secondly, he has a chance to save a girl, but instead decides to go after Pyg for what he's done to him and these people. At the end of this issue we find out that girl survived, but she starts to freak out in the hospital . . already feeling betrayed because Robin didn't keep his promise of protecting her. She's trying to escape when she is confronted by the new Red Hood. "You need a friend, right? And me, I'm looking for a partner to help me wipe the vomit off the face of Gotham once and for all. You have anything else planned? Well?" The story all wraps up rather neatly, but . . there's still some threads hanging out there. Professor Pyg isn't down yet. In fact this may have all just been the start to something bigger. Batman & Robin have found, and are going after Le Bossu. "He was part of the criminal cabal that took down your dad and tried to lobotomize me. So this time it's personal." And it appears that Alfred, or maybe just the Wayne Foundation, has somebody watching them. All we see are feet on a carapace across the block. So . . we'll be starting the Red Hood storyline next issue, but . . I have a feeling this one is far from over. I also thoroughly enjoyed Frank Quitely's art. The scene of Batman dragging the pyro-guy through the streets trying to get information was pretty cool. This book seems to have more of a Dark Knight feel to it. At least I think so. Anyways, I really enjoyed it and can't wait for the next installment. I even liked Damian in this one.

Blackest Night: Titans #1 - DC

Ok, this is another book that I couldn't wait to read. Actually, we start out this week really strong with 6 or 7 really good books. Also, it's going to be a busy week as I have 34 titles in all. I'm going to try my best to get this done by next Wednesday, but . . we'll see. What about that cover? Is that fantastic, or what? The only thing better would've been for Gar to have his hand on her butt. That would've been awesome! Anyways, with the Titans, there's just so many possibilities for the Reunion Tour. The issue starts out with Heroes Day in San Francisco, and all of the Titans have gathered to remember their fallen. Most have statues, but some don't . . like Terry and Robert, Donna's husband and son. Although that does raise a question . . in this incarnation she can remember her last? I don't know. That's all still a bit confusing to me. Anyways, various heroes come back to visit various team-mates but the majority of this story is spent on Hank Hall coming back to terrorize the new Hawk & Dove, Holly and Dawn. I thought it was interesting that when they showed Hank's resurrection, the Black Rings couldn't really get a handle on Don, the original Dove. They sensed that he was dead, but it was like it couldn't quite reach him or something. It's kind of the same when Hank is fighting them. He and Holly go at it head on, but when it comes to Dawn . . he can't touch her unless she lets him. As I said with Laira in GL #45, Dawn might be an important piece in this whole thing. We'll have to keep an eye on her. In the end, Hank does knock her out, when she's trying to protect Holly, but he's really here for Hawk. On the final page it looks like he rips her heart out. There's also other scenes. Like the cover, Gar thinks that Tara is back, but it turns out that it's really Lilith, and Tara, playing a trick on him. However, Vic and Kory are the ones that make the discovery. Also Donna sees her sons bassinet in her bedroom. I thought JT Krul did a pretty decent job with this story. Although, it was a bit predictable. Some writers are like boxers . . they telegraph their punches long before they actually make them. That's kind of how this story felt to me. The beginning pages were touching, and informative, but . . from them you could see what was going to happen. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the story. There were a few surprises in here . . the reaction by the Black energy to both the Doves . . and Lilith. And I thought Ed Benes did a fantastic job with the art. Overall I really enjoyed the book. I can't wait to see who else is coming back. Even if it is to try to kill them.

Superman #691 - DC

Personally . . I think General Lane has made a mistake this issue. First Supergirl has led Mon El on a merry chase, only to walk into a trap with Nightwing & Flamebird. They beat the snot out of him, but it's not really them. Actually it's Mirabai, Reactron and Metallo. Apparently Mirabai is some kind of magical being, from a magical dimension, that has struck a deal with General Lane. All we know right now is that she's agreed to help him as long as he helps her. I have a feeling that arrangement is going to become stressed. I'm sure the General is more concerned about his own agenda than that of Mirabai's. Anyways, they get the whole smack-down on video as it happens in the sewers of Metropolis. Then they also have a bomb planted there. The General's accomplices escape, but leave Mon El there as the bomb explodes. They're trying to make the whole thing look like it was done by Kryptonian terrorists. Meanwhile, Superman has been chasing Ral-Dar as he flies towards Markovia. While in the General's base, he convinced him that the President was going to Markovia to sign a war-treaty and make plans to attack New Krypton. As Superman wrestles with him in the air directly over the air-base, Ral-Dar tells him this. Superman probably could've de-escalated this, but . . then General Lane and his anti-Krypton army show up. They try to blast him out of the sky, but now Superman has to return to Krypton because Ral-Dar is seriously hurt. Plus, he's called back by Alura. But this is where I think the General made his mistake. He shouldn't have shown his hand yet. Up till now he's still been working behind the scenes. Now however, he's drawn the attention of Superman, the world and more importantly his daughter . . Lois. As Superman flies through the atmosphere, he picks up transmissions from the satellites. They're all mostly speculation about what this was all about. Right now it appears to be all bad . . for the Kryptonians. I think James Robinson is doing a great job with this story. You can feel Superman's frustration. Also Renato Guedes art is finally starting to grow on me . . after all this time. I thought overall it was a great installment of this Codename: Patriot story-line. I like it when all the Superman books work together like this.

