Week 34 (April 25, 2012)

This week has a lot of titles I have been anticipating for a sometime.  That said I have high hopes for this batch of comics. Though it isn’t always the case, it seems that often they save the best for last.  Well let’s see if that statistic holds up.

  • Aquaman #8 continues in the trend of being rather short, but did some good exposition work on this enigmatic team, “The Others”, that Aquaman was part of before the Justice League.  This issue portrays a very different Arthur than what we have seen thus far in the series.  In fact he is much more akin to the Aquaman we’ve seen in the horrendous Justice League title.  Maybe that shows hope that Geoff Johns will stop writing the latter title in such a horrible fashion.  Probably not.  But this series continues to be good, keeping his reputation as a writer “above water”, as it were . . .
  • Green Lantern: New Guardians #8 has evolved greatly since the first four issues and shifted into what the title should be: an in depth look at corpsmen and women who exemplify the various Lantern groups they serve.  Coming off the “Invictus” arc, not finishing it mind you, but coming off it into a . . . intermission . . . the issue also performs a secondary task of playing middleman to the other three Green Lantern Family books.  Primarily this issue pertains to the main Green Lantern title where Sinestro has become a Green Lantern again, disbanding and helping to apprehend his former followers of the Yellow Corps, before being abducted to the Indigo homeworld.  In this eighth issue of New Guardians, Sinestro’s chief lieutenant, Arkillo, goes back to Korugar, the Sinestro Corps homeworld, to find that the Corps is no more.  In doing so, he is then put in the position of determining the fate of those remaining who follow the yellow light of Fear.  The issue also segues Munk’s future participation in the “Secrets of the Indigo Tribe” arc in Green Lanterns well as Fatality’s position between the will of the Star Sapphires and her new team, the New Guardians.  This is a fantastic series.  I am glad I hung tight to it through the awkward burgeonings of the first four issues.

    Beware His Power . .

  • Flash #8 was equally phenomenal, and truly an integral issue in setting the nature of the universe according to the Flash.  We’ve been told about the Speed Force that grants Barry his powers as the Flash, as well as the catastrophic consequences attached to his usage of this fundamental energy.  Last issue, Barry was shown going  into the heart of the Speed Force.  From this inside vantage we are shown the true nature of Barry’s connection to it, as well as how it has impacted the history of our planet and its dominant civilizations.  Three villains are depicted herein, two familiar to any Flash fan and the other completely new and very intriguing.  I won’t spoil the fun by telling you who any of them are, but just know that the two veteran ne’er-do-wells are iconic.  And as ever the issues is written and rendered on the page to perfection by the consummate genius of writer/artists Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul.
  • Batman: The Dark Knight #8 seemed kind of lost. It didn’t tie into the past seven issues’ main plot line or resolve anything at all from last month.  The only common thread it followed from those past issues is Commissioner Gordon being harassed by Internal Affairs lieutenant, Det. Forbes.   I think part of the schizophrenia here stems from an interim creative team.  Neither Paul Jenkins or David Finch who started the series’ reboot are involved.  The story is written by newcomer Joe Harris and the art is done by Ed Benes of recent Red Lantern fame. Next month Finch appears to be back as artist, but Judd Winick is taking over writing for this issue only, to be followed afterward by Gregg Hurwitz for at least a full arcs worth of stories.  This was an okay issue, but not up to the caliber that the series has displayed the past seven months.
  • Superman #8 was also a little lackluster.  It accomplished several things, but trailed off on others in disconcerting ways.  It did portray the up in the air, chaotic nature of Clark Kent’s life, while also making him seem oafish and un-super.  Check. It did introduce and explore further the history of Lord Helspont of the Deamonites, giving gravitas to his rebooted character.  Check.  What it didn’t do was give any kind of logical conclusion to the issue.  The action just ends inexplicably and equally inexplicably Superman flies away and the conflict drops off with no resolution.  Kind of a noodle scratcher.  I think I liked it, but I’m not 100% certain.
  • The Fury of Firestorm #8 continues to develop a very compelling world that is very evocative of the one we the readers live in.  While it differs greatly from past runs and interpretations of the series and its characters, this iteration deals with nuclear proliferation in a very interesting tangent where human beings are made into living nuclear arsenals, having more power than all of the nuclear weapons of all the countries combined, added onto the fact that these weapons have human intellect and cunning.  This issue furthers that exploration with the addition of a French Firestorm and a British Firestorm: Firehawk and Hurricane.  The aforementioned Joe Harris, who penned this month’s Batman: The Dark Knight, is the new series writer teamed up with co-writer and artist Ethan Van Sciver.  Both men do a stunning job making this series an intellectual action tour-de-force.  I look forward to seeing what they have in store next month.

    Oh-La-La. France just got "hotter."

  • Justice League Dark #8 finishes off its crossover arc with I, Vampire this week and I have to say that I am glad.  I am not the biggest fan of the “Rise of Cain” story arc, nor I, Vampire, so good riddance on both counts.  I will say that as ever the main reason that this issue was good was writer Peter Milligan.  Milligan has been the heart and soul of this series and sadly this is his final issue, with Animal Man and Frankenstein writer Jeff Lemire coming on board next month for the ninth issue.  You could tell in the tone and the subject material that this was a good bye.  Not all of the cast of characters we’ve seen will continue on to the next arc, but despite that this issue provided a wonderful bookend to Milligan’s work and an ideal setup for Lemire to take over.  The past two issues have been drawn by Daniel Sampere, and done beautifully, but next month artist Mikel Janin will return, bringing a note of continuity from the first 6 issues to the next phase of the storytelling.
  • I, Vampire #8 was the usual claptrap.  It featured what I am sure were supposed to be some mind blowing developments in the plot, but since the writer was unable to generate any substantial connection to or importance of the characters, it was just a major case of “Why do I care?”  This will be the last issue of I, Vampire for me.
  • Teen Titans #8 was really good and really set to work rounding out the characters.  The Titans have been captured by N.O.W.H.E.R.E and what’s more, are being groomed for the impending “Culling”, a battle royale thinning of the young metahuman population by the nightmarish entity known as Harvest and his underling, Omen.  The reintroduction of the veteran Teen Titan character, Lilith, also was interesting, as Scott Lobdell really has an epic storyline for this introductory opening arc.  While these youths are imprisoned and prepped for the Culling, Omen and Harvest probe their consciousnesses and lay bare their fears, strengths, weaknesses, and primary drives.  Red Robin is defined and his significance to Harvest’s plot hinted at, Solstice’s history is finally revealed, and the horror of Harvest revealed at the end.  Next week begins the Culling with the Teen Titan Annual. I am excited.
  • Voodoo #8 continues down a really strange path.  Up until quite recently Voodoo seemed like a lost soul looking for righteousness and redemption, but with the reintroduction of the real Priscilla Kitaen its hard to tell where the plot can go from here.  Unless writer Josh Williamson pulls a “Hail Mary” of story telling, its going to be hard to root for the main character of the book when she is so clearly working toward interests counter to those of her readers.  I’m still invested in the story exactly for that reason and as ever Sami Basri’s art is top notch.  This is a great series, but I pray that all this insanity that we are seeing is facilitating something larger.
  • All-Star Western #8 was the last of the DC books I read this week, which is something of a tradition for me.  I look forward to it every month and I find it a fitting tribute to save it for last.  This month’s installment was worth the wait.  Writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti create a very authentic Western ambiance in yet another locale that is NOT classically viewed as the West.  Jonah Hex and his Gothamite associate, Dr. Jeremiah Arkham, are in New Orleans tracking down a criminal from Gotham wanted for the abduction of children among other things, and in the mean time they have been drawn into ANOTHER plot, helping the vigilantes Nighthawk and Cinnamon combat xenophobic terrorists bent on murdering the influx of immigrants to the burgeoning “Big Easy.”  Hex has infiltrated them, but the question remains as to how deep he’s gotten in and whether or not he can come back out.  Moritat’s artwork of the series remains one of the most visually stunning of DC’s new lineup, right there with Yanick Paquette in Swamp Thing and Francis Manapul’s Flash. In the backup feature, also written by Gray and Palmiotti, we are given the back story of the vigilante, Cinnamon, from orphan of murdered parents to protege of a wandering samurai to sultry sidekick/paramour of Nighthawk, whom the backup feature introduced us to in last month’s issue.  Patrick Scherberger provides the art here, and he does it with great detail and strong lines.  This issue all together was capital “Q” quality

