Saturday, October 31, 2009

Smallville - Crossfire - Season 9 Episode 6 - CW

Once again this episode it seems like most of the attention focus' on Ollie. So why the picture at the right? Well . . we'll get to that later. Last episode Chloe helped Ollie overcome his downward spiral. She really put him through hell. But, in the end, he realized how much he still savored life, and renewed his appreciation for his friends, his 'gift' and his heroic ideals. So he decides to use that lust for life to help another. His intended target? A street girl named Mia. He sees her in a 'fight-club'. She's a good fighter, but . . she's under the thumb of a major street-urchin. In the comic book, this would be Speedy. Most of the episode is spent on them building their relationship and trust. However, while this is going on, Clark is trying to figure out how to balance his new-found feelings for Lois, with his sense of responsibility for Metropolis and the world. The good news is, with Ollie's revival last episode . . he's no longer in the fight alone. During all of this, Tess introduces her plans for a new solar-powered skyscraper in Metropolis. Luthorcorp is in league with RAO on this project. Basically, it's a self-sustaining building that would generate enough power from the sun to power all of Metropolis. What she doesn't know, until the unveiling, is that Zod is the man behind RAO. She also doesn't know that Rao is a Kryptonian god. Which is probably how Zod chose the name. I'm guessing that the link to the solar power is also a bid for Zod and his people to obtain their powers . . 'The powers that we were promised, but have as yet eluded us.' Anyways, Lois drags Clark into this interview for a morning talk-show, and they have to set up faux-dates for their interview story. Lois' ends up being with Ollie. When Clark sees them together, plus when he has to save them from Mia's gun wielding pimp . . he gets jealous. Kind of. They're both his friends, and he wants them to be happy. So he doesn't want his feelings to get in the way. What he doesn't know is that Lois has pledged her undying . . . friendship to Ollie. She's feeling those same feelings for Clark, as is he, and I think she also wants to explore it. Anyways, the episode ends with Clark talking to her in the bullpen, and . . he finally kisses her. The spark has been lit. The good thing about this show . . there's enough characters here that this isn't going to turn in to Lois & Clark. I liked that show. At the time. But that's not what I expect here. There's enough stuff coming down the pike this season that I think their relationship will be building slowly. At least I hope so. And please . . no big 'reveals' this season. Anymore, it seems like everybody knows Clark's secret. Anyways, great show. I watch it every week. Obviously! I can't believe we're almost half way through the season already. Where does the time go?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Secret Warriors #9 - Marvel

I try my darnedest to stay away from all of the Dark Reign companion books, but . . it looks like I'll probably have to pick up the one for this book . . the List. Unfortunately, with a story like this, there's probably to much information in that issue for me to pass up. Last issue Norman Osborn and HAMMER had Nick Fury's team cornered in secret base #20 . . Homerun. Eden is trying to open a portal so that they can get out, but in all the confusion below he got turned around and he can't port blind. So now he, JT and Alex are trying to make their way to the roof to get out. However, once they open the door they find Norman and his Avengers waiting for them. Including Alex's father, Ares. Eden gets the portal open but . . Ares gets his axe caught in it, and they end leading HAMMER right to secret base #22, Inside Straight. That causes the base to initiate 'Fury Protocol 12'. Which includes a data purge and self destruction. They got 5 minutes to get all of their team members out. Luckily they're also a replication facility, so to add to the confusion . . they activate all the LMD's. There's 2 stand-out moments in this fight. The first is when Jerry stands up to Ares. He actually holds his own. Secondly, Yo-Yo gives Bullseye a severe beat-down. Jerry has to pull her off of him. Of course they escape, to Fury base #17 . . the Cocoon. But they get out at the last second, so they bring the base down on top of all the HAMMER agents still in it. Eden tries to console Alex for the loss of his father. 'He's the God of War, Eden. It would take more than a building blowing up to kill him. This isn't going to be over until the day he and I come to an understanding. And that day is coming soon.' While all of this is going on, Nick and John Garrett are playing some kind of game with the US Government. Specifically with the Treasury Dept and a Mister Waters. Waters thinks he's controlling the board and knows everything about Garrett and what he and Nick may be up to. But I get the feeling that's what Nick wants him to think. Nick is proving that he's the master tactician. It looks like everything is going to hit the fan . . soon! Jonathan Hickman is doing a great job with this book. I really like his attention to detail, and how he's balancing out the focus on all of these characters. Plus I'm just happy to see Nick, and SHIELD . . in some form or another . . back up and at it again. Even if it is a pretty small group . . right now. Alessandro Vitti does the art. I like this book. I like the characters, and I like the premise. Plus . . it's got a ton of potential. What more could you ask for?

HULK #16 - Marvel

At the end of last issue . . the Red She-Hulk shows up with Domino's gun and Elektra's sai. First of all . . what do we call her? ReSHULK? ReSHULK and RULK . . what a pair. It sounds like some kine of Afghanistan punk rock band, or something. Or maybe a Russian talk-show. Anyways, we have no idea where she came from . . nor does Rulk, but . . she does seem to be here to help him. Or, I guess I should say . . it seems like she's there at the behest of whomever they're both working for. Probably to assess and contain the problem. Through this . . we figure out another clue to the Rulk's identity. He's not Doc Samson. Actually, if we listen to the banter between ReSHULK and RULK, I think we'll find some clues in there. But I'm not sure what they are. Apparently he considers himself a master strategist, and the way he's behaved lately is demeaning to him and what he holds important. 'I was given a gift of enormous power. Instead of harboring it, I indulged myself smashing things with the same mindless forethought as . . Banner. Weakness can't be taught. It's a flaw of character. I've been blind to my current situation. I could never have anticipated the introduction of Red She-Hulk. She is a major distraction. They exploited my strength and used it as my weakness. The people I've allied myself with may be many things . . but everything they do is for a specific reason. There is a traitor right here. Someone I trusted. Doc Samson.' I know that doesn't tell us alot, but . . it tells us something. I'm just not sure what it is. Plus, in the RULK's narrative this issue, he goes over a story about his father teaching him a lesson about cigarette's. In the story, after he throws up, his father tells him that the lesson wasn't about the smoking . . 'He wanted to teach me that anything in excess would make we weaker.' Anyways . . it seems like I've heard that story somewhere before. The issue ends with RULK on his knees, and the group that he put together to go after Domino . . minus Elektra, but adding in ReSHULK . . is led to his location by Samson. It looks like his intent is to kill him. I'm still amazed that Jeph Loeb has gone this long without giving up the RULK's identity. I'm sure he's got subtle clews strewn throughout these books, but . . we're oblivious without knowing what he's hinting at. I'm a huge fan of Ian Churchill, and I'm glad that he's done the last couple of issues. But, he's using a style that's more like Ed McGuinness' than his own. Which is fine. He's trying to keep the book consistent. But I'd really like to see his take on these characters. Anyways, I like this book, and I love these characters. I just wish I knew what the hell was going on.

Ultimate Comics Armor Wars #2 - Marvel

I'll tell you what . . Warren Ellis writes one hell of a story. My only question is . . with the events transpiring in Ultimate Avengers . . does Tony not know what's going on there? And in that book, his brother, Gregory, and Nick seem to think of him as a fall-down drunk. It appears that after the 'Ultimate-wave', Tony has reformed. Or at least settled down for the time being. But, right now he has bigger concerns. Right now he looking into figuring out who seems to be who is pirating all of his Stark-tech. Last issue he ran into Justine Hammer, his dead rivals daughter. At first he wasn't overly concerned with her, until he found out that she's dying . . because of her father's machinations. He offers to help. In return . . she fills him in on what's been happening on the black market with all of his abandoned equipment. Their first stop? Prague. They're after a Doctor Faustus, who seems to be brokering everything in Europe. Of course on the way over they end up sleeping together. When they go to meet the man they find his bodyguards retrofitted with pieces and parts of Stark-tech. It seems at best experimental surgeries. When Tony gets mad and decides to put a stop to it all, we find out that Dr Faustus is actually MODOK. Apparently he had a problem with ' . . there was an accident with an ill-understood derivation of Richards transdimensional wells, and . .' now MODOK is the size of an action figure and lives within the empty vessel that is the framework of Dr Faustus. But he gives him a name . . Bram Velsing. Apparently he bought Stark's entire data package from Faustus in return for funding his unique medical needs. Anyways, he lives in a place that looks like Dracula's castle. When Tony launches his assault, he's met by Velsing and he's wearing what appears to be an adapted form of Tony's armor. Tony's not amused and the 2 armored men begin slugging it out. It kind of looks like a scene from Transformers or something. As with any story by Warren, this one if filled with lots of unique and original ideas. I can't wait to see what else comes out of this series. Maybe we'll finally get an Ultimate Iron Man book out of this one. There's been what . . 3 mini-series now . . I think? I think it's about time they explored this character in the Ultimate Universe a bit more. Especially since he's not a part of the Avengers / Ultimates anymore. Anyways, this was a great book. Fantastic story, and great artwork by Steve Kurth.

