Monthly Archives: April 2008

Weekly Comic Review for 4/23/08

Batman #675

W: Grant Morrison

A: Ryan Benjamin

Okay, I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of how Morrison writes Batman. He starts with a bunch of issues that don’t seem to make any sense whatsoever–including references to and appearances by characters who haven’t been seen or heard from in over two decades–and he somehow…somehow…ties it all together at the end. This leaves me with a book that, although still good as a whole, has months where it sits at the bottom of the “to read” pile.

This issue has something that I haven’t seen in quite some time: a Bruce Wayne babe with a brain. Jezebel Jet might look like all of the other brainless arm-candy that Bruce escorts around town in an attempt to foster his image as a billionaire playboy, but she’s intuitive enough to recognize that Bruce, the real Bruce, is a much darker soul than his public image might suggest. She senses his true face behind the mask of the bored billionaire. It’s possible that it could have ended there. Bruce would have just walked out and she’d never hear from him again. Of course, when Jezebel stumbles on Brucie beating some blindfolded ne’er-do-well into a thick, scarlet paste–rendered by Benjamin in an almost Frank Miller-esque fashion–she realizes just how right she was. Bruce Wayne is Batman. This revelation means, of course, that Ms. Jet will be dead within the year.

Just for shits and giggles, Morrison throws in a little Nightwing/Robin action, and for that I’m glad. I love the sibling vibe you get watching Dick and Tim work together (plus, they get to fight a bunch of thieves in dog masks…I shit you not). And, since it wouldn’t be a Morrison story without Damian, we get to see that little shit, too. Hey, was anyone else surprised to learn that Talia has some kind of weird spider-sense thing going on?

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Countdown to Final Crisis 1

W: Paul Dini

A: Tom Derenick

Ho-boy…

I guess now that Countdown to Final Crisis is officially over, we can look at the series as a whole and see if it worked or if it didn’t. I think it would be safe to say that some of what DC was attempting with Countdown worked. Some, not so much. Because of the size and scope of the series, there was a lot of padding to fill up 52 issues. And, since the various threads of the story were only slightly connected, there were moments when it felt disjointed (was that bit with Piper and Trickster–fun though it might have been–really necessary?). Also, what was all of that traipsing about the new Multiverse all about? Did that have anything to do with anything?

I think the major problem has to do with intent. 52 was about telling a story. Countdown was about setting up a story. Everything that happened in this series was just a means to get the characters where they needed to be for Final Crisis. I’m not saying that Countdown didn’t have its moments, in fact the last three months or so were quite good (this has a bit to do with the converging of the various plots). Unfortunately, I think it often dropped the ball on more than one occasion. What was the whole thing with Monarch all about? It looked to me to be little more than an excuse to play a big ol’ game of “What If…” (What if Donna Troy had to fight evil Donna Troy? What if Jason Todd came face to face with a good Joker?).

The final analysis: Countdown to Final Crisis had enough fun moments to make it a good read in a collected trade, but as a weekly series, it really couldn’t sustain enough thrills and/or momentum. Plus, what the hell is up with keeping Mary Marvel evil??!!??

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Justice League of America #20

W: Dwayne McDuffie

A: Ethan Van Sciver

I know what you’re saying: “What’s going on here, I thought you broke up with JLA.” Well, all I have to say to that is: “You’ve got a lot of fucking nerve, mister.”

It was a light week–only four books that I read came out–so, while standing in the comic shop, I picked up the new issue of JLA and gave it a quick flip-through. And, what did I find? Well, apparently it’s 1996 again. And I mean that in a good way.

McDuffie gives us a classic, stand-alone story about Flash and Wonder Woman teaming up to stop Queen Bee from stealing a fancy teleportation gizmo. This is it guys, it’s not rocket science. No company-wide, super-mega-final-ultimate tie-in bullshit. No unnecessary naval-gazing ( “Vixen, why are your powers different?”… “Roy, how dare you still care about the mother of your daughter when I’m standing here all sexy and winged?”). This was just a fun, balls-out old school super-hero story. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end, all wrapped up between two covers. And, more importantly, it was satisfying.