Wonder Woman #35 - DC

First of all, I think that the teaming up of Diana and Dinah is brilliant. They play off of each other perfectly and they truly are some hot fem-fatales. Now, when you marry that with the phenomenal writing of Gail Simone . . . I kinda' wish this team would go on and on. I absolutely love Gail's sense of humor. She puts just the right amount in her stories. It's not over the top, and it keeps the pace of the story flowing smoothly. Truly, a fantastic job. And then . . on top of all that . . we get the eye-popping art of Aaron Lopresti? What more could you ask for. Of course you know the girls are in Japan trying to retrieve Sarge Steel, so that they can get Dr Psycho to switch their bodies back. Anyways, in-between bouts at Roulette's arena, they're walking around town relaxing and sight-seeing. So they walk into this toy store, and our opening page is this Manga type picture of a Wonder Woman action figure. It's beautiful and funny at the same time. They're marveling at all the various toy portrayals of each other when Dinah says, "If my mother had seen the unapproved variant edition collector's resin kit . . she'd slap my face." And they can't believe how many different Power Girls they have. I'm sorry. It wasn't an important scene . . it was just funny. Anyways, the girls subterfuge goes along swimmingly until Pele, the Goddess of Violence shows up in the ring to fight. She's Kane Milohai's daughter. The one that Zeus stole his heart to give it to Achilles . . his new champion. So she feels that it's because of Diana that she lost her father. And she's pissed. Pele and Diana's spirit go back to the island where she lives . . I believe it's in a different dimension. Anyways, Pele kicks the snot out of her until Diana finally finds the moment to reason with her. On bended knee she says, "I am sorry. My vow to him . . now passes to you. What amends would you have me make?" There's some terrible promise made between them, but . . we don't know what that is. Yet. It should pose an interesting angle for a future story-line. So the girls get Steel . . trapped in Psycho's body, and take him back to have them revert. And in the end, Diana finally gets some time to go see Tom. However . . on the final page, he breaks up with her. What is he . . nuts? She comes back beaten and battered . . offers to shower with him to clean up . . and he breaks up with her? Ok! Apparently whatever happened during Escape has warped his perceptions . . or his manhood! The guys nuts! We have got to find out what his deal is. This book is fantastic. As you can tell . . I love everything about it. But now I have to wait 4 weeks. Bummer!

Wednesday Comics #8 - DC

I'm getting into these stories more . . I love the art on most of them, but I don't get what the big draw is. I mean . . I know it's an experiment . . I know it's something different, but . . I don't think it's so fantastic that my shop should keep selling out of them. They're already doing 2nd prints of #1 & #2. The only thing I can think is that most shop owners underestimated their appeal. With lower orders, they're probably on smaller print runs. That would make them more collectible. Plus it's on this cheap newspaper print, so once they've been read, it's probably hard to find many in NM condition. My guy told me that sales started out very slow weeks 1 and 2, but then after that people started going back for what was left. He sold out of week 1 in the 3rd week, but then he's been selling out ever since. Crazy! Oh yeah, there's also about 30 people listing them on E-Bay right now. Anyways, on the Batman story Hardy Stone was arrested last issue, but he's out of jail already. And Batman follows him straight to . . Luna. Kamandi is still on his way to Shintun with Dr Canus and the girl they found. They're trying to get Tuftan and his father released from the Apes. Along the way they pick up an army of Lions. I believe Superman has started to figure out who these aliens are. He's come to the realization that he's intimately connected to these people on Earth . . as he races to try to save Ma & Pa. But as he's tackled to the ground by one of the aliens, he says . . "I got you!" Deadman, I think, is being seduced by Julianna, one of the girls captured by this demon, Kalak. He frees them from captivity be releasing a rune-stone, but they still have to go past Kalak to get out. But something just doesn't seem right. Green Lantern starts to get through to Dill a little bit. He shows him who he is and it startles him enough that he breaks his grip. Now all he has to do is crack his shell with his ring. Rex and Rainy chase after Algon, the ancient elemental, and as they do they shift from element to element and we're given a science lesson in the form of the Periodic Table. The Titans have come to face Triton in their old headquarters . . the cave. But it's a trap. As each member counters up with an enemy, Robin is left alone with Triton. He's scared, but he's trying to save Blue Beetle. We don't see Adam Strange this issue, but Alanna has gone to talk to Prince Zotar of the Northern Rock People. They decide to ally with each other to fight against Korgo who is trying to steal the Zeta-beam. Supergirl has gone to Doctor Mid-Nite to try to find out what's wrong with Krypto and Streaky. I don't think he's making much headway, until they both act out and attack his owl. The Metal Men are still fighting Chemo, but in doing so they've cracked his shell. Pretorius informs them that he's about to go Nuclear and take the entire city with him. Wonder Woman gets the Golden Lasso from some rather large wolf in her dreams, one of the Seven Stars, but she's also given a warning, "The thread does give you control, but . . perhaps not as you think." Sgt Rock tries to escape with the photographer, but he comes across some Nazi's who have gained advantage of the situation. Flash . . or rather, all the Flashes . .have worked together to tear apart this gravity field they've discovered by making a million tiny black holes. However, upon completion, I think they're all blinking out of existence as they develop nose bleeds and writhe in agony. Morgaine looks like she's about to gain Selina's body as her own, and there's nothing Jason Blood can do about it. Meanwhile, Hawkman . . now stuck on Dinosaur Island . . has called the JLA for help, but there's no one available. They're all still fighting the alien invasion. However . . Aquaman is free, so he's on his way to help. Overall I thought it was a pretty decent issue. Not enough information in each installment for me, but . . I'm getting used to it. Finally! However . . there's only 4 issues to go.