Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Trials of Shazam! #1

The Trials of Shazam! #1
This wasn't a particularly good book. Not awful, just not particularly good.
Basically, now that magic has been restructured, Billy is living in the rock of eternity, he has magical powers when not the Captain, he can call down physical lightning as well, and he basically has a magic pool wherein he scryes what should be his next task.
And apparently, although long-time magic-users are now lost in the new universe's magic, Cap knows all.
This has been a contention of many writers since Day of Vengeance - that magic is different. But every writer seems to be doing something different with it, and besides that, magic was never very clearly defined before Day of Vengeance. So, I understand what they're trying to say, but they're really just not selling me on it.
And that being the case, this comic loses much of its appeal.
The art is certainly nice, although it is difficult to interpret at times. Cleaner brushwork is a must for battle scenes, and I'm just not seeing it here.
Overall, EH. I'll check out the next issue, but I'm really not interested. All I want to know is what happened to Mary Marvel when she fell from the sky in Brave New World. She's altogether more interesting than Billy anyways. Or maybe it's because she's freakin' hot!

Exiles #85

Exiles #85
A fun issue, for all that it has very little substance at all. Most of the issue is spent on setting up the plot, and by the time we actually get around to said plot, there's not much room left for it, so we get an extremely abbreviated fight scene, which is supposed to be representative of a similar situation which has occurred numerous times before.
Here's how it is. The timebreakers want control back, so they recruit an all Wolverine team, with the notable inclusion of Wolverine from Days of Future Past. They send the team to Dark Phoenix (the city) to take down an amalgamation of Earth 127's Magneto (Female), Scarlet Sorceror (Male), Quicksilver (Female), Mesmero, and Wolverine. DoFP Wolvie realizes that the timebreakers have tried sending an all Logan team several times before, but all those teams have falen under the thrall of this "Brother Mutant". So he petitions the timebreakers to allow him access to the crystal palace, and ends up recruiting the old team of Exiles to help him out. It would be a more satisfying issue if I could place all the Wolverines, other than the ones recruited this issue, and it would be nice if we could be told how each reality differs from ours. The recruits this issue come from Earths 181 (the same reality as the evil Daredevil), 520(Wolverine from Weapon X - which seems to be identical to 616 for all given purposes), 811 (DoFP), 1880(young James Howlett - also seems identical to 616), 5211(again, no dissimilarities from the Albert (and Elsie-Dee) of 616 - since at one point the pair had some time-traveling adventures, it's possible they're the same ones.), and Z (Marvel Zombies, aka Earth 2149). Like I said, very little info is given besides that - at least nothing which helps me to place each Earth into Marvel publishing history. Somebody should publish a companion book, or a listing of alternate Earths, or something.
[I just placed one of the Wolverines...Mean (Earth 5311), or, "The Fiend-with-No-Name" whose universe was created by Kitty Pryde's imagination in Uncanny X-Men #153, then later in Nightcrawler (Volume 1) #3-4.]
Whatever, so it's an OKAY issue for what Bedard is trying to do...namely, kill time until Claremont is well enough to return or decides that he won't be coming back. Until then, Bedard seems to be under editorial mandate to not do anything which can't be undone. Which shouldn't really be a problem for this book anyways.
Still, he's written better.
Previous issue

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Darkness/Wolverine #1: Old Wounds

The Darkness/Wolverine #1: Old Wounds
This isn't really a Wolverine story. He just happens to be in it. That said, it's an okay effort, although I really should expect more of Frank Tieri (but I don't). The story is told half through flashbacks to Nazi occupied France and half in a modern day bar, with Logan, in each time period, encountering the bearer of The Darkness. The art is very pretty. The story isn't much to speak of though, and there are three quibbles that I'd like to point out:
First, the following dialogue makes no sense at all: (from page two) "Canucks are born with nipples on their beer bottles". What does that even mean? Does that mean that Canadian babies are born along with beer bottles? Do their nipples grow beer bottles? Do their mothers produce beer instead of milk? I understand the intent, but the phraseology is all wrong. Excise the words "are born" and replace them with "have", and it comes closer to achieving some sort of sense. Still, it's just bad phraseology. Bad, bad, bad.
Second, on page twelve, Wolverine is shown using his claws. Problem? Yup, because, as far as I am aware, in any of his appearances set during the World War Two era, Logan has never been portrayed as having claws, or at least not as being aware of them. In fact, when Magneto stripped the Adamantium from Logan's bones, it came as a surprise to all when he was left with bone claws, thus implying that he had always had claws, and that he just hadn't been aware of them until the events of the Weapon X project - which definitely did not occur until after WWII. So how can he SNIKT a Darkness demon?
[On further reflection, considering the Origin story by Quesada et al, Wolverine was aware of his claws at an early age, and only forgot that they were organic later...when this happened is anybody's guess. However, I am not aware of any stories set in the WWII era which portray him using his claws.]
Third, on the same page, Logan is shown catching a goddamn bullet!!! WTF?? He just plucks it from the air as if it were just floating there or something. Like he's Superman, or the Flash, or some such nonsense. There's only one way this could have slipped by, and the credits confirm it: this project had no editor! Anybody with any appreciation for Wolverine's character should know that he takes more bullets than a firing range wall. Never once has he been able to catch one! Sorry, that's just really sloppy.
Still, the art is pretty enough to overcome these really terrible flaws in the writing department, and therefore I stick with my assessment that this book was okay. I actually like seeing Wolverine with a full beard, as it makes more sense than assuming that he's always had muttonchops, and hasn't changed his hairstyle since the civil war. Yup, the art is very, very pretty. The writing is nothing special, but it is mildly entertaining, and what more can you ask for in a twenty-two page one-shot with no further demands on continuity?
On second thought, I take that back. There's absolutely no reason for Jackie Estacado to fire on Logan or take a chainsaw to him. Just because The Darkness attacks Wolverine, doesn't mean that he has fact, since he is obviously so pissed by the Darkness doing what it wants, why would he go along with it? If he would merely refrain from fighting, the whole matter could be put to rest easily enough. Or, he could fight the Darkness on Wolverine's side, as he does on the final page. Jackie even personally sics a whole mess of demons on Logan, and then finally goes full-on Darkness before just stopping the fight. Yeah, he just stops. How's that for lame? And Wolverine, fallen upon by a multitude of damn demons, doesn't even go berserker!
This fight scene was completely unnecessary, idiotic, and nonsensical. It defies reason. Sure, we've come to expect these kinds of stupid fights in comics, to the point that they've become a cliche, but does that mean we should just accept it? Or should we demand that today's writing defy the conventions set in previous eras and rise to the level of good, solid, storytelling? I mean, we don't even get to see the fight between Logan and Jackie's grandfather! He dispatches The Spaniard off-panel! That fight should have been shown instead. This one...completely unwarranted.
I have to give this book an ASS rating now, because, if upon further thought a book just defies logic this much, it deserves nothing else.