    Psychopaths In Love

  • Spaceman #6 continues to puzzle me.  So much so that I’m not comfortable giving my impressions, as those impressions might be based on faulty information.  As I said before, the plot jumps between one time period on Earth and another on the planet Mars, and while I believe Mars comes first I can’t prove that, so I am left scratching my head as to how the two correlate and what significance the Martian material has to do with the main plot on Earth.  Eduardo Risso’s artwork is amazing.  That is the most solid thing I can say about it.  Brian Azzarello’s writing is very nuanced and stylized, but the downside of that is that its almost unintelligible like “Clockwork Orange.”  Hopefully next month I can report something more.
  • Green Hornet #24 brings us into the second of six issues in the “Outcaste” arc, and the stakes are perhaps the highest that they have ever been.  The premise of the Green Hornet is that he and his partner Kato are good guys who masquerade themselves as villains to better combat organized crime.  Well as we saw at the end of issue #23, a very well connected man in Century City has exploited that fact by having a fake Green Hornet kill several influential people, not least of whom includes the Mayor himself, allowing for a political vacuum which could spell big trouble for everyone in the municipality.  Britt Jr has worked hard to live up to the legacy of his storied father in both his role as the Publisher of the Sentinel newspaper and as the dreaded Green Hornet.  Now that he has finally gotten to the point where he feels he can live up to it, that same legacy is jeopardized by madmen.  Along the way friendships and connections arduously formed to aid in his crusade begin to unravel.  This is the start of perhaps the best Green Hornet story to date.
  • Warlord of Mars #17 is on the penultimate chapter of the “Gods of Mars” arc.  I am continually amazed by the skill and fidelity that the series shows to the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novels.  I enjoyed the novels so much I thought it would be impossible for the comics to live up to those very evocative stories and images, yet somehow the Warlord of Mars team has done it.   The key scenes and dialogue are all retained, but don’t feel watered down or condensed. The images are all there in stark, vibrant detail.  These are the “Warlord of Mars” novels in full, translated into the comic medium.
  • American Vampire #26 begins a new two part arc entitled “The Nocturnes.”  As ever, writer/creator Scott Snyder really goes out of his way to make this series poignant and excellent.  Its not just about Vampires in America and what they are, but rather what America is or has been, and how that shapes this emerging species of creature into what we’ve seen.  Along those same lines, what really makes this series fun to read is that it started with two main characters and through the very personal storytelling, created a rich cast of side characters who inherit the spotlight as the series progresses.  This storyline deals with our friend, Calvin Poole, from the “Ghost War” arc ten years later in the southlands of Alabama in 1954.  As a taxonomist, he is the perfect mouthpiece to describe to us the evolution of vampires as a species, and as an African American taxonomist the perfect mouthpiece for the evolution of the American culture in the 1950’s.  Roger Cruz takes over the art for series artist Rafael Albuquerque who is working on the backup features for Snyder’s ” Night of the Owls” in the main Batmantitle.  His style is very reminiscent of Albuquerque’s so the issue fits in very neatly to the overall feeling of the series.

    A New Breed

  • The New Deadwardians #2 is shaping up to be a really incredible series.  It reads a lot like a magical amalgam of the shows Downton Abbey and Walking Dead.  Though they still haven’t used the word vampire, Dan Abnett pretty much has it sewn up that this is what the upper class of Britain has undergone to prevent being eaten by the zombie hoards that have infested their country.  In this new world there is a tenuously balance of power among the “Young”, as the vampires call themselves, the “Bright” (the unaltered humans), and the zombie “Restless.”   As of last issue a murder occurs on one of the Young and the three means of killing the young were not utilized.  So the main question becomes what that means, and how that affects their supremacy over the Bright.  This series is yet another example of giving a series a shot.  I hate vampires and zombies and yet I am all about this series.  If you are a fan of PBS and AMC, read this book . . .
  • Kirby Genesis #7 reaches its penultimate chapter.  This series has been incredible and I am sad to see that it is nearing its conclusion.  As I’ve made abundantly clear in the past, Jack Kirby is one of the greatest geniuses of comics, if not the greatest. AS such, so many of his creations were never given their full due and this series has provided a platform for them to be seen again, or in some cases even get their own ongoing series, such as Silver Star, Captain Victory, and Dragonsbane.  All three are incredible series in their own rights, but this main series featured so many other wonders of the Kirbyverse.  I am further saddened that these other concepts will be put back in stasis again.  The Midnight Swan, Garza Nights, and Galaxy Greens are incredible characters and fully worthy of their own series.  Perhaps they will get them.  In the interim, this issue showcased them all in the vivid artwork of Alex Ross and Jack Herbert.  I  look forward to and lament the release of the eighth and final issue

And so ends the month of April’s array of comics. May promises to be even better with an array of new series coming out as well as several Annuals.   See you then . . .

Illustration Credits:

Green Lantern: The New Guardians #8: Drawn by Tyler Kirkham, Colored by Nei Ruffino, Inked by Batt

Fury of Firestorm #8: Art by Ethan Van Sciver, Colored by Hi-Fi

All-Star Western #8: Art by Moritat, Colored by Gabriel Bautista

American Vampire #26: Art by Roger Cruz, Colored by Dave McCaig

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Week 33 (April 18, 2012)

Going into the third week of April I have to say that it was a mixed bag this week.  There was some absolute knockouts that really proved the breadth of comic craft, and then there were some total bombs that I am just uncomfortable having read, knowing that the lack of quality isn’t the writers’ faults entirely (even though it kind of is . . .) .   Well these are my views on what is good and what was lacking.  As ever, if you think I am way off the mark, comment on this post and let me know what I’ve overlooked.  I respect constructive dissension.

  • Justice League #8 was absolutely awful.  I’m not even angry anymore by the utter disregard for quality that the creative team of JL are flagrantly exhibiting, just sad.  I’ve moved on to the last stage of grief: acceptance. Everything about every aspect of this book is wrong.  I firmly believe that if you sat down someone who had never read a comic in their lives but had the spark of interest that could be fanned into a blaze of comic loving passion and then gave them a Justice League comic you could permanently kill the chances of them ever wanting to read another comic ever again.  This series is the rat poison of the comic world.  How Geoff Johns can write these awesome characters as such douchebags is beyond me.  I am starting to hate the characters so much and its starting to infect my enjoyment of the stories where they are actually written well.  I know he’s an executive, but Johns needs to get benched ASAP!  He’s doing good on his other series.  Let him stick to what he knows.  He clearly has no clue how to write a decent Justice League story.  Oh. and on a personal note: The inclusion of a sequence with Talons dispatched by the Court of Owls is in BAD TASTE.  Don’t sully a truly awesome thing like “Night of the Owls” by trying to pouch quality for your shitty comic.  That is bad form, Mr. Johns.  BAD FORM!   
  • Batman #8 starts up after issue #7’s startling conclusion.  After his battle in the labyrinth with the Court of Owls, Batman is a wreck.  Broken and beaten he retreats to Wayne Manor and from there Scott Snyder portrays a very troubled Batman, and troubled he should be as the Court has not yet finished with him or Gotham.  The true terror of the Court is laid bare and the “Night of the Owls” we have been hearing about is revealed to be much akin to the famous “Night of the Long Knives” in Nazi Germany.  A lot of important people are in the crosshairs and several will be dead by dawn regardless of nay intervention.  Snyder’s plot is executed to perfection and rendered beautifully by series artist Greg Capullo and by Snyder’s long time collaborator on American Vampire, Rafael Albuquerque.  This is the Batman story I’ve been waiting for my whole life, I just didn’t know it until recently.

