Thursday, August 28, 2008

X-Men: Legacy #215 review



Walkthrough part one

I can't help but feel we're really starting to see the limitations of this new direction. The whole point of X-Men Legacy is to deconstruct Xavier and his dream and rebuild the character and possibly the core premise of the entire X-Men franchise. Reading this issue, it seems like Carey is just sort of spinning his wheels without getting any forward motion.

Okay, so Xavier and Cyclops meet again since the end of Messiah Complex. And the meeting goes badly, needless to say. But the entire meeting covers ground that has really already been tread in the last arc. Really, nothing new is added to Xavier's little journey of self-rediscovery. Granted, it's a two parter and it's not over yet, but this is the first issue of Legacy that's actually left me somewhat disappointed. The sub-plot featuring Rogue was cool, she's running around Australia again picking up the pieces of her past as well, but only a few pages of this issue is dedicated to this particular story. The rest is.....meh.

The meeting between Xavier and Cyclops can be summed up thusly...Cyclops is pissed off at Xavier, Xavier wants understanding and maybe forgiveness. Nothing new, really. We do get an interesting twist at the end, however, when it looks like Emma Frost is gonna get in on the action. Alright, cool, maybe this will give some meaning to their reunion. The telepathic face off between Xavier and Sinister in the last issue was cool, this should be just as good, right? I certainly hope so. What really bugged me was that this is the first time Xavier and Scott Summers have been face to face since the end of Messiah Complex. Xavier was on the ground with half his head missing and Cyclops was declaring the X-Men over and done with. It's some time later and...what. "Hey, Charles, good to see you ain't dead." That's it? Come one! There really should have been more to this meeting. A bit of emotional nuance would have been in order. Hey, Xavier half raised Scott Summers. Last Summers saw, Xavier was half dead and then up and disappeared. The reaction could have been.....well, anything else but that.

I don't know, maybe Carey shouldn't approach this as strictly an Xavier series. Rogue's side story in this issue looks cool. It looks ripe for mining new material. She had a billion minds in her head at one point, that certainly had to have messed her up good.

But I'm not a writer, what do I know?

All I can say is this issue was, at best, meh.

Nova #16 review



Green For Danger (A Secret Invasion story)

I'm not actually sure how many parts this story is. I thought this was going to be a one off issue until it was getting towards the end. Richard Rider, Nova, intercepts a distress call on a planet, answers, and is attacked by super Skrulls. He's having a hard time of it with Worldmind down, but ends up getting back up when the original Super Skrull shows up to back him up.

It's a cool issue, but not much to right home about until the ending. Watching Rider function without Worldmind is cool to see. He needs lots of breathing room since he has to manually interface with his back-up support system. Once given a little breathing room, he can tear shit up. I suppose that's what makes the ending a little more interesting. Without Worldmind, and with ass in the fryer, it's gonna be interesting to see what happens.

The real star of this issue is Kl'rt, the Super Skrull. Since Annihilation, he's become this really interesting character and not some cookie cutter Fantastic Four villain. I don't know how long this character has been around, but I don't think he's ever had any sort of depth, so lately he's been undergoing a sort of rebirth. We're seeing what motivates and drives the character more and how he views himself in the world. He describes himself as a sort of Ronin, which would be a really cool take on the character. But since it's a Secret Invasion tie-in, we get a very cool perspective of the Skrull invasion. Sort of an insider on the outside looking in kind of thing. I dig it. Kinda wish someone at Marvel would have done a Super Skrull Secret Invasion mini-series. I don't know how long this arc is running, though, I might essentially get my wish. Two, three issues? That would be cool.

It's a decent issue. I'm burning out on Secret Invasion though. If Marvel ends Secret Invasion with a mass genocide of the Skrulls, I would very happy. It's getting to be a bit much. But seeing as how guys like Abnett and Lanning are having so much fun with it, and so many writers are able to get some cool shit out of this event, I guess I can't complain too much. Still, it'll be nice when the books go back to business as usual.

Final Crisis: Rogue's Revenge #2 review



Rogue's Revenge part two

I'm a little torn about this issue.

I liked it but I found it...lacking.

Not lacking in revenge, there's plenty of that to be had, but revenge of the quality I wasn't expecting after the last issue. It was a lot of revenginating on some guys I've never heard of. A squad of "New Rogues" that want to supplant the old Rogues. The Rogue's have issues with this and then proceed to show why it's a very bad idea to fuck with them. Revenging is had swiftly and awesomely! No revenging against Intertia, the dude that implicated them in the murder of The Flash, Bart Allen. Captain Cold takes revenge on his father, that was cool. But, it's a roundabout revenge. Hmmmmmm.....

I didn't read Geoff Johns Flash run, so that's the major problem, right? Right. These guys are ten different kinds of fucked up this issue and that caught me off guard. They take down these New Rogue's pretty efficiently and it's safe to say they ain't gonna be recovering too quickly. Or at all. And what Captain Cold does to his dad? Jesus...

It is an interesting issue. The way the Rogues regard each other, their experiences together and individually, fleshed out all while taking apart a bunch of pretenders. I really liked that aspect of the story. How Captain Cold confronts his dad, who the New Rogues abducted, again, just crazy. What makes this scene...well, what makes the whole issue...is Scott Kolins art. We're able to look into Captain Cold's eyes, but I like how he places the paneling to obscure the view. We're getting a rather vulnerable moment, delving into his soul a bit but only so much. We aren't allowed the priviledge of getting so close to this character. We get a tiny peek, but it's only so much before the mask is back on. Most excellent stuff.

We're further teased with more scenes between Intertia and Professor Zoom. He's certainly doing his best to make Inertia even more powerful then he already is, to really fuck with the Flashes. And this makes me long for the last issue of this mini. After seeing what the Rogues do to the New Rogues, I have to see what they do to Intertia. Johns does seem to have his plate full at the moment, I hope he doesn't have too much that he can't follow through.

Once again, another Final Crisis spin-off that is far more satisfying then the main series. Check it out.

X-Force #6 review



Angels $ Demons part six

I was left wondering in the last issue how Kyle and Yost could possibly wrapo up this story. I figured that it's gonna set up future events down the line, set up the villains the team would be fighting down the line and, well, I was certainly right about that. The issue itself?

Kind of a letdown.

I mean the story is serviceable and does wrap up this particular arc, but it lacks a certain energy. The story has been building to this climax that just feels...totally deflated. I think it has to do with the fact that the issue is essentially told as a flashback the entire time with Wolverine debriefing Cyclops on what happened to the Purifiers. Archangel goes fucking batshit crazy and kills people left and right, Wolverine kills people left and right, Warpath and X-23 kill people left and right (thinking back to Astonishing X-Men #26, Cyclops is full of shit).....lots of killing, but...it's lacking. There's no sense of danger to the team. It feels like a completely safe bet that the team is gonna come out fairly unscathed. Hell, the only real surprise is what happens to Archangel and his wings at the end of the issue that kind of left me scratching my head. What happens to Rahne leaves lots of room for the character to get completely mind fucked later on, but, ya kinda figure that's what was gonna happen anyway.

The real interesting stuff is what happens with Matthew Risman and Eli Bard. The last issue concentrated on these two heavily and when you realize the whole arc was basically about Risman and the Purifiers more then X-Force, I can't help but think that this issue really should have concentrated on that whole thing. What Eli does and his betrayal of Risman, setting the stage for serious awesomeness down the road with Magus.....this particular story is wrapped up far too swiftly in this issue.

Overall, my opinion of this series isn't a bad one. Flaws aside, it's actually really fun. Wolverine tearing shit up, Rahne getting hooked on heroin, brainwashed and savaging her friends, the return of lots of big fucking bad guys.....it's been a really fun ride. The end of this arc, sadly, ends tepidly. I'd like to continue on with the series but...job. Lack of one soon. Ah well.

But X-Force, like most of the other X spin-offs, is where the real action of the X-Universe is. Uncanny? Hey, for all this stories flaws it kicks Uncanny's ass. Astonishing? As soon as Ellis gets his ego out of the way it might be a winner.

Pick it up in TPB, open a beer, have fun.

DC Universe Last Will and Testament review



Conversions

One of the AICN Assholes called the first three issues of Morrison's Final Crisis something like creeping evil and I called bullshit.

This issue is the proof.

Meltzer does in one issue what Morrison failed to do in three.

