Week 30 (March 28, 2012)

  • Aquaman #7 was really short this week.  Apart from the first four pages, nothing really happened.  It did however reintroduce a classic Aquaman character and sow the seeds of mystery regarding the group referred to in the the title of this new arc “The Others.”  With old ties to Aquaman, two of them make the scene, raising the question of who they are and what they want now that they have come back into Arthur’s life.  Ivan Reis continues to render of the incredible scripts of Geoff Johns with consummate mastery.  Johns himself keeps the reader on their toes with incredible storylines that seemingly come out of left field with innovative, poignant storytelling.  This is Johns and Reis at their best.
  • Batman: The Dark Knight #7  seems to finish the “Toxin” storyline, but for a serious loose end at its closing.  Its more probable that the first arc of this incredible Batman series will wrap with next month’s eighth issue, before May’s “Night of the Owls” mega event.  This issue has Batman’s “Final Battle” with Bane and a representation of Batman facing his greatest fear, which they posit as his fight with Bane, the guy who snapped his spine like a twig in the early 90’s.  As ever, Batman does rally, with a little help from his friends that is, and in the mean time we are also shown a glimpse at the mystery behind the White Rabbit.  I will reassert my opinion that David Finch is a Batman artist that will go down in the annals as one of the all-time greats, and as a writer (or cowriter) he will do just as well.  I have very much enjoyed this series and its predecessor.
  • Flash #7 picked up at the death defying moment on which it left off last month and didn’t disappoint for its duration.  Just a beautiful, lyric depiction of the Fastest Man Alive.  With the limitations and catastrophic consequences of his powers revealed, Flash now has a great deal of responsibility and culpability in the most minute of his actions.  This could, dare I say it, be the best Flash ever.  I may say it.  Geoff Johns may have a run for his money in what writer/artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are doing with the Scarlet Speedster.  The art is seminal, the storyline and writing are quintessential.  Just capital ‘Q’ Quality in this title.  Also I have to say that I am pulling for Patty Spivot and Barry Allen.  I know Flash purists will disagree since Iris and Barry have made lives with one another for thirty some years, but I really like Patty and seeing her and Barry together is really cute and different.  This is one drastic change DC has undertaken that I can get on board with, because they are making it work and doing so in a thoughtful way.  Just watch, though.  Now that I’ve said that, they’ll pull the rug out from under the whole thing and hook him back up with Iris.  I hope not.  What can I say, I am a romantic and like to root for an underdog.  Plus she has glasses.

    Flash and Patty Spivot

  • Green Lantern: New Guardians #7 was exceptional.  A lot occurred and was accomplished within its pages.  The archangel Invictus’ back story is fully revealed, as well as his hatred of lanterns of all colors, and of course the dark history of Larfleeze and the Vega system.  I have to say that I have always liked Larfleeze, even when he is being a complete jerk, but this issue really made me hate him.  Perhaps there is a slight skew to what Invictus said.  Most likely not.  The New Guardians make a good showing in this issue and against all odds, the mission statement of the series reaches fruition: all the disparate Lanterns from the varied corps come together and actually have cemented a bond between themselves.  Its really a poignant scene to see them battered and beaten, side by side with each other watching the back of people they are supposed to hate.  The issue was amazing and left off at an interesting decision which is posed them.
  • Superman #7 inaugurated a new story arc and consequently a new creative team as well. Keith Giffen cowrites with Dan Jurgens, who provides art with the help of Jesus Merino on the finishes.  This is the Superman I have been waiting for.  It’s crisp and clean.  He’s not a jackass or a super-jerk.  Conversely, he’s not overly nemish either.  Giffen and Jurgens treat him with respect and reverence, like the Superman of old that I for one was raised on in the early 90’s.  So I am glad that that horrible experiment at the beginning of the Reboot is over and we have a valid rendition of an American icon.  Truly, treating him any other way is unpatriotic.  Also exciting is the entrance of one of my favorite villains from the W.I.L.Dcats series, Lord Helspont.  He was so amazing in the original stories, and seeing him folded seamlessly into the DCU is amazing, but especially seeing him come on the scene and Superman being the first DC character to face him is phenomenal.  Its kind of like wish fulfillment too.  Like seeing Captain Planet fighting Skeletor or Batman fighting Ernst Stavros Blofeld.  I loved this issue and I think that this new Superman arc is going to be the one that really launches the series into what is should be.
  • Teen Titans #7 was, as ever, a masterpiece, working toward the reconciliation of the groups classic roster, i.e. the inclusion of Superboy.   Scott Lobdell has danced around several complex characters’ origins and tantalized his readers with slow revelations and hints as to the nature of these people.  In this issue, that is perhaps the most compelling aspect.  And for those who are in the know I have three words: DANNY THE STREET!!!  If you know what that is, you clearly share my enthusiasm.  If not, well read the issue and you will get a glimpse at the awesome that those three words embody.  This issue also harkens to the prophesied “Culling” that has been mentioned frequently in both this series, and its brother title, Superboy.  This is an issue not to be missed in a series that is equally essential to one’s list.

    Hark the Harvester

  • Justice League Dark #7 was intriguing.  Not up to its usual standard, but that could be its linking to a ridiculous plot line spawned from a ridiculous series.  Still though, this issue did illustrate a great deal of characterization of the “Justice League Darkers” as well as the nature and weaknesses of their abilities.  Zatanna and Rac Shade the Changing Man, among the forefront of members affected by the vampiric uprising.  Peter Milligan pulls off the issue with great skill despite the lack of decent material given him.  Series artist Mikel Janin is absent this issue and replaced by Daniel Sampere, who does a good job filling in for the absent maestro, but I did still miss Janin’s lovely art.
  • And we come to I, Vampire #7. Yet again, a travesty of a comic.  Horribly written and not fun to look at.  I will amend that last bit slightly, because though the artwork was tedious for most of the issue, but for a two page spread on pages six and seven that were done in a woodblock fashion to depict a flashback to ancient lore.  This was perhaps the only good thing.  I give credit to artist Andrea Sorrentino for that, if nothing else.  Joshua Hale Fialkov’s writing is atrocious.  I said before that the language used was horribly inappropriate and I repeat that objection.  Submitted here are a couple of examples of the centuries old vampire queen, Mary’s dialogue: “Hey! C’mon guys, we had a whole, like . . . plan here.” and “You guys’re all souped up and magicky and crazy.  What the hell is going on . . . ?”  Okaaaaaaay . . . So a vampire who’s been alive for over two hundred years and attained a level of empiricism over hordes of vampires is talking like a Valley Girl?  I’ll throw your own words back at you, Mr. Fialkov.  “What the HELL is going on . . . ?”  I think that is all that one needs say or ask about this terrible title.
  • Legion: Secret Origin #6 concludes the miniseries, rounding out the representation of what writer Paul Levitz wants to achieve in the current series he is writing on the team.  It had a slightly anti-climatic follow through.  On the other hand the revelation of the enigmatic villain’s identity at the end may portend his appearance in the future of the main Legion of Super-Heroes title.
  • Fury of Firestorm #7 is as incredible as ever.  This issue goes further into the sordid politics of the Firestorm Arms Race.   After facing Pozhar last issue Jason goes his way and Ronnie his.  Admittedly, Jason gets the better deal.  The secrets of the Firestorm Matrices represent the standing or folding of nations and the ability to wield these godlike beings drives nations to extreme measures.  The politics between the Firestorms themselves, is also an interesting diplomatic quagmire.  Ronnie really feels the brunt of these two aspects of the book, falling into the clutches of a small nation’s clutches and being exposed to unspeakable things.  This issue is drawn by series cowriter Ethan Van Sciver, and welcomes new writer, Joe Harris.   Both really bring their A-Game and write a wonderful issue.
  • Voodoo #7 continues the plot through a twisted hall of mirrors.  I love it, but I am uncertain what it is leading up to.  Perhaps that is what tantalizes the reader onward.  The introduction of the real Priscilla Kitaen and the truth behind the origin of Voodoo are both very well done and fall at the heart of my uncertainty.  Josh Williamson has taken this title from veteran writer, Ron Marz, and truly made it his own.  Sami Basri continues to make the series sensuous with his lush artwork.  A good series that defines the scope of the rebooted DCU.
  • All-Star Western #7 finds Jonah Hex and Doctor Arkham

