Friday, June 29, 2007

Incredible Hulk #107

Incredible Hulk #107
I really like how this title has been focusing on background players lately. Interesting that the hulk's OWN title should barely have him in it. Of course, it would be better for the content between this book and World War Hulk to be swapped, but ah, if wishes were horses...(then beggars would ride? What does that even mean?)
Good portrayals of Hercules and Archangel. Archangel as a reluctant hero(?!) who's essentially threatened into siding with the Hulk. I love how Hercules takes a beating from Hulk, because he KNOWS Hulk is right. Otherwise, he'd have just kept pounding on Hulk. After thousands of years, it's nice to know that Hercules can finally learn how to do what's right, without having to be drunk to do it. And I love Amadeus Cho as a recurring character.

Madame Mirage #1

Madame Mirage #1
I was really looking forward to reading this, as I've come to appreciate Paul Dini's work on Detective Comics tremendously. Tight plotting, clear storytelling, good characterizations. Unfortunately, this book has none of that. While the art is quite enjoyable, I had little or no clue what was going on for most of the issue. That's not what you want in a first issue, to say the least. Suffice it to say, I won't be reading issue #2. AWFUL.

Shadowpact #14

Shadowpact #14
I enjoy this book every month. This month is no exception. A charming little story which serves as the opening to a larger arc, but which actually would work quite well taken on its own. Zauriel accosts Blue Devil at the bar, sent by God to kill him to prevent his admirers from making deals with the devil to be just like him. Sure, it sounds farfetched, but this is the DCU, and Zauriel says it's happened, so I'll take him at his word. Cassidy takes Zauriel to Coast City to fight, then Zauriel airlifts them to an unpopulated region on the outskirts of town. And then, instead of fighting, they TALK! Whoa, breaking all the rules here, guys! Zauriel explains why Blue Devil must die, and BD actually agrees. Seeing that he won't have any trouble fulfilling his heavenly commandment, Zauriel offers BD a few days to look for a way out of his predicament. The first thing BD does is go on national TV and out himself as a fraud. After seeing this address, an attorney approaches him, saying that he'd love to represent Cassidy against the finest lawyers of hell, seeing as Blue Devil sold his soul for movie stardom, and never, in fact, acheived it! At the end of the issue, Blue leaves the team to try to correct his mistakes, and Zauriel takes his spot. See? Nearly entirely self-contained! Oh, and the new Doctor Gotham from last issue gets worked on a bit, and Laura Fell shows up at the bar! VERY GOOD.

Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1

Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1
Quite GOOD. Much better than I was expecting. Basically shows that this entire event has been planned since the beginning of Rebirth, and incorporates the Silver Age appearances of Sinestro and former run of Green Lantern very nicely into a scema that actually, for the first time, makes more sense than not. Johns has a plan. And as long as it doesn't involve Hal Jordan saving the Universe by kissing alien chicks, I'm cool with it. (But as far as that goes, since when are Zamorans purple? During Millennium - yes, I know it sucked - they looked like human Amazons. But I guess that would be too confusing nowadays, especially with the Amazons Attack! event occurring silmultaneously.)
Using Superboy Prime, the Anti-Monitor, (who I thought was dead, wasn't he? Wasn't Alex Luthor's tower built from his corpse? Whatever.) and the Cyborg Superman is a good move too, although in the case of Superboy, isn't it a bit of overkill? It's like loading a biological weapon into a nuclear bomb. Again, whatever. Still, it's nice to see that the really good bad guys didn't get forgotten.
Plus, Kyle as the new Parallax? Ion's a stupid character evolution, although at least the concept is explained well here. So I'm down with that, too.
Is it just me, or would it be really cool to have a "Tales of the Sinestro Corps" ongoing feature or featurette, even after this event concludes?
This book was REALLY LONG! I was quite pleased. And the art was nicely done, too.
Well, that's all I have to say about that.

Wolverine Origins #15

Wolverine Origins #15
That's it. I quit. Get another writer on this title and we'll talk. But every month I put myself through 22 pages of torture, and for what? For a book that gives me absolutely no pleasure, other than its art, and which is instantly forgettable. I have no real idea what Carbonadium is, even though it seems to be essential to the plot. And that's really a huge problem, this many issues in. I have no idea who half of these characters are. I have no idea of where I could read the stories which are obviously being referenced here. And you know what? I really don't care. The only good part of this issue is the epilogue, and even that gets flubbed. Bucky says one thing, but the coded message says another. And some code! A six year-old could read it! And how would he even know to look for it? And how would all the ads for disparate services be grouped so perfectly together? And how would he know WHICH bus station? Like I said, the only good part about this AWFUL comic is the art. And even that doesn't do it for me anymore. This is the end. I'm not reading this book again. Can anyone REALLY give me a good reason why I should?

Silver Surfer: Requiem #2

Silver Surfer: Requiem #2
While not as good as the first issue, this one was another well-done comic. A basically self-contained Silver Surfer story about the final days of his life spent on Earth, as told from the perspective of Spider-Man. Jeez, if all of JMS's Spidey stories were as good as this one, I'd still be reading Amazing Spider-Man.

Questions, asked and answered: So why does the Surfer ride around on a Surfboard. Doesn't it seem a little, as Spidey puts it, "Hokey?" Answers the Surfer, "It is not a surfboard. It is--there is a human phrase that covers it. 'Form follows function.'" It was never a surfboard, we just imagined it to be so. It is, in fact, merely a vehicle to allow the Surfer to transport himself across the vastness of space, without being forced to close himself off from its majesty. Good question. It seems like this series is asking all the "silly" ("There are no silly questions. Merely good questions that remain unasked." I thank my second grade teachers for that one. It has dictated the course of my life.) questions that nobody ever thought to ask, and comes up with satisfying answers for them. And in turn offers us more complex questions to ponder. I don't want to make more out of this book than what it is - after all, it's merely a comic book - but it seems to be the closest thing to a readable philosophical survey (meaning the questions remain open ended...for pondering, but with no clear answers presented) that I have ever read, albeit in comics format.

To sum up the plot, imbuing Mary Jane with the Power Cosmic for an hour is a wonderful thing. And how nice to see that years from now, Spidey and MJ forever, no matter what JoeyDaQ might dictate editorially. And it's likewise nice to be shown Peter's selflessness in giving her the privilege which was intended for him.

Oddly, when the Surfer ends up giving the entire world a portion of his Power Cosmic, in order to make a go at ending the world's troubles by letting them understand the beauty of the Universe in which they reside, it seems that Fidel Castro is still alive. Or maybe it's just a clone. If they could clone a GOD, why not a dictator?