The supposed theme in Final Crisis is, what's the ad line, "The Day Evil Won." Well, shit, you could have fooled me. You want that sense of dread and foreboding? That sense of bad shit is gonna happen and we have no fucking clue what the hell is going on? THIS is that issue! In this issue we actually get that feeling that something is happening.

The issue centers around Geo-Force seeking revenge against Deathstroke for the death of his sister in the Teen Titans story, The Judas Contract (which is cool cause I just got that collection in this week). Around that we see the reactions of other heroes to the events going on around them. There's no light, the Earth feels like it's stopped rotating. Places are shrouded in darkness. The apocalypse is near. People seek family, God, whatever it is that comforts them. Batman and Robin and Nightwing go on the prowl. Superman seeks the sage wisdom of his father. Wonder Woman and Donna Troy seek to prepare for battle in the ways of Greek warriors of old. (The sorta stuff Morrison is trying and failing to do.) Geo-Force seeks revenge. He seeks guidance, someone to change his mind. Someone to tell him it's okay, go for it. Kill him, it's the end of the world. And anyway, who cares, look who you're going after. So he's conflicted.

The issue plays out quite well. The fight between Geo-Force and Deathstroke is hardcore, if because Deathstroke just beas the piss out of Geo-Force. The way the fight ends was, to me, pretty shocking. Meltzer might have pussed out a teensy bit but it was still a helluva crazy scene.

This issue should be regarded as Final Crisis...I don't know, #3.1 I suppose. It's well before the end of issue three, certainly. I guess it takes place during issue three. I'm just shocked that Meltzer, in one issue, destroys everything that Morrison was attempting to do in three. I don't know what DC was thinking. Sure, Morrison can be great when he wants to be but he forgot to craft a comic book story. Meltzer might get overly sentimental at times, but he keeps his head on straight and can move things forward. This issue is certainly a testament to that.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Comics Wednesday



DC Universe Last Will and Testament



Final Crisis: Rogue's Revenge #2



Nova #16



X-Force #6



X-Men: Legacy #215

Alas, JSA and Final Crisis: Superman Beyond are not part of the haul cause UPS dropped the ball and a package got sent...elsewhere. Fucking Bombay for all I know. But it is coming in Friday, so I should have them by then.

Reviews will be forthcoming but short. I'm training a new guy, my eventual replacement, Thursday and Friday nights. No time for reviews, unfortunately. I'm gonna try to get in as many as I can tonight.

Also, finished Old Man's War. Awesome book. Some minor quibbles, I don't think Scalzi really follows through on the concept that well. For a bunch of guys that were supposed to be 75 years old, they sure didn't act like it most of the time. That aside, it was a fantastic read. So awesome I finished it in a day and a half and went out and bought the second part.



The Ghost Brigades!

Almost as good as Old Man's War. New characters, some returning supporting characters. This books revolves around a guy who's sold out the dominant human empire for revenge, but the Army makes a clone of him and uses a leftover copy of his brain pattern to use in tracking him down. It's pretty cool. It's more like two stories in one, though the implications of the first story are pretty much forgotten about in the second half. I don't know, maybe the third book will answer them.

Scalzi is a pretty kick ass writer. His characters, while note quite acting their age, are all really interesting. Jane Sagan was probably my favorite. Very explosive introduction.

I'm gonna pick up the last book, The Last Colony this weekend. Can't wait.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Metallica - The Day That Never Comes



Mmmmmmmm, it's okay. Some Thin Lizzy guitar harmony stuff going on. The opening chords really remind me of the opening piano bits to Joe Satriani's Chords of Life.



Not saying they ripped Satch off, mind you but every time I think of the opening of the new 'Tallica my mind instantly switches it over Chords of Life.

Finished Empire of Blue Water

Damn, what an awesome book. Took me forever. Not long, I just have to be struck by the urge, otherwise I won't concentrate.

Next book up?

Well, ended up going to Logan's Roadhouse tonight (it's so-so) and stopped by Waldenbooks at the mall to get Mom something to read. Ended up getting myself a little something as well. I still have a ton of other books I should read, but Professor Reynolds goes on and on about this guy, John Scalzi. So I picked up Old Man's War.



Not usually one for sci-fi, but when I've heard this guy is the bastard child of Jesus and Heinlein, I figure, shit, why not give it a try?

The concept is an interesting one. A 75 year old retiree who's wife has just died enlists in the Army and is given a brand spanking new young body. The deal is, fight for Earth for scarce habitable planets for two years and retire to a homestead on one of these worlds. The catch is he can never return to Earth. Sounds cool.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Almost ate $20 bucks

Strange, this post got eaten when sent through Gmail.

It's been over three weeks since I returned that hardcover of Ultimate Spider-Man for the correct edition UPS Ground. It only should have taken a week to get there. Thought it got lost in the mail or something and I misplaced the tracking number.

So I hassle Buy.com a little bit just last night. They write back that they have it in and it'll take a week to get it shipped back my way.

Cool, great.

But did I really need to hassle Buy just to get my shit straight?

I was given the option of simply refunding the book and making a new order but I didn't want to be saddled with shipping fees (figure what's an extra wait time to save a couple of bucks?). Damn, should have just eaten the extra couple of bucks. What a pain in the ass.

But at least I know what's up now.

Oh, also, got my re-order in yesterday.



Annihilation: Conquest volume 2




Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 7




Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 8




Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 9



Whiteout: Melt

Yeah, box was beat up a little.

Captain America #41 review



The Man Who Bought America part five

Bucky and the Falcon are stashed in a crappy little motel while Falcon's bird keeps an eye out on the Grand Captain, who's laying low in a diner. Things get heated when AIM agents corner him behind the diner and capture him. Zola and Red Skull receive the news and Zola is getting pissy that they're having to clean up after Faustus. They start discussing their plans for seperating the Red Skull from Lukin. Being stuck together is causing both of them to go insane so Zola is working quickly to finish building a device bought from Doctor Doom (oh, Doom is in on this now, sweet!). Moving on to Sharon, Faustus is sitting next to her informing her she's ost her baby. Faustus implies that he intends on betraying the Skull and Zola and leaves Sharon her SHIELD GPS locator and another device. Cutting back over to Cap and Falcon, they're heading up to Albany when they're joined by the Black Widow. Her and SHIELD are following up on a tip that's leading them to the Red Skull's base, where Cap and Falcon are headed. Widow also mentions that not only are they going to hit the base, but also keep Senator Gordon Wright from being assassinated. Back on over to the Red Skull, AIM agents wheel the Grand Captain into an immersion chamber while Zola fidgets around with a device that looks kinda like an Ultimate Nullifier (though I can't really tell, too many little CGI FX obscuring the device). Zola says it's either gonna work or not but the other device to split Skull from LUkin is ready to go. They are quickly informed by an AIM agent that Faustus is nowhere to be found. Zola interrogates Sharon to ask her where Faustus went and she has no idea. Pulling Sharon towards him, the device Faustus slipped her falls to the floor and explodes followed by the Black Widow, the Falcon and a team of SHIELD agents infiltrating the base. But preparations are complete and Zola rushes Sharon to her destiny. In the meantime, we're at the Presidential debates not far away. It seems that the plan for Senator Wright is to make him look like a hero. One candidate will be killed and he'll save the other one looking like a hero. However, the Assassin, Sin, has other ideas and decides she's going to kill Wright instead. However, Caps shield blocks the bullet. And while Sin is firing wildly, Captain AMERICA on the attack.

CAPTAIN AMERICA! Hell yeah! Bucky has been in the costume for a few issues now but this is really the first time he calls himself Captain America. This right here is the debut of the new Cap. A totally kick ass ending to a damn fine issue.

Everything is really coming to a head with this issue. The Red Skull and his plans and finally Bucky really taking on the mantle, it's great. As for the Red Skull, I figure his plan is to take over the body of the Grand Director. As for that Ultimate Nullifier looking thing (I really can't tell) I'm not sure what's gonna happen with that. Lots of crazy, kick ass things going on.

Granted, some of the happenings made more sense on a re-reading. It did seem to jump from one local to the other a bit too quickly and sometimes the characters are less then clear about what's going on. "So you're all..." "Uh-huh." "And so then..." "Yeah." "So we'll all..." "Yep." "Okay, cool." Dude!

But the highlight of the issue, aside from the end, is the little moment where Faustus is sitting with Sharon and, basically, grows some balls. It, in a way, felt kind of out of left field. Maybe I was just missing something with the character, but it also made for one of the best character moments in the book. It's unusual to see a villain just let their guard down so suddenly like that, admiring Sharon Carter not only as a scientific subject but as a person.