    Nighthawk and Cinnamon

    arriving in New Orleans and meeting up with the vigilante couple Nighthawk and Cinnamon.  Coming to the Big Easy, the foursome four find themselves confronted by terror attacks leveled against the immigrant population by a group of power elite calling themselves the August 7.  The art by Moritat is killer as usual.  In the backup feature, Nighthawk and Cinnamon appear once again, and we are given the back story of the former.  I have to say that I am becoming a huge Nighthawk fan.  He is a very interesting, complex character and one that I am hoping will pop up often after this arc has wrapped.  I also hope that next issue will treat us to the back story of his beautiful partner, Cinnamon.

  • Green Hornet #23 introduces a new, one shot story while showcasing the overarching plot of the dismissed mayoral adviser set on overthrowing Century City.  The story was entertaining, but not an overall must read.  Still the series has been very good throughout.
  • Warriors of Mars #2 furthers the story of Union naval officer, Gullivar Jones, transported to Mars with the aid of a magic carpet. This sounds ridiculous, but writer Robert Place Napton works wonders and plays down the laughable concept, making it no more strange than the transport of any man to Barsoom (Mars).  This issue seems to end the journey Gullivar from his literary history, though I admit I have never read the Edwin Arnold novel, so I have no idea how that story concluded.  The stage however is set for Lt. Jones to make his appearance in “modern” Barsoom and come face to face with his confederate counterpart, John Carter.  The potential for this series is unbounded and I feel that it is an excellent addition to the “Warlord of Mars” line of books.
  • Also written by Robert Place Napton Warlords of Mars: Dejah Thoris #11 transitions in both story arc and writer.  Though I am the biggest fan of Arvid Nelson, Napton has proven his proficiency with Barsoomian storytelling, so I have high hopes for the series from here on out.  The “Boora Witch” story arc starts out in this issue quite well and reads almost like a folktale or scare story one would read in the old pulp magazines.  This last bit truly interests me as the “Warlord of Mars” novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs started out in pulp magazines.  The mixture of the horror genre and the sci-fi genre I think is achieved well here and well worth looking into by readers of either.
  • Spaceman #5  further develops the futuristic post disaster world of its setting.  Its been a strange, disjointed journey, and I still have no idea what its all about, but the relationship between the Spaceman Orson and his young charge, Tara, is gaining depth.  I think that there are some major undercurrents running through this series and I hope that since we have jumped the halfway mark in this miniseries more clarification will be on the way.  If I had a grasp on what I was reading, I think I would appreciate it all the more.
  • The New Deadwardians #1 begins a series that boasts a lot of promise.  I am a sucker for masterpiece theater and New Deadwardians has a genuine feeling of the early 20th century in it. At least from what I have seen in in films and read in books.  The concept of Zombies isn’t my favorite horror genre, but neither were vampires before American Vampire.  The premise of the book is that sometime around the turn of the century there was zombie outbreak and the “Restless”, as they are called, become legion and rage across England.  To protect themselves, the upper class of England have erected large fences around zones of London, and taken what has been called “the cure.”  The cure is heavily intimated to be vampirism.  Amid this backdrop a murder mystery ensues and the main character, a police chief of the Scotland Yard looks into the first murder in a long time.  I have great expectations for the series and look forward to seeing how writer Dan Abnett fleshes it out.
  • American Vampire #25 concluded the “Death Race” story and went out with two bangs.  Travis Kidd’s history is laid out and his hatred of Skinner Sweet made clear.  Also the way in which the great Skinner Sweet seemingly came back from the dead (or undead, as it were) is also hinted at.  This arc was perhaps one of my favorites.  Over the past twenty-five issues and five special issues, there has been several amazing plot points left unsolved that I can only speculate as to their resurgence and resolution.  Good issue, by creators Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque.

    Skinner Sweet Teaches A Valuable Moral

  • The Unwritten #35.5 ends the five months of .5 issues and does so with a very interesting special story.  It follows the life of Daniel Armitage, a lost Literature student who is picked up by the Cabal and given a job in the “Grid.”   We’ve been told about what the Grid does and what it is, but through Armitage we are shown its nature.  Though the story is self contained, beginning just before the first issue of the series and terminating after the events of this month’s 35th issue, the ramifications of Daniel’s story could be important in the coming issues.  The guest art of Gabriel Hernandez Walta is quite good. At first I was uncertain about it, but within there are several panels that are quite lovely and well rendered, expressing a great deal of subtext in the soulful lines Walta lays down.   Thoroughly an enjoyable issue of a phenomenal series.

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Aquaman  #7: Drawn by Ivan Reis, Colored by Rod Reis, Inked by Joe Prado

The Flash #7: Art by Francis Manapul, Colored by Brian Buccellato

Teen Titans #7: Drawn by Brett Booth, Colored by Andrew Dalhouse, Inked by Norm Rapmund

All-Star Western #7: Art by Moritat, Colored by Gabriel Bautista

American Vampire #25: Art by Rafael Albuquerque, Colored by Dave McCaig

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Week 29 (March 21, 2012)

  • Batman #7 was INCREDIBLE!!!  Writer Scott Snyder is swiftly rising through the ranks of my favorite writers.  This first run of Batman

    Foreshadowing?

    will surely be what cements him as a supporting pillar in the future of comics as a viable entertainment medium.  Not only does this issue explain a burning question that goes back half a year to issue #2, it also explains and validates the events of the first issue, which if anybody remembers, I panned pretty bad.  (I have shamed myself greatly.)  I feel that the revelations of this book and the personal sentiments put forth by both Bruce and Dick show a pinpoint turn in the tone from that first issue.  So much of what Snyder tells us here genuinely game changes EVERYTHING you know about Batman throughout his entire published history.  Yet, these changes seem natural and almost like they have always been there,  just like the fabled Court he now finds himself assailed by.  If you only buy one comic this week, make it Batman #7.  You’ll be glad you did.