Fantastic Four #572 - Marvel

Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham are doing a 'Fantastic' job with this book. In this 'Solve Everything' storyline, Reed has joined a group of like-minded individuals, literally, in trying to solve Earth's problems. But now just this Earth . . all the Earths. Reeds from every dimension have gathered in this special place to try to fix all of existence's problems. What they hadn't considered, or maybe they did and just ignored it, is that the universe has a plan . . ultimately. It may not always seem like it, but . . there appears to be a set and desired course of action. Having messed with these cosmic plans, one of the various Earth's Celestials decide that it's time to put a stop to this travesty. They come in and strike at the base of the Reeds operations, and take out a lot of them in the process. Our Reed is one of the ones tasked with returning through his door and bringing some weapons back for them to launch an assault. As he goes through the door, one of the Celestials reach for him . . the door takes off his hand. I wonder what Reed's going to do with that. Anyways, he returns and they seem to route the Celestials, but . . in the process Reed learns what the price is for fixing everything. The Reed that the Celestials turned tells him, 'Friends? Family? No one here has those things anymore. We gave all that up for the greater good. The cost of solving everything is everything. How can we think about little things like our personal lives when the fate of all we know lies in the balance? All you will have left is this.' Reed contemplates his brother's words, but ultimately . . he falls back on what his father told him. In a flashback he's apologizing to Reed for the life they've led. And he tells him, 'When you grow up, I expect more. Son . . I expect better. I want you to be a better friend than I was. Be a better husband. Be a better father. Reed . . be a better man!' And it looks like . . for now . . that's what he's chosen. Anyways, while all of this was happening, Johnny and Ben have departed for their Nu-World adventure. But it'll be interesting to see how that world has changed after the Marquis of Death's visit during Mark Millar's run. Also . . the boys don't know it, but . . they have some tag-alongs. Franklin and Valeria have decided to hitch a ride with their favorite uncles. I don't see this ending well, but . . that story continues next issue. Anyways, I think Jonathan and Dale did a fantastic job with their first story-arc here. In the end it's not really resolved, but . . for now it's on the back-burner. I wonder what'll happen when it pops up again? In short . . I love this book. I look forward to it every month. Fan-frikkin-tastic!!

Avengers the Initiative #29 - Marvel

I continue to like this book. I think because it doesn't fit into any defined definitions, as do the other Avenger books. Right now Norman is in control of the Initiative. But . . as we've seen right from the beginning, it doesn't seem like anyone stays in control of this beast for long. Even now it seems like Norman's grasp is tenuous at best. Last issue he capture Night-Thrasher. This issue he's trying to keep Donyell around by promising him to return his brother Dwayne to him. Well, actually . . the good Doctor has cloned him, and the Hood is supposed to be able to return his soul. Tigra goes after some more members of the Brother's Grimm, but . . they've decided to be proactive and lay a trap for her. Not that it matters much. She still gets the upper hand. But she's not after revenge this time. This time she wants information on where Norman is keeping Thrasher, and she wants security information about Camp HAMMER. But before she can get any info, or hurt them to much, Komodo arrives in her human form. She wants to join the resistance. Since Norman took her powers away, with the spin-tech, she can't transform. But she does have information and knows the layout of the camp. Cloud 9 gets disciplined for not taking the kill-shot with Night-Thrasher last issue. I guess she's getting . . demoted. It looks like Constrictor and Diamondback are going to have a little tryst. They're all fighting a new group called RAID, at the Baltimore-Washington Airport when their fight puts a landing plane and it's passengers in jeopardy. It looks like the skidding plane is going to roll right over Diamondback, when . . Constrictor stops it. He saved her life, and those of the passengers. I think this guy is going to change. He seems genuinely moved when one of the passengers kids thanks him for saving his daddy's life. He and Diamondback have a little 'exchange', and later when camp HAMMER is attacked by the New Warriors, we see them in bed together. He tells her to ignore the alarm. But the attack may be in vain . . for a couple of reasons. First of all, Taskmaster and the Hood are trying to ferret out their mole so they've been feeding Komodo and Cloud 9 false information. Komodo is trying to help this group, but . . she may be leading them into an attack. Secondly, with the fate of his brother at stake . . I don't know that Donyell is going to want their help. And finally, through all of this, Trauma has been trying to help Penance . . but he also has to do what Taskmaster has order . . 'keep him screwed up'. It seems like he's reaching his breaking point. He's tired of having to do this to this guy. And the stress is really getting to him. On the final page we see that Nightmare has used him to once again enter our world. I'm not saying that this will necessarily be bad for the New Warriors. I don't know that Nightmare has any choice of 'sides'. But . . I don't think that this series of events is going to be good for anybody . . New Warriors, or Initiative. This may be the wrench that finally tears everything apart. I guess we'll find out next issue. Christos Gage has done a great job with this book. I was certain this book would be cancelled somewhere about 15 issues ago. But . . it's hanging on. I don't know what will happen after Norman gets done with it, but . . I think, at least, it'll still be around in some form or another for us to find out. At least I hope so. Jorge Molina does the pencils this issue.

the New Avengers #58 - Marvel

This issue picks up immediately after Luke collapses, turning himself over to Iron Patriot and his Avengers. They try to gather up the rest of the Avengers, whom they know to be in the building, but . . I think they've bitten off a little more than they can chew. This is a pretty desperate crew now. They don't have much else to lose. Norman decides to go after Carol. On his own? She makes pretty short work of him. I love the exchange between the Night Nurse and Moonstar. It's brilliant. And then, in the sewers, Daken Bullseye and Gargan are trying to go after some of the Avengers who are fleeing the building . . through the muck. They seem to be getting away, until they decide to take a crack at their pursuers. It's hilarious when Daken is trying to sniff them out and then gets cracked square in the face by Cap's shield. Cap wants to retreat, but . . they started this fight. Norman's Avengers aren't just going to let them take their leave now. It seems that they're about to lose, until Cap shoots Ares square in the face with his Luger. He goes down, but . . he soon pulls himself up. 'Impressive!' Anyways, the Hood has finally made it back to his hideout with Madame Masque. This is when he learns that Doctor Jonas Harrow and most of his gang defecting. And, we don't know what the Asgardian Norn Stones have done for him . . yet! On the SHIELD helicarrier, Norman's got some guys working on trying to fix up Luke. But there's nothing they can do until they get Doctor Harrow and the power-dampner on board. Which they do . . eventually, but the issue ends with him going under the knife. We don't know what his final fate will be. And, when the Avenger's finally return to Cap's apartment, Jessica learns what happened of her husband . . and where he's at. She busts out of the building, ready to go save him, but Carol talks her down. 'Jessica, I promise you . . we have a plan.' But . . we won't find out what that is until next issue. We got a lot of action in this issue. And it seems like Brian Bendis moved all the storylines ahead just a bit. But . . we still have a lot of questions too. I worry about the future of this team. It seems like they get more raggedy every issue. However I assume . . I trust . . that Brian has a plan. It just hasn't all played out yet. Stuart Immonen does the pencils this issue. He does a great job. It would be nice if he could stick around for a while. Anyways, overall I liked the book. I don't really like the Hood character, but . . he's part of the story. What can I do? I just hope these guys catch a break sometime soon. I'm rooting for them.

Ultimate Comics Avengers #003 - Marvel

In this issue we meet the new Ultimates team . . I'm sorry, I guess they're called the Avengers now . . Finally! Anyways . . we meet the new team, and see each of them in action . . a little bit. First up is War Machine. As in our world, it's Rhodey, but . . this one seems to bask in the power that the War Machine brings him. When he goes to retrieve a couple of captured soldiers, he wipes out an entire Afghanistan village. The soldiers question the extreme measure of his actions, and he replies . . 'Gimme a break! Five minutes ago they were prepping you for YouTube! Now button it, Michael Moore! I got a call coming in from base command . .' Next up is Gregory Stark . . Tony's older brother. Huh?? That came out of left field. Anyways, Nick describes him as . . 'The man's a damn nightmare. But he's ten times smarter than Tony and completely amoral . . in other words, just the kinda' guy I like doing business with.' We don't really see him do anything. Other than strut around. But he seems to have a huge chip on his shoulder about Tony. Next up is Red Wasp. She used to be called the Insect Queen. She's a former terrorist, but now she's the Secretary of State's body-guard. Apparently she had some reconstructive surgery done by Stark Industries, and they put an 'obedience chip' in her. Next up is the Hulk. Well . . not 'the' Hulk. But rather one of Gregory Stark's design . . 'This isn't the real Hulk. It's a new design grown from Banner's stem cells retaining his hyper-intellect and the monster's brute strength. Code name 'Nerd Hulk'. He should be fully operational and ready for action first thing in the morning.' Also, Stark has Spider-man in a cage. Again, not 'the' Spider-man. Actually . . we're not really sure what he is. Stark warns, 'Don't engage with it. It can drive a man to suicide in 3 or 4 exchanges. One of the technicians slit his wrists only last week.' Nick knows Peter, so he asks, 'Who the hell is this?' Spider-man replies, 'Trust me Nicky-boy . . you do not want to know.' Finally we have the new Black-Widow. Apparently she's Nick's ex, Monica. I guess she's had some 'up-grades' which give he strength, speed and hyper-agility. But the relationship between her and Nick . . her boss . . is tense, at best. Anyways, at the end of the issue the team attempts to intercept Captain America, who's traversing the globe in search of his terrorist son . . the Red Skull. He's in Paris and before the team can make a move, Steve strikes out at them. He seems to take them out, individually, rather quickly. That is until on the final page when he's confronted by a rather large War Machine . . prepped and ready to blow him away. 'Prepare to meet Bob Hope, grandpa!' Mark Millar is writing this book, and it's apparent by the sheer amount of unique ideas contained within it's pages. It really seems like he's cutting loose on this one. I'd hate to be his editor on this book, because I don't know how you'd hold the guy back. Anyways, Carlos Pacheco does the art. It looks great. I know it's called the Avengers, but . . to me . . it'll always be the Ultimates. But that's ok. You say 'tomato', I say 'tomato'. I'm sorry. That didn't sound as good in text. But you know what I mean. Anyways, so far I think it's a good book. I can't wait to see where this one goes.

