Sunday, January 31, 2010

Smallville - Disciple - Season 9 Episode 10 - CW

I thought this was an interesting episode. This one focused more on Ollie and his attempt at digging himself out of his hole. Chloe admits to Clark this episode that she tried to help bring Ollie back from the edge of darkness. She wanted to show him that he still had hope. And that he had reasons for wanting to be alive. But . . Clark doesn't take the news to well. He thinks that she's becoming a bit to manipulative and controlling. But he does want to help his friend. It all starts with Lois & Clark attending a charity function. Afterwards he takes off, and when she can't start her car, she finds herself faced down with someone dressed a lot like Ollie on a nearby rooftop. He shoots her in the shoulder, just missing her artery. It's a designed shot to take a person down without killing them. Anyways, long story short, it seems that after Ollie left that island that he was stuck on, he took up with a centuries old Celtic cult. It was established by Master Archers and apprentices, back in the 13th century. I think Ollie was just looking for a way to hone his craft. Anyways, his master in the group was Vardigan. Well Vardigan has started to feel his age. And when that happens, the apprentice is supposed to take over for the master . . by killing him. Ollie refuses to do that. So Vardigan has taken his vows literally . .'there shall be no lovers, no allies, no disciples outside of the group.' That's why he attacked Lois. Next he goes after Chloe, and then Ollie's disciple . . Mia. Ironically Ollie ends up using the same shot Vardigan used on Lois to take him down. Ironic because Vardigan taught him that shot. Anyways, Ollie comes out of the ordeal a little more optimistic, and a little more set on teaching Mia what he knows. Also, while this is going on, Zod pays a little visit to Lois in the hospital. He doesn't threaten Lois, but the threat is implied when she tells Clark about it. He also gave he a trinket. It's the Kryptonian symbol for Rao . . their god. Clark gives it back to Zod, but he doesn't know what it means. Apparently Jor-El had the Book of Rao with him, but . . now that he's dead, Zod can't find it. He was hoping that Clark would recognize the symbol so they would know whether or not he had it. When I read books or watch shows or movies I like to think that there are trinkets of knowledge hidden . . everywhere. Sometimes they're obvious . . sometimes not. Anyways, after the ordeal Ollie is talking to Mia and he's down on himself for ever being involved with Vardigan. Mia tries to lift him up by telling him, 'It's not important who are teachers are, but what we do with the lessons that we've learned.' I thought that was a pretty good piece of knowledge to keep ahold of. Anyways, good episode. I can't wait to see Absolute Justice next week.

Wolverine Origins #44 - Marvel

Ok . . now that Logan has found Romulus, and knows what his plans are . . things are only going to get worse from here. Basically, Romulus wants someone to take over his empire . . either Logan or Daken. So he's trying to pit them against each other. Logan doesn't want that. He can either fight Daken, or just assume control from Romulus. But either way, eventually . . Daken will come after him, and he'll have to kill him. That's the only way he'll be able to stop him. So he opts for the third choice . . take apart Romulus' empire so there's nothing left for he and Daken to fight over. And Romulus will be left in a powerless position thereby being unable to manipulate Logan, or anyone in the future. However, this isn't Logan's plan. It's Bruce Banner's plan. Anything Logan can come up with, Romulus would've been able to figure out. So he's gone outside of the circle for help. He's enlisted the aid of Bruce, and his son Skaar, the Silver Samurai, Cloak and is currently in the process of procuring the help of Ruby Thursday. However, to do that . . he has to break her out of the Raft. The problem there being . . getting out. Getting in was easy. But now that they know they're there, the gates have come down as well as a very powerful power dampener. And Romulus, who's now desperately trying to figure out what Logan is up to, is also in the shadows trying to stop Logan's progress. Everybody ends up making it out, but . . before they can get to her, Romulus has snatched up Ruby Thursday. I think he's hoping to get some information from her as to Logan's activities. Daniel Way has done a terrific job of scripting this book. Even though we're on issue #44, in looking back . . you can see how everything has been interconnected up to this point. He's done a terrific job of guiding us through this opus. I'm also enjoying Doug Braithwaite's pencils. I'm just guessing here, but I think that Romulus is Logan's actual, biological, father. You can see the similarities in their appearance, but . . that may all be a ruse . . some misdirection to make us think that. I'm still going to go with my gut feeling, but . . there may be another answer out there that we haven't even glimpsed yet. It's all in the hands of Daniel and Doug. We couldn't ask for better guides.

X-Factor #201 - Marvel

We've just come through 3 different X-titles, and I love 'em all. But . . I still think this is probably my favorite X-book on the stands right now. I think Peter David is doing a great job with the story-lines here. But to me, the real icing on this book is the incredible cast of characters. Peter has assembled a great group of individuals here, and as far as their affects and input into the storylines go . . they all serve to accentuate the overall feel of this book. Plus . . on top of the X-Men themes, and the myopic story-lines . . the characters in this group still feel like they're part of a soap-opera. The interactions and dialogue between them is perfect. The team has recently moved back to New York City. Upon return, they're almost immediately hired by Franklin and Valeria Richards to help them find their mom. Supposedly Susan and Reed got into a fight, and she took off for a little while. But . . things don't seem exactly right at the Baxter Building. First of all, Reed is off-putting and vague . . even more so than usual. And . . Valeria doesn't trust him. During their visit they find one of Sue hairpins in the fantasticar, and with Longshot's powers, they find out that she's been taken to Latervia. In his vision they also find Layla there. She seems to be working in conjunction with Doom. Anyways, Shatterstar and Guido also get into a fight with Ben while they're there. Later, when they've decided to go to Latervia and find out what's going on with Sue, Ben comes looking for a rematch and ends up jumping through the portal with them. As well as Monet, who just wants to stay home and find out what's happened to her father who has been recently abducted. Once in Latervia, Monet, Longshot and Ben decide to take the direct approach. 'Let's go knock down Doom's castle and see if the Invisible Woman is in it.' While Jaime, Longshot, Rictor and Darwin have decided to do the footwork . . the detective work, and follow the clues. They lead them to a recent grave in a nearby cemetery. After digging up the casket, they find Reed Richards held prisoner within. I'm guessing this is the real Reed Richards. It looks like next issue they're going to get their face-off with Doom. Be careful what you wish for. Anyways, like I said, I really enjoy this book. I think Peter is doing a great job, and I also enjoy the artwork of Bing Casino. And . . we're on issue #201. I think that's fantastic.

X-Force #23 - Marvel

I really enjoy this book. I think Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost are doing a great job with the story and these characters. And I absolutely love Clayton Crain's art. However, having said that . . I do have one minor problem. Because of Clayton's style, and the darkness of his art . . shadows and lines and such, sometimes it gets a little hard to tell some of these characters apart. To differentiate between them sometimes becomes a little obscure. Sometimes I'm kind of guessing at who's who. I still enjoy the book and the story . . the ultimate outcome of the action of the characters. But . . I often have to go back and look things over after I've read it and know how it's going to come out. But . . maybe that's my own problem. I don't know. It just seems that on this book he uses an incredibly dark style. Anyways, a lot of stuff happens . . and a lot of important information comes out this issue. Eli Bard and his group have attacked Genosha, basically because they were sent to retrieve the knife that Warpath took with him. Once they get it though, they return to Genosha with the knife, and . . they take Warpath with them. Scott decides to send X-Force there to deal with it, but Emma defines their priorities. 'Let me make this as clear as I can, Logan. You need to kill her. Her and everyone that attacked us . . even Kevin. That's the only way this will end.' Anyways, during all of this, Hrimhari has called Loki to help him save Rahne and his child. Loki gives him a choice, "I need a soul for a soul. Therefore, I need your soul in return for another. You can save one or the other but not both.' However, Hrimhari tricks Loki and asks her to save Josh Foley, Elixir. In return, Josh saves both Rahne and the child. But Hrimhari is gone. 'Tell Rahne I love her . . and tell her . . tell her, I will find a way back to her.' Also during the fight, it looks like Lil' is killed. Wither gives Logan some serious pain. And Blink does a lot of damage. It looks like she rips Warren apart from the inside out . . even though later Domino notices that it looks like his wings are already growing back. And Blink also messes up Mercury. Although I'm sure she'll reform sooner or later. Oh yeah, and Onyx seems to have been dispersed into so much rubble. We've seen Rockslide reform himself, but . . can Onyx do it also? This Necrosha story-line seems to be moving along rather slowly, but . . it is entertaining. I still think it's got that Night of the Living Dead kind of feel to it though. However, we are nearing the end. It looks like X-Force #25, in March, will be the final chapter. So between this book, and Legacy, we have about 4 more issues to go. Then we'll see if there's any real lasting effects on the X-teams or their characters.