  • Justice League #7 was TERRIBLE!!!  You may ask yourself why I even bother.  I don’t know.  I’m feeling like I’m being blackmailed with Pandora, the resolution to the Darkseid’s daughter revelation, and the new SHAZAM back up feature.  So why was it so bad?  Okay . . . There was no real threat in this one.  The premise was ridiculous.  They did some good characterization of Steve Trevor . . . sort of.  They drove home that the world thinks the Justice League are awesome, but all Geoff Johns really accomplished was making them seem like a pack of fratboys and prima donnas.  I think the real problem with the genius of Geoff Johns working on this title, and a sign of perhaps he only weakness (again this is just a theory): he is sooo good at homing in on the innate qualities and tones of his subjects and attuning the books to those qualities that when it comes to ensemble books like this where those disparate characters are thrown together, he freaks out and just turns them into caricatures of themselves.  Green Lantern basically is eleven years old in this.  He has no semblance of ever having to make any competent decisions, which at his core he has always been able to do.  Flash, one of the smartest men alive, is just moronic in this series.  Batman is Batman. On this point I am neutral.  I didn’t mind Wonder Woman as much, but also didn’t care for her much either.  Just bush league comic writing.  And the aforementioned SHAZAM backup?  Even worse!  I love Gary Frank’s artwork.  He’s awesome.  However, on the writing side Johns’ introduction of Billy Batson, who is supposed to be a ‘Little Orphan Annie’-esque forsaken child with a heart of gold was disgusting.  He completely missed the mark on this one. The point of Billy and Captain Marvel is that both represent an idealism and unshakable belief that the world is good and that good can overcome evil with determination and virtue.  Johns has opted to make him into a two-faced, sniveling little brat.  I feel bad that I even had to think this, but when I read this version of Billy, I felt he should be moved from the orphanage to an animal shelter, so euthanasia would become an option.   Taking a step back from personalizing it on just Billy, I think perhaps this backup feature should be euthanized.  Just a thought.
  • Nightwing #7 was exceptional and didn’t let down after reading its brother book, Batman.  Since issue one, we’ve seen Saiko run rampage through Dick’s life, both personal and professional.  We’ve seen his connection to Dick’s past and the twisted web he has woven in Dick’s present.  The dominoes have been set and this issue drops a bomb, literally and metaphorically.   The full truth of Saiko’s psychosis is laid bare and the the truth of his hatred of Dick explained.  At that moment, my hair stood on end and I had to suppress a giddy squeal of dorkish delight.  Like Scott Snyder, Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins gets it.  He clearly understands the character and what makes a good Dick Grayson story, finishing this arc beautifully and sticking a 10 point landing.
  • Green Lantern Corps #7 was an interim issue.  I liked it much more than the past two issues.  It advanced the stories thus far and really focused in on John Stewart.  John did a very extreme thing and this issue really shows how he’s dealing with that.  He says he’s not ashamed of what he did and  that he would do it again, and yet he has failed to admit to it and lied about what actually happened.  He explains it away, but Tomasi does a wonderful job of making even that seem questionable.  John is a guy that has destroyed planets and taken countless lives, and his reaction to events like this are very poignant, because he isn’t an amoral person.  Far from it.  Definitely a well written, thought provoking issue.
  • Batman Beyond Unlimited #2 kept the momentum going and the story evolving.  The inaugural issue last month set the hook for larger plot points in Batman Beyond as well as reintroducing those left unresolved from the pre-Reboot series.  This issue skirts all of those, introducing a new focal point for a two part arc, showing us that the larger points are going to be simmering for awhile, stringing us along for the ride.  I for one am sitting back and taking in the sights.  Writer Adam Beechen knows the TV series in and out and is reintroducing characters and premises from it along with fan favorite elements from the main Batman continuity going on currently.  The plot is rich as New York cheesecake, and as with last issue, supplemented by the wonderful artwork of 90’s Batman alum, Norm Breyfogle.  In the Justice League Beyond segment writer/artists Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs do the same as their opposite number in the first segment, bringing in all manner of cool material from the series as well as material from the larger DCU.  The issue begins on the island that in the coming months will play host to the series The War That Time Forgot, and references Mayor Luthor, as well as many others.  Following up on the reintroduction of one of my favorite villainous organizations, Kobra, this issue adds great mystique to the plot, while exploring one of the shocking developments from last issue.  The story from the dynamic duo of Nguyen and Fridolfs is equally only by their incredible art.  This is one of my favorite series, no question.  Basically my adolescence in a $4 comic book.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #7 finished off the China expedition, in what I thought was a slightly anti-climatic fashion, but in classic Legion style revolved on several other plots circulating throughout, not least of which is the Dominators counter move to the Legionnaires’ foiling of their invasion of the United Planets.  Take it from me, the implications proposed by the Dominators have incredible potential.  Also a familiar character turned new Legionnaire makes her first appearance as a member of the team.  Master scribe, Paul Levitz, writing, Francis Portela illustrating, there is nothing else that needs to be said.
  • DC Presents: Challengers of the Unknown #7 was a decent book.  In my opinion it seems a bit rushed.  They are blowing through the plot and not really giving any gravitas to what is happening and or explaining why we should be invested in the characters.  There is a lot of potential in what they are doing.  They begin the issue with the summoning of a rival deity to the reverend Rama Kushna, ancient edifices are opening up heralding prophesies revealing themselves.  There is so much they can do and they aren’t taking the time to do it.  The previous Deadman arc took five issues and really got down to the meat of the story of Deadman.  This series is trying to do in three issues what that series did in five.  I anticipate the next month’s conclusion, but expect to be left with unanswered questions.
  • Supergirl #7 is getting there.  This story topically worked, wrapping up this second arc featuring a threat linked to the last days of Krypton, an apocalyptic proving ground, and Kara rising to the challenge.  It was a good stepping stone, but to me at least, it didn’t suck the reader in.  I do feel that its moving in the direction of getting Kara in a position to start a human life on Earth like her cousin Clark has done.
  • Catwoman #7 was slightly lackluster as well.  She stole some things, but overall it was kind of feeling like deja vu.  Selina has a new fence that is calling her on her bad behavior, which is a good start in switching things up. Det. Alvarez is starting to get more aggressive in his hunting for Catwoman.  Judd Winick is progressing the story, but this one didn’t blow my skirts up.  I will say that  until I looked at the splash page, I didn’t know that the artist had changed.  Guillem March has left, at least for this issue, and is replaced by the very similar, luscious work of Adriana Melo.  I thought March’s pencils were very unique when I first saw them.  He’s got company, because Melo is equally as evocative with her lines.  This part was a delight to look at.  Also, to whomever called this series a “chauvanistic male fantasy” when it first came out, I would advise them to check out the manties on the dude on page two.
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws #7was a revelation.  I have been enjoying the series since it came out and writer Scott Lobdell has taken the psychopathic ex-Robin in a very interesting direction, entangling him in a web of supernatural/metaphysical intrigue.  Apropos, this issue deals with him confronting an old acquaintance/lover from his days training with the All-Caste, who reveals the history of the war between the All-Caste and the Untitled.  This part of the plot is entrancing, but even more so because of how Scott Lobdell portrays it’s effects on Jason Todd and how he chooses to respond to the revelations.  There is a reason Jason was brought back from the dead and Lobdell makes brilliant use of it.  Kenneth Rocafort once again provides gorgeous art that accentuates the plot and draws the reader from panel to panel completely independent of the writing which itself is stunning.