There's not much more I can say. All the players are in place and the shit is about to hit the fan and I just can't wait until next month's issue to see how everything plays out. What's Skull's plan, what happens with Sharon, Bucky...exciting!

The Incredible Hercules #120 review



Infinite Names: Sacred Invasion finale

The issue starts by telling the story of the Skrull gods, Kly'bn and Sl'gur't before getting to where the last issue left off. Klybn and Slgurt are facing off against our intrepid heroes when Ajak decides he's going to take command of the group. Ajak leads off the fight by going after Klybn while Atum tries for Slgurt. It seems Atum has his fight wrapped up rather quickly, eating Slgurt, but ends up exploding while Ajak gets his head blown off. A giant femur from Atum sends Amadeus tumbling off a ledge into space. This leaves Hercules, who Klybn wastes no time trying to convert to his side. Hercules quickly rebuffs the proposal and puts Klybn to the ground. From their they start tearing each other up while Slgurt and Mikaboshi square off. While they're all fighting, Amadeus is floating through space. He recalls the prophecy Athena told him, that he would have to help Herc when he was at his weakest by doing the hardest thing he would ever have to do and sacrificing himself was that thing. Hope is on the way, however, when Snowbird, who was thought dead, suddenly appears. Seems to get away from that monster from the last issue, she turned herself into a swarm of mosquitoes and followed the crew. With Hercules distracted by the fight, Snowbird finds Atum's spine and uses it to impale Klybn and causes the altar on the Skrull flagship orbiting Earth to shatter. Mikiaboshi and Slgurt are wrapping up their fight, but they've both taken teh same form. One kills the other and it looks like Slgurt has won. But with Klybn dead, the Skrull Dreamtime starts falling apart and they beat it out of there, mission accomplished. Buuuut, it looks like Mikaboshi was the real winner with Slgurt as he drops her body to the ground and claims rule over the Dreamtime while the Enchantress looks on.

Alright, this is a pretty solid read. It was a step up from the last issue and ends pretty decently.

There's a lot of backstory using some Skrull conceptual stuff to detail the origin of Klybn, which was cool. It's always really cool when Pak and Van Lente can sit there and flesh out characters using some crazy mythology stuff, even if in this case it's purely fictional (as opposed to using real mythology). Since it is the climax, there isn't a whole lot of room for character stuff, but what is there is decent. The whole thing with Amadeus. He had to sacrifice himself to get Herc's head screwed back on. Herc is arrogant, ill tempered, and completely fuill of himself. Before Amadeus gets knocked into the abyss, Herc turns to him for support and...nothing. The only way Herc can get his shit back together is for his closest friends to basically lose faith in him. Some god, ay? And Amadeus does lose faith in Herc somewhat. He's idolized him, more or less, up to this point and now Herc has shown some serious flaws. During the fight, Herc basically says this much to Klybn, who, like every other Skrull, wants a perfected society marching lock step. But that kind of society is essentially devalued, with one individual can be replaced with the next, but an imperfect person can at least is capable of being noble. So the whole event was a sort of realization for Hercules.

It's not been a great story, it's been flawed and I think it showed especially last issue. But this issue picks the pieces back up and finishes up what basically amounts to an editorially mandated story fairly well. There is one moment, when the altar on the Skrull flagship is shattering, that ties in nicely to events in Secret Invasion #5. It's just a one off line, a complete throwaway, but it gels well with the whole crossover event. I can hear Pak saying, "See, we're pulling our weight with this whole thing!" Pak and Van Lente do leave a couple of threads dangling to use sometime in the future, which will be interesting to see. This whole business with the Enchantress, sweet!

Secret Invasion is really kicking ass, or at least in the satellite books, but being so long it's getting tedious in its way. Oh, jeez, another fucking book with Skrulls! That was a risky move on Marvel's part. Consumer burn out. With that, however this detour has turned out, it'll be nice to see this title get back on track and see where things go from here.

Guardians of the Galaxy #4 review



Damages (Secret Invasion tie-in)

Major Victory's fight with Starhawk has managed to piss about everyone off. Knowhere's continuum cortex, the system that allows everyone to come and go, was damaged, but it was fixed in short order. However, a bomb sends the whole thing up in smoke and killing 38 people to boot, including many cortex engineers. Among the bodies are also found two Skrulls. Not normally a problem for Knowhere, except that they were disguised. During a team meeting, while everyone is blaming everyone else for all their problems and accusing everyone else of being a Skrull, two members of Knowhere's Administrative Council show up, Gorani and Cynosure (A Luminale and successor to one of the one's that fought Nova in Nova issues #8 and #9). The Council is concerned with the Guardians and the trouble they seem to have brought with them. While arguing with the Council members, they get word of another disturbance involing Major Voctory. Some thugs decide to take their frustrations out on him. He beats them down rather easily, but Cynosure gets in on the action taking down Major Victory. Cosmo manages to keep things from escalating out of control, but is forced to confine the Guardians to their quarters. On the way, we see Starhawk rematerialize. Something's up! Adam Warlock is super pissed that Starlord is acquiesing to the Council's demands for an investigation and that their dawdling is allowing mor fissure anomolies to open. After Warlock storms off, Mantiss walks in informing Starlord that since the bombing of the Cortex, radiation is slowly leaking into the lifesupport systems. Mantis warns Starlord that if they submit to the Council's investigations, then the truth will come out that Mantis, at Starlord's behest, used her telepathy to gently coerce the team together. Unfortunately, neither realize that Drax is listening in on the entire conversation. We then turn to the Investigation with Quasar and Starlord present. Evidence is presented against Drax who has been making many unauthorized visits to the cortex chamber. Seems Drax is their first suspect. Pete calls Gamora, who's watering Groot, to fetch Drax so that he can answer the accusations against him but his room is empty and we see him elsewhere arming himself to the teeth at issue's end.

You can cut the tension with a knife in this issue. It's a solid change of pace and I totally dig it. While it starts off with a bit of a mystery with Major Victory and Starhawk, it quickly switches gears with the subsequent bombing of the continuum cortex. From there, and with the reveal of the Skrulls, it's a slow burn. Accusations flying, fingers pointing, shit's really hitting the fan. The strained relationship between Rocket Racoon and Cosmo, especially, really adds nicely to things. I mean, one's a dog and the other's a racoon so it's not like they'll get along. The stuff with the Council is an interesting touch. Since being introduced to Knowhere in Nova, it was kind of left up in the air with how that place worked. We were introduced to a floating severed Celestial head and a talking Russian dog. I enjoy seeing Abnett and Lanning flesh the place out a little more (It's a sort of international science facility).

While there is some action in this issue, it's not really an action issue. It actually, in its way, feels kind of like an episode of Law & Order. Here we have this criminal act, the cops are investigating before it's all turned over to the prosecuters. The conflicting interests of all the parties, Warlock and Starlord, the Guardians and the Knowhere Administrative Council, all come into play very, very nicely in this issue. All that and the revelation about Starlord's and Mantis's manipulation of the team set things up very nicely for this very cool ending with Drax. It's not a slam bang ending, but a slow burn issue ends with a character who himself is on a slow burning fuse. Just what is this guy up to?

Gamora is still healing after what happened to her in the last issue. She's the T&A factor of the book, so seeing her still burnt to a crisp and covered in a shroud was a nice touch. The whole running joke with Groot.....if it's possible to keep Groot as the team mascot/potted plant, I'd recommend Abnett and Lanning stick with it. It's very funny. Also, one thing that Pete LaPage has complained about, the debriefing box narrative tool? Isn't hardly used in this issue at all. Only once, after the bombing of the cortex, but that's it otherwise. It's a cool narrative device, but it's good to see Abnett and Lanning turn it off when needed. It would have really interrupted the flow of this very well paces issue.

I came this close to not picking the book up this month. I figured, it's Secret Invasion, it's probably gonna derail the story and won't add much to the book, they shouldn't be part of this crossover, it's gonna suck.....incredibly wrong! It deals minimally with Secret Invasion only using it as a way to expose the massive cracks in the team's facade. I was really surprised by how well this issue turned out to be. If you're not picking this book up, missed the first three issues, it doesn't do too bad a job of serving as a jumping on point.

Lovin it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #1 review



Up front, this issue is one massive cocktease.