    Alfred Puts Out "The Call"


  • Nightwing #8 follows on the heels of Batman #8, starting off “Night of the Owls” an issue early and really sets the tone for what we can expect next month in the “Night of the Owls” mega crossover.  Writer Kyle Higgins keeps the heat on Dick Grayson after the conclusion last month of the title’s first story arc.  In that issue he revealed that the Talon we have thus far seen in Batman is none other than Dick’s ancestor, William Cobb.  Higgins writes the issue dually from the perspective of Cobb, telling about his childhood and adolescence in the Gotham of 1901, and from Dick’s in the present.  The issue is a fitting companion to what Scott Snyder has set up over the past half year.  The Night of the Owls is upon us.  The call has been put out. “God help us . . .” 
  • Green Lantern Corps #8 followed three main events, but was rather hazy about them, introducing but not developing.  The first is the Alpha Lanterns assembling to discuss their mandate: the internal policing of Corpsman.  The second was the Guardians offering Guy Gardner what seems to be a very peculiar offer that I doubt is on the level.  Thirdly, John Stewart’s continued melancholy and confliction over killing his former colleague in the torture chambers of the “Keepers.”  This issue was like its predecessor, a seeming interim issue, although this one facilitates the coming issue which will be the beginning of the “Alpha War.”  I look forward to it, as this issue was good, but as I alluded, very sparse. 
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws #8 was a really outstanding issue that accomplished so much.  It revealed the history behind Jason Todd and Suzie Su’s long standing quarrel as well as his past exploits culling the crime families of Hong Kong.  In the process writer Scott Lobdell defines the nature of Todd as an anti-heroic character.  He puts his neck out to save children from terrorists, but in the process does some very dark things.  Finally, it reestablishes his status as a member of the Bat family, because this issue like Batman #8 and Nightwing #8, is a “Night of the Owls” prelude.  The call goes out from Alfred, and though Starfire and Arsenal know for a fact that the disaffected ex-Robin won’t respond, Jason surprises them both and commits himself to the call.  The reason lies in a past encounter with his successor, Tim Drake, in Metropolis and leads to an inference that Mr. Freeze will be involved.  This issue has its balls-to-the-wall moments alongside some very touching ones.  Damn, I love Scott Lobdell’s storylines.

    Jason's R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find Out What It Means To Him.

  • Catwoman #8 was another prelude to “Night of the Owls.”  The story was kind of interesting, but not overly.  Apart from developing the character of Spark, I wasn’t very invested in the plot.  A heist is planned against the Penguin, and like Red Hood above, writer Judd Winick infers that Penguin will be the Owl target that Catwoman will be running interference for.  What sets this one apart from the three above Bat-titles, is that Catwoman doesn’t get the call, so  a scene involving the Court of Owls is worked in to clue the readers into the impending connection.  Artist Adriana Melo does make the issue very pretty though, despite the lackluster plotline.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #8 was damn good!!!  It might be that I’ve read Paul Levitz’s previous runs on Legion of Super-Heroes, but the story was steeped in LHS mythology. Computo was referenced, the sister of the Invisible Kid’s consequential incurable illness as a result of that same evil computer system, and most of all the resurrection of the Fatal Five.  But on top of that, Levitz makes the stories he writes very personal.  More so than most other books, he imbues so much humanity into the motivations and interactions of the Legionnaires.  Case in point, the issue was divided into two stories drawn by two different artists.  The former most story that involved the elements listed above was drawn by veteran LHS artist Steve Lightle.  The latter half involves Cosmic Boy, who puts the weight of the Universe on his shoulders, being whisked away by four of his colleagues to Istanbul to unwind.  What makes it all the more touching is that one of those Legionnaires is Brainiac 5, who out spocks Mr. Spock in his emotionlessness.  Yildiray Cinar, who helped Levitz relaunch the Legion in the 31st century, provides the art for this last segment.  Good stuff.
  • Supergirl #8 was really good and is moving towards what I have been wanting for since issue #1.  Supergirl is becoming slowly acclimated to Earth.  She hasn’t learned the language yet, but she’s made a friend and starts wearing Earth clothes.  The issue itself is pretty well written by the Mikes (Green and Johnson) and stunningly illustrated by George Perez.  I’m a little pissed that this issue is the only one Perez is illustrating, because frankly his artwork is so appropriate to the title, and he has such a beautiful way of portraying young women like Kara and her new friend Siobhan along with the bohemian New York night scene.  In any event, it was beautiful issue in both scripting and artwork, and it introduced a classic Supergirl villain back into the DCU: Silver Banshee.
  • Wonder Woman #8 has a real beauty to it.  I have read a lot of negative feedback on this series, last issue especially, and I do believe that there is credence to the detractions, but unlike last issue which offended a great many readers, this one was very straightforward.  Diana and Hermes descend into the underworld and once again Brian Azzarello depicts a very stylized, philosophic interpretation of Hades’ realm.  Series artist Cliff Chiang helps out a great deal in that respect with beautifully drawn panels of this new Underworld.  Despite the John Woo cover, the issue isn’t as gaudy as its advertised to be and twists the plot into a devil’s bargain only to be found in Greek mythology.  Hades remains one of my favorite characters in this new series.  His motivations are so ambiguous and he is just awesome no matter which light you choose view him in.

    Shot to the Heart. Hades to Blame . . .

  • DC Universe Presents: Challengers of the Unknown #8 was something of a cop out.  I mean the story progresses and the villain is vanquished . . . sort of.  However, they don’t finish their journey, they don’t come to any understanding of the reason they were saved from death, just that their survival serves some transcendental purpose.  Didio and Ordway give us that “The End . . . For Now” crap without giving any modicum of conclusion.  That only works when you throw the reader some kind of bone.  Overall, I would be interested to read more if they deign to give us more, but I am unsatisfied with the three issue arc they gave us.  Why couldn’t this have been a five issue arc like Deadman so that they could do what was necessary  narratively?  Oh well. Ours not to ask why, just shell out three bucks once a month, right?
  • Blue Beetle #8 ended very abruptly.  It had an entertaining plotline that explored both the villain and his past, but gave no conclusion to the whole affair.  I recognize that Blue Beetle has to take part in the crossover event over the next two months with Green Lantern: The New Guardians, but it seems like they could have offered a little closure on the matter, or at least writer Tony Bedard could have held off the crossover since he is also the writer of New Guardians. Maybe the intermission in this plot will bear fruit relevant to its postponed conclusion.  Either way, I’ll give it a thumbs up.
  • Birds of Prey #8 as with the past several issues has become a chore.  The title’s not as good as it used to be pre-Reboot, as good as it could be.  I’ll still say that it has its entertainment value, but right now I am holding on for its place in the “Night of the Owls” crossover next month.  After that I am almost certainly dropping it as Travel Foreman, the artist whom I have been blaming my dislike of Animal Man on owing to his creepy, superlinear artwork, will be taking over Birds of Prey.  So next month will be a farewell to those lovely Bird of Gotham fame.
  • Batman Beyond Unlimited #3 expands its reach and adds a third segment to the roster.  This month we welcome writer JT Krul and veteran JLA artist Howard Porter’s Superman Beyond segment.  What Krul does beautifully is illustrate a godlike figure of comic lore who has lived past his natural age and seen his friends and loved one die.  Now Superman is beginning to see the world he has known die alongside them, as he himself begins to enter into obsolescence.  However, with all his battles seemingly won and in the past, JT Krul introduces an intriguing development that has been lying dormant until the events of this issue.  A truly stunning story.  Adam Beechen and Norm Breyfogle continue the “Mad Stan” storyline to its penultimate chapter in Batman Beyond, and while very short, forward three very compelling stories of the three young leads: Batman’s prevention of Mad Stan haphazardly blowing Gotham to kingdom come, Dana’s brother tying into the cabal of Jokerz flooding into Gotham on holy pilgrimage, and Max’s attempt to confess to her part in the cyber-terrorist attack on Gotham’s power grid.  Incredible storytelling that has me psyched for next months conclusion to the first of these dilemmas and the continuance of the other two.  And last, but most certainly not least, Nguyen and Fridolfs’ Justice League Beyond Unlimited packed a wallop of comic and television inspired excellence.  The Queen of Kobra is revealed as is her plan that the Kobra agents have been working towards in the past two issues.  The plot itself is stunning, but even more so because of the incredible intricacy of the references and allusions to the television shows that inspired it, as well as those from the DCU at large.  The Challengers of the Unknown, as seen last in the previous review above, are referenced and play their part in the doom of mankind, as does Lex Luthor, dead though he may be.  Iconic covers the Jack Kirby series Kamandi the Last Boy on Earth, Forever People, and OMAC are modified and presented to portray the enormity of the threat Kobra intends on not just Earth or the Universe, but seemingly the Multiverse.   This issue blew my socks off. I was expecting it to be good, but I wasn’t prepared for just how good.

