Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Punisher War Journal #25

Overall- This is Part 2 of 2 of Punisher's "Secret Invasion" crossover. The issue opens with Stuart Clarke, the villain formerly known as Rampage, but now Punisher's weapon smith, discovering that Punisher killed his innocent girlfriend several issues back while Punisher was under the Hatemonger's mind control. Frank seems at peace with Rampage's decision to kill him in retribution, since Frank has been harboring guilt over killing the girl for a while now.

Before Clarke can kill Frank, G.W. Bridge and a Skrull crash the party, and the three humans join forces to kill the super powered Skrull. Clarke goes after Frank again, but is halted by a Skrull sniper, who was trying to pick off the three of them. Bridge gets clipped by the sniper's bullet, as does Frank. Clarke, with his Rampage armor realizes that he is the only one of the three who has a chance at getting to the Skrull sniper and makes a break for it while Bridge and Frank lay down cover fire.

While waiting for Clarke to either die or return, Bridge tells Frank that he never imagined that Frank would be working with a cop killer like Clarke. Frank is shocked by this info, and asks what exactly that meant, and Bridge informs Frank that Clarke killed a cop while he was trying to kill Tony Stark. Frank becomes infuriated by this news and rushes after Clarke.

Clarke manages to reach the Skrull sniper and kills him. Clarke then grabs the Skrull sniper gun and tries to find Frank in the street, only finding Bridge though. Frank surprises Clarke and the two battle, with Frank grabbing some exposed live electrical wires and shoving them into Clarke's face. While this is going on, some Skrulls blow up the building Clarke and Frank were battling it out in. Bridge ends up finding Clarke a bloody mess in the street. Clarke faintly asks if Frank was dead, and Bridge tells him that not only wasn't Frank dead, he was still battling the Skrulls.

The issue ends after the Skrull invasion has been put down. Bridge visits Clarke in a prison hospital, and we see that Clarke's face has been horribly scarred thanks to Punisher driving the electrical wires into his head. Clarke sits cuffed to the bed and ominously tells Bridge that he has big plans and that he has his whole life ahead of him to carry them out.

Matt Fraction and Rick Remender have done a pretty good job with the writing of this comic the past few issues. However, I still can't stand the artwork of Howard Chaykin. This issue the artwork looked a little better than usual, but I still believe that the sub par art hurts the overall story in this book. I have 6 issues of this comic book left on my subscription, and I can honestly say that I'm not sure I'll be spending the $20 to renew it. Even though I've been enjoying the last couple of issues, I have to cut some comics, and I get the feeling P.W.J. will be one of the comics I'm currently collecting to end up on the chopping block. Unless of course the next 6 issues absolutely blow me away. For this comic though, I'll give it a score of 7 1/2 out of 10. Once again I did enjoy the story, but the artwork hurt this book for me.

X-Factor #37

Overall- OK, the bottom line was that I enjoyed this issue of X-Factor more then I have in a while. The main points of interest here are that the X-Factor crew searching for Darwin were saved from the explosion that ended the last issue due to Longshot's luck powers(what else is new?). The crew make there way through the underground of the warehouse they infiltrated, and run into several armed guards. While most of the team tries to end the skirmish with a minimum of casualties, Longshot seems more then happy to kill his opponents. Jamie isn't pleased about that, but is horrified when one of his duplicates kills one of the guards with no hesitation when Jamie's life was at risk. The team eventually make their way to the inner layer of the Karma Project and are shocked to find Mr. Manu, the Project's leader, surrounded by dozens of duplicates of Darwin, all of whom seem to be under Manu's control.

Back at the X-Factor base, Val Cooper stops by to pay Siryn and Rictor a visit. Val tells Siryn that she has been working with Jamie for months now, and that she had a keen interest in Jamie and Siryn's unborn child. Siryn refuses to believe that Jamie was secretly taking jobs from the government, but Val assures her that he was. Val continues to assure Siryn that she only wants the best for her, Jamie and their unborn child. Val admits that the government was very interested in discovering if he child of two mutants would produce a mutant, which would be only the second mutant born since M-Day. While the two women were talking, Siryn's water breaks, ending this issue.

After a few months of doubting Peter David's work on this series, Peter came back strong with this issue. I was very happy with this comic, and needless to say, I am eagerly looking forward to the birth of the child of Siryn and Jamie next issue. For a score, I'll give this comic a very strong 8 out of 10. This issue was alot more like the Peter David I expect!

Daredevil #113

Overall- Ahh, Ed Brubaker, what would the Marvel Universe be without you? Once again, I'm going to speed through this review, to get to the next comic.

Daredevil, Dakota North and Black Tarantula all stand in Matt's apartment and demand answers from the old Japanese man who brought the unconscious Tarantula there. All the old man will tell them is that his name is Master Izo, and that he wants to destroy the Hand. Izo is cryptic and Matt becomes irritated after a few minutes of verbal jousting with Izo. Iron Fist arrives, and recognizes Izo as someone who was written about in the book of the Iron Fist several hundred years ago. While this is going on, Dakota gets a call from a detective and she heads out followed by Daredevil. It seems that the man who claimed that Daredevil had murdered some criminals was found beaten to death.

While surveying the scene, Matt hears some laughter aimed at him a few rooftops away and goes after it. Matt tracks the laughter back to Lady Bullseye, who tells Matt that nobody in his life was safe from the Hand, before attacking him. Matt notices that her movements are difficult to track, since her pulse rate never changes. Matt begin to gain the upper hand, when 5 Hand ninjas jump in and attack on Lady Bullseye's behalf. Matt has difficulty with the ninjas, until Izo arrives and kills the undead ninjas within a matter of seconds. Matt becomes paranoid by Lady Bullseye's taunts and rushes upstate with Dakota to check on his insane wife. Upon arriving at Milla's asylum, Matt discovers that Milla's parents had apparently signed Milla out of the asylum and have taken her away.

