Week 43 (June 27, 2012)

The last week of the month is always amazing.  Featured this week are several issues I’ve been anticipating for sometime.  So hopefully they live up to expectations. 
  • Justice League #10 was okay.  That’s all I can say about it.  It hasn’t reached a point where anything exceptional has happened.  Its pretty for sure.  Jim Lee has done a wonderful job rendering its artwork, but as of yet Geoff Johns hasn’t stepped up with a decent story.  The Justice Leaguers are struggling with trust for one another, and a villain shows up to challenge them.  In the Shazam backup feature, Billy Batson does seemingly get some depth, but the main event that impressed me was the introduction of Black Adam.  Regardless of his depiction, Black Adam has always been a noble villain.  I pray that Johns doesn’t find a way to ruin him like he has so many others in this lamentable series.
  • Green Lantern: New Guardians #10 was outstanding, chronicling the last stand of the Blue Lanterns to save their world, Odym.  In this issue they no longer fight alone.  Joining them are Kyle Rayner of the Green Lanterns, Fatality of the Star Sapphires, and Arkillo of the now unnamed Yellow Lantern Corps.  The valor in which the Blue Lanterns fight for their homeworld and their Battery, the very beacon of Hope, is what makes this issue so engrossing.  Will Hope prevail over the unceasing hordes of the insectoid Reach, or will Odym fall to the Blue Beetles like countless worlds have before.  Tony Bedard wants to tell you, so read this issue and the one preceding it.

    The Cavalry Arrives

  • Aquaman #10 was very short, and like its author, Geoff John’s, above attempt in Justice League, rather insubstantial.  It did hint at the character of the Operative and his circumstances, as well as confirm the accusation of the dark tie between Arthur and Black Manta, but other than those two things, taking up the combined length of five pages, nothing else happened.  Unlike Justice League, however, there is a great deal of quality characterization in this title.  This is one of the series he is doing right.  I think if he would just give up the infantile attempt to do a JLA title he could reinvest the time and energy into doing this title better.  I mean he’s a DC executive.  Its not like he needs the money from doing a third series.  I do like this series a great deal.  I think that Johns has set a faraway goal to guide the series’ progress for years to come, just like he set up “Blackest Night” in Green Lantern five years before it even came on the radar.  This is a series to read.
  • Flash #10 was amazing as ever.  Lamentably though, owing I’m sure to the oncoming Flash Annual that writer/artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are doing next month, the art of this book is done by Marcus To.  To does a good job of rendering the panels of content and his art matches the style of Manapul just enough so as not to be jarring.  However, the dynamism of how the panels occupy the page is missing which is slightly disappointing.  The story focuses on the character of Weather Wizard being drawn back to his roots in Central America as the scion of a major drug cartel and the Flash following to save his idealistic girlfriend, Patty Spivot, from that same Cartel.  Storywise, it didn’t miss a beat from the past issues.  It was very much a one shot issue that references and builds upon past material, legitimizing every choice and change Manapul and Buccellato make in this new Flash series.   One of my favorites.
  • Batman Inc. #2 was writer Grant Morrison at his best.  After the Batman Inc: Leviathan Strikes one shot that linked the first series to this second half, we are made aware that the villainous Leviathan is none other than Talia Al-Ghul, and in this second issue of the new series we see Talia’s life from just before conception to the present moment.  Morrison puts his own spin on the character, but also adheres brilliantly to her documented past, even paying homage to the first segment of the first issue in which she is ever depicted, Detective Comics #441 from 1971.   Rooting his story deep in Batman’s past, Morrison is primed to forever define Batman’s future.  Ra’s Al-Ghul is one of the most ominously wise and powerful of Batman’s enemies and Morrison has made his daughter, Talia, an extension of that.  How the conflict between these two megalomaniacs and the resultant conflict with the Batman is something that I personally await with baited breath.

    The Gorgon’s Eye

  • Fury of Firestorm #10 is very much a revelation issue that resolves the aftermath of Firehawk and Jason Rusch combining to become Wrath, as well as further exposition on the character of Pozhar.  The relationship that is growing between Pozhar and Ronnie Raymond is very interesting, as is what Pozhar speculates is happening to Ronnie after his torture which the former rescued him from.   The origins of the rogue firestorms is linked to an enigmatic person named Ashra Khan by an Indian firestorm, Rakshasi.  Overall, this series is building its own new world order in a frightening Cold War-like arms race for nuclear powered superheroes.


  • Superman #10 was not as good.  I suppose it wasn’t bad either, just disappointing.  The character of Anguish is a character of blind rage that just falls flat.  She comes from a tragic past, no one can deny that, but her presentation is bush league.  Unlike the Red Lanterns that follow this archetype and are written provocatively, she is not someone you immediately want to make allowances for.  Also Superman’s attempt to calm her by taking away the one thing she wants is idiotic no matter how you look at it.  I feel like ironically Superman, is the weakest of the Superman titles.  This issue does conclude the two issue arc, so hopefully something good will come up next on the docket.  And if not, Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort are inheriting the title from Dan Jurgens and Jesus Merino in September.  Either way, #10 is skippable. 
  • Teen Titans #10 is a sort of denouement to the Culling storyline.  After Superboy #10, Cassie and Kon-El  meet up with the other Titans on the flips-side of the mysterious island . . . and the rest of the issue deals with their reactions to the nightmarish rollercoaster ride they were all subjected to.  Superboy makes peace with his teenaged contemporaries and the remaining Titans come to terms with each other and the things they all have done up to the present.  Love blossoms between two of the Titans, and future plans are made.  If you like the series thus far, this issue is a nice little vacation that really fleshes out the characters.  Great job on the part of both Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth.