I knew McDuffie could deliver a story like this–he did it on the Justice League cartoon constantly–all he needed was to get the go-ahead from DC.

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Ultimate Fantastic Four #53

W: Mike Carey

A: Tyler Kirkham

The deus ex machina run rampant through this issue of Ultimate Fantastic Four. Ben was dead, but he really wasn’t. Reed was dead, but he really wasn’t. One was transported to another planet by Thanos’s pissed off daughter. The other simply altered his body into a form of living light. No points for guessing who did what. Then, Reed manages to get his hands on the Cosmic Cube and switch off the safety that prevents it from making people’s random thoughts a reality (don’t ask). That means that when Thanos takes the Cube and gets a giant hard-on thinking about Death, he dies. Neat, huh? Fortunately, that means that Reed can undo everything Thanos did in the last few issues, thereby saving the world. To paraphrase Mel Brooks: “It’s good to be Reed.”

There’s a little bit at the end that puts the episode of Quantum Leap when Sam saved the life of Jackie Kennedy–erasing the knowledge of her death from the memories of the viewers–to shame. Reed drops the Cosmic Cube he created into a rift in time and space. It falls through the heavens, eventually landing at the feet of past-Thanos. That’s right, kids. The Cosmic Cube that Thanos found all those ages ago was the very Cube that he forced Reed to make to replace the one he lost all of those ages ago. Trippy.

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Ultimate Spider-Man #121

W: Brian Michael Bendis

A: Stuart Immonen

I’ve come to realize that there are three kinds of Ultimate Spider-Man stories. There are the multiple-part super-villain smackdowns where Spider-Man fights a Goblin or Sandman or Doc Ock. There are the low-key, slice-of-life stories that look at Peter Parker’s civilian life. The third combines the first two, showing how Peter balances both sides of his dual life. This issue of Ultimate Spider-Man falls into the third category.

While explaining why the fake baby that he and Kitty Pryde were supposed to be taking care of is in about a ba-jillion pieces, Peter tells their teacher about the day he had. He was at the Bugle when Omega Red stops by. Omega Who? Don’t worry, I’m always surprised when he shows up in Ultimate Spider-Man. Anyways…Omega is pissed that J. Jonah Jameson ran an article about his defeat at the hands of Spider-Man. This article–and the insinuations it contained–has ruined Omega Red’s mercenary cred. Lucky for J.J., Peter happened to be in the newsroom that day, and Omega Red and Spidey meet for the second time.

There are numerous villains in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery who just couldn’t hold down an entire story on their own–Shocker, Rhino, Leap-Frog–so these kinds of issues are great places to showcase them. These stand-alone issues are also great ways to let readers catch their breaths between larger arcs. Overall, Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man never disappoints.

What The Frak Was That!?!

I have somewhat mixed emotions about this being the final season of Battlestar Galactica. I don’t want it to go on and on, slowly decreasing in quality like some shows (I’m lookin’ at you, X-Files). Nor do I want the creators to give us a really good wind-up only to have the show canceled by Sci-Fi before we get the resolution (oh Farscape…how they done you wrong [yes, yes…they tried to make it up to us with the made-for-TV movie, but some wounds do not heal so easily]).

However, if they’re going to start killing off my favorite characters, I’m glad to see the show coming to end. I’m not really complaining…I mean, I survived the slaughter of Wash, Doyle, the Lone Gunmen, and Jadzia Dax, so I’ll get over this.

Edward James Olmos said this final season was going to be depressing, and I’ll be damned if he wasn’t right.

Four on the Floor #13: Fake Archaeologists I Dig

The Situation: You lucky duck!  You’ve learned of some long forgotten and buried treasure–maybe it was a story handed down through your family; or maybe you found an old map in a book you bought at a used book shop in Europe; or it could just be that you think there’s some truth in a crazy old myth or folktale.  Whatever the reason, you really shouldn’t go out looking for this thing on your own.  You will need an expert.  A professional.  Someone who’s been trained at excavating and retrieving artifacts.  Dammit, you need an archaeologist.

