Tag Archives: Darkhorse

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.

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Weekly Comic Review for 4/2/08

Abe Sapien: The Drowning #3 (of 5)

W: Mike Mignola

A: Jason Shawn Alexander

As happens with nearly every book in the Hellboy universe, there comes a moment when a whole bunch of stuff happens and you find yourself not exactly sure what’s going on.  This has nothing to do with the talent of the writers or artists involved with the project.  It just seems to be a narrative decision made somewhere back in the murky, swirling miasma of time.  And, everything gets cleared up eventually.  (I say eventually, because it might not be in that mini-series…you might have to wait until the next mini to get a concrete answer.)

Abe Sapien: The Drowning #3 is the issue where I found myself (if you’ll pardon the sea metaphor) adrift.  Partly, I think, it has to do with the lack of dialogue.  Many of Mignola’s characters are rather laconic, so there’s always the possibility that you’ll run into an issue where someone is so focused on the job at hand that they just don’t have time to blather.  (Interesting factoid: that is one of the reasons that DC pushed for the creation of Robin.  To give Batman someone to talk to.)  The centerpiece of this issue is Abe’s street battle with a giant eel monster, however the main mystery of the book remains the corpse of Dutch warlock Epke Vrooman, and how his creepy little gobliny goons are going to remove the Tibetan dagger from his heart.

While Mignola continues to craft a delightfully complex pulp-style story, Alexander backs him up with more-than-capable art.  And, if you think it’s easy to draw facial features on a fish-man, you need to get out of the house more.

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Angel: After the Fall #6

W: Joss Whedon & Brian Lynch

A: Tim Kane, David Messina, Stephen Mooney & John Byrne

Anyone who wants to find out what happens to the un-demony Fred who showed up on the last page of issue #5 had better settle down and grab a helmet.  In true Whedon fashion, the fans are made to suffer.

Starting with this issue, Lynch is delving into what happened the night that L.A. was sucked into hell.  Judging from the layout of this issue, it looks like Lynch will be using vignettes to show us what each of the main characters was up to immediately “after the fall.”  Issue #6 focuses on Connor, Spike and Lorne.  It’s funny, that spell that Wolfram and Hart used at the end of season four must have really worked, because I constantly forget all about Connor until he shows up again.

Of the three, Spike’s story is, in my opinion, the best.  The writing is good.  Messina’s art is beautiful.  And, it really captures where Spike is at the moment.  He’s survived two apocalypses and he’s pretty sure he’s earned some kind of reward by now.  But, until his reward arrives, he’s just as happy to beat the crap out of stuff.  Lynch even gives us a classic moment that could have come right out of an episode of Angel (actually, I think it might have): standing on a rooftop, surveying the city, Spike spots trouble on the street below.  Ready to jump into action, he turns, coat twirling.  We cut to the next panel, and Spike’s riding the elevator down while “The Girl from Ipanema” plays, lamenting that he should have just jumped off the roof.

Although not as good as the Spike story, Lorne’s story is befitting the character.  Told in Seussical verse and peppered with Lorne-isms, Lynch and Byrne tell us how Lorne went from killing Lindsey to being crowned lord of Silverlake.

Connor’s story has it’s moments, particularly when his memory starts coming back–did Wolfram and Hart do this on purpose or is it just something that happens in hell?–and he realizes that he banged his surrogate mother.  But, a lot of it is one long philosophical examination of the differences between Connor’s three fathers: Angel, Holtz, and Laurence Reilly.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer #13

W: Drew Goddard

A: Georges Jeanty

It’s funny.  Last month, the news was all a-buzz with the uproar surrounding Buffy’s night of intimacy with a girl.  However, this month there wasn’t a single story about the adorably awkward homosexual tension between Xander and his former “Master,” Dracula.  Why is that?  Was it just too goofy to be spun into anything other than a fictional story told with pretty pictures?  That must be it.  Anyone who tried to use this issue of Buffy in their agenda of swirling infernal asinine rage would have been laughed out of the Bund meeting, or whatever.

Personally, I was never a fan of the Dracula episode of Buffy.  I thought that throwing in that foppish, over-romanticized Euro-trash kind of vampire undermined everything the show had done to make vampires back into the scummy, scavenging bottom-feeders they’re supposed to be.  Yes, there were some good moments.  Xander becoming Drac’s thrall and later proclaiming that he no longer wants to eat insects, get the “funny syphilis,” or be everyone’s butt-monkey.  But, as a whole, I’ve always thought it was one of the show’s weaker episodes.

However, all of that aside, this was one of the funniest issues of any comic I’ve ever read.  The scenes between Xander and Dracula were one great line after another.  Dracula repeatedly referring to Renee as Xander’s Moor and cursing the “filthy yellow swine” who stole his powers leads Xander to note that he didn’t remember Dracula being so racist.  And, what would an issue with heavy homosexual undertones be without an extended cameo by Andrew?

The rest of the issue revolves around Buffy and the Slayers tracking down the trio of Japanese vampires who stole the Slayer’s Scythe.  The bad news: these vamps have found a way to reverse the spell that Willow performed on the scythe, essentially deactivating all of the new Slayers.  Now, the question remains: are these three working with Twilight or on their own?

The only problem I had with this issue of Buffy was that I thought Willow drilling Satsu for information on how Buffy was in bed was a little too crass for our dear, sweet redheaded Wicca.

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Countdown to Final Crisis 4

W: Paul Dini & Sean McKeever

A: Jamal Igle

Hey, remember how happy I was when Mary Marvel kicked Eclipso to the curb and became good again?  Well, you can forget all of that.  The Challengers are back on their Earth for about a minute and a half and Mary goes home to find Darkseid chilling on her couch watching Judge Judy.  Darkseid convinces Mary to take her Black Mary powers back and work for him.  Super.  I understand that the set-up for DC’s upcoming Final Crisis event requires the Big D to be victorious and that would probably involve him actually getting his hands on the souls within Jimmy Olsen, but does it also have to involve Mary being evil again?

The bad news: it’s obvious that DC had absolutely no idea what they were doing with this series.

The good news: it’s almost over.

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Detective Comics #843

W: Paul Dini

A: Dustin Nguyen

I really love the work that Dini is doing on Detective Comics–which is odd since his Countdown gets worse every week.  Yes, I’m pretty sure a lot of it comes from the fact that my first full-time exposure to Batman came in the form of Dini’s Batman: The Animated Series.  But, let’s not ignore the fact that Dini’s usually a pretty solid storyteller.  One of the best decisions DC ever made was in allowing Dini to write shorter, one- or two-part stories with great villains like Scarecrow, Mad Hatter and (in this case) Scarface.  I also find it hard to fault Dini’s preoccupation with Zatanna, who makes yet another appearance in his Detective run.

Hey, I don’t fault Dini for wanting to put Zee in as many issues as possible.  She’s a leggy brunette with magic powers and an amazing fashion sense.  Plus, when she’s with Bruce, the sparks are obvious.  They have a long history together, Zee’s life in the spotlight balances Bruce’s life in the shadows, and there’s the trust factor.  Bruce has serious trust issues.  Zee monkeyed with Bruce’s mind and he’s forgiven her.  He still hasn’t forgiven Booster Gold for borrowing a batarang and not returning it, but he’s forgiven Zee for invading his noodle.

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Rogue Angel: Teller of Tall Tales #2

W: Barbara Randall Kesel

A: Renae De Liz

This issue of Teller of Tall Tales puts the narrative on hold to explain the back-story of Annja Creed.  I understand that the concept of a modern-day, skeptical archaeologist who also has a magical sword can be a bit to get a handle on.  Unfortunately, as someone who is familiar with the Rogue Angel novel series, this issue pretty much told me a story that I’ve already read.  Actually, I mean that quite literally, since the bulk of issue #2 retells the plot of Rogue Angel: Destiny.

And, while De Liz really captured how Annja is described in the books, the designs for other series regulars–like Roux, Braden, and Doug–don’t feel right.

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Quote of the Week:

“Oh balls.”–Dracula, upon remembering that he lost his powers to a trio of Japanese vampires while gambling on a motorcycle, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer #13.

