So this marks the historic fifth Wednesday of February. Being a fifth week there wasn’t a whole lot that came out, but there were some gems. Totaled up I only got ten comics this week. Some were good, some were ok, I don’t think any were atrocious, so let’s jump in.
- Justice League #6 was a chess game. What I mean by that is that each plot development, each reference, each panel itself is a move against its opponent, which is an amalgam of that which is canon and that which is also good. In some respects, writer Geoff Johns moved his pieces properly and advanced his game. In others
he moved bishops and knights to be taken by pawns to no advantage. This is getting really cryptic, so I’ll get on with what is good and what is shit. Let’s start with the bad and get that over with, so we can end on a positive note. Like the “Omega Sanction” in last month’s issue and Johns, clearly demonstrating that he knows fuck-all about Jack Kirby’s Fourth World and the awesome character of Darkseid which he is attempting in a bush league manner to portray, he screws the pooch yet again and has the Gods of Apokalips using Mother Boxes!!! This won’t make sense to those who don’t know the intricate mythology Jack Kirby wove of the Fourth World, but Darkseid is evil incarnate who seeks a principle known as the “Anti-life Equation” which removes free will, the epitome of Life, from anyone exposed to its awesome power. Counterbalancing this principle is the transcendental force called “The Source.” Just as he attempts to draw on the former to achieve his goals, his nemeses, the New Gods of New Genesis use Mother Boxes to draw on “The Source” to defend life. So why the FUCK is Darkseid using Mother Boxes?! ARE YOU A COMPLETE IDIOT, MR. JOHNS?! The reason I am getting worked up is that the Fourth World is one of Jack “The King” Kirby’s greatest legacies, especially to DC Comics. It is a masterpiece of modern mythcraft, and you do NOT fuck with Jack Kirby. What is happening here is
akin to taking a shit on a religion’s holy text. Nerds like me will put a fatwah on your ass and string you up by your feet. Geoff Johns is such a good writer in all his other endeavors that it is painful to watch him do such shitty work on this title. He needs to have an intern do it and hide his name, because I think this is a discredit to his otherwise good reputation as a comic writer. Okay, conversely, as per my objection last issue to the impossibility of the story of Darkseid’s invasion of Earth concluding satisfactorily in a single issue . . . somehow Johns found a way that worked. Props. Also, within the process of winding it up, Darkseid’s goals, conquest being only a tertiary aim, are revealed and what he is ACTUALLY looking for is something that I am quite interested in seeing explored. You got a hook in me . . . FINALLY!!! Don’t fuck it up, Geoff. In the realm of Justice League you are on thin fuckin’ ice with me, Bucko. And finally, the last relevant item is an overly verbose review was the last section that brings light on something that is at the very heart of DC’s Reboot. I won’t say what it is, as it turned my frown upside and made me wet my pants a little bit (Don’t tell anyone . . .). The answer to a burning question of Reboot readers is hinted at and its future given voice. If you want to know what I am talking about . . . buy the issue. It has its moments, and unless you are a true believer, it probably won’t bother you as much as it did me.