    The Untitled Birth

  • Wonder Woman #7 is a continuing climb to greatness.  I really am enjoying the direction that Brian Azzarello is taking Diana.  He is reaffirming her Greek origins and the aspects of her that are excellent, while at the same time also holding on to some her lesser qualities, but having her address them rather than fall into them blindly.   On the part of the series’ mythological roots, nothing is more discordant in Greek mythology than the interactions and personal lives of the gods.  This series utilizes this facet expertly, making it a modern day soap opera of petulant, bored, and shortsighted  deities.  Diana knows this and uses it to her advantage to try and do good and help people.  However, as I stated before, she has often been portrayed as a very impulsive, sometimes quick tempered person.  In this she learns the fate of male Amazons and in her hastiness to adjudicate the issue, is shown how her rash behavior is counter-intuitive to her goals.  I like this, because it makes her character feel genuine, yet adds a culpability that many times she lacks.  This issue also features the return of series artist, Cliff Chiang.  I am happy too see his return as I love his work, but am saddened too, because Tony Akins’ art was beginning to grow on me.  It does look like Akins will be back later to do a few issues, which is welcome news.  On the whole, this series is a road map to a better, brighter Wonder Woman.
  • Blue Beetle #7 was a good first issue in the new arc which finds Jaime running away to New York to find a metahuman to advise him on his new life.  What he finds in the Big Apple is interesting, but I am reserving judgement until I read further in.   Series artist Ig Guara is replaced by Marcio Takara and his artwork is a little better in my humble opinion.  Its a good issue, but I am still geeked for the crossover with Green Lantern: New Guardians in the ninth issue, with the invasion of Odym by the Reach.
  • T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #5 reached its penultimate chapter in this new DC iteration.  This series is hard to peg and I like that.  Things I thought were going to be hugely terrible are actually rather incredible and other things I thought benign are actually very apocalyptic.  However you decide to view it, this series is playing for keeps.  There is an end in sight.  Nick Spencer has taken everything that all the original series from the 60’s onward have been about and worked towards and zeroes in on a logical, inescapable conclusion.  Just reading this issue gave me goosebumps.  If you aren’t in the T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents already I would suggest getting the first trade paperback and waiting for the second series to come out in graphic novel so you can experience the whole thing in one long, continuous stretch of epic storytelling.  I said that the story is coming to a seemingly finite ending, but there was a backup story in this issue, written by Michael Uslan, which seems very “situation normal”, making is seem almost that the series could go on.  Perhaps that’s indicative of how covert the things happening in the main series are, but it does leave me with hope that the T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents might go on even after the wrap up of next issue.  Perchance to dream.
  • Silver Star #4 was outstanding, taking a very roundabout way of fleshing out the character of Silver Star.  I have praised its brother series in the “Kirby Genesis” line, Captain Victory, for really hammering in why its eponymous hero matters.  Sterling Gates has done a phenomenal job in that series doing that in a conversational, yet succinct way.  In this issue of Silver Star writer Jai Nitz does precisely that with his equally eponymous charge.  At the end of last issue, Morgan Miller aka Silver Star, who has been made to be indestructible, is hit with a folded-entropy weapon which for all intents and purposes removes him from reality.  The only person who can save him now is Tracy Coleman, his childhood friend who exists outside of space and time.  Emerging from her protective pocket dimensional sarcophagus, she emerges on a world where nearly everyone on the planet is a superhero, and seeking out Morgan comes to certain realizations about why a world full of Silver Star-like people, but no actual Silver Star is an imperfect world, contrary to appearances.  Just a damn good issue that doubles my love of the incredible Kirby creation.

    A World Without Silver Star

  • Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #1 was one that rife with possibilities and I enjoyed it.  I think that depending on what writer Selwyn Seyfu Hinds does in upcoming issues this could be a new Air, or Unwritten.  I am excited at the possibilities.  The cliffsnoted premise is that of the supernatural forces in New Orleans, werewolves, vampires, undead, etc, being ruled over by a mid-19th century Voodoo queen named Dominique Laveau.  In the modern era her descendant has the same name and, unbeknownst to her, a link to that destiny of her forebearer.  It had a chaotic first issue, but all the pieces of an incredible series are there.  I would suggest people read it, as it could be the first step towards a series that will innovate the Vertigo imprint.

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Batman  #7: Drawn by Greg Capullo, Colored by FCO, Inked by Jonathan Glapion

DC Universe Presents #7: Drawn by Jerry Ordway, Colored by Tony Avina, Inked by Ray McCarthy

Red Hood and the Outlaws #7: Art by Kenneth Rocafort, Colored by Blond

Silver Star #4: Art by Johnny Desjardins, Colored by Vinicius Andrade

Review: “T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Vol. 1” (DC Series)

2010 saw DC pick up a series that had bounced around three other publishers since the 1960’s.  That series was, of course, T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents.  Admittedly, when this happened I had never heard about the original series and though it sounded interesting, abstained from reading it due to a dry spell in disposable income.  But when I saw that one of my favorite artists, Mike Grell, was doing backup art I got the issue and retroactively collected the previous issues.  After that, I became addicted to the series and sought out anything about it, past or present.

The concept of the original T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents series was a perfect combination of the popular genres of the day.  It featured an element of espionage involving a multinational organization with a cool acronym like the then popular TV series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”, as well as superheroes like those in other mainstream comics, and sci-fi creatures and technology that were reminiscent of the cult classic films of the 50’s and 60’s.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents also featured one of the most unique premises, that even to this day is rather novel.  T.H.U.N.D.E.R is an acronym for The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserve, and as such The Higher United Nations employs agents to wield enhancing devices devised by by the brilliant scientist, Dr. Emil Jennings.  These devices include a power belt worn by agents codenamed “Dynamo”, a speed suit worn by agents codenamed “Lighnting”, a mind control helmet worn by agents codenamed “Menthor”, and a set of steel wings worn by agents codenamed “Raven.”  The devices give the wearer great power, but . . . the cost of use is that after a certain amount of time they will eventually kill the wielder.  That said, the choosing of agents is  very interesting. Recruitment is 100% voluntary so the candidates range from suicidal, to the crestfallen seeking atonement, to the just plain crazy.

The Grand Legacy

This new series by Nick Spencer feeds directly off the old material and presents a continuation of that series’ legacy into the new millennium with great care and fidelity.  It starts out with a brand new roster of agents, and then to illustrate the morbid premise of the series, kills off half the agents in the middle of a crucial mission of global importance.  Hence, a new team must be chosen, accept the terms of recruitment, be crash trained, and thrown into a conflict that could result in the downfall of nations . . . No pressure.  Through his artful storycrafting, Nick Spencer also fills us in on the gaps between this series and the previous series by Deluxe Comics from the 80’s.  He also flashes back to moments in the various other series and time periods with an interesting use of back up artists to segue and facilitate the flashback sequences from the present which is done for the seven issues by Cafu, two issues by Dan Panosian, and the final issue by Dan McDaid.  He uses the very stylized art of Nick Dragotta to go back to the original T.H.U.N.D.E.R team from the 60’s, Howard Chaykin to explore the life of the enigmatic colleague of Dr. Jennings, Dr. Anthony Dunn aka NoMan, George Perez to recap the history of the Dynamos, Ryan Sook to recap the SPIDER sequence, Mike Grell to do the 1980’s sequences, and ChrisCross doing the Lighting sequences.

Mike Grell's Rendering of the Iron Maiden in the 80's

This is one of those series like Green Lantern or Captain America where a writer who really understands the core of the piece invigorates it for the contemporary audience, and doesn’t just remake it so it holds up to today’s standards, but also feeds off of the older “hokier” source material and uses that as a moral foundation, but also a plot foundation, making those seemingly outmoded issues MATTER.  That is the real mark of an excellent series and a talented writer.  That is what makes modern era comics excellent.  This truly is an awesome collection and a good jumping on point for anyone that wants to start a long love affair with the world of T.H.U.N.D.E.R.

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #1: Cover by Frank Quitely & Val Staples

T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #4: Drawn by George Perez, Colored by Blond, Inked by George Perez & Scott Koblish

T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #7: Art.0 by Mike Grell, Colored by Val Staples

Review: “The Red Star” Vol. 1-4

The Red Star is a series that has haunted my imagination for over ten years.  Partly it has to do with the passion endowed by writers Christian Gossett and Bradley Kayl.  Partly it is due to the breathtaking artwork of the aforementioned maestro, Christian Gossett.  And further still, it is due to the jaw dropping CG backdrops and landscapes composited onto Gossett’s pages.  The latter most effects were done by WETA Workshop (The same who lent their designs to the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy) in the later volumes of the series.  All together these components combine to an incredible whole.