Weekly Comic Review for 3/19/08

Angel: After the Fall #5

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W: Joss Whedon & Brian Lynch

A: Franco Urru

Before I talk about the actual issue, there’s something that’s been bugging me.  Who the hell is that white dude on the cover standing between Gwen and Gunn?  At first, it looked like Xander, except (a) no eye-patch and (b) what the hell would Xander be doing there?  Then, I thought maybe it was Lindsey…but, y’know, he’s dead.  So, any ideas?

This issue of Angel: After the Fall highlights exactly why I  love Joss Whedon (and, also, how well Brian Lynch understands the way things work in the Whedonverse).  Angel’s on his own, facing the champions of L.A.’s demon lords in an attempt to gain control of the recently damned city and protect its human population.  Even if Angel were still a vampire, it would have been a pretty hard battle, but he goes it alone.  There he is, knee-deep in demon champions, when the cavalry arrives unbidden.  That’s classic Joss.  I can’t count the number of times that Angel (or Buffy, or Mal) went off on their own because they felt a particular job was too dangerous for anyone else, only to find out that they’ve gotten themselves in too deep.  That’s when their friends swoop in and turn the tide.  And, so often, it’s not the bravest of them who rallies the reinforcements, but the one with the most heart–Willow or Wash or, in this case, Lorne.

And, lest you think Joss has given up on tormenting his fans, this issue ends with a doozie of a cliffhanger.  In the midst of terrifying demon warriors, crazy blue bitch-goddess Illyria suddenly and inexplicably reverts to Fred Burkle, in all of her awkward, willowy Texan glory.  Now, from a storytelling point, my guess is that the Senior Partners did it just to mess with Wesley, who received quite a talking to from his new paymasters.  However, for the readers, it’s a simple example of Joss messing with us.  Why?  Well, we’re not going to find out what the hell is going on for a bit, since the next few issues of Angel will be a flashback to what happened in L.A. the night it was sucked into hell.

I guess it’s true what they say: You have to be cruel to be kind.

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B.P.R.D.: 1946 #3

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W: Mike Mignola & Joshua Dysart

A: Paul Azaceta

Zombies, demons, ghouls, vampires, shape-shifters, and Nazis.  Yup, just another day in the world of Hellboy and the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense.

Professor Bruttenholm and his team (including pal Howard and the Dirty Half-Dozen) investigate the asylum, with the help of their Soviet counterparts.  We learn that, despite his purge of the mentally ill from Germany, Hitler actually kept this asylum fully-stocked with loonies so that he would have a herd of test subjects to choose from for his wacky vampire experiments.  The mystery of the Nazis’ plans for a vampire army deepen, as Bruttenholm discovers that one hundred of the one hundred and twenty frozen hybrids are missing.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much time to explore this mystery, since an army of pissed-off ghosts emerge from the shadows, J-Horror style, and fall upon the American and Russian soldiers, killing Howard in the process.

This issue also introduces Baron Konig, an albino chap who, most likely, is also a vampire.  He declares that “man” will pay for what happened to Giurescu and his wives.  He probably would have started his vengeance with Bruttenholm, if Varvara hadn’t stopped him with her creepy goat-headed demon mojo.  I’m curious to see if Konig will show up later in this series, or if he will simply be absorbed into the larger Hellboy mythos only to appear three or four years from now in a completely different storyline.

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Batman and the Outsiders #5

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W: Chuck Dixon

A: Julian Lopez

I’m going to be completely honest here, I totally forget about Batman and the Outsiders until I see the new issue at the comic shop (in my case, Cosmic Comics in NYC).  I don’t hate it.  But, it just doesn’t seem to make much of an impression on me in the long-run.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some pretty good things going on here.  Sure, there’s a pretty lame story involving some Euro-trash dude working with O.M.A.C.s to launch some kind of super bio-weapon into orbit.  But I get a kick out of watching Green Arrow trying to play with the Outsiders.  I mean, c’mon, Ollie, Captain Liberal himself, basically working with a black-ops military squad.  That’s hilarious.  Even better: Metamorpho giving Ollie a dressing down about referring to Batman as “Bats.”

But, what really got me jazzed about this issue is the long overdue return of the Dibnys.  We’ve all been waiting for Ralph and Sue Dibny, ghost detectives, to arrive on the scene since the end of 52.  If the Dibnys become a part of Bruce’s team, I just might lose my shit.  It would make sense, even though he hates the supernatural, Bruce does admire Ralph’s detective abilities.

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Captain America #36

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W: Ed Brubaker

A: Butch Guice & Mike Perkins

It doesn’t look like things are going to be getting any easier for the new Captain America any time soon.  Sure, Bucky regulates when he goes up against the Serpent Squad, led by Red Skull’s hot redheaded daughter, Syn, and her less-than-hot lover, Crossbones.  And, he’s got a pretty cool partnership going with the Black Widow.  But, it’s not all head-smashing and Russian she-spy goodness.

When Bucky appears before a crowd of rioters, imploring them to return to their homes and take care of their friends and loved-ones, how do they respond?  Well, if you said their hearts grow three sizes at the sight of America’s Sentinel of Liberty, you’d be wrong.  No, the crowd (based on their behavior, I can only assume that they were recently relocated from Springfield) throw beer cans and tell Bucky to “shut up” and that he “ain’t Captain America” because “Captain America’s dead!”  That would put anyone in a bad mood.  So, after slinking off into the night, Bucky gets a second piece of bad news.  Since his appearance on national TV, the Cap’s out of the bag, so to speak, and SHIELD has to distance themselves from Bucky’s actions.  That means that his really awesome partnership with Black Widow has to come to an end, but (fortunately for Buck) not before a little lip action.

And, for the “What the Hell?” moment of the week, we have to go to Red Skull’s top-secret underground lair.  Sharon Carter has managed to get herself free and is skulking about, despite the little voice in her head (which, I’m assuming, belongs to Doctor Faustus) telling her to quit it.  Sharon stumbles into a room and comes face-to-face with Steve Rogers.  Well, okay, not exactly.  He’s in some kind of suspended animation.  And, he’s probably another clone.

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Catwoman #77

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W: Will Pfeifer

A: David Lopez

I’m not really sure what the deal is with Adam Hughes’ cover for this issue.  With the exception of the Joker (who shows up on the final page) none of the characters “chasing” Selina are anywhere in the book.  Also, I’m not sure how accurate the tag-line “Run Catwoman Run” is.  Does she run in this issue?  I say: “Not really.”  In fact, not only doesn’t Catwoman run, but she’s almost tempted to stay in the crazy alien holodeck forever.

And, I’ll be honest, I don’t blame her.  Sure, the machine she’s in is killing her.  But, the alternate reality that it’s created for her is pretty sweet.  People fear her and give her free shit.  And, not only that, in this world, she can actually take out Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and Flash.  You don’t see that every day.  But, then Martian Manhunter shows up and throws a huge wet blanket on everything.  (It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally learned to love J’onn’s new pointy-headed, all-business look.)  “You’re going to die,” he says,  “This world isn’t real.”  But wait, what’s J’onn doing there, you ask?  That is a very good question.  It seems that Bruce sent J’onn to the prison planet undercover in the guise of Blockbuster.  That Bruce, always thinking.

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Countdown to Final Crisis 6

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W: Paul Dini & Adam Beechen

A: Mike Norton

Told through the eyes of Buddy Blank, this issue of Countdown to Final Crisis seems to be a means to set up the reappearance of Kamandi into the DC Universe.  Sure, there have been countless hints and winks to Jack Kirby’s old DC series–from the return of the O.M.A.C.s and Brother Eye, to the Command-D bunker in Bludhaven–but this issue cranks things up to “11.”

We still don’t know if the Challengers are on a parallel Earth or if they’ve somehow been erased from the history of New Earth.  But, the answer might not matter.  Karate Kid is dead and the Morticoccus virus he’s been smuggling is loose.  It spreads across the planet, mutating due to Karate Kid’s advanced 31st Century biology.  This virus does something odd.  It not only infects man and beast equally, but it also alters the host’s DNA.  So, in other words, if the virus goes from a man to a dog, the dog’s DNA is made more man-like, and if it than jumps to another human, that human’s DNA becomes more dog-like.  A perfect way to explain the mutated animal-human hybrids seen in Kirby’s old Kamandi series.   So, is the “Great Disaster” that leads to Kamandi being the last boy on Earth the same “Great Disaster” that Ray Palmer just failed to stop?  Possible.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that, when Buddy Blank left Cadmus at the end of the issue (with Una in tow), he went home, grabbed his grandson, and headed off to the bunker in Bludhaven.