    Young Love

  • Batman: The Dark Knight#10 begins a new chapter in the series. David Finch continues  to provide art while Gregg Hurwitz, who wrote Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, comes on as writer.  The Scarecrow appears to be the new villain, terrorizing and kidnapping children for seemingly no reason.  Also new is a Ukrainian piano prodigy named Natalya who is Bruce’s newest love interest.  Finch keeps the artwork stark and foreboding, while Hurwitz really brings an intelligence and subtlety to the plot.  
  • Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #1 holds its metaphorical head high with its three brother/sister series in this line of prequel books.  J. Michael Straczynski follows in suit with Darwyn Cooke and Brian Azzarello, writing a stark, ominous tale of the origin of one of Watchmen’s greatest characters.  Raised in a household of oppression and domestic abuse, Daniel Dreiberg sets out to become like his idol, the mystery man Nite Owl.  Straczynski writes a series that very much has the overtones of the character himself.  Andy Kubert provides art with ink assists by his dad, the legendary Joe Kubert, and result present a very pulpy, retro feel to the book.  The count is now four for four.  Ozymandias is next week’s installment and here’s hoping that it is half as good as the four we’ve seen so far.
  • Justice League Dark #10 is a little iffy.  Writer Jeff Lemire presents an interesting conflict, revolving around John Constantine being the unwitting villain, leading the world unto its ultimate destruction, should his current path continue unchallenged.  With three new characters in the title and a new status quo, this issue does do some world building, but its too soon to tell whether its going to live up to the incredible first arc of this series or fall flat.  Time will tell.
  • Voodoo #10 also is iffy.  I dunno if this is just how its always been meant to go, but the series isn’t so much working for me right now.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but I am less than excited about what this issue presents.  Priscilla leads the Black Razors in pursuit of Voodoo to one of the moons of Jupiter and an abandoned Daemonite colony.  It sounds more exciting than it actually is. I’ll wait until next issue or so to pass judgement, but its close to being dropped by me.
  • All-Star Western #10 was good as ever and continues to get better and better. Jonah Hex rescues Tallulah Black from her fall at the Wayne Casino, and in doing so finds himself unwittingly placed betweeen the Religion of Crime and the Court of Owls in their battle for the heart of Gotham.  Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti keep the plot fresh and ever evolving, and Moritat’s art is some of the best put out by DC.  This month’s backup feature is a one shot starring Bat Lash, with art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.  I was vaguely aware of the character before this, but Wow, he is an asshole . . . It was fun to read though.

    Black Hex

  • Space Man #7 is just pure confusion. I think I will review this after issue #9.
  • The New Deadwardians #4 takes a step back and primarily offers characterization.  We see get some background on the maid Louisa, Sapphire from the brothel last issue, and a look into the why and how of George’s taking the cure during the Memorial War.  There is something really genuine about this title that makes it much better than most zombie fiction out there.  Although, I should voice that I have a bias against the brain sucking undead.  I like this series a great deal and it bums me out that it is only an 8 issue miniseries.
  • Kirby Genesis: Silver Star #6 was a literal acid trip!  Well, not literally, but I feel like drugs may have helped in the understanding of it, because it was pretty convoluted, involving time paradoxes up the wazoo and mindbending concepts that I am still debating the validity of.  Either way, Silver Star attempts to find a cure for his lover, Norma’s, terrible affliction.  In the process mysterious villains hire a professional to break into his base in Oblivion, Montana to alter the orrey of worlds he has made, prompting the messed up paradoxes mentioned above.  I can’t wait until next issue, because while I think I liked this issue, I’m not sure I understood it.  Oh yeah, did I mention that the main fight in this issue is with himself?
  • American Vampire #28 starts a brand new four part arc called “The Black List.”  Taking place during the infamous McCarthy Hearings of that period.  With Pearl’s husband, Henry, barely clinging to life she is forced back into the game to hunt down the vampiric covens of California to end the attempts on both their lives.  To make this happen both Calvin Poole and Skinner Sweet are backing her play, meaning that all three American vampires are united in one cause for the first time.  Scott Snyder is a genius and I am on board for the entire duration of this series.

    Its Sweet to be Back

And that is the end of June’s books.  

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: The New Guardians #10: Art by Tomas Giorello, Colored by Nathan Eyring & Hi-Fi

Batman Incorporated #2: Art by Chris Burnham, Colored by Nathan Fairbairn

Fury of Firestorm #10: Drawn by Yidray Cinar, Colored by Hi-Fi, Inked by Ethan Van Sciver

Teen Titans #10: Drawn by Brett Booth, Colored by Andrew Dalhouse & Blond, Inked by Norm Rapmund

All-Star Western #10: Art by Moritat, Colored by Gabriel Bautista

American Vampire #28: Art by Rafael Albuquerque, Colored by Dave McCaig


Week 35 (May 2, 2012)