While Matt is learning this bit of info, Black Tarantula and Izo go out to search for the Hand. They find a ninja and he runs, but Izo manages to catch and kill him after a while. Izo realizes that the ninja led him to a specific location, and Tarantula notices several pictures of people on the wall, including Iron Fist, Black Tarantula, Wolverine and White Tiger. The comic ends with Lady Bullseye ambushing White Tiger at her home and killing her, telling her she'll enjoy her new life as a member of the Hand much more.

What can I really say that I haven't already said about the greatness that is Ed Brubaker? Ed is crafting one hell of a story here. I can't wait for the next issue of this series. I was a little apprehensive when I heard about a "Lady" Bullseye, but her character is so well written, I have absolutely no complaints. For a score, this book gets a 9 out of 10. If you don't already read Ed's work on this comic, or have really never cared about Daredevil, believe me, you should give this comic a try! I was once a Daredevil hater too, but Ed has totally made me a fan of the character.

Captain America #44

OK, since my pile of new Marvel comics is beginning to grow again, I figured it might be a good time to read a few. Needless to say, the comic on top of my "to read" list is the latest issue of Cap.

Overall- I'm going to be a bit quick with my review, since like I stated before, over the course of the next few days I'd like to really polish off some of these comics that are starting to pile up. This comic basically deals with Cap(it's still weird calling Bucky that...)and Black Widow realizing that whatever Batroc the Leaper was trying to steal from the U.N., the U.N. specifically didn't want Cap to know about. That piece of information makes Cap think that the U.N. may have deduced who he used to be(The Winter Soldier). Natasha assures Cap that they haven't, thanks to Nick Fury and Tony Stark, and Cap and Widow try to figure out what the U.N. was hiding.

The U.N. decides to move this mystery object to a more secure location, and Batroc attacks the U.N. convoy. Cap arrives after figuring out that the U.N. was moving the object, and he engages Batroc on top of the moving vehicle. Cap and Batroc seem even, when a mystery man in a trenchcoat shows up and knocks Cap off of the vehicle and into the street. As the comic ends, we discover that the mystery man and Cap met many years ago, when Cap was still the Winter Soldier.

That was the quickest review I've ever done! A lot of this issue dealt with flashbacks to Bucky's Winter Soldier days, and with his attempted assassination of a Chinese scientist back then. As always, Ed Brubaker is doing a great job on this book, although this storyline seems to be a bit of a letdown after how amazing the first 42 issues this series were. With that said, I would still recommend this comic highly. For a score, I'll go with an 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Superboy, Robin and Poison Ivy

Sometimes I wonder if Superboy ever thought with his brain, as opposed to his hormones.....

Monday, December 29, 2008

"The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul" hardcover.

OK, this collection contains Batman Annual #26, Batman 670-671, Robin Annual #7, Robin #168-169, Nightwing 138-139, Detective Comics #838-839. There, I think that's all of them.

Overall- This hardcover opens with Talia Al Ghul, teaching her son by Batman, Damian, the life story of her villainous father, Ra's Al Ghul. Damian could care less about the story, and continuously interrupts his mother with obnoxious comments. A man known only as the White Ghost, who has been serving Ra's for centuries, insists that Talia makes sure Damian hears and understands every part of Ra's life. The White Ghost tells Talia that he was planning on resurrecting Ra's, and that Damian had to answer several questions Ra's would have after emerging from the Lazarus Pit. White Ghost explains that only a male blood relative could answer the questions Ra's would have after emerging from the Pit. We later discover that White Ghost was lying to Talia and he intended to use Damian as a new body for Ra's. OK... White Ghost brings Talia and the annoying Damian to the Lazarus Pit, and tells Damian to get in. Talia, sensing a trick, fights her way out of the room, and escapes with Damian. Batman arrives on the scene soon thereafter and battles the White Ghost and his men, accidentally knocking White Ghost into the Lazarus Pit.

Next we find Talia and Damian on the run from the League of Assassins. While wandering around a town in some small island country, Damian is drugged and tested by a mysterious figure. Damian beats up all challengers(of course...), and goes on his way.

To further complicate this story, an old man known only as the Sensei hears word that Ra's Al Ghul seems to be alive again. The Sensei, who leads a band of deadly assassins, tells his men to prepare for war. Meanwhile Ra's himself approaches Talia, his body wrapped in bandages, and appears to make amends with her. Ra's meets Damian and Ra's seems shocked that Damian's father is Batman... Why is he surprised? It was always my understanding that Ra's considered Bats the perfect mate for his daughter. Anyway, Ra's informs Damian that he was only bred to serve as a replacement body for Ra's himself, in the event that Ra's body was ever destroyed. OK, time-out for a second here. If Ra's can move his consciousness from body to body, even after having his body completely destroyed, why is he so insistent on possessing Damian? Why make enemies with Talia and bring down Batman's wraith by possessing Damian? Hell, I'd just keep moving from body to body, keep Talia as an ally, and stay out of Batman's hair. I guess that's why I'm not a megalomaniacal super-villain.