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The Flash #238

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W: Tom Peyer

A: Freddie E. Williams, II

What would happen if Scarecrow and Mysterio had a kid?  Most likely, that kid would be a little bit like the newest villain in The Flash: Spin, as in “media spin.”  All we know about this dude so far is that he works in television news, wears a TV screen on his head, and can somehow make the public’s biggest current fears come true.  Somehow he needs to use a naked dwarf trussed up in a multi-media gimp-suit to make his powers work right.  If I knew more about what was going on in Wonder Woman right now, I’d be able to make an educated guess about whether or not Spin’s prisoner is Doctor Psycho.

Spin is a pretty good villain for a hero like Flash, who happens to be one of the biggest media darlings in the DC Universe (probably second only to Superman).  So, when Wally is caught on camera telling a reporter that his biggest problem is that superheroes don’t get paid, the media machine runs with it.  And Spin “spins” it for his own purposes, somehow forcing Flash to rob a bunch of citizens.  Is Spin’s power simple mind-control or a mixture of mind-control, illusion, and/or reality manipulation?

This issue made me feel really bad for Wally.  He wants to be a good husband and father.  He wants to be a provider.  But it’s not easy finding a job, especially when you might be called on at any minute to zip off and save the world (although, in Wally’s defense, he could probably do that in the time it would take any of his potential co-workers to go to the can).  So, Wally’s at the end of his rope, financially speaking, and he snaps.  It’s just his bad luck that it’s caught on film.  And, Jay’s no help with that whole “the lightning bolt must never touch the dollar sign” speech.  Really, Jay?  How about a little understanding?  Wally’s got a wife and two kids to feed.

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Justice League of America #19

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W: Alan Burnett

A: Ed Benes

Hey, Justice League of America, what’s going on?  Umm…yeah…I really think we need to talk.

This is really hard for me, JLA.  I mean, we’ve had a lot of good times and all, but I think we need to break up.  No, no.  It’s not you, it’s me.  Well…actually, it is you.  We used to have so much fun together.  I used to look forward to our time together, but now…well, now I can barely stand to be in the same room as you.

I’m not sure what happened.  We’ve had some really good times in the past–“New World Order” and “Tower of Babel”, for example–and, I must admit, even in our recent rockier times, there’ve been some highlights.  You were there when Wally came back.  You let Roy put on his big-boy costume and become Red Arrow.  But that just isn’t enough for me anymore.  Maybe you’re going through some rough times, and I understand that.  I think we should both take some time to figure out what we both need.  And, who knows, maybe some time down the road, we can have something special again.

I’m sorry, JLA.  I never meant to hurt you, but it is for the best.

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Robin #172

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W: Chuck Dixon

A: David Baldeon

Robin’s life is never simple, is it?  He’s still tracking down Violet, a case that’s led him to Maxie Zeus’s casino.  On top of that, he’s been approached by Detectives Cavallo and Wise, two of the shadiest cops I’ve ever seen (and I’m a big James Ellroy fan), who want to from a partnership with the young crime-fighter.  Oh, and he’s having trouble with would-be girlfriend Zo.

Previous issues of Robin have hinted about the return of Stephanie Brown, and someone was hired by Penguin in the pages of Gotham Underground  to run around in the Spoiler costume.  The question has always been (at least to me) are they both the same person?  Well, according to the end of this issue, it looks very likely.  We finally see Spoiler with her mask off and it is Steph.  But, is she the same Spoiler who’s been working for Penguin?  And, if so, what the hell are you thinking, Steph?  Are you working undercover?  Is this all part of some weird super-plan dreamed up by Leslie Thompkins?  Was Leslie able to pull the wool over Bruce’s eyes for two years, or was he in on it?

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Quote of the Week:

“What the hell are you–?  Are you high?”–the tyrannosaurus demon to Angel, when asked if he was acting against his will, in Angel: After the Fall #5.

Weekly Comic Review for 3/12/08

Abe Sapien: The Drowning #2 (of 5)

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W: Mike Mignola

A: Jason Shawn Alexander

While Abe dives for the shipwreck taken out by Sir Edward Grey in 1884, evil runs through the streets of Saint-Sebastien on tiny, big-headed feet. I’m never surprised at the sheer number of “out of the way” places that somehow attract the attention of otherworldly forces (anyone who’s read a Stephen King novel would assume that there are vampires, werewolves, killer clowns, and Old Ones behind every other tree in Maine).

The old croon that we met in the last issue has, somehow, been given custody of Epke Vrooman’s coffin. She’s known that people would come looking for it eventually, so she’s been on the lookout. When Abe and his team from the B.P.R.D. showed up, she naturally assumed that they were after Vrooman’s remains for nefarious purposes, which is why she sent the seafood buffet after Abe and Van Fleet. But, once the real threat–in the form of Vrooman’s hobbit army from Hell–appears on the island, she calls off the calamari before it can do in Abe.

There’s a nice little section in the middle of this issue where, plagues with doubts about what to do, Abe has some pretty harsh hallucinations. Images of Hellboy, Liz and Professor Bruttenholm appear to him and basically tell him he isn’t up to the job at hand. It’s nothing new, as plot devices go, but it’s jarring. It’s easy to forget that Abe is a young agent in this story, and still prone to self-doubt. So, to have his best friends appear and give voice to his own doubts is pretty rough. I’m not even sure if these were genuine hallucinations or manifestations brought on by the island’s freaky mojo.

*For some strange reason, I completely missed B.P.R.D.: 1946 this week. I’ll have a review for you all next week…after I finish flogging myself.

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Booster Gold #7

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W: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz

A: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund

I guess it’s true what they say: No good deed goes unpunished. Booster risked his neck to go back and save his best friend’s life. Unfortunately, when Booster and Blue Beetle return to the present, they find the Earth over-run with O.M.A.C.s. Max Lord and Brother Eye have taken over the planet and all meta-humans have either been neutralized or are part of an underground resistance (led by the anti-Booster Gold and Blue Beetle: Hawkman and Green Arrow). And, as always seems to happen in these dystopian situations, Superman is working for (whether willingly or not, it isn’t made clear) Max Lord. So, what gives? Well, if you art to believe cranky time-traveller Rip Hunter, Booster Gold just destroyed the universe.

Apparently, saving Ted has led to Max Lord’s victory. I’m not sure how, exactly. The Blue Beetles seemed to take great care to make sure that history continued along as if Ted had still died. Unfortunately, there’s a hitch. Blue Beetle of the future is a douche. Not only does he go by the clearly eeevil name Black Beetle, but he’s also working with Booster’s scumbag dad–who, in turn, is working with Degaton, Ultra-Humanite, and Despero…a.k.a. The Time Stealers (bum-bum-bummmmm).

Let’s review: Booster saving Blue Beetle in the past led to an O.M.A.C.-controlled present…the mission to save Ted was led by Black Beetle…Black Beetle is working with a gaggle of super-villains…saving Ted was a bad idea. Although it’s the only logical conclusion, I hope DC isn’t planning on taking Ted Kord away from us again. The scenes in this issue where Booster and Ted take on a bunch of O.M.A.C.s and then break into the Justice League’s old U.K. embassy are comedy gold (and…er…blue). Honestly, who does a guy gotta talk to to make sure that Blue Beetle stays alive?

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Countdown to Final Crisis 7

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W: Paul Dini & Adam Beechen

A: Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher

Just when you thought that the Multiverse had made it’s final appearance in Countdown

Our ragtag band of heroes–including the Challengers, Ray Palmer, Firestorm, Mary Marvel, Jimmy Olsen, Holly and Harley–find themselves back on Earth after a rather intense few issues on Apokolips. But, it doesn’t appear that they are on “their Earth”–it’s easy to see how they’d get that impression when they beam into the Hall of Justice and get into a tussle with Flash, Green Lantern and Superman, who claim to have no idea who they are. Are they on another parallel Earth or something else entirely? (And I only ask because I think it’s weird that there would be an Earth where none of these characters exist.)