Patient J - Batman Fan Film

"Patient J"
I was finally able to get ahold of the complete 34 minute (and 24 second) film from Bat in the Sun productions, and I was not disappointed. Some of Aaron Schoenke's films are, well, mediocre at best - probably more an attempt to show his abilities as a cameraman and such rather than his writing skills - but this is probably the best complete Batman fan film I have ever seen. ("Grayson" doesn't qualify, as it's just a trailer.)
As it is a fan film, one must be willing to give the acting a bit of slack, but regardless of the other performances featured, Paul Molnar's turn as the Joker is nearly spot-on. He really gets into the character, and he is provided with a very rich psychological profile of the Joker with which to work.
The story is well written, with lots of fanboy nods and a very satisfying conclusion. It is a disturbing, yet at the same time, extremely humanizing look at the Joker, one which makes you root for him even as he recounts the many atrocious crimes he's committed over the years. Even the end of the film may bring a smile to the viewer's face, thus providing the Joker with his ultimate victory.

The film is difficult to find, but it is well worth the effort. Search for "Batman - Patient J" in emule, or follow this link to get it from FileFront.

[Yeah, I forgot the rating: EXCELLENT.]

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Astonishing X-Men #16

Astonishing X-Men #16
A GOOD issue. It's hard to rate these issues higher, because, with only 23 pages of story, they really don't come out frequently enough to maintain a coherent narrative. Why was this title put on hold for House of M? It has been affected by developments in the rest of the Marvel Universe just as much as it was affected by House of M - not at all. Why couldn't Whedon and Cassaday have used the downtime to catch up on issues so that we could get this story in a readable timeframe? Whatever.
Still, the dialogue is good, the art is beautiful (except for the front cover), and the characterization is, as always, spot on.
But still, not much happens: Ord escapes the S.H.I.E.L.D. orbital prison with the help of Danger; Kitty comes back to the mansion following her tour through the underworld and beats the shit out of Emma, then leaves her in a cavern underground; Logan hides from Beast; Blindfold hears voices; The Hellfire Club tries to get in to a sealed chamber; and the mysterious fifth member of the Hellfire Club is revealed to be, gasp, Emma Frost. Huh? Really, I make it sound like more goes on, because after reading it, the natural reaction is to say "that's it?"
Still, I'm sure it'll make sense once the arc is concluded and I can read all the issues in one shot.
But I'll keep reading.
My only question is: if Joss Whedon could manage to put out an episode of both Angel and Buffy every week, then why can't he put out a 22-23 page comic every month? Whatever. It's not like he's got anything else right now, does he?

Justice League of America #1

Justice League of America #1
So sue me. I actually liked this. A lot. The fact that it's being written by Brad (unecessary rape and murder as plot devices) Meltzer gives me pause, however. I just hope he doesn't feel the need to make it dark. Wasn't the whole point of the Infinite Crisis to lighten up the DCU and put some of the fun back into it? I hope this series continues on point. Hell, as far as single issues go, this one is EXCELLENT.

What do we have here?

Pictured on the cover are the big three, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman (Diana), along with Michael Holt - Mr. Terrific II, Jaime Reyes - Blue Beetle III, Carter Hall - Hawkman, Jefferson Pierce - Black Lightning, Big Barda, Mari Jiwe Macabe - Vixen, Kendra Saunders - Hawkgirl, Bart Allen - Flash III, Jason Rusch - Firestorm, Pieter Cross - Doctor Midnite, J'onn J'onzz - Martian Manhunter, Oliver Queen - Green Arrow, Kimiyo Hoshi - Doctor Light II, Donna Troy - Troia, Zatanna Zatara, a Guardian, and a Dr. Fate.
It's unclear as to which Guardian it is, - but he looks black, so probably The Manhattan Guardian - and who knows who's supposed to be inside the Dr. Fate getup? Maybe it's Jared Stevens! Implications? Obviously Donna Troy will not be Wonder Woman for much longer and Carter Hall is coming back.

(Interestingly enough, on the DC website, the cover is pictured with the additions of Green Lantern John Stewart, Tempest, Karate Kid (?!), Booster Gold, The Question (male), Ralph Dibny, The Atom (so tiny you can't tell which one), and an android Red Tornado. Excluded are Green Arrow, Troia, J'onn J'onzz, Flash, Blue Beetle, Black Lightning, and Mr. Terrific.
Implications? Apparently, Ralph wouldn't stay crazy and powerless, Booster would come back, Vic Sage wouldn't die, and Reddy eventually would get his android body back. They may have been excised from the cover for those reasons - or their opposites, whatever.)

In this issue, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman meet in the Batcave to decide who belongs in the newly reconstituted Justice League. The candidates mentioned are as follows, along with each of the big three's votes, if known:
Captain Marvel: Bruce+, Diana-, Clark+
Hal Jordan/Green Lantern: Bruce+,Diana+,Clark+
Kara Zor-El/Supergirl: Bruce-,Diana+,Clark-
Bart Allen/Flash III: Bruce+,Diana+,Clark-
Karen Starr/Power Girl: Bruce+,Diana+,Clark+
Michael Holt/Mr. Terrific: Bruce+,Diana+,Clark~
Ray Palmer/The Atom: Bruce+
Mari Macabe/Vixen: Bruce-,Diana-,Clark+
Carter Hall/Hawkman: Bruce-,Diana+,Clark+
John Smith/Red Tornado: Bruce+,Diana-,Clark~
Victor Stone/Cyborg: Bruce+
Arthur Curry/Aquaman: Bruce+
Nathaniel Adam/Captain Atom: Clark-
Dinah Lance/Black Canary and Roy Harper/Arsenal make it in as well.

Some questions that are answered:
Post 52, Will Magnus is still around, Reddy's body gets rebuilt, Tina has a cute new look, and so does Gold. Boston Brand is still Deadman, but is he in league with Felix Faust? Or is that someone else? Did Faust magically manipulate Brand? Apparently The Question is still around.

Also, Reddy has apparently been destroyed seven times (according to Batman)

Quibble: Isn't Traya considerably older than she is portrayed here? Didn't she used to room with Arrowette?