Talia naturally betrays her father and tells Damian to run and find Batman. Talia keeps her father occupied and Damian makes his escape, much to the rage of Ra's. Damian sneaks into the Batcave and is confronted by Robin, who was the only person in the Cave at the time. Damian tells Robin that he has to see Batman, and that Ra's Al Ghul was alive again and trying to possess him. Robin doesn't buy Damian's story, and the two have a quick tussle, which ends up with Damian knocking Robin out(AGAIN!)and making his way upstairs into Wayne Manor. Damian wanders the hallways looking for Bats, but finds Alfred instead, who upon hearing the fear in Damian's voice believes his story concerning Ra's and agrees to contact Bats. Robin regains consciousness and makes his way upstairs and spots Damian and Alfred together. Fearing Damian was attacking Alfred, Robin knocks Damian to the floor. Alfred scolds Robin for attacking the frightened Damian, but Damian, being a little jerk, gets up and attacks Robin. Much to my utter shock and disbelief, Robin actually manages to pin Damian to the floor and proceeds to beat Damian up. I can't believe it! Somebody actually was able to(gasp)gain the upper hand on Damian, the 12 year old ultimate fighting machine?!?! I thought Damian was an unbeatable machine! I am just SHOCKED! Anyway, while the boys were fighting it out, Wayne Manor was being surrounded by a small army of Ra's ninja assassins.

Batman winds up rescuing Talia from a boat, where she was being taken somewhere to be punished for allowing Damian to escape Ra's. Talia tells Bats that Damian was in Gotham and in terrible danger, and that her father was alive again. Bats decides to call Nightwing and tells Nightwing to get to the Manor and make sure everybody there was safe. Nightwing teleports to the Manor, using JLA technology, and discovers the place overrun with ninjas. Talia gets pissed off at Bats for not protecting Damian personally, but Bats says he trusts Nightwing and Robin, and that his main priority was to hunt down Ra's, with Talia's help.

Nightwing realizes there are hundreds of ninjas attacking, and he manages to save Alfred from one. After escorting Alfred to(relative)safety, Dick makes his way down to the Batcave, where he finds Robin and Damian surrounded by countless ninjas. Dick joins the fray, and manages to make a dent in the horde of ninjas. Shortly though, three super-powered women hired by Talia arrive, looking to take Damian away for safekeeping. The three women wind up getting hit by poisoned darts, and fall to the ground, dying. Nightwing realizes that if he didn't administer the antidote to the poison, the three women would be dead in 30 seconds. Dick breaks off his attack on the ninjas to save the women, and the ninjas take advantage, capturing Robin and Damian, before escaping.

The supposedly unconscious Robin and Damian are brought to Ra's Al Ghul himself, and upon arriving, reveal they were not really unconscious and launch an attack. Damian, ever the scumbag, ditches Robin and runs away. Robin continues to fight alone for a while, but Ra's instructs his men to stand down. Ra's then tells Robin that if he joined forces with him, and left Batman, he would allow Robin to use the Lazarus Pit to resurrect his dead father and friends. Robin tries to stall for time, but Ra's recognizes this tactic, and knocks Robin out with a well placed blow.

While this is all going on, Batman and Talia wind up arriving at Ra's base of operations. Ra's is naturally ready for Bats, and the two have their customary sword fighting scene. However, during the fight, Ra's deliberately impales himself on Bats sword, to show that his body was rotting away. Ra's then has his men bring out Robin and Damian, who was captured off panel, and tells Batman that one of them will serve as his new body, and the other one would be allowed to leave with Bats. Batman tells Ra's that he will take him to the mythical city of Nanda Parbat, where a fountain of life was located. If Ra's were to take a dip in the fountain, he would conceivably have his own body restored to it's former glory. Ra's agrees to this trade off, and Bats and Ra's head off to Nanda Parbat. Unfortunately, the Sensei figured Ra's would try to get to Nanda Parbat and has invade the mythical city with his band of assassins.

Batman attacks the assassins, while Ra's runs off in search of the fountain of life. Ra's meets up with the Sensei near the fountain, where the Sensei tells Ra's that he would never allow him to use the fountain. We also discover the Sensei is Ra's father, and that he was disappointed with the way Ra's had been running the League of Assassins. The Sensei then impales Ra's on his staff. Batman arrives to witness this, and goes after the Sensei, who proceeds to beat the living Hell out of Batman... Grant Morrison is a strange man. On one hand, we have Damian, the 12 year old, who can beat anyone in a fight, regardless of his slight stature, and on the other hand, we have the Sensei, who is a few hundred years old, easily beating up Batman, who is arguably the greatest fighter in the DCU... Grant, little kids and old men aren't very good fighters. I just wanted to point that out for future reference. Anyway, the Sensei proceeds to break Batman's arm, blind him and finally impale him on a wooden staff. Batman manages to knock the Sensei into the fountain of life, which we discover heals the righteous, but kills anyone with a malicious heart. What that means is the waters of the fountain burns the Sensei to death. Batman crawls into the fountain and is restored to full health. After getting out of the fountain, Bats realizes that Ra's has jumped out of his dying body and entered the body of one of the monks who were defending the city.

We switch scenes again to find Robin, Damian and Talia prisoners of the White Ghost. The White Ghost informs his men to take great care of Damian, since Ra's still needed his body, but to rough up the other two. White Ghost leaves to prepare a flight to meet Ra's in Nanda Parbat, and Talia, Robin and Damian break free and attack the ninjas holding them. Damian runs off(again)stating that he wanted to go with the White Ghost, since most likely where ever White Ghost was going, Batman would also be there. Robin, Talia and a strange blind man named I Ching(don't ask me where he came from...)continue to battle the ninjas. I Ching tells Robin to follow Damian and Talia while he holds off the ninjas. Robin reluctantly goes, and finds Talia. Robin asks Talia if Ra's could truly bring back the dead, and Talia says considering Ra's is still alive, it would seem he could. Robin decides that he was willing to pay any price to return his parents and friends to life, even a life of servitude to Ra's, and runs off, looking to speak to White Ghost.