Unfortunately, they really don’t have the time to figure all of that out. Ray still needs to examine the killer virus inside the slowly dying body of Legionnaire Karate Kid.  Jimmy suggests busting into a super-secret Cadmus bunker. After fighting a bunch of genetically-engineered security goons–during which Jimmy really seems to be getting off on using his “borrowed” New God powers–the Challengers meet Dubbilex, whose telepathy makes the whole “Who are you and how do you know my name?” conversation a good deal easier. Sadly, by the time everyone gets their ducks in a row, ol’ Karate Kid karate kicks the bucket. Now here’s a question for us all to ponder: if Karate Kid dies, does the super-virus die with him? Or does it get released?

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Gen 13 #18

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W: Simon Oliver

A: Carlo Barberi

I’m torn.

I really enjoyed the first few issues of the Gen13 reboot–due in no small part, I’m sure, to the talented hand of Gail Simone–and, even when things got a tad weird (I’m looking at you, Authori-Teens!), it was still a groovy little book. The current “15 Minutes” storyline, although interesting, feels like it’s dragging a little bit.

For example, in this issue, all of the Gens who have befriended the kids of Gen13 are given the go-ahead to off our heroes. Some–like Bird, Lux and Jimmy–relish the opportunity to take out the younger Gens; others–Sherry and Jenny–are having second thoughts. By the end of the issue, the kids of Gen13 have realized that Caitlin was right all along. They come together in Times Square, where they suit-up and prepare to bring the fight to I.O.

I’ve been enjoying the arc–especially the scene in this issue where Caitlin takes out some of her pursuers with a pebble–I’m just not sure it had to be this long. I’d like to see the Gen13-ers in classic super-hero stories, fighting crazy super-villains, protecting the world. That kinda thing. Maybe it’s against the mission statement for the reboot, but I think it can be done–and done well–within the parameters of the new series.

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Green Lantern Corps #22

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W: Sterling Gates

A: Nelson

I must admit that I was not overly thrilled with the last issue of Green Lantern Corps. I understand that Gates was using Boodikka’s past as a pirate as a way to examine her present as an Alpha Lantern. I just felt the whole idea of Boodikka being sent by the Guardians to her old home-world to arrest her sister felt forced and more than a little tired. Fortunately, this issue is an improvement.

We’re starting to see the effect that the new Alpha Lanterns will have on the Green Lantern Corps as a whole. Sure, they’re creepy as all hell–what with their lack of emotions and flip-open Manhunter faces–but the worst part about them is their dispassionate devotion to “justice.” And, let’s not forget the fact that they, above all other Lanterns, are rewarded for their service with additional rings–Boodikka receiving her second ring for successfully bringing in her renegade sister is a nice juxtaposition to the opening flashback where we see Hal Jordan (all juiced-up on Parallax evil) taking Boodikka’s ring (and the hand it was attached to).

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Gotham Underground #6

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W: Frank Tieri

A: J. Calafiore

All hell has broken loose between Penguin’s third-tier Rogue wannabes and Tobias Whale’s regular crooks. It’s funny, I always knew that Penguin wasn’t the most trustworthy of fellows, but to sell out Gotham’s fruitcake element to the Suicide Squad and Checkmate just so he could take over the city’s underworld. Now that takes balls. Unfortunately, the random thugs who Penguin hired to wield the “borrowed” Rogue equipment aren’t what you would call the cream of the crop.

Elsewhere, Great White Shark fills Matches Malone in on how he got trussed-up in Blackgate’s infirmary. The Suicide Squad was just supposed to rough him up a little before transporting him off-world (part of that roughing-up involved Boomerang, Jr. using a banana like a boomerang…I shit you not), but Shark got under Bane’s skin, so Bane went a little overboard in the roughing-up department. Oh, and when the Squad busts into Shark’s cell, he’s reading Jaws and Calafiore actually drew the cover of the book, he didn’t just write JAWS by PETER BENCHLEY, which most artists probably would have done (I should know, I a copy of Benchley’s novel).

This issue ends with Dick Grayson (still masquerading as Freddie DiNardo) getting shot in the gut by whoever is calling themselves Vigilante these days. Furthermore, as Dick’s laying dying in an alley, who should appear but Dr. Leslie Thompkins. Leslie hasn’t been around since she supposedly let Stephanie Brown die to teach Bruce a lesson, which forced Bruce to chase her out of the country and threaten to arrest her if she ever returned. That who thing was, without a doubt, the stupidest piece of storytelling I’ve ever seen. Now, someone is back in the Spoiler suit. Tim thinks he’s been seeing Steph around school. And Leslie’s back in Gotham. Does this mean that the whole thing was one big sleight-of-hand trick? I hope so. Leslie never should have been labeled a “murderer” in the first place.

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Serenity: Better Days #1 (of 3)

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W: Joss Whedon & Brett Matthews

A: Will Conrad

I always find myself in a moral quandary whenever a Joss book comes out. I mean, let’s be honest, Joss could down a case of NyQuil, put on a blindfold, and write something with his feet, and I’d probably eat it up with a spoon.

This three-part mini-series is set before the events of Serenity, so everyone’s favorite wacky pilot, Wash, is still among the living, and Kaylee’s crush on Simon remains…um…unrequited. It begins with Mal and his crew in the midst of crime–this time, they’re jacking a bunch of art. Of course, that kind of job seems a bit out of the scope of the crew’s usual crime, so it should come as no surprise that Mal was using the art heist as a way to get the real loot–a super hi-tech ED-209-y security robot dingus. After a high-speed chase, and little Kaylee’s best Mission: Impossible impression, the crew secure the robot. Long story short: the pay-off for this job (hidden under a Buddha statue, no less) is in the millions. Mal and his crew are rich!

As can be expected of a Joss-helmed project, there are a ton of little character moments that mesh into the larger tapestry of the Firefly world. For starters, we see Simon donning his sunglasses, which we hadn’t seen since the pilot episode (not even when he was on the desert-like Higgins’ Moon, when you would expect him to throw on a pair of shades), and learn that the lenses actually mask his retinal patterns, allowing him to get past security scanners. Then, while the crew is grabbing the cash out of the Buddhist temple, one of the monks interrupts them. When Jayne pays the monk off with a stack of cash, the confused Buddhist simply mutters “The Hero of Canton…he’s real!”

As good as the writing is (and I’m sure equal credit has to go to Brett Matthews), I’m not sure how I feel about the art. Conrad certainly has a grasp of the world of Serenity. His backgrounds and (most of) his tech look great. However, his depiction of the crew needs a little work–and I think it stems from trying to make them look exactly like the show’s actors. I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it again, sometimes you can’t capture an actual person’s features in a two-dimensional comic. Sometimes it works. There are panels where Conrad’s Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, and Adam Baldwin are amazing; but, there are also panels where his Alan Tudyk and Jewel Staite are unrecognizable (and you don’t mess with my Wash and Kaylee). And, I think that right there is the problem. Conrad wasn’t drawing Mal, Zoe, Jayne, etc.; he was drawing Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, et al. Capture the essence of the “character” and the reader will do the rest.

The only other minor problem I had was with the inclusion of Chinese characters in the dialogue. You need the characters to speak Chinese, that’s part of the world. But, placing the actual characters into the bubbles was jarring, jarring enough to pull me out of the narrative. Maybe it’s just me. I’m not sure if phonetically transcribing the Chinese to English would work, but at the moment it’s the only option I can think of (clearly a translation at the bottom of the page would render the use of Chinese for “manly swearing” pointless).

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Quote of the Week:

“If you suddenly break into ‘The Way We Were’ I’m leaving you here to fend for yourself.”–Blue Beetle, to a reminiscing Booster Gold as they’re about to break into the old JLI U.K. embassy, in Booster Gold #7.

Weekly Comic Review for 3/5/08

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #12

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W: Drew Goddard

A: Georges Jeanty

Okay, so by now I’m sure everyone’s heard about the “huge, shocking events” of this issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so we’ll just jump right into it, okay.