X-Men Legacy #232 - Marvel

This is all a bit confusing, but . . because of this whole Necrosha thing, and Selene, Proteus has been brought back and he's attacking the X-Men that have come to Muir island. But . . he's not really part of the whole techno-organic virus thing. As it turns out . . Proteus was never really dead. 'He's a lattice of energy. He inhabits bodies briefly, uses them as storage batteries, then moves on when they're empty. We should have considered the implications of that. When he dispersed his being and seemed to die . . he just entered a low-energy resting state. Dead and alive at the same time. He remained like that for years. Then something moved in those borderlands. Moved in the wrong direction. Something came back from death into life, and a little piece of Proteus was carried with it. Destiny was part of it. He knew now that he couldn't die. He wanted to be free from the prison he'd made for himself. So he distorted Destiny's visions of the future. Made her think she was passing on a warning, when in fact she was triggering all this. Proteus did something to Blindfold's mind. Made her into a psychic magnet, so she could collect up the rest of his fragments. Then she got the final piece from Destiny and went critical.' However, the other problem is . . Proteus can now inhabit more than one vessel at a time. He starts out with Blindfold, but then during their fight also possess' Kurt. The rest of them try to get back to the Blackbird . . to make a break for it. But it isn't long before Proteus . . both of him, catch up to the girls. Basically he uses them against each other, until he possess' all of them. Well . . all but Rogue and Magneto. And Peter too, since he's unconscious. Anyways, Rogue starts fighting him with Psylocke's powers, but it's Magneto that seems to be the weight that tips the scale. For some reason Proteus seems to be scared of him. He hasn't killed him when he could have, and . . rather than fight him, he tossed him across the island. So Magneto forces his hand by tearing up a chunk of the island and sending them both up into the atmosphere. The X-Men have a lot of firepower assembled here. But I don't know if even this will be enough to take down Proteus. And what about Destiny and Blindfold? Will they be able to save their friends. We'll have to wait 1 more issue for the wrap-up of this tale. This issue is brought to us by Mike Carey and Clay Mann. I enjoyed it. I thought it was entertaining. But . . when dealing with a character like Proteus . . there's just so many unanswered questions. With a power over all of reality . . there's so many different ways this could've gone. Even though it'll be hard for them to beat him . . it almost seems like he's holding back for some reason. Come back next month for the answers. Hopefully!

X-Men Forever #16 - Marvel

I really like this title. You get the feeling of nostalgia . . like you're visiting old familiar territory. But . . it's different. We're following the same basic time-line as originally happened here, but . . some of the events and circumstances have changed. And with this new added variable . . Burnout, an effect of their mutations and the use of their abilities that causes most mutants to die at a young age . . it seems to have given this series a new, underlying purpose. And we can't forget about the Consortium. We don't know all the players yet, but . . it seems to be a group that's basically controlling most of the world's governments through subterfuge, manipulation and some key players, sympathetic to their goals, in key positions. Basically like any group that wants to control the world. However . . there's something different about this one. But like I said . . we don't really have all the information, yet. We know 1 or 2 of the elite members, but that's about it. However, Fury and Dugan are doing there best to try to get up to speed. Dugan and Creed found some of Fury's men trying to sneak sensitive information out of the mansion. They appear to be double-agents of the Consortium. So far they've sussed out a few of the players . . Kramer, Brown, Jakita and a mole within the psi-web. But none of them are talking. At least not to Dugan or Fury. But . . Creed hasn't taken a stab at them yet, so . . that may all change pretty quickly. Meanwhile, Hank and Charles, with the help of Moira, are trying to find a cure, or cause for the Burnout. But they all seem to be reaching their breaking point from frustration and fatigue. And Kurt and Rogue have gone down to New Orleans because Kurt's worried after getting a distressed call from Amanda Sefton. However, they find out it was all a set-up, to get their attention, by Mystique. It seems that she and Logan knew about the Burnout, but . . for some reason they both were immune to it's effects. But when she heard that Logan had been killed . . she started to get worried and decided to come out of hiding. She tells Kurt that she's his mother. Also, she's not worried about him because he'll have a portion of her immunity. No, she's more worried about Rogue. And she's even more worried after they have a little tussle and Rogue is knocked unconscious. Kurt tries to help her with CPR, but it has an adverse effect on both of them. Kurt seems to have lost his pigmentation and physical attributes, while Rogue seems to have absorbed them all. And now . . Mystique is more worried than ever. I love Chris Claremont's writing. I really missed him on the X-Men series during his sabbatical. But now . . he's back. Kind of. It's the same players . . just a different series. But he's still doing his multiple plot-threads, inter-connected story-lines, and lengthy dramas. All the stuff I loved about his run on the Uncanny X-Men. And it feels fresh and new. Nostalgic. But still fresh. Tom Grummett is his main partner in crime . . as seen on the cover this issue. But various artists have been stepping in to help. This issue it's Graham Nolan. I haven't really seen his work since his run on Batman. He does a nice job with this issue. So far I really like this series. And with it coming out twice a month, it's moving along quite nicely. I can't wait to see the surprises Chris has in store for us in the future.

Captain America Reborn #6 - Marvel

There's an up side and a down side to this issue. On the up side . . we get to see how Steve makes his way out of this mess, and how he ends up beating the Red Skull. I mean . . going in to it, we don't know that . . yet. But . . we do. You know what I mean. But it's still going to be fun to see how he does it. However, on the down side . . we already know that Steve's going to make it through this debacle . . because of his various appearances across the Marvel Universe, in various books. We know that he's going to come out the other side and be back to his former glory. He's not necessarily going to be 'Captain America' right away . . he doesn't want to step on Bucky's toes, but . . you know eventually he's going to end up back in the uniform. However, that being said . . there's also a lot of pluses to this book. First of all we get a beautiful gate-gold cover by Bryan Hitch. Not to mention all the variants. We get to see the great fight between Steve and the Red Skull. Not to mention that it looks like as a result of this story . . the Red Skull may be dead. Maybe! We don't know that for sure. All we know is that his essence is transferred into a robot, and then that robot is taken out. So . . unless he had another container ready . . he appears to be gone. However . . during the fight, his daughter, Sin, is hurt and maimed. Her face is deformed and burned. So maybe . . from the looks of things, maybe she's the new Red Skull. We'll have to wait for further developments to know that for sure, though. Also . . something to think about . . who's to say . . since the Red Skull had basically invaded Steve's psyche . . who's to say there's not a portion of him still in there? We get to see the romantic reunion of Steve and Sharon. It looks like he's going to forgive her for what has transpired, and they're going to grow old together. Or, at least she will. However, Steve is also plagued by the visions of the future that he received. 'What I saw when they were pulling me back through time . . it was like split seconds of . . my future? Or was it my possible futures? More than one. I saw me and Sharon together. With children . . a long life . . happiness. But I saw something else, too. Something awful . . which of these futures is true? Are they both true? Can they be? Or is it some kind of warning? And if it is, how do I fight the future?' All in all I thought this was a fantastic series. Bryan's art really set the mood for things, but Ed Brubaker's story was brilliant. Plus . . Steve's just such an iconic character that it's great to see him come out on top, and have him back in the picture again. I'd say that this series was a great success. Even if the timing was a little off.

New Avengers #61 - Marvel

Well . . Steve seems to be back in the thick of things, even though I haven't even read Captain America Reborn #6 yet. Although . . that is the next book in my list. Anyways, the Hood has returned to his gang. And with the Norn Stones that Loki has given him, he's decided to amp up the powers of his minions, and give them the ability to find other people with powers . . as in, the Avengers. He wants them to hunt them down and take them out. They attack Steve and Bucky as they're on a stake-out, and Spider-man and Spider-woman as they're doing surveillance on Avengers Tower. First they attack, and then . . in both cases, they force one of the 'heroes' to take out their partner. Bucky is order to kill Steve, while Spider-woman is told to take out Spider-man. Steve appears to be shot, while Spider-man is thrown over a building. We don't know whether either of these attacks were successful. But after attacking Spider-man, on the final page Spider-woman is given a new set of orders. 'Before you kill yourself for me . . you need to show us where the other Avengers are hiding.' For being part of the Siege cross-over, there wasn't really anything to do with that in this issue. Well . . I guess when they were watching the Avengers Tower they saw a lot of movement and mobilization. So they know somethings up, just not what. I guess those 3 panels were how this specific issue was affected by Siege. Oookay! Anyways . . that's pretty much what happened this issue. Pretty simple. 'Wham-bam-thank you mam!' Brian Bendis wrote this rather trite tale, while Stuart Immonen and Daniel Acuna do the art. I'm sorry. It wasn't a bad issue . . per se. It was just . . of a single purpose . . to move the story-line with the Hood forward. It was what it was. I enjoyed it. But . . I wasn't thrilled. Sorry!