This particular issue started off rather slow, with a four page sequence (that truly felt longer - when I confirmed its length, I scarcely believed it) of Spider-Man battling a difficult opponent. Basically, he's outclassed. And then the Surfer shows up. And ends it all in seconds. Heh. Genius. Then he "surfs" away, while Peter calls out to him to stop and talk for a second. And when he finally unburdens himself, albeit in a different manner than in the last issue. This time it's "what could be done to fix the world so that people would no longer fight and oppress each other?" - a question which, until the very end, Peter cannot even begin to answer.

There was another point at which I feared that the book might be going off the rails: when Peter brings MJ to be imbued with the full Power Cosmic, I got the sense of "oh no, it's the Power Cosmic that's killing Norrin Radd, and now it's gonna kill MJ too, just like with the Spidey Spunk!", but then I rationalized those fears away by realizing that brief exposure to the power wouldn't kill her, it was merely a lifetime of exposure to it (compare this with tanning, which is slowly but surely killing us all with UV rays) - and who really knows how long it had been before we first saw the Silver Surfer - that was killing him. And I further realized, even though the book doesn't state this explicitly, that relinquishing the Power Cosmic would NOT cure Norrin Radd - the damage has already been done by his lifetime of exposure. Better for him to die as he's lived rather than to spend his final days yearning for a time that he could be free amidst the vast expanses of the universe.

I was going to bust the book down to very good, but upon reviewing my quibbles with it, I believe that it deserves to retain the rank of EXCELLENT which I shall continue to bestow upon it.

Also, I just realized: it hasn't even been a month since the first issue of this book was released! Sure, it goes towards cashing in on the popularity (or lack thereof) of the new Fantastic Four movie, but it remains refreshing to get a comic that's MORE THAN on time. (As opposed to my postings - sorry about that. I just wasn't feeling it last week, and barely read anything. It happens every so often - "Comic Book Burnout", I believe it's called. There's no scientific explanation for it yet.)

Another nice touch: Peter blesses the Silver Surfer with Requiescat in Pace, instead of the more common Rest in Peace, the backronym for RIP. Nice. Peter is, after all, extremely intelligent. That, to my mind, is exactly what he'd say. Well done.

And last, but not least, the art is beautiful yet again. Quite deserving of a rating of EXCELLENT, in my humble opinion.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Irredeemable Ant-Man #9

The Irredeemable Ant-Man #9
I just picked this up. I guess it must have just gotten left behind. But it's an incredibly EXCELLENT issue.
But...what's this? Could Eric O'Grady be becoming redeemable? (Or would that be unirredeemable?) Certainly not! Could he? There he is, having made a real friend of the Black Fox, having done Monstro a tremendous favor for nothing, and feeling bad about the $#!++y things he said to his girlfriend, Abigail. Actually crying! Does it make me a wuss if I admit that I cried too? It does? Well, then, I absolutely, positively, 100% affirm that I DID NOT cry! But I did smile wistfully when I saw Eric and Black Fox playing Wii with each other. And I laughed for nearly a minute straight when I got a look at Slaying Mantis' Superhuman Registration Card! Does this mean that the title will be changing? Perhaps to The UNirredeemable Ant-Man? Hopefully not ending, as this is one of the few books with the guts to call it like it is regarding that Civil War stupidity - "that's just a marketing term. It was a street fight -- not a war." That's absolutely true. And is, in fact, the most clever and refreshing quote I've read all week! Quote of the Week! And it's also so refreshing that this book is one of the few at Marvel without an Initiative banner. Those things are just so darn annoying, especially since the story inside usually has nothing to do with The Initiative.

And it has another EXCELLENT Mini Marvels back-up strip by Chris Giarrusso!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nova #1 - #3

Nova #1 - #3
Wow. These first three issues have been really good. Perhaps not Excellent, but nearly so. What makes them so incredible is, among other things, Nova's reaction to the aftermath of Civil War. As someone who's been off-world since before any of the Civil War stupidity began, he's shocked to discover the degree of importance which those he encounters ascribe to what, in the cosmic scale of things, amounts to not much more than a minor scuffle. While he was out saving the Galaxy, these small-minded individuals were ignoring anything beyond their petty disputes, elevating their small conflict to a disproportionate scale of import. And Rich recognizes this fact. And he tries to impress it upon those he speaks with - his parents, cops, Stark, the Thunderbolts, and - the stupidest evolution of a character in the history of the Marvel universe - "Penance". Nova BEGS Robbie not to get caught up in the petty dramas of self-important individuals. And then he just can't stand it anymore and takes off.

The best part of the third issue occurs following the Thunderbolts' confrontation with Nova where they put civilians in massive jeopardy, blow up entire buildings, and all because Richard isn't registered? Sure he is! He's a registered member of the Nova Corps! And if S.H.I.E.L.D. and the CSA (still the Confederate States of America to me) are unable to recognize the authority of any law force stationed in another country, let alone another world or part of the galaxy, well, then, there's something incredibly wrong with them.
At least Tony Stark takes them to task for having put civilians in danger for such a spurious goal as apprehending NOVA! He promises consequences, but I doubt that these will be forthcoming in any other book. Seriously, most of the writers on Civil War aftermath books seem to think that it was a terrific plot device, and the greatest thing since the New X-Men! This book shows it for what it is. Stupid. And, unfortunately, something that must now be dealt with. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - this is what happens when you make a penciller your editor-in-chief.

Also, it's quite refreshing to actually have a book bannered as an Initiative crossover which has something to do with the Initiative, unlike most books bannered thusly, which often don't even pay it lip service!

More on fanfic

The problem is that, as pointed out by some, “fan fiction” characterizes an entire genre of writing. (One could go so far as to say that ALL comics are fan fiction, since they are written by fans, and that if the writers AREN’T fans, then they have no business writing! - Take, for example, many of the Pre-OYL Batman and Superman books, especially Batman, which read as if the writers actually HATED Batman’s guts, not to mention those of his supporting cast.)

There’s good fan-fiction and bad fan-fiction. Many of today’s writers got their starts because someone noticed their personal fan-fiction and thought that it was good enough to pay them for it. Devin Grayson is a very clear example, whether you like her work or not.

Then there’s bad fan-fiction. This type of work can often characterized as pieces which are rife with misspellings, poor grammar and syntax, many internal contradictions, and a disregard to established characterization or continuity.

To say that something is reminiscent of “fan-fiction” says nothing of one’s opinion of the work. It is indeed similar to comparing the work in question to “pre-Raphaelite architecture”.

In order for a reviewer to use the term as a criticism, he must first explain what he considers to be BAD (about) fan-fiction - at least once - and then contrast the work in question to said fanfic. Otherwise, usage of the term tells the reader nothing concrete - it can be construed in many different ways. So, sure, some readers may get it - but only those who are extremely familiar with the reader’s likes and dislikes. Those who are not on such intimate terms with the reviewer are more likely than not to feel lost and confused.

Case in point: “McDuffie though, has all the bad aspects of fanfiction, except it’s competently executed enough that the laughably bad elements of fanfiction are eliminated.”