Yes. Buffy slept with Satsu (the little Slayer who’s in love with her). I’m sure everyone is up in arms about Buffy’s horizontal (I’m assuming she spent most of the time horizontal anyway…they are slayers, after all, so, y’know, wicked limber) explorations. I’ve seen some of the headlines already. “Buffy with a Girl!” Blah blah fuckin’ blah. Big deal! No one makes less of a deal out of gayness than Joss. It’s just another possibility with him…no fanfare…no hoopla. He’s the Anti-Winnick. And, let’s look at things logically. First, Buffy’s pretty much said she really needed to have her cork popped (I have a theory that on top of everything else, being a slayer gives you a sex drive that would make the Energizer Bunny blush–as evidence, I give that one episode where she and Riley boned for an entire 45 minutes). Now, wacky, head-popping dream aside, Buffy hooking up with Xander just wouldn’t happen, even for a meaningless romp. Sorry. Not going to happen in the world that Joss has painstakingly crafted. The only thing less likely to happen is Jayne boning Kaylee. That leaves who? Andrew? Andrew, who’s gayer than N’Sync and 98 Degrees put together in the middle of a Sex in the City Convention? Clearly, at this point in time, Buffy’s only means of getting some sweet, sweet lovin’ in the real world (Buffy-Spike-Angel three-way and dueling Christian Bale dreams just don’t cut it for our frustrated little Slayer) is to explore her Sapphic side. And, I’m sure there’s some underlying layer of selfless nobility to Satsu’s feelings for the Buffster (which is more than can be said about that dickhead Parker).

All of that aside, Drew Goddard’s given us an issue of Buffy that’s equal parts French farce and episode of Three’s Company, with magic and vampires–which, the faithful know, is not too far from some of the best episodes of the show. Plus, we’re given a nifty little side-story involving one of the few Big Bads (or Medium-sized Bads, I guess) from the show that actually escaped getting vanquished by our intrepid little Slayer: Dracula.
I had actually forgotten that Dracula escaped a staking at the end of the fifth season premiere, so this issue was a fun little surprise for me. And, who doesn’t want to see Xander become a spider-eating butt-monkey again…even if it’s just for a little while?

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Countdown to Final Crisis 8

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W: Paul Dini, Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti

A: Carlos Magno

This is, without a doubt, the most confusing issue of Countdown to date. You heard me: Most. Confusing. Issue. Ever.

After finding Ray Palmer and get dear, sweet Mary Marvel back on the side of the angels, what happens? Well, people stand around and argue for an entire issue. Do we fight Darkseid? Do we let Karate Kid die so the super-virus he’s carrying in side of him doesn’t destroy the universe? Do Jimmy and Donna just grab each other and start making out? None of those questions are even answered, really, because by the end of the issue, Solomon shows up and whammies everyone back to Earth.

There was one cool moment in this issue when the mystery behind Jimmy Olsen’s recent apotheosis is revealed. Yes, it was all Darkseid’s doing. He manipulated things so that the energies of the deceased New Gods would be channeled into the Daily Planet’s cub photographer. Why? Simple. Once all of the New Gods were gone, Darkseid would pop up, peal Jimmy like a grape and take all of the power for himself. And, putting the mojo into “Superman’s pal” insured that no one else would get to Jimmy before the Big D could. Good job, Darkseid.

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Detective Comics #842

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W: Peter Milligan

A: Dustin Nguyen

What’s more terrifying than Batman? Batman wearing a suit of cursed armor that brings out the wearer’s inner rage. So, that nifty suit of armor that Talia gave Bruce back in during the “Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul” storyline turns out to be the fabled Suit of Sorrows–a suit of armor that dates back to the Crusades. Okay, Bruce, I realize that Talia is hot, like really H-O-T, but she’s still the daughter of your greatest enemy, so I don’t think you should be accepting gifts from her. Especially when that gift has the word “sorrow” in its name.

The issue begins with Bats nearly wiping the pavement with a serial killer called Gotham Jack (who, based upon his appearance and M.O., seems to be Gotham’s answer to Jack the Ripper). That, understandably, gets Bruce thinking that something must be up, especially after the note from Talia claims that the suit will destroy anyone who isn’t “pure.” Of course, this cranks ol’ Brucie’s detective skills up to 11, leading him to uncover the truth behind Twelfth Century massacre. In the end, Bruce overcomes the effects of the Suit of Sorrows, but not before learning a valuable lesson: no man is pure, no one is above losing control, and everyone must be vigilant against these darker impulses.

I like when Bruce learns these little lessons, when he’s forced to face that the fact that, as awesome as he is, he’s still human and prone to human frailties. The only problem I had was the amount of time that Bruce–who’s the poster-child for scientific rationality–wasted worrying about whether or not the Suit of Sorrows actually was cursed, or was having some other mystical effect on him. For someone who claims that magic is a bunch of non-sense, Bruce spent an awful lot of time worrying about it. But, overall, this was another great issue of Detective Comics.

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Green Lantern #28

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W: Geoff Johns

A: Mike McKone

This is it, kids, the first appearance of the Red Lanterns of Rage (plus a teaser about the Orange Lanterns of Avarice).

Built around the trial of Lantern Laira, who is found guilty of murdering Amon Sur and expelled from the Corps, this issue of Green Lantern continues to build upon the recent mythology of the Lanterns, the Guardians, the Book of Oa, and the other Spectral Corps–in fact, the first red lantern appears on the second page. By the end of the issue, the first person to wield a red ring is revealed, and it’s Laira–who, I’m not ashamed to say, is about 43% hotter once she’s a rage-filled Red Lantern. And, if that isn’t enough for you, we learn that the Controllers are searching for an “orange light.”

What I thought was an interesting twist, was Johns deciding that the Red Lanterns aren’t just the “rage lanterns.” Sure, rage fuels them just like will-power fuels the Green Lanterns and fear fuels the Sinestros. But, it’s a specific rage. It looks like the Red Lanterns hate–and I mean really hate–Sinestro.

Oh, and in this issue, the Guardians reveal the second of the Ten New Laws: Lethal Force Has Been Authorized Against All Enemies of the Green Lantern Corps. Those little blue paranoid bastards are playing right into Sinestro’s hands.

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Justice League: The New Frontier Special #1

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W: Darwyn Cooke

A: Darwyn Cooke, David Bullock & J. Bone

I read Cooke’s DC opus New Frontier for the first time within the last month, so I can only imagine how the folks who read it when it first came out must have been champing at the bit for something like this special issue (which, I’m sure, has absolutely nothing to do with the release of the New Frontier DVD).

The New Frontier Special contains three all new stories–all written by Cooke–set in the over-stylized Fifties and Sixties of Cooke’s DC Universe. Luckily, Rip Hunter shows up on the very first page and tells us that it doesn’t matter what Earth these stories take place on, we should just sit back and enjoy them (and then he pulls out a rifle and shoots at a few pesky aluminum siding salesmen).

The first story is an actual continuation from New Frontier, written and drawn by Cooke. It’s 1955 and Eisenhower calls upon Superman to take care of Gotham’s Batman. This is a classic “Batman meets Superman” story, but set against the backdrop of Cooke’s paranoia-fueled McCarthy Era heroes. Clark and Bruce duke it out–Bruce comes out on top with the help of some kryptonite that Catwoman lifted from Luthor–and, in the end, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman realize that they are a better force for good together than separately.

The second story (this time with David Bullock providing the art) chronicles the first meeting between Robin and Kid Flash in Cooke’s universe. Since he had already tackled the Justice League, it was nice to see Cooke’s take on the younger generation of heroes and how the Teen Titans would begin in the New Frontier Universe. Plus, Bullock’s art is a nice extension of Cooke’s style.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for J. Bone, who handles the art chores for the third and final story. While it might have been interesting to see Cooke’s uber-feminist Wonder Woman and sexpot Black Canary teaming up during the 1960s feminist movement, Bone’s art is far too cartoony, making it almost impossible for me to finish the story (it’s reminiscent of Kyle Baker’s Plastic Man series, which made me want to vomit half-way through the first issue).

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Powers #28

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W: Brian Michael Bendis

A: Mike Avon Oeming

It isn’t always easy to do “something different” with super-hero comics. If you try to go too far away from the genre’s conventions, you lose everything that makes comic books fun. For example: as much as I liked the first two volumes of Ultimates, it sometimes became too real and, let’s face it, the real world isn’t always tons of fun. But, with Powers, Bendis and Oeming give the super-hero genre their own spin, while keeping the flavor of super-hero comics more or less intact.