The Enigmatic Red Woman

The Red Star has been described as  “Saving Private Ryan” meets “Star Wars” set in the Soviet Union.  This is perhaps the most succinct overview, evoking all the elements present.  Like “Saving Private Ryan” the series focuses heavily on soldiers fighting violent battles for their homelands. Rife with explosions, gunfire, guts, and gore parallels between the two abound.  Red Star‘s comparison to “Star Wars” lies in the futuristic technology employed which bear what George Lucas called a “Used Universe” look.  Despite being futuristic, the technology employed has been in use for some time at the point in which the story takes place, so the equipment has a tarnished, “used” look that furthers the believability of the story.  In The Red Star the flying fortresses called “Skyfurnaces” and ruined cities of the decaying Republics of the Red Star all bear this same look, and thus attain the same intrinsic believability.  Also the soldiers of the Red Star all bear special abilities that harken to the supernatural religion of the Jedi.  The Red Infantry Hookmen have telekinetic control over their hook bladed rifles and surroundings, attaining the height of physical and mental control over their surroundings.  Also are the Sorceress Korps of the Red Army who cast spells called “Protocols” and use themselves as living weapons of the State.

Sorceress Major Maya Antares Casting a Gatling Gun Protocol

The story itself is an allegory of Russian and indirectly World history, recounting fictionalized versions of all the relevent events: The Bolshevik Revolution, WWII (which is referred to as the Great Patriotic War, just as the Russians do in reality), the War in Afghanistan, and the American invasion of said country.  In this world, however, the Cold War was not about Capitalism or Communism, but rather Transnationalism and Internationalism, respectively.  The US and USSR find their proxies in this world as the WTA (Western Transnationalist Alliance) and the URRS (United Republics of the Red Star).   Though the story takes place in the URRS during Internationalism and after its decline, the story doesn’t dwell on Internationalism or Transnationalism.  Both, like Communism and Capitalism in real life, are just red herrings that distract the people who live under both systems from the corruption of their leaders.  The creators of The Red Star understand this perfectly and portray this principle thoroughly and with great eloquence throughout the whole of its run.

The Glorious Imbohl

What I believe really makes this series work is the characters.  Their pain, suffering, selflessness, faith, and moments of glory (no matter how small) make this series burst with the bright red light of the human spirit; the light of the Red Star of their homeland’s lore.  This red light that their nation was built off of is the light of Truth, and that is what we are given through them: Truth.  In their every word, action, and expression they exude the truth and fight for what they intuit to be true.

Rarely do I do this, but I am going to put the link to their website at the bottom of this review in the hopes that those who read this and maybe pick up a spark of interest will look at the information on the website about the World of the Red Star and perhaps purchase a comic or graphic novel to experience it for themselves.  I hope this is the case, as I am afraid a lack of interest may extinguish the Red Star’s light of Truth forever.

In closing, I will say that this is perhaps the most incredible, innovative comic that has ever been put out.  It was unique in 1999 when it first hit the comic racks and thirteen years later, nothing has come along that even comes close to mimicking the grandeur of its presentation.  To those involved in Team Red Star, I owe a great debt for the wonderment they have given to me and others like me . . .

Thanks, Team Red Star

http://www.archangel-studios.com/comics/redstar/frame.htm

 

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Artwork by Christian Gossett

Colors by Snakebite

3-D Composites by WETA Workshop and Paul Schrier

Week 28 (March 14, 2012)

This week packed a lot of punch and included two issues that I think most comic geeks, myself at the forefront, have been anticipating for a quite some time.  I am in fact referring to the first two entries on my list Green Lantern #7 and Batman & Robin #7.  Not to say that the rest of the week wasn’t just as good.  However, without further ado, let’s get to it . . .

  • Green Lantern #7 was incredible.  In the Green Lantern books for the past five or six years, a great deal of time has been dedicated to the emotional spectrum.  “The Sinestro Corps War” and its

    Our Hero, Sinestro

    prelude introduced us to the Yellow Lanterns five years ago.  “Sins of the Star Sapphires” reintroduced us to the Star Sapphires (now de facto Violet Lanterns) in 2008.  “Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns” released in October of 2008 introduced us to not only the Red Lanterns, but also the Blue Lanterns, via their hetman, Saint Walker.  Following the Rage, “Agent Orange” introduced us to the sole Orange Lantern, Larfleeze. The “Blackest Night” introduced the Black Lanterns and the White Lantern entity, explaining the balance between life and death.  Also in this title, the Indigo Tribe made their first appearance, but shrouded in mystery, there is no mention of who they are, where they come from, what their mission really is, or anything of the sort.  For two years bread crumbs have been dropped, but nothing revealed.  THAT ENDS HERE. This arc in Green Lantern is “The Secret of the Indigo Tribe.”  Its first installment is not the longest issue, but writer Geoff Johns accomplishes SO MUCH in the space he is given.  Even the smallest actions and statements have a crucial role in the story.  The relationship between Sinestro, Hal, and to a lesser extent Carol, is top notch. The whole product put together is incredible.  Johns has made a symphony of the series for seven years, and has yet to diminish in his vision of the Green Lantern concept.  As ever, artist  extraordinaire Doug Mahnke renders the beauteous script in equal grandeur. Can’t wait for more revelations next month.  NOK!

    The Indigo Tribe

  • Batman & Robin #7 was perhaps the darkest Batman story I’ve read in awhile.  Ending the first arc, there is a great deal culminating in this last issue.  The three characters of Bruce, Damian, and Morgan are on a collision course that is inextricably set  and the rules have been thrown out the window.  As of the last panel of issue #6 Damian has made his last gambit and now is reaping the whirlwind.  Morgan Ducard’s baggage has been laid to bear by Bruce and his pride from here on out dictates his actions.  Through Bruce’s soliloquy from issues #5 and 6, his own emergent paternal desperation has him locked in a collision course with Morgan, unleashing the darkest Dark Knight on his old “friend.”  Hell truly hath no fury, like a father provoked.  This issue showcases the worst instincts in all three (two and a half, actually) men, but also the best in both Bruce and Damian.  Perhaps the good in father and son discloses the difference from the NoBODY that is Morgan Ducard.  Either way, a killer issue of an even better arc.  This is one of the must reads of the new DC Line.

    In Darkest Knight . . .