What does that mean? All the bad elements of fanfiction except not? Most of the problems with fanfiction are competency issues - basically people who, pardon the expression, can’t write for shit.
But since the reviewer states that McDuffie’s work IS competent, what exactly does he view as negative about it? What additional elements does he view as negative about fanfiction in general? This is what is not clearly elucidated and becomes difficult for the casual reader (which, I’d venture to say, most readers are,) to penetrate.

Avengers Classic #1

Avengers Classic #1
Wow! That was one of the best books I've read this year! Lee and Kirby's story still holds up - but that's not the centerpiece of this issue: it's the Dwayne McDuffie and Oeming piece "Some Assembly Required" or "What If...The Avengers had been written like JLI?" Michael Avon Oeming's art on this section is absolutely amazing, and the dialogue by McDuffie is outstanding. While we're talking about JLI, bring in Kevin Maguire to do the book's third feature "The Real Origin of the Avengers", wherein Stan Lee reveals that it was all about the royalties...and Captain America too. Maguire's art looks a bit off in places, though. But it's really nice to see Stan Lee looking like he did forty something years ago! Both of these latter stories have EXCELLENT dialogue, and lots of cute visual details as well. I'd give this issue Quote of the Week if I could narrow it down to one. But I can't. So I won't. There's only one possible rating for this book: EXelCELLENTsior!
And how cool is it that they're going to be reprinting the original letters pages?

Monday, June 18, 2007

On "fan-fiction", "Mary Sue", and "continuity porn"

For most of the last twenty years, the term “fan-fiction” meant a story using the trademarked characters of others - necessarily published online, anonymously, or with massive disclaimers to preclude lawsuits - which was not published with the authorization of the entity whose trademarked characters appeared within.

Stories published in novel format involving Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty (there are lots of these) are NOT fan-fiction, as they are authorized by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Stories published online involving (this is real) Gambit and Rogue using a dampener collar to negate her powers so that they could have sex ARE fan-fiction. (But seriously, why DIDN’T they ever?)

It has irked me ever since the term fan-fiction started appearing in comics criticism. If the story is published by the entity which owns the characters, then it, by established definition, is NOT fan-fiction.

Mary Sue-ing is something else entirely though, as when Devin Grayson created a character in Nightwing who was quite obviously supposed to represent herself. Still, this was signed off on by DC editorial, so it can NOT be termed fan-fiction.

It seems that nowadays, whenever a writer decides to take a direction with the characters or books they’re writing that a reviewer does not agree with (however justifiably), said reviewers often attempt to disqualify the work by terming it fan-fiction, or worse, continuity-porn - another term which must be addressed. Until recently, continuity was a major factor in super hero comics. It was important to readers to make everything being done nowadays by characters fit with their established histories. Recently, when writers attempt to do so, they are criticized.

In my opinion, this sort of name calling is nothing but sloppy reviewing. It allows the reviewer to denigrate the work being critiqued without having to explain to their readers what their actual objections to the work are. It’s akin to saying “this rubs me the wrong way”, which, in and of itself, is acceptable - because it applies a personal feeling to the critique. However, when critics use terms like those being discussed, it is basically taking a personal feeling and attempting to justify it via a pseudo-logical argument. It’s a cheat. "I don't like this. I don't know why, I just don't." And this shouldn’t be done. Unfortunately, I see no signs of it stopping, nor do I envision it stopping. The most that can be done is for reviewers like ourselves to lead the way by refusing to use these terms, in favor of using actual logical arguments against works which we don’t like.

Sub-Mariner #1

Sub-Mariner #1
Well, it's competent, at least. Really, though, I don't see the need for this story. And where's the Initiative? The book is bannered a crossover, so wouldn't that imply their involvement?
In the scope of the larger Marvel Universe, now that the Superhuman Registration Act has gone into effect, what are the general populace going to do the next time a Stamford-scale tragedy occurs? They've already blamed the superheroes, and were listened to. So who are they going to blame now?

Civil War was stupid, there's no doubt about that. Seriously, people don't react as they were portrayed in that series. However, since they have been portrayed like that, what will these irrational fear mongerers do now? Who will they scapegoat next?

Notice that I didn't have much to say about this particular book? That's because I really don't believe that Namor is going to die as hinted at in the book's opening pages. It makes no sense. (Therefore, you must acquit.) Whatever, all I can muster so far is an EH. At least it's better than the Namor series from a few years back which tried to rewrite Namor's origin in modern times or some such nonsense.

Birds of Prey #106

Birds of Prey #106
I've had this review sitting around, because I forgot to publish it:

Dark Vengeance! SSSS!!! The only bad point in this issue is not enough Ice. Otherwise, KICKASS!! EXCELLENT.

Superhero Songs

I've been meaning to talk about this for a while, as I'm sure that some of you may appreciate it.
There's an underappreciated subgenre of modern music which stretches through multiple genres of music - from Classical to Hip Hop, from Country to Metal. That's right, I'm talking about songs about or inspired by superheroes.

I got the idea to research this topic way back when Superman Returns was released. My wife and I went to see it in IMAX 3D, but unfortunately arrived after all but the front rows had been filled. IMAX 3D is a wonderful idea, but it really doesn't work if you're so close to the screen that you can't take in the entire picture at once.
So we stayed for another showing, and this time we sat in the back row. It was so much more enjoyable that way.

During the break between showings, I noticed that every single song being played on the theater's speaker system concerned superheroes in some manner. Sure, some were only cursory references, but it still intrigued me. So, after doing some research, I've compiled a list of songs based or inspired, or at least referencing superheroes in some manner. It's by no means definitive. And the association may be tenuous at best for a number of the songs. But as I've listened to various of them on constant repeat at one point or another (right now, I've been listening to Danny Elfman's brilliant theme for the Flash TV show from back in 1990-1991), I figured that now would be as good a time as any to share some of my playlist with you.