Okay, it's a long issue but I'm going to keep this short. This is basically the direct continuation of the Action Comics story, Superman and the Lgeion of Super-Heroes. Superman Prime lands in the 31st century, in Smallville on a farm of a very xenophobic old couple. He winds up in the Superman Museum, which details the life and history of Superman. He's greeted by a holographic Jimmy Olsen who leads him around showing Superman's allies, villains, etc etc etc. However, when Prime realizes that he's not included as a major Superman villain, he goes off on one of his tantrums. He's like, "Fuck this shit, man, I fucked that guy up, I get no respect waaaaahhhh!!!!!' But after learning about the Legion of Super-Villains, he finds out the location of the prison planet they're being held on. He burns down the museum, burns down Smallville, releases the prisoners who were all, apparently, inspired by the villainy of Superman Prime and they get their shit together.

Meanwhile, the Legion of Super-Heros is under political attack by the United Planets Council. After the events of Superman and the Legion, xenophobia ia rampant on Earth and humans are being attacked on other planets in turn. Earth is talking about secession and they are all talking about disbanding the Legion. While Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl (God, those names!) are dealing with the UP, Phantom Girl, Lightning Lass and Shadow Lass are in the Phantom Zone attempting to rescue Mon-El while keeping General Zod from escaping. Back at teh UP, the Legion's original benefactor, RJ Brande, returns and does some of his own speecifying in favor of the Legion. However, an od rival in disguide assassinates him right on the floor of the UP. As Brande dies, it's slowly revealed that he was secretly a shape changing Durlan. Damn. When Cosmic Boy goes for the assassin, he crumbles to dust in Cos's hands. There's another mysterious player involved in all of this who wants to see the Legion finished. With that, the Legionaires return back home and discuss their future when they turn to the news and see what's been happening. An emergency call is sent out to Superman back in the 21st century and is summoned to their time. They all see the giant S symbol burning on the prison planet, Takron-Galtos, the one that Superman Prime has assaulted to release all the villains. With God knows how many villains on the loose, and the Legion in disarray, Brainiac 5 gets the idea that this is going to require contacting the Legion of two other worlds and bringing them in on the fight. Everyone is cool with the idea, but one final thing Superman notes is that this isn't going to be about killing Superman Prime, this is going to be about redeeming him.

All told? Set up, set up, set up.

This series is basically like Revelations in the way that it's tying up previous stories and continuity, if it's all a bit more recent. Unlike Revelations, it's a lot better as an introductory book. Now I'm fairly caught up with where things are in regards to the Legion (I think) but with Revelations I was completely lost. Good book if you're a Gotham Central fan (I wasnt even reading comics at the time that series came out) but bad if you were new to characters. This, at least, makes the attempt at being a good jumping on point.

Some of the events are.....a little rushed. Mon-El? Yeah, that's jammed in there. Bring Superman back to the 31st century? Yeah, it sort of comes out of nowhere. "Shit, problem! Call Superman!" Superman Prime.....I don't know what this redemption stuiff they're talking about at the end of this issue, personally I want to see them kill the guy. Man, what a whiner! Powerful, and could be really bad ass, but his personality sucks. Although, one thing that caught my eye, was that they repeatedly referred to the character as Superboy. I thought DC lost the rights to that name, or at least had to pay up. I gotta check that out. But I digress. As whiney as Prime gets, once he goes apeshit it is cool and I think this issue promises a lot of that. I'm not quite sure what this series is going to try to accomplish, if it's going to be yet another Legion reboot or just ends the Silver Age and post-Zero Hour continuities, but if all it does is feature Prime killing loads of people at the drop of a hat I think it will be a winner.

The only real downside is nothing really important happens this issue. Well, the death of RJ Brande (but who's to say that won't be retconned later), but nothing that will hurt the next issue if you miss this one. Like I said, this issue is a massive cocktease. The art by George Perez is fantastic and reason enough to buy this issue, but if your dealer is sold out, don't worry, it'll all be apparent what's going on in the next issue.

Justice League of America #24 review



The Blood Dimmed Tide: The Second Comics part three

Amazo is still kicking everyone's ass, but the team starts getting their shit together and mounts a relatively affective defense. Zatanna keeps Amazo from killing Vixen just long enough Red Arrow to start in. Then Hawkgirl and Black Canary come in with Black Canary shrieking into Amazo's ear, causing his head to explode. However, he recovers too quickly and puts the team on their asses again. Hal Jordan is pretty out of it, but shields the team long enough for Superman to come in and get beat down. Then Wonder Woman, who seems ridiculously powerful and manages to hold her own against Amazo long enough for Zatanna to scrawl some words backwords in her own blood to recover her mouth. From there, it's basically a Wonder Woman/Zatanna tag team until they can get Amazo into the slideways portal and send him off to Antares, a red supergiant star. With Amazo's threat neutralized, the JLA go about getting Red Tornado back into a new body while Firestorm, Vixen, Black Canary and Red Arrow visit Buddy Baker, Animal Man, at his home in San Diego to discuss the recent changes to his powers and how they relate to Vixen's problems. Baker thinks the problems aren't related but it's pointed out that something serious has to be up cause he starts eating a chicken leg. Buddy's a vegetarian you see.

Aaaaaaannnnddddd.....it's okay.

The cover bears no relation to the events of the issue. McDuffie is supposed to be introducing a new villain called Anansi, a spider trickster god, but aside from the mention at the end he isn't in this issue. Animal Man is also on the cover in costume, but again, only the small cameo at the end. The blurb on the cover states, "Puppets of Anansi." This is just dumb on DC's part. Having Wonder Woman on the cover slugging it out with Amazo on the cover would have been a better visual and relevent to the contents. This cover is nice enough on its own, but it's a silly mistake that DC should never have made.

The story is.....so so. It's not bad like issue #22, which was horrible, but it's not quite as good as #23. It's more of the same, Amazo kicking everyon'e ass basically. There's some cool stuff, Black Canary exploding Amazo's head, the whole teleportation into Antares, Wonder Woman's offensive in general. But the whoole Red Tornado thing is treated as an after though. Like, "Okay, we're done with Amazo, let us put Red Tornado back in his body now." Too bad he won't be able to watch people have sex anymore. Or he'll have to watch from the closet like every other decent pervert.

Batman...man, he's rendered totally useless in this issue. At first, he's with Steel saying they gotta stay out of the fight cause they would be useless and in the way so instead the re-program the Slideways device. Then, when Amazo gets near, Batman jumps in only to have his ass put to the floor. Great job there, man.

But ya know, it's an action issue. Not much to right home about. It's pretty well done I guess. Kinda forgettable. It can be summed up in three Words, "League beats Amazo." And...that's it.

The action, pencilled by Allan Goldman, flows nicely enough. Probably lays the action out cleaner than Benes, actually. Sometimes Benes gets too involved with the splashy money shots that he relegates the relevent action to obscured background stuff. This guy, not nearly as flashy, but serviceable and easyt on the eyes. For a fill in artist, he did the job well.

Will I be picking up the next issue? Maybe, maybe not. I haven't decided. This Amazo stuff seems wrapped up, and honestly I'm not that invested in Vixen as a character. This stuff with Animal Man and Anansi could be really cool, but I've been ready to give up this title for a while now and now seems as good a time as any.

The Flash #243 review



Everything, Always: Fast Money part six

Picking up from last issueNzame appears to have turned into a giant bastard ape and Iris looks about dead, but Flash soon realizes it's all an illusion by Grodd. Nzame is the same little chimp he always was and Iris is only half dead. Nzame, after getting attacked, no longer trusts the Flash but the real Grodd shows up so Wally, along with super old Iris, go on the attack. Jai stays behind with Linda (mama's boy) when a bunch of armed Apes come along demanding the return of Nzame and go along peacefully with them. Back to Wally and Iris, Iris gets the jump on Grodd and makes his body vibrate out of sync with reality. Doing so uses up most of her speed, but her and Wally come to realize, more or less, what's wrong with her. Back at Gorilla City, Linda speaks with the head ape about her kids when he summons his personal physician who, after quickly examing the kids, concludes their problems are not genetic. Wally runs the kids into the Speed Force where Jai, also, accelareates to old age. Wally realizes the part of the Speed Force that ultimately kills speedsters is the reason that the kids are aging fast. He somehow pulls this force from his kids and...does...something. Seconds later, the kids are cured! And their both...however the hell old they're supposed to be. Back home, Wally is running around the city thinking that even though he's still broke and now the city hates him, things are looking up.