May promises to be an AWESOME month for comics if you’re a DC fan, and I am a HUGE DC fan, as those of you who’ve read my previous posts already know.  So here . . . we . . . GO!!!  “Night of the Owls” begins this week in the whole line of Batbooks, as well as the “Culling” event in Teen Titans Annual #1, and four of the six Second Wave books in DC’s second line of titles also hit.  So take a deep breath, and tuck in, because this promises to be fun:

  • Action Comics #9 is one that I have been anticipating since it was announced three months ago.  President Superman. We saw him at the beginning of the final issue of Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis in the fall of 2008 before that year’s historic election, and his prescient appearance heralded the future: an African American president that stood for truth, justice, and the American way.  Well, whether or not you want to agree with it or see the parallels, President Superman in the comics stands for everything that our Superman does, but does so from the Oval Office, balancing the weight of the world on his shoulders in two very different capacities.  The struggle to balance the role of the very public office of Unites States President and the EXTREMELY public role as Superman is explored by both Morrison and backup writer Sholly Fisch in great detail.   I was very excited to read this, and it was certainly a good story.  I think it was timed for the release this week, because it, like Worlds Finest and Earth 2, is an introduction to the Multiverse and the twists that multiversal travel can connote.  Case in point, President Superman’s opponent is another Superman from a different Earth.  That doesn’t spoil anything, because you will not have seen a Superman like the one the President battles in this book.  As ever, this issue features the reality warping excellence and intelligence of Grant Morrison’s A-material.
  • Detective Comics #9 greatly intrigued me.  I was uncertain as to whether or not this would in fact tie in to the “Night of the Owls”, because for months the solicitations had advertised the plot as something else, but this was a tie in.  In Arkham, the venerable Doctor Jeremiah Arkham is going through his rounds and focuses his attention on Roman Sionis, the old crimeboss of Gotham who went by the name Black Mask.  If you know anything about Black Mask, you know the truly twisted crimes attached to his name.  After driving Catwoman’s sister insane by murdering her husband before her eyes and then forcing her to eat his extracted eyeballs, Catwoman did what anyone would do and killed him.  Well in this pseudo-rebooted Batverse, he is alive and in Arkham.  However, before the reboot the amazing writer/artist of this title, Tony Daniel, wrote a seminal run in Batman that featured a new Black Mask who brought Gotham to its knees and plunged the city into near collapse.  Beneath the Mask?  None other than Dr. Jeremiah Arkham.  This title tweaked the Black Mask history, reconciling Sionis’ being alive and the events of Dr. Arkham as Black Mask during Daniel’s story.  He didn’t mention how Arkham escaped being caught, as he was upon the finale of that Batman arc.  Maybe in the future . . .  Anyhow, as the public face of the Asylum and for the sin of “consorting with criminals” a Talon is dispatched to kill him.  This issue didn’t dwell a great deal on the Owls, but I for one don’t care.  Daniel is writing awesome Batman stories that harken to canon, but conversely innovate the concepts herein.  An awesome issue.
  • Batwing #9 is the second book of the “Night of the Owls” to hit and does so after wrapping up a stunning first arc.  In this,David Zavimbe, Africa’s Batwing, is invited to a benefit for the Batman Incorporated ambassadors, and while attending a Talon from the 1850’s is dispatched to kill Lucius Fox.  Being already in attendance, this is the Talon that Batwing intercepts.  The story focuses on this interaction, but in the mean time also characterizes our character further, really giving us an indication what his personality is outside of the Batwing persona.  His distaste for the ostentation of the Batman Inc gala really grounds him in his horrific upbringing as a boy soldier in the Congo.  Also interesting, is the opening of the issue, which takes place in 1850’s Gotham, showing the Court of Owls choosing to retire the talon we see in the latter portion of the book, because he has become too blunt of an instrument and lost the subtlety that befits an agent of the Court.  They do cryptically say that he will be preserved for a day in which he talents might become necessary again.  Well this issue IS THAT TIME!!!  Behold it in its glory.
  • Green Arrow #9 was fantastic.  That’s three for three for writer Ann Nocenti.  I went from absolutely abhorring the first six issues, to looking forward to this book.  This may negate my above statement from the Stormwatch review that some concepts are immune to quality due to a poisonous premise.  This book I feel was relegated to the trash bin with its absurd take on what was a sensational series and character pre-reboot.  All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put this piece of shit book together again.  George Perez, Dan Jurgens, and the awesome JT Krul who made the pre-reboot series soar.  But the feminine touch of Ann Nocenti seems to have awoken the sleeping prince to his full potential.  Sorry about all the fairy tale jargon, but it seemed relevant since this story arc centered around a crazy nouveau-Shakespearean King Lear story.  This concluding issue to that arc truly lives up to the genre, delving into a very tragic and poignantly romantic schism between a our protagonist and one of the daughters of the mad “King” whose filial duties conflict with her hearts desire for love and individualism.  I loved it, and if I can love an issue of this new Green Arrow series that means that it is GOOD!!!