    The Times They Are A-Changing . . ,

  • T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #6 concludes the series in the most fitting manner possible.  I didn’t realize that the first page of the first issue of the first volume DC put out took place after the whole run of Spencer’s was concluded.  I also like that although Wes Craig took over art for the book from Cafu, the latter artist came back to do the flashback sequences that he was responsible for in the first run.  Reading T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents has been a pleasure and I am saddened by the thought that there may never be another series after this one, and certainly not one as well crafted and well researched as Nick Spencer’s run.  However, he did leave a pinhole opening at the end of the main sequence for a continuation by someone else.  However, my money is betting that there won’t be any more adventures for the Agents of The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserve for many, many years.  So thank you to Nick Spencer and his army of artists who made this series legendary.
  • Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #2 is getting better.  I wasn’t as certain while reading the first issue and now after this second issue, I am starting to feel the beauty of the Voodoo culture as well as the rhythm of Selwyn Hinds’ script.  There is a really intriguing amalgam of modern day elements with old school Afro-Caribbean mythology that baselines the series and makes for a very Machiavellian struggle for power in the space between magic and realpolitik that apparently has been governing New Orleans for centuries.  I’m liking it a lot and I have to also give credit to Denys Cowan, whose stark, line-y artwork really adds a gothic character to the series.
  • The Shadow #1 is Dynamite Entertainment’s newest addition to their pulp noir line of books.  I have to say that I have been anticipating this book ever since it was announced, because I was a huge fan of the old radio show when I was a kid.  No I’m not that old, but I enjoyed listening to old radio shows on audio cassette (yes, I am that old) when on long car rides.  Anyhow, I love the “Shadow” and his genial alter ego, Lamont Cranston, the “wealthy man about town.”   To pen this new series Dynamite tapped Garth Ennis, renowned for his edgy storytelling.  I think he did a good job, but I am concerned that he might have made it too edgy.  This is the first issue so I may be making a leap in judgement.  Despite this sneaking suspicion the issue itself was great.  Aaron Campbell who provided artwork for Dynamite’s Green Hornet: Year One, provides equally stunning work in this series.  The basic plot takes us to the early 30’s with Japan invading China and agents of the expansionist empire turning up in New York, the Shadow’s playground.  Needless to say, the Shadow knows what evil lurks in the hearts of these men . . .

And that’s the thirty-third week of my reviews.  Hope you enjoyed as much as I did.

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

Illustration Credits:

Batman #8: Art by Rafael Albuquerque, Colored by Nathan Fairbairn

Red Hood and the Outlaws #8: Art by Kenneth Rocafort, Colored by Blond

Wonder Woman #8: Art by Cliff Chiang, Colored by Matthew Wilson

Batman Beyond Unlimited #3: Drawn by Dustin Nguyen, Colored by Randy Major, Inked by Derek Fridolfs

Week 32 (April 11, 2012)

This was an outstanding week in comics.  I really enjoyed what I read, but most importantly because some of the best issues were from titles that usually aren’t top tier.  This clearly shows that across the board people are stepping up their games to put out the best products.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

  • Green Lantern #8 continues Hal and Sinestro’s imprisonment on the enigmatic Indigo planet.  This was a good issue, but a very short one.  On the other hand, it did feature a few really cool moments.  I’m not certain if I read this correctly, but if I did: Sinestro curb-jobbed a guy!!!  Also Hal broke out of his cell in a very ingenious way, that frankly I didn’t even consider an option.  That said, writer Geoff Johns is really rounding out our understanding of the Indigo light of compassion and defining its true nature.  Also, he keeps flirting with the revelation of the connection between Hal’s predecessor and Sinestro’s best friend, Abin Sur to the creation of the Indigo tribe.  I am so pissed that as of yet he hasn’t gotten around to it, but its keeping me on the Green Lantern leash, so that can be chocked up to excellent storytelling (unlike his horrendous Justice League series that is currently coming out.).  This is one of the best series out there, regardless of imprint.

    Yes you are!

  • The winner of this week’s “Chicken Dinner”, however, is Batman & Robin #8.  This issue deals with the aftermath of last month’s shocking conclusion.  If you haven’t read it by now, I’m not gonna hold back, so SPOILER ALERT!!!: Batman and Damian, father and son, deal in this issue with the cataclysmic consequences of Damian’s killing of an unarmed man.  The lead-up to this eighth issue has been Freudian, Shakespearean, and mythic in the Greek tradition.  If you look at it topically, it may not seem that provocative as Damian has killed scores of people in the past, but really this one is very meaningful.  First, since he has donned the Robin uniform he has been on a tight leash by Dick and Bruce to not kill, second he’s normally killed in the heat of battle when his victim had a gun or a knife or something of that nature, and thirdly he was a different person then, still under his mother’s League of Assassins indoctrination.  When Damian killed Morgan it was after Bruce has almost done it himself, and stopped only while looking at his son’s saddened face, beseeching his father not to lower himself by violating his code of ethic in such a blatant way.  Then when Morgan whispered that he would hunt them both down later and kill Bruce, Damian did the deed himself and aced the villain with his fingers. Damian killed Morgan FOR his father.  THAT is the significance of the issue, that Damian did one of the most horrible things in the world for the most altruistic reason, something he has never even come close to doing before.  This issue takes everything from those last seven issues and glides through in one of the most touching, poignant issues in the whole of the New DCU.  Damian finally listens to the recording Bruce made while trying to find him, and hard assed as he may be, admitted that all he wants is Bruce to love him.  This is probably the biggest spoiler, but the most straightforward: Bruce doesn’t disappoint.  For this issue at least, he’s got the dad thing down.
  • Batgirl #8 may have been the best issue yet.  You know what?  It WAS the best issue yet.  This issue is a silver bullet to the heart of Batgirl/Barbara Gordon as a character.  In the last panel of last month’s issue writer Gail Simone dropped a bombshell that had implications going back to the iconic Killing Joke storyline that paralyzed Barbara for two decades of storytelling (and I think two years within the plot of this new series).  This issue picks back up on that crucial plot point, but also explores another traumatic event as well, the reemergence of her mother.  Like the father/son dynamic in Batman & Robin above, the role of a mother in her daughter’s life and maturation is a pivotal thing that can leave lasting effects.  Simone tells us why the elder Barbara Gordon left her daughter, the younger Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), and leaves our heroine at a tricky nexus point of what to do, in both her personal and private lives.  Simone also reasserts that James Gordon Jr is still a psychopath and intimates that the events of Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics run, “The Dark Mirror”,  are still canon.  This issue has a very sentimental feel that is very engaging and nostalgic.  And the twists keep coming right up to the final page.  HOLY . . . COW . . . !
  • Batwoman #8 remains one of the most intriguingly nuanced books out there.   Like Red Lanterns the past two months, it splits its narrative into segments each devoted to one of the main characters, but writer J.H. Williams III knows how to utilize this narrative style expertly, making it work for the plot.  In this way he slowly develops each character’s storyline on a slow, tantalizing simmer, cultivating the readers interest with good storytelling and a veritable pu-pu platter of events that are leading toward one giant convergent event that will tell us once and for all who the main mastermind behind Medusa is and why these weird figures of the underworld have been kidnapping Gotham’s children.  Along the way, we see the tragically penitent Jacob Kane trying to pick up the pieces of the shattered relationships in his life, Kate’s relationship with Maggie in both her role as Batwoman and as the policewoman’s burgeoning paramour, both explored in great detail, and truths about her true feelings are hinted at.  I love this series.

    Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer

  • Grifter #8 illustrates the final threads tying Cole Cash to the land of living being severed forever.  After this issue, he truly has nothing to lose and becomes the worst nightmare for the Daemonites.  The things Grifter sees, and more importantly is forced to do by the aliens hunting him, drive him over the line.  Letting him live is perhaps the last mistake they will make.  Or perhaps it was a calculated strategy on their part . . . Either way, the ride that this series has taken us on for the past eight issues has really been spectacular.  I was initially skeptical of the series and only bought it to give it a fair chance.  Well it didn’t need my fairness, because it has stood on its own merit thanks to the incredible writing of Nathan Edmondson.  Sadly, he will be leaving after this issue as writer and Rob Liefeld will be taking over duties for at least the next five months.  I didn’t mind his writing on Hawk & Dove, but at the same time he didn’t have to compete against the awesome lead up such as Edmondson has achieved thus far. Time will tell.  In the mean time though, I am a huge fan of this series.
  • Demon Knights #8 was an interim issue between the “Siege of Little Spring” arc and the coming “Murder of Merlin” arc.  On their way to the great city of Alba Sarum the Demon Knights ask the question that has been on most of the series’ readers’ minds: Just what IS the deal with Madame Xanadu and her dual lovers in one body, Jason Blood and Etrigan.  The issue clarifies the history that she shares with Jason and how the romantic triangle began.  It’s an interesting yarn that gives an answer, but has the reader questioning the veracity of it by the end.  Either way, I choose to believe that she is in love with Jason, but then again she is a tricksy minx, as her other series, Justice League Dark, has shown us.  Either way, an excellent story from writer Paul Cornell about the fall of Camelot, the immortal lovers, and Jack Kirby’s fantastic Demon character.  Also it features the death of Merlin by a very interesting assassin.  It’s not someone, or something you’d expect.  It’s actually quite . . . out of this world.
  • Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #8 made me sad.  Literally, this issue depressed me deeply.  It was a beautiful story, but one that was very tragic in the subject material.  I’ll lay out the basics. In the 1950’s Father Time had the genetics of Frank and his wife, Lady Frankenstein, spliced to artificially create the child they could not have naturally.  Needless to say, the results are horrific and they thought that their child had died.  It hadn’t.  As of last issue’s final panel we are told that the “Spawn of Frankenstein” has escaped.  The rest of the issue is the patchwork parents trying to find their abomination of child and bring him home.  As you can tell from my introduction, it’s not the ending that I would have liked for the issue, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be construed as a happy ending if you really think about it.  This series is really outstanding from Jeff Lemire.  It’s not my favorite of his works, but it is apparent that he has a great passion for the subject material and the characters he is reworking into the New DCU.
  • Superboy #8 reaffirms that writer Scott Lobdell is the man to reboot the younger generation of the New 52.  Superboy is portrayed possibly the best in this issue.  “The Culling” is about to occur and though we haven’t really learned much of what that entails . . . yet, we do get a feel for its implications in this issue.  The story opens without preamble on Superboy being pitted against a metamorphic teen called Grunge with the ability to take on the characteristics of anything around him: stone, metal, liquids, etc.  What’s more, he’s immune to Superboy’s tactile telekinesis.  Superboy gets his butt kicked, but amidst the beatings we get that prescient, penetrating commentary by our hero as he works out what is happening around him and reacts to it.  He is a very complex young man and not without a very kind soul and conflicted conscience.  Also we see the current situation of Rose Wilson, as well as a peek at her past via the character of Solstice.  And to cap it all off, we are visited by two Titans of Teen Titans past, both great favorites of mine from the seminal New Teen Titans days of Marv Wolfman and George Perez.

    I like Beast Boy when he was green . . .

  • Shade #7 wraps up the Barcelona arc with the Shade aiding his “daughter” La Sangre in her fighting of her resurrected foe, the Inquisitor.  Within that fight Shade is confronted with a resurrected foe of his own from a battle in the Paris of 1901.  This leads to the next and final arc of the twelve issue series.  I have to say again that story-wise, James Robinson is a genius and I really appreciate the love and care he puts into his worldcrafting.  This may be kind of meta, but I know that there is one person who views this blog from Bangladesh, and though I do not know who this person is, I am curious what they think about the character of Montpellier, who hails from their country and represents for the people of the Subcontinent. I for one hope that La Sangre and Montpellier get resurrected soon, as they are incredible characters, each in their own right.  Also I am going to miss the sumptuous art of Javier Pulido, who really set the mood of the past four issues.
  •  Batman: Arkham Unhinged #1 was one I got out of curiosity and wasn’t too bad. If you are a fan of the video games “Arkham Asylum” and “Arkham City” (which I am), you will love this series as it takes place within that same continuity.  This first issue deals with the time just before “Arkham City” when Two-Face and Catwoman still remain free and the genesis of their feud from the game begins.  That’s really all that you need to know going in.  It is adapted by Derek Fridolfs from a teleplay by Marly Halpern-Graser and reads very straightforwardly.  It’s not anywhere close to being the best Batbook out there, but it’s still pretty entertaining.
  • Saucer Country #2 continues to develop what I feel is going to be a really engrossing series from Vertigo.  Though little is explain or revealed, ties are starting to be woven between characters who are being pushed forward from the narrative into main roles.  Writer Paul Cornell has a true passion for the pseudo-mythology of alien abductions and hashes out a decent yarn that takes all that and integrates it into a real life, present day scenario.  I really don’t know what else I can say about it, as it lies in a hazy state after just two issues.  I am onboard for the time being, though, as Paul Cornell has yet to disappoint me, but for Stormwatch, which I don’t blame on him.  I think it might just be a shitty series based on a shitty concept.  My opinion, of course.
  • And as ever, rounding out the second week’s reading is The Unwritten #36This was a very interesting issue that takes place outside of the main storyline of Tommy Taylor and his friends journeying towards discovery.  After the conclusion last month of the “War of the Words”  the entire fabric of reality has been thrown into flux.  A greater calamity hasn’t occurred since the dawn of creation.  For those who haven’t read or understand this series, you really shouldn’t be reading this review, but I’ll try and present the situation.  The written word and its conceptualization by the masses shapes reality.  When you cut deep into the cogs that have been put in place to control the written word and the concepts that have until now held the perception of the world in stasis, as the series’ characters did last month, great upheaval is going to occur.  In this issue, the Superman-esque 1930’s comic book character, “Tinker”, and the foulmouthed rabbit, Pauly Bruckner, are part of an exodus movement of literary characters, places, and even ideas that are fleeing the “Wave” that is ripping through the fictional world and wiping out the canon of human creation.  It is quite fun to read as it drops a number of iconic literary references to clue the reader into the enormity of  what is happening.  They reference “The Houses of Secrets, Mystery, Silk, Night, Leaves, and Usher. Pemberly Northanger Abbey. Toad Hall and Cold Comfort Farm.”  “Isles of Plenty. Mountains of Doom.  Heights both Wurthering and Non-Wurthering.”  Swords are pulled out of magic bags with names like Narsil, Anduril, Hrunting, Excaliber, Stormbringer, etc . . .  And to cap it all off, the final page portrays what I am almost certain has been the thing this series has been leading toward but never actually spoken of.  I could be wrong, but I think on the last page we finally get to see “The Unwritten” . . .

    The Unwritten . . .