And thus bring an end to the most directionless arcs of this series so far.

Ugh, where do I begin?

The arc was called Fast Money but, after two issues, had nothing to do with the Flash's money problems. The villain, Spin, comes and goes midway through the arc and suddenly the whole thing becomes about monkeys and aging kids. At the end of the issue, when Wally is thinking that he'd rather be broke (what a bum!) I snapped my fingers thinking, "Oh, right, this was about Flash's money problems!" What could have been a vaguely interesting satire about super-heroes needing jobs and media social manipulation ended up becoming...well...garbage.

Maybe I shouldn't blame Peyer for this. He was probably commanded by editorial to conclude some dangling threads, first and foremomst the speed aging kids. I think this could have been readily accomplished by simply concentrating the story on the aging kids instead of taking the most indirect route possible and doing this whole "Flash is broke" thing. So instead we get a lame story, I still don't give two shits about the kids, and I've managed to learn how to hate Linda. God, what a useless fucking tag-along!

Alan Burnett takes over with the next issue and, honestly, I don't care. DC took a shit on possibly their best character and the character that's easiest to write for. Underutilized and disrespected. We're supposed to be thrilled at the return of Barry Allen now? Come on! Wally West is the better Flash, the faster Flash and they haven't gotten this character right once since his return in JLA last year but DC wants us to trust them to do right by the classic Flash? Shit, whatever!

New Comics Wednesday



Captain America #41



Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds



The Flash #243



Guardians of the Galaxy #4



Increible Hercules #120



Justice League of America #24

Alright,. This is my, honest to God, last issue of the Flash. JLA.....well, gettin there. And the first issue of Legion of Three Worlds! All of which I'll be reviewing tonight. Tomorrow will be the Marvel books, looking forward to reading Captain America and I want to see how Pak wraps up the Sacrad Invasion arc of Hercules. Guardians I almost didn't pick up, but it's too damn good a title.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Action Comics #868 review



Greetings: Brainiac part three

As the issue begins, Supergirl is searching for Superman. By this point, it seems, he's been gone a while. From there, we see Superman, just recently captured last issue by Brainiac, lying on a sort of operating table being prepped for storage. Shit's up down his throat, they're drilling into his brain. He starts seeing flashes of the things Brainian typically does after bottling a city, basically incinerating the remains leaving no traces left. He wakes up, quickly dispatching the machines prepping him and removing all little tubes and the like. Wandering around and examining his surrounding, he's briefly attacked by what looks like a giant space babboon. Taking out space chimp, he wanders into Brainiacs quarters and meets the man himself, locked in some sort of stasis. He awakens and greets Superman for the first time and is an imposing sight. This Brainiac is fucking huge! They tussle, but Brainiac has the clear advantage and restrains Superman quickly. He tells Superman his intentions of becoming the most perfect being in the world by absorbing all cultures into himself. How very imperial! Aparently, it's also pisseed off Brainiac to no end knowing that one Krpytonian got away but now, since Superman has found him, he'll now also be able to track down Earth and absorb Earth's culture into himself. The final page shows Brainiac's giant honking ship hovering over Metropolis.

I'm wondering who I should gush over first, Johns or Frank?

Gary Frank is a goddamn MILF hunter if I ever saw one. Issue starts off with Cat Grant strutting down the bullpen of the Daily Planet in some ho-bag pink mini thing. Frank loves whoring this woman out. He's absolutely got a thing for the idea of older women like this (and I'm pretty sure Johns just writes these scenes broadly). After the space chimp fight, there's this one little throw away panel of Supes turning around and throwing his cape over his shoulder. Everything, all the people he draws, the way they carry themselves.....I can just swim in this shit, man. Even his rendition of Supergirl has grown on me, and I friggin hate this Supergirl (I'm in the Linda Danvers camp). Sure, she's still running around in the little mini skirt, but he makes her come across less ho-bag, more trendy teenage girl.

Now to Johns. I'm wondering what he wants to do with this story now. He seems to be implying that Brainiac had something to do with the demise of Krpytron, which would be an interesting retcon to Superman continuity. Krypton's explosion has always been spontaneous. I don't know how they intend on accomplishing this, since Krypton's sun is still there. Hell, Superman, Superman-2 and Superboy-Prime flew through it at the end of Infinite Crisis. No matter. There was one thing that I noticed at the end of the issue that I wasn't sure if it was a throw away thing that Frank did or if it was something Johns intentionally wanted to showcase. On the very last page, which is a street view shot of Brainiac's ship, we see a club called the Zodiac Club. Now I thought this was interesting considering what's currently going on in the Final Crisis books with Libra and the Dark Side Club. Is this just something to give Metropolis a pulse or is this something that Johns will be running with later down the line? Interesting...

But speaking of Final Crisis, I was reading a review of Final Crisis #3 on AICN and the reviewer said he loved that Morrison was letting this creeping evil thing go on. Personally, I disagree with that assessment. If I want to see creeping evil, or gathering storm kinda shit, this issue is an example of it done well and in more limited space. These little shots we get of Jon and Martha Kent standing outside the farm and storms are gathering and birds are dying.....that's an effective way of presenting the same mood. Johns spent maybe, in all three parts of this story, a page and a half doing the same thing Morrison spent three issues on. That guy on AICN had no clue what he was talking about. He needs to read Action Comics.

Astonishing X-Men #26 review



Picking up from last issue, the X-Men have tracked their man to a starship graveyard in Indonesia. Emma Frost quickly finds their man in a ship floating overhead and Wolverine is sent in to handle the guy. Seems the guy is messing around with some big glowing box when Wolverine orders him on his knees, hands behind his head, the whole nine yards. Dude's a firestarter though, so when Wolverine touches him...BOOM! He goes back to his box but the rest of the X-Men get up to the ship. Storm blows him to the ground, but it's a bit too late. Cyclops orders Storm, blow the ship. After the ships falls to Earth, the team searches the wreckage while the suspect, apparently working for someone else, blows his own head off.

Mmmmmmmmmmm.....

Eeeeehhhhhh.....

I just don't know.

I really want to like this issue, but I just don't know.

I liked the almost cramped sleepiness of the last issue. I loved the art on this issue. Simone Bianchi just did an out-fucking-standing job. The panoramic views of teh graveyard, the ship design, the whole thing falling to Earth.....just wonderful. He really has to do more open spaced pages like that. The moment he draws cramped quarters, things get really cluttered. The open spaces, however, are fucking georgeous!

I think it's the dialogue. Ellis is engaging in a lot of needless exposition that drives the story nowhere. For instance, after Storm down the spacecraft, her and Cyclops have this whole conversation over killing. It's not really doing anything for the story, it's just there and it's boring. Also, it seems to contradict the presentation of Cyclops in other books who, after Messiah Complex, went all cold blooded (going back to X-Force #1, he shows no aversity towards having people hacked up). The Cyclops in this issue is way too apologetic for this new stance (and then keeps speaking for everyone around him). It feels.....I don't know. He might be trying too hard to keep the book open and accessible to new readers but on the other hand it feels like he's just slumming it. His trademark Ellis-isms are there, the witty dialogue, the casual sci-fi weirdness but it's feeling less like an X-Men book and more like Warren Ellis Project #469. Mind you, I enjoyed the sleepiness of his first issue, but now should have been the time to change into high gear. Damn.

Strangely, you can read this issue without having read the last issue. The "previous issue" blurb catches the reader up nicely and you can buy this issue solely to revel in Bianchi's fantastic artwork. Story wise, however, the issue is sorely lacking.

Green Lantern Corps #27 review



Eye of the Beholder part one

The set-up is pretty simple. Someone is murdering the family members of Green Lanterns. After we see the opening of Guy's new bar, We're taken to the GLC crypt where Morro is memorializing BZZD, who died fighting Mongul in the last issue. While doing that, he meets a Lantern named Saarek, a Lantern with the ability to telepathically communicate with the dead. He informs Morro that the dead are cold and afraid. Something big is about to happen. Back to Guy and Kyle at the bar, they're talking about whether or not Mongul is dead. And...no! We skip over to Mongul escaping from Mother Mercy partially digested. Ah, we knew he wasn't going anywhere. Back to Guy and Kyle, they shoot the shit a little more before Kyle takes off. While cleaning up, Guy finds in the trash a very disturbing drawing of a Lantern being killed. Hopping on over to planet Citcra Tana in sector 3598, we see a shadowy figure creep up to this igloo like structure being occupied by a bunch of alien polar bear looking guys. They're the family of a brand new Lantern and are quickly murdered. Moving on over to a training ground on a moon of OA, Kilowog is training a bunch of new Lanterns when Kyle shows up and runs into Natu. After some thinly veiled sexual tension between the two, the whole group os showered in eyeballs. Natu examines the eyes with her rings and discovers that they are all relatives of the Lanterns being trained. While they're all breaking down, Lantern Saarek appears. Taking one of the eyes, he uses his ring to replicate the last image the victim saw revealing the killer to be...some bug eyed monster I don't recognize.