    The Twisted Games of Sisters

  • Red Lanterns #9 continues in the apocalyptic vein of its predecessors hashing out the downfall of the Red Lantern Corps after the poisoning of their central power battery by Abyssmus.  There is a lot of things happening in this issue and I am excited by it all.  Jack Moore, aka Rankorr, continues to exhibit abilities unique to him from all the other Red Lanterns, as well as his acceptance of what has happened to him and what his fate has become.  The battle between Bleez and Atrocitus for command of the Corps “rages” on and the culprits behind Abyssmus’ resurrection and poisoning hinted at.  Peter Milligan keeps the series cranked up to 11.  Ed Benes, unfortunately, has left the book, but this issue features the work of guest artist Tomas Giorello.
  • Stormwatch #9, though written by Peter Milligan as well, was whelming.  I love the former writer, Paul Cornell, and he also couldn’t get me to like it.  I think this book might be a black hole of what is good.  The concept is just off, so no matter how many good writers and artists you throw into it, it just keeps sucking . . . (If you like the book, then I have no doubt you’ll like it.  Peter Milligan is WRITING IT!!!)  I like how he crossed it over in his first issue as writer with his Red Lantern series.  Skallox makes a  cameo and beats the crap out of Midnighter for a bit.  This made me happy.  Unfortunately it didn’t last and I am afraid for the fate of our bovine friend.  I still am uncertain.  Milligan has three more issues to wow me before I drop it yet again.
  • Animal Man #9 was one of the best yet.  It might be the departure of artist Travel Foreman and the slightly more palatable work of Steve Pugh.  What I liked most about this issue was the opening reference by our hero about a dream he had once.  The dream he referred to where he met his creator, “this skinny, intense, Scottish guy who claimed [Animal Man] was just a character he wrote about in a comic book” wasn’t a dream.  It was an issue of the 80’s series where series writer Grant Morrison wrote about Animal Man meeting him.  That ultra meta reference not only was a fun allusion, but also ties this series into the continuity of the original Vertigo tun.  There is also a major divergence in the storyline between the body of Buddy Baker that now serves the Rot and his spirit which continues to serve the Red.  The time of the Red and Green uniting against the Black is swiftly approaching.

    The Shepherd

  • Swamp Thing #9 was INSANE!!!  Such a good story.  This is the issue where the Swamp Thing and the Sethe of the Rot come to the pinnacle of their struggle with one another.  There really isn’t too much I can say about it.  The story is wonderfully complex and beautifully rendered by both Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy.  Though I’m not going to ruin the plot, I will say that the last page links the series directly into the plot of the original Len Wein/Bernie Wrightson series.  Having read the original run I can say with gusto that I look forward to what Scott Snyder has in store for Swamp Thing in future issues.

    The New Abigail Arcane

  • Justice League International #9 was phenomenal.  I said in an earlier review that this series is the true successor to the old Justice League title, pre-Reboot. Whereas the current Justice League is insular and atrocious, this series is incredibly stark, innovative, and relevant to the times we live in.  More to the point, however, it is tied more integrally to the larger DCU, featuring a crossover this month with the Firestorm title this month, as well as picking up characters and story threads, like Batwing joining the team while he’s in the States, which the concluding issue of his title’s introductory arc brought him to, and also snatching up OMAC fresh from the last panel of his series, cancelled just last month.  This is the mission statement of any keystone series like Justice League: to connect with and relate to the larger universe and how its parts coalesce with each other.  Apart from an awkward tie in to “Night of the Owls” in their eighth issue as well as a cryptic two panels of the Martian Manhunter, Justice League has failed miserably in this regard.  It doesn’t represent the DCU as a whole, nor does it adequately depict what is great about its members.  This is yet another thing that JLI does in spades.  It characterizes its members exquisitely.  All the characters herein are extremely foibled, yet redeemable in their own unique ways.  Booster Gold, whose very premise is that he is a dick, is actually compelling in this series.  Ditto Guy Gardner.  This issue did a great job of bringing depth and clarity to the characters August General in Iron and Godiva.  Up until now Godiva has appeared quite vapid and insubstantial, but she narrates a large portion of the events here and we get to know her quite well by issue’s end.  Across the board, this title is where its at in ensemble titles.
  • Kicking off DC’s “Second Wave” of title this month is Earth 2 #1  which was AMAZING!!!  I don’t do this ever, but I reread it before taking it upon myself to write this review, because I wanted to make sure that I got it just right and did justice to the genius crystallized into this first issue of what will surely be one of DC best ongoing series.  To put it bluntly, this is what Justice League SHOULD BE!!!  In fact, the book seems like a backhand to the other series from writer, James Robinson (one of my personal idols), saying “THIS is how its DONE!”  The issue starts with the invasion of Earth by Apokaliptian forces and Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman fighting a terrifying battle to end the conflict.  Just like Justice League it deals with the forces of Apokalips and Earth 2’s greatest heroes stepping up to the plate, but unlike JL, our heroes were portrayed as strong, noble, and selfless.  Its heartrending how resonant the plot was.  James Robinson is a true master of the comics medium, and he has a lot of help from the phenomenal pencils of artist Nicola Scott.  I would say that both deserve equal credit for the success of this book.  Robinson’s script is stellar, but without the stark and haunting beauty of Scott’s art, it would still loose a great deal of its magic.  I’ve been trash talking Justice League a lot, and I don’t think I am being unreasonable.  In the past I haven’t be a huge Justice Society fan, either, so the fact that I have come to dislike with such vehemence the Justice League title, and am raving about the Justice Society book truly shows that a) there is something wrong with this the former title, and b) that Earth 2 must be insanely good.  I don’t know what else to say.  I love this title sooo much and strongly urge anyone reading this to run out and get it if you haven’t already.   Featuring a twenty-something Jay Garrick, a young and suave Alan Scott, a young and surly Al Pratt, (and I think that’s it) Earth 2 promises to be like no other Justice Society book we’ve ever seen.