1. The Flash - TV Theme - Danny Elfman
2. The Ballad of Barry Allen - Jim's Big Ego (led by Jim Infantino, co-creator Carmine's nephew)
3. Arthur Curry - Ookla the Mok
4. Surfing with the Alien - Joe Satriani (a Silver Surfer song, made obvious by the Surfer's presence on the album cover)
5. Back to Shall-Bal - Joe Satriani
6. Revolution - Aimee Allen (theme to the short-lived tv series, Birds of Prey)
7. There There - Radiohead (opening music for the unaired pilot of Global Frequency - goddamn WB!)
8. Save Me - Evanescence (from the Daredevil soundtrack, notable for the fact that the video used clips from the film)
9. I Am the Law - Anthrax (Judge Dredd)
10-11. Iron Man - Black Sabbath; Ozzy Osbourne (both versions. In the aftermath of Civil War, the Iron Man in the song seems much closer to the Iron Man in the comics than ever before. Could this be an indication of where Marvel intends to take the character?)
12. Hero - Chad Kroeger (from the Spider-Man soundtrack)
13. Sanctuary - Darling Violetta (the Angel theme song. Several remixes of this song exist - try to find the original.)
14-15. Sunshine Superman - Donovan; Jewel (sure, lots of songs make mention of a Superman, but this one mentions Green Lantern too! The remake is pretty good.)
16. Superman - Five for Fighting
17. Save Me - Remy Zero (Smallville's theme song)
18. Thor (The Powerhead) - Manowar (maybe not the Thor from comics, but come on: "Thor! The Mighty. Thor! The Brave." How could I not include that?)
19. Real World - Matchbox 20 (he gets "this funky high under a yellow sun". If that's not a Superman reference, then I don't know what is.)
20-21. Buffy the Vampire Slayer - TV Theme - Nerf Herder; The Breeders (The Breeders' version can be found on the BTVS - The Ultimate Soundtrack disc.)
22. Batman and Robin - Snoop Dogg
23. Superman - The Clique; R.E.M. (also used for the theme to the release of Lotus' R5 devlopers' pack years back. I actually prefer the original version.)
24. Jimmy Olsen's Blues (Pocket Full of Kryptonite) - Spin Doctors
25. In the Garage - Weezer (mentions Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler)
26. Ode to a Superhero - Weird Al Yankovic (his Spider-Man/Piano Man parody)
27. Psychotron - Megadeth (full of refences to Deathlok)
28. Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof - Travis Tritt (another Superman song. Sure, I hate country, but...)
29. Save Me - Aimee Mann (from the Magnolia soundtrack. It has a single reference to Superman - obviously the superhero, as he's preceded by a mention of Peter Pan. And it's a great song from a great film.)
30. Kryptonite - Three Doors Down
31. Superbird - Country Joe and the Fish (makes mention of Superman, The Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man)
32. Superman - Crash Test Dummies
33. Superman's Dead - Our Lady Peace (probably not the Superman, but a great song nonetheless. And if not for the Superman, would any popular songs make reference to Superman?)
34. Magneto and the Titanium Man - Paul McCartney and Wings
35. The NEXTWAVE Theme Song!!!

That's just a selection. They're not all good songs, but they all certainly qualify - as the properties they reference have all been featured in comic books. More later.

JLA Classified #39

JLA Classified #39
This story remains GOOD, even after its third installment. Kid Amazo is well equipped to fight his programming due to his background in Philosophy - a hook that we would never get from any other writer than Milligan (maybe DeMatteis and Veitch, too). Kid Amazo, as a means of rebelling against his programming, dresses up like a super hero and fights bad guys, hoping to force a confrontation with his "father". Good stuff.

My only quibble is that Frank's girlfriend dumps him waaaay too easily, which makes no sense unless she's enacting a plan initiated by Wonder Woman for some reason.

Superman seems to take much more of a philosophical role in this book than he normally woruld, encroaching on territory which would normally be Batman's purview. Also, it seems that the Justice League featured in this story is quite similar to that featured in the Justice League television series, especially in the characterization of Batman - he actually smiles!

Like I said, a GOOD issue, with absolutely none of it feeling like filler. From the next issue solicit, it seems that the storyline spans at least five issues, more likely six. I hope that it continues to move along at this pace, because this speed really feels like a good fit for the story. There's a lot to tell, and Milligan has been telling it well.

Fables #62

Fables #62
Wow! That was REALLY REALLY GOOD! I've still got some unanswered questions, but I see now that all is proceeding according to a plan. Is this the endgame? It certainly feels like everything which happened up until now has been leading to this. If so, I'm saddened, but satisfied nonetheless. And if not, hooray! An EXCELLENT story in this EXCELLENT series. Even better for the fact that although this is part three of an arc, it reads well enough as a single issue to be taken on its own merits.

Batman Confidential #6

Batman Confidential #6
I haven't exactly been waiting for each issue of this book to hit the stands, but when it does show up, I find myself very pleased after having read it. This issue is no exception. The conclusion to a VERY GOOD inaugural storyline set in the very early days of the Bat. So early, in fact, that this issue marks the point at which Bruce Wayne began the Wayne Foundation and ceased all defense contracting by his company. Unfortunately, while a grand gesture, I wonder what all those employees of Wayne's munitions and armory plants thought when they got pink slipped. Somehow, I don't quite think that altruism will go over so well with the blue-collareds. Of course, Bruce being Bruce, it's quite likely that he found other places for them within his company. My point is, that's not the kind of thing that can be done overnight, which is what Bruce is shown to have done here. Still, this detracts not at all from the main storyline, that of the Batman's dismantling of Lex Luthor's plan to use government funded super soldier drones to take over the United States.
A nice touch in the artwork in this issue is that in close-ups of the Batman's cowl, it's obvious that it's taut fabric, as opposed to a helmet or Kevlar. It's a nice touch, as Batman developed his armory over time by seeing what was necessary and adapting his costume and utilities to match. It's that kind of attention to smail details that I appreciate in the books that I read.
Next issue begins a new storyline though, with a new team. Diggle did a great job. I would definitely read his work elsewhere if given the chance. However, I've never heard of this fellow Michael Green. They say he's a writer/producer on "Heroes". So perhaps he'll do just as well. I'm not keeping my hopes up, though. (Also problematic may be the fact that most often, television writers are unable to turn their scripts in on time.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Green Lantern Corps #13

Green Lantern Corps #13
That's an ugly cover, but it hides a pretty GOOD issue. Finally, a basically done-in-one issue which wraps up the crazy Mogo storyline, uses the Lantern team of Isamot Kol and Vath Sarn more effectively than has been done since their introduction, and really gets the most out of Soranik Natu. It also has good characterizations of Kilowog and Guy and a well-done (re)introduction to Mogo's sector partner, a sentient insect named Bzzd. (See? I'm trying here.)

This is the kind of issue that should have been done a year ago. It sets up major Lanterns, provides a good introduction and plenty of face time, has them interact, and resolves a plot issue all at once.

Oh yeah, the resolution? Well, one of my friends said that he thought that Mogo had defected to the Sinestro Corps. Not so, but he was close - all the crazy shit on Mogo has been caused by a sentient fugus that is no doubt a member of the Sinestro Corps. Mogo defeats said fungus by maneuvering himself into the path of an asteroid to wipe it out.

See? I'm not biased against this series. When a book is GOOD, I'll admit it. I just wish every issue of this title were, too.

Exiles #95

Exiles #95
Okay, so I see that Claremont is now co-writing this title. Does that mean that he'll soon be gone? One can only hope.

Reading this issue feels like watching a movie where the audio and visual aren't synched up quite properly. First example? Betsy shouts "OFF!" while erecting a psychokinetic energy barrier, while the lights go on on - simultaneously, and Morph shrieks like a little girl. Cute, but what?