The Criteria: Personally, I’d go for a university-trained archaeologist, as opposed to a money-hungry treasure hunter.  You really can’t trust treasure hunters.  It would probably be a good idea to find someone who can handle themselves in foreign countries–whether it’s speaking the local dialect or being able to take on a bar full of drunk locals.

1. Indiana Jones

Yeah, let’s be honest, he’s the guy.  You need a detective, you go to Sherlock Holmes.  You need an archaeologist, you better find Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.  He’s smart, tough, and a snappy dresser.  It also doesn’t hurt that he speaks every language known to man and shows up ready to go with a pistol and a whip.

2. Dr. Daniel Jackson

Okay, I know what you’re saying: “He’s just an egyptologist.”  True, in the original Stargate film, it was established that Dr. Jackson is an egyptologist, but in the subsequent TV series, Daniel displayed enough knowledge about ancient civilizations to qualify in my book.

3. Flynn Carsen

Carsen has 22 academic degrees, which earned him the prestigious job as Librarian–the guardian of treasures as diverse as Excalibur, the Spear of Destiny, and the Holy Grail.  His role also requires him to go out into the world and recover numerous important relics.  Carsen might not be as rugged as Indy, but he’s just as smart and driven.

4. Annja Creed

Who says the boys get to have all of the fun?  A trained archaeologist, Annja uses her role as co-host of Chasing History’s Monsters to finance her travels as she works on her own research.  Although she’s an admitted skeptic, Annja frequently finds herself coming face-to-face with mystical artifacts across the globe.  She’s also the heir of Joan of Arc’s magical broadsword…which, y’know, can come in handy.

Weekly Comic Review for 4/16/08–Now With 75% Less Controversy

Batman and the Outsiders #6

W: Chuck Dixon

A: Carlos Rodriguez

Batman and the Outsiders, in my very humble opinion, is what JLA should be.  Now, that might sound like a giant contradiction, especially if you remember that the reason that ol’ Bats took control of the Outsiders was to use the team for jobs that were just too nasty for the JLA–jobs that need to be done, but that would sully the League’s squeaky-clean image.  I’m not saying that the JLA should be like the Outsiders, I just wish that JLA was as much fun to read as BATO.

Unlike the better known title, BATO gives us a pretty action-packed story without the naval-gazing of JLA.  The plot might not be without a few drawbacks–personally, I’m more than a bit over the whole O.M.A.C. thing–but it’s easy enough to overlook them when you get drawn into Dixon’s globe-spanning (and beyond) action story.  Of course, it could just be that I’m a sucker for any book that stars Metamorpho.  And, in case you were worried, there’s plenty of levity in this issue, too.  From Batman dosing Salah with knock-out gas so he can take him to the Batcave and let him play with the Bat-computer (does Batman still refer to it as “the Bat-computer”?) to Ollie’s self-deprecating admission that he used to have a bit of Bat-envy (Arrowplane?  Arrowcave?  C’mon, Ollie!), this book has plenty of lighter moments to break up the back-to-back action pieces.

Rodriguez’s art is also worth noting.  A perfect example is how he can draw Ollie all smirky and cocksure on one page and then, a few pages later, be just as convincing when he draws him with that righteous fire in his eyes that we’ve come to expect from DC’s biggest bleeding heart.  I’m sure that’s the kind of thing that should be expected from an artist, but it must be uncommon enough that I noticed it.  I don’t make a habit of following artists as much as I follow writers, but I’m going to make an effort to keep track of what Rodriguez does in the future.

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Captain America #37

W: Ed Brubaker

A: Steve Epting

Poor Bucky.  His life has been far from easy–getting blowed-up as a teenager, being brainwashed by the Soviet Union–but things just don’t seem to be getting an easier for the new Captain America.

He had the shield strapped on for about a minute and a half, and some ticked-off civilian calls him an impostor.  He’s outed on TV, forcing Stark to pull any SHIELD backing he might have had (including the services of the sultry Black Widow as his sidekick/handler).  Now, in this issue, he has to deal with Clint “Hawkeye” Barton showing up and causing shit.  Clint’s all cheesed-off that Bucky’s the new Cap, going so far as taking a swing at him.  I get Clint’s beef.  He might not have always agreed with Steve Rogers, but he certainly respected Bucky’s predecessor, and doesn’t think Bucky’s good enough to call himself Captain America.  Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Clint offered the mantle of Captain America and turned it down?  Someone needs to be Cap, especially with the Red Skull trying to destroy the country from the inside.