In this new issue of Powers, Detective Walker continues to search for the serial killer who’s been spreading the Powers virus around the city. What makes this case tough for Walker, aside from the fact that all of the victims are young girls, is that the usually stoic detective finds himself personally invested in this investigation. Not only is his former partner, Deena Pilgrim (herself infected with the virus), a suspect in the killings, but his protege Calista–a.k.a. the new Retro-Girl–is a spitting image for the perp’s type, and she’s offering to use herself as bait.

This issue highlights one of the coolest parts of Powers‘ fairly subtle mythology. Walker is, essentially, immortal and, over the ages, he keeps encountering different incarnations of the same heroes, like Retro-Girl. So, while Walker’s been romantically linked with previous Retro-Girls, he’s taken on a more paternal role with the current one.

Oh, and there’s a great Tarantino-esque scene between Deena (who’s kinda hot when she’s hurling lightning at things), The Lance, and an army of creepy little goblin-y guys.

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Teen Titans: Year One #3 (of 6)

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W: Amy Wolfram

A: Karl Kerschl, Serge LaPointe & Steph Peru

The biggest mystery this week is this: how can a menace that is powerful enough to take out the Justice League, and force the League’s teen side-kicks to band together, be taken out in a single issue?

That’s really the weakest thing about this Year One title. The writing is still pretty top-notch, and I really like the art–despite the occasional “anime” moment, like Wonder Girl’s comedic torrent of tears that make a water main break look like a trickle. It was cool seeing Kid Flash and Speedy all revved up to getting to team-up with little Donna Troy. It was even cooler when Aqua Lad couldn’t contain his hero-worship and blurts out “Robin’s cool!”

I am curious to see how the creative team is going to fill the second half of this mini’s run, so I’ll definitely be back next month for #4.

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Quote of the Week:

“Oh, my eye. My burning, beautiful eye.”–one-eyed Xander Harris upon barging in on a clothing-free Buffy and Satsu in Buffy the Vampire Slayer #12.

Tarantino Moment of the Week:

“Take your time, boys. Not every day you get to beat the clit off a lying ex-cop bitch fuck!”–The Lance to his army of creepy little goblin-guys, regarding former detective Deena Pilgrim, in Powers #28.

Weekly Comic Review for 2/13/08 (In Memory of Steven Gerber and Steph Peru.)

B.P.R.D.: 1946 #2

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W: Mike Mignola & Joshua Dysart

A: Paul Azaceta

This is only the second issue of Mignola and Dysart’s story of Professor Bruttenholm’s adventures in post-War Germany, and they’ve already revealed a number of secrets (which, of course, can only mean that they have a few doozies planned for the remaining issues of this mini-series).  The less startling of these revelations involves Hitler’s secret plan to build an army of vampires.  The Fuhrer’s project–Vampir Sturm–involved a meeting with the vampire Count Vladimir Giurescu.  Once Hitler realized that an army of vampires would be dangerously uncontrollable, he had Giurescu and his six wives destroyed, but not before he drained all of the blood out of the Count’s sixth wife.  That blood is then used to experiment on German citizens, turning them into vampires.  Vampires are tricky.  Well, maybe not…but creating a vampire that I like can be tricky.  I don’t go in for that whole nancy-boy, fancy-pants vampire bullshit.  I like my vamps to be creepy, slimy, and predatory.  And, that’s the kind of vampire that Mignola’s given us.

The second revelation is slightly more exciting, and it involves the creepy little girl who’s in charge of the Soviet’s paranormal unit (from here on, referred to by name: Varvara).  Varvara’s story begins during the reign of Russia’s Tsar Peter.  Peter was in a bit of a spot.  His empire needed a seaport and he was more than happy to take one from Sweden; unfortunately, the Tsar also has to deal with the Cossacks in his own country.  Tsar Peter turns to black magic, eventually summoning three demons using an ancient Mongolian text.  I know I’ve seen these three demons before in the Mignola canon (big, hulking guys with animal heads and tiny bat-wings), but can’t remember where (possibly in Darkness Calls).  The three demons help the Tsar attain all that he wanted, but they exact a price: one takes Peter’s heart, making him a ruthless tyrant; the second takes the lives of all of the Tsar’s future sons; the third was supposed to take the Tsar’s soul, but decided to stay around and revel in the carnage around it.  That third demon is currently masquerading as Varvara.

Once again, Mignola (ably assisted by Dysart) hits one out of the park.  It’s nice to know that, even though Professor Bruttenholm dies in the very first Hellboy series, there’s always a chance that he may show up in a mini-series set in the past.  Also, the Mignolaverse is so detailed that all of the bits and pieces (from Nazi occultism to Lovecraftian cosmology) blend together seamlessly.

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Booster Gold #0

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W: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz

A: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund

When a comic publishes a #0 issue, it’s a special event that isn’t part of the book’s regular numbered run.  These issues also tend to tell a story that takes place before the book’s first issue, sometimes expanding on a team or character’s origins.  Although this doesn’t exactly illuminate on Booster Gold’s origin–although, there is a little glimpse of Booster before he became a disgraced football star–I think it serves as an origin for “The Blue and the Gold”: the new time-traveling team of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold.  Oh, and there’s the cameo by Parallax and Extant, which ties into DC’s old “Zero Hour” event.

I’ve enjoyed this series from the first issue, but I have to be honest, this issue really had my head spinning with all of the time-traveling, Back to the Future-y mumbo-jumbo.  I can usually follow a time-travel story–I’ve seen Back to the Future, Quantum Leap, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure–but something about this issue threw me off. 

There were highlights, though.  First of all, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are positively adorable.  A lot of comic book characters call one another “best friend”, but Ted and Booster actually make me believe it.  You get the feeling that they really would die for each other (or, in Booster’s case, prevent the other from dying).  If Blue Beetle and Booster Gold really become a top-secret team of time cops, it might very well be the funniest team-up ever.  Unfortunately, the Future Blue Beetle still gives me a major case of the wiggins.  I don’t trust him.  There were also some really heartfelt moments between Ted Kord, Dan Garrett (the previous Beetle), and Jamie Reyes (the current Beetle).

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Countdown to Final Crisis 11

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W: Paul Dini, Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti

A: Mike Norton

This weekly series has had its ups and downs, but as the final act seems to be gearing up, Countdown gives us one pretty damned good issue.  With Ray Palmer safely under the watchful eyes of Jason Todd, Kyle Rayner and Donna Troy, we seem to have completely abandoned the Multiverse and returned to the universe of New Earth.  All of Countdown‘s various story-lines are coming together as the cast of characters all find themselves on Apokolips.  Brother Eye and his O.M.A.C.s are assimilating Darkseid’s planet, which could be tied into both the “Great Disaster” and the “Death of the New Gods.”

We get a pretty kick-ass scene of Jason Todd swinging over Apokolips in a manner that would make Neal Adams weep (kudos to Mike Norton, for that) after he gets fed up with Ray’s whining and Kyle’s “flexing for Donna” and bails on the other Challengers.  Jason’s been an obnoxious punk, but meeting Batman-51 and getting the Red Robin costume has lit a fire in the former Robin. 

But, for me, the best part of this issue dealt with Harley, Holly and Mary.  After following Granny Goodness through a Boom Tube, our girls get into an all-out slugfest with the Female Furies.  While Harley and Holly do some fancy hand-to-hand acrobatics, poor powerless Mary can do nothing but bite the nose right off of Mad Harriet’s face.  Our plucky little Mary Batson can also hear the voices of the gods on Apokolips.

Will Mary follow the voices of the gods and prove herself worthy of being reconnected to the power of Shazam?  Who’s the mysterious figure who interrupted Pied Piper’s attempted suicide?  Where did Jimmy Olsen get those abs of steel?

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Gen13 #17

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W: Simon Oliver

A: Carlo Barberi

While Caitlin Fairchild is strapped into a memory-helmet and forced to relive her less-than-perfect childhood, the other members of Gen13 are unwilling approaching the final act of “15 Minutes”, also known as death.  The Powers That Be at IO correctly theorized that the kids of Gen13 are unstoppable when they are together, that the only way to conquer them is to divide them.  I won’t lie, if this was supposed to be a giant plot-twist, it failed.  I’ve had a feeling that was where this arc was going since the beginning.  That being said, the ride’s been fun.