- Batman Beyond Unlimited #1 came out today with its inaugural issue and was phenomenal. This book picks up where the Batman Beyond series left off, pre-reboot, and continues on with the promised “10,000 Clowns” arc, and what’s more, introduces a Justice League Beyond segment which comprises its second half. The issue is oversized, has two separate stories in it, and features the work of four incredible comic creators, so this review also will be long like the Justice League one above, but much, MUCH more positive and enthusiastic. Also for those who are unaware what this whole “Batman Beyond” business is, starting with “Batman the Animated Series” in the early 90’s and continuing on to “Superman the Animated Series”, “Justice League”, “Justice League Unlimited”, and “Batman Beyond”, Warner Bros. created an animated DC continuity headed by producer, Bruce Timm. “Batman Beyond” features Batman of the future as a high school student, Terry McGinnis, mentored and backed up by an eighty year old Bruce Wayne. Despite how horrible this series could have been, it was done to perfection meriting its continuation through comics, it’s ancestral medium. Adam Beechen returns as Batman Beyond writer, but in the place of the Nguyen/Fridolfs art team, veteran Batman artist, Norm Breyfogle, steps in to provide the art. Beechen’s story is classic, picking up where he left off perfectly from the past series, showing Terry juggling high school and his social life with his nocturnal work as caped crusader, and having the story juggle an influx of Jokerz (gangs of punks who idolize the Joker) from cities across the country coming to Gotham, as if on a religious pilgrimage with the mysterious entry of a major player sizing up the Batman in the background. Breyfogle does a stunning job in this series. He made his name largely in the 80’s doing Batman comics, including the art for the graphic novel “Birth of the Demon”, penned by Batman writer extraordinaire, Dennis O’Neil, one of my all time heroes. Though it is light-years different from his past endeavors, Breyfogle nails this issue’s art. Justice League Beyond is a treat as this features the iteration of the fabled DC group as it appeared in the show. They have never had their own title before, so this is a treat, allowing them to step from the “Shadow of the Bat” and flourish on their own steam. I mentioned that Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs stepped away from the art of Batman Beyond, and the reason is they both wrote and drew this new Justice League Beyond segment. They too nailed it. This segment, more so than the Batman one, mined the animated continuities beautifully. Superman’s former allegiance to Darkseid in his animates series is referenced, as is the enslavement of the Justice League Beyond from “Batman Beyond.” The Jokerz and the Splicers (street punks with illegal animal alterations “spliced” in their DNA) make the scene to start off the issue. However, one of my favorite villain groups from DC, Kobra, comprise the main conflict. I have mentioned them before in my other reviews as they are a snake worshiping cult with a global network and infinite funds for their operation. Their introduction is the perfect way to start off what is destined to be a perfect series.
- T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #4 continued down the insane path of no-holds-barred storytelling that has made it so incredible. There really is no way of telling where writer Nick Spencer is going next. The uprising of our subterranean neighbors reaches critical mass and the apocalyptic truth of the past, laid out by Spencer, has implications that extend to the first issue of the first series from the 1960’s. When you become acquainted with the story of the Agents of The Higher United Nations Defensive Reserve, the story being laid out is EPIC!!! As with past issues, a guest artist is brought in to illustrate flashback sequences alongside the art of the present as done by Wes Craig. This issue’s guest is Sam Keith who is so utterly wrong for the job. I do not like his art at all. It makes me feel like I dropped acid and took a BAD trip. *Shiver* But yet again the last page had me in hysterics, mouthing feebly, “Wussafah!?!” (WTF). I love this series so much. It hits the right notes and maintains excellence and continuity, while shaking it up in the surgically right places.
- Legion: Secret Origin #5 is at its penultimate point. The Legion has been brought together in its most rudimentary form and their success is at a pivotal moment in time. Depending on the events that dangle ominously in the wings and their response, they could rise to great heights of fall into oblivion. Writer, Paul Levitz, plots it to a fever pitch and the dominoes set up over five issues are pushed on the last panel, and how they fall is left for next month’s culminating issue. Their destiny as contemporaries and inspirations to Clark Kent is teased at in this issue and held just beyond their reach, as is the futility of the power systems in place within the United Planets to stop the coming storm that is on the horizon. A pretty good place to be in anticipation for the final issue of a Legion of Super-heroes origin story.
- The Shade #5 picks up where issue #3 left off after a revealing flashback in the fourth issue. With Shade’s reunion with his geriatric great-grandson the answer to what all this series is about is finally answered. All the background dealings, assassins, and such are explain and the goals sought after put out in the open. That said Shade goes to Spain to meet another one of his pseudo family to enlist her aid. This one is La Sangre, a teenaged Vampire. Hear me now, believe me later: she is not at all as atrocious a character as this image surely evokes. This girl puts “Twilight” in its place, which is the dumpster. She’s a fiery redhead that fights crime for the people of Barcelona with angst and attitude. Her connection to the Shade is explained, giving both a great deal of quality characterization, and the issue culminates with her perennial villain, The Inquisitor, with whom she has traded blows over the centuries, calling her out. What will happen? Gotta wait till next month. The writing is exceptional, as we have come to expect from James Robinson, not only in the five issues he’s done of this series, but over the span of his whole career. Providing art this issue is Javier Pulido, who, wouldn’t you know it, is himself a Spaniard. His art in this issue was reminiscent of the guest artist last month, Darwyn Cooke. I enjoyed it thoroughly and look forward to seeing the collaboration of Robinson and Pulido over the next two issues.