Being part one of a new arc, this issue did feel very much like a prelude to the coming action. We get a chance to decompress a bit while Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner open up their new bar. Guy trying, half successfully, to train a bunch of alien staff on how to serve beer and grill burgers and then following up on that later as they wind down their day. It's an almost silly notion, a bar and grill on OA? Then again, OA culture isn't gotten in to too much. How do these people wind down after a shift? I suppose there are manners of diversion, and it could be fun to use that as a backdrop. This is something Gobbons was doing on his run, but it was mostly lunch room encounters. I suppose a bar would allow for a more intimate setting and less generic. It's actually kinda cute in its way.

The stuff with Morro and Saarek did feel a bit overlong. The whole "burial" os BZZD could have been taken care of in one page instead of three. It picks up some when Saarek enters the scene. Saarek could be a really interesting character, especially since there are lots of dead Lanterns he can potentially communicate with. Saarek could be a lot more eerie and cryptic, but he comes off as more haughty then anything. Still, the scene is...serviceable. Comparatively, the bit with Gardner finding the drawing is much more disturbing.

I also see that Tomasi wants to hook up Rayner and Natu. Mmmmmmmmmmmm, I suppose I should wait and see, but Natu isn't a particularly interesting character and I have doubts on how successful this could be. The sexual tension between the two was obvious, but aside from her huge tits I don't see what Kyle could see in her. The stuff Tomasi wants to do between Gardner and Ice is more interesting, there's history there, but this? If we're lucky, it's all about getting laid. An easy lay. Bitch doesn't wear a bra, clearly she just wants a deep dicking. Tomasi needs to be careful about how he plays this out, otherwise it will feel forced.

It's not a perfect issue, but overall I think it sets the arc up nicely. I quite liked it, with reservations. I'm interested in seeing where Tomasi goes with the notion of a serial killer hunting down Lantern family members. There are so many characters Tomasi can just totally fuck with, I need to see where he takes this. The relationship stuff...well, like I said, just wait and see.

A very good start to what could be an interesting story. As always, if you're not picking this book up I highly recommend you do.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fuck!

The Stack's last show for PulpSecret and Next New Networks. What a kick in the ass. I thought this show was so awesome, it really made me get enthused for comics (this and, uh...4Chan's /co/ board). Sure, the hosts are still putting together shows...in Alex Zalben's freaking living room! Which is all well and good, but the professional quality of the Stack was nice. You would think with YouTube more shows like this would exist but it's sad to say they don't. It took me forever to find those guys, sifting through poor quality crap and some godawful shit from a Canadian public broadcasting channel. Now it's just three more assholes on a couch. Hopefully they'll get their shit together soon and do something as slick and professional as before.

Captain Britain & MI:13 #4 review



The Guns of Avalalon conlusion

Captain Britain faces off against the big ass magical Super Skrull! Faiza Hussein rushes to save the life of the Black Knight! The Big Evil Demon Guys that Pete Wisdom released last issue go on a big fucking Skrull killing spree after John the Skrull is shot in the face and killed. And oh just pick up the damn book.

Wow, what a fantastic series this is. I do feel the need to get one complaint out of the way,. the finale to this arc felt rushed. I think the final battle here could have gone on for one more issue, but then I imagine Marvel and some of the writers are getting sick of Secret Invasion and it's time to move on, which the ending of this issue does. Otherwise, this title has rocked. This story has been a great introductory story, it's set the stage wonderfully and goddammit all I'm in an unfortunate position that I have to drop the title. FUCK!

Cornell has made a very dry, very witty, very English book and this issue wonderfully expressed all those strengths. I love how Cornell has managed to just take these silly concepts and embraced them, running with them as far as he can go and I really want to see where he takes this book. He's taken the Secret Invasion idea and used it as a springboard for something bigger, crafted a sort of mission statement for the book. "This is what you can expect, and this is the major threats these characters are going to have to face." He does it well, if a little too quickly. I'm, sadly, oh so sadly, not going to be picking up the next issue but if I may suggest that he take the time to slow things down long enough so that we can get to know the characters a little better. I'd like to know Spitfire better, I'd love to know Faiza better (she must be a new doctor, cause she seems to think the NHS can work miracles when in fact the Black Knight would have been forced to wait nine to fifteen months before receiving an appointment). We've seen them in a crisis situation taking a liiitle bit of time to decompress wouldn't hurt.

Speaking of Faiza, I really liked how this issue ended. It was a nice little twist to add to the book and one more reason I wish I could stick with this series. And what about John? Goddammitt! Dude, what the fuck!?!?!? I was flipping back to that page expecting him to come back. Ah, fucking shit, man! Okay, and even though I'm mildly complaining about the ending, I do like the resolution they come up with for expelling the Skrulls from Britannia. You could argue it's too easy, I say it fits quite appropriately with the feel of the title and gives a glimpse to the threat this new team is facing. "No more Skrulls." Jesus...

But please, if you're not reading this series do yourself a favor and get on board! It is indeed worth your hard earned two dollars and ninety-nine cents (plus tax).

Hellboy: The Crooked Man #2 review



Tom, Cora and Hellboy are marching through the woods carrying the body of Tom's dad when they near some coal mines. Cora starts freaking out. The mines are home to a group of witches called the Melungion Witches, descendents of the of the settlers of Roanoke Island way back when and mixed with Croatan Indians. Tom decides it's okay to cross since they only come out at night, but suddenly day turns to night. The witches start calling to Cora who continues to freak out. Hellboy tries carrying her but she soon starts vomiting insects, bloating and then exploding releasing a waveof insects and other vermin which swarm over Tom and Hellboy. Hellboy disappears into the darkness. He dreams of seeing a giant cathedral, walks in as is confronted by what appears to be death covered in vermin. Hellboy lunges backwards suddenly into a bunch of trees where Tom is hiding. The vermin are gone now they see Effie Colb once again. Hellboy fires his gun at her, but hits a tree branch and Effie disappears. They make their way down to a church and mee a black, blind priest who says Cora came in only a minute before. Apparently he can see her ghost. The priest says that even though the Devil might have gotten Cora's body, he did not get her soul which is why she can be inside the church. They decide to wait until morning to bury Tom's dad's body as the church is surrounded now by witches. Tom is blaming himself for the mess they are in when the Crooked Man comes out to confront Tom and Hellboy.

The story is a pretty straight forward one. A young Hellboy and a directionless and regretful young man go out to confront mistakes of the past. The attraction for this story is the art and the setting. Tom Fisher is an interesting enough character, I suppose, though it's not like this kind of character hasn't been done before. What makes him even more interesting is the culture he comes from. The Appalachian mysticism that informs the story, the setting, the dialogue, the deceptive simpleness of it all. Richard Corben, take a bow. I don't think anyone else could draw this story. Corben nails it.

Two third sof the way through, I find it interesting that Hellboy takes a backseat in this story. He held equal time with Tom Fisher in the first issue, but really plays a supporting role in this series overall it seems. Hellboy does have an interesting character experience encountering Death in his dream. "Everybody knows the Devil can't set foot in a church." Foreshadowing the climax of this story and insight into Hellboy's nature as well I suppose. I would think, after the release of the new movie, that the natural inclination from a creator's standpoint would be to do a very Hellboy centric tale. Nope, and good on Mignola for telling the stories he wants to tell.

Overall, The Crooked Man is a pretty damn fine tale, and I'm enjoying it immensely. If you're waiting for the TPB that's fine but I would recommend picking up the single issues to enjoy now.

On Batman RIP

So, being ever so pissed off at RIP, I re-read the entire Morrison run of Batman.  After reading the Batman & Son collection I realized I was probably making a mistake for judging the present story from part one on, and yeah I was right.  Morrison is crafting a huge story that's not gonna climax with part six of RIP.  This thing is gonna be huge.