Robin finds the White Ghost and informs him that he has decided to join up with Ra's. White Ghost tells Robin that he would have to forsake all previous associations, and Robin agrees to the deal and the two shake on it. White Ghost lead Robin to a Lazarus Pit, and tells him he must take a dip in it to be reborn as a follower of Ra's. White Ghost then leaves to prepare to meet up with Ra's. Before Robin can walk into the Pit, I Ching reappears and tells Robin to really consider the immensity of his actions. Walking into the Lazarus Pit would make him a servant of Ra's Al Ghul, now and forever. Robin hesitantly states that he would do anything to bring back his loved ones, even sell his soul to Ra's.

Robin ignores I Ching and walks towards the Pit, but is stopped by the late arriving Nightwing. Robin attacks Nightwing, stating that he had to join Ra's, not for himself, but to give his dead friends/family the second chances they deserved. While the current and former Boy Wonders battled it out, Damian foolishly gets led into a trap by the White Ghost, who leaves by airplane with Damian, destined for Nanda Parbat and a meeting with Ra's. Nightwing tells Robin he can't give into despair and can't sell his soul to Ra's, but Robin is now dead set on resurrecting his dead loved ones.

Dick makes the argument that if Robin brings back his dead father then why not resurrect his mother, and then Superboy, and the Spoiler(she was still "dead" here)or why not Nightwing's parents, or even Bats parents. Basically, Nightwing tells Robin that he can't fairly bring one person back, without bringing everyone back. Robin counters by stating that since it would never be possible to stop all crime, why bother to stop any crime? Touche. With that, I Ching rejoins the battle and does some philosophical babbling about balance and allowing one to make their own mistakes. Nightwing realizes he can't stop Robin if he is truly going to join Ra's, so he stands back and hopes Robin makes the right choice. Robin kneels by the Lazarus Pit and takes a sample of the water, to take with him. Nightwing realizes he's lost Robin now, but after a moment of reflection, Robin dumps out the water and realizes he may be able to create new bodies for his loved ones, but they would just be soul-less duplicates. With that, Robin apologizes to Nightwing, and Nightwing tells Robin that he always knew he would come to the right decision. The Boy Wonders meet up with Talia, and hop a plane piloted by Alfred in order to reach Nanda Parbat, and the final battle.

In Nanda Parbat, White Ghost has arrived and presented Damian to Ra's. Ra's begins to possess Damian, and Batman fights through an army of assassin to free his son from Ra's grip. Batman breaks Ra's arm off, and proceeds to give the seemingly immortal Ra's a violent beating. The White Ghost jumps in to defend his master, and Batman tosses him aside, instructing Damian to grab a weapon and fight for his life. Nightwing, Robin, Talia and even Alfred join the battle, facing the most deadly assassins in the world, led by one of the greatest criminal masterminds, Ra's Al Ghul. Batman instructs Nightwing, Robin and Damian to defend the city walls, to prevent any more ninjas from entering. Talia is incensed that Batman would send their son onto the front line of the battle, but Bats responds that if his other two sons were there, so to should Damian.

Ra's gets away from the battle with the help of the White Ghost, and Ra's body decays at a rapid pace. As Ra's lays there dying, we discover that the White Ghost was actually Ra's own son! Ra's always treated White Ghost with disdain due to his albino looks, but as he lay there dying, Ra's realized that the only member of his family never to betray him had been the son he always scorned. Ra's apologizes for the treatment he had given his son, and White Ghost offers his body to Ra's, to replace Ra's own dying one. Since White Ghost was a blood relative to Ra's, his body would be the perfect vessel to contain Ra's lifeforce. Ra's tells White Ghost that he would die, but White Ghost agrees to serve his father to the end. Ra's possesses the body of the White Ghost, and decides to kill everyone of Batman's sons, Nightwing, Robin and Damian, since Ra's was forced to kill his own son to survive. The two sides battle, but Batman's forces are too outnumbered, and the battle turns in favor of Ra's and his assassins.

Before the assassins can finish off any of the Bat family, the monks of Nanda Parbat rain lightning down from the sky, and demand that everyone leaves their sacred land. Realizing the powers present, Batman orders his group to retreat, even though Ra's still wants to fight on. Ra's is finally pulled away by his men, who were fearful of the monk's powers. During the confusion, Damian decides he wants to leave Talia and go with Batman and company, but Talia refuses and knocks Damian unconscious, before disappearing with him. The Bat family make it back to Alfred's jet, and they get on board and get away from the enraged monks. The comic closes with Batman, Robin, Nightwing and Alfred in the jet toasting family, since it was apparently Christmas... Well, that came out of left field...

There was alot of good in this storyline, but there was also some unnecessary stuff. I personally still find Damian to be an insufferable brat, and can't stand him. It was nice to see him actually look human here, you know, actually lose a few fights, but I just can't get myself to like him. If Damian winds up replacing Tim Drake as Robin, as the rumors all seem to be pointing towards, I'm going to be really pissed. Some of the best parts of this storyline involved the interaction between Nightwing and Robin. It was obvious here, and it has always been apparent that Nightwing considers Robin to be a little brother, and the dynamic between the two is really great.