As if all of that wasn’t enough for Bucky to have to deal with, now there’s another Steve Rogers floating around.  Marvel’s done a pretty good job at trying to convince us that Steve is dead.  Dead dead.  So, it would be wrong of us to think they’re pulling a fast one here.  Besides, it wouldn’t be the first time that the Red Skull got his hands on a Rogers clone.  So, that’s what I’m going with here.  The Steve Rogers that Sharon discovers at the end of the issue is, in fact, just a clone.

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Catwoman #78

W: Will Pfeifer

A: David Lopez

Good news/bad news time, kids.  The good news is that, after this issue, it seems that Selina is finally getting back to Earth.  The bad news?  Well, she won’t have much time to enjoy it because her series is being canceled in the next few months (I believe #82 is going to be the last).  I understand that publishing is a business and, as such, you can not conceivably make everyone happy, but is Catwoman doing that poorly in sales?  And, if that’s the case, maybe DC should spend less money on insanely expansive “events” with more tie-in books than you can shake a stick at.

Anyway, I’ve only been reading Catwoman for a little while, but I’m going to miss it.  I might not have been happy with Selina getting caught up in that whole Salvation Run business, but you can’t fault the book for that.  At least Selina was able to finally get the upper claw in her ongoing feud with Cheetah, thanks in part to one of Joker’s exploding cigars.

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Countdown to Final Crisis 2

W: Paul Dini & Sean McKeever

A: Scott Kolins

I’m totally baffled by Countdown.  DC has claimed that “Final Crisis” will deal with a victorious Darkseid in control of the universe.  Okay, cool.  But…in this issue of Countdown to Final Crisis, Darkseid is pummeled to death by his son, Orion.  So, you can see where I might be confused.

Unfortunately, the confusion comes at the end of an issue that sees Darkseid and Jimmy Olsen (in giant tortoise boy form) have a smackdown in the middle of Metropolis and Darkseid and Orion going at it.  Jimmy’s also returned to the status quo when Ray Palmer finds the doo-hicky that Darkseid put in Jimmy’s head to contain the powers of the dead New Gods and destroys it.

I’m going to go out on a limb and make a prediction based on something Dan Didio said in an interview a while back.  Yes, Darkseid is dead.  All of the New Gods of the Fourth World seem to be dead.  But, all of that power is floating around out there, and it has to go somewhere.  So, I’m sure the New Gods will return when this “Fifth World” that Darkseid was all hyped about comes into being.  A new Fifth World will have new, possibly resurrected New Gods of one kind or another.  And, where there are New Gods, there will be a Darkseid.

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The Flash #239

W: Tom Peyer

A: Freddie E. Williams, II

The people of Keystone City continue to mistrust Flash after new villain, Spin, forces him to use his super-speed to rob them.  Spin ups the ante by using his captured dwarf’s mind-whammy powers on Jay Garrick, pushing the original Flash to go after Wally.  To make matters worse, Jay uses Iris and Jai to get to Wally and then initiates a showdown in the middle of Wally’s block.

The whole “people afraid of the hero” thing is nothing new.  It’s one of the Five Basic Plots of Comics.  I’m serious, check it out…I’m sure there’s a copy in your local library or shady used book store.  (Okay, okay, there’s no such book.)  Anyways, it might be a basic plot, but sometimes it works better than others and, in the case of the Flash, it works pretty damned well.  Let’s look at the facts.  Sure, everyone in Metropolis loves Superman, but he’s a global hero.  Batman couldn’t care less what the good people of Gotham think about him.  But the Flash is Keystone City.  Every Flash has been inextricably linked to his hometown, whether it’s Keystone or Central City.  So, for the people of Keystone to suddenly turn their backs on their hometown hero has real resonance.