The issue is very straightforward, but there's a lot of meat in it. The story flips back and forth from the Batcave to incidents involving Black Lightning, Vixen, Roy Harper, and Red Tornado. Throughout the main part of the issue, we only see the pictures of JLA candidates the big three are looking at with their comments as to the possibilities for each one.
The subplot in this issue, which will soon become the focus of the next three issues, is the recorporealization of the Red Tornado. Boston Brand helps Reddy find an actual human body to inhabit, so that he can really be with his family as they deserve. But apparently the situation has been manipulated by Felix Faust on behalf of a new villain who wants the Tornado's android body for himself. Simple.
Other subplots include Vixen's search for a hot date with the Question, only to be ambushed in a bar in Hub City. Also, Jefferson Pierce meets with minor supervillains in order to identify upcoming threats.

Like I said, it's a good issue, and there's a hell of a lot of content, which is always good. It doesn't feel too full either, which is even better. And the art is beautiful, unlike so much of issue #0.

An EXCELLENT and auspicious start to the new series. After reading #0, I was very apprehensive about this issue, but I can say that I have been happily surprised. I can't wait to see where it goes from here. Let's just hope that Brad doesn't pull a Meltzer on us.

A more in-depth review can be found at The (soon to be deceased) Fourth Rail.
Previous issue

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Scanner Darkly - book

Phillip K. Dick's "A Scanner Darkly" (novel)
Of the several Dick novels I have read, this one is the most accessible. Its story is most linear and it is set in the near enough future that there's no technobabble/scifispeak to detract from the actual narrative.
I remember now why I stopped reading it the first time around...when Arctor suffers his final disconnect between his two identities, the book really begins to get depressing. But I stuck with it this time, and after a point at which Dick could have successfully concluded the tale, namely, Bob's admission to the New Path clinic, and his painful withdrawal in a lump on the floor - he kept going. He created Arctor's third identity, and implied strongly that all that happened to him that caused him to suffer this horrible disconnect was in fact engineered by the anti-narcotic agency that Fred had worked for. They deliberately sabotaged Bob's brain in order to break him enough that he'd be delivered to the New Path clinic, and would eventually lead the feds to the source of the Substance D. What an odd ending. It seems like this final ending was more of a fantasy to Dick who needed to believe that all of his friends who suffered so through their usage of drugs were actually serving a higher purpose - obviously to act as cautionary tales to the rest of us. Dick envisions - but does not actually portray - an eventual successful infiltration by the feds into the large narcotics cartels, thus removing this opportunistic scourge from the planet once and for all. Yet, for Bruce, this success comes at a very high price, and one is left to wonder whether it was all worth it. Was it worth one man's sanity to shut down the dangerous Substance D manufacturing? Dick implies that it was, and yet was not, all at the same time. He leaves it to the reader to decide. In the end, the novel acts as a caution to all its readers to overcome the temptation of drugs, as that way lies ruin.
I openly petition anybody reading this: Do not go to see "Snakes on a Plane" instead of "A Scanner Darkly". I live in a major city, and yet "Scanner" is playing on only ONE screen whereas "SoaP" is playing everywhere. I implore you all - this is exactly the kind of smart writing that needs to be filmed nowadays, when narcotics are more of a problem for more people than ever before. I have not seen the film yet, but I intend to at the next possible opportunity. (And, of course, I will review the film in relation to the novel afterwards.) If you have a choice between "SoaP" and "A Scanner", see "Scanner", please.
In terms of my rating scale this scores highly VERY GOOD. It's too depressing at the end to score higher - which is sort of the point, and although it accomplishes this task extremely well, I still don't like to feel depressed. (Heck, I never finished Johnny Tremain either...and probably never will.)

Deadman #1

Deadman #1
I was apprehensive when I began reading this book, and even more apprehensive at the end. Where is Boston Brand? Has he been retconned out of existence? If so, then who is it who has helped Batman and Green Arrow all those times, some in the recent past? If, however, we're just paving the way for an all-new, all-different Deadman, then I don't mind so long as Boston is still around somewhere. Taken with that supposition in mind, I quite enjoyed this first issue. It gave the reader a true sense of what it might feel like to be newly dead or dying, unable or unwilling to let go of this mortal coil, and thus causing oneself endless torments. It's obvious from the final page of this issue that Brandon's Deadman abilities are very different from Boston's, different enough for me to feel comfortable holding out hope for BB's survival (heh).
The issue has very strong images, reminiscent of 9/11, and I am interested more in the "motivations" for the attack, and the British reaction, than I am in the new character himself. Cayce is interesting, though. And I intend to read upcoming issues to resolve all my questions (including whether or not Boston Brand will be involved in this series in any way, shape, or form). A very GOOD start.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Breach #1-11

Breach #1-11
Breach was originally commissioned to be an update/revamp of Captain Atom, but at the last minute, it was decided that Captain Atom would remain unchanged and that Breach would be a wholly new character. I'm not sure I could have gone for a new Captain Atom, considering his influence in the JLE and Extreme Justice. But perhaps if Breach had become Captain Atom, then this EXCELLENT series would have survived. Unfortunately, we may never know. Breach suffered from poor marketing, poor sales, and was cancelled before it had even had a chance to complete its story. Even for a series so short-lived, there were numerous cameos by such DCU mainstays as Superman (aka "Groovy Guy"), Talia Al-Ghul, Lex Luthor, J'onn J'onzz, Batman, and even Black Adam and Deathstroke. And these appearances were done well, tastefully, without any sense of plot hammering. They fit in well, and would have continued to do so.
As a character, Breach was selected by the writers of Infinite Crisis to be the representative for "Earth 8", although why this was done is unclear. Some have said that any character created since the last crisis is really a denizen of Earth 8, but to my mind that doesn't really make any sense. Many characters have been introduced since the original crisis, including Tim Drake, Sasha Bordeaux, Renee Montoya; Kon-El, The Eradicator, Steel; Cassie Sandsmark - just to name a few supporting characters to the big three. Others would include Triumph, Ray, Kendra Saunders, Impulse, and Booster Gold, to name but a handful. If all those were denizens of Earth 8, then why should Breach have been singled out to be Earth 8's representative on Alex Luthor's tower? Lest anybody claim that I am misunderstanding which crisis is being referred to, and that instead it refers to the Zero Hour event, wouldn't Jack Knight have been a much more suitable representative as the most major/influential character created following/during Zero Hour? I'm sure there are others who I'm unable to think of at the moment. Nevertheless, Breach was selected for Alex Luthor's tower, and during Infinite Crisis he was ruptured by a punch from the Earth-Prime Superboy. He subsequently exploded, and Captain Atom returned from the Wildstorm universe in the exact location which Breach had occupied the moment before. (Captain Atom subsequently disappeared from the DCU again during the Battle for Bludhaven.)
Several plot threads remained unresolved at the end of Breach's solo series, and through his final appearance in Infinite Crisis they remained unresolved. It does not appear that they will ever be resolved. All due praise to Bob Harras for carrying it out successfully, nonetheless.
Unless of course, all you folks out there track down the back issues of this EXCELLENT series and petition the PTB's at DC to give it one more shot.
(For more information, read the Wikipedia entry for Breach.)