I'm telling you right now, if Nightwing does become Batman post Final Crisis, Tim Drake better still be Robin. Ra's was what I expected him to be, a villain who could care less about anybody but himself. I was also kind of annoyed by Batman continuously referring to Damian as his son... Batman barely knows the kid, but seems more then willing to consider him a son. Hell, it took Bats something like 10 years to formally adopt Dick Grayson, and Bats pretty much raised Dick himself. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction between Nightwing and Robin, as well as Ra's, but the rest of the story left something to be desired. I mean, why was Sensei even thrown into this story? He served absolutely no real purpose. Oh well, for a score, I'll go with an 8 out of 10. This wasn't my favorite Batman story, but it did have some redeeming qualities.

Just a random picture.

Since it's late, and I just spent most of my time commenting here, I figured I'd just pick a random picture from my computer and post it. Anyway, this is my 100th post for December(Yay!), and I can't think of two better characters for December's centennial post than Impulse and Superboy. Ahh, how I miss both of these characters...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Batman and Arsenal.

Two quick questions. #1, is Roy Harper crazy or what? Roy, that's BATMAN! Watch what you're saying man! And #2, why the HELL is Batman's cape saying "Daddy!"???

"Batman & Son" hardcover

This hardcover collects Batman #655-658 & #663-666 and is written by Grant Morrison.

Overall- Since I actually read this hardcover about 8 months ago, I'm not going to do a flat out review of this entire hardcover. I can't really type up my initial feelings to the story, since I already know(for the most part)what happens. But Kello, whose blog is a great read by the way, recommended that I take another look at this hardcover in order to better understand the Batman R.I.P. storyline, as well as some insights into what Grant Morrison may have planned for the upcoming Battle for the Cowl storyline. So, without further ado, here are some of my thoughts about the Batman & Son hardcover. In bullet point format!!!

-One of the main things I gleaned from this story was that I really didn't like Damian Wayne. He is such an obnoxious little jerk. But, I think(hope)that was what Grant was aiming for when he created the character(I'll add that I am currently reading through the "Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul" hardcover, and don't dislike Damian nearly as much in that).

-Robin(Tim Drake)sure looked bad in this hardcover. I'm guessing that Grant doesn't like Tim that much, since a 12 year old basically hospitalizes Tim in the Batcave.

-Batman was kind of out of character in these comics to me. Would he really take Damian and bring him into the Batcave just on Talia Al Ghul's say so? Isn't that really irresponsible? On top of that, not only does Bats bring Damian to the Cave/Wayne Manor, he leaves the kid alone with only Alfred watching him. I know Alfred can take care of himself, but it was established that Damian was raised by the League of Assassins, and is one hell of a fighter... What if Talia was lying and Damian was only sent to Bats to disrupt his life by killing Alfred and Robin? The Batman I know is a VERY paranoid individual who I just can't see leaving this potential threat(Damian)alone with two of the few people he actually cares about.

-Talia was kind of weirdly written here as well. She gives Damian over to Bats so Damian can learn from/about his father, and then seems kind of pissed that Damian wants to stay with Bats. What did she think was going to happen? I also thought it was kind of puzzling that Talia seemed willing to almost allow Damian to perish in order to make her getaway. Wouldn't letting Damian die go counter to all of her meticulous planning in regards to creating the genetically perfect child?

-The important issue in this hardcover though was Batman #666. #666 is a self contained story which shows us Gotham City a few years in the future. Bruce Wayne is dead, and there is a new Batman in town. It is revealed that the new Batman is none other than a now grown up Damian Wayne. It also appears that there is an evil impostor Batman running around. The evil Batman seems to worship the devil and is pretty evil. As a matter of fact, the evil Batman kind of resembles the Batman crouching on the Wayne Enterprises box shown in this picture over at Yedna's great blog(wow, I'm linking to all of my favorite blogs in this post!). Now, I guess(and that's exactly what it is, a guess)the evil Batman could be Jason Todd, Azrael or possibly Tim Drake, since the evil Batman mentions that he too was a "son" of Batman(Jason and Tim are Bruce's adopted children). With a nudge, I could see either Azrael or Jason dressing as Bats and going crazy(Jason has already dressed as Nightwing and gone on a rampage, so it wouldn't be out of character). The Damian Batman ultimately kills the evil Batman, while thinking about how disappointed Bruce would have been that he took a life. Some important things I took from this issue were, #1, Tim Drake is never mentioned, so unless he is the evil Batman, he has no impact on Grant's vision of the future of Batman. #2, Damian(or the impostor Batman)apparently killed Jim Gordon, which leads to his daughter, Barbara, becoming the Gotham Police Commissioner.

However, the most important thing I got out of this comic were Damian's thoughts. At one point, Damian thinks to himself that he'll never be able to live up to the legacies of Bruce Wayne AND Dick Grayson. To me, that seems to say that Dick is deceased, but more importantly that Dick is the next in line to become Batman if Bruce Wayne were to die in Final Crisis. If this comic is an actual look into the future and not a random alternate dimension, then Dick Grayson becomes Batman after Bruce dies, and after his own death, Dick is replaced by Damian. The fact that Damian replaces Dick would lead one to think that Dick takes Damian under his wing as the new Robin.