    Earth 2’s Trinity

  • Second in the “Second Wave” titles  is Worlds’ Finest #1, dovetailing off of Earth 2  and telling the story of that world’s exiled Supergirl and Robin, aka Power Girl and Huntress.  This title is a fitting companion to its sister series above, as it also features consummate professionals in both the writing and art, as well as showcasing two incredible young women whose strength and determination is a treat to read about.  It is written by the incomparable Paul Levitz with dual artists George Perez and Kevin Maguire.  To those who don’t know, Paul Levitz actually created the character of Huntress, aka Helena Wayne, in the 70’s, so his writing this series featuring her as  dual headliner is extremely appropriate, even if one chose to overlook what an incredible writer he is. The teaming of Perez and Maguire is utilized in the book to segregate the past drawn by Maguire, from the present done by Perez.  George Perez is one of my top ten favorite artists.  His work is ridiculously good and coupled with Levitz’s writing, a powerhouse of creative excellence.  Kevin Maguire is no slouch either, and his art is similar to but also different enough from Perez to subtly delineate the past from the present in the readers mind.  The other thing that struck me while reading this book is how Levitz took the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Helena Bertinelli version of Huntress and intricately wove it into the story, while still sticking with the Helena Wayne identity.  Earth 2 and Worlds’ Finest are not to be missed.  Period.
  • G.I. Combat #1 continues the Second Wave of DC titles.  It was an interesting book as it, like Batman Beyond Unlimited is a pseudo-anthology book comprised of two stories under one banner.  The first being The War That Time Forgot, written by the great JT Krul and featuring art by Ariel Olivetti, and the second being The Unknown Soldier by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti (of All-Star Western fame) and art by Dan Panosian.   The War That Time Forgot was quite visually driven with little dialogue after the first several pages and focusing more on the shock value of the title’s premise: US Special Forces crashing in a blackout zone inhabited by Dinosaurs.  Blackhawk helicopters vs pterodactyls, T-Rexes and triceratops vs tanks.  Krul’s got my interest piques.  UnknownSoldier showcases a deformed soldier in bandages appearing as if from nowhere and tearing up the battlefields of Afghanistan.  In this iteration, unlike in the past, the identity of the Unknown Soldier is disclosed up front, as well as the events that created him.  I enjoyed this character in the past, and he is in good hands with Gray and Palmiotti.
  • Dial H #1 was quite trippy.  I have a limited exposure to the original materials in reprints, and how it appeared in the past was children getting ahold of the Dial and becoming different heroes, a la Captain Marvel.  This version has a twenty-something chain smoking slacker gaining use of the Dial and becoming two different heroes through the first issue.  The story itself was very reminiscent of Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrols from the 90’s.  In this respect I think that writer China Mieville did a phenomenal job segueing from novel writing to comic writing.  Boy Chimney and Captain Lachrymose are perhaps two of the most interesting characters generated by the New 52,  but if this is like any of this title’s predecessors we probably won’t see them again anytime soon.  I enjoyed this series though, quite a bit.

    Boy. He Said It

  • Teen Titans Annual #1 ushers in the first of the annual issues from DC’s New 52.  A historic comic book issue, and truly a powerhouse in storytelling.  Though it costs a whopping $4.99, it validates every penny with an in depth depiction of Harvest’s “Colony” and the nightmarish ordeal that is his “Culling.”  Brett Booth returns to the title, providing all 30-odd pages of content.  This is called the “Teen Titans Annual #1”, but really it should be The Culling Special one shot, as it does feature the Teen Titans, but also Superboy, and the Legion Lost cast of marooned Legionnaires.   All three camps are united in this book against this common enemy whose evil machinations are shown to be at the root of each of their titles’ geneses.  Truly, truly, truly, this is an event for the young of the DCU.  It features a veritable who’s-who of characters.  Artemis, whom many of us have come to know and love from her recent resurrection in the Cartoon Network TV show “Young Justice”, makes the scene, alongside others such as Beast Boy, Lilith, Terra, and a few others beside the teens in the three aforementioned titles that we’ve been cheering on for nine months now.  Writers Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco have the concept whipped to a frenzy with first blood spilled and the Culling officially begun.  I am heartened that each week will feature a chapter all the way up to the event’s finale and epilogue all the way through May.
  • Smallville Season 11 #1 was something I had to indulge.  I began watching the show in its third season on air in reruns on ABC Family Channel and then new on WB when that channel finally became available to me.  There was something really classic and wonderful about it that made the concept of Superman new and relatable to a teenager.  As the show went on, I will admit that it began to get really campy and farfetched, but I think that was because a TV show’s budget couldn’t depict the things that the stories attempted to depict and convey.  I did enjoy the final season and this series’ first issue does a wonderful job of returning Superman’s character to the comic medium, erasing a large portion of the campiness, but at the same retaining the spirit and character the show created.  After reading this issue I am enthused by what it promises.  The show’s former writer and comic book scribe of Batgirl fame, Brian Q. Miller, is at the helm of this new venture, ensuring the integrity of its decade long mythos is maintained and depicted faithfully.  To aid Miller in art is his penciller from his Batgirl days, Pere Perez. All in all, this was quite a satisfying bit of nostalgia.