And thus concludes the thirty second week of the Reboot and of my comic reviewing.  I’m gonna throw out, well I won’t say a request, but rather an invitation to anyone reading this blog to comment on my posts whenever you feel like it.  I’m not so much asking you to tell me how awesome the blog itself is, although any feedback on what I am doing right or could do better are welcome.  Making this blog is really a bi-product of my excitement for comics.  If you’ve read something I’ve reviewed and really liked it or really hated it, throw a comment on the post and dork out with me. Part of the fun of reading comics is dorking it out.  So why not dork it out with me?  That goes doubly for anyone that doesn’t know me personally.  So consider the invitation open and I’ll post again next week.

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

Illustration Credits:

Green Lantern #8: Drawn by Doug Mahnke, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Inked by Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, and Doug Mahnke

Batwoman #8: Drawn by Amy Reeder, Colored by Guy Major, Inked by Rob Hunter

Superboy #8: Drawn by Iban Coello & R.B. Silva, Colored by HiFi, Inked by Rob Lean & Iban Coello

The Unwritten #36: Art by Peter Gross & Rufus Dayglo, Colored by Chris Chuckry

Special Topic: Wonder Woman

Being an unrepentant comic book geek and especially a fan of DC, the Trinity are of great importance to me.  My mother purchased a pair of Superman pajamas for me when I was a child and I wore them every night and sometimes under my clothes during the day.  After school in the second through fourth grade I would religiously watch “Batman the Animated Series” on Fox.  Come the Reboot I wasn’t worried about Batman, as he remained almost untouched.  Superman and Wonder Woman, however, worried me greatly.  Worrying about Wonder Woman wasn’t symptomatic of the Reboot, though.  I think that Wonder Woman has always teetered on the edge, simply because she is a strong, independent woman and its hard for writers in the business to write her, or perhaps conversely, to market her.  Its hard for a lot of writers, male and female, to get her just right, and when they do readership of the male audience can be resistant.  I think that the problem of Wonder Woman see-saws on the fulcrum of this conundrum.

There are two extremes that Wonder Woman has fallen into in the past.  On one side, which I think she has fallen more times than not, she comes off as a misandrous, overly aggressive women’s lib stereotype.  This is probably what the mythic Amazons were like, but if you want to go with the concept that the Amazons are a warrior race who seek peace and enlightenment in a Paradise of their making, this Wonder Woman would not fit the bill and reads very flat.  On the polar opposite end, she has also been portrayed as nemish and wonderstruck, like a stranger in a strange land.  This is also realistic to an extent, but veers too far off the mark.  Somewhere in between is the character that fans have latched onto.

Before the Reboot even came on the radar, DC tried reinventing Wonder Woman and tapped comic legend, J. Michael Straczynski to do it.  I respect Straczynski a great deal, but the Wonder Woman in his books was very far off the mark.  Mostly her costume was off, in my humble opinion.  I’m not saying she has to be in the iconic one piece she’s famous for, but the leather pants, red bustier, and leather jacket made her look like a biker chick.  Not what I would associate with the Princess of the noble Amazons.  Also, the post apocalyptic way they dealt with the rape and pillaging of Themyscira, her island home, and the genocide of the Amazons felt very wrong and unappealing.  The Reboot has garnered equal discord with fans and I find myself torn on where I stand.

Admittedly, I was up in arms with the first issue, but most of it was the result of a review I read lionizing Wonder Woman #1 as a feminist opus and demonizing Catwoman #1, a series I greatly enjoyed, as chauvinistic and exploitative.  Feminists who read my statement might agree with the reviewer, but I would disagree with that man’s assertion on these grounds.  While Catwoman #1 was attacked by him and others for starting off showing Selina Kyle in her underwear and flaunting her bra, the entire issue was narrated by her giving us a very intimate view of her character as an independent woman who uses her body and sexuality with the same prowess as her thieving skill and intellect.  We are shown Selina as a thinking, feeling, passionate woman.  In Wonder Woman #1, however, the reader sees Wonder Woman, but doesn’t get to know her at all.  She is just there and almost as soon as we meet her she is thrown head first into a fight with two centaurs in which she dismembers them in a bloody battle that has almost no significance to her personally.  In that light, I would say that seeing a hot woman in a singlet chopping up sentient, albeit mythical creatures is much more objectifying than seeing a woman in her underwear, who we are actually introduced to and who is treated like an actual thinking person.

Since then I have come to like certain aspects of the rebooted series.  Getting to the mythic roots of the character is very important and the inclusion of new and highly stylized takes on the gods and heroes of Greek mythology is paramount to that.  Once this has firmly been laid out and explored, they can get to Cheetah, Silver Swan, Dr. Psycho, Doctor Poison, and all the rest of her panoply.  There are also things I do not like, which I know others share my views on.  I dislike Zeus being Diana’s father.  The origin of her being shaped out of clay bears so much rich allusion and significance to who and what she is.  It smacks of Greek mythology, making her origin very authentic and meaningful.  Although being the illicit love child of Zeus is also quite mythological.   The Amazon’s raping men and killing them once they have stolen their progenitive “materials” is also kind of grating to me.  However, my indignation on this last point may stem more from the emasculating aspect of it than from the moral indignation on the part of the Amazon’s character.  I’m not good at self evaluation, but either way I found that to be hard to swallow.

But though this happened in issue #7, I actually like the rest of the issue and the consequences of that issue’s revelation.  Though I dislike how the Amazons attack innocent men and murder them simply for procreative purposes, as well as their infanticide of male children, the part of the story where Hephaestus trades weapons for the children was something that I liked.  Yes, it seems that he is buying them and forcing them into slavery, but that is incorrect and I agree with writer Brian Azzarello in what he did with this topic, because it balanced Diana in a way that I feel makes her a fuller character.  She has been portrayed as a man-hater in the past and that is not a good representation of her.  In this issue we see that when confronted with her brothers being put into forced bondage, she feels deep compassion for them and tries to free them.  This is fantastic.  However, in her haste she oversteps herself and she is confronted by her brothers who inform her that Hephaestus is like a father to them.  He wanted them, whereas their birth mothers wanted only to get rid of them by any means with murder or enslavement.  Even if his motives were selfish, Hephaestus gave them purpose and a life of artistry, beauty, and innovation.  They are truly happy.  Diana is wrong and she is forced to admit it.  Several times to promote her as a strong, decisive woman, Wonder Woman does brash things, but lacks culpability.  That is also a giant misstep.  I think that in this issue she makes a leap to action, trying to do right by her brothers, but miscalculates and in admitting that she made a mistake proves that she is a very, VERY strong woman who can do the hardest thing ever: take responsibility and make amends for her mistakes.

I don’t think that this series is perfect, but underneath the harsh, sometimes over reaching aspects, Azzarello is doing interesting things.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still incredibly annoyed by Zeus being her father and the loss of the “molded from clay” origin, as well as the callous portrayal of a noble race of warrior women.  Yet, I feel that this is okay as long as Azzarello does something good with it.  As I stated above, he did an interesting thing with the forsaken sons, which I respect.  And with the degradation of the Amazonian morals, I can think of an interesting analogy.  America is the ‘Land of the Free’ and a country of Equality, but for some reason we were one of the last to implement Civil Rights and are currently attacking the reproductive rights of women.  I am often sickened to my core by my fellow Americans and their lack of compassion for one another.  But you want to know what?  I fight every day to rectify that and sway the course of this country by trying to be a positive light of tolerance and signing petitions to stop assaults on Gay rights, inequality, and corruption.  Its not much, being that I am just one working class young man, but I try.  Diana is just one woman who has been exiled from her homeland, but if she can somehow change the Amazon culture and make it what we as reader wish it already was, then perhaps the stories Brian Azzarello is writing will be all the better for that hard fight that Wonder Woman is waging on people she loves, not hates.  Perhaps that isn’t going to happen and perhaps Azzarello has no intention of going there, but what can I say, I have faith in what he has already done to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Week 31 (April 4, 2012)