- Green Hornet #22 returns to the the character of Moonbeam, the side kick of the violent, misguided vigilante, The Scowl. As kind of a side note in the duo’s first appearance, this time he takes a front seat role in the plot, which expounds on the corruption of the mayor’s office and other institutions. This issue didn’t really have a lot of things happening in and of itself, but I think it facilitating the start of a larger arc where several things will. A decent yarn that foreshadows a future for the young Moonbeam.
- Spaceman #4 continues to perplex me. I sense a lot happening beneath the surface. There is the hints of characterization and real plot development, but the crazy future slums setting and pidgin English is really throwing me off. I respect the avante-gard quality of this title’s presentation, but have to admit that it is a hindrance to my enjoyment of it. Also the jarring disconnect between what Orson, the Spaceman, is doing on Earth and what he was doing (will be doing?) on Mars is perplexing in not a good way. Azzarello needs to clarify that, even a little bit, or he’s going to piss off a lot of people. Other than that, I am taking the ride with no expectations and seeing what’s at the end of the tunnel.
- Kirby Genesis: Dragonsbane #2 was really good once again, picking right up where issue two left off, with the witch Circe turning the Aesir warriors into pigs. How do they escape you may ask? With the help of someone who himself has been up against the witch’s trickery. With the advent of this Greek hero, the Aesir gain another companion on their quest for the Complicity of Dragons. This issue continues to be HEAVILY Kirby-esque. The character of Circe was used by the Kirby in his Eternals series in the 70’s. Her costume is different in this series, but much of her appearance and the way she is postured are not only distinctly Kirby, but distinctly her from that aforementioned series. Also through Norse magic a Jotun Frost Giant of Jotunheim is conjured forth, harkening back to Kirby’s original Thor comics for Marvel in the 60’s. This series is going places and just like its sister series in the Kirby Genesis line, it has an authentic feel to the character designs and the stories themselves.
- Steed and Mrs. Peel #2 is just as incredible as the first issue. Grant Morrison has a definite handle on the mod British feel of the original “Avengers” television program. John Steed remains the quintessential British gentleman in this rendering and Mrs. Peel the intelligent, sexy counterpart. The plot itself is very poetic and cryptic, mirroring the plots they have faced in the past. Artist, Ian Gibson, fully rounds out the feel of the book, further likening it to an episode of the old spy programme. The humor and style is very dry and British, which is a major draw to some and a major turn off to others on this side of the pond, so this series isn’t for everyone, but I must say that I really like it.
- And finally, Unwritten #34.5 continues its run of dual issues. This secondary story recounts Wilson Taylor, then Will Tallis’s, experience during WWI. Like last month’s tale of the childhood of Madame Rausch, this issue took a very morally ambiguous character and showed the horrors and injustices of his previous life before becoming involved in the “War of Words.” Unlike last issue’s story, however, there was morbid beauty to the narrative Will related about the lives and spirit of the British “Tommies” fighting in the Trenches. The end of the issue is equally as beautiful and furthers the mystery of just who Wilson Taylor is . . .
Thus ends the historic month of February. A lot of great stories came out. Let’s hope March keeps pace.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Justice League #6: Drawned by Jim Lee, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Tony Avina, and Hi-Fi, Inked by Scott Williams, Sandra Hope, Batt, and Mark Irwin
The Shade #5: Art by Javier Pulido, Colored by Hillary Sycamore
Kirby Genesis: Dragonsbane #2: Art by Frtiz Casas, Colored by Salvatore Aiala