    . . . But Who?

  • Silver Star #5 sewed up the loose ends of the opening arc and leads us into consequences facilitating the second arc to come.  Morgan Miller, aka Silver Star, is back from his multiversal exodus via “reverse entropy bomb.”  (You’ve gotta read it to believe it.)  Now, with his former North Korean antagonists in tow, he is off to find the real culprits responsible for his girlfriend, Norma’s, abduction.  The ensuing conflict resurrects old rivalries and concepts from the original Jack Kirby series and makes for Grade-A storytelling.  The rest you will just have to read for yourself if you have a mind for it.  Though the voice seems different from the master himself, the book itself feels like a Kirby book.  I heartily endorse it to any Kirby fan.
  • Spider #1 was an interesting book from Dynamite Entertainment in their pulpy, film noir line of books. I’m not certain what I think of him at present.  Jury is still out.  He is clearly in the same vein as the Batman and the Shadow in that he is a “weird creature of the night” archetype.  This book, unlike The Shadow, which Dynamite also reintroduced, takes place in the present.  Again, there are interesting elements to the story, but my unfamiliarity with the premise of the character is taking me aback.  Though he comes from the 30’s, which I would have taken as a more puritanical age, the Spider kills most of the criminals he encounters.  Its a little brusque and I am, again, uncertain what I think about it.  I’ll keep you all informed.  Other than that: grisly murders, dual identities, trust fund superhero, broken love life.  That’s the cliffsnotes.

And thus ends the beginning of what promises to be a killer month of comic books.  Dare I say this may be the best week yet?  I think I might.  So many top notch books came out, and thus far DC has “culled” its own flock, getting rid of some not so good titles and replacing them with quality series.  I hope to see you all again next week with more reviews on the best books of the day.  Thanks for reading and once again if you want to dork it out with me about them or give me feedback on what I am or am not doing well, I would welcome all three gladly.

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

Illustration Credits:

Green Arrow #9:  Art by Harvey Tolibao, Colored by Mike Atiyeah

Animal Man #9:  Art by Steve Pugh, Colored by Lovern Kindzierski

Swamp Thing  #9: Art by Marco Rudy, Colored by Val Staples

Earth 2 #1: Drawn by Nicola Scott, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Inked by Trevor Scott

Dial H #1: Art by Mateus Santolouco, Colored by Tanya & Richard Horie

Smallville Season 11 #1: Art by Pere Perez, Colored by Randy Major & Chris Beckett

Week 29 (March 21, 2012)

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


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

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

    The Untitled Birth

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

    A World Without Silver Star

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

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

Illustration Credits:

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

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

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

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

Review: “Silver Star”

Silver Star marked a significant hallmark in the career of Jack Kirby.  Jack Kirby, called “The King of Comics” was also a King-maker, building up Marvel Comics, and later DC Comics, with iconic characters synonymous with their respective imprints, including: Captain America, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Darkseid, the New Gods, the Fourth World, Etrigan the Demon, OMAC, and so on . . .  Most were for Marvel as his career with them was long and prolific.  It became acrimonious toward the end of his tenure with them due to what he felt was exploitation by the company of his creations and his rights to them.  In the mid 80’s he had distanced himself from mainstream comics doing freelance work here and there to pay the bills.  When the indie company Pacific Comics, originally a comic shop turned direct-sales distributor, offered him a hands off venue to publish from, he became one of the first comic creators to own his own creations.  From his time at Pacific he put out two stellar series: Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers and Silver Star.

A (Silver) Star is Born

Owing to the laissez-faire environment and freedom given him, Silver Star was pure, unadulterated Kirby.  Kirby is a maestro of the superhuman story, and in this title he chose to deal with the Atomic Age, as he and collaborator Stan Lee did earlier in series like Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk.  However, in this case he chose not to deal with people who were transformed BY the Atomic Age, but rather FOR the Atomic Age.  Hulk and the Fantastic Four were accidents of science where exposure to radiation gave them superpowers.  The main character, Morgan Miller, as well as his unknown compatriots, were transformed genetically at birth to withstand radiation and nuclear fallout.  Its a very novel approach, and storywise it is a spectacular Cold War era story of impending doom not by super humans, but regular garden variety human beings playing God with the fundamental forces of nature.  A new breed of man, Homo Geneticus as they come to be called, are needed if mankind is to survive the inevitable.

Morgan Miller is the son of Dr. Bradford Miller, the doctor who performed his invitro alterations on several children across the lines of both race and class, giving the new breed a diverse population.  He also performed his work on Morgan, and the changes manifest in the height of the Vietnam Conflict.  After this, Morgan is accoutered by the US Military in silver armor and modeled into a symbol of American ingenuity and superiority.

The Deadly and Dangerous Darius Drumm

As one can imagine, with all those evolutionary leaps popping up around the country as a result of Dr. Millers work, a few rotten eggs will emerge from the clutch.  And so arises the deadly and dangerous Darius Drumm.  Drumm has found his way, along with Silver Star, into the new series Kirby Genesis, and truly it is astounding to get to know the man behind the myth.  This original version done by Kirby is incredibly sinister and one of his best creations.  Just my opinion, mind you.  What also makes him interesting is that while he was created physically by what might be viewed as a perversion of science, he is created mentally and emotionally by a perversion of faith and politics, which Kirby foresaw to be an evolving calamity. Thirty years later we are seeing this first hand, as his fiction is becoming all too real.  Perhaps that is why I am so intrigued by him as a villain, hoping that science and reason can smite down unchecked zealotry by the overly ambitious politician who panders to mass hysteria.   Perchance to dream, right?