X-Men Forever #10 - Marvel

With the picture on this cover . . obviously we know what this issue is about. But . . I have to say . . I expected something to happen. I don't know what. Just something. But this ends up being more of an interaction and character development book. There is one flare up between Creed and Remy, but . . I kind of think that was more out of frustration because of the way each of them are dealing with thier loss. And Hank, who now knows that the Consortium is 'up there' . . somewhere . . has blanketed the estate in a holographic projection so that this day they can be left in peace. Oh yeah, and Charles has redoubled his efforts to find a way to slow down this deterioration that occurs naturally in mutants when they expend their power. Anyways, there's a whole slew of visitors to the grounds . . the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Excalibur . . even Bruce Banner and Nick Fury pay their respects. But no like dangling plot threads that we usually see in these quieter issues. Well . . you know what? I take that back. At the very end of the issue . . the last 3 pages . . Scott returns to Alaska after the funeral for a little down time. His grandparents are there to greet him . . they're still alive, and . . his son comes rushing out to meet his dad. 'Daddy! I missed you! I missed you! Can we go fishing, I saw a moose, and eagles, Gran'pa's teaching me to fly!' Hmmm! I'm sorry. Did I miss something? This could be an interesting development. I'm sure it involves Madelyn. Somehow. But we'll just have to wait and see where this goes. But the next issue is called . . 'Snap Trap!' Anyways, I think Chris Claremont is doing a fantastic job with this series. So far I like what he's done, and everything that's happened kind of seems like a natural chain of events. Well . . except for the whole Ororo thing. That was kind of shoved on us. But . . I really can't wait to see where he takes all of these characters. I think it's a great concept and I'm glad that he's running with it. The art this issue was by Paul Smith and Terry Austin. So it was a little reminiscent of day of old. I had a little nostalgic wave pass over me. Just a little. All in all I like this book. And I like the pace it's moving at.

New Mutants #6 - Marvel

I really liked this book. Doug Ramsey is back, and . . and the end of the book, Warlock finally makes his way to Utopia. But . . let me back up a little bit. First of all, the team comes to Utopia to be with the rest of the X-Men. This is the first time that Charles has seen them all back together again. He knows that they've saved his son, Legion, but he's not being allowed to participate in his recovery. And the team need a little R&R after what they've just been through. Now remember, from the X-Necrosha book, all of this is happening at the same time as Selena is making her move on the island. Doug watches the group through the window for a while before he strikes. I thought it was interesting how everything to him is a language . . the way his eyes perceive the light, the gestures and looks that each of the team-members give each other and Charles, and later when they're fighting he perceives their motions and moves as a language . . telling him how to react and counter. I'm glad they strengthened that aspect of this character. Anyways, eventually he does come busting in, and he goes straight for Amara. He gives her a pretty good beating. We're not really sure exactly how hurt she is. But then when the rest of the team react, as I said, they're having a pretty hard time taking him on. He's literally reading their every nuance. That is until Shan takes them over, possessing them all. Because of her control, and their movements, he can't anticipate their actions. It's all gibberish to him. And that's when Warlock comes in. He recovers Doug, after flying off the balcony, and feels that his team-mates have attacked his 'friend'. However, when he tries to help, he quickly finds out that Doug's TO is quickly trying to over-ride Warlock's own programming. The issue ends with it looking like Doug has ripped his 'friend' apart. Zeb Wells also did Doug's story in X-Necrosha, so it was a smooth transition. I really enjoyed the way the whole thing played out, and the added insight into Doug's character. Several times through this book we're led to believe that the real Doug may be coming through the programming . . that he may realize what he's doing is wrong. But it isn't until the final page that it's drilled into us that that's just not going to happen. Zeb did a great job of taking us through this emotional telecaster. I also enjoyed Diogenes Neves pencils. I think he gets better with every issue. I'm so glad this book is back, and I can't wait to see where this storyline goes.

X Necrosha #1 - Marvel

I know this story has been building for a while now . . with Bastion and Selena and all, but . . before I get started on this, there's just one thing I gotta' say. I know I'll probably catch flack for this, but . . this whole thing, with all the mutants rising from the dead and coming back to cause grief for the living . . does that remind anybody else of anything? Come on. I know you know. Ok, I'll just say it . . this whole thing doesn't seem that much different from . . . Blackest Night. I know! I know it is different. It's just kind of coincidental to me that both companies have similar story-lines going on at the same time. I'm just sayin'! Anyways, unlike the other story-line, not everyone is coming back to life here. Just the mutants that Bastion and Selena have picked for their individual teams. And . . those they thought best to strike at their intended targets . . the X-Men. And they're both using the same techno-organic virus . . from now on called TO . . except Selena's is infused with mysticism, 'perverting' the original program. Anyways, we get a little bit of Selena's history here, and find out the make-up of her core team . . Wither, Blink, Senyaka, Mortis and Eli Bard. But there's lot's of other name-brand mutants that she's brought back to cause trouble also. These include Doug Ramsey, the Hellions. Shinobi Shaw, Harry Leland, Pyro, Beserker, Thunderbird, Caliban and Destiny. And the piece de resistance in Selena's bid for power? Hammer Bay . . Genosha. Clayton Crain's picture here . . the 2-page spread of the fallen nation . . is just haunting. It's actually daunting, how intense this picture is. Hence the name of the title . . Necrosha . . Genosha. Get it? Also, sensing what Selena is up to, Bastion decides to speed up his plan. Whatever that may be. And Laura is back at Utopia . . her arm almost completely regrown. Anyways, this sets us up for the story leading directly in to X-Force #21. In the second story, Doug Ramsey and the Hellions break in to the base at Utopia. While Doug does help them, he's also on a mission of his own. Selena has tasked him with taking out her granddaughter . . Amara. This chapter sets up the story, and leads directly in to New Mutants #6. And finally in the last story we get a little view of what Selena has Destiny around for. Basically . . she's second guessing her moves as she progress' along the board . . she wants to assure her outcome. But Destiny ends up going to Utopia and gives Blindfold a message. We don't know what it is, but afterwards Destiny seems distraught. 'No, wait! No, that isn't . . what have I done? What have I done?' Eerie! And this chapter leads in to the story in X-Men: Legacy #231. All in all I thought it was a good book. I just thought I should comment on the comparison. Selena's story was by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, with incredible art by Clayton Crain. The Doug Ramsey chapter was created by Zeb Wells and Ibraim Robertson. And Destiny's chapter was by Mike Carey and Laurence Campbell. I almost didn't pick this one up, but . . with everything going on in the X-books . . I thought I better. I'm glad I did. I'm sure this filled in some holes. And it was only $3.99. I actually expected it to be a couple dollars more. And with my next book being New Mutants #6 . . we move directly into the story.

Wolverine First Class #20 - Marvel

I'm guessing that this story-line is supposed to be some prequel of sorts to the Secret Invasion. In this book, Wolverine and Kitty have been captured by the Skrulls. Luckily though . . Captain Marvel shows up and helps the 2 of them escape what could've been a sticky situation. They were being held by a Super-Skrull. It would've been a stretch for either of them to go up against him.They snatch a transport and crash land back at home. Really . . there wasn't much more to the story than that. A little bit of dialogue between the the Super-Skrull and the Kree warrior, Marvel. And we saw what I guess was the Skrull that would be taking Wolverine's place. But Logan beat him down before they took off. It was an ok book. Just a pretty quick read. I like these early stories with Wolverine, mostly because Kitty is involved. But . . they aren't overly complicated. Anyways, this one's brought to us by Peter David and Dennis Calero. Skottie Young does the cover. It was an ok book. Just not much to it.

Wolverine Weapon X #6 - Marvel

This issue picks up after the previous story-line where Logan was fighting Blackguard and Weapon X. Unknown to him, during that story he was also betrayed by his friend Maverick. Anyways, now . . . now he finds himself locked up in an insane asylum, and he has no idea how long he's been here. He does however seem to be fairly familiar with the order of things around her, and some of it's patients. So he's guessing he's been here for quite a while. He has bits and pieces of his memory, but nothing that he can really put together. The only person really in this whole place that seems sane is Logan's psychiatrist, Dr Rottwell. But that may be questionable. One of the patients confides in Logan that he's seen the Doctor building a machine out of brains in the basement. Anyways, This story basically serves to show us where Logan's at, and to get us a little familiar with his surroundings. The rest? Well, I guess we'll find that out next issue. The only thing of real import that happens is one of the patients is released . . Wendell. The Doctor puts him out like a child into the cold, but he's been here for 13 years so he's not very happy about being out on his own. Within hours he returns and give the doctor a gift . . a sack full of brains. The issue ends with the Doctor taking Wendell into the basement, the incurable ward, and him screaming after the door is closed. I assume this has to have something to do with Weapon X, hence the title. But I don't know what it could possibly be. Anyways, this issue is brought to us by Jason Aaron and Yanick Paquette. With some nice looking covers by Adam and Joe Kubert. It's an interesting story, but . . I just don't have any idea where we're going with this. And we probably won't get the answers anytime soon, because this arc will cover the next 5 issues. Oh well. It's another Wolverine book. If you're a fan, pick it up. If not . . you aren't missing much.