Next, the monologues as the characters remember back to their first days as Exiles - or whatever - are completely disjointed. To continue the film metaphors, it's as if they were spliced in from a different part of the film, or as if the projectionist forgot to load one of the reels.

Then the Exiles appear to have been sitting down at a table to eat. Thing is, the only one of them who has food in front of him is Morph, the only one who doesn't NEED to eat, and quite possibly can't. Maybe that's why the food is still in front of him - he couldn't eat it. But does that mean that the others were so hungry that they ate their plates and utensils too? Secondly, the art makes it seem as if Blink is coming into the room instead of standing up from the meal, as I suppose she must be. Either that or she's coming back from the kitchen alone where the rest of the team sent her because for some reason she's bussing the table. What? Why the hell aren't they helping? Okay, Miguel and Betsy I can understand, they cooked. But what about the rest of them?

Then Heather's hologram comes on and says that she was waiting for them to ask her a question so that the program could run. Problem is, Blink asked a question in the first few minutes following their arrival at the crystal palace, namely, "Heather, what happened to your control room?" If that's not a question, then I really don't know what crazy ass planet Claremont comes from. That's a fucking question!

And the dialogue. Oh my god, the dialogue. It's just so unbelievably hackneyed. Nobody I have ever met in my entire life talks like that. There even seem to be entire lines of conversation missing!

Another observation: what do the Exiles do when they get home and find the place abandoned? Why of course, they go sightseeing, musing to themselves. Then they have a huge meal. Sorry, if that's the way they do things, then I'd rather these not be the heroes I'd have to rely on. Like, what about repairing the apparent damage so they could maybe, oh, I don't know, actually try to figure out what happened? It's just so incredibly stupid. Claremont at his best. Or worst, depending on your perspective, I suppose.

Now an observation as to wardrobe. The Exiles return wearing COMPLETELY NEW OUTFITS! So, I guess they had time to go shopping before they came home. And the baggage restrictions must have been so tight that they couldn't bring their costumes with them. And apparently, they're able to get back to the dimension nexus of the crystal palace at a whim. And then they change clothes. And then they change clothes AGAIN. And then AGAIN!

Later on, there's a scene where Miggy's working upside down on the controls. And he drops a wrench that looks like it could only be used to bash someone on the head, not to perform delicate repairs with. But the point is, he DROPS it! For absolutely NO APPARENT REASON!

Then, on the next page, Blink says "get suited up Exiles,we're back in business." The thing is, Miggy is the only one not in costume! And on the same page, Miguel says that the reality in trouble appears to be very similar to his own. The thing is, the individuals there all seem to be current analogues. So either he's lying, wrong, or the master of bad dialogue strikes AGAIN!

Yuck. If Claremont is truly going to be leaving this title soon, it can't be soon enough. AWFUL.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

New Warriors #1

New Warriors #1
EH. Really, the thing that annoys me the most about this book is Beak's "new" new look. I mean, when he lost his mutation, he still had a ginormous schnoz. But here he is looking like a pretty boy. And he's married. And has kids. And what's he doing? Hitting on another girl. The pathos we're supposed to feel for Sophia is tainted, because...she never had wings! She was a weather manipulator, kind of like a lower grade Storm. And if non powered people do non powered things and catch criminals, isn't that called a citizens arrest? Isn't that supposed to be legal? So what's the big deal here? Whatever.

World War Hulk #1

World War Hulk #1
While a bit unwieldly at times, this book is still one of the best things I've read since the beginning of Civil War. I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to Hulk ripping Iron Man's puny human head off. However, now that that's done, is the rest of the War going to be about taking vengeance on Reed and Strange? Not to mention Doc Samson. Anyways, a VERY GOOD start to this year's summer event from Marvel, and as I said in an earlier post, Hulk's anger is righteous and I hope that he gets his vengeance.

New X-Men #39

New X-Men #39
Skottie Young is extremely versatile. However, as far as his work on this title, which has been all action and no respite for this and last issues, I think that the style he's chosen is horribly mismatched.
Sure, it's cute and all, but it doesn't work well for action sequences. For dialogue sequences where no crazy shit is going on it's perfect, but not for this.

It seems that this title is once again devolving into a death fest. People seem to be dying left and right, either at the hands of Belasco, or at the hands of Magik. It's weird, I thought she was a hero!

I have no idea who half of these kids are supposed to be. Have we ever seem them before? And why don't we even get little caption boxes telling us who they are? Perhaps it's the art, but I really don't recognize them.

The art in this book isn't half as bad as Bachalo's work on X-Men, but it's still difficult to read.

Fortunately, the action sequences don't really make much of a difference. In fact, they could probably be omitted entirely and merely referenced in dialogue and the story would work just as well. Not that I like where the story seems to be going, but at least it's competent. A very low OKAY.

[Edit: On further rumination, it pisses me off that this issue is EXACTLY the same as last issue, yet nothing happens. And with the supposed "death" of X-23, it's patently obvious that none of these "deaths" are going to stick, which robs the story of any dramatic tension whatsoever, not that there was that much to begin with. New rating: CRAP.]

New Avengers #31

New Avengers #31
Huh. Well, that was unexpected. Whodathunkit? But does it really explain anything? Or, as Danny implies, does it only raise additional questions?
Take a look at that last page - Jessica really should be breast feeding her baby. He's apparently not getting enough nutrients!
The best part of this issue was the scene where Spidey and Hawkeye/Ronin were quipping together. In fact, it was so good that I'm going to post a scan of it here and nominate it for Quote of the Week!
This book is highly OKAY, but in the wake of Civil War still doesn't seem to have found its footing. Prior to CW it was mostly good. Lately it's been - not so much.

Green Arrow #75

Green Arrow #75
What??? That's it? It's over? Why? This series has consistently been one of my favorites over the last several years. Even when their own writers were screwing up Batman and Superman, even the Flash, this series maintained a sense of constancy throughout. It was a touchstone. A sign of just how good the DCU could be. Sure, there were bad parts, most notably giving Mia HIV. But that seems to have gone by the wayside. Perhaps in the NEW DCU she's no longer infected?
Another high point is the art. Even when the pencils changed hands, the art retained the qualities that made it so readable in the beginning of the series.
But what's this? After we were promised that Ollie + Dinah forever, we don't even get an answer here? We have to wait for another miniseries? And why do we need a series about Green Arrow: Year One? We know how he started. And there was the Year One annual a few years back to refresh us on it. And he's referred back to it many times. I'd go so far as to say that we need a Green Arrow: Year One miniseries like we need a miniseries about Daredevil's father...waitaminit...darn.
I just hope that DC editorial makes the right decision here and allows GA to finally find some happiness in the arms of the only woman he's ever truly loved.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #21

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #21

After reading that scene with Robbie and JJ earlier in the book, I seriously thought that Jameson was going to have a change of heart. That it was time that he finally saw his misguided crusade against Spider-Man for what it was. Boy, was I kidding myself, or what? His ego is too big to ever let him admit fault or even the slightest bit of responsibility for the perpetuation of the "Spider-Man as public menace" meme.