To further illustrate how highly regarded Wally is, we have a scene with the JLA.  Realizing how they dropped the ball the last time they stuck their noses in Wally’s life, DC’s big guns decide to sit this one out until Wally actually asks them for help.  However, Red Arrow isn’t about to let one of his oldest friends twist in the wind.  Hopefully Roy will be enough back-up when Wally has to face Gorilla Grodd next month.

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Gotham Underground #7 (of 9)

W: Frank Tieri

A: J. Calafiore

The cliffhanger from last issue involving the reappearance of Leslie Thompkins remains more or less hangery as Dick wakes up in an underground medical clinic with Riddler standing over him.  Tieri gives us just enough to make us think that Dick simply hallucinated seeing Leslie at the end of last issue (although some info in this week’s issue of Robin makes me think that Leslie really was there).  Riddler tells Dick to drop the whole fake name business, because Riddler’s too smart not to realize that he’s really talking to Nightwing.  Unfortunately, Riddler’s not smart enough to talk his way out of a little payback at the hands of Penguin.

Elsewhere, the war for Gotham’s underworld reaches a new plateau.  Penguin’s Rent-a-Rogue forces successfully wipe out Tobias Whale’s goons, leading to a partnership between Penguin and Whale against their mutual foe: Intergang.  While the two aquatically-themed crime bosses reach an agreement, Penguin’s forces are getting picked off by this Vigilante sumbitch.  Luckily, Bats has gotten himself out of Blackgate and is ready to rumble with this fool.  Now, is this new Vigilante connected to Intergang or is he (or she??) also tied to the return of Leslie and Steph Brown?

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Robin #173

W: Chuck Dixon

A: Chris Batista

Not unlike Bucky, Tim’s life has been pretty rough lately.  He’s been trying to chase down Violet–a morally ambiguous chick who’s taken it upon herself to rob from the scum to give to the poor.  He’s also managed to get himself saddled with two less than legit G.C.P.D. detectives who seem to think that Robin’s help will be their ticket to the big time.  And, all the while, someone in a Spoiler costume has been keeping tabs on our boy.

Robin’s investigation leads him to a counterfeit ring run by the Korean Mafia.  Now, this is a kid who’s been trained by Batman.  He can handle himself in a situation like this.  But, he also has to deal with Violet.  And Spoiler.  That’s right sports fans, after months of keeping her distance, Spoiler makes herself known to Tim.  She’s there to help, but Robin goes ape-shit and gives the girl with the nerve to wear his dead girlfriend’s costume the business.  It’s an understandable reaction.  But, suspecting what we’ve been led to suspect–that this really is Steph–you just can’t help but wish Tim would settle down for a minute and let this Spoiler explain.  I mean, Tim…c’mon, she used your real name!  In my book, that probably means something.

This could all be a big switcheroo.  We don’t know for sure that this is Stephanie Brown, as much as I really hope it is.  Is she the same mystery girl that Penguin gave the costume to a few months back in the pages of Gotham Underground?  It would certainly make sense that Steph would want a little bit of revenge on Gotham’s underworld after what happened with Black Mask.  Would she think that’s reason enough to strike some kind of deal with Cobblepot?

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Quote of the Week:

“Superman?  You should be so lucky.”–Green Arrow, after being blasted with a fire hose by a Chinese soldier and asked if he was going to be rescued by Big Blue and the JLA, in Batman and the Outsiders #6 (the implication is clear, right?).

An Apology

Yes, as often happens, I said something here without completely thinking it through.

First off, I would like to openly apologize to Judd Winick. I would also like to apologize to anyone who read that post and was offended, enraged, or nauseated (all very valid reactions). My intent was not to do any of the aforementioned.

I would like to attempt to clarify my statement to clear up any misunderstanding.

Many people felt–quite understandably based upon the words I chose–that I “don’t like when gay rights are shoved in my face.” That is not true. My issues with Winick’s run on Green Lantern had nothing to do with his introduction of a gay character. I liked Terry Berg, and the storyline involving him getting attacked was heartfelt and socially relevant. However, the fall-out from that story–ie: Kyle giving up on humanity and exiling himself into space–was lame. I know one thing has little to do with the other, and making a connection like that was both irresponisble and ignorant.