X-Force #20 - Marvel

Ok . . I have to admit . . I like this book too. Maybe not as much as X-Factor, but . . I still like it. I know the X-Men aren't supposed to kill. I know that's not what the 'heroes' do. But . . you have to admit . . it's kind of nice to see these guys take on the 'bad-guys' sometimes with reckless abandon. It's got to be a little liberating for them to fight a 'bad-guy' and they're not sure willing to do, or capable of. If nothing else it would make the playing field a little more even. Anyways, last issue ended with Agent Morales and Laura trying to get out of the facility. Laura knows that she's the only one that can take out the guards, but . . she's one arm short. So she has to even the edge. She loads her trigger scent into the sprinkler system and then sets it off. As she makes her way to the director of the facility, she's on a killer rage the whole way. Just as she makes her way to his office, Kimura tells him to flood the system with water. I don't know why she bothered though. When Kimura gets there, they fight about Laura and she takes him out herself. She could've saved herself the bullet. Anyways, Morales shows up to help Laura and they both get out. During the interim, Morales booby-trapped every flammable part of the facility that she could find. But Kimura still survives. She warns her over Morales' radio that she'll never stop and that she's coming after everyone . . starting with Megan. Shortly after, Domino and Wolverine show up and they take Laura home. Meanwhile, Warren and James have made it back to Warren's house in time to see the destruction caused by Rahne and her friend. They don't know what happened, but soon Hrimhari approaches with Rahne in his arms asking for their help . . specifically Elixir's. And, on the final page, we get a quick glimpse at Necrosa . . specifically Doug Ramsey. I love what Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost are doing with this book. This is how X-Force should've been . . a long time ago. They just never took that final step. Also Mike Choi's art, and cover, is spectacular. But don't worry. We'll see Clayton Crain soon in the Necrosha one-shot. It's only a few issues away.

X-Factor #50 - Marvel

With this issue comes the end of an era . . kind of. This will be the last issue of the current series, but . . don't despair. These characters will be coming back at ya' next month with a simple renumbering. Next month Marvel will reassign this book it's original numbering . . if it hadn't been cancelled and then brought back . . with issue #200. Peter David will remain as the writer. So the book will have it's same great feel. But Bing Casino will be taking over on the art chores. I have no idea who he is, so . . I don't know what to expect. But I'm sure with Peter at the helm, everything will stay on course. Anyways, this issue wraps up our future story with Cortex. Kind of. First we get a flashback as to what led Anthony Falcone to hate mutants so much. And how he was manipulated by Tryp. Back in the future . . 80 years in the future . . Cortex has just been pulled back in time, by Doom and Jamie. As soon as he arrives, Falcone gets a lock on him and realizes that all the mutants will be in the same place. 'All squadrons converge on my signal. Implement operation Clean Sweep! Repeat . .! Clean Sweep! Finally . . Finally . . it's going to be a brand new day.' Falcone's plan is actually kind of ingenious. For years he's been basically spray painting the mutants with specific Hadron particles. First in the camps, and then at the various Sentinel attacks. Now . . now that he's got them all in one place, all he needs to do is open a portal that attracts the Hadron particles and all of the mutants will be swept away into other dimensions. All he had to do was wait until most of them were converged together, and then implement the process. Easy-peasy! But whenever X-Factor is involved, specifically Jamie and Layla, things never really seem to go according to plan. What I don't get is why was Cortex working for Falcone when he knew that the ultimate plan was to rid the world of his brethren? Anyways, Jaime and Cortex fight . . which to me didn't really seem all that realistic because Cortex is so much more powerful. He took it easy on Jamie and I don't really understand why. Then we find out . . after Cortex takes out Fitzroy pretty early in the game, that Layla's power is actually to bring things back from the dead. After Ruby's pleading that's what she does with Fitzroy. I think, ultimately, she did it because he was really the only threat to Cortex. He surprises him from under the boardwalk, and like the siphon that he is sucks off all of Cortex's life force. The problem with all of this is that Layla knows that using this gift causes the recipients to be brought back without a soul. So whatever evil that Fitzroy does . . however bad he becomes . . it's all on Layla's head now. In the end . . Jaime and company win. He's transported back to Detroit, but Layla isn't. That he knows of. It turns out that she actually went further back in time and downloaded her younger self with the information of everything that's happened during her lifetime . . including her trip 80 years into the future. This gives her the illusion of the power that . . 'she knows stuff'. When we now know that her actual power is to bring things back to life. That piece of information came out of left field. I guess I wasn't paying attention to the hints that Peter was leaving us over the course of this series. All I can say is . . wow! This book continues to please and amaze me. I love what Peter's doing here. Valentine De Landro does the art for his final issue here. And I have to say . . it was probably one of his best. It was a great issue all around. I loved the story. I loved the art. I love the characters. And I thought the explanation for all of this stuff these guys have been going through was fantastic. It was a great way to wrap up the current story-line. Now, as to my concern earlier about not being familiar with Bing Casino's work. At the end of this issue we get a 7 page preview of the story coming up in issue #200. I have to say the story, and the art both show a lot of promise. I imagine it'll be a double sized issue, so . . I can't wait to jump in. It's to bad I can't get this excited about every book I read.

WildCATS #16 - WildStorm

How does the saying go? 'It's always darkest before the dawn'? Well this one should read . .'It's always lightest before the fall' Zealot and Savant have gone to Hawaii to enlist Majestic's help. That's why this issue is called Family Meeting. Anyways, they reveal to him that because Tao was tapped into Void's power, he was able to manipulate people everywhere. Majestros included. This seriously pisses him off. So he takes off straight for Max Faraday's island. At the time it looks as if Tao and his forces are going to be to much for all the heroes assembled here. That is until Majestros shows up. He informs Tao that the blades that he's wielding, Nemesis' blades, were forged of the creation engine. 'They can cut through anything. Even what you've become.' When he stabs them both through his chest, he basically switches off his powers. The plan then is to drain his powers. Hadrian figures that he and Max and Void should be able to contain it all. However . . Tao has one more ace up his sleeve. One of his soldiers puts a gun to Max's wife's head. She only lives if they remove the swords. Which Max gladly does. Then . . then he asks Max . . 'One more thing. The Creation Equation. The formula that gave you your powers. Tell it to me.' Everyone is screaming for him to stop, but Max decides that he can't not tell him. The issue ends with Tao floating in the air, looking like he's wielding more power than he ever has. How can they possibly get out of this? This issue was much more exciting than that Gen13 issue that I just read. Christos Gage is doing a fantastic job with this title. I also really enjoyed Shawn Moll's pencils. Besides the Authority, this is probably my favorite WildStorm title. Plus, who can complain about those gorgeous Ryan Sook covers? All around, it was a good book.

Gen13 #32 - WildStorm

I haven't made any secret of the fact that I haven't been very happy with this book since this whole Teenaged Wastland story-line first started. I didn't really liked the story. And I definitely wasn't a fan of Mike Huddleston's art. But, I stuck with it because I love these characters. Well it looks like we finally may be getting a change. I don't know if it'll be good or bad, but in 2 months when issue #33 comes out, Adam Beechen and Cruddie Torian will be taking over on the creative chores. The kids have made their way all the way across the country, in search of Tranquility . . only to find that what's left of it is a crater. So, with issue #33, and the new creative team, they'll begin their trek back across the country with their new team members in tow. Because of their recent adventure up on the floating base, they've discovered that they have some previously unknown cousins floating around . . Gen14. Not all of them made it through the adventure, but . . the couple that are left have decided to join Gen13 on their trek. In a joke, Roxy tells them that they'll meet in the middle and call themselves Gen13.5. I don't think that will stick. But . . whatever. Like I said, hopefully we'll get a better storyline on the way back across the country. I like what I've seen of Adam's work before this, so . . . then again, I never really had any complaints about Scott Beatty's stories. Before this. In conclusion . . the best part about this book . . it wraps up and finishes the Teenaged Wasteland story-line. Yay! It's finally time to move on.