Ultimate Enemy #1 - Marvel

This was an interesting issue. It appears that something is going around Manhattan and taking out some of the 'old' key players. And they're doing major damage in the process. So far this issue it's gone after Roxxon . . which is witnessed by Pete's female clone, Spider-woman, Jessica Drew . . Reed Richards and his family . . his paternal family, not the FF since they're no longer together . . Sue Richards and the Baxter Building, and finally Nick Fury. We don't know exactly who it is yet, but it appears to be some kind of golem type of creature, with energy blasting powers. It also appears to be able to adjust it's shape, size and mass. When it takes out Roxxon and the Baxter building it pretty much envelopes the whole site. And it looks like a giant octopus, or amoeba as it attacks. However, when it confronts Nick it takes on a more human form. As he blows up the building and the street around him, he tells Nick, 'You have no one to blame but yourself, Nick Fury.' Also, he knew who, and where, Nick was even though he was in disguise. Even looking through the previews of this 4 issue series . . chapter 1, by the way . . I still have no clues as to who this may be. So far though . . besides attacking Roxxon, it seems to be after the former members of the FF. Well . . and Nick Fury. So I imagine it's only a matter of time until Peter is drawn into this as Johnny Storm is staying with him at Aunt May's now. This seems to be another shake-up for this line of comics by creator Brian Bendis. Ultimatum wasn't enough? Now they have to go through this also? I'm not sure where this story is going, but . . it looks to be an interesting ride. I really enjoyed the whole book, and I thought Rafa Sandoval did a terrific job on the art. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Avengers the Initiative #32 - Marvel

We get a little bit of a history lesson on Taskmaster this issue. The main point being that he's the type of person that has always played it safe. He's always let the other people do the dirty work, while he reaped the rewards. Flying under the radar, if you will. But now that HAMMER, and thereby the Initiative, is getting ready to invade Asgard . . he's either going to have to step up . . or step aside. There's not a whole lot of middle-ground here. And once the battle begins . . his first thoughts are, 'Mother of God! This is crazy. They ain't human. I don't belong here. This is how those poor saps I sent to the Negative Zone musta' felt.' And as he watches another member of the Initiative get taken out . . rather violently . . he thinks, 'And that's enough of that. Those losers died in the Negative Zone 'cause they're losers. I ain't about to go out like that. I'm the Taskmaster. And it's time to take some folks to school.' Which he does, but . . it's really his involvement with Iron Patriot, and some other of the 'heavy-hitters', in taking down Thor that's going to make his rep. It's interesting that as this is happening Diamondback decides that she's going to try to help Thor. 'If there's a chance of stopping this, we'll need Thor. Our side . . the real Avengers . . we need someone to make sure they don't . . oh my god! They're killing him.' I really don't think that happened. But . . they do give him a pretty sound trouncing. And with Diamondback watching what's going on . . she's afraid to make a move against these guys. However, with her arriving at the exact moment she did . . she's bound to be remembered as one of the ones that helped to take down Thor. Even though she wasn't really involved . . she was there. I wonder how this will affect her double-agent status? Anyways, the New Warriors decide that they're going to turn in all the information that they've found on the U-Foes . . and their mysterious deposits, over to every media outlet they can find. And Justice decides that with Norman and the rest of the Initiative busy with the Siege on Asgard . . he wants to go to Camp HAMMER and get all the dirt he can on Norman and his operations. I like this book. I always have. It's an Avengers book, but . . it's not. You know what I mean? And I think that's a good thing. It doesn't fit into the cookie-cutter mold. It's different and original. And I think Christos Gage is doing a fantastic job with these stories. Mahmud Askar steps in on the pencils this issue. I have to say . . they looked pretty damn good. As long as they keep putting this book out, I'll keep buying it.

Fantastic Four #575 - Marvel

I have to say . . I'm pretty impressed with Jonathan Hickman's stories so far. Obviously I've been reading his work in Secret Warriors, but . . it's a little different for this book. I'd even go so far as to compare him to Geoff Johns in that he takes a character, in this case the Mole-Man, and focus' on a different aspect of his personality or behavior. Basically . . redefining the character. He doesn't change the Mole-Man. If anything his arguments with Ben confirm that he's still the ego-maniacal tyrant that he's always been. However, in a more enlightened conversation, he does express how he's basically trying to take care of his 'people', and in his own way prevent them from having to deal with the petty things that people on the surface face. However, there's a new problem. The High Evolutionary had built a hidden city for him to work on his experiments. In it he built an ascension engine. But after time . . it started to devolve his experiments. He and the rest of his New Men were forced to flee. But the ascension engine was never shut down. Now, some of the Moloids have begun to live in the city, becoming more evolved and intelligent. As a result they're starting to make some of the bad decisions that surface dwellers do. And, they want to raise the city to the surface as it was originally intended. Which is why the Mole-Man gets the Fantastic Four involved. One of the interesting scenes was when the FF come across the resting place of the future Galactus . . where Reed buried him. It was also interesting seeing the different underground cities as they make their way down. In the end though, the city does indeed rise and they're requesting to be treated as an independent nation-state within the continental US border. You just know that's not going to go well. Anyways, all in all I thought it was an interesting book. I don't think this is the last that we'll hear of this . . it seems to be a set-up for something bigger, but . . I also don't think we'll be seeing this in the next issue. Jonathan seems to be setting up some nice story-lines in this book, for later exploration. I can't wait to see where they all lead. Dale Eaglesham is back on the art this issue. I miss him over in the JSA, but . . if he's gotta go somewhere, I'm glad it's this book. His style fits it perfectly.

the Amazing Spider-man #619 - Marvel

This time . . this issue . . we finally get a feel that there's an actual 'Gauntlet' the Spidey's being run through. And apparently the board's being controlled by Mysterio. I'm not sure how the Kravens fit into all of this. We don't even see them this issue. So . . I guess we'll have to wait and see what's happening on that front. Meanwhile, Mysterio seems to be taking control of the Maggia by bringing back Silvermane . . or, at least a robot of him . . that he controls. It appears that Carmine wasn't happy with Baby Bruno taking over the family when his father died. So he approached Mysterio to bring Silvermane back. But he's a robot, so he can be controlled. And if Carmine is controlling him, then actually . . he's in charge. But it also appears that's only because Mysterio is allowing him to believe that. Later on, Mysterio controls Silvermane on his own, and when Carmine isn't happy with his plans, and argues, the family boss takes control and kills him. It looks like Mysterio is playing both sides against each other . . the Maggia and Mr Negative's Tong. There seems to be an awful lot of people this issue that were supposed to be dead, but are now up and running around. I assume that's Mysterio's doing, but . . it hasn't really been explained so far. And even though he seems to be trying to steal the Maggia's money . . he also keeps going after Spidey. In one scene he makes him think he kills one of the wise-guys when he punches him off of a scaffolding. As he's brooding about that, Mysterio throws another obstacle at him when he thinks that his actions may have accidentally killed a whole group of mobsters. But Mysterio goes to far when he put the face of Captain Stacey as the man behind the mask . . the mask of the group's leader. That's when Spidey starts to put the pieces together and realizes that this whole thing has been orchestrated by Mysterio. Now he and Carlie just have to figure out how they're going to stop all of this. Oh yeah, also . . it appears that Mr Negative has taken control of Aunt May. That or he's definitely turned up her 'negative' side. Dan Slott writes this story. I thought it was ok. I think it's been one of the better ones . . so far. But I still wasn't thrilled with it. I definitely didn't like May's 'turn', but . . I guess that's all just part of the story. I also have to say that I'm just not thrilled with Marcos Martin's art. For some reason, the scenes with Mr Negative looked better than the rest of the book. I don't know why . . they just did. Anyways, overall I thought it was ok, but . . I've seen better. I'm just glad that I'm not paying extra for the variant covers.

