- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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