And now a word about Barberi’s art.  The very nature of who Caitlin Fairchild is, as a character, means that she must be drawn in a certain way.  Her powers turned her into a woman of Amazonian proportions, literally.  That means that she must be depicted with certain attributes, but she’s still a young woman, barely out of high school.  Although Barberi’s Caitlin retains her more statuesque qualities, you can still see her youth in her face.  Of course, a bit of credit goes to whoever decided to let the poor girl wear pants.

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Gotham Underground #5 (of 9)

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W: Frank Tieri

A: J. Calafiore

Before I talk about the story in this issue, I need to discuss what Calafiore has done with the art.  I don’t like clever.  In my opinion, most people think they can substitute clever for talented.  There’s nothing wrong with telling a straight-forward story, as long as it’s a kick-ass straight-forward story.  But, Calafiore’s proved that he’s both talented and clever.  The panels of this issue are presented as interlocking puzzle pieces, not as the regular boxes we see in most comics.  Moreover, key information (such as the face of the young girl who Penguin gives the Spoiler costume and equipment to) is obscured by a “missing puzzle piece.”  To make a long story short, Calafiore’s art in this issue blew me a way.

Now, on to the story.  Shows like Heroes and Lost have shown us that it’s sometimes better to reveal what’s come before in flashback, rather than having a bunch of people standing around and singing the “Exposition Song.”  In this issue of Gotham Underground, we see how Johnny Stitches gets his name when he betrays Tobias Whale and is rescued by Bruno Mannheim and brought to Apokolips, where he’s stitched back together by Desaad.

The flashback also reveals that Penguin is working with Checkmate and the Suicide Squad, helping them round up Gotham’s super-villains.  Why?  He’s been on the lowest rung of Gotham’s criminal ladder for years.  With maniacs like Two-Face, Joker, and Killer Croc running around, Cobblepot’s little more than a punchline.  In return for his help, Checkmate gives Penguin a crate full of confiscated super-villain paraphernalia to hand out to Gotham’s thugs, crooks, and junkies–an army that will help Penguin fill the vacuum left by the departed Rogues.

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Green Lantern Corps #21

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W: Sterling Gates

A: Nelson

Supposedly this new arc of Green Lantern Corps is going to explore the new Alpha Lanterns in greater detail.  That’s something I want.  I want to learn more about the creepy new cyborg Lanterns.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure if it’s being executed in the best way possible.

This issue tells the story of Boodikka, one of the Lost Lanterns who fell in battle against Parallax, and was chosen by the Guardians to become an Alpha Lantern.  She turned her back on her family when she was first picked to be a Green Lantern and, now as an Alpha Lantern she’s been sent to investigate her sister, Zale, who’s also been chosen as a member of the Corps.  As much as I want to know more about the Alpha Lanterns, I don’t give a damn about Boodikka.  I know nothing about her.  What happens to her has absolutely no emotional impact on me.  When Hal Jordan became Parallax, it meant something.  People knew who Hal was, they knew what kind of person he was.  Same thing with Kyle Rayner.  A hero falling only has weight when you care about that hero.  Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about Boodikka to care, and this hokey sister vs. sister angle probably isn’t going to change that.

Nelson’s art doesn’t really add much to the story, either.  I’m not sure if he was rushed or overwhelmed by the task of drawing vast alien landscapes and countless alien species, but in my humble opinion, the art in this issue felt static and, in places, unfinished.

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Quote of the Week:

“I look ridiculous with a mustache.  In fact, everyone looks ridiculous with a mustache.”–Ted Kord, when Booster Gold suggests he grows a mustache to avoid being identified, in Booster Gold #0.

Weekly Comic Review for 2/6/08

Abe Sapien: The Drowning #1 (of 5)

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W: Mike Mignola

A: Jason Shawn Alexander

While we all anxiously await to find out what the hell happened after the last issue of B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground, Mike Mignola gives us not one, but two “prequel” mini-series–the other being B.P.R.D.: 1946.  With that other series, Abe Sapien: The Drowning fits seamlessly into the growing Hellboy universe.

This first issue of The Drowning begins in 1884.  Some dude in a blimp is hot on the trail of a ship carrying a pack of creepy little goblin-y guys and a corpse in a coffin (both seemingly covered with tattoos in the form of some strange script).  We later learn that the sky-pirate is Edward Grey, Queen Victoria’s top occult detective.  The freak in the coffin is a Dutch warlock named Epke Vrooman who was hanged a year earlier and supposedly turned into a bundle of sticks and blew away (this sorta thing happens a lot, trust me).  Grey uses a Tibetan lipu dagger–a little golden number that looks a lot like the dagger from Alec Baldwin opus The Shadow–to stab Vrooman’s corpse in the heart, causing the ship to sink to the bottom of the ocean.

Flash-forward to 1981.  Abe Sapien has only been a member of the B.P.R.D. for two years, and Tom Manning doesn’t think he’s ready to go on a solo mission.  Up until this point, Abe’s been paired with Hellboy in the field, unfortunately HB is currently on one of his leaves of absence from the Bureau.  To be more specific, Hellboy’s off wandering the world with Anastasia Bransfield, an archaeologist and HB’s on-again/off-again girlfriend.  Anyways, Professor Bruttenholm goes to bat for Abe and tells Manning that the young agent is ready, however he’s willing to let Manning team Abe up with former Navy Frogman Van Fleet.  Bruttenholm brings Abe up to speed about Grey, Vrooman, the shipwreck, and the lipu dagger.  The issue ends with Abe and Van Fleet diving for the wreck, only to be attacked by every manner of aquatic beasty, summoned Aquaman-style for a wrinkly old crone wearing a crustacean hat.  Of course, it’s too early to tell if this crone is friend or foe (and, given the way Mignola likes to throw a curve ball every now and then, I’m afraid to even hazard a guess).

This is another amazing offering from Mignola and Darkhorse.  When discussing 1946, I mentioned how Mignola never ceases to amaze me when he jumps back and forth along the Hellboy timeline.  Everything just seems “right.”  It’s great seeing Abe Sapien–usually the calm, cool, and collected moral center of the B.P.R.D.–as a green recruit who’s still nervous to be called in to see “the Professor.”  This issue is also, to my knowledge, the first canonical mention of Hellboy’s relationship with Anastasia Bransfield, a character that I’ve encountered in several Hellboy novels, but never in an official Darkhorse comic.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer #11

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W: Joss Whedon

A: Georges Jeanty

Another stand-alone “episode” of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s eighth season.  While her Slayers (and “still large-ish” sister, Dawn) have a well-deserved party at the castle, Buffy decides it’s time to have a little heart to heart talk with one of her girls.  At the center of Buffy’s little chat is the revelation that Satsu is in love with the Buff-ster.  Not only is Satsu in love with her, but it was Satsu’s kiss that woke Buffy up back in one of the earlier issues of the series.  Buffy explains to the young Slayer that loving her is not the safest thing in the world to do, since people who love her tend to die, go to Hell, burn up, let vampires feed on them, et cetera…et cetera…et cetera.

Now, of course things don’t go smoothly for long.  Twilight–the masked Big Bad of Season 8–shows up while Buffy and Satsu are dusting a gang of vamps.  Twilight’s not there to fight (although he’s wicked strong and does smack our favorite Slayer around a bit), instead here’s there to make Buffy question her moral certainty.  Is what she’s doing right?  Does she have the authority to decide that every potential Slayer on the planet should be activated? 

I know that there has been some debate in the comics community about Whedon’s Buffy series.  Some people think that it’s too mired in the show’s continuity, which turns off new readers.  Well, let’s be honest, seven years of Buffy continuity is nothing compared to the decades of continuity that some readers have to wade through if they want to read books starring Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, or the X-Men (although I will admit that most comic characters are ingrained enough in pop culture that most people might be able to suss out what’s going on).  But, I think stand-alone issues like this are not the impenetrable colossus of continuity that people accuse this series of being. 