Secret Warriors #12 - Marvel

I like this book . . a lot! I think Jonathan Hickman is doing a great job with the stories. Especially considering all the various factions that he's trying to keep track of. And Stefano Caselli's art just gives this book a great feel. I first saw his stuff on the early Avengers: Initiative book. I liked it then, and I think he's just gotten better. On top of that, we have a whole series of beautiful Jim Cheung covers. Anyways, Jonathan has recently added a new faction to this war that's brewing in the Marvel Universe. We already have HYDRA and HAMMER. Then Nick seems to being putting together teams to fight on various fronts. First there was his Secret Warriors. And now with Dum Dum's help, they're re-establishing the Howling Commandos. And that's not even mentioning that I'm sure he has a black-ops team running around out there that we don't even know about yet. Anyways, to top all this off . . we've been recently introduced to what may be the baddest-ass team of all . . Leviathan. This issue we get a little bit about their history. They seem to have originated in Russia during the Cold-War. But now . . it seems like they've become something else entirely . . almost alien . . or something. Anyways, they attack HYDRA at their Nemesis base this issue. They fight Gorgon to a stand-still, and then take off with Viper. Apparently they're looking for some 'box'. We don't know all the details, yet . . just that they seem hell-bent on finding it. We also see Jerry and Yo-Yo go to Lacoochee Supermax Prison to visit his father . . Crusher Creel. I'm not sure what that was all about, but . . I think that story-line is just getting started. We also see the origin of that octopus looking guy on the HYDRA high-council. He seems to have come from the mating of a human with some type of alien spore . . or something. And when Nick calls a command meeting, we get a little more info on what his various teams are up to. And finally, back to Leviathan . . we see that what HYDRA has been dealing with so far appears to be only foot-soldiers. Their real 'beast' is lying asleep in cold-storage and they're about to wake it up. I love all this spy and espionage stuff. It makes me miss the old Alias series off of TV. You know, with all the 'schemes within schemes, and wheels within wheels' thing. But after 12 issues we still don't have the full picture of what's really going on. This whole series so far has been a build-up to 'things to come'. There's been fights and skirmishes here and there, but . . I think the real battle has yet to occur. And now that Leviathan has entered the picture . . it may turn out differently than Nick had originally anticipated. But he's nothing if not a man who thinks on his feet. He already appears to be adapting to this new threat, but . . like I said . . we still don't know everything that's going on. I think this is a great series. Although it's all been anticipation so far . . I still feel like the intensity rises with every issue. If you haven't read it yet, though . . this may be one of those series where you want to collect them and then knock 'em off all in one sitting. I actually may do that again also. I think it'll help with my appreciation of the complexities written into this title.

Red Hulk #1 - Marvel

This issue actually takes place before Incredible Hulk #606. Which I read last week. This one basically brings us up to speed on this Cosmic Hulk . . the robot that the Leader and MODOK have absconded for their own purposes. However . . I'm thinking that may come back to bite them in the ass, sooner or later, as Galactus is the one that originally designed and built this things. Well . . not the Hulk-bot, but the program that's dwelling inside of it . . the vessel cosmos automaton. Basically, it's a data-loop that looks for intelligent life to build it a host-body. The Mad Thinker is the one who actually built this one. However, after doing it, he didn't remember why or how he did it. So he was distrustful and locked it away. Anyways, I'm thinking Galactus may come after his program sooner or later, because . . when we're getting caught up on the history of this thing, we find out that this was originally designed to be a herald of sorts for Galactus. However, he had problems with it because it was often pirated and re-purposed for whomever found it. And more often than not it was sent back against it's creator. So I'm thinking, I'm sure Galactus has to be aware that it's active again. I'm thinking that it's only a matter of time before he comes after his property. Anyways, we also get a view of how MODOK keeps himself alive and fit . . through the re-purposing of the organs of an unlimited cadre of clones. Later when Bruce, A-Bomb and the Red-Hulk are trying to come up with a plan on what to do about this thing. the Red-Hulk suggests that besides his son Skaar, they probably need to call in Bruce's other sibling . . his daughter, the all-new Savage She-Hulk. I'm sure this is going to be an interesting family reunion. This book was ok. Jeff Parker supplied us with a whole lot of information this issue. Maybe that's why I had a hard time getting in to it. It seemed more like an entry into the History of the Marvel Universe, than a story about the Red-Hulk. This is his solo-book, afterall. Right? But this issue was kind of put together as a history lesson . . retroactive continuity. Carlos Rodriguez did a decent job with the art. I guess I just expected more from the first issue of a series. But . . we are right in the middle of a major epic unfolding, so . . I guess we get what we get right now. We'll see what happens next time.

Kick-Ass #8 - Marvel - Icon

I'm really not sure what to say about this book. Personally . . I like it. However, I can see how some people might think that it's just a whole lot of gratuitous violence. Which, in a nutshell . . it is. But . . it's just entertainment. No I wouldn't let some 12 year old kid read this book, but . . that's just me. However, if you think about it, there's no more graphic violence in this story than there is in some of the video games kids are playing. I remember the first time I played through Resident Evil. There were a couple of spots where I almost jumped off the couch. And it's only a video game. Which actually begs a whole nother question for me . . how are they going to make this book, or story, into a movie? Personally, I think it would make a better video game than a movie. Anyways, yes Hit-Girl is a ruthless bitch. Especially considering that she's only 8 years old. But . . you kind of feel sorry for her after what happens to her dad. And Dave? I actually think that Dave wants to make a difference in the world. I think he started out wearing the colorful undies for attention . . and the thrill. But now? Now I think he knows that there's some problems out there that aren't really suited for the spandex crowd. At least not the under-age ones. I don't think he had the intentions of getting involved in a situation as occurs in this story. However, sometimes things just have a way of progressing out of your control. I think Mark Millar and John Romita Jr did a good job here. It was original. My only problem is that it does kind of feel that it was actually written with the movie promo in mind. It kind of feels like the comic version came as an after-thought and that the original intention was solely as a movie script. Which some people could think is a sell-out . . I guess. But hey . . these guys are just trying to make money and pay their bills like the rest of us. Right? Overall . . I enjoyed it. It was a bit over the top in the violence. But . . I don't mind that. I kind of look past that and just try to get a feel for the story. This particular issue seems to be written as a wrap up for the first chapter of this story . . the first 8 issues. Who knows when we'll see the second chapter. The first issue of this book came out almost 2 years ago. With the last issue being about 4 months ago. So . . it may be another year before we see something again. Like I said, though . . to me, it was entertainment, and it was original. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens next.

Black Terror #7 - Dynamite Entertainment

The Black Terror is on a one man crusade to save his friend Archie, the American Crusader. Well . . maybe not save so much as to put his soul to rest. Archie never made it into the urn, so . . the Supremacy has been using him for 60 years to create their unstoppable army of super-powered soldier. Basically . . they've been carbon-copying him. Over and over and over and over and over. And each time he loses a little piece of himself. When the Black Terror found this out, he had to go and save his friend. Or at least put him out of his misery. But to do so he's going to have to get past Dynamic Man, and then . . the whole Dynamic family. Black Terror takes one heck of a beating from him, but he keeps getting back up. And when the rest of the Dynamic Family show up, so to does BT's friend, Pyro. Basically . . he electrocutes them. But when all's said and done . . did BT really beat Dynamic Man, or did he play right into his hand? He's sure that the fury BT will feel when he finds Archie will lead him to either destroy the Supremacy, decimate the Crusader Corps, or destroy himself. Whatever the outcome, Dynamic man wins. The issue ends with BT entering the corridor and immediately being surrounded by the Crusader Corps. They come to him through 'doors'. So . . first he has to beat all the clones, and then he has to find the right door to take him to Archie. Easy-peasy! Alex Ross and Phil Hester write the story for this book. It felt like the classic battle between opposing forces . . between good and evil. BT has the best of intentions, but does he have any idea what's in the jar he's about to open? He may not want to know. Jonathan Lau does the art. I honestly think his stuff gets better and better with every issue. In this Project Superpowers opus, I have to say that I enjoy the solo titles better than the main book. The main title is a bit to convoluted for me. There's just to many characters there to deal with. With things distilled down in the solo-books, I think the characters are a lot more entertaining and engaging. But . . that's just me. But, either way, you have to admire the magnitude of what Alex and Jim Krueger are attempting here. It's nothing, if not ambitious. Good luck guys!

WildCATS #19 - WildStorm

Well . . the battle has begun. And Earth is under siege by . . well, everybody it would seem. Last issue the Carrier took off for parts unknown. It was powered up by some kind of beam and then pulled away like it was on a homing signal. That took a lot of Earth's forces with them. The ones left behind are stuck facing the Red Blade, Kheran's elite fighting force. They've conquered more galaxies than there's probably people left on Earth. The heroes that are left don't really stand much of a chance. That is until the Earth is also invaded by a fighting force from Sliding Albion. Although their arrival is not fortuitous for Earth, it is a distraction for the Kheran forces. Basically, Sebastian, the leader of the Kheran's, doesn't want anyone else to mess up their battle plans . . or their terraforming ones. Yes that's right. Red Flag wants to defeat the forces of Earth so that they can terraform it into New Kheran. While their up fighting the Sliding Albion forces, Spartan tries to rally the forces that they have . . and remove as many civilians as possible. Soon more forces begin to arrive, starting with the Paladins. But not much progress is made before Red Flag defeats Albion, and decides to come back down and finish what they started. Things do not look good for the people left on Earth. They really need to pull something out of their ass for this one. Maybe if Tao or Max were still around. Midnighter tells Spartan, 'I've played the battle to come a million times in my mind already . . in five of them I come out alive.' Adam Beechen wrote this, with Tim Seeley doing the pencils. It's an interesting book. But there doesn't seem to be much of a future left. I have a feeling it's going to be a heck of a year for the WildStorm Universe.