So, in point of fact, I did not stop reading Green Lantern because of Terry Berg. I did not stop reading it because Winick attempted to tell a socially conscious story. And, I most certainly did not stop reading it because I’m against gay rights. I honestly believe that characters in comic books should accurately reflect the entire scope of humanity.

Once again, I offer my sincerest apologies to any who were offended by my earlier post. There are days when, despite my best efforts, I’m a bit of a tool.

Goonies Never Say "Die"

Which Goonie are you?

You’re Mikey.

gooniespicm.jpg

“You tend to have other people finish your battles for you, yet you’re very determined.”

Weekly Comic Review for 4/9/08

Booster Gold #8

W: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz

A: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund

I’ve liked the new Booster Gold series from the first issue.  I thought it was a great concept: having a character traipse his way through the history of the DC Universe, “putting right what once went wrong.”  A perfect example of this was the earlier issues where Booster had a hand in making sure that Hal Jordan was chosen as the first Green Lantern, or where he had to save the ancestor of Jonathon Kent.  There was a truly twisted issue where Booster’s “boss”, Rip Hunter, had him try to save Barbara Gordon from getting shot by the Joker.  But, since certain things are meant to be, no matter how many times Booster tried to save her, Barbara still got shot.  Over and over.

Recent issues have dealt with Booster finally getting a chance to save Blue Beetle from getting murdered by Max Lord.  I’m happy that Ted is back and he and Booster are teaming up again.  Theirs is one of the greatest friendships in comics.  Plus, the premise of the series allows Blue Beetle to be alive again without negating the last two years of stories.

The only problem I’m having with this current storyline is the obvious and cliched use of the “evil, dystopian present.”  Let’s be fair, once it was used in Back to the Future II, it’s no longer clever (and I liked Back to the Future II).  Upon returning to the present, Booster and Beetle learn that Max Lord and his O.M.A.C.s have somehow managed to conquer the world.  They’ve eradicated most of the metahumans and forced others into hiding.  And, if that wasn’t bad enough, Max Lord has Superman working for him.  Ooooooo.  You know it’s an evil present when Superman is working for the bad guys–even if he’s just a victim of Max Lord’s mind-whammy powers.  Sure, it was fun to see Green Arrow and Hawkman trying to stop their bickering long enough to lead of resistance of third-tier characters.  But, for the most part, we’ve seen this kind of thing about a hundred times before.

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B.P.R.D.: 1946 #4

W: Mike Mignola & Joshua Dysart

A: Paul Azaceta

The bulk of this issue provides background on the final days of the Nazi’s ill-conceived Vampir Sturm project.  Even though the vampire-hybrids were considered too dangerous for normal service–and immediately placed into cryogenic suspension–Hitler decided that they would be the perfect “occult A-bomb” in the event that the tide of war turned against him.  If the Allies managed to defeat the Nazis, upon retreating from Berlin, they would release the Vampir Sturm subjects into the city, unleashing these horrors upon the Earth.  This is a delightfully evil thing for Hitler to propose, and it works well.  What the Fuhrer didn’t count on was the man in charge of the project developing a conscience at the last minute and sealing the vampsicles away rather than unleashing them.

Of course, none of this explains why one hundred of the cryo-tanks have gone missing.  Bruttenholm, Vavara, the U.S. G.I.s, and the Red Army track down the missing tanks to a vault beneath a government building in Berlin.  Their search leads them to one of the greatest characters Mignola ever created–Von Klempt.  Nothing but an insane Nazi head in a jar, Von Klempt embodies Mignola’s gloriously twisted concept of Nazi steampunk science.  Oh, and he has steam-borg ape goons called kreigaffen.  If there’s one thing that embodies a Mike Mignola story, it’s a Nazi gorilla.

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Countdown to Final Crisis 3

W: Paul Dini & Sean McKeever

A: Freddie Williams, II

This issue of Countdown had two things going for it: (1) the prominent role of Darkseid and (2) the art by Freddie Williams.