Madame Xanadu #16 - Vertigo

Finally . . Amy Reeder Hadley is back on the pencils this issue. I'm not taking anything away from Michael Wm Kaluta's run . . he's a fantastic artist. But . . this series started out under Amy's, and Matt Wagner's vision. And as the series went along you could definitely see improvement in her work. She's a talented artist that really seems to be coming into her own. So . .I'm just glad to see her back on the title where she got her spotlight. She definitely deserves it. This issue, Nimue, or main character has moved just a little farther ahead into the late 50's. Our story follows a young woman, Betty Reynolds. Her life is normal until one day things start to change. First . . she seems to be having a gravity problem. She can't keep her skirt down, then her hair, and then she floats out of bed. Next she starts going through physical changes. She notices her face looks a bit different. Her naturally blond hair begins to switch to auburn. She's losing weight, gaining height and her bodily features have become more accentuated. Even her finger-nails are growing faster. And they're hard as diamonds. She's 39 years old. How could her body be going through this much change, this late in life, and . . this fast. Finally . . she begins expelling bugs. Bugs seem to be coming from he mouth whenever she opens it. It start out with flies, but then moves on to moths, bees, cicadas, crickets and dragon-flies. It isn't until she starts spitting out cockroaches that she decides to try to seek some help. Doctors can't do anything, and her husband suggests a psychiatrist. Finally her friend Joanie tells her of a friend, also with an unusual problem, that sought an unusual solution. Which leads her to the doorstep of Madame Xanadu. We don't know exactly what's going on here, yet. But Nimue seems genuinely concerned about her new client. 'Why does her case stir such echoes in my heart? Why do these magics bear the scent of . . familiarity?' I have a feeling this has something to do with the good Madame's journey through the DC Universe, but . . I honestly have no idea what, or who Betty could possibly be. This one will be just as much a surprise to me as anyone else. I love the work Matt and Amy are doing here. I can't wait to see where this one goes.

Billy Batson and the Magic of SHAZAM! #9 - DC

I know this book is aimed at teen-agers, but . . I like it. I've always been a fan of Captain Marvel's, and right now this appears to be the only way we're going to get some new adventures from him. That's not to say I'm not happy with this outlet, it's just different from what we've seen before. And way different from the Power of Shazam! series. This issue is brought to us by Art Baltazar, Franco and Bryon Vaughns. It seems that there's a little spill-over from the previous adventure involving Dr Sivana, and King Kull. There's no clear threats, just something mischievous going on. We see it in the way Billy / Captain Marvel is acting. He doesn't seem to be himself. Well . . he is himself. He's just not both of himselfs. Captain Marvel hasn't changed back to Billy in days. It seems like the longer this goes on, the more arrogant and self-concerned Captain Marvel becomes. Mary uses her own magic to finally change him back. But now that he's Billy again, and he thinks about the things that Captain Marvel said and did . . 'I do know one thing . . I can never be Captain Marvel again.' This story revolves around a plot thread of some arsons going on around town. At the end of the issue we find out that when Captain Marvel captured the culprit, he ended up seriously disfiguring him because of his methods. Is this the end of Captain Marvel? I doubt it. But we'll see what happens next issue. I really like this book. But . . I would like to see some other outlet for this character. Somewhere!

Final Crisis Aftermath Ink #6 - DC

This is the final issue of the Final Crisis Aftermath minis. With this . . the Crisis is actually all wrapped up. Or is it? I have a suspicion we're going to be feeling the repercussions of all this for quite a while. In short . . I think it's far from over. We just don't know where the next wave is coming from yet. I thought this was an interesting series. This Tattooed-Man, Mark Richards, has turned out to be a pretty interesting character. I thought he was offered an honorary membership into the JLA awful quickly, but . . I guess I can see why they might've made that decision. Anyways, this issue Mark starts off in jail. He's about to go on trial for the death of Phat Diamond. Then at the last moment, a very expensive lawyer . . Ahmad Sturges, shows up to fix everything. He doesn't actually say who hired him to help, but I guessing it's Roy. Anyways, he gets the charges thrown out and then suggests that Mark clean up the rest of his mess with his brother, Devon. Which is what he does. But it's the result of this conflict that I think is the most unique about this book. 'Mark has decided to take a somewhat different approach to caped heroics. I call it . . half saint, half sinner. You. Your gangbanging buddies. You all work for the Tattooed Man now. You're gonna be his army. The Avenue Deds are going legit. They're gonna help repair the damage they've done to Liberty Hill . . and they're going to police the streets the way Halstead and his gang were supposed to, but never did. And you, Crim&O, are going to lead them.' Even though he's been kicked out of the League, he's decided to enlist an army of his own. Which leaves the final page a little bit of a question. 'You said you wanted to talk. Well . . . talk.' And the person Mark is talking to is . . . Deathstroke. I'm not sure what that's all about. But it says it's to be continued in the Titans. That should be interesting. Eric Wallace and Fabrizio Fiorentino did a fantastic job with this series. We've really gotten to know, and see Mark's character here. I have a feeling he's going to be around for quite a while. I can't wait to see where he shows up next. This beginning shows the promise of some huge potential. I hope somebody knows what to do with it.

the Web #2 - DC

Much in the way that John Raymond shares his life between his civilian identity, and that of the Web. So to does the Web share his attention with finding his brother's killer, and trying to help the rest of the world. John had started a web-site in which people could log-in and ask for the Web's help. The problem? He didn't anticipate the sheer number of requests. The solution? He's going to out-source. He puts out a call for people that want to make the world a better place, powers of not, but just don't have the means to do so. He's going to pick 99 participants, give them a uniform, and franchise the name . . the Web. Sounds like a good idea, but . . we'll see. Meanwhile, he's also been searching for Dr Archer. He thinks the Doctor had his brother killed, but he doesn't know why. He also knows that Dr Archer is making the new designer drug that's flooding the city, Vyce. So he goes to the Koslov brother's casino, because they traffic the drug for the good Doctor. There . . he finds April. That's the woman that came between him and his brother when she chose David over him. But he doesn't know how she's mixed up in all of this. After putting a hidden camera on her, he follows her as the Web. She leads him right to Dr Archer. But rather than wait and gather intel, he goes rushing in. It looks like he's about to apprehend them when, as a rocket comes bearing down on him, 2 other Web's jump in to save his bacon. It looks like those franchised heroes got up and on-line faster than he anticipated. The problem is, he hasn't really given them any direction yet, so . . they're all just out there doing whatever. He's going to have to fix that real fast. Oh, and while in pursuit . . April heard the Web's voice and guessed that it was John. I think this book has a lot of potential. So far I like what Angela and Roger Robinson are doing here. Is that a husband and wife team? What a unique concept. Anyways, so far I don't particularly like the way the Web approaches crime-fighting, but . . there have been a lot of interesting ideas presented here. But it really all comes down to implementation and actualization. Can Angela and Roger follow through on what they've started here . . what's been set in motion. I think they can, and it'll be interesting to see how they do it. In the back-up, the Hangman is kind of having the same dilemma. The sheer weight of what he's trying to fight, and the number of people willing to take the place of those fallen . . I think it's starting to overwhelm him. As Dr Dickerson though, he does have a confidant of sorts, Sarah. The Hangman really seems like the 'lone-wolf' type of hero. I'm thinking that he needs somebody to be a sounding board. This is also an interesting story by John Rozum and Tom Derenick, with Bill Sienkiewicz on inks. All in all I think we're off to a pretty good start here. It just depends on if they can survive the long run. Wait and see!
Oh . . by the way . . that fantastic cover is by Stanley Lau.

Justice Society of America #32 - DC

I have to be honest with you . . I was worried about this book when Geoff Johns left. But Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges are doing a fantastic job here. I absolutely love what they've done with this first story-arc. I'm equally impressed with Jesus Merino's art, and his take on these characters. Is Mr Terrific dead? Well . . we just don't know for sure, yet. Alan has been keeping him is stasis ever since he was pronounced dead. So even though it's been hours, as far as Michael's body is concerned no time has passed. During this time our new Dr Fate has been working on a spell. We don't know exactly what it is, but when he finally releases it on him . . forcing Alan to lower his stasis field, the spell seems to be taking an unexpected course. As soon as he hits Michael with it, Dr Fate loses control. Something is happening, but we don't know what. And Dr Fate, while controlling the spell, no long seems to be in control of its' actions or effects. But we'll have to wait until next issue to find out more about that. Most of the rest of the issue is spent with Karen, Jay and Mr America sorting out what exactly happened to Billy, the All-American Kid. They've got video footage of him actually stabbing Michael, but . . it appears that he was not in control of his own body. Somebody was manipulating him. The first person that comes to mind is King Chimera, his roommate at the time. He can control light and illusions, but they're questioning if he has the ability to alter the perceptions of others, 'Are direct mental domination powers such a big stretch after that?' Eventually Power Girl and Liberty Belle have a showdown with the impetuous youth, and while he's upset about their accusations, he doesn't seem the least bit worried about their abilities or power levels. The outcome of their battle is in question because while all of this has been happening, the cadre of super-villains that attacked earlier . . they're back, and looking to collect the bounties on each of the JSA member's heads. But we still don't know who's offering these bounties, who's hired these villains, and who's orchestrated this divergent attack on the JSA. They attack the mansion just as Power Girl gets a hand on Chimera . . which took a lot of effort. There's also still the power struggle between PG and Magog. And someone finally asks the question, 'Why on Earth were so villains taking such pains to avoid hurting Stargirl?' I thought it was a great issue and it really leaves the reader on edge anticipating the next issue . . the conclusion. I have a feeling we're not going to get all the answers though. Like I said, I think Bill, Matt and Jesus are doing a great job here. Thanks!