Madame Xanadu #19 - Vertigo

This issue takes us way back in time in Nimue and Morgana's story. Back to when they were just adolescent girls running amok in the woods. Granted they're probably hundreds of years old, but . . they look to be in their pre-teens. In this story of evolution, man never stepped foot on the Earth until Atlantis sank and their people were welcomed onto the lands by the magik folk. Also it's interesting to note, that at this time Nimue was actually more progressed in the magic arts than her elder sister Morgana. It wasn't until 'man' showed up that Morgana started getting curious, and mischievous with their lives. To her they were just playthings. Much like an ant-hill, or the insects of the forest. As time passes on, she begins to play with their lives and futures more and more. But it isn't until they begin to develop weapons that she really becomes enthralled. That's when she starts taking her games to a whole new level. And then . . then on the horizon . . here comes the Roman Empire. Oh what delicious fun she's going to have here. So far our story here has brought us into the age of heroes. However, I think Matt Wagner wanted to take us back and show us just where Nimue came from. Plus I think he wanted to define the relationship between her and her sister Morgana. Personally, I think he's a genius. There's just limitless possibilities with this character. All the various ages and times that she's lived in . . there's just no limit to the amount of stories that can be told. Well . . no limit except Matt's own imagination. Which I would guess that we've barely tapped in to yet. Joelle Jones and David Hahn provide the art for this issue. It has a very whimsical and mystical feel to it. It was perfect for this story. I think this book is another one of those hidden treasures. But don't take my word for it. Pick up a TPB and check it out. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Billy Batson and the Magic of SHAZAM! #12 - DC

This issue, Billy beats Mr Mind, but . . things aren't quite back to normal yet. This story-arc kind of tied in with the Monster Society of Evil mini-series. It kind of showed us how the 2 series fit together. Basically, Mr Mind has been on . . well, Billy's mind ever since that story. Which is why Billy has been so irritable and tired. Mr Mind was using him to make some devices and stuff while he was sleeping. At first it was the only time that he was actually able to take control of his actions. But, even though by the end of the story Mr Mind is defeated . . the monsters are still running around loose out there. And Tawky Tawny seems to be stuck somewhere in transition between his Tiger form and his human form. Which is really taking a toll on both his body and psyche. Right now the city is a mess. There's a lot to clean up. Also Billy doesn't seem to be quite back to normal yet. Maybe after a few days of sleep. I thought it was an interesting book. Art Baltazar and Franco wrote it, with Byron Vaughns doing the art.

the Atom and Hawkman #46 - DC

This was a fantastic book, but . . then again what else would you expect from Geoff Johns and Ryan Sook. This issue was mostly about Ray Palmer dealing with the power and responsibility that he was recently given by the Indigo tribe. He's fighting the Jean Loring Black Lantern, as well as the Hawkman and Hawkgirl Black Lantern. We also learn a little bit about how the Indigo's powers work. 'The ring is able to teleport you to those that need aid. As well as heal them. And when you are within the vicinity of another Lantern you are capable of reconfiguring our light into theirs. Listen for them. Feel them.' Now, on top of all the other fighting, Indigo wants to contact the tribe. With all the Black Lanterns headed toward Earth she wants to tell them whats going on, and get them to contact the homeworlds of the rest of the Corps and bring those armies to Earth. However for such a long message, both in distance and time, it's going to require most of her concentration. While she's out . . she wants Ray to protect her and keep her alive. So he uses what he's been taught and taps into the powers of the other Lanterns. But that's when Jean attacks. She pulls Ray and herself both in to Indigo's ring. Which severely disorients her. However, once he beats her, by tapping into Hal's ring, Indigo is once again able to continue and finish her message. 'Atom. You just saved the universe.' But now he wants something in return. 'Help me figure out how to bring Hawkman and Hawkgirl back to life.' Oh. Is that all? Is that even possible? Well . . we won't know anything else until Blackest Night #7. And that won't be out until Feb 24th. I think this is the last of the Blackest Night final issue books. Oh wait, I'm sorry. I misspoke. We still have the Question out next week. I thought this set of books was a great addendum to the Blackest Night series. Plus . . it was a really original idea. I think this has been my favorite so far. But I always was kind of fond of Ray's character.

the Web #5 - DC

You'd think that John Raymond would've learned from his last fiasco with this franchising idea. But no . . this time it takes a man's life before he realizes that he may have made a mistake. But then . . John's always been a little detached from the responsibilities of life, so . . why would he have thought that there might've been any form of consequences. Basically, John got a request for some help in Detroit. It's a gang-banger who's decided that he wants out of the life. But the guy he works for is never going to allow him to leave. Well . . John doesn't really want to go to Detroit, so . . he calls in one of the locals. It isn't long before this guy is in way over his head. Amondo, the guy he works for, has captured this Web-franchisee and want the information for his soldier, Mateo. Long story short, he ends up killing him to get it, and then goes after Mateo and his sister, Nina. When the life-signs of the suit are terminated, John is notified. This time he takes enough notice to come out and actually do something himself. But it's to little to late. The franchisee, web host 4587, has been terminated. When John tries to help out Mateo, who is now under heavy fire, all he can do is watch as his car crashes and his sister dies. John takes Mateo to the now defunct Detroit headquarters of the JLA to fix him up. While there, Mateo gets some armor and weapons. And then they both go after Amondo. John holds both the deaths square on his shoulders. He lets Mateo handle Amondo as he wishes, and waits for him on the roof. He expects him to come up pissed and frustrated, but instead he's calm and cool. He's also wearing Amondo's bandanna as a mask. 'I'm wearing it 'cause you were right. There's more problems than there are people who can solve 'em. I'm not saying that I want to be a hero, jefe. But even if I was . . justice is justice. Period!' And it looks like a new vigilante may have been born in this Red Circle universe. Oh wait, I'm sorry. This is now part of the DC Universe. So . . that's where a new vigilante may have been born. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if we see more of this guy. Marc Guggenheim wrote this story, with Talent Caldwell doing the art. I liked it. I thought John learned a great lesson in humility this issue. Who knows if it'll stick. You'd think after the death of his brother he be a few rungs lower on the self-importance ladder. This guy means well. But he's having a hard time getting to where he needs to be. However, I still see a ton of potential here. We're only on issue #5, afterall. And yes, I'm still bored with the Hangman back-up story. Sorry!

Justice League of America #41 - DC

James Robinson and Mark Bagley have really hit the ground running with this title. This issue actually picks up the story after Cry for Justice and Blackest Night. It's a credit to James' ability as a writer that he can do so without really giving away anything from either story. I mean . . he does kind of tell us how Cry for Justice is going to end, but . . if you've been reading the book, it's really not that big of a stretch to figure it out. Plus, since he's doing both the books . . he's the one that knows. Right? Anyways, this issue is basically a team drive. Mari decides that she's out. Which just leaves Kimi and Red Tornado. Donna seems to be going through a crisis of faith, and is ready to just give up on the whole 'life'. But Diana can sense that and has given her a new focus. Not only does she want her to replace her spot on the team, but she also asks her to help with the recruiting process. She wants her to use her influence on the people that she knows to be good enough for the team. That includes, Kory, Vic, and Dick. And by association . . Damian. Meanwhile, Doctor Light, who is still trying to decide between her responsibilities as a mother or a hero . . Mon-El and Guardian. While Hal asks Ollie to join him on the team. 'Don't go down this road again. You do it everytime things go south . . 'Green Arrow, man alone.' Every damn time. You need your friends around you, Ollie. Your teammates. The Justice League of America.' Anyways, while this is going on, back in 1777 Tomahawk and Miss Liberty find some kind of strange, alien device in the hills of Virginia. We're not sure how, but it ends up in the Smithsonian. Where a curator, Darwin Jones, trying to catalogue things that still aren't catalogued comes across it. He seems to release some kind of being from it, but . . we don't know yet whether he's hero or villain. This 'Team-History' story-line will continue next issue. From the looks on the cover, it appears that some of the Cry for Justice members will also be joining. Specifically, Congo Bill and the Atom. Hopefully this will usher this book into a new age of greatness. I know. I'm pouring it on a little thick there. But I do have high hopes for this book. The JLA has been one of my favorite teams of all time. And through every incarnation there's been moments of greatness, and . . well, moments that weren't so great. But, if anyone can turn that around, I think it'll be James and Mark. I can't wait to see what they have in store for us.