Now, knowing Grant Morrison's style of writing, there is a good chance all of my theories are wrong, and something completely different will happen. One thing Grant is great at is misdirection. During his run on "New X-Men", Grant actually created a character whose mutant power WAS misdirection! I STILL don't know what exactly that means! The bottom line here is that after reading this hardcover, I am pretty sure that the death of Bruce Wayne will usher in Dick Grayson as the new Batman and Damian Wayne as the new Robin. One Batman during the Battle for the Cowl storyline will go completely evil and apparently make some kind of deal with the devil(or an old man or a dragon. Damn, this is confusing...). Most likely, the evil Batman is Azrael or Jason Todd, with an outside chance it is Tim Drake(my money is on Jason though). Oh, and when he is 14, Damian also sells his soul to this devil/old man/dragon... I think... For a score, I would give this entire hardcover a 7 out of 10. It was a fun, but confusing read. If anyone else has read Batman #666, I'd love to hear what exactly you were able to make of it. Tomorrow, I'll probably post the "Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul" hardcover review.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Absolute Hush hardcover

This collection encompasses Batman #608-619, written by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee.

Overall- Well, since this hardcove is 12 issues long, I obviously won't be able to review each issue specifically, instead I'll just go over the broad strokes of the story. Needless to say, this is going to be a LONG post!

Basically, Batman is confronted with his rouges gallery acting in different ways then he would expect them to. Batman feels like they have been taught to behave in a diffenet manner in an attempt to confound him. After rescuing a small boy from Killer Croc, Batman chases after Catwoman, who had stolen ransom money from Croc. While chasing Catwoman, a third party cuts Batman's line, and causes him to crash into the street below, fracturing his skull. Bats is rescued by Huntress, and Alfred tries to fix Bruce up as much as he can, but realizes that Bruce will need to go to a hospital. Bruce, barely conscious and unable to speak, taps in morse code to Alfred, telling him to get his old childhood friend and respected surgeon Tommy Elliot to work on him. Tommy Elliot, flies into Gotham, and manages to repair the damage to Bruce's skull. After Tommy saves Bruce and the two reconnect.

Later, Batman tracks down Catwoman, and discovers that she had been enthralled by Pioson Ivy to steal the ransom money from Croc. Bats and Catwoman team up and track Ivy and the money to Metropolis, where they naturally run into Superman, who has been enthralled by Ivy now. Bats beats up Supes with the Kryptonite ring and forces him to snap out of his Ivy induced trance by having Catwoman threaten Lois Lane. Working together, Supes, Bats and Catwoman hunt down Ivy, and take her down, retrieving the money, and locking her up. All the while a strange figure with his face bandaged watches the action from nearby rooftops. At the conclusion of the mission, Bats and Catwoman share a passionate kiss.

Back in Gotham, Bruce Wayne along with Tommy Elliot and Selina Kyle(Catwoman)go to the opera for a benefit for Leslie Thompkin's clinic. While enjoying the opera, Harley Quinn arrives and begins to rob the rich opera goers. Harley steals a necklace from Tommy that belonged to his dead mother and he flips out, trying to attack her to get it back. In response, Harley opens fire into the crowded theater. By this time, Bruce has snuck away, and switched into his Bat outfit. Batman attacks Harley, and is soon joined by Catwoman, who takes a gunshot in the shoulder while heplping Bats. Harley tries to make a getaway with the money/jewels she has taken and is chased by Tommy, who is still trying to retrieve his mother's necklace. Batman chases after both of them, but hears a gunshot outside the theater, where Harley and Tommy wound up. Upon arriving outside, Batman sees Tommy's dead body laying at the feet of the Joker.

Batman attacks the Joker with a rage and begins to pummel The Clown Prince of Crime. Harley tries to sneak up on Bats, but he puts her down hard, before returning his attention to the Joker. As he beats on Joker, Batman begins to think back on Joker's crimes, including his paralyzing Barbara Gordon, his murder of Jim Gordon's wife, and Batman's greatest failure, the murder of Jason Todd. Batman decides that Tommy's murder is the last straw, and he decides to strangle the Joker to death. Catwoman arrives on the scene, and tries to stop Bats from doing something he would forever regret, but Bats takes her out by attacking her damaged shoulder. Joker claims innocence, stating that he didn't kill Tommy, even though he was standing right over the dead body. Bats doesn't care and continues to strangle Joker. Two shots ring out, with each one whizzing by Batman. Jim Gordon puts a gun to the back of Batman's head and tells him to release Joker or he would be forced to take Bats in. Batman, stung by the fact that Jim Gordon of all people doesn't want him to kill Joker, relents and leaves the Joker beaten but alive. All the while, a mysterious bandaged figure watches the scene play out from the rooftops.

After burying Tommy, Batman returns to the Batcave, and begins to study the death of his childhood friend, discovering that Tommy was killed by a policeman's service revolver, not one of the Joker's guns. Nightwing stops by to check on Bats and is suprised to find him somewhat talkitive(well, for Batman at least). Nightwing inquires why Bats is taking Tommy's death so well, and Bats confides that lately he has found himself more attracted to Catwoman then ever before. Nightwing tells Bats that if he is going to attempt a relationship with Catwoman, Bats should tell her EVERTHING about his life, including his secret identity, otherwise, the relationship would never work. Bats blows off Nightwing's advice and the two go out crimefighting together, easily taking down the Riddler. Out of all of Batman's rouges, the Riddler seems to be the only one still operating with his normal motive, making riddles and stealing money, which suprises Batman, since all of his other enemies have changed. Before turning the truck Riddler and his men stole over to the cops, Batman notices ash handprints inside the truck, ash very similar to the ash found in one of Ra's Al Ghul's Lazarus Pits. Later, Batman visits Catwoman at her civilian home and tells her he wants to make it work with her and he reveals his identity to her.