Gotham City Sirens #5 - DC

I think Paul Dini is doing a great job with these characters here. I love the way that he's portraying all 3 of our sirens . . Catwoman, Ivy and Harley Quinn. As long as the stories and the character development remain as strong as they have through these first 5 issues, I can see this book being around for quite a while. To be honest, they could've included these characters, and their stories in the Streets of Gotham book, but . . I'm glad that they realized that they had a strong enough group of women here to warrant their own title. Plus, as any comic geek will tell you . . nothing looks hotter than a 'bad-girl'. Anyways, this issue starts out with Selina and Ivy being pissed about the Joker just blowing up their new lair. Harley's kind of on the fence. 'He could of at least finished us off with a funny gag!' It takes their joint effort to get through to her, and make her realize the seriousness of the situation. 'Wake up, Harley! This is Life or Death! Joker may have originally thought of you as a willing patsy, but eventually he let you in. Whether he meant to or not, he shared things with you he'd never tell another living soul. Did you really think he'd let you out unscathed?' So anyways, long story short, they go after him only to find out that it's not really the Joker that's trying to kill them, but rather his first partner in crime, Gaggy! 'That's Gagsworth A Gagsworthy to you, SKANK!' For some reason, after all these years, he's decided that he's jealous of Harley. By the end of the issue it looks like he may be able to follow through on his threats. Catwoman is stuck in a pit of Hyenas. Ivy is sucking down a plastic mask. And Gaggy has a knife to Harley's throat. Guillem March is also doing a great job with the art. Not only do I like his style, but he's really got a great sense for story-flow. I love the way his characters move between panels. All in all, I think this book is a hit. As long as enough people pick it up to read it.

Wonder Woman #37 - DC

This book serves to kind of set the tone for what's been happening back on Themyscira. First of all, Alkyone has married Achilles . . making her the Queen. A fact that Hippolyta explains to Diana this issue. While chained, Hippolyta professes he love for the Amazons and her island. She would die to protect them. Which may not be to far out of reach. On the other hand, I think that all Alkyone thinks about is the obtaining, and usurping of power. Sure she's the Queen, but the island has a King now . . Achilles. And he was appointed by Zeus himself. Alkyone doesn't really have any power. Or does she? As with any man in power, we see that while his resolve is strong, Achilles still has the voice of a woman whispering in his ear . . second guessing his every move . . manipulating his choices. So we have to ask ourselves, which 'voice' is the true voice of the King? We also are dealing with the immaculate conception of 5 various Amazons. Something that hasn't happened on this island since Diana was born. And we finally see the return of Artemis and the rest of the 'imprisoned ones', after the recent events in the Secret Six book. They've come to rejoin their sisters, and return their dead. I wonder how she's going to feel about the new regime change? I enjoyed all of the machinations and manipulations, but to me the best part of the book was the fight between Diana and Donna. During the fight with Genocide, she poisoned Donna's thoughts. She believes Diana to be responsible for the death of her family. The battle is heated, but Diana figures out that it's through her lasso that Donna is reacting so violently. She renounces it, and throws it into the ocean to prove to Donna that her intentions are true. With that act, and Alkyone taking her bracers and girdle . . Diana doesn't really have any of the 'gifts of the gods' left. And since she's renounced her Amazon heritage . . she really has no place left with her own people, or mother. What a revoltin' development! Oh yeah, I forgot to mention . . in the beginning of the book, Ares with his split head sewn back together, visits Diana in a dream. 'We're not done, Diana. Did you think, merely because you split my skull in two, that I was finished with you? The innocent, Diana. I will break your heart. By destroying the innocent. Now. As forever. You will be mine. And you will suffer.' Wow! Gail Simone is doing a tremendous job here. I absolutely love what she's done with this book. Yeah, sure . . Diana isn't really an Amazon anymore, but . . I still think there's great things in store here. I can't wait to see how Gail works this all out. Aaron Lopresti does the cover, but Bernard Chang covers him on the interiors this issue. Bernard's style fits well with this book. But don't fret, Aaron will be back next issue. And what do you think . . will they be renumbering this title soon . . will we see issue #600 in Wonder Woman's future? I know the question has been tossed out there, but I haven't heard what the decision is yet. I guess it all depends on if Dan Didio gets 600 postcards before issue #45 is put to print. Here's a copy of a postcard I found on the net, if anyone's interested.

Arkham Reborn #1 - DC

Ok . . with this issue we get a new look at Arkham . . both the asylum and the doctor. I'm not sure which is more creepy. Anyways, the current curator of the nut-house is Jeremiah Arkham. I'm sorry . . Dr Jeremiah Arkham. Dr Amadeus Arkham was the architect of the original building. And I mean that literally. He planned the Asylum from the ground up . . the building, the purpose, the goal, the treatments, the patients . . he was behind everything, inside or out, that was involved with the 13th circle of hell. Sorry! I'm just joking. But he did create Arkham and he was Jeremiah's Uncle. So, Jeremiah has put equal attention to this incarnation of the facility. His goals are altruistic, but . . I'm afraid that his plans may be sabotaged by his new assistant director, Alyce Sinner. But more on her later. We first got a look at Jeremiah's plans for the place back in Battle for the Cowl: Arkham Asylum. There we saw that this place eventually drove his uncle mad. But yet he was still intent on following his plans for an ultimate facility. Even in his madness, he left the plans behind for future generations. Almost as if he knew that eventually the place would come down upon itself. Anyways, in that issue we also met three of Jeremiah's favorites . . Alessio Morandi, No-Face . . Myrna Freud, Hamburger Lady and the Mirror Man. Even in this first issue we see that things are already happening that Jeremiah didn't plan, or account for. But he doesn't notice them. It takes No-Face to tell him that, 'Something is terribly wrong.' And we see that the good Doctor's first patient, Benjamin Wiley, Raggedy Man, is already putting he and Alyce at odds over treatment. She plays along to his face, but then at night we see that she's decided on an alternative treatment for poor Benjamin. It seems that she agrees more with the Uncle's ideology, 'Amadeus Arkham did not design this building as a sanctuary. He did not believe in forgiveness. He believed in retribution.' Now . . about Alyce. It turns out that she was the daughter of some religious extremists. When the day came for they sects 'passing over' . . and nothing happened . . they decided to got he way of Jim Jones. They poisoned their congregation. Only Alyce survived. After that she changed her last name to Sinner. 'To celebrate the fact that I rejected by parents' views. We all sin, Doctor Arkham.' And it appears that she's in league with the Black Mask. Which is odd since he's the one that released all of the inmates. But he also seems to be the one behind her change in therapy approach. That night, before she decides to initiate the Raggedy Man, Black Mask tells her . . 'I think it's time to initiate the Amadeus Code.' I wasn't sure what he meant when I read it, but . . I think he means putting the inmates through hell rather than rehabilitation. Since this place is Jeremiah's baby, I can't imagine that he doesn't have some way to monitor what goes on in it's halls . . security measures that even Alyce doesn't know about. But this issue only serves to introduce us to the stage and it's players. We'll have to wait until next issue to see how the drama unfolds. I thought it was an excellent book. David Hine and Jeremy Haun also handled the Battle for the Cowl book, so this one had much the same feel. I like that they're putting such effort into redefining this part of Batman's landscape. While Batman is the 'jailer', Arkham . . specifically Jeremiah, is the 'gate keeper'. Hence . . my 13th circle of hell reference. I can't wait to watch this one play itself out.

Superman #693 - DC

In this issue we go the the heart of Project 7734 . . General Lane's world. Well . . according to him it is. Actually, the project is located is a secret base on Earth, but then it's connected to a sister base in Mirabai's magical dimension. That's where they're keeping Mon El. Which is really what this issue is all about. General Lane wants to break Mon El, but . . barring that . . he wants to recruit him. He wants him to be part of his team. We all know that's never going to happen. Anyways, he introduces him to the rest of the team, Metallo, Codename Assassin, Mirabai, the Parasite and Atlas. He also has a gorilla doctor, Dr Calomar. Who can't wait to dissect Mon El. We don't learn much more about the Project, other than this new base. However we do get a glimpse at Natasha, John Henry's daughter. She's posing as specialist Blake. We see more about her in the Captain Atom story in Action. Anyways, the Parasite decides that he's had enough of the General's leadership. 'I don't mind doing jobs for people. I'll kill for dough, sure. But I'm no one's stooge.' So he offers Mon El and 'out'. If he'll let him siphon off a bit of his power, and help him fight his way to the portal, he'll get him out of this place. That pretty much goes off without a hitch, but . . of course Parasite tries to double-cross him at the end. Mon El makes it through, but he arrives at the Earth base shortly after Brainiac and Luthor have escaped. The base is pretty much in shambles. The General has Atlas and Metallo off after Brainiac, so he has no way to stop Mon El. And . . he doesn't really try. 'You're pretty much free to go. Besides, there will be a time when you'll take my orders, like it or not. Come the war.' The issue ends a few days later with the Science Police ramping up for a confrontation with, they think, Superman. It turns out to be . . Bizarro. It looks like Mon El will make his return know next issue. This was an interesting issue. We're seeing more and more of what General Lane is up to. Plus, it seems like he's keeping the operation less and less quiet. Between all the poeple he's got working for him, the Human Defense Corps, and Squad K . . I think he's feeling pretty invincible. James Robinson did a great job with the story. Not that I'd expect anything less. And Fernando Dagnino does the art. All in all it was a good step in this story-arc. I can't wait to see what's coming next.