The Female of the Species is More Deadly Than the Male

Morgan isn’t alone, either.  Many of the other Homo Geneticus who have matured and manifested their genetic legacy have used their powers for good.  One combats urban crime in the slums where no one seems to bat an eyelash at the violence and corruption breeding in the shadows, another uses his powers to entertain the masses in carnivals and bring happiness and joy to the world, and another is a stunt person in films.  Each is an interesting snapshot of the human spirit, magnified by the advent of special abilities.  One of these, Norma Richardson, also is a recurring character in the new Kirby Genesis: Silver Star series.

The series is only six issues, sadly, but those six issues burn bright and work towards the betterment of mankind and the forestalling of the nuclear holocaust that these beings were made to survive, not prevent.  Yet most do work to prevent it, showing that despite evolving past mankind, empathy and compassion aren’t lost in the process.  They haven’t lost touch with the species they were bred from, or stopped caring about the safety and welfare of the seemingly outmoded mankind.  Thankfully, these six stunning issues are now collected in one volume, allowing new audiences to read them and fully enjoy one of Jack Kirby’s most innovative works.

Will This Be Man's Last Sunrise . . . ?

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

Illustration Credits:

Silver Star #1: Drawn by Jack Kirby, Colored by Janice Cohen, Inked by Mike Royer

Silver Star #4: Drawn by Jack Kirby, Colored by Janice Cohen, Inked by Mike Royer

Silver Star #5: Drawn by Jack Kirby, Colored by Tom Luth, Inked by D. Bruce Berry

Silver Star #6: Drawn by Jack Kirby, Colored by Tom Luth, Inked by D. Bruce Berry

Week 10 (Nov. 9, 2011)

November enters its second week and brings around another round of can’t miss titles:

  • Green Lantern #3 was yet again an awesome read. Its almost prosaic to even say that, because its been quality since 2005.  The complexities of Sinestro are multiplying as the “Sinestro: Green Lantern” story arc proceeds and this issue, especially as Sinestro makes land on his homeworld, Korugar, laid to waste by his former collegues in the Yellow Lantern Corps.  His relationship with Hal Jordan is also interesting as they are both on the same side again, but at the same time have the baggage of the past however many years.  The ending of this issue is one that will drop jaws and have people talking for months.  Just really great storytelling.
  • Batman & Robin is another perennial hit that delivers consistently.  This one features Damian almost exclusively, showing his perspective in the wake of the appearance of Bruce’s enigmatic acquaintance, Morgan Ducard, in Gotham.  Though he still appears to be the same spoiled, sociopathic brat that he has always been his innate decency and humanity is shone quite vividly in one particular scene where he is given carte blanche to do as he pleases.  The mystery behind the masked vigilante, NoBody, as well as the choppy waters of Bruce and Damian’s relationship as father and son and mentor and sidekick are rife with possibilities which writer, Peter Tomasi, is reaping in abundance. If you like Batman, this is a book to pick up.
  • On the subject of awesome Bat-books, Batwoman #3 is heating up in an issue that fully explores Kate Kane as a crimefigher, possible mentor, daughter, lover, and woman.  All areas of her life are tested as J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman put her through HELL with a covert operative of the D.E.O, Cameron Chase, out for her blood, the enigmatic “Weeping Woman” loose in Gotham drowning children, the fallout with her father over the cover up of her sister’s “death” still fresh, her torrid romance with GCPD Major Crimes Unit Captain, Maggie Sawyer seemingly floundering, and her cousin not measuring up as a potential sidekick.  Kate is multifaceted and driven in a way that is so wonderfully akin to Bruce Wayne, yet so very different.  This book is beautifully crafted in both art and writing.  I have said it ten thousand times, but when an artist with a decent understanding of plot does a comic the art and story together are a symphony that is rarely realized when art and story are done by two people.  J.H. Williams is a genius and this book to date might be his opus.
  • Superboy #3 has taken on the tone of a pinocchio story, as the boy who would be known as Conner leaves the controlled environment he was created in for the larger world and sees humans for the first time.  As he sees real people doing everyday things, Lobdell and R.B. Silva do a really good job of portraying his curiosity and longing to be like them and experience things that we all take for granted.  He was made to be a weapon and yes sometimes he does violent things, but at the heart of his being his innocent, and that is the redeeming aspect of his character.  This issue was really poignant in the portrayal of this part of him.
  • Demon Knights #3 continues with the siege of the small village on the cusp of Alba Sarum, and really gets to the meat of the characters.  The Demon Etrigan’s ambivalent nature is displayed quite well by his uncontrollable brutality, and the other five characters who were met by Etrigan and Madame Xanadu begin to assert themselves toward the goal of holding back the horde and working together.  In patches their interactions can be sketchy, but the beginnings of friendships are starting to blossom.

    Diogenes Neves's opening shot in "Demon Knights #3"

  • Batgirl #3 is working toward something great and Gail Simone is really doing a good job writing the character of Barbara Gordon in such a way to reach the place she deserves.  The issue begins where the last left off with her fighting the villain, Mirror, but ends with her interacting with Nightwing and through this exchange her pyschological condition is revealed.  It not only clues the less versed of Batgirl readers into her past, but also uses that retrospective to show how she has changed and what damage has been done to her psyche.  Winning against villains might not be the hardest battle she will face in the new series . . .