  • Batwoman #7 was a little bit like Red Lanterns #7 last week.  This book had seven segments from six different character’s point of view.  Conversely though, I think that since the book was intentionally paced that way it compensates for the disconnects and uses them to the advantage of the story.  Also we are abruptly introduced to two new characters, and writers J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman resurrect a group from the Greg Rucka Detective Comics run of Batwoman. Storywise I have to give it a thumbs up. Visually, since guest artist Amy Reeder took over the flow of the panels has changed, but with artwork like her’s, its hard to really notice.  Reeder makes magic with her evocative pencilling of Williams and Blackman’s scripts, which is no mean feat having to contend with what Williams has done with the first five issues of the series.  Looking forward to next month’s issue for many reasons.
  • Batgirl #7 is taking the series into the realm of a comfortable, enjoyable Batbook, like the old, Nightwing, Robin, and Red Robin books pre-reboot.  Her newest antagonist, a dapper man in a tuxedo (no shoes for some reason) and a demon mask named Grotesque, is actually quite intriguing and fun to watch in tete-a-tete with our heroine.  Thus the superhero side of the plot is well done, but conversely, as I have said many times before, writer Gail Simone is an artist at characterizing Barbara also as a woman and not just a superheroine.  After the catastrophic events of 1988’s The Killing Joke her world was turned upside down and emotional scars run deep to the core of her psyche.  Not even Superman could shrug off the shit she has been through, and nor can she.  But stoically she deals with it, issue by issue with a stiff upper lip and an indomitable spirit.  This issue yet again makes her look her past dead in the eyes, with the anticipation on our part to see how she rallies to overcome it . . .
  • Grifter #7 was pretty good.  As advertised at the end of the last issue, this one was a showdown with the character of Midnighter from Stormwatch. Unlike his exchange with Green Arrow several issues ago, this one with Midnighter was unprovoked on the former’s part and bothered me a little bit.  Maybe I am tipping my hand here, but I think that owing to several things, my love of an underdog, my unfamiliarity with Stormwatch and more specifically the character of Midnighter, coupled with the aforementioned unwarranted aggression, I was a little disappointed that Cole didn’t do a better job putting that sociopathic jerk in his proper place and give him a lesson in manners.  Alas, that doesn’t happen, but Grifter does make a good showing, and achieves his ends.  Sorry that was a bit of spoiler, wasn’t it?  Well at least I didn’t say what those ends were.  THAT is the true draw of the issue.  On a side note, I predicted that the Black Curate from last month’s issue would be someone else.  I was incorrect.  However, that person who I though would appear under the guise of the Black Curate, enters stage right under his own steam and will be further appearing in this month and April’s issues of Superman!!!  That is reason two to read this issue.
  • Demon Knights #7 ends the siege of Little Spring.  That’s about all I can say about it.  The plot was very linear and everything that happened up until now was the setting up of dominoes.  From the first page to the last, its all about watching the dominoes fall where they may.  I liked it a lot.  However, its a case of next issue the dominoes will be set up again.
  • Superboy #7 was the homecoming episode of “Little House on the Prairie.”  Have I mentioned how much I love Superboy?  This issue keeps the awesome train rollin’ down the tracks.  Superboy, after an existential experience beating the shit out of the Teen Titans, returns home to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. to get the answers he so craves from those who created him.  He doesn’t get any answers, only more questions.  We, however, get a few answers, as well as a hint at the identity of Mr. Zaniel Templar.  Last but not least, I said last issue that Lobdell took a horribly miswritten casualty of the Reboot, Supergirl, and made me like her again.  In this issue he’s performed a flipping miracle and made me cheer on Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark), a character I have detested for years.  Mr. Scott Lobdell, is there anything you can’t do . . . ?
  • Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #7 was also kind of mechanical.  Last issue had the humanid population, recycled human-like drones that die and are reborn on a 24 hour cycle, rising up against the members of S.H.A.D.E. in SHADE City and asserting their independence, as well as the release of the “Children of Frankenstein” from the microscopic prison called “The Zoo.”  This issue kind of just played that out like the proverbial dominoes in Demon Knights. The end of this issue, on the other hand, portends potential awesomeness next issue.
  • The Shade #6 continues the detour Shade took in Barcelona, being thrust into aiding his “daughter”, La Sangre, against her perennial nemesis, “The Inquisitor.”  A masterpiece on the part of writer James Robinson, he not only deepens the mystique behind the Inquisitor with a very conversational recap of the past appearances of the villain, he also deepens the mythos and history of the Spanish superhero scene going back over a century. He also introduces a Bangladeshi superhero named Montpellier. How many times do you see a superhero from the Subcontinent?   After reading this issue I want to read more adventures featuring La Sangre and her friend, Montpellier.  Such is the talent and passion Robinson has put into these characters and their world, this could very easily become its own series.  And rounding out the issue is the lavish artwork of the Spanish artist, Javier Pulido.  Next issue ends both the La Sangre portion of the Shade’s journey and the collaboration of Robinson and Pulido in this series.  I anticipate it with great excitement.
  • My Greatest Adventure #6 comes to its final issue wrapping up all three yarns within.  Robotman was I think the best yet.  While I was sort of on the fence about it, this issue cinched it for me.  There were elements of deep introspection on the part of protagonist Robotman (aka Cliff Steele) but as the action had tailed off after issue #5 this issue really focused on the existential side of the character.  He isn’t just a robotic kick-ass machine, but a thinking, feeling, intellect encased within a literal kick-ass machine.  There is a a truly tragic, yet stoic nature to living in a physical world you can’t physically interact with like a human being.  Garbage Man reached a climax that was very poignant.  I don’t know how else to describe it, but I enjoyed it thoroughly and will say, for the final time, it was my favorite of the three.  Tanga actually pulled itself together well in the end.  This one shambled the most on its almost drunken, ambling plot structure, but I have to admit that in the end writer/artist Kevin Maguire made a cogent plot appear to explain the madness and Tanga herself has some very interesting bits of characterization.  This was a great series, and I hope that these characters pop up again, because their inaugural runs in this anthology book (And Strange Adventures) were spectacular.
  • Saucer Country #1 is the first of four comic titles Vertigo is launching in March, probably as a result of DC’s larger remodeling initiative.  The title centers around the Hispanic governor, Arcadia Alavarado, who is on the verge of running for President of the United States.  Along side her, this first issue also deals with her ex husband, Michael, and a slightly off college professor, Dr. Kidd, who has visions of a miniature, naked couple who tell him to do things.  These three people it is heavily insinuated have a common connection that also is insinuated to involve aliens.  I am an overall fan of Paul Cornell, but for Stormwatch I’ve enjoyed everything of his I have read.  I think that this comic offers him an interesting platform to work off of, as he has a good handle on science fiction, having worked previously on “Dr. Who” in the UKOverall, a good book.  The writing was excellent, and the art had a very Vertigo feel to it, as done by Ryan Kelly who has worked on Lucifer, DMZ, and Northlanders for the imprint.
  • Warlord of Mars #16 was outstanding as ever.  The comic as adapted by Arvid Nelson follows the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel perfectly, except for the random interjection of references to some kinky sexual acts.  I don’t quite know if that was necessary, due to the already abounding amount of eye candy throughout the book, but whatever.  I won’t condemn the issue for something that small.  The richness of the material’s presentation makes it a nice companion piece with the novels themselves.
  • The Unwritten #35 was the most incredible yet!!!  I do not say this with any false enthusiasm.  Literally 34 issues and almost three years worth of storytelling have led up to THIS ISSUE.  The mysterious events and diabolical machinations that our protagonist, Tom Taylor and his friends, have endured are explained for the first time in full detail and rationalized.  The explanations given by creators Mike Carey and Peter Gross, are both epic and wonderfully succinct.  I have felt that this story arc would end the series and this issue capping it off, but HUZZAH this is not the case!  At least for another story arc.  If you haven’t read the series up till now, I suggest you NOT read this issue, but rather read the series from issue one and work towards this one, because the journey is worth every word: written or otherwise.

    Inner Sanctum


llustration Credits:

Green Lantern #7: Drawn by Doug Mahnke, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Inks by Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, and Mark Irwin

Batman & Robine #6: Drawned by Patrick Gleason, Colored by John Kalisz, Inked by Mick Gray

Superboy #7: Drawn by R.B. Silva, Colored by Hi-Fi and Richard and Tanya Horie, Inked by Rob Lean

The Unwritten #35: Layouts by Peter Gross, Finishes by M.K. Perker, Colored by Chris Chuckry

Review: “Kamandi Omnibus Vol. 1”

When Jack Kirby came to work at DC after his long run at Marvel Comics in the seventies he had a lot of ideas he wanted to explore.  Some of his endeavors would become iconic, such as “The Demon” and “The Fourth World”, whose denizens include Great Darkseid of Apokalips, Orion, Mister Miracle, Big Barda, the Forever People, Granny Goodness, and the New Gods of New Genesis.  However, among his more esoteric projects is the oft overlooked gem, Kamandi: Last Boy on Earth.  I have to admit that for the longest time I fell into the trap of not paying this series any mind.  I’m not the biggest fan of post-apocalyptic storytelling.  Often they are rather trite, and I tend to steer closer to Kirby’s work that was more in the superhero vein.  What personally got me interested in Kamandi and OMAC, another of his lesser known masterpieces, was the weekly DC series Countdown to Final Crisis from 2007/2008.  With the release of this Kamandi Omnibus, for the first time in years Kamandi is available (at a price) for those that wish to read it.