Darkseid is ready to harvest the powers that he’s been hiding in Jimmy Olsen for the last year or so.  This, of course, leads to an all-out brawl between Darkseid and Superman.  I’ve always liked watching these two go at it.  Since Darkseid’s such a total bad-ass, Supes can really let loose on him–I mean, when was the last time you saw Clark blast someone in the face with his heat vision?  The clash of these titans benefits from Williams’ clean and stylized art.  Williams makes these guys so huge that you can almost feel the earth shake whenever one of them gets bodyslammed.

The one big downside of this issue (and the last few issues of Countdown) is the sudden re-evilization of Mary Marvel.  We had our sweet, little Mary back for a while and all was good.  Then, the Big D shows up and offers Mary her evil power again and, in about a second and a half, she accepts.  I just don’t get it.  I hate it.  But, if I understood it, I’d be able to accept it through the hatred.  It’s a shame, really.

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Gen13 #19

W: Simon Oliver

A: Carlo Barberi

I have to admit, I’m torn.  I’ve always liked the Gen13 kids.  For the most part, they were pretty good characters (even if some of them were tragically “Nineties”), and most of them had fairly straightforward powers–okay, maybe not Grunge, but the others.  Then it was announced that Gen13 would be rebooted under the guiding hand of Gail Simone.  A fairly good premise and an awesome writer.  What could be better?

Simone crafted a pretty cool origin for the “new and improved” Gen13.  She had the characters down pat.  She even made numerous tongue-in-cheek references to the cheesecake factor of the original series.

Then, the writing chores were handed off to Simon Oliver.  Oliver crafted a story involving a Gen vs. Gen Real World/Survivor-style reality show that works for two reasons: (1) it ties into the premise that Simone began the series with, that the subjects of the Gen program were being used in creepy-ass internet snuff porn, and (2) it reflects the sad fact that America is pathetically obsessed with Reality TV.  So, I don’t think that Oliver is doing a bad job.  It’s just not what I want from a comic book.  I’m sort of over the shadowy conspiracy pulling the strings kind of stories.  There’s enough of that in the real world.  I want to see the Gen13 kids wandering around and having wacky adventures, fighting super-villains or aliens or demons.  Maybe they could time travel.  Okay, okay…I know, I want Gen13 to be Runaways.

So, no offense to Simon Oliver (who is doing a good job), but if Gen13 doesn’t become more super-hero-y, I might have to call it a day.

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Green Lantern Corps. #23

W: Peter J. Tomasi

A: Patrick Gleason

The aftermath of the Sinestro War continues.  The Guardians are still all hell-bent on tracking down and collecting as many of the Yellow Rings as possible.  To that end, they send a squad of Lanterns, led by Kyle and Guy, into the forbidden Vega System.  The fact that those little blue bastards are willing to send what amounts to an invasion force into a forbidden region of space shows just how the recent War has affected them.  Like any group who claims to be interested in establishing and maintaining law and order, the Guardians seem to think that they, themselves, are completely above the law.

While the Lanterns are searching for the Yellow Rings, our old buddy Mongul is also hunting down Rings.  However, Mongul is collecting them for himself.  It’s funny, if you think about it.  When Hal Jordan went bat-shit and started collecting Lantern Rings to gain more power, it was so he could rebuild Coast City, which was destroyed by Mongul’s father.  So, now Mongul Jr. is tracking down Sinestros and asking them to join him–and, if they refuse, he stomps them into goo and takes their rings for his own.

The issue ends with Mongul capturing two of Kyle and Guy’s team and ensnaring them with the “Black Mercy” plants, that Mongul’s father once used on Superman.  These plants put folks into a coma and show them their greatest wish, which eventually goes horribly wrong.  They are the perfect tool for Mongul to, as he says, “turn hope into fear.”

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Justice Society of America #14

W: Geoff Johns

A: Dale Eaglesham

Once again, JSA–one of the greatest team books on the stands today–does not disappoint.

What begins with a scene in the Justice Society’s headquarters (basically a way to reintroduce all of the characters and re-establish all of the relationships in a book with a rapidly growing roster) quickly segues into an all-out slugfest in New York City when Gog teleports into their headquarters.  From there on, it’s pretty much just a huge battle.  Buildings crumble.  Cars get totaled.  Gog rages at Superman for letting Kansas burn on Kingdom Come Earth.  The issue ends with the arrival of Kingdom Come Green Lantern and Kingdom Come Obsidian, just as Gog is about to dispatch KC Superman and Amazing Man.