Ero still doesn't grab me as a villain. To me, she recalls the worst bits of JMS' spider totem ideas for Spidey without bringing in any of the positive aspects of that storyline.
It's cute, though, that Spidey gets to fighting her with his spikes. Kinda sorta like he's going Wolverine on her, or something.

The dialogue in this book is great and witty as always. I just really don't care about the villain at all. I'm scared for Spidey, sure, but does anyone really think that anything would really happen to him? NOW who's kidding themselves? To me, it's all about making the villain interesting, and Ero just really doesn't fit the bill. Seriously, didn't we FINISH the "Other" storyline?

The only reason I'll give this book a rating of OKAY is due to the dialogue.

Countdown #46

Countdown #46
No matter how much time is supposedly progressing within this series, the actual plot shows little, if any, forward momentum. I really don't care for this book. I may read it for a while longer, but it's the kind of book wherein you must turn your brain off before reading it, and then just READ it. There's no enjoyment here (save for Jurgens' back-up strips - who would have figured, right?), and there's absolutely no emotion felt by the readers for the characters as written. They're flat, two-dimensional. In fact, most of the characters could probably be substituted with others and nobody would notice. This entire exercise is failing. EH.

Cable & Deadpool #41

Cable & Deadpool #41

Another amazing cover by the incredibly versatile Skottie Young. Wow - get a load of that!

As much as I disliked last issue, this one was rather good. We get back to Cable again, Deadpool comes in to save the day, Domino gets to do some stuff, and Cable and Deadpool make up. Not too shabby. Unfortunately, all this comes with a hefty price tag - the utter destruction of Providence. Obviously, it's something that was very difficult to fit into the general Marvel universe, but it was still a nice idea. Now, though, Cable has to start all over.

The X-Men cameo in this issue isn't too annoying, as their entire function is to summarize the events in the last X-Men issue. That's okay with me. I haven't been reading X-Men, as I've said before, because I really can't stand the art - I just find it unbelievably distracting. When I read a comic book I don't want to have to puzzle over what the hell is supposed to be going on in its panels. The visual information should jump out at me. It shouldn't be incomprehensible. I shouldn't have to spend ten minutes on each action sequence trying to figure out what the hell is happening. I shouldn't have to complain this much either.

So imagine my chagrin when I got to this issue's final page and learned that it was going to be continued in X-Men #200! Why? Fortunately though, if this issue is any indication, I'll probably be able to skip it, as the next issue of C&D will fill me in adequately as to the events which occurred therein. VERY GOOD. This issue contains all the elements that made me love this book in the first place.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #4

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #4
Well that was quite a lot of fun. This issue was EXACTLY what the final segment of the TV shows used to be like. Breakneck action with dialogue that flows between characters and scenes, without any letup. It reminds me just why I loved the show so much. And how every year Ally McBeal kept get nominated for an Emmy as a comedy, but Buffy never did - it was just outrageous! Not that Ally wasn't funny, but it wasn't half as witty as most episodes of Buffy!

I'm sorry to read that Joss is stepping away from the series to become its executive producer, but nothing else. Still, BKV's no slouch, and I know that he's a long time Buffy fan, so maybe this series will do alright under his pen. Still, there's no match for Joss.

I love that Joss was able to keep this story moving along, bringing in a host of elements, but never once letting the story slow down or suffer from it. If only he could do likewise for Astonishing X-Men, which merely seems to meander from issue to issue - well-written as they may be, nothing happens! This arc saw a complete story told from beginning to end, with the inclusion of new and old, villains, elements, and friends. It is wonderfully EXCELLENT. I'm so glad that I've been buying this series. I look forward to its future issues.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ultimate Fantastic Four #42

Ultimate Fantastic Four #42
See, I'm still not caring about this series under Mike Carey's pen. It's just been so utterly and completely EH, that, like I said last time, much as it pains me to admit, I miss Mark Millar.
I feel completely lost from the very beginning. Not even - from the recap page! It's like there's an entire issue missing between last issue and this one. I had no idea who half these people were, where they came from, or what they were doing in the Baxter building.

Mike Carey really doesn't know how to write these characters properly. For instance, since Reed is so brilliant, then why would a machine that he created read an object with no gravity well to be a star? First of all, that's just ridiculous. Anybody with even a rudimentary knowledge of astronomy knows that the best way to find stars that you can't see is to check for the presence of their gravity affecting neighboring objects. Since these stars are in an alternate universe, wouldn't it make sense that the best way of detecting them would not be to say "ooooh, shiny", but rather to try to detect centers of immense gravity? Wouldn't that just make sense?
Also, has Reed not gotten in enough trouble tapping alternate universes? Let's see: the negative zone, the Marvel Zombie universe, the Ultimate Squadron Supreme universe, the Thanos universe, President Thor's universe - am I missing any? Do you see a pattern here? NONE of those experiments ended well for Reed. None. So what the hell's wrong with this kid, that for fun he just goes ahead and devises other methods of tapping alternate universes? Isn't he supposed to be smarter than that? And if he really IS that stupid, then why don't the powers that be at the Baxter building have safeguards to prevent Reed from doing this over and over again? At least during most of the aforementioned episodes there was a good reason for Reed to try. Here? He wants to make some thingamabob doohickey work, so naturally his first impulse is to tap energy sources from alternate universes! Wha huh?

Also mischaracterized: Sue Storm. Since when is she a bimbette? She's a frickin' scientist for god's sake - she doesn't say things like "pick that one, it looks shiny". I mean, seriously, what the hell?

And let me get this straight, the Ultimate universe's version of the Silver Surfer is basically something like a sun eater? How does that make any sense whatsoever? Seriously, the version in the mainstream Marvel universe makes more sense than this. See what happens when you make Galactus into Gah-Lak-Tus? You end up with shite like this.

Paqual Ferry's art seems to be solidifying somewhat, but it still needs quite a lot of work.

The only positive aspect of this book involves a poker game played by Ben Grimm, his mother (of all people), and Willie Lumpkin!

Everything else is pure garbage.

Utterly CRAP.

This story is so obviously contrived - there's absolutely no reason for the Silver Surfer to be here except to capitalize on the fact that the new Fantastic Four movie is opening this coming weekend.

And does this book not actually HAVE an editor on it? Dear Marvel, would you consider hiring me? I'd work pro bono...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Silver Surfer: Requiem #1

Silver Surfer: Requiem #1
See, I always wondered about that. If he's so stretchy, why doesn't Reed just sit in a comfy chair or couch instead of bending over his microscope? I know that it can't be uncomfortable for him, but it sure looks uncomfortable (and is, for those of us of the non-stretch persuasion). But JMS explains it all, in terms that make so much sense that if he were writing the explanation in a letter, he'd have won a no-prize: Reed tried it once, but it looked so freaky that Sue told him that if he ever did it again, he'd spend six months sleeping on the sofa!