Batman returns to the Batcave, with Catwoman and tries to figure out who would have the resources and motive to strike at both Batman and Bruce Wayne, and decides that it must be Ra's Al Ghul or his daughter Talia. Bats sneaks aboard Talia's private airplane and kidnaps her in mid-flight. After handing Talia over to Catwoman for safekeeping, Bats is contacted by Ra's, who demands his daughter's return. Bats meets with Ra's in a desert, and Ra's challenges Bats to a sword fight, claiming that if Bats won, he would tell him everything he knew. Batman winds up defeating Ra's by fighting differently then usual, much like his rouges have been doing to him. Ra's tells Batman that he is not involved in the scheme against him, and that he too was being played with, since somebody had used one of his Lazarus Pits without his consent. Ra's asks Bats to look into the matter, insinuating that Bats recent problems and someone using Ra's Lazarus Pit may be connected. With that Bats promises to release Talia and discover who emerged from the Lazarus Pit. Upon returning to where he had left Catwoman and Talia, Bats discovers Catwoman and Lady Shiva(a top assassin from Ra's League of Assassins)unconscious and Talia tending to Catwoman's wounds. Talia gives Batman a kiss and leaves... Boy, Batman really has a complicated love life...

Batman takes Catwoman back to the Cave again, but this time Robin is there and Robin becomes enraged at the fact that Catwoman is allowed in the Cave. Robin calls Catwoman a lowlife thief and the two nearly come to blows if not for Batman's intervention. Catwoman tires of Robin's goading, and leaves the Cave. We discover that Bats had Robin deliberately bait Catwoman so they could keep an eye on her, since with the Al Ghul's ruled out, Batman was beginning to suspect that Catwoman might be behind his recent misfortunes. While this is occuring, Harvey Dent visits Joker in prison and tells him he wasn't being charged in the murder of Tommy Elliot due to insufficient evidence. Joker is shocked to see that Harvey's face was completely cured of the scarring that turned him into Two-Face.

Catwoman runs into Huntress, who seems somewhat crazy and winds up attacking. Catwoman tries to fight the crazed Huntress off, and is soon helped by Batman who had been following Catwoman with Robin. Robin remains on a rooftop to watch Batman's back, but is jumped from behind by the mysterious bandaged figure and knocked unconscious. Batman realizes that Huntress is under the influence of the Scarecrow's fear drugs and puts her out and gives her the antidote. The Scarecrow himself now attacks Batman, but suprisingly can't drug Batman because Batman is under the influence of some other mental conditioning. Batman takes out Scarecrow and realizes he is standing near the grave of Jason Todd. Upon reaching Jason's grave, Bats finds the grave dug up and the bandaged figure holding a knife to Robin's throat.

Batman demands the bandaged figure to release Robin, but the bandaged figure refuses, calling Robin a pretender, before peeling off the bandages to reveal Jason Todd. Batman is momentarily stunned, but refuses to believe his eyes. Catwoman winds up rescuing Robin and Jason runs through the graveyard, followed by Batman, who tells Catwoman to remain behind with Robin. Batman catches up to Jason and the two battle, but Batman begins to doubt that this is really Jason Todd returned from the dead for several reasons including the way he was fighting, as well as the fact that the real Jason Todd would have refered to him as Bruce, not Batman. Batman beats up "Jason" and watches as the body disolves into clay, indicating to Batman that the whole thing was a ruse orchestrated by Clayface.

Batman returns to the Cave with Robin and begins to tear it apart, figuring there was something present that was affecting his mind, which would explain why Scarecrow's fear drugs wouldn't affect him. Batman finds a hidden relay under one of his computer's that was sending a subliminal message to his brain. The message was a picture of Tommy Elliot that would flash on the computer screen. This image would explain why Batman thought of Tommy after his initial head injury. Now suspicious, Bats contacts Superman, who arrives at the Batcave soon thereafter. Bats asks Supes to use his X-Ray vision to peer in his head to find out if Tommy had left anything in his head after the surgury on his skull, and sure enough, Supes discovers a small device that was broadcasting Batman's location to someone. Bats has Superman burn the device out of his head with his heat vision, before he has Superman leave.

At this time, Harvey Dent gets in touch with Jim Gordon, who is as suprised as the Joker to find Harvey's face cured. Harvey tells Jim that Batman needed their help and the two leave together. Batman realizes that the hidden relay matched the work of Harold, a mute hunchback that used to work in the Batcave. Batman tracks Harold down to a bridge in Gotham. Batman discovers that Harold had been surgically given the ability to speak by none other than Tommy Elliot. In return, Tommy had Harold hide the relay in the Batcave. Before Harold can say anything else, he is shot twice in the chest and killed by the mystereious bandaged man. The bandaged man seems to be an expert marksman, and it takes all of Batman's skill to avoid the man's bullets. Batman winds up getting close to the bandaged man, and the bandaged man claims that he is actually Tommy Elliot. Tommy reveals stories only he and Bruce would know in an attempt to convince him, and reveals that he had been harboring a grudge against the Wayne family for years, due to the fact that Bruce's father had saved his mother after a bad car crash. Tommy had cut the brake wires in his mother's car so she would perish and he would inherit the family fortune.

Needless to say, Bruce refuses to believe this and asks about Tommy's dead body outside the theater. Tommy tells Bats that if he dug up Tommy's grave, all he would find is clay, indicating that is was Clayface who faked Tommy's death. Distracted, Batman is struck down by Tommy, who is now calling himself Hush, and Hush puts a gun to Batman's head. Behind him though are Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent, who was in on the scheme. Harvey was supposed to frame Jim Gordon for Tommy's "murder", which would have added more grief to Batman. Harvey reveals that he helped in the beginning so that Hush would cure his scarred face. However, in doing so the evil Two-Face persona had been eradicated, and Harvey wasn't interested in framing a good man like Jim. Hush, still holding Batman, decides to shoot him regardless of who was there, but winds up getting shot twice by Harvey first. Hush then falls off of the bridge and into the murky waters below.