The premise of the series, as foreshadowed by the title, is that of a young man who grew up in a government bomb shelter emerging out onto a post-apocalyptic world as the “Last Boy on Earth.”  His name, Kamandi, comes from the bunker in which he spent the entirety of his life thus far, Command-D.  Educated on film reels housed in the bunker, he has a very comprehensive knowledge of the human world and human history up to the present of the reader’s perspective (mid to late 70’s).  Upon emerging, however, he is shocked to find that human civilization as been replaced by nations, tribes, and bands of intelligent, upright animals.  In the East lies the Tiger Nation, the Midwest is ruled by the Gorilla Communes, the Lion Tribes own the West Coast, Leopard pirates rule the seas, Rat gangs infest the old New York Subway systems.  Its a world gone mad.  However, not far into the series (so this ruins nothing) you see that the title is a misnomer.  Running wild like herds of deer or buffalo, are human beings who in the aftermath of their world falling to pieces have become feral and bestial.  In that respect, if you are a fan of the “Planet of the Apes” franchise, you will most certainly enjoy Kamandi, because they share similar concepts.

The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth

I would argue though that Kamandi has a much more comprehensive, intriguing premise.  While it makes sense as far as sci-fi series go that a single species would dominate the world, a la “Planet of the Apes”, the way in which Kamandi has evolved apes, as well as feline species, rodents, etc, reveals a great deal about intrinsic natures.  The Gorillas have certain characteristics, the Tigers have certain characteristics, as do the Lions.  Its fascinating to read the stories and see what Kirby is saying about them, and how that relates to our own society.  And he doesn’t demonize.  I think that is what is so great about the series.  There is conflict amongst all the races, but despite this, there are members of all the nations that, while sometimes stuck in their ways, are actually noble and redeemable in one way or the other.  So again, while there may be topical differences, most of the animals are actually the same, also sharing a common heritage, a legendary Eden known as “The Washington Zuu.”

Kirby Within Kirby

Kamandi is a phenomenal series by “The King of Comics” that is completely unbound by any constraints of the world in which it’s readers live.  After the Great Disaster that changed the Earth the rules have been thrown out and anything under the sun is possible.  The way in which Kirby frames his stories are very naturalistic, making everyday life as epic as Superman fighting Lex Luthor or Batman the Joker, and mere survival a stunning victory.  For a series I avoided like the plague for so many years, reading twenty issues contained herein went by in a flash.  This series is a masterpiece. Period.

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Kamandi #1: Art by Jack Kirby, Inked by Mike Royer

Kamandi #4: Art by Jack Kirby, Inked by Mike Royer

Kamandi #12: Art by Jack Kirby, Inked by Mike Royer

Week 27 (March 7, 2012)


So begins the month of March and a brand new round of excellent comics.  Some of my favorite series adorn the first week of the month’s solicitations, so here’s to what hopefully will be an exceptional month of visual storytelling.
  • Action Comics #7 returns to the “present” of the title, but has hit its stride.  The two previous issues, taking place in the distant past and distant future, were pure Morrison, showcasing Grant Morrison’s unique, rich storytelling techniques.  This issue, though still retaining aspects of the less good first issues, is beginning to hit its stride.  We finally meet Brainiac and in his introductory scene all his names on different worlds are given.  To the truest of DC dorks a few of these names will resonate and twang a few nerdly heartstrings.  However, when his Earth name is revealed, all readers (unless they live under a rock) will have a reaction, and I am certain that reaction will be good.  I have to say I was becoming an unbeliever, but Grant Morrison is making it happen for me.  Perhaps there was a gestational period for him to transform a humdrum, normal world into a Super one.  Whatever the case, Metropolis and the character of Superman are falling into the niche that they once fit securely into and an acceptable status quo is being built.  This first arc was terrible to start off with, I hold to that opinion, but its ending with polarizing excellence.  Truly worthy of having Grant Morrison’s name stamped on the cover.  Now if DC could do something about that GODDAMN LOGO!!!
  • Detective Comics #7 caps off the “Iceberg Lounge” arc.  While this wasn’t the best arc that Daniel has ever done, it certainly is head and shoulders over most things DC is putting out, and is much better than a punch in the stomach.  All the classic components of film-noir are present comprising a very entertaining gangster yarn.  A casino run by a heavily entrenched crimeboss (the Penguin) on outskirts of town (or rather off the coast of), a mysterious femme fatale with an equally enigmatic link to the good girl our hero has the hots for, low level punks making a move on the aforementioned Boss’s turf . . . Are you getting the picture?  This was a really entertaining issue that capped off a really decent arc. Daniel also leaves a few hats in the air for future storytelling, and a few of them are really game changers.
  • Swamp Thing #7 was an interesting issue structurally.  Action-wise not a lot happened, but a lot was happening. Story-wise, a great

    The Forest Burns

    deal was accomplished and the true potential of the book was reached.  The Parliament of Trees is dying.  Alec Holland is dying.  Prophesies of destruction are becoming manifest.  Hope is bleak.  Despite this all, Alec Holland refuses to give up and in these last moments for both of them, he coerces truth from the Parliament and the truth of the Swamp Things is revealed.  Through their interactions Alec is able to make the Parliament face the harsh realities of their own nature and that of the forces that seek their destruction.  This is, as ever, a stunning issue by one of the best comic writers of the day, Scott Snyder.  Aiding him as ever is the talented Yanick Paquette, rendering the story in glorious panels.  This issue especially showcases the skill of Paquette to lavishly portray the stories of Snyder visually.  Each panel isn’t just a comic panel, but a work of true art, which could stand alone on its own merit.  This issue marks a great turning point not only in the series so far, but the entire history of the character going back to the seventies.  A true must read.