Given that, I'm reading Batman (for the record, the Club of Heroes story was and still is the shit) and I've come to certain conclusions.  IF the Black Glove is revealed in RIP (and I'm starting to have my doubts that this will be the case) I think the two likeliest people it could be are either Alfred or Bruce Wayne himself.

Alfred is the only person in the world who knows Batman better then anyone.  He's seen all his files, peered into his brain, been his most trusted confidante.....If anyone could beat Batman, it could only be Alfred.  Alfred also has British military training and was a stage performer.  He could blow smoke up anyone's butt.  If anyone is capable, it's Alfred, but the motive is unclear.  For Morrison's entire arc, Alfred has been haranguing Bruce to have a bit more of a social life, maybe even get laid.  But I can't see that as a reason to tear Bruce Wayne's psyche apart.

Early in his Black Case Books, Bruce talks about his need to be able to think like men like the Joker.  Not that he wants to, but that he needs to.  What better way to think like a villain then to become a villain?  But, Bruce Wayne can't possibly become a villain with the goal to hurt others, so naturally he would set things up to attack himself.  And who would be the one to do the actual attacking?

Alfred!

We've seen references to a mysterious stalker early in Morrison's run, a black gloved individual spying on Bruce Wayne's movements.  So obviously the Black Glove wouldn't literally be Batman himself.  But we certainly aren't always privy to the whereabouts of Alfred at all times, are we?

That's my theory at least.  Morrison is really making the answer pretty obvious if you ask me, and after reading the three page interlude in DCU #0 between Batman and the Joker, I was even more convinced that it's either Batman or Alfred or Alfred acting at the behest of Batman.  It's not a perfect theory, mind you, but my gut informs me on this along with Morrison's own clues.

As for whether Simon Hurt is really Thomas Wayne, there was one almost throw away panel in RIP part three with Tim Drake looking through the missing Black Case Book with a clipping dated 1977 with a headline stating "Gotham's Hurt Missing."  The possibility exists that Thomas Wayne could be Simon Hurt as the time frame between Hurt's disappearance in 1977 and Thomas Wayne's death would be only a couple of years apart (and Batman is over 30, as stated by Jezebel Jet).  I thought that was interesting, but it could very well be an attempt by Morrison to mislead readers.

Morrison has stated that the revelation will be the biggest mindfuck in 70 years of Batman history.  I doubt it's Thomas Wayne because that would simply ruin Batman's origin and piss everyone off.  Though continuity might be a messy hodgepodge of various stories from the silver age until now, the basic premise of Batman is one that no one has fundamentally altered.  DC Comics and Time Warner aren't going to let one uppity littel Scotsman ruin what is their biggest cash cow.  While I think it's a brilliant bit of deception, Thomas Wayne is likely not The Black Glove.

It's also not Harley Quinn.  Sure, the constant references to black and red checkerboard patterns is nice, but that would be gay.  She's only made one little appearance in Morrison's run and that was in the Joker Prose story from issue #664.

LIke I said earlier, it's likely that no revelation will take place at the end of the arc.  It's four issues in, and I honestly don't see it happening.  Batman has to take on the Joker and, according to Previews, the last part is a confrontation with Jezebel Jet.  We'll see what happens to Bruce Wayne and whether or not he continues to be Batman and if he sets aside the mantle who picks it up.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Batman #679 review



Miracle on Crime Alley

Batman of Zurr-En-Arrh goes rampaging looking for answers on who's hiring new henchmen and gets the name Le Bossu. Consulting with some gargoyles on a rooftop, he fnds a transmitter stuck in his teeth leading a bunch of goons towards him. After beating their shit, Batmite spells a few things out for him. Batman of Zurr-En-Arrh is a back-up identity crafted in case of a psychological attack. Bruce Wayne shuts down, Zurr-En-Arrh Batman pops up. Robin takes on Swagman after contacting Squire and Knight (from the Club of Heroes arc). Next we see Charlie Caligula and King Kraken trying to get some heavy artillery loaded to ship out, at least until Batman comes and whoops 'em both. After that, Jim Gordan makes his way into Wayne Manor to talk to Bruce Wayne. His escort is killed and he's trapped in a booby trapped manor. Doctor Hurt is ranting away and beating on Alfred. Seems he really believes himself to be Thomas Wayne. Alfred isn't convinced. But Doctor Hurt vows to break Batman. Batman beats on Caligula some while Doctor Dax at Arkham prepares Nightwing for a lobotomy and takes over Arkham Asylum. Jezebel Jet is dragged into Wayne Manor while The Joker is informed of Batman's impending arrival.

Still confusing as ever.

Okay, now that Batman has gone batshit crazy, this issue feels a lot more focused then the last few, it has more direction. Batmite explains what's up a little, so that was good. Batman pounding ass is always a welcome sight. Unfortunately, I still feel that the story is just hobbling drunkenly along in confused fashion. There's plenty of cool shit in this issue. The scene with Batman talking to a couple of Gargoyles, seeing the "grid" that surrounds the city, or as Batman says, "A checkerboard, a blueprint, a machine designed to make Batman." Hey, fucked in teh head Batman is a fun Batman, I'll give Morrison that much. But reading that, I can't shake the feeling that Morrison was on massive amounts of some serious narcotics when writing this series. It feels like that, a giant trip, and stoner stories don't do much for me. Sure, I could get fucked up on qualoods, too, but I think any sort of fictional story oughtta be appreciated without them.

At this point, I will give Morrison one more point in his favor, much as this story is just pissing me off, I am eager to follow it through just to see how it ends. No, Batman isn't really dying, I know that much by now, but supposedly the ending wil be the most shocking ending in 70 years of Batman stories. Buddy, that'll get you readers! That it's evidently not Thomas Wayne, however, seems clear to me that Morrison is backing down. That would have pissed off everyone. The biggest shock and the biggest slap to Batman and his fans. Still, it would have been ballsy. Though to be honest, at this point I really don't care who the real villain anymore. I just want to see the arc over with.

Final Crisis: Revelations #1 review



Revelations part one

The Spectre. Exacts vengeance. And Crispus Allen hates every last minute of it. Doctor Light? Yeah, he's fucked. Effigy? Totally fucked. Libra? Oh shit, wait a second! What is it about Libra that makes him untouchable and leaves the Spectre unable to exact God's vengeance? Hhmmmm...However, he does manage to take out the Hangmen, who were previously asking Libra's help in taking out the Titans. But then there is also Renee Montoya...let me review. Montoya has been running around with a group called The Order of The Stone in England. She's spying on a little boat in order to stow away. Something is going on involving a dive to retrieve some glowing red artifact attached to the end of a spear with "the power to kill a false god or to raise a new one..." Montoya goes on thee attack after this group brings this thing up, but this thing is too powerful. Some of this group is killed by the power of this thing, and Montoya and the weilder are facing each other down when the Spectre comes out to exact vengeance on...Renee Montoya!

Uh...I'm completely lost! The Spectre's part of the story is easy to follow along, and he gets some kick ass scenes totally fucking up villains, but the stuff with Montoya just loses me. I've not read Day of Vengeance, most of 52 or the Five Books of Blood mini and I'm just severely lost. Apparently all of this stuff really leads into this series in a major way. Even reading it, I could just tell that I'm missing out on all sorts of back story. What is this glowing red spear? What is the Order of the Stone? Who are these people Montoya is trying to stop? Clueless. Spectre? Hey, doing nothing but enacting vengeance, especially after having to kill your own son, will fuck a guy up. His motivations are simple to nail down, the Montoya stuff is leaving me with nothing. My problem, yes, and I'm going to have to research the backstory, but for that this issue isn't what I would call reader friendly.

Let me comment on Phillip Tan's art. Fuck yes. It's tight, looks good and flows wonderfully well. The more I look at it, the more awesome it is. So far, with all these Final Crisis books, you really can't say a bad thing about the art. DC is really pulling out all the stops in that department.

Overall.....well, confused as all hell about where the story is going. Supposedly this one and Legion of Three Worlds are going to be the two Final Crisis tie-ins that matter most. I can recommend it for the art alone, but unless you know the backstory leading into this series, I have to warn you that it's very confusing.