Yes, Joss likes the continuity.  But, he also understands that you need to shake things up a little.  That’s why each season of Buffy would have a handful of stand-alone episodes sprinkled here and there.  Occasionally, they would mention the season-wide arc, but for the most part, they existed as their own entities.  That’s what we have with this month’s issue.  You get the basics–army of Slayers, giant Dawn, dude named Twilight who wants to bring about the end of magic–but it’s all wrapped up in an undaunting package.  Not only that, but we get classic Whedon moments, like Xander’s familiar lament that he has no “guy pals” (a similar lament was made in season 5, I believe, when he wishes that Oz were around, because Oz would “get it”, even if he didn’t say anything to acknowledge that he got it).

Oh…and in this issue, if it’s possible, Whedon out-Whedons himself.  Here’s the situation: Twilight has just mind-fucked Buffy and his cronies approach him, wondering why he didn’t just beat her to a bloody pulp.  Twilight begins to lift up his mask…could we be getting our first glimpse of the Big Bad?…and then scratches his neck before pulling the mask back down.  Damn you, Whedon!  You got me.

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Countdown to Final Crisis 12

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W: Paul Dini, Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti

A: Jesus Saiz & Tom Derenick

It seems like we might be done with the Multiverse, as Countdown returns to New Earth.  After Monarch seemingly blew himself (and his army) up on Earth-51 last week, the Challengers are now free to go to Apokolips.  Of course, it seems like everyone else and their brother is being summoned to Apokolips.

So, in addition to the Challengers (with our Ray Palmer in tow), Jimmy Olsen and Forager–who seem to be seriously shacking-up–also receive a summons to Darkseid’s fiery backyard.  Elsewhere, Mary Batson (poor, sweet, noble Mary) is deep undercover as a slave on Paradise Island.  During a ceremony where Athena/Granny Goodness names her newest Female Furies, Mary goes all Spartacus, which results in a free-for-all between the new Furies, Holly, Harley, Athena/Granny, and…wait for it…Hippolyta!  Granny, sensing that she’s worn out her welcome, Boom-tubes back to her master.  Harley, Holly and Mary follow her, leaving the re-instated Queen of the Amazons to “talk to” her followers. 

As if a photographer, a sexy pink bug-lady, a lesbian, an insane blonde, and a formerly mystically-empowered teenager weren’t enough, Pied Piper and Brother Eye are also making a bee-line (that’s “bee” as in “Boom-tube”) for Apokolips.  Why is everyone going to Apokolips?  Is the Source really summoning them or is it something more sinister?  Why is Darkseid being so nice to “Solomon”?  Will any of these questions be answered in the next eleven issues of Countdown, or is everything simply preamble to DC’s Final Crisis?

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Detective Comics #841

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W: Paul Dini

A: Dustin Nguyen

This issue of Detective Comics takes place “before the events of Salvation Run“, which illustrates what I think is one of the biggest problems with company-wide story-lines: either you find a way to set a story out of chronological order, or you’re forced to conform to someone else’s storytelling decisions.  The Bat-books are a great example.  Batman, as cool as he is, is only as good as his Rogues Gallery.  Salvation Run takes most of Bats’s heavy-hitters–Joker, Two-Face, Croc, Mad Hatter–out of the equation, leaving the Dark Knight to content with criminal masterminds like Scarface and Firefly.  In this issue of Detective Comics, Dini decides to do the former, and gives as an awesome single-issue story centered around Jervis Tetch, a.k.a. the Mad Hatter.

It seems that Hatter has assembled “The Wonderland Gang”, a group of miscreants who all dress like characters from Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories: Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Lion and the Unicorn, the Walrus and the Carpenter.  What follows is a classic, straight-forward story of Batman trying to figure out where the Wonderland Gang will strike next and where their hideout could be.  As Bats is mentally wrestling with the ridiculous simplicity of Tetch’s crimes, we soon learn that there’s a twist: Hatter isn’t leading the Wonderland Gang.  The real “brains” behind the Gang are Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, who have used Tetch’s own mind-control technology against him.  The issue ends with Tetch, Dee and Dum in Arkham, where Tetch gets revenge by making the Tweedles beat each other to death.

This is another great issue in Dini’s run on Detective Comics.  Nothing too fancy.  Nothing too complicated.  He’s just giving us a good Batman story.  Dini’s work on this book has been like getting another season of his Batman cartoon.  And I, for one, am grateful…just like I’m grateful for Nguyen’s clean, clear art.

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Justice Society of America #12

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W: Geoff Johns (with Alex Ross)

A: Dale Eaglesham

The “Thy Kingdom Come” storyline–which I assume has been in the works as soon as Johns learned DC was bringing the Multiverse back–continues in this issue of JSA.  While the Justice Society is out in force, rounding up as many legacy heroes as they can find, a killer known as “The Heartbreak Slayer” is running around blasting the hearts out of meta-humans pretending to be demi-gods.  While investigating these killings under New York City, former-Fed-turned-mystery-man Mr. America, finds a single word etched into a brick wall: GOG.  Now, clearly there’s a connection between Gog and Magog (the Big Bad from Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come), however the exact nature of this connection remains a mystery.  Luckily, a thrashed Mr. America makes his way to the Justice Society’s brownstone by the end of the issue.

Back to the JSA’s search for legacy heroes…  The last issue saw the team rescuing a new Judomaster.  The opening pages of Number 12 finds Ted Grant in the boxing ring with the new JM, testing to see just how untouchable she really is.  This is when former JSA-er Jakeem Thunder and his pet genie, Thunderbolt, pop in for a visit.

The team’s roster continues to grow as the other members of the JSA are out trying to recruit Black Lightning’s younger daughter, Jennifer (who can generate some kind of EMP field), a new Amazing-Man, and a soldier named David Reid who also happens to be FDR’s great-grandson (and a lance corporal in the army, as well as a meta-human).

I really can not praise the work that Johns and Eaglesham do in Justice Society each and every month enough.  This book has yet to disappoint, even when it touches upon things that usually turn me off: like Alex Ross or the fact that Amazing-Man uses his Grunge-like absorbing powers to police the Katrina-ravaged streets of New Orleans.

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Teen Titans: Year One #2 (of 6)

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W: Amy Wolfram

A: Karl Kerschl, Serge Lapointe & Steph Peru

If you thought things were tough when Batman is on the rag, try to imagine what it would be like if Aquaman, Flash and Green Arrow joined him.  That’s the basic premise that this series is using to tell the story of the first time that DC’s teen sidekicks came together as the Teen Titans.

The first issue of this mini-series saw Robin (of the Dick Grayson variety) get pushed around by Batman and turning to his pal Kid Flash (good ol’ Wally West).  This second issue starts out with Aquaman menacing a submarine, using his fishy friends to steal all of the vessel’s torpedoes.  Aqualad sees what’s going on and tries to stop his mentor from doing what he knows isn’t right.  I know next to nothing about Aqualad.  I’m moderately more familiar with him when he’s older and going by the name Tempest (although, in all honesty, I’m less familiar with him than I am the other founding Titans).  That being said, I’m not sure how far the Aqualad of this series strays from the usual portrayal of the character.  This Aqualad is a scrawny, pale little kid whose head looks like a puffer-fish.  But, he’s still sharp enough to realize that what Aquaman is doing isn’t right, so he heads to the surface to find Robin.

With Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad together, they head off to find Speedy, who’s in pursuit of Green Arrow, who just happens to be trying to rob an armored car.  After all is said and done, Wonder Girl shows up and our boys are all pretty much twitterpated.

Although the exact nature of what’s happening to the Titans’ mentors has yet to be revealed, it’s obvious that there’s some kind of mind-control or empathic manipulation happening.  Could it be Gorilla Grodd or Despero?  Hell, it could be someone I’ve never even heard of.  But, whatever turns out to be the cause of their irrational behavior, Wolfram’s story has gotten my attention.  Her Kid Flash truly captures what it must be like for a teenage boy (normally pretty damned hyper to begin with) to live at super-speed.  On top of that, Teen Titans: Year One‘s art team is producing quality work.  The art in this series looks animation-quality, and the designs for the characters make them look like kids, not just tiny adults.

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Quote of the Week:

“Oh God!  Nobody cares about your wrath!”–Buffy Summers, when a vampire suggests that she “tastes his wrath”, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer #11.