    Cafu's Grifter lays down the law in "Grifter #3"

  • Grifter #3 featured a really intense family story of brothers at odds, duty vs honor, and the mystery of the alien invasion of the Daemonites.  Nathan Edmondson and Cafu do a great job plotting this series and really there isn’t much to say that wouldn’t spoil the plot.  This title is worming its way into my heart.  Surprisingly well done.
  • Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #3 was good this week and is holding its place on my pull list.  Lemire does a good job of taking the characters of Frank and the Creature Commandos and doing something new with them while holding onto the feel of their past.  That concept of the Monster Planet is intriguing and Lemire working the Atom into the frontline as a scientific consultant is a very interesting twist.  I’m intrigued.
  • Huntress is in its second issue and Paul Levitz writes an interesting narrative that takes Helena to Naples and deals in white slavery in the wake of the Arab Spring.  I’m really enjoying the story, and the artwork by Marcus To is very beautiful, on the level of Guillem March who does the cover.  Visually its a delight, and Levitz himself created her in 70’s so you know that the writing is on the level.
  • Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, also on its second issue, is really a complex character study of the Penguin.  Oswald Cobblepot is very much a monster, but the portrayal of his vicious actions is interlaced with glances at his past growing up a “freak” who is despised and ridiculed by his father, brothers, and society at large, while his mother is the only person to genuinely care for him.  In light of this we see how his sociopathic nature was developed and are shown hints at what his drives are and to what end his deeds are undertaken.  The artwork by Szymon Kudranski is very dark as well which adds great flavor to the whole.
  • Resurrection Man #3 was a condemned book in my opinion given a reprieve because this is a five Wednesday week and I could afford to get it.  It was decent, but on the whole not spectacular.  The premise is interesting and the ‘Body Doubles’ provided eye candy, but I can’t find myself caring about anything involved within.  I want to know what the deal is in the end, but its not written in a way that makes me care enough to stick around.  Fernando Dagnino’s artwork is great, truly well done, but Abnett and Lanning dropped the ball in my opinion on the story.
  • Kirby Genesis is a Dynamite Entertainment series by Kurt Busiek with art by Alex Ross and Jack Herbert.  The premise is that they took all manner of Jack Kirby characters that the “King” never got the chance to use or were published but were lesser known and put them all in one giant galactic cluster fuck of a storyline.  I say “cluster fuck” but please don’t think that I in any way am showing distaste or disappointment with the series thus far.  This week (or rather a couple weeks ago as I had to find a copy) was its fourth numerical issue, fifth if you count the #0, and there is way too much to even begin to describe the plot.  Needless to say, this series like, DC’s OMAC, IS a Jack Kirby comic.  Whereas OMAC is his mainstream work for DC, this series taps into his more abstract, esoteric work that was outside of his work at Marvel on Thor, Fantastic Four, Captain America, etc and at DC with OMAC, Demon, The New Gods, and Fourth World, etc.  This is RAW Kirby, and I like it A LOT!!! The disparate characters thrown together also adds a credence to it.  Whereas most of the worlds his characters occupy are tailored around the very unique creations, in this you have extremely different characters with different styles and vastly complex origins put into jarring contact with one another, but the fact that they don’t jibe perfectly make you believe that they come from different times and places throughout the universe.  I look forward to this series every month.

    Alex Ross's "Kirby Genesis" mural highlighting the key players.

  • Apropos the above entry, this week one of the lesser characters who has existed in only six issues put out in the 80’s by an independent comic book company got its own book again. Kirby Genesis: Silver Star tells the tale of a Vietnam soldier who is granted super powers and becomes a near god, not unlike the Alan Moore character Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen. I know little about his actual origins as I have been desperately trying to track down a collection of those six issues. The story put forth follows the existence of Silver Star through seven presidencies up to this day and what his role has been. There wasn’t much story, but it was a number one issue and was trying to make relevant a lesser known character, so I will definitely give it time to develop.  The art and characterization of the supporting characters was very good and it had a nice lead up to the ending.
  • Finally, the after dinner mint, The Unwritten #31 enters into a new stage of bimonthly release that may be heralding the end.  For five months they will be releasing two issues a month of Tommy Taylor battling the Cabal that has controlled humanity through their monopoly of the written word.  It doesn’t seem like at the end of this ten issue arc there will be much else to do, added to the fact that the .5 issues that they release are purportedly background stories of fan favorite characters.  This seems like a wrap up.  Anyway, to cut to the chase, Tommy takes the kid gloves off and gets his hands dirty in this one.  There is no hiding anymore. The hunted is now the hunter and Mike Carey and Peter Gross are turning the intensity up full blast, making it even more apparent that we are living in end times in the world of The Unwritten. I will be there for every last page and waiting for more.
So endeth the tenth week of the reboot.

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

Illustration Credits:

Demon Knights #3: Drawn by Diogenes Neves, Colored by Marcelo Maiolo, Inked by Oclair Albert

Grifter #3: Drawned by Cufu, Colored by Andrew Dalhouse, Inked by Jason Gorder

Kirby Genesis: Art by Alex Ross