Monday, August 14, 2006

52 #14

52 #14
It just ocurred to me that I neglected to post this on my own site, sorry.

p.1 Why did it take so long (about two weeks) for Montoya and Vic to get around to flying to Khandaq? I didn't realize Renee could read Arabic. Vic is awfully close to her. Montoya should have been out of her sling/cast/brace around six weeks ago.
p.4 Nobody's heard from John Henry in a month. How convenient. Any character they omit for a while can have their exclusion explained away by "nobody's seen you for a month".
p.6 When did John Henry develop such a close relationship with Dr. Avasti? Why is John patchy?
[Squashua said...That's rust, dude. Like the title of the story, "Rust and Sand", IIRC. He's rusting.
Emmet Matheson said... He's rusting.
That's from all the tears he's been crying. Which is a pretty serious development in GJ's bag of tricks. He's discovered that sadface doesn't always have to be shown, it can be implied.]
p.10 Magnus leaves his home with people in it? Who might steal the metal men?
p.11 "The Haven". Who is the villain? The wolf? The hawks? The biker chick? Doesn't the Haven remind you of "The Prisoner"? Especially when the agents pull up in an ice cream truck?
(Squasha believes these to be Easy Company analogues: Truck = Ice Cream Soldier, Eagle = Little Sureshot, Wolf = Wildman.)
p.13 A hotel in Khandaq named Coldridge? Seriously?
p.14 Aristotle Rodor is an old character from earlier Question storylines.
p.15 anger lines!
p.23 Waitaminit...Metamorpho can only transform into the elements found in the human body? Can he combine them however he sees fit? What about in the past when he's transformed into compounds containing Cesium, Radium, Plutonium, or Uranium? Or other things he's changed into before which aren't components of the human body? And why can Shift change into anything?

My belief is that when the agents talk to Magnus, he isn't holding a responsometer, he's holding a piece of junk to fool them.

Once again, this issue was OKAY, but on the lowest's really beginning to slip back into EH territory again.
Previous issue

Slow posting week

I apologize to any readers in advance for what looks to be a slow week. Let me explain. About a year ago, I began reading A Scanner Darkly, then got all caught up in other things and by the time I got back to the book, I didn't really remember what was going on anymore. So I put it on hold. But now that the movie is finally out, although I really want to see it, I'm not going to until I finish the darn book. So I started over on Friday night, and I hope to be done by next Sunday. I'll hopefully have time for a few posts, but I'm putting the sequential art on hold for a little bit in order to finish this bit of prose. I hope that's satisfactory. I'll definitely post a review of the film upon seeing it, with a comparison to the book for good measure.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Green Arrow #65

Green Arrow #65
I'm still loving this book. Every month, I love this book. And it's not the same thing every month. Here, Judd Winick shows us exactly how smart of a politician Ollie is. This book is becoming less about Green Arrow and more about Oliver Queen, and I love it. Half of this issue is dominated by a political talk show where one guest attempts to castigate Queen for destroying the moral fabric of America...basically he's pissed that Ollie has begun marrying homosexual couples in order to draw revenue to Star City, and he tries to find any excuse to bolster his condemnation. He seems to be giving as good as he gets from another pundit speaking in support of the Queen administration when she drops the bomb on him...Star City suffered massive devastation last year, and the United States and its citizenry did NOTHING. That shuts him up but good. She concludes her breakdown by saying that whatever Mayor Queen does to draw money and attention to the city, he should be universally supported, because even now, one year later, the United States government is still doing nothing to help these citizens who relied on their government to support them and then were massively let down.
This sequence draws the focus away from a fight scene, where Ollie and Mia fight side by side for the first time in a very long while. Apparently, she and Connor are living together. Let's just hope they're using protection. After all, we want Hawke to still be around for his solo miniseries later this year.
(A great real-life deus ex machina would be for a true cure for HIV to be found this year. Apart from bringing relief to millions of people across the world, it would neatly give Brad Meltzer the finger for thinking it was a good idea to give Mia HIV in the first place. I shudder to think what he might do to the JLA these coming months...rape and HIV as plot devices. Riiiight.)
[Edit: It has come to my attention that I am an asshole. It was Meltzer who gave Mia HIV, it was Winick himself! So he'd give himself the finger? Sorry.]
Apparently, Mia has been working on her combat technique without Ollie's assistance, and she makes quite a good show for herself. And then Hal shows up, rounds all the druggies up, and carts them over to STAR labs where it turns out they were dosed with a massive nerve toxin which Ollie's chief political foe, businessman Theodore Davis, had arranged to be mixed into doses of medical morphine. It also turns out that Mr. Davis was also responsible for the attempt on Mayor Queen's life by Deathstroke. When confronted with proof by Ollie, Davis is forced to become the Mayor's pawn in order to avoid prison. "That's...that's blackmail..." he stammers. "Well, duh. Welcome to the world of politics," is Ollie's perfect reply.
Deathstroke pled guilty to attempted murder last issue in order that he be sentenced to Alcatraz where there is an inmate with valuable information about Oliver's actions in the past year. Perhaps he hopes to learn something which will be useful to him in exacting vengeance upon Ollie. We'll find out.
That's where this issue leaves us, with a promise of next month's being the beginning (or "continuation" - what?) of the story of what Ollie was up to during the unchronicled year. A major gap in continuity however is the complete disappearance of Brick between issues. Where did he go? My only other quibble is that this issue's front cover seemingly has no relationship with this month's story. Winick probably decided at the last minute to decompress his story a bit to offer us a bit more enjoyment of Ollie's mayoral technique. But the cover had probably already been comissioned. That's okay, it's still an VERY GOOD issue of an EXCELLENT title. Even Ex Machina doesn't do it this well.
Last issue

Catwoman's current direction

I just wrote an email to Scott Tipton regarding a couple of questions that appeared in this week's mailbag. Here's a transcript of most of it:

Holly's becoming Catwoman is actually right in character and has been hinted at since issue #20, when Selina had Ted Grant train her to fight. One year later, in issue #32 it is mentioned that during the month that Selina was missing - when kidnapped by the cult of Beti-Ma - Holly was, in fact, filling in as Catwoman on the sly. So for Pfeifer to take Holly and make her the new Catwoman is entirely within her character's logical progression.
I have likewise seen Will Pfeifer being given a lot of crap for having Selina blast the Blask Mask's head off. However, had Brubaker stayed on the title, all indications were that he would have done the same thing. Way back when, in issue #13, the Black Mask blew up the community center that Selina donated, and kidnapped her brother-in-law. In issue #14, he kidnapped Selina's sister Maggie, and subsequently tortured her by making her ingest part of her husband's body as he removed them. Black Mask killed Maggie's husband, and drove Maggie completely insane to the point of CATatonia, and so when Selina eventually met up with him in issue #16, she threw him off a ledge, and he was presumed dead until resurfacing during War Games. So after everything that Black Mask did to her, when he carved out a message on Slam's chest, that was the last straw, and Selina killed him. End of story, he soooo had it coming. And it is not a betrayal of the character at all. Selina was always a different type of hero, and has used methods that Batman would not. The only person who could get her goat would have been Black Mask, and so Pfeifer did not betray her character at all.