Secret Invasion #5 review



The issue begins with Captain Marvel after his attack on the Thunderbolt's mountain headquarters. He's freaking out that he's a Skrull and Norman Osborn takes advantage of this fact, squeezing his conscience a little for the good guy's side. The Skrulls screwed up in one major regard, making their sleeper agents honestly believe their roles. Next we see Cassie Lang and the Young Avengers in Nick Fury's hide out, receiving a message from all the various Skrull sleeper agents from around the world. Paris Hilton, Magneto, Tom Cruise, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Oprah...all Skrulls! Their message is, "We're invading cause you suck. You're inferior, depraved, ignorant, and worst of all you realize it. We're here to make your miserable little lives better." Up in orbit, Abigail Brand takes over a Skrull ship with the real Reed Richards. She shoots the entire crew out the airlocks. Sweet! Reed, unfortunately for her, is pretty severely traumatized by his whole experience what with his brain being poked and prodded to somehow put the Skrull's plan into action. So, he chokes Brand out. Fine by me, not my favorite character. On the SHIELD Helicarrier, Commander Hill is STILL fucking talking to Skrull Jarvis. STILL! FUCKING STILL! But it's soon revealed that that Commander HIll is an LMD. The real Commander Hill has taken up a sniper position, blows a couple of Skrulls away and then activates the self-destruct sequence on the helicarrier, blowing Skrull Jarvis to smithereens. Back in Orbit, Reed Richards is doing his thing when the floating Skrull corpses draw the attention of the rest of the fleet. They start attacking when Captain Marvel shows up and starts ruining shit. Fuck yeah! This gives Brand and Richards time to hightail it back to Earth to rally the good guys. Hopping into the Savage Land, where a mix of New and Mighty and Skrull Avengers (yep, still doing this shit) are mixing it up. Tony Stark is puking his guts out, Black Widow's poitning her guns everywhere, Spidey is freaking out, Kazar is freaking out, fucking everyone is freaking out. What the fuck, what the fuck? Reed Richards shows up and blasts some kinda cannon that causes the Skrulls to shift back to their original forms. All Skrulls are revealed! The short version? It looks like all the people on the ship that crash landed in the Savage Land in issue #1? Yep, all Skrulls. Even Mockingbird. They're all quickly dispatched ruthlessly. Sadly, and ruthlessly. The issue ends with Clint Barton vowing to kill every last Skrull.

So...alright! This issue feels like the story is actually moving somewhere. This is issue five of eight, but it feels like where issue two or three should have ended. It's less then epic the way things are playing out, but I feel that things are actually playing out. The shit with Maria Hill? Could have been done way sooner. The stuff in the Savage Land? Seriously, could have done this much sooner. The Captain Marvel thing? I could have sworn that that was already done in his mini-series, though I never read it. Also, the Vision is seen in this issue. Didn't he have his head blown off a couple of issues back? Must have been fixed in a tie-in. There are some continuity issues here. Oh, and the last page of the last issue? With Thor and Captain America? The page that showed a great deal of promise? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Not a peep from either character in this issue. Secret Invasion: Thor came out this week, sure, but he didn't appear in this issue. Jip!

As the series progresses, this book feels more and more superfluous. Most of Secret Invasion is being told in the tie-ins, and this is the anchor series. But as the series progresses, the main title doesn't feel so anchor-y. This title should stand on its own and it's clearly not. It still ratchets back and forth between disconnected events. Savage Land, helicarrier, Thunderbolts mountain...sure, now we're seeing those little bits tie together after a fashion, but slightly so. Brand, Richards and the Savage Land crew are together, but that it's taken five issues to get to this point seems like a complete waste. I'm loving the whole Secret Invasion concept in regards to the tie-ins, but this main title is proving to be...not so good.

Now there are things I did like. Maria Hill blowing up the helicarrier. Finally! Kill them fucking Skrulls! Captain Marvel attacking the Skrull Armada. very bad ass. Reed Richards revealing the Savage Land Skrulls? Awesome. Actually, that whole scene was the best moment in this series thus far. That scene, when they're taking out all the Skrulls, is intense. They know the score, but they're minds are so fucked with they take no satisfaction. Clint? Oh, poor Clint. Felt bad for the Skrulls as well. They didn't even know. As I said before, they honestly believed they were who they were and died thinking it was all some sort of trick. This scene hit the right notes, but it's a shame it took this long to get to this point. The problem with all these scenes of bad ass is, because it has taken so long, is the energy that should come with these little beats is drained. Yeah, it's always cool to see the heroes start kicking some ass after getting whomped, but faster please? It might read better in collected form, but in a monthly format no so much.

New ComicsThursday

They came in!



Action Comics #868



Astonishing X-Men #26



Batman #679



Captain Britain & MI:13 #4



Final Crisis: Revelations #1



Green Lantern Corps #27



Hellboy: The Crooked Man #2



Secret Invasion #5

Alright, alright!

First reviews for tonight are gonna be Secret Invasion #5, Batman #679 and Final Crisis: Revelations #1. Maaaaaaaaybe Astonishing X-Men #26 if I have the time.

Buy.com FTW!

Man, I was getting pissed off.  An order of mine comes in with the a stamp that says "Received Damaged" and five out of the six books I ordered missing.  Man, I was so pissed.  Some fucking jack-off at Buy's warehouse didn't package my shit right and the box comes flying apart after being delivered to the post office.  I thought, "Man, what a pain in the ass, gonna have to fucking haggle with Buy just to get my shit corrected, they'll probably want all sorts of verification, yada yada yada..."

Just got a message in tonight, a new shipment has been approved for the missing books.

HOORAY!

That's some pretty good service.  It took a bit of time to get the whole thing sorted, I imagine someone had to call the Jersey City post office and ask, "Hey, what the fuck?"  It was made longer by the fact I only have internet access at work.  But overall, it seemed to go well.  Answered a short series of questions to describe what the deal was in greater depth (and in less then two thousand characters without being a prick about the whole thing is a bit of a challenge).  Seems I covered all my bases there.

Now I can spread the good word.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Comics are late

Shipment won't arrive until tomorrow.

Apparently the truck broke down.

That's just weird.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Buy totally fucked me

Yes they did.

Got a package in the mail today which, considering the size, I thought was the corrected edition of Ultimate Spider-Man volume six that I've been expecting.

Nnnnnoooooooooooottttt quite.

I had made a huge order last week.  Ultimate Spider-Man 7-9, Batman & Son (first part of Grant Morrison's run), Whiteout: Melt and Annihilation: Conquest volume two.  Well, it seems when the package was dropped off in Jersey City, the whole goddamn package must have disintegrated.  So I got one book out of the six I ordered, Batman & Son.  Seems the United States Postal Service was kind enough to put that book in a manilla envelope, slapped the original tracking label on their and sent it on its merry way.  What happened to the other books in the order, I don't know.  Why they were able to find one thin volume and not at least four others of considerably greater size is a mystery.

I can tell you the reason for the package imploding was because of...Buy.com.  I really like Buy, I really do.  They have great prices on books.  Collecting comic book TPBs and hardcovers, Buy.com is an excellent resource for new shit.  But this the second time in a row where something has gone wrong with an order.  I can't really blame them for the first time, they wouldn't have known any better (though I am still waiting for the new copy), but it's a bad omen.  This time, I can. 

Buy's problem is they package books for shit.  The first time I ordered something from them (Planet Hulk and Annihilation volumes two and three I believe), the package wasn't taped properly at all.  It was a flat piece of cardboard, end flaps folded over then side flaps folded on top, taped only at the point those two flaps met.  If it weren't for the fact that the end flaps were so long, the books could have gone flying out.  Not that they couldn't have, it's a miracle that package came in one piece.  Other packages have come in in poor condition as well, usually just beat to hell but indicating poor manufacturing (never have to wonder how Buy saves its money).  This isn't always the case, but it seems to be the case a great deal of the time. 

This is a first for me.  I've gotten defective shit and wrong items before, hazards of ordering online, but you would think a company would make sure to ship items in packaging capable of making the trip.  This one didn't even make it past the point of origin!

I suppose it could be the fault of the USPS.  Could very well be.  Someone could have used it to play an impromptu game of hockey on the warehouse floor.  Insane howler monkeys could have gotten loose or an employee with a bizarre sexual fetish involving weighty media mail shipments could have violated the integrity of the package.  However, the USPS, being a government owned business, is officially never responsible for lost, damaged or stolen items.  Shit.

So I email Buy and await a response.  It's not how a company fucks up that determines the quality of the customer service, it's how they resolve the fuck ups.