  • Red Lantern #7 wasn’t the best issue of the series, but is still superior to many of the comics that came out this week.  There were aspects of it that lagged a bit.  Also the story began to jump around a little too much.  While the scope is spectacular, there are beginning to be too many characters.  Issue #1 began with just Atrocitus and continued through the second issue simply focused on the Regent of Rage himself.  Then Bleez was introduced and the story focused in on her for a time, really getting us involved in her.  They took an issue and a half run to focus in on the trio of Lanterns, Skallox, Ratchet, and Zilius Zox.  Now with the introduction of the human Red Lantern, Rankkor, the plot has split into three directions: Atrocitus, Bleez, and Rankkor.  I have a feeling that all three of them will converge soon towards a more unified plotline, but at the moment, this issue felt a little schizophrenic.  Also, following the revelation a few issues ago of the rogue guardian, Krona, being alive, the development in Atrocitus’s pursuit showcased here I felt was not the best piece of storytelling.  That is my opinion, but what is done is done.  I did enjoy it, but when you reach a certain height of excellent, it becomes inevitable that you will have to buoy down a little bit.  Still one of the best books out this week.
  • OMAC #7 was fantastic.  Perhaps I am the only person that thinks this, as it is getting cancelled after next issue, which makes me cry a little bit inside.  This series is so incredibly excellent it hurts.  This issue features so many fan favorite Kirbyisms.  The Apokaliptian god, Simiyan, makes an appearance, as does a certain talking Tiger named Prince Tuftan.  I doubt many people will get these references, so my spoilers here won’t hit most of my readers.  However, these characters are much beloved in the Kirby camp, and are rendered both narratively and visually with great finesse by the dynamic duo of Dan Didio and Keith Giffen.  As stated before, this is the penultimate issue of the rebooted series and I look forward to and lament the coming of the last OMAC issue.
  • Animal Man #7 was similar in a lot of ways to its sister series Swamp Thing’s, seventh issue, but with a lot less of the umph.   Not a lot happens.  There is a quick episode of shopping for food and an apocalyptic dream of the future.  I was expecting a bit more in the story department, but the story just was.  It wasn’t bad.  It certainly wasn’t great.  It just . . . was.  Oh, wait.  They did do a quick recap of what was happening in The Flash, which I thought was strange.  A perplexing issue, which was unsettling once again with the bizarre artwork of Travel Foreman.
  • Batwing #7 was fantastic.  After six months of teasing, this issue FINALLY revealed the dark secret of “The Kingdom” and the atrocity they committed during the birth of their nation, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  I can’t reveal what it was, it is that good.  However, I can reveal that it is extremely thought provoking and a very morally complex thing that they undertook.  I guarantee that the readership will be divided on the grounds of what they personally would have done, and how they feel about the opposing viewpoint.  I myself am hard pressed to weigh in on my personal feelings.  The choice they were left with was TRULY terrible.  Its worth reading just for that reason.  However, the story also features Batwing coming to Gotham and fighting along side the whole Batman family (save Batwoman and Catwoman) and finding his place among them.  It also features the stunning art of the dynamic duo (there are few in DC’s Halls), Dustin Nguyan and Derek Fridolfs.  Next issue promises to be the wrap up of this whirlwind first story arc for the newest and most intriguing member of the Bat Family.
  • Justice League International #7 opened  following a bang last issue and truly, getting into this issue’s meat was painful.  I don’t mean this to impugn the writing or the story at all.  Far from it.  I think in past reviews I have said that this series was a “lighter” Justice League comic that was less substantial and just fun to read.  This issue proves how WRONG I was.  Shit hit the fan in major ways, and writer Dan Jurgens, a phenomenal artist and writer, is playing for keeps.  The real point of this issue, which very likely will resonate throughout the remainder of the series, is that superheroes might be stronger, faster, and more talented than normal people, but they are still people and they also bleed . . .  A LOT!!!  Following the bombing at the end of the last issue, their lives are going to be changed in fundamental ways and in more ways than one, none of them will be the same.

    Grisly Aftermath

  • Hawk and Dove #7 is in a similar boat as OMAC #7.  Like OMAC, its eighth issue will be its last.  This also depresses me, though to a slightly smaller degree.  I really feel that writer/artist, Rob Liefeld, is achieving a great deal in the series and delving deeply into the character, mining some quality gems.  But also like OMAC, this wouldn’t be the first time that I held an unpopular opinion.  The issue features the return of the villain, the Hunter, from their past and what he seeks this time around is something that strikes at the heart of what the Hawk and Dove concept represents.  After reading this issue its hard to imagine that its ending in just one issue, such is the promise I read into it, but alas such is the case.  I will buy next month’s issue and lament its passing.
  • Night Force #1 was a real treat.  This seven issue limited series is a remake of the 1980’s series Night Force, featuring the enigmatic Baron Winters who assembles rag tag groups which he refers to as the “Night Force” to combat paranormal occurrences.  This series is written by the original writer, Marv Wolfman, of New Teen Titans fame.  Its been awhile since I have read the original series, but from what I recall the series bears all the same eerie hallmarks as its predecessors.  The Baron Winter returns, but welcomes an entirely new cast of back up characters who are fated to comprise his new “Night Force.”   The original series featured the artwork of Gene Colan, who had worked with Wolfman on similarly macabre stories such as Blade and Tomb of Dracula.  This time he is teamed up with Tom Mandrake, another artist who is not unfamiliar with the darker side of comics, having drawn for The Spectre and Batman.  The series is quite different from most supernatural comics that are currently out, and has a very unique feel.  This is to be expected from pros like Marv Wolfman and Tom Mandrake, who have made their careers off of innovation.
  • Green Arrow #7 got a little better.  I don’t know if I am just getting numb or acclimated, but not much has changed in the story.  Ollie is still a douchebag. They are still pursuing the ridiculous notion of him running a software company like Steve Jobs.  Maybe its the writing of the new writer, Annie Nocenti, that is novel.  Maybe, like Ollie I was conned into the honey trap of the sexy trio, called Skylark.  I can say that the art of Harvey Tolibao was okay.   It was like a less jarring version of Travel Foreman’s art.  In fact it was like if Foreman’s art had an illicit love child with the artwork of Paul Pope.  I am reserving any other thoughts until I read further into the arc.  So far I am not hating it as much as I have under the past two regimes.
  • Huntress #6 ends the mini series and does it quite casually.   I really liked this issue and I liked the series in general.  I will say that while good, this last issue coasted through and was more of a denouement than a continuation of high drama.  Not that I am complaining.  The story was relevant and adequate to the flow of events.  I think that writer, Paul Levitz, did a good job with this series reintroducing us to Huntress and making her relevant to this new DCU that has been put out.  Artist, Marcus To, also contributed greatly by rendering a beautiful, dreamy Mediterranean vista of the Amalfi Coast  and juxtaposing it with the high action scripted by Levitz.  This series was important also, as upon the ending of the issue the question arises as to whether it is the end . . .
  • Fatale #3 continues on the intriguing hybrid tightrope between film noir gangster yarn and supernatural, almost Lovecraftian horror story.  A bizarre blend, but one that writer, Ed Brubaker, and artist, Sean Phillips, execute well.  There is almost nothing I can say about it, because the series is so unprecedented.  What I can comment on, however, is that the eponymous femme fatale, Josephine’s, character is really shaping up in this issue.  The two previous installments lead up with a demure, but distant presentation of her.  In this, her claws begin to protract.  Anything else I could say, you will just have to read in the series.
  • Kirby Genesis: Captain Victory #4 was STELLAR!!!  I mean it in both meanings of the word.  I think that Sterling Gates, of all the writers in the Kirby Genesis line, truly understands his subject.  This series is the most succinct, focused rendering of a Kirby series that is being put out.  Reading this issue, I am becoming aware of Gates’ M.O.  In the first issue he focused with surgical precision on the main character of Captain Victory and very casually, yet skillfully told us everything we needed to know about him to get why the series mattered.  Then in the second issue, he set his focus on Victory’s friend and lieutenant, Tarin, who is an anthropomorphic lion of great nobility.  The third, delves into his second in command, mentor, and oldest friend, Major Klavius.  This issue focuses on the aquatic Ranger Orca.  Here we see the amphibious character’s origins and what brought him into the fold of the Galactic Ranger Corps.  Again Gates writes a “watertight”  plot that tell us all we need to know about Orca and bonds us emotionally to his past and his present struggles.  After a few more issues, I can only imagine the incredible web of storytelling that will have been knit by this incredible writer.

    Where It All Began . . .

    Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

    Illustration Credits:

    Swamp Thing #7: Art by Yanick Paquette, Colored by Nathan Fairbairn

    Justice League International #7: Drawned by Aaron Lopresti, Colored by Hi-Fi, Inked by Matt Ryan

    Green Arrow #7: Art by Harvey Tolibao, Colored by Richard and Tanya Horie

    Kirby Genesis: Captain Victory #4: Art by Wagner Reis, Colored by Inlight Studios