Regarding the parentage of Helena (which is
supposed to rhyme with Irena), it could very well be that Slam Bradley is her father. Proof of a sort: In Catwoman #53, page 11, panel 2, Selina says: "Things are different now, Slam. You know that." Why would the word you be bolded? Remember that from issues #17 through #19, Selina and Slam were very hot and heavy, so considering that she must have been very close to him while helping him work through the trauma of Black Mask's torture, it is conceivable that they ended up back together...if only for a night.
I can't imagine Batman being the father, as he was gone for the ENTIRE year prior to Helena's birth.

I anticipate writing a more in depth analysis of this title in the future, but this will have to suffice for the time being.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wolverine: Origins #5

Wolverine: Origins #5
I figured out why Daniel Way is such a bad writer: it's because he assumes that everybody knows what he's talking about even when he hasn't told them yet! Here we get a "startling" revelation from Wolverine's past which makes less sense than the first time Way tried to "reveal" it. Apparently, Wolvie once lived with a Native-American woman who became pregnant with his child. This woman was then murdered, and now, it seems, the unborn child was stolen from her womb. Why Wolverine wouldn't notice that she had been eviscerated is tangential to the main concern: NOBODY HAS ANY IDEA WHAT YOU'RE FUCKING TALKING ABOUT, WAY! We also get the revelation that the Muramasa blade is the only thing that can actually kill Wolverine. Why? Dunno. Because Way says so. And in that case, why the fuck has Wolvie been taking a weapon that can fucking kill him with him everywhere he goes? Why not, oh I don't know, destroy it? Wouldn't that make more sense?
Daniel Way seems to contradict himself as well. In his run on the parent title, he outright stated that it was the Winter Soldier who killed Wolvie's family, but now, he says that it was Sabretooth. Um, are they the same person? And how did Wolvie know him at that point?
The art is beautiful, but due to the awful script, some things still don't make sense. For instance: Wolverine and Captain America are fighting, and suddenly Cap collapses saying "Ah--! My leg--!" First of all, I dont understand what the hyphens are for. Does Daniel Way not understand the usage of punctuation in the English language? And secondly: Wolverine didn't even touch Cap!
Way's characterization of Julian is all wrong. Julian is supposed to be completely full of himself, not a scaredy cat. And why would Wolverine shift the focus of his berzerker rage to Hellion in the first place? Because he telekinetically held him in place? If he wasn't thinking clearly, then how would he know? And how is he able to move anyways? Why wouldn't Emma intervene immediately? And since when is she a precog? Or have visions? And eventually Cap collapses from the blood clot in his neck, and they just fucking leave him there! Later, he is shown getting up, without any intervention!!! Let's not even mention how everybody just leaves Nuke lying there, limbless. And who in their right minds could possibly believe that if it came down to it Cyclops could take Wolverine out with a sword??? Seriously, he'd be kibbles. Maybe Colossus or Juggernaut or Sabretooth. Maybe. But Cyke would be worm food. No question. And if Wolverine wanted to hand the sword over to Cyclops, why wouldn't he sheathe it first?? That way nobody would get the wrong idea. Cyclops pathetically cringes like a little girl from the sight of Wolverine coming at him with a sword. Ugh. AWFUL.
Steve Dillon's art is beautiful as always, but not even that can redeem this book. AWFUL. Maybe even CRAP. I don't know. This issue is just so very bad. Yup, it's CRAP: even after rereading Way's arc on Wolverine, this makes no fucking sense. Hell, by my language you can see how put off I am by the CRAPpiness of this issue. In fact, this issue doesn't even have much to do with the previous four issues on this title. God what a steaming pile of CRAP. (Can you tell how much I hate it?)
Previous issue

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The All-New Atom #1-2

The All-New Atom #1-2
After reading the preview in Brave New World, I was not going to pick this up, but people kept saying complementary things about it, so I decided to give it a shot. I'm glad I did. This series is fun! And the main character knows it. He's come to Ivy town with the express purpose of taking over for Ray Palmer in every facet of his life, his house, his friends, his job, and his superhero identity...and he gets right into it. In the first issue, he accidentally minimizes himself without having the belt on and gets trapped in the folds of his clothing. Afterwards, he brings the belt to scientist friends of his (who were also friends of Palmer's) and asks them to help him figure it out.
The second issue begins with Dr. Choi riding an ant. Yes, riding an ant.
Whereas the first issue's structure is a bit too Morrisony (reminiscent of The Invisibles) for my tastes, what with the jumping back and forth in time, it eventually settles down to a linear flow, and the second issue is entirely linear.
Dr. Choi (whose first name is a very unChinese "Ryan") and his motley colleagues have fun experimenting with the capabilities of the Atom's belt that he has found. And there's some microscopic alien invader intrigue as well. Personally, that was the one aspect of the original Atom's adventures that I could never really believe, that the world is teeming with microscopic alien invaders, but it's classic, and my father liked it when he was a kid, so I won't complain. The writing style is classic Gail Simone, the art is classic old-time Byrne, and I suspect that the random quotations interspersed throughout the text are Morrison's ideas. They quote famous scientists, literary figures, and even fictional characters such as Wile E. Coyote, Lex Luthor, and Will Magnus. It's good clean fun.
There's also a subplot which hints that Ryan may be in line to get some from a hot student. And there is some intrigue regarding a mysterious benefactor who chooses a serial killer as his Atom. We'll see what happens there.
Right now, these issues have done exactly what introductory issues should do, unlike so many other series lately. They hook you with the simple premise of an everyday guy discovering and exploring superpowers.
And dogs with mind control implants.
Both issues are VERY GOOD (as opposed to the sub-EH introductory feature in Brave New World.)