  • Action Comics #8 finishes off Grant Morrison’s first arc of the rebooted Action series and though I gave it grief in the first couple issues, Morrison pulled it out in the last half.  The new concept of Superman really started out poisonous.  Whether they intended from the beginning to equalize him as they went on, or whether they caved by the overwhelming outrage at the absurdity of the concept remains to be seen.  Lets hope that Geoff Johns takes a cue from Morrison and does something about his Man of Steel (along with the rest of his Justice League team . . .).  However, in both Action Comics and Superman, things are looking up for Supes.  Brainiac is depicted with a very interesting twist in his first issue as fully revealed super-villain, as is Lex Luthor.  In fact, the latter feels like a very different Lex from how Morrison has portrayed him in the past, but I think that he is interesting and tailor made by the Maestro for this new series and new DCU in general.  A good issue, and I look forward to reading more now that Morrison has broken it in and gotten his new world in a place that can accommodate his uncanny writing style.
  • Detective Comics #8 spun off the rails of the previous seven issues, going in a whole nother direction from the past two arcs.  Though this picks up from a backup feature he wrote in the back of Detective Comics #5, it lacks the follow through that the aforementioned two stories had.  The first arc ended and the second began with a whole new plot, but the segue of going from the consequences of the last arc to the new one was very natural and focused in the present.  This issue’s continuance from the backup feature, might be adequate, but I’d still like to have some indication of what happened after the craziness of last arc’s conclusion.  This one does have a lot of great elements through.  The Scarecrow and Batman . . . working together?!  The progeny of Hugo Strange?  This is a good issue, despite my wanting of a sense of continuity.  Tony Daniel’s writing and art are at their paramount.
  • Red Lanterns #8 was really great.  I think that my objection last issue of there being a decentralized plot following too many characters is still present, but perhaps the plot got better in the interim, because I didn’t mind it much this time.  Peter Milligan, the handsomest man in comics, brings all the sagging elements from issue #7 to their full potential.  Guy Gardner’s defending of the Jack Moore’s quarry in the past issue made me angry because it was uncharacteristic.  That is fixed and we see what Guy’s reaction is post conflict, which in my book was satisfactory.  The entrance of the character Abysmus was annoying in the deus-ex-machina way it dealt with the “hunt for Krona” plot point in issue #7.  Now that Milligan has had the time to explain him, I not only accept him, but actually like him.  His being in the series adds a very poignant perspective to the central figure, Atrocitus.  Atrocitus is a guy that you can laud and censure simultaneously.  Bleez is just awesome.  I don’t think I need to elaborate there.  And the impending doom of the Red Lanterns is equally intriguing considering the ironic nature of its enacting by Abysmus.  This series has me hooked, line and sinker.
  • Swamp Thing #8 was LEGENDARY!!!  While reading it I realized a few things.  For the past seven issues we’ve been taken on a phenomenal journey and the series has been a smash hit.  The stories have been top notch and the art nothing short of stunning.  However, one thing has been missing . . . SWAMP THING!!!  For more than half a year there has been no Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing.  And people haven’t cared . . .  They’ve been so entertained they didn’t even notice.  That’s revelation #1. Revelation #2 is that this all is, yet again, a testament to the genius of writer, Scott Snyder, and his artists, Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy.   They have kept us buying a book that has lacked its iconic main character.  NO MORE!!!  Swamp Thing IS BACK!!!  Issue #8 reveals him in much the same way that the arc has.  Though Alec Holland has undergone the transformation by the issue’s beginning, we don’t see him for several pages.  We are instead shown the world through his eyes and given the feelings, emotions, and physical effects that  Alec is experiencing after his latest transformation.  Then we are shown the nightmarish forces he is up against at the height of their strength, and WHAM!, he is thrown against them in a full page depiction of possibly the most awe inspiring incarnation in his entire printed history.  This is the Swamp Thing at the height of his power and importance.  If you aren’t reading this issue or its accompanying arc, you are clearly a masochist.  This new series is not just a good comic, but what is destined to be one of the iconic runs that epitomize turn of the millennium comics.

    Behold the Swamp Thing!

  • Animal Man #8 was pretty good.  Not stellar.  I am intrigued by the new direction that Jeff Lemire is taking the concept of the book, but the presentation is rather flat.  I will again blame a great deal of the lack of excellence on the artwork of Travel Foreman.  It freaks me out and jars my immersion into the story.  I know that the war of the Rot is tied to Swamp Thing, however I can’t muster up the gumption to care.  Scott Snyder and his Swamp Thing are towing this series through, and I think once the war is done I will cut the cables.  Time will tell . . .
  • Batwing #8 capped off the “Massacre” story arc.  In Gotham the ghosts of Africa’s dark history are brought to the forefront.  David unmasks the boogeyman who’s been butchering the venerable heroes of Africa’s “Kingdom”, and in my opinion it was pretty obvious who “Massacre” was.  Throughout, David has flaunted his theory and it makes no sense.  There is no reason why the man he suspects would go to the lengths that “Massacre” has to take vengeance on the men and women who let the genocidal president of the Congo escape capture.  However, when the revelations come they are incredible and brilliant.  From the end of this issue, the sky is the limit and the possibilities for where the series can go are a pleasure to speculate.
  • Green Arrow #8 was . . . Good!  Dare I say that I am falling back in love with the Green Arrow title.  Don’t get me wrong, I still cry in my heart at the death of the last incarnation who was the supreme Oliver Queen.  Thank you Mike Grell and J.T. Krul for all the wonderful memories.  However, considering that this shit storm of an incarnation of Ollie/Green Arrow is here to stay (apparently) I have to adapt.  I still think that the first two arc were horrid, regardless of my new found complacency and the legendary writers and artists attached.  I think, in this case, it took a woman to write a really compelling misogynistic pig.  No joke.  Ann Nocenti struck a cord with me, incorporating in King Lear with environmental issues and nightmarish super-science to create a very interesting mix.  On the former most point, the whole plot was Shakespearean.  The Skylarks competing for their father’s love is one facet of it, eliciting “King Lear”, and Nocenti’s take on the battle between Ollie and Emerson for  Oliver’s father’s corporate empire is very “Hamlet.”  Also, it may just be me, but she is throwing in tons of sex and animal attraction.  I’m not complaining.  She is spicing up the storyline both sensually and cerebrally.  I feel that she has a passion for the material and is giving it every ounce of her talent she can muster.  That said, I have to give her this commendation: “Ms. Nocenti,  I love and am in awe of J.T. Krul, George Perez, and Dan Jurgens.  They are legends and masters of the comic book medium, and they were not able to lift this series off the ground.  You got it in the air and soaring.  Thank you for giving us back Green Arrow . . . “
  • Hawk & Dove #8 sees the series end after a very short run.  I have to say that I didn’t mind this series that much and was intrigued by the new direction it took.  I am disheartened by the anti-climatic follow through of this issue. Though it is the last issue, they treat it like its not.  I mean I know that the characters are still going to exist, but the story they left up in the air isn’t going to be resolved.  In my opinion, the art work of Liefeld was really good, and his writing was passable.  I’ve never been a die hard Hawk & Dove fan, so my moral indignation isn’t aroused by the changes in the concept, but I will warrant that it could have been better.  Its really a shame, as I had really gotten to like Dawn Granger as a character and now with her seeming split with Boston Brand, aka Deadman, there isn’t any mainstream outlet for her to make appearances in.  A real shame.
  • OMAC #8 was stellar!  Unfortunately this, like Hawk & Dove #8 above, was the final issue of the series, but writers Dan Didio and Keith Giffen went out with a series of bangs that validated the series and made the reader scream for more.  Which unfortunately, may be a long time coming.  I will say, for the very last time, that this series, short as it may have been, was a masterpiece.  It followed in the footsteps of an industry giant, Jack Kirby, and what’s more, kept pace, looking, reading, and feeling like a book penned and drawn by the “King of Comics” himself.  Perfection in eight issues.  I might also add that the original OMAC series by Kirby lasted only eight issues.  Perhaps that is the reason that it was cancelled, and I choose to believe this, because that is the only justifiable reason to end it, as a tribute to match but not out-do the master.  The ending was bittersweet as it was both wonderful and tragic in its excellence.  Read this series, folks.  Or seek out the graphic novel, slated for release in August.  A masterpiece if ever the DC Reboot spawned one.