Detective Comics #858 - DC

In this issue we finally learn a little bit about Kate Kane's past. It turns out she has a twin, Beth. And she was raised as an army brat. Actually . . both her mother and father were in the army so, she's an extra special case. Anyways, we see her about 20 years ago shortly before Major Kane was reassigned to Belgium. We don't have an exact time frame, but shortly after arriving there, the 3 girls in the family are abducted. We also don't know how long they were captured, but . . an army operation comes in to retrieve them. On their way out . . it looks like her mother and sister are dead. Which would explain why she has such a close relationship with her father. But . . I would think in this situation . . she would kind of blame him also. I think this is just the beginning of the story. I'm sure we'll get more next issue. In between this, we see a case in Gotham that has been taken over from the police by the Army . . specifically Major General Frances Lombardo and Colonel Kane. It appears that Kate is also working the case as Batwoman. We don't know much about it yet, but it appears the Kate and her father are on different sides of this one. I think Greg Rucka and JH Williams III are doing a great job on this book. JH uses a different style on the flashback stories. A real simple, retro kind of style. It looks neat, and gets the message across. He uses his flashier style for the Batwoman sequences. I glad we're finally digging in to some of Kate's history. In the Question story, we get everything wrapped up on this trafficking of women. I'm glad that Renee is playing an as enigmatic character as Vic Sage did. I wasn't sure at first. It seemed like she was playing it a lot more loose than he did. Anyways, it was a good story by Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner. I hope we see more of the Question in the future.

Batman #692 - DC

Simply fantastic. With this issue Tony S Daniel is back. And this time around . . he's writing it and doing the art. I love Tony's stuff and I think he's going to do a great job with this book. We already saw what he could do on the art side of things with Grant Morrison's epic run. Now the whole world will get to see what he can do creatively with the scripts. If you've read any of his Tenth books, you know he can be a pretty dynamic writer. I can't wait to see what he brings to this book. My only complaint is that for now . . he's only scheduled to do 6 issues. I'm hoping that by the time he's done with those . . maybe he'll change his mind. A guy can hope, right? Anyways, it appears that Tony will be focusing on the relationship between Batman, Dick Grayson, and the new Black Mask . . we don't really know who he is. Yet! It appears that the Black Mask is putting together his own little sinister group. I guess all those people he let out of Arkham just wasn't enough. He's calling it his Ministry of Science. So far his little macabre group include Dr Hugo Strange, Fright, Dr Death and a recently resurrected Dr Gruener. Or you may know him better as . . Reaper. He first appeared way back in 1987 in the Batman mini-series Full Circle. I guess the Black Mask has had him on ice, literally, since his tragic car accident. I can't imagine that he'll be the same character as he started out, so . . it'll be interesting to see how Tony updates him. Also new in Gotham . . or I guess I should say it's the return of one of Gotham's own . . is the Falcone family. You know the mobsters that had a handle on Gotham for what seemed like forever? Well the only surviving son, Mario Falcone is back. And it looks like he's bringing the mob with him. There is an interesting twist though. Mario has a niece, Kitrina, probably 8 to 12, that seems to idolize Catwoman. Anyways, Tony brings us a whole slew of new stuff to think about this issue. It looks like he's going to be touching on most of Batman's life . . and the characters in it. This should be another epic run, so . . you better get it while you can. I expect great things from this book. And I don't think Tony will disappoint us.

Superman: Secret Origin #2 - DC

I understand that the whole purpose of these incentive covers is to get the retailers to buy more issues. On this particular issue they get one of these covers for every 10 issues they order. So they order more issues, they make a little extra money, and the consumer has some collectible issues to contemplate buying. My only problem? There's just way to many of these damn things. What ever happened to the 50/50 covers? There's a few of those out every month, but not very many. I mean if they're at cover price I would think more of the collectors would buy both issues. That's what I did for World's Finest. But then you have these incentives. Take for example this week, Green Lantern - $25 cover, Blackest Night - $25 cover, Blackest Night Titans - $25 cover, this book - $10 cover, Arkham - $25 cover. That's $110 just in variant covers. And that's just this week. I know not everybody buys all of them, but . . say you're following Blackest Night . . that's and extra $75 this week. Yowtch!! First of all, that's a chunk of change. Secondly . . in order to buy these covers, most consumers, including myself, would have to make the decision of what books not to buy. I don't think that's really fair to the rest of the market. Sometimes they're cool covers, and worth it. But other times . . not so much. Anyways, that's been bugging me and I just wanted to get it out there. Is anyone else equally frustrated, or is it just me? Also . . I'm sorry. That problem really doesn't have anything to do with the quality of this book. I mean, you got Geoff Johns and Gary Frank handling the creative chores here. How could you expect anything but excellence from this book. Throw in the Legion, and the book is this comic geek's dream. Clark found out last issue that he's an alien. He also just got his 'underwear', from Ma. He's a little embarrassed to be seen in them, so . . he's been keeping a pretty low profile. You know, doing secret saves and all that. Anyways, he comes across Lionel, Lex's father, when he drives off a ravine. He's drunk. He doesn't know he's Lex's father, and Lionel barely gets a glimpse of him as Clark drops his truck in front of the police station. But most of this issue is spent on Clark's first trip into the future. Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl come back to see the greatest hero of history. I guess they wanted to see him when he was around their own age. Anyways, he goes to the future and of course Brainiac is furious because he's afraid of what they could do to the time continuum. So they bring him back. But Clark is ecstatic. It seems like this changes his whole view of things. He really felt like he could be himself in the future. Like he didn't have to hide. And . . he got a whole different perspective on being an alien. While returning him the 3 Legionnaires are connected telepathically and Cos is concerned that they can't warn Clark about future events. 'It'll be difficult with everything we know. The resurrection of Doomsday. Kandor. General Zod and the Earth/New Krypton War. The super-sun . . the death of Lex Luthor. All of it has to remain secret.' Also, after that, another rocket ship lands. Clark intercepts it, and I think it's Krypto. We don't actually see him. During the course of this issue, Clark also comes across Lex in the library, and tries to befriend him. Lex's main concern is planning for his future in Metropolis. I think he thinks Clark is beneath him. Later on we find out that his dad dies of a heart-attack while in jail. I'm not sure how Lex pulled that off, but . . now he's going to get his wish. With his dad's insurance policy in hand, he thinks 'Today. Today. Today is my last day in Smallville.' So far I think Geoff is doing a fantastic job here. I wonder if he got motivated by the episode of Smallville he wrote . . 'Legion'. It came out last season. As I've said before, I think Geoff's strength lies in his character development and interactions. And he was spot-on with this issue. And what can I say about Gary Frank? His artwork is fantastic. Great work on the inside and both covers. If this isn't an book that you're buying, you really should think about it. It's great. And . . it's a classic in the making. I know we're not covering a lot of new ground here. But . . it's the way that Geoff and Gary cover it that's so good.

World's Finest #1 - DC

As I wrote on the Superman / Batman blog . . World's Finest has been one of my favorite books for quite a while. I've got everything back to the mid 60's. I just loved the stories. I know. Some of them were kind of corny. But . . you have to take the good with the bad. And in my opinion, the good far outweighed the bad. So I was pretty happy when I saw this book listed in the coming attractions. It's only a mini-series, but . . you gotta take what you can get. Right? This one isn't exactly the same. This plays more on the Superman / Batman theme, than necessarily the actual characters. In this issue we have Nightwing, Chris Kent, teaming up with Tim Drake, Red Robin. Nightwing and Flamebird recently went to Gotham on their search for Zod's agents. But it was a trap laid by the Penguin. He had the Kryptonite Man ready to help him subdue the pair. Luckily Chris escaped. So he goes out looking for Tim for some help in retrieving Thara. Anyways, long story short . . they go to Gotham and rescue Thara. It wasn't overly exciting, but . . it was a neat little story. At one point Tim asks Chris about his TK. Connor has the same power so he's wondering why Chris has it. He's just as clueless as anyone else. He just started being able to do it. And at the end we see that the Kryptonite man is now the prisoner of Toy-man and Toy-boy. They want to operate on him for some reason. Next issue, following the same theme, we have Robin and Guardian. I wonder if the books will be interconnected, or their own separate stories? I thought Sterling Gates and Julian Lopez did a nice job with this first issue. Since we have different characters the stories probably won't be overly complicated within each issue. The question is, would you rather see the same characters for all 4 issues, with a more involved story, or shorter stories and more characters? It's a toss-up for me. I just think it's neat that this book is back in whatever form.