The Creeper #1

The Creeper #1
ASS. Just ASS.
Ugh. As if the folks at DC felt that the origin of the Creeper was too out of date (it wasn't, by the way, and I hope this "update" gets thrown out,) they give us another origin - which is so much more ridiculous and unbelievable than the last that I can't understand it. Sure the previous origin was somewhat convoluted due to numerous retellings, but it always remained essentially the same: Jack Ryder, demoted to network security for being too inflammatory, was investigating some mobsters - trying to get his job as an investigative reporter back - who had kidnapped a scientist. Ryder freed the scientist, but upon his discovery by the mobsters, they pumped him full of hallucinogens, shot him, and left him for dead. Hoping to save him, the scientist injected Ryder with a device that would give him enhanced physical strength and allow himself to change at will into a costumed template stored in the device's circuitry. Unfortunately, the scientist was unaware that Jack was doped up at the time and therefore, the effect of the drugs was imprinted on the device as well, resulting in the maniacal Creeper personality. Okay, so that origin is a bit out there. Much later, it was hinted at that this origin may have been falsely implanted, but the Creeper's 1997 series was cancelled before this possibility could be fully explored.
(My favorite origin is actually that from Batman: The Animated Series, wherein Jack Ryder is doing a retrospective on the origin of the Joker from inside the selfsame factory wherein the Joker had been transformed. The Joker attacks, doses Ryder with his gas, and then dumps him in a vat of chemicals. The interaction between the chemicals and the gas produces a strange reaction which transforms Ryder into the Creeper - a condition which can only be reversed medically, through the use of a transdermal patch.)
In this new origin, it is strongly implied that Jack Ryder has NOT been the Creeper all this time, thus writing out of continuity the myriad Creeper appearances throughout the DCU, in which he played important roles in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the vanquishing of Eclipso, and has, in fact, aided the Justice League on numerous occasions. Apparently that has all been erased in the history of New Earth. This time around, Jack Ryder is a television talk-show host along the lines of those that proliferated at the end of the 1990's, similar to Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and other hosts who refused to let their guests get a word in edgewise, making fun of their points of view rather than legitimately challenging them to explain themselves. Jack fancies himself an investigative reporter as well, so he sneaks into a medical research lab which happens to be under attack from mobsters. The scientist he tries to protect injects him with the last dose of a mysteriously zombifying drug after which he is subsequently shot and tossed off an oceanside cliff. The interaction of the drug and the salt-water(?!) makes him radically change appearance. Apparently it makes his clothes change appearance as well. Don't ask. It gives him metahuman strength and agility and a cackling laugh which has the power to make men go insane from irritation. Again, don't ask. Jack Ryder also discovers that he can change back and forth from the Creeper at will.
Who thought this was a good idea? In what parallel universe does this make more sense? Sure, I understand that the Creeper origin was weird and kooky, but that was part of its charm, and changing it to something that is as ridiculous as this, while at the same time erasing the Creeper's previous DCU appearances from continuity is utterly ridiculous. So, ASS, yeah, I can't see myself wanting to read another issue of this series, which will hopefully be forgotten as soon as it ends. It's a shame, really, because the last few times the Creeper was used in the DCU, among them in Superman: Metropolis (which series has also apparently been removed from continuity - an unmerged, living Sledge appeared in Villains United #3; and Lena Luthor has not been seen since), he was written very well, as a character with positive possibilities for use elsewhere within the DCU. As he is being written in this series, I don't want to see him around anywhere, ever again, and thus the Creeper may end up being relegated to the dustbins of the DC Universe, something which he does not deserve, and we will be the poorer for it.

I am very disappointed, as I thought that the Creeper feature in Brave New World actually had potential. I thought it was definitely OKAY, but that it could have been better if it could have been longer. As a teaser alone it was great, but if this was what it was teasing at? Ugh. Horrrifying.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

No time for much else...

I'll be posting reviews, along with assorted other info, later this week (that may mean tonight - not sure). In the meantime, follow this link:
'Bearded ex-JLAer hides under bridge, humps guy.'
Laugh all you want, you have my permission.

Friday, August 04, 2006

New Excalibur #9

New Excalibur #9
Now that Claremont is gone for the time being (it's about damn time), Frank Tieri takes over as the regular writer on New Excalibur. You may remember Tieri from the Weapon X series, which most people either hated or loved, but very few were in the middle. I actually didn't much like it...I only read it because it had some characters I liked, especially Chamber. And whaddaya know, Tieri does what many new writers often do when taking over a title, and brings him back (in a way that only makes sense if you're delusional)! I guess he liked Chamber too.
Tieri's dialogue in this issue isn't as good as Yost's was last time around. Take, for example this exchange between Jono's "shrink" and Pete Wisdom:"Jonothan have options./I don't know about you, doc...but the BOY certainly does." Ummm Pete, that's what he just said...he wasn't talking about himself. That's why it's rude to interrupt in the middle of a conversation. Plus, you make an ass of yourself. Perhaps Tieri was writing it like this because he already knew that the Doc was a bad guy, but since we didn't, why ruin it for us? These types of problems plagued Weapon X. Often, the dialogue therein made one feel as if he was missing half of the conversation. And that's just not good writing. Maybe Tieri can partner with Yost for dialogue in the future.
Here's a massive retcon, where Tieri makes Chamber a descendant of Apocalypse! The character soooo didn't need that. If I were Jono, I'd sue Frank Tieri. Yet another problem which plagued the Weapon X book. Massive retcons for no comprehensible reason. Tieri just doesn't understand how to slowly develop a plotline so that by the time the retcon is fully revealed it doesn't feel like a betrayal of the character, but rather a logical progression. And I really liked Jono better when he didn't have any face at all! Maybe he'll go back to wearing a scarf. What an awful editorial decision to let this slide. The editors need to stop pandering to Tieri. He's not so good that he can't take a bit of constructive criticism every so often, or just a flat-out "no". But maybe he's a real prima donna. I don't know. I'm sure plenty of other writers are yearning for the chance to write an X book, even one so far afield as this. Why Tieri? Marvel should really have gotten the message when they were forced to cancel Weapon X before Tieri had reached his planned conclusion, due to low - and constantly dropping - sales figures on the book. I really won't be too sorry if the same thing ends up happening here, but maybe Marvel will, so they had better start pairing Tieri with a real editor!
Why does Pete Wisdom need a search warrant? He and his team were willing to go in guns blazing when Chamber came out, so why not do so anyways as soon as he left? And still, another example of one of the problems with Tieri's writing - rationality and logical thought are utterly and completely sacrificed for the purposes of furthering his desired plotlines. If he can't think of a logical way to get to where he wants to go, then he doesn't even bother himself trying. It's like saying that I would want to get from Chicago to New York, but had no car, nor money to pay for the trip, so I found a scientist building a transporter beam and let him experiment on me to send me there. Sure, it's not as ridiculous an example as Tieri's, but let's face it, I'm more creative than he is. Whatever. I had originally pegged this issue at good, but really it's more of an EH. I love Chamber and I wish this book did him justice, but it doesn't even come close.
[Edit: Upon rereading this post, I really, really want to change the rating to ASS, but I just can't bring myself to do so...maybe you can?]
Previous issue