Justice Society of America #35 - DC

This story didn't actually focus on Kent Nelson . . Fate, but . . he does play an integral part of getting some of these members out of the various traps that Mordru has sprung on them. Basically, Mordru had used Kent as a Trojan-Horse of sorts, to get into the midst of the Justice Society. When he finally revealed himself, he disappeared with the Helmet of Nabu, leaving Kent disabled and disoriented. But before doing that, he cast 8 separate spells, simultaneously, to transport the Society's 8 strongest members to various pocket dimensions where he set up traps for them. Well . . 7 actually. He took Alan Scott off with him personally to try to beat the biggest threat first. Anyways, while Mordru was inside of him, Kent also managed to take a peak around Mordru's brain. That actually turned out to be rather instructional for him. As his narrating is the frame of the story, and in it he talks about how through this knowledge he's figured out better how to use his powers . . how to access the various spells. Anyways, in the end Kent Nelson, not Fate, helps Mr Terrific and Jennifer beat Mordru. Next issue we find out . . Whatever happened to Obsidian? I have to say, so far I've enjoyed Bill Willingham's take on these characters. I think he's doing a good job handling all the various personalities and abilities. And it looks like he's going to focus a little attention on Fate. Finally! Travis Moore does the pencils this issue. I also have to admit, I'm kind of glad this team has split in half . .with the All-Stars. There was getting to be quite a lot of characters here. It felt like it was getting more and more difficult for them to get the individual attention that they deserved. Maybe 2 books will help. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Wonder Woman #40 - DC

This issue, Wonder Woman faces off against a couple of threats in our nation's capital. But . . it seems like most of these occurrences have been manipulated by this band of young boys that we see on the cover here. They don't really have a name, other than Scorpion, Adder, Goat, Spider, and . . I don't know what the fifth one's name is. They kind of remind me of the Cuckoo's from the X-Men. Except, you know . . evil! They seem to have some sort of psychic sway over the people they talk to . . something that convinces them to believe what they're saying. Oh wait . . you know what? It just occur ed to me . . I bet these are the children of Ares that we saw being born last issue on Themiscyra. At the time they aged rapidly, so . . they might be about this age by now. And they do seem to be sowing the seeds of discord among the eclectic potpourri of people that reside in Washington DC. Basically, they seem to be turning everyone against everyone. Including Power Girl. During a fire at a Synagogue, Karen shows up to offer her help. At the meantime, Diana has gone to the hospital to check up on Etta. She still feels guilty for her taking that beating from Genocide. But, come to find out . . Etta has actually been deputized by Checkmate to help them keep an eye on the DMA. She said that with people like Steve and Diana constantly around her, she was starting to feel inadequate. And once she got in the field, she found out that she enjoyed it . . immensely. Anyways, this held Diana up, but by the time she gets to the scene it appears that the 'boys' have turned Karen against Diana. 'They said you'd lie. You always were good with speeches. Never thought you'd sink this low, Amazon. I'm taking you down.' Which leads us to the final page where Diana decides that she's had enough of this and she's ready to go toe-to-toe with Power Girl. I absolutely love what Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti have done with this book. Yeah, they've put Diana through a lot, but . . I think she's come out the other side stronger than ever. Gail writes some fantastic stories, with brilliant character development. While Aaron continues to improve with his already beautiful art. I liked him way back when he was doing Ultraverse comics. Sludge . . I think it was. But he's even better now. This is a great book with some fantastic characters. You definitely should be reading it . . if you're not.

World's Finest #4 - DC

Come on now. Did anyone really think that Superman and Batman wouldn't be able to beat a giant robot put together by Toyman, Mr Freeze and the Kryptonite Man. Well . . the Kryptonite Man's involvement was a little more personal. He was the power source. Whether he wanted to be or not. Anyways, it got set loose on Gotham last issue, and quickly captured Supergirl and Batgirl when they tried to stop it. Which is what forced Dick to put in a call for some serious help. And of course Superman dropped everything and came over straight from New Krypton. He didn't even hesitate. Anyways, they take out Shott's control of the thing, but that only serves to activate the self-destruct sequencing. That's when they find out that Shott had actually built the thing to be a giant bomb to use against New Krypton. So now . . not only do they have to stop the thing . . far enough out in the void so that it doesn't dissipate into the Earth's atmosphere, but they also have to make sure that it doesn't make it's way to New Krypton. Before it took off, it ate Supergirl. But when Batman goes in to rescue her, she's not much help because of the Kryptonite Man's presence. Superman comes busting in, but he has to move quickly also before the radiation starts affecting him. Plus . . they have to save the Kryptonite Man. Even though he's the source behind all this trouble, he'll still die when the robot self-destructs if they don't do anything. Anyways, Batman and Superman defeat all of this . . as you knew they would. But when they return, they find out that although Robin gave Shott a pretty good beating . . it didn't really matter because he's also a robot. And then we find out that this whole thing was just a test . . an audition if you will, for General Lane. He wanted to see if Shott could build a good enough robot to fool the heroes. And now . . now he's got another project for him. 'With all of my resources at your disposal . . do you think you could build a machine that could fool an entire world of Kryptonians?' I thought Sterling Gates and Phil Noto did a pretty good job with this mini-series. It was nice to see the World's Finest title out there again. And I thought this story held true to that book. I know. We have a Superman/ Batman team-up book every month. This title has just always held a special place in my heart.

Supergirl #49 - DC

Well . . it's finally happened. Whatever has been plaguing Lana for the last year or so has finally caught up to her. When she goes down in the beginning of this issue, there's massive amounts of blood coming from her eyes and mouth. And I know that the little bug running across her phone is some kind of clue . . but I have no idea what it is. Meanwhile, Kara and Inspector Henderson are fighting the Silver Banshee. The Clan McDougal's spirits have taken over Kara's body, and are just as interested in getting all the family heirlooms as the Silver Banshee is. However, I assume since the Banshee's form is real, she has more control over their power and uses it to banish them. Not forever . . they'll be back eventually, but . . for now, they're gone. After which, she thanks the Inspector for helping her find the heirlooms, and then she takes off with them. Meanwhile, in the hospital, Lana is fighting for her life. Kara is starting to suspect something, I think, about Lana's condition. But she can't confirm it until she sees her body. However, when she races down to the morgue, she finds her body cocooned in some type of chrysalis . . it's also taken out the orderly, and it appears to be being scratched open from the inside. Whatever has happened to Lana . . we're about to find out next month in issue #50. I can't believe this book has reached that milestone already. This issue is by Sterling Gates and Matt Camp. I enjoyed the story, but . . even after 50 issues, it seems like Kara is still trying to find herself. I mean even in this issue . . she's just all over the place. At least she wasn't bouncing back and forth between Earth and New Krypton. I'm glad that this book has lasted as long as it has. I just hope that it receives the focus and attention that it needs, and deserves, to keep it going.

Gotham City Sirens #8 - DC

This issue is almost entirely about Poison Ivy. It seems that there's someone running around Robinson Park killing people in her name . . known eco-terrorists. But . . it's even more specific than that. They're being killed with an unknown plant-based toxin, and . . it's been created around Ivy's specific DNA. The police believe that she's the culprit, but . . Gordon has his doubts. Each of the victims have a puncture mark around their carotid artery. That's how the poison is being injected. To him, this doesn't hold up with Ivy's usual MO. He shares information with her, because he thinks she'll want to find the killer as much as she does. However, when leaving the police station, she's knocked out by another police officer, Stuart Rawlings, who throws her in a hole for weeks . . to rot. While she's down there withering away, Selina is trying to put the pieces of this puzzle together. Long story short . . it ends up being someone who worked at Arkham and had access to Ivy's blood/sap. From there . . it's a pretty short list to figure out who it is. Luckily, about this same time is when they come up with Officer Rawlings name and they also find Ivy. Selina let's her take care of the pretender as she knows she'll want to. I thought this was an interesting story, by Guillem March and Marc Andreyko, showing us a bit of Ivy's character and where her mind is at nowadays. I don't think she's turning to the side of angels, but . . she does seem kind of detached from the world of men. Except for her attachment to Selina and Harley that is. Guillem also does the art. I enjoy this title. I like seeing a different side of Gotham. Plus . . nothing looks hotter than a bad-girl.

Superman #696 - DC

Mon-El is still the lead character of this book . . since World of New Krypton isn't over yet. And this issue he wakes up under the rubble of the Science Police Headquarters. At the end of last issue Science Police Officer Romundi, actually a Kryptonian sleeper agent, Car-Vex, blew up the top of the building to try to help frame Alura and Chris, Nightwing and Flamebird. Mon-El had convinced them to give themselves up to the Science Police . . to show that they weren't guilty of what they were being accused. However, they no sooner arrive at the Station than General Lane and his Squad K are there for extraction. He's ready to use this whole debacle as yet another excuse for the banning of Kryptonians, and to drive a nail in their plans for war. But Mon-El keeps getting in his way. He disarms some of his soldiers, helps Alura and Chris escape, and takes a couple of rounds intended for the duo as they're flying off. None of which Lane is happy about. And, while searching through the rubble, Guardian finds another of his agents who isn't whom they say they are. They come across Control, but . . she's alive, but knocked out. In her unconscious state she can't keep her assumed form . . her Durlan shape is showing itself. This is yet another one of the Legion back here keeping an eye on Mon-El. James Robinson continues the story here, with Bernard Chang doing the art. I thought this issue helped to progress the story nicely. At least the Guardian can see the General's true colors now. He can't do anything about it, yet. But . . he knows. And Mon-El should be asking soon, who these mysterious people are that keep popping up in his life.