However, and this may be my failing to have read enough old comics, did Galactus really tell Norrin that he didn't have a herald? The dialogue here strongly implies that the idea was a new one to Galactus. But we've seen that he's had many, many heralds. Sure, the Silver Surfer isn't the LEAST of them, but he's not the first.

Also, another question just occurred to me. Galactus is not a malevolent entity, he simply IS. That being the case, why would it matter to him if a world were inhabited or not? And since it obviously wouldn't matter to him, then why would he require that it not matter to his herald? Obviously he wouldn't. So why remove the herald's conscience and memory? Just let the herald serve the food and let Galactus eat it - regardless of the herald's personal moral requirements. Ahhhh, but then we wouldn't have had the first Galactus story, and possibly no others. So, literary requirement, I suppose. Still, if anyone has an answer, let me know please. But send it in an email to Marvel so that you can win your no-prize, first.

I find it difficult, after all this time, to believe that nobility in the face of death is an exclusively human trait. Or that it is, rather, exclusive enough that no other race which was ever fed upon by Galactus (while heralded by the Silver Surfer) possessed it. Of course, this conceit is, once again, central to the story posited in the original Fantastic Four #48-50, and while I understand that it was the only way to make the story work, I still view it as a cheat. After all, we've come into contact with a host of alien races in the Marvel Universe since 1961, and many of them have displayed similar nobility. The Kree, for example. And, since Galactus is nowhere near as unknown throughout the galaxy as he was shown to be on Earth - and it is often implied that many of the races we've encountered have also fallen victim, at one time or another, to Galactus - it's nearly inconceivable to presume that the Silver Surfer never encountered the aforementioned nobility prior to visiting Earth. Perhaps he merely never took as active a role in the digestion of a world before that point. However, if that truly is the case, one must question why it was so.

A thought on continuity. In the Annihilation series, Silver Surfer was shown becoming Galactus' herald once more. At that point, it would be assumed that his creation was renewed. Thus, the cosmic shell protecting his body would also have been renewed. In fact, a greater argument for this supposed renewal can be seen in current issues of Fantastic Four where the Surfer appears to no longer be held sway to his emotions. All that being said, it would thus imply that this series occurs either outside the normal constraints of continuity, or rather at some distant point in the future where, once again, the Surfer has relinquished his duties as Galactus' herald. Of course, this isn't as difficult as it would seem. It would be made considerably easier now that Galactus has rediscovered his heritage as Galen, sole survivor of the universe that came before ours. He has also been shown in recent years to have a more comfortable rapport with the Surfer. Thus, if several years (or decades, more likely,) into the future the Surfer decided that he was burning out, it's conceivable that Galactus would allow him to retire/resign. After all, Galactus has had many heralds, not the least of which has been the Silver Surfer, of course, and many served him for a much shorter time than he, so even though a herald's individuality may be miniscule when compared to the scale that is Galactus, Galactus may have very well acceded to these wishes.
Back to my original point, this story must therefore be set quite some time in the future - or is it? After all, the FF still seem to be the same age, especially Johnny. Perhaps this story is set outside the constraints of continuity altogether. This may perhaps be the case, and JMS is merely using the characters and their shared universe in order to tell a more concise tale of an individual's struggle to come to terms with his impending death.
Alternatively, this story may have been written prior to the Annihilation event, and thus would remain a logical in-continuity conclusion to the Silver Surfer's story.

My one fear for this series, which, as of this issue, is well written, well thought out, and remarkably poignant, especially for such a simplistic premise, is that it may devolve into "you were killed by my radioactive jizz!" like Spider-Man: Reign did. But perhaps not. And anyways, that story was failing from the very first issue. This one appears to have something to say.

Marvel has spent this current decade doing many similar stories with its characters, telling tales bannered "The End". Most, (with the notable exception of Fantastic Four: The End,) have been quite bad. Hopefully this series, with its remarkably GOOD beginning, will not share that fate.

Oh, and it has BEAUTIFUL art, too.

Justice Society of America #6

Justice Society of America #6
This crossover has only been good when it's been in JSA. When it's been in JLA it's been slow, unwieldly, poorly written, and AWFUL, overall. But when it's been in JSA, it's been wonderful. The characters are written with love, their interactions are witty and cleverly written, the story advances, and things happen. This issue made me smile. The full two page spread of the JLA, JSA, and Legion was wonderful (even if the Legionnaires weren't really there). EXCELLENT.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Witchblade/The Punisher #1

Witchblade/The Punisher #1
Seriously, what was the point of this book? It has nothing to do with anything, and it isn't even a particularly good Punisher story either. Nothing happens. No, seriously, nothing happens. Punisher stops a prison transport with a con turning state's evidence in it. And kills him. The end.

The major problem with this story is the Punisher's rationale for killing the bad guy before allowing him to turn state's evidence: by letting justice do its thing first, the Punisher could have ensured that many more vicious criminals were removed from the streets. By killing him first, that can never happen. The FBI/DA's office doesn't allow criminals like this to turn state's evidence unless they really can't make their cases without them. So the Punisher just goes ahead and fucks that all up. Yeah, I think he's smarter than that. Seriously, if it's so easy for him to waylay a prison transport, then how hard could it be for him to get to someone in prison? Hell, he's done it before. The best was when he did it during the Riker's Island prison riot in Daredevil.

But I digress. This book sucks. Totally useless CRAP.

Justice League Unlimited #34

Justice League Unlimited #34
As far as this series goes, this issue is relatively subpar. Blue Beetle is horribly mischaracterized as a dimwit...although it's possibly a nod to his JLI days - although he was still brilliant then. The presence of Mxyzptlk was given away too early, as was that of Ray Palmer and his "present". Still, the issue makes good use of Booster as a team player, so it can't be a total loss. And better yet, Vig', Ralph, and Ray show up in the final panel along with some other supporting characters.
But once again, someone has no idea how to draw Superman. And J'onn J'onzz looks like he's anorexic. And what an UGLY cover! OKAY.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

JSA Classified #27

JSA Classified #27
Actually a pretty GOOD story. Nice to know it'll be done next isue too. Wildcat puts a beating on Sportsmaster, who's developed a gambling problem, and has thus bet on himself to beat Wildcat. Instead, Wildcat ends up becoming a sponsor of sorts for him, and tries to keep him out of the casinos. Apparently there's a new ring of betting parlours that caters to superhero speculation: who'll be the next member of the JLA, who'll be the next hero to die, when Ra's Al Ghul will come back to life, how long it'll take Superman to defeat the parasite, etc. Unbelievably, though, Roulette has nothing to do with it. Still, it has the makings of a GOOD story.