New Excalibur #8

New Excalibur #8
People don't stare at TJ because she's blue, they probably stare at her because she's so frickin' hot! This art is lovely! But explaining her blueness with a skin condition? I've never heard of a skin condition which is accompanied by only having THREE FINGERS! It sounds to me like her internal monologue is revealing the surface of a social disfunction, or a case of low self-esteem. TJ, repeat after me: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggone it, people like me." Feel better now? I knew you would.
What does it mean that this issue was written by Claremont and Michael Ryan? Who is Michael Ryan?
Oh my god, Juggy has a crush on Dazzler? Really? Sarcasm aside, it'd be nice to give him somebody he could get close to (like She-Hulk), so that he could finally unburden himself of his guilt over Sammy Pare's death.
Yost's dialogue is very good here, too bad he's not sticking around. Example: Brian to Psylocke: "I'm the champion of the forces of reason. I suppose I'll just have to thump his head until I win."
Pete Wisdom calls Betsy a fake, a phony. Since when is she not real?? I thought Jamie had just manipulated quantum strings to bring her back from the dead! Has it been said otherwise anywhere? That implies that she is real as this reality gets!
I understand Allison wearing a wig onstage - it's part of her glamourous image. But why need this glamour be just an image? Why does she wear close cut pink hair the rest of the time? It looks like somebody else is having self-esteem issues. Maybe it's Claremont. When he's better he should go see a shrink.
Important revelation in this issue: In all the realities...there is only ONE shadow King.
[Edit: I was just rereading this post, and I realized: that was going to be the focus of Claremont's tenure on Exiles. The major villain was supposed to be the Shadow King, across all realities! Let's hope it never happens. Really, can you see anybody pulling that off? Ugh.]
It had been rumoured that Betsy was going to be joining the Exiles, thus explaining her disappearance at the end of this issue after she lobotomizes evil Charley! It must have been Claremont's plan to do so, but now that he's not going to Exiles, Betsy's going to be lost in limbo again. Anyways, this was a VERY GOOD issue. Although it sort of rushed to get to a new page by the end, in order to clear up any lingering plots from Claremont, it did a very adequate job. The same cannot be said for Uncanny on which Claremont also received a helping hand at the end.
Next issue

Detective Comics #822

Detective Comics #822
I love Dini's work on this title. Can I just reiterate how much I like standalone issues? For the same reasons that I like shows like Law & Order and CSI, not miring the reader in past continuity is always a good technique to garner new readers, especially at the front end of a writer's tenure.
I find the usage of red outlines of speech bubbles to denote fright an interesting technique. Whose domain is that? The artist's or the letterer's?
Quibbles: How can Riddler lean up against the batmobile? Doesn't it have lots of security devices? Like tasers? Also, the next issue blurb says that Ivy is coming back...but, didn't she die in Batman's arms a year(?) ago?
I love these parts:
p.10 Bats shows up the Riddler: As they enter into a fetish club, Riddler acts as if Batman would never have been in such a place. Batman then proceeds to speak with the proprietess of the club in very familiar terms.
p.11 Bats lets the Riddler ride in the batmobile! "Nice car," the Riddler says, "first time I've been inside it conscious." "Don't touch anything," Batman replies.
p.15 Batman discovers clues that the Riddler has missed in his investigation. But instead of pointing it out to his "partner", he goes and investigates by himself. "Why bother him when he's happy?" Batman says while smiling. I like smiley Batman. It's such a refreshing change of pace from snarling-barely-held-in-check-homicidal-tendencies Batman. Batman should have a sense of humor. He's had a lot of success in his chosen career, and as Bruce Wayne he has no worries
either, so really, he should smile every so often. And he's nicer too. He actually puts up with Riddler's grandstanding, humors him, and doesn't immediately put him down as he might have in the hands of last year's writers. And after threatening a witness by hanging him off a building, he offers him a handkerchief!!! What a turnaround! And yet, it's still in character. It just shows how well Batman can be written by a writer who actually loves him. Thank you Paul Dini.
I liked the idea of the Riddler as a bumbling detective, but from his expression on page 21, it unfortunately looks like his realization that Batman has shown him up will be the impetus which leads him back into a life of crime. Let's hope not. He's a comical character, and as a villain, was always rather lame (except when portrayed by Frank Gorshin). This is a clever new usage of the old character, and one could even go so far as making it a backup feature. Or a least a miniseries played for laughs...the bumbling detective who solves mysteries despite himself, a la Clouseau.
[Edit: Actually, it's been pointed out elsewhere that the Riddler is actually quite brilliant, and I agree that my assessment of his character was unfair. The only reason he failed as a detective in this issue was because of his enormous ego...which would still make for a very interesting series. Please join me in petitioning the PTB's at DC for a Riddler mini or possibly ongoing series.]
A solidly GOOD issue. I could go very good, but I'll hold off for now, to see what Paul Dini does next issue. Last issue had much nicer art though - much more innovative. But the writing has certainly improved since last issue, meriting the GOOD rating, even in the absence of J.H. Williams' beautiful layouts from last issue.
Last issue

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11
Peter David's dialogue is excellent as usual, but I can't say how much I actually care for Mysterio as a character, and anyways, didn't Kevin Smith kill him?
Dialogue example: MJ and Aunt May: "Peter bounced a dodgeball off another teacher's face and broke his nose/For heaven's sake. He should know better than that! Of all the --/It was Flash Thompson./Ah. The one who used to be his friend but is now back to being like he was in high school./Right./Well...he probably had it coming, then." And then the excellence continues, but if I were to merely repeat all the spectacular dialogue in Peter David's writing, I'd end up copying entire issues, so I'll just give you a taste. Very OKAY. If I actually cared about the plot or the villains it would rate higher, but as it is, I don't - and PAD hasn't really made me care yet. I read this title for the snappy dialogue, and Peter David's dialogue is second to none. On wit alone, I'd rate it excellent, but wit alone does not an excellent comic make.
Next Issue

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Black Panther #18

Black Panther #18
I didn't actually read this issue yet, and I'm probably not going to for a while yet, but there have been a lot of snipes online about reviewers not liking this book/storyline because they are racist, so I feel that I should defend them.