Teen Titans #79 - DC

This issue is all about Virgil . . obviously, from the cover. He has to go back to Dakota because there's a virus going around town. That's normal this time of year. However, there's a couple of things fishy about this outbreak. First of all there's limited vaccinations available. Again, not something to be overly concerned about. But, there only seems to be one pharmaceutical company that can even get their hands on it . . Hollander Enterprises. The vaccinations they do get they offer to the kids first, and then there's a lottery for the adults. Except some of the criminals aren't waiting for their chances at the draw. They're trying to make their own opportunities. Which is turning this town into the wild-wild-west. All of this is fueling Virgil's guilt over having been away for so long. He feels like he's let his city, his neighbors, his friends & family all down. He jumps to the conclusion that Hollander is making both the virus and the vaccine. So he goes to confront them. There he runs in to Holocaust, Pyre . . who used to be with Blood Syndicate. While all of this is going on, Cassie goes to have a little heart-to-heart with Vic. I know this is silly, but it kind of reminded me of a scene from the Godfather. Like Vic was the don of the family. Anyways, she works out some of her personal issues and takes control of the team . . finally. And they decide to go give Virgil a hand . . whether he's asked for it or not. Felicia D Henderson writes this story. I thought she did a decent job. Like I said, it's more a story about Static than necessarily the Titans. Although they'll be joining the picture next issue. Joe Bennett did the art. I thought it looked great. In the back-up, Ravager finds that she's still being manipulated by Will. The recent events that she thought took place yesterday, actually happened weeks ago. In the meantime, he's been administering a drug to her to try to make her his slave . . his one man army. But now he's had weeks to get away from here. This story is by Sean McKeever and Yildiray Cinar. Overall, I thought it was a good book. The story was a little predictable, but . . most of the Titans are together. At least there's a team to work with.

Superman - Secret Origin #4 - DC

This is an incredible book. It's a shame that it's only going to last 6 issues. I'm really enjoying Geoff John's take on the origin theme here. It's not so much the origin of Superman as a person . . how he came here, how he got his abilities, how he was raised and defined as a person. This is more the origin of Superman the character . . the myth . . the savior of Metropolis. The latter being much to the dismay of Lex Luthor. Plus with the defining of Superman as a person, we're also piecing together the periphery characters around him . . Lex, Lois, Jimmy, Perry . . etc, etc. It's all coming into place through this book. And with the way Geoff writes the stories, develops the characters, and captures the dialogue between them . . this is a masterpiece in the making. Add to that Gary Frank's fantastic visual interpretation, and . . we may have the perfect Superman book here. But . . that's just my opinion. This issue we see Superman and Lex come face to face for the first time. Lex has met Clark before, but he obviously doesn't have a clue as to the connection. And Lex is already feeling his 'god-like' ego being boxed in a little bit. He can't even fathom that someone could be this altruistic without wanting something in return . . rewards, adulation, worship . . something! Up to this point Lex has been trying to make Metropolis, and thereby the world a better place. Even if it is on his own agenda, and rules. But now? Now he's going to have a reason to bring all of that to a screeching halt. Now he has an excuse and a target to focus his attention on. And he's starting with the glorified piece the Lois, and the Planet has written on Superman. He controls the rest of the media, so they're following his agenda . . 'outsider' . . 'alien menace' . . 'ultimate threat'. But the Planet has gone the opposite direction . .'City's new savior'. And this causes Lex to declare war. Like I've said before, I think the strength of Superman as a character is the strength and disparity of his supporting cast . . both good and bad. Through this title . . Geoff is putting that jigsaw puzzle together. And through each issue we getting a clearer and clearer picture. It's only right that such an amazing creative team should be defining such an iconic character. If you aren't reading this . . you're really missing something.

Detective Comics #861 - DC

I love this book right now. I miss JH Williams on this particular issue, but . . Jock does a more than adequate job of filling in. His style is nothing like Williams', but . . it looks great, none-the-less. Jock has a more 'basic', instinctual style . . it's simpler than Williams'. But . . it's effective. He has fantastic panel flow, and he tells a lot of story in his art. And then there's Greg Rucka. Greg has done an exemplary job of developing this character in the short time he's been on this book. I mean, just a year or so ago she was just this enigmatic figure that showed up in Countdown a couple of times . . every few issue or so. We knew absolutely nothing about her. But now . . now we feel like we know her, and can root for her. My guess is, eventually she's going to have to spin off into her own title. Especially if Batman does indeed come back. But, then again . . back in the 60's and 70's, Batman wasn't always the star of this book. So . . who knows? By the way, if you read Cry for Justice, James Robinson writes a nice little piece about Batwoman, and this title, in the back of the latest issue. Anyways, with this Cutter character running loose around Gotham, it seems like Batman and Batwoman are on the same case . . although investigating independently. That's part of the theme, I think, this issue . . seeing the different paths each of their investigations has taken. They objective is the same goal, but . . they're both pursuing that in their own way. But equally as effective . . and brutal. Kate Spencer is also involved, but only because she's the new DA. Batwoman actually catches up to him once, but he slips away. Which is what I think is fueling her now because she knows that anything else that happens is also on her hands. So now she's inserted herself into the college life where his victims are coming from. It's only a matter of time before they cross paths again. In the back-up story, we find that Renee and Helena have led the mob-bought killer straight to Tot's lighthouse. They want to make him a deal he can't refuse. They let him take the credit for killing them, and the payment . . in return they get information on who hired him, and for $2million access to his computer which they used to contact him. Although Tot doesn't appear to be very happy with their methods. 'You have purchased that with blood money. You've let a killer go free in exchange. You should both be ashamed of yourselves. And if he were here right now . . Charlie would be too.' I think this is developing into a very nice story, and team-up between the Question and the Huntress. Greg also writes this one with Cully Hamner on art.

Justice League - Cry for Justice #6 - DC

Unfortunately Mauro Cascioli doesn't do the interior art this issue. I guess he took a little break. But, he does still provide an amazing cover. Scott Clark does the art instead. He uses a painted style, much like Mauro's. Actually, now that I think about it, in the back of the book James Robinson is talking about how he won't have any commentary in the next issue, so it'll be 30 pages of story and art. I'm guessing that's why Mauro isn't on this issue. Scott probably pitched in to help him out so that he could finish all of those pages. I'm sure it'll look amazing. Anyways, this issue we're closer to finding out what Prometheus' plan is. Supergirl ferrets out that Shazam! isn't actually Freddie. It's odd that she's the only one that caught on. It's actually Prometheus in camouflage so that he can get aboard the JLA satellite. As he tries to make his way to the main computer room, it's interesting how he has a stratagem for taking out each of the JLA members, one by one. He also uses their fighting tactics against one another. He gets especially creative with Ray Palmer. And then he meets Shade and Jay Garrick. They don't beat him, but . . they do slow him down long enough for Donna to get back into the fray . . full of pain, and rage, and frustration. Shade actually has to pull her off of him. 'The last time I checked in the big book of superhero by laws and whatnot . . your kind doesn't kill. Unless you want to go down the dark lanes that I amble, I'd stop now . . for the next blow will surely be his end. Besides, you've won. No need to show off.' With him trussed up he begins to spill his plans. Basically, he wants to encase and steal the home-cities of these various heroes. Much in the way Brainiac does. Except, he wants to send them through time and space to never be seen again. 'With limitless possibilities of where they'd been sent, you'd never find them. With the dead, you mourn and move on. With this you'd be tortured forever.' He needed the satellite because he had to harness a whole bunch of solar energy to pull this off, plus he needed a computer big enough. The reason he's spilling his plan is because it's been operational ever since he stepped on the deck. But now instead of revenge, he wants freedom. If they let him go he'll tell them where each teleportation device is, and how to deactivate it. And, just in case they think he's trying to bluff . . 'The other cities' destruction will begin in an hour . . if I'm not released. But for Star City . . that destruction began 5 minutes ago.' Man, 'oh man what a fantastic book. The only thing missing out of this issue is . . where is Congo Bill's team? James has done a superb job with this book. I can't wait to see how it's all wrapped up next issue. And . . what'll carry over to his run on the regular JLA title. Of which I'm equally as excited. Scott did a great job of filling in for Mauro this issue. The book didn't miss a beat. I have a feeling there's going to be a bunch of the JLA character's lives changed by the events of this series.