This crossover story with Kingdom Come still kicks as much ass as it did with the first issue.  It could have gone horribly wrong, but Johns is a pro and Eaglesham’s art never fails to please.  In addition to being a good story, I also feel like this is an homage to the early pre-Crisis crossovers between the Justice Society and the Justice League.  Since the JSA and JLA now inhabit the same Earth, there’s no reason for dimension-spanning team-ups.  But, with the return of the Multiverse, Johns was able to pay tribute to those earlier team-ups by having his JSA interact with the Kingdom Come heroes.

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Serenity: Better Days #2 (of 3)

W: Joss Whedon & Brett Matthews

A: Will Conrad

There’s a lot going on in Serenity: Better Days #2–and the mini-series as a whole–and, I don’t mean that in a bad way.  If there is one person alive who can ably handle layered storytelling, small character moments, cliffhangers, and big reveals, it’s Joss Whedon.

The small character moments come from the crew of Serenity discussing what they’re planning on doing with their share of the giant haul they scored in the last issue.  Jayne is going to become the captain of his own ship (the “Radiant Cobb”); Wash and Zoe would buy a luxury cruiser to raise a family on as they fly around the ‘Verse; Kaylee would open an aircraft design and restoration shop with her dad.  Then, they arrive on the resort world of Pelorum, where Jayne tries to hire a Companion and we get to see all of the Firefly gals in a giant hot tub (thanks, Joss…that meant a lot to me).

Of course it’s all not just fun and games here.  Better Days is adding to the overall Firefly mythos, particularly in the form of the “Dust Devils.”  After the Alliance crushed the Browncoats in the Unification War, some folk didn’t feel like laying down arms.  These rebels among the rebellious continued to use terrorist and guerrilla tactics against the Alliance, earning the name “Dust Devils.”  It’s been hinted that someone on Serenity was one of these Dust Devils.  Sure, the obvious suspects would be Mal or Zoe.  But, when has Joss ever been obvious?  Could it be Book?  Could we finally get to find out what his big secret is?  I really do hope so.

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Titans #1

W: Judd Winick

A: Ian Churchill

I’ve always liked the Teen Titans.  I don’t need much of an excuse to read a book with the Titans in it.  But, one of the things I do need is a group of characters I actually know and care about.  I liked the pre-52 roster: new kids like Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Superboy and seasoned pros like Starfire, Cyborg, and Beast Boy.  That was fine.  Than, 52 and “One Year Later” happened and Kid Flash was now the Flash, Superboy was dead, Beast Boy was leading Doom Patrol and the new Teen Titans included Ravager, Kid Devil (seriously?  what the fuck was he about?), and Miss Martian (pretty hot as green chicks go, but still not for me).

That being said, I’m pretty excited about DC’s new Titans.  The basic premise: someone is offing Titans from past and present.  That brings together what I think might be the greatest characters to ever call themselves Teen Titans: Nightwing (Robin), Donna Troy (Wonder Girl), Beast Boy, Starfire, Raven, Flash (Kid Flash), and Red Arrow (Speedy).  Judging from the cover, it looks like Cyborg (who’s currently in drydock) will be joining their little party soon.

Churchill’s art is pretty decent.  Details like the shards of glass stuck in Nightwing’s costume for the entire issue after he’s blown out of a window by an explosion on page 2 or the numerous quivers that Red Arrow has strapped to his person show that Churchill’s got talent.  The only criticism I have is that all of his female characters look identical.  He has some got characterization on Starfire early in the issue, but for the most part all of the females in this book look like they came from Michael Turner-land.

I just hope that Winick can keep gay rights out of this book.  I’m all for gay rights, just not in my comics.  And Winick has a habit of beating people over the head with a hammer when it comes to this particular issue.  He did it back in Green Lantern, so I stopped reading Green Lantern.

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Quote of the Week:

“Say hello to incomparable pain, ya tub of crap!”–Guy Gardner to the new Sinestro of Sector 2828, in Green Lantern Corps. #23.