Will everyone stop bashing these guys for being racist? Just because a story is ethnic doesn't mean it doesn't SUCK! Seriously, if someone writes an AWFUL book about ethnic characters, does that mean that you can't say it SUCKS even if it does? Reggie Hudlin's Panther is just AWFUL. I say bring back Christopher Priest (a black man who can write white and black characters equally well). And boy, the self-promotion in Black Panther #18 is really thick...I only flipped through it, but what's with all the BET stuff (Hudlin is one of the senior partners)? It SUCKS, and I'm completely unapologetic about it. Heck, Arana sucked too, does that make me anti-latino? So then why do I enjoy Blue Beetle? And if I'm so racist, then why do I enjoy Shiva or Gypsy in Birds of Prey? It's because those books are well-written! It has nothing to do with race. Heck, they could be all blotchy-skin-disorder-aliens or polka-dotty, and those would still be great books. A problem with modern society is that people have been made afraid to voice their negative opinions on things for fear that they will be branded Racist or some such nonsense. It's not as if anybody said "You know, black people really suck". No, we said the book sucks, the idea sucks, the execution sucks, (the writer sucks). If anything, the idea of this storyline is more intolerant than any criticism it has received. It's like when people complained about Peter Benton on ER finding a happy relationship with a white woman, to the point where a company mandate forced the writers to split them up and write in a black love interest for him. That shows complete intolerance for the culture of integration in which we (supposedly) live, and a complete lack of understanding as to racial dynamics in the real world. Sorry. Brian and Lester are right on the money, and neither of them is a racist. It's only those whose mindsets are too shallow to allow negative viewpoints who think so.

Links to other reviews of Black Panther #18:
Brian Hibbs and Jeff Lester; Douglas Wolk

52 #13

52 #13
p.2 Wouldn't the cultists notice a few people wearing masks?
p.2-4 Why wouldn't Ralph fill everybody in on the particulars BEFORE calling them in? As if:"Hi it's Ralph, come meet me at this cult gathering."/"Okay! See you there!" and that's the end of the conversation? No details, no nothing? Uh huh...
p.5 The waters of Memon, the fires of Threntar...anybody?
p.6 Okay, so maybe if they knew what he had planned, they wouldn't have gone with Ralph, but still, to not understand a bit of what's going on? That's a bit farfetched.
Blood Kryptonite?
p.7 Why does Hal refer to Ralph in the third person? "I was the one who brought the Elongated Man into the JLA. " That must have been some other Elongated Man. Maybe it was a clone!
p.8 TYPO!!! co-N-fused
p.10 So Adrianna's brother has a classical Egyptian name? Amon? What real Egyptian is named Amon nowadays?
p.12 Kanjar Ro's gamma gong...anybody?
What suddenly convinced Ralph to drop all pretense?
p.14 It doesn't matter to Cassie that the rope is yellow, if it were brown she'd try the same's her primary weapon. And isn't it supposed to have electrical properties?
p.15 Oh my god, it worked? No, wait - the post-crisis Dev-Em had extremely strong mental powers which he could use to shape reality to his whims, to the point that he remade himself into a superbeing. He probably used them to animate the wicker Sue.
p.17 Yeah, look at Devem's face. He has no emotion whatsoever...he's definitely trying to fuck with Ralph's mind.
p.19 Why would Ralph leave his wedding ring behind?
p.20 Some think that shadowy lurker by the fence is the Phantom Stranger. But there's no fedora, so I'm hoping it's Constantine!!!

p.22 Yeah! It was a meta capability that allowed Ralph to be able to use the Gingold extract to its full potential, instead of dying from it.
When was an "Oceanographer found murdered in one man bathysphere"? Anybody?
According to Waid, Ralph has abandoned Gingold...but apparently could still use it if he wanted to.
The last story panel proves Ralph is crazy...she's six feet down. Duh!
Lateral thinking which he hasn't been using recently. He's basically just been stumbling around and having things happen to him for the most part, without completely researching what he's getting into, or taking his investigations beyond their most fundamental level.

p.23 So Donner is going to be on Action? Great. But I still want Busiek working with Nicieza on Superman, NOT with Johns. Nicieza has a sense of humor which Johns lacks, and has a talent for producing consistently great comics, rarely producing stale issues. Please, DC, bring Nicieza to Superman! Please, please, please.

Douglas Wolk referred to the wikipedia entry on "Comic Book Death". My favorite listing in that article is:
Dazzler: died in New Excalibur #6; returned in New Excalibur #7
Yes, that's right...with no explanation whatsoever!!! And now that Claremont's gone, we may never know how/why!!!

Overall, a very coherent story, but it's over too quickly, completely ignoring everybody else (except Adam - which, truthfully, was a waste of space). And the story completely ignores all days of this week except the one. I'd say OKAY. For the second week in a row. The series does seem to (hopefully) be shaping up.
Next issue
Last issue

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blue Beetle #5

Blue Beetle #5
What a difference an artist makes! Comparing this book with that which preceded it...well, the two are barely comparable. The art is suddenly difficult to understand, people look different, places don't really look like much of anything, and the flow of the story is disrupted over and over again. Even the great dialogue doesn't have that kick anymore. Take for example the sequence in BB#4 where Jaime is talking to Oracle: "Birds of Prey?/Yes./So they're like super-powered birds?/No!/They have bird-powers?/No./Do they at least have bird code names?/ does./Annnnnd we're back to you sucking." Great dialogue, and the art really sells it. (I just noticed an error in Hamner's art. In issue #4, Oracle's wheelchair has handles. True fans of the Birds of Prey know that Barbara's wheelchair doesn't have handles, for the express reason that she hates being pushed around. Oops.)
In this issue we also have nice dialogue, especially between Jaime and the Phantom Stranger (who, but for the art on the cover, would be very difficult to identify), but since the art is so off, it makes it very difficult to enjoy.
Besides which, nothing much happens in this issue. I would say it's good, but I really must take the art into consideration, and therefore, this issue scores OKAY. Hopefully next issue will feature Hamner again. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to continue reading this series. I love the storytelling, but the art is just awful. And what's even the point of having a "guest artist" on a series that hasn't even been around for half a year?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Jack of Fables #1

Jack of Fables #1
A very auspicious start to the spin-off title from Willingham's excellent Fables. It's GOOD. And it has a naked Goldilocks! Any issue with naked Goldilocks has to be GOOD! We need an all-naked Goldilocks special! But seriously, it's GOOD.
I recognize many of the Fables populating the internment facility, which means that they are either recent additions, or that the librarian is not as efficient as Sam seems to think. Read the book, and you'll understand what I'm talking about.
And you gotta love the cover.

Wolverine #44

Wolverine #44
This issue introduces a MAJOR LOGIC FLAW. Wolverine shows by getting in close to Nitro and beating on him that there is a small radius surrounding Nitro which is essentially a null field in regard to his blasts. That said, Namorita was RIGHT ON TOP OF HIM WHEN HE WENT OFF!!!! SO WHY IS SHE DEAD??? Completely ASS. That ruined my enjoyment of the entire rest of the issue. Forget this CRAP.
Next issue
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