Batman & Robin #7 - DC

Well . . next issue we're about to find out if the body that Superman carried out of Bludhaven was actually Batman's . . or not. This issue is spent with Batman trying to help some of his European counterparts, Knight and Squire . . kind of London's version of Batman & Robin. Anyways, they're trying to stop a plot of Old King Coal's to take out part of London. What they don't know is that King Coal is associated with the cults that follow the Crime Bible. All they know for sure is that he's after some abandoned mine. But they don't know why. As it turns out . . this mine holds one of the last remaining Lazarus pits in the world. The cult wants to use it to bring back their savior . . the person whom they think is trapped inside the body of Batwoman. Which is how she ends up in the mix here. But Dick has other plans. 'Me and Batman, we had an arrangement . . if he was in trouble, I got him out. If there was a death trap he couldn't handle on his own, I was there to get him free. He knew he could count on me. That's how we worked. He was my brother. My best friend. I had a job to do and I never let him down.' So that's what Dick is up to now . . trying to bring back his friend from this last trap he fell in to. And he's going to use a Lazarus pit to try to accomplish that. I'm just wondering if Tim knows about all of this. He might have a thing or two to say about this. And of course it begs the question . . is that really Batman's body? Or corpse. Dick's brought Knight and Squire along because if it is Batman, he'll probably be temporarily insane when he comes out of the pit. It may take all 3 of them to subdue him. I think Grant Morrison is doing a tremendous job with this book. But then, we all knew he would after his incredible run on Batman. And, although Frank Quitely hasn't been with us for this entire run, he has done a cover for each issue. This time the interior art is by Cameron Stewart. I have to say, I really liked the style that he used for this book. It's different from what he's done lately, and nothing like his recent Jonah Hex book. With all the dire consequences going on here, the book had a 'fun' kind of feel to it. I enjoyed it. But next issue? Next issue should be a doozy.

Blackest Night JSA #2 - DC

The last issue ended with the JSA being attacked outside their headquarters by various Black Lanterns . . both reborn 'heroes' and 'villains'. Meanwhile, Mr Terrific is on the inside trying to figure out how to fight these atrocities. 'By combining the power of Alan's ring, Jannie's lightning, Courtney's cosmic rod and Dr Fate's unique energy . . we can create a device with the right kind of light that can break our stalemate with the Black Lanterns.' However, it appears that the Black Lanterns are getting smarter in reaching their objectives. This issue focus' on the three that have the strongest emotional connection to members of the team . . Damage, Johnny Quick, and Lois Lane of Earth-2. They appeal to the emotional side of their former team-mates convincing them that they're being forced to act out of character, and against their own will. Lois goes straight for Power Girl, Johnny rekindles his connection with Jesse, and Grant appeals to the emotional side of Atom-Smasher and Judomaster. I'm not sure what happened to Johnny and Jesse, but Lois makes her way inside the headquarter, with Karen's help, and Damage convinces his former friends that he can prove that he's still on their side. He convinces them to let him get close enough to the mansion that he can attract the rest of the Black Lanterns to him, and blow them up. However, it's a much bigger blast than even Damage is capable of, and . . it opens up a hole in the side of the mansion. Michael is the first to put it all together. 'Dammit. I knew somehow they'd outfox us. A simple explosion can't kill them. Alan, shield my work-table. For all the good it'll do . . he meant to blast a path in here. Not to stop me, but to reach . .' Kal-L of Krypton . . arguably the most powerful Black Lantern out there. Apparently this was their plan the whole time. I'm just wondering why Johnny had to lure Jesse away? James Robinson and Tony Bedard both write this book, and they did an incredible job. The story was fantastic, and the characterization was perfect. Eddy Barrows and Marco Marz do the pencils. Both of these guys have come a tremendous way in a short period of time. The art in this book looked incredible. I can't wait to see how this one is wrapped up next issue. I think this is arguably one of the best spin-offs of this 'event' so far. A classic in the making.

Green Lantern #50 - DC

First of all . . what a fantastic variant cover by Jim Lee. I think that it would out-shadow the main cover, if it weren't for Parallax being the theme. Yowtch! Anyways, at the end of last issue we saw that the Guardians allowed each of the various spectrums to deputize someone to their aid. This ended up being, Wonder Woman, the Atom, the Flash, Mera, Lex Luthor and Jonathan Crane. Hal isn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but . .'This isn't exactly what I pictured when I thought of backup, Ganthet.' And then we see what each of them are up to. Flash and Saint Walker are fighting the Ronnie Raymond Firestorm. Atrocitus and Mera are fighting Arthur, and her son. Wonder Woman and Star Sapphire are trying to save Donna. Sinestro is trying to keep Scarecrow in line. Larfleeze is fighting . . Lex Luthor. 'Share? Gimme that back, you thief!' But the main event here is that the Spectre is coming after Hal. Now, during Hal's previous encounter with Parallax, he had gotten inside of Hal, who then got inside of the Spectre. That's the short version. Anyways, the Spectre ended up helping separate Hal and Parallax, but . . as soon as he did, he took off. Which leads Hal to think that the Spectre is actually afraid of Parallax. So . . the obvious solution . . it's time to dig Parallax out of the closet, sort of. The Guardians separated Parallax into four parts and then hid the various pieces away in the Lanterns of Hal, Guy, John and Kyle. But that's not the hard part. The hard part is that once they release it . . Hal's going to have to let it take control of him again. He just has to hope that he's strong enough to keep it on his agenda. And that's how the issue ends . . 'Jordan's not here anymore, Sinestro. It's just me. So . . Spectre. Where were we?' Geoff Johns has done a tremendous job with this story, and this book. I can't wait to see how he pulls Hal out of this mess. This issues' story is titled Parallax: Rebirth. I'm just wondering what kind of twist Geoff is going to put on this tale. I miss Ivan Reis' art in these pages, but . . since he's doing Blackest Night he's still a huge part of the story. However, Doug Mahnke brings a certain type or 'eeriness' and 'darkness' to this story, and these characters, that I'm not sure Ivan could. On the final pages, Doug's interpretation of Parallax is downright creepy. It looked fantastic! I also liked that panels when Barry and Saint Walker were fighting Firestorm, and Jason was literally being ripped out of his body. The whole issue was incredible. I can't wait to read more.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

HULK #19 - Marvel

Ok, apparently I missed Fall of the Hulks: Alpha. So this one brought me up to speed on the alliance with MODOK, the Leader and the group that's now called the Intelligencia. Basically, it's the Frightful Four . . the Leader, Claw, Lyra instead of Thundra, and the Trapster . . along with MODOK, Leonard Samson and the Red She-Hulk. Apparently, General Ross was in on this also until he was killed last issue. And, the Red-Hulk is the one who put this whole group together. Until he was betrayed and kicked out. So anyways . . the plan that they're executing right now is to take out the 8 smartest men in the world . . remove them from the playing board. That will allow them to launch their real plan without interference. Which is why they sent the Robot Hulk after Doom in Incredible Hulk #606. This issue . . they go after Reed Richards. Each member of the Frightful Four take out one of the members of the FF. Unfortunately, the Trapster goes after Ben Grimm. That fight doesn't last very long. But then Ben finds himself facing the door to the Negative Zone that the Leader opened up. He's handles this before, but never alone. Luckily . . and unluckily . . the Red-Hulk shows up. He doesn't tell Ben what's going on, but he does tell him that this has all been a distraction. When everything finally settles down they find out that Reed has been abducted. Again this book is narrated through the Red-Hulk's head. Where we find out that he's not actually trying to stop the Intelligencia. He wants their plan to succeed. But . . I think he knows where the weak point is . . the point where he'll step in and take over . . without having to do the work. So why did he save the rest of the FF? Ben asks him the same question. Before leaping out of the building the Red-Hulks tells him . . 'I have my reasons. There'll be a time, soon. Sooner than you'll like or be comfortable with . . when you're going to wish I didn't pull you out of the zone. That I let you die in there. That's how bad it's going to get . .' And then he goes back to the cave where he's been meeting up with Banner. I know Bruce is a lot smarter than this Red-Hulk so I have to imagine that he knows that Rulk's got alterior motives to their alliance. It'll be interesting to see how Bruce manipulates the whole thing. I imagine that the first 18 issues have lead up to all of this. That's why Jeph Loeb has been so enigmatic about giving us to much information. Which, to me, makes this one of the best issues in this series to date. I think we got more information out of this one issue than we have for the whole time leading up to this. That's not to say I didn't like the other issues. They just left me with a lot more questions than answers. Plus . . I absolutely love Ed McGuiness' art.