Teen Titans #76 - DC

I have to say . . and I hate to say it . . I wasn't overly thrilled with this issue. Last issue the Titans were attacked by something that looked like the Hyper-griffin that the Human Flame released from STAR Labs. But, if it was that same beast, I guess we'll never know. It was never really explained where it came from or it's purpose. All we know, or find out from this issue is that it's taken, or eaten, a few of M'gann's brain cells. And it appears to have been after Raven. The Titans fight it, or it's minions with everything they have, but they don't seem to be making much headway. However, Garth heads back into the tower when he thinks that the injured Raven may be in trouble. It turns out the fight outside was just a diversion so that they could get what they wanted inside . . Raven. Or more specifically, her soul-self. Garth takes on the beast, but really it's just a stalling tactic. It isn't until M'gann regains consciousness, and then uses her powers to awaken Raven that the tide of the battle is turned. Once awake her soul-self strikes out and hurts the beast forcing it to retreat to wherever it is that it calls home. And then it's gone. So most of the issue was spent in battle, but we don't really know who with or why. The only positive thing to come out of this issue is that the team address' Garth's attempt at obtaining the leadership position. It's explained to him in no uncertain terms that this team already has a leader . . Cassie. The issue ends with him and Cassie screaming at each other. However . . this conversation won't be continued until issue #79. Apparently the next 2 issue are going to be part of the Blackest Night. This story was written by Felicia D Henderson, with Yildiray Cinar on pencils. In the back-up story, Rose figures out that Will is actually Will Roades, ex-MI6. He was a double agent for England and Russia. Apparently now . . he's playing for himself. The story ends with him, having drugged Rose, beating the crap out of her because her response time is drastically reduced. But he doesn't want to kill her. He wants to turn her. I wonder how he's going to do that. This part is by Sean McKeever, with Yildiray again doing pencils. It was an ok book. But it was basically filler until the Blackest Night story jumps in next issue. And it showed. There were only a few panels of actual important content this issue. A whole lot of fluff.

Blackest Night Titans #3 - DC

Now we move on to the final issue of the Blackest Night Titans series. Man that went fast. The one thing I noticed throughout these series is that each of them gave the heroes a tool to fight back the Black Lanterns. We already know . . or at least it's been heavily hinted at, that they need to bring all the spectrum's together in order to defeat the Black Lanterns. Eventually, someone is going to be wearing all the rings. Or some sort of variation of that tactic. In Batman, we found out that when Dick froze he and Damian, that the Black Lanterns couldn't find them. Apparently they don't see things normally . . mass, motion, depth, color. It seems that the only thing they can see is the color of the emotions flowing through the person. But obviously when confronted by something as wicked as this, nobody is going to have the peace of mind to remain calm enough to shadow themselves from the Black Lanterns radar. At least not for long. Anyways, in Superman we found out that the Psycho Pirate's mask can sever the connection between host and ring. But . . the mask was destroyed. Can they do something with the pieces? I guess we'll have to wait and see. Then in this series we find out that Dove is apparently their antithesis. They can't touch her. To do so means they sever their connection. So now they want to get her to the front lines. But the Titans also have another problem. When Donna was fighting Terry and their child, the child bit her. The power of the Black Lanterns is trying hard to influence her. Luckily, she knows that. And she's trying hard not to let it gain any hold. But . . she's also realistic. She tells Dove she wants to keep her by her side. 'If I turn . . if I become like them, I want you right there at my side . . so you can end it.' On the final page we see that Donna's already viewing the world much in the same way the Black Lanterns do. When she looks at her friends she sees the various colors of their emotions. All except Dove that is. With her . . she looks like a pillar of salt. While unconscious, there was a nice little interaction between Dove and Don Hall. Obviously the next 3 mini-series . . Flash, Wonder Woman and the JSA are going to be giving the heroes a few more tools to use against their adversaries. The interesting part, I think, will be seeing how all of these tools come together, and how they're used against the Black Lanterns. JT Krul really did an excellent job with this mini-series. I like the way his story came together, and how he handled all of these characters. Also Ed Benes' art was simply fantastic. I've missed him on JLA, but . . I'm glad that he's still around. I wonder what his next project will be. Anyways, we're half way through Blackest Night. What do you think will happen next?

Blackest Night #4 - DC

Ok, again . . another book with a whole lot of pieces to this huge puzzle that's occurring throughout the DC Universe. With the absence of Superman and Wonder Woman, Barry is trying to be the leader and the motivator. And . . he's doing a really good job of it. Right now he's fighting off these Black Lanterns with Mera and Ray, the Atom. And he keeps having to push them to be their best. Mera's ready to give up more than once, but Barry's talked her back from the ledge. Ray also shows us a new trick this issue. You know how he uses the telephone to travel great distances? Well, apparently he's figured out a way to take passengers along with him. Also during their fight they come across Firestorm Remember last issue? Ronnie pulled Jason into his Firestorm matrix. It looks like he killed Gehenna also. So Jason is mad and he's trying to exert control. At one point he makes it to the front of the bus and tells the trio that they have to keep Barry away from the Black Lanterns because for some reason they want him specifically. In Gotham the Black Lantern of Azrael comes across the Scarecrow. But he can't affect it because the Scarecrow shows no fear . . or emotion. And in Metropolis, Luthor has effectively sealed himself off from the entire world. 'As far as I'm concerned . . it's every man for himself.' Next our trio goes to Manhattan where the JSA is also fighting the Black Lanterns. Atom Smasher and Damage are fighting and talking together. They're both surprised to see Ray Palmer. But then . . the Black Lantern of Al Pratt shows up. He's the original Atom, Atom Smasher's protege, and Damage's absentee father. Needless to say, he causes a whole lot of emotions to be stirred up. Ray's looking for Alan Scott. Since Indigo 1 took Hal off planet with her, he's hoping that Alan's ring will be just as effective. Unfortunately, his works differently. And none of them can stop Jean, Ray's dead wife, from taking Damage's heart. We get a glimpse of Scar and some other Black Lanterns on planet Ryut, in space sector 666. We don't really know what's going on, but this seems to be where all of this trouble is stemming from. And the whole issue we keep getting glimpses of the Black Hand in Coast City. We don't really know what he's doing but he seems to be hanging around the cemetaries. At the end of the issue it seems as if the Black central Power Battery is rising out of the ground in Coast City, as well as it's millions of dead residents. And the biggest threat of all . . Nekron. I don't think it's a coincidence, but Nekron rises when the Black rings say that their power levels are at 100%. We know from the past, way past, that Nekron rules over a region of hell. It's a region where the dead wait for passage to their final destination. He gets his power from the souls and spirits of all of those dead who travel through his region. He was created way back in 1981 by Mike Barr, Len Wein and Joe Staton. He's appeared a few times over the course of the Green Lantern Corps history, as well as Captain Atom, Fate and Power Company. Most notably was his bid to recreate the universe when Krona accidentally got sent to his dimension. It'll be interesting to see how Geoff has adapted this character from then till now. His visage on the final 2-page spread is completely different looking than the bony skeletal figure that Joe Staton drew for the GLC mini-series. And how does the heirarchy of this Black Lantern Corps go? I mean, we got Scar, Black Hand, the Anti-Monitor and now Nekron. Who's in charge and who holds the keys to the kingdom? Like I said . . lots of pieces. But we only have glimpses of what the puzzle is supposed to look like. Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis are doing an incredible job. And really . . we're only half way through. I have a feeling the best is yet to come.

Green Lantern #47 - DC

This book brings up back to the cosmic epic of Blackest Night, as told by Geoff Johns. There's lots of stuff going on in this issue, but it's all just pieces of the puzzle. We find out that Atrocitus can't really be killed. Since the Red Lanterns have replaced their hearts with their power rings, it doesn't really do the Black Lanterns any good to remove them. Anyways, we get a little more information on the massacre of space sector 666. That's that thing that happened a long time ago that the Guardians are trying to hide. Atrocitus is attacked by 'Four of the five inversions. Once the last survivors of the planet Ryut. Sub-reference: massacre of space sector 666 classified.' They expect to easily defeat the Red Lanterns, but when they see that removing their heart has little affect on them . . I think they may realize they're in for a bigger fight than they thought. Meanwhile on Korugar, Hal is trying to bring together some of the various factions of the emotional spectrum. He's got Sinestro, Carol and Indigo 1 all there. After taking on some of their own personal demons, in the guise of Black Lanterns, Sinestro wants to get Atrocitus to join their little group. But Hal insists that they should get Saint Walker first. Luckily Hal wins out, because back on Odym Larfreeze and his Orange Lanterns are trying to obtain the Blue Power Battery. However, when Hal and company show up, their own Blue Rings are re-energized, and it quickly turns the tide of battle. But, back on Okaara we see that Larfreeze is having his own problems with the Black Lanterns, and on the final page Atrocitus has come to get the Orange ring. But I'm not really sure what that's all about. Also we get a little bit more information . . very little . . on Xanshi and John Stewart. I like the way that Geoff is stretching out this story. He's giving us bits and pieces of information . . enough to keep us interested, without it feeling like he's just dragging it out on purpose. We're starting to see the bigger picture. We just don't know what it all means yet. But since Blackest Night #4 is the next on my list . . hopefully I'll feel a little more knowledgeable after it. I also love the work that Doug Mahnke is doing on this book. His style is perfect for these characters. The full page spread of the four inversions on the second page is really rather creepy. Nobody could've pulled it off, but Doug. A fantastic book, and great covers by Ed Benes and Doug Mahnke. In the back of the book, on the DC nation page, Dan Didio tries to give us a little upcoming information, but hides it in French and Italian text. The first half of the post is in French, and about the return of Starman in a book by James Robinson. Secondly, in Italian, he talks about the return of Catwoman in a Batman mystery in which she teams up with 'an old enemy with a passion for unorthodox artifacts generally used for protection or ornament.' But . . I'm not sure who that is.