Birds of Prey #107

Birds of Prey #107
Ice proves it really is she. I love Gail Simone. A great fight between Simone's two super-teams, and a nice team-up at the end. Snarky dialogue as always, and tight plotting that I'll miss once Simone leaves the title. And have I mentioned how much I love Misfit? I love Misfit! "Dark Vengeance! Sssssss!" VERY GOOD.

Countdown #47

Countdown #47
I love Mary Marvel, the hottest freakin' chick in the whole DCU!
Otherwise, this book was pretty lame.
I'd like see some editor's notes telling me when the referenced events in History of the Multiverse occurred, but that's still not bad. Except for the dubious placement of the word balloons, which makes it extremely difficult to follow the narration.
Also, the new storyline involving Holly Robinson makes no sense whatsoever. Was Calculator unable to remove her data from the police databases? And if so, why didn't we see anything of that in Catwoman? And why on Earth would Holly move to Metropolis, of all places, instead of Nowheresville, USA? And not take Karon with her? Besides being completely out of character for her, it's both unbelievably stupid and stupidly unbelievable.

Nightwing #133

Nightwing #133
When was Dick with this girl named Liu? Am I supposed to remember her? Whatever. Otherwise, it's an eh issue. But merely the inclusion of Vigilante raises it a grade to OKAY!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Blue Beetle #15

Blue Beetle #15
Cute. I like the newer, nicer Livewire. Some continuity from Busiek's Action Comics.
But really, nothing happens in this issue. No forward momentum of the plot at all. It teases some movement, and then....the issue ends. That's it. Well, that's not fair. That's not good enough. That's not satisying. That's not good writing. Sure, on the surface, there's nothing wrong with this issue. But when you really think about it, it's nothing but a colossal letdown.
I don't think that it's time yet to have guest writers. Artists are fine as long as they can make the characters recognizable (unlinke Rouleau's guest stint earlier in this title). But if they're not going to move the story along, ditch the guest writers. I want meat. Not gravy. I'd like to say okay, but EH.

Oh, and that cover? Yet another artist who can't draw Superman. What's wrong with you people?

Action Comics #850

Action Comics #850
A satisfying read. It's nice to get my first glance at Supergirl looking like a real girl, and not just stick figure baby. Cute story, with nice fanboy nods thrown in. Some continuity questions arise though, are all the previous iterations of Superman now considered to be in alternate universes? Including Doomsday? What about the hinted at meetings of young Superman (we won't call him Superboy! It's not Superboy!!!) and the Legion? What did the Eradicator(s?) have to do with the destruction of Krypton? So the rocket wasn't specifically designed for an infant? Where do all the myriad versions of Brainiac fit in to continuity? Wow, lots of questions! Still, nice art, good writing, and an interesting story make for a VERY GOOD, if slightly throwaway, issue. And thank god, next month we get back to Richard Donner's (shyeah right!) story. I love Busiek, Nicieza, and done-in-ones, but I'm sick and tired of all the fill-ins.

But, maaaan! What an ugggly baby!

Countdown #48

Countdown #48
Man, is that art UGLY! First of all, I thought the meteors seemed to be going upwards, rather than down. Were cars falling from the sky? Since when does Superman look like THAT? And is Jimmy Olsen supposed to be the new Flash?
If Black Adam doesn't have his powers back, then why does he have elf ears, huge muscles, a six foot frame, and his Black Adam costume on? Not to mention the apparent ability to rip intruders in half? And what's with calling this abandoned building the consulate of Kahndaq? And if Mary BATSON no longer has her powers, then why is she referred to constantly as Mary MARVEL? And why do some panels portray her as a little girl, whereas others show her to be a young woman? Exactly how old is she supposed to BE?
Still no actual forward momentum, as the series crawls along at a virtual standstill. AWFUL.

Surprisingly, though, whereas Jurgens' History of the DCU was one of the worst parts of 52, his History of the Multiverse is actually quite GOOD. I'd rather just read an entire issue like that, rather than the mindless drivel which fills the beginning of the book.

X-23: Target X #6

X-23: Target X #6
By now, it's no secret that I've enjoyed this miniseries. A lot.

The first thing that strikes me about this issue, however, is the fact that its recap page completely discounts the revelations Wolverine had in the aftermath of "M Day". The recap page actually says that Wolverine has no memory of his life at Weapon X!!! Now either that's an indication of exactly how long ago this series was written (which would explain how every issue managed to be published on time), or the writers and editorial staff on this book aren't aware of the current developments in Wolverine's life. And that's okay. After all, the only book so far to have made any use of Wolverine regaining his memories is Wolverine: Origins. And that book moves so very slowly that if you weren't aware of the fact before reading it, doing so won't enlighten you as to that point whatsoever. It hasn't exactly provided us with many insights into Wolverine's past of which we weren't already aware. The rest of Wolverine's titles haven't made very much reference to him remembering his past, so why should others be expected to remember? Still, sloppy.

The rest of the issue raises additional questions as to where it fits in continuity-wise. Especially since the issue ends with Cap sending X to the mansion to meet up with Logan again, yet we all know that she didn't make it there for quite some time. First she found time to become a prostitute. And then, when she first met up with the X-Men in Uncanny, Logan acted as if they hadn't ever met before. [Edit: Okay, so I'm wrong on that last point. But it was so goshdarned long ago, that who can really remember it clearly?]

The fight sequence which is supposed to be the focal point of this book seems out of place as well. The rest of the series has not focused on long drawn-out fight scenes, instead showing how quickly Laura is able to disable any opponent. Of course, I understand that the point here is to show just how similar she is to Wolverine, in every way, but the pacing suffers for it. Not only that, but Wolverine seems to have a disappearing third claw throughout the fight, and Laura is posed, with her toe claws extended, in such a way that she shouldn't be able to walk, let alone run. Also, after the battle, it's apparent that Laura has been (slightly) injured, but none of the panels show anything resembling that. So apparently she did it to herself?
Probably the major issue I have with this scene comes down to the art. The art in this mini has bean beautiful throughout, with attention being taken to not sexualize Laura, regardless of how she dressed. Her poses seemed natural, and her proportions seemed human. But there haven't really been any extended action sequences in this book. And apparently, the art breaks down when Choi and Oback attempt to render them. Still quite beautiful, but the details are offputting, to say the least.

I'm not quite clear on the point of this book's ending, either. Cap acts like there's no grey area as far as the law is concerned, whereas we've seen him act otherwise many times in other books. Cap apparently removes her from Matt Murdock's presence without Matt making any more than a verbal protest. Then, Cap drives Laura to DC for 12 hours (instead of getting a SHIELD 'copter to retrieve them), and only after arriving at SHIELD does he reconsider and takes her to a bus station instead. Well, at that point, why didn't he just drive her back to New York? Or put her on a plane? And then what's the point of the scene with the little boy on the bus at the end?

I'd like to give this issue a higher rating, but EH is as much as I can do. It's been a wonderful series. But with this last issue being what it is, I'd have preferred it to end after the last one.