    This the end, my beautiful friend . . . The End.

  • Justice League International #8 continues on a very interesting trend.  There is some seriously dark stuff going on in the JLI and I for one am excited about what it portends.  Writer Dan Jurgens is penning this book to perfection and breaking out some interesting twists and turns.  One of which is the inclusion of our friend, David Zavimbe, better known as Batwing, who is for the time being a member of the JLI.  And speaking of familiar faces popping up, another friend pops up, perhaps as a consolation prize for his sudden departure from another series.  I won’t say who, but you don’t have to look far from this title’s review to find the answer. (Look up one spot . . .)  The world of the JLI has gotten a lot grittier and real from the super sci-fi first arc.  Corruption of the United Nations and anti-imperialist sentiments around the world are the stuff of current newspaper headlines and this series has its fingers on the pulse of these trends, utilizing them for really hard hitting storylines.  I said before this is a “lightweight, funner JLA.”  I was wrong.  At the moment Justice League is shit.  THIS is the only League that you need to read.  Although, Justice League Dark is pretty tight as well.
  • Night Force #2 was like a mix of the movies “National Treasure” and “Rosemary’s Baby.”  A little more the latter than the former.  The plot revolves around demonic forces impregnating humans in ritualistic, occult eugenics experiments.  The story’s exposition is very gradual and dark, expertly done by writer, Marv Wolfman, who created this series back in the 80’s.  Tom Mandrake takes over art in this new miniseries from original artist, Gene Colan, who unfortunately passed this past year.  Mandrake is not unfamiliar with dark and eerie storytelling, being a veteran Batman artist, and his skills accentuate every panel of Wolfman’s script.  Though it is only the second issue and very little has been revealed, what has been told already along with the previous series bodes quite well for the future of this seven issue miniseries.
  • Men of War #8, like OMAC and Hawk & Dove, has its last issue this month as well.  I never really got into this series as much, though I did respect its faithful rendering of the everyday heroes of today’s military.  I got this last issue, however, because it featured a full issue of the GI Robot into the new DCU.  J.A.K.E., as GI Robot is named, is a very interesting and lovable character and his genesis in this story is equally well done by Jeff Lemire, who guest stars as this issue’s writer with Matt Kindt’s assistance.  Also their portrayal of Lady Frankenstein was very hardcore and sexy, as ever.  This was a good way to cap of the series, albeit unorthodox considering what the other seven issues dealt with.  Two thumbs up from me.  If I were Lady Frankenstein, I’d give it three.

    The seductive, Lady Frankenstein

  • Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars #1 inaugurated this new series and I am torn about what I think.  The plot basically is that of Dejah Thoris deciding to embark on an archaeological expedition with a few of her lady friends to pass the time like English women of the Edwardian age did vacationing in Italy.  Cut to their ship malfunctioning and legions of twenty foot tall, four armed white apes attacking.  Being that this is the first issue I am uncertain about it.  I’m not sure whether this is a series that can sustain itself or whether its going be a short run.  Series writer, Mark Rahner, has written good Barsoomian stories as evinced by the Warlord of Mars Annual this past year, so I remain optimistic about its prospects.
  • Kirby Genesis #6 continues to unfold the wonder and awe of the untold tales of one of the comic industry’s most prolific minds.  So many of his best creations were consigned to short runs, because he was on to the next incredible creation.  The truly incredible thing about this series is seeing how these disparate heroes and villains mesh with one another.  Some click right away and work together at the drop of a hat as though they’d been comrades for years, not just seconds, and others are obstinate and uncompromising.  In the villain’s camp it is usually the latter and the game becomes “who’s the biggest badass.”   This issue gives a major hint as to who wears that crown.  There is just so much going on with the different stories happening simultaneously and this issue works hard to move each forward toward the apocalyptic forefront.  Just a damn good series.
  • Fatale #4 maintains the eerie, noir edge that is both novel and enticing.  As the paranormal goings on continue, the main characters gain new depths.  Josephine fully becomes the femme fatale archetype spawned of the gangster era, the dirty cops show a less gritty side, the plucky protagonist shows his baser side.  This is a very cool series and I am really curious how Ed Brubaker is going to cap it all off.  There really doesn’t seem to be any possibility of there being a happy ending, which then begs the question of which sordid outcome are the dice going to land on?

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  #8: Art by Yanick Paquette, Colored by Nathan Fairbairn

OMAC #8: Drawn by Keith Giffen, Colored by HiFi, Inked by Scott Koblish

Men of War #8: Art by Tom Derenick, Colored by Jose Villarrubia

Kirby Genesis #6: Art by Alex Ross & Jack Herbert, Colored by Vinicius Andrade

Review: “Roots of Swamp Thing”

Swamp Thing was a character that I can remember from as early as Kindergarten.  In fact the beginning years of the 90’s marked a resurgence of his popularity with the live action TV show, animated series, and a line of action figures.  My cousins even had a few of these that we used to play with.  Despite this, I was never that into him, but like so many things, after giving him a shot I have come to realize how fantastic the Swamp Thing series is.  Scott Snyder taking over the rebooted series was the catalyst to get me interested, and his excellent writing is what has kept that interest alive, but going back and reading the original series created by writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson is what has me sold on him.  These original 70’s stories are phenomenal.

The graphic novel “Roots of Swamp Thing” collects the first thirteen issues of the series and lays down the metaphorical roots of the character.  Within lies the rebirth of Alec Holland as the Swamp Thing, the introduction of the villainous Conclave that brought about his fiery death if not his leafy resurrection, the wicked Doctor Arcane, his angelic niece Abigail Arcane, Matt Cable, as well as other story material rife for future retelling.

What Len Wein did well was setting the atmosphere of the piece.  When reading these original Swamp Thing issues, the world is portrayed as very tragic and lonesome.  Perhaps this is overly pessimistic, but considering the subject material it is most likely as accurate to the world of the 1970’s as it is to the world of the 2010’s.  Alec Holland is a lumbering monstrosity with a limited capacity to communicate and form discernible words, but a vibrant, healthy mind that is as keen as before his accident.  When he ventures out into the world he is judged by his appearance and not by his deeds.  Most that only meet him once curse and hate him, regardless of the good he does for them.  Those with whom he interacts on a more regular basis tend to take a very long time to put his altruistic actions together to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Similarly, the stories feature a cadre of horror show creatures such as a Frankenstein’s Monster-esque patchwork man, a werewolf, a space alien, and mutated earthworms.  In all of their cases they are also judged superficially and in two cases, Swamp Thing, who is himself misunderstood attacks them without provocation as he himself has been attacked.  Through these issues, Wein gives a very thorough account of humanity’s greatest flaws.  It makes one think.  Perhaps the most resonant issue is the one featuring a Swiss village comprised of clockwork men and women modeled after persons who died violently before their time.  This Utopian village is heavily suggested to have a sinister side, but upon further inspection and reading, it is exactly what it tries to be: a Utopia.  And for this paradise to exist, it has to be free of human beings.  Truly a sad thought.

Bernie Wrightson’s art is the other half of this perfect equation, as his lines and colors are shaded and macabre, bringing out the eerie atmosphere dripping from the dank stories of Wein’s Swamp Thing.  Len Wein sets the tone, but Wrightson is the one who cements it, sharing in equal parts the success of the series.  If Scott Snyder was able to bring the series back to prominence, its largely due to the quality of the source material that fuels his plots and inspired him to write about Swamp Thing in the first place.  As stated above, I was never a Swamp Thing fan, but I am an evangelical convert of the title and say now that people should seek this or any other original collection out and read about Swamp Thing’s genesis.  These issues are some of the classics of beginning of comic’s Bronze Age.

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 #3: Cover and Art by Bernie Wrightson

Swamp Thing #11: Art by Nestor Redondo