After recovering, Batman searches the waters for Hush's body, but to no avail. Soon thereafter, Batman pays a visit to the Riddler who was still behind bars from earlier in the storyline. Batman tells Riddler that he figured out that Riddler and Hush were working together, but is unclear on why or how. Riddler reveals that he had an incurable brain tumor and had been seeing Hush while he was still simply a doctor. Since Riddler couldn't be helped by conventional science, he found one of Ra's Al Ghul's Lazarus Pits and took a dip in it, thereby curing his cancer. While in the Pit, Riddler figured out the one riddle he could never solve, Batman's secret identity. Armed with this information, Riddler went back to Tommy, who hated Bruce Wayne and told him the Bruce and Bats were one and the same. Hush and Riddler then concocted their whole big plan to strike at both Bruce Wayne, Hush's enemy and Batman, Riddler's enemy.

Riddler then continued to taunt Batman by stating that at anytime he could reveal his secret identity and ruin him. Batman countered by telling Riddler if he revealed Batman's secret identity, it would no longer be a valid riddle, because if everyone knew the answer to the riddle, it would hold no value. While Riddler moped about this news, Batman also told Riddler that if he ever did tell anybody the secret, Bats would tell Ra's Al Ghul that Riddler had used one of the Lazarus Pits without permission, which would surely lead to Ra's killing Riddler in retribution. With that, Batman left Riddler and met up with Catwoman outside. Catwoman told Batman that if he couldn't trust her they couldn't be in a relationship just yet. Catwoman told Bats she held some hope that one day, Bats would trust her enough for them to really become serious. With that, Catwoman left Batman standing there alone.

All in all I really enjoyed all of the twists and turns this story held. Although I knew the identity of Hush going in, I can see how this storyline was so hot when it first came out. I was surrised about Bats revaling the secret to Catwoman, but I wasn't as angry about it as some hardcore Batman fans seem to be. I also liked that the story included practically every one of Batman's enemies with the exception of the Penguin(I HATE the Penguin!). The one thing that really bothered me about the story was the fact that Hush, and I mean Tommy Elliot, hardly appeared in the storyline at all. Sure, Tommy was in the beginning of the story, but Tommy as Hush only showed up at the very end, and even then wasn't unmasked. For the entire climatic battle between Hush and Batman, Hush remained hidden behind the bandages, never giving us that dramatic moment where he unraveled the bandages to reveal that Bruce Wayne's childhood friend had indeed gone evil. More Hush or that one dramatic moment would have made this a much better storyline, but as it was, this was still an exceptionally written and drawn storyline. For a score, I'll go with a 9 out of 10. Hopefully this review made some sense, because it sure was ALOT of typing!

Hawkeye, not quite a master detective...

This is just another example of why I'm such a fan of Hawkeye. HEY CLINT, THEY'RE RIGHT BEHIND YOU!!! Jeez, nobody can ever accuse Clint of being a genius!

What's new?

I actually read the entire "Absolute Hush" hardcover my sister gave me for Christmas today. I guess I'll eventually post my thoughts about it here pretty soon, but since I'll be up pretty early tomorrow morning(grumble, grumble)I had better try to catch some sleep, as opposed to writing about 12 issues of Batman(even though I really want to!).

If tomorrow goes anything like today did, I plan on reading the "Batman & Son" hardcover again, "The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul" hardcover and maybe, if my family gives me enough free time, the "DC: The New Frontier" mini-series. Since I come from a family of early birds, I'm sure I'll be up bright and early again tomorrow morning... You know the funny thing? I get more sleep when I'm going to school, as opposed to during my vacation!

Oh, before I forget, I watched most of the "Spider-Man 3" movie for the first time yesterday... Wow, it seemed pretty bad!(to be fair, I'm only judging what I saw, which was the last half of the movie) I really enjoyed the first 2 Spidey movies, but his one just seemed bizarre. I kept rooting for Venom to eat Spidey! Damn was Peter Parker annoying! One thing about Spidey 3 was that unlike the prior two movies, it didn't seem to leave any dangling plotlines. For the most part I rarely watch movies. I usually never feel like sitting and watching a movie for 2 hours. I always feel like I could be doing something else(like reading more comics!). That's why I still haven't seen "The Dark Knight". I really want to watch it, but I can never find the time to just sit there to watch a 2- 2 1/2 hour movie.

"The carpeting will digest it."?!?!

There really isn't any explanation I can give for this picture. All I can say is that Grant Morrison's writing can be VERY strange at times...

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Joker and Jason Todd

I just think Joker's line is kind of funny. Maybe it's just me though...

Yeah, I know the feeling.

Huh, Black Mask is saying the things that I'm usually thinking! I guess you have to admire his honesty...

Justice League of America # 27

If you just want to read my review of JLA #27, your best bet is to skip to the bold word "Overall". If not, get ready for me to gripe about some other stuff... Still here? Well, I warned you! You know, Christmas is a nice time of year for spending time with family and all that jazz, but the holiday season has been playing havoc with my sleeping patterns. I used to do the whole "get up at 4:30 in the morning, ride the bus and be at work for 6:00" thing, but saved up enough money to quit that horrible job to attend college. College is cool, because(so far)I've been able to choose later classes, which means more sleep! However, the past few days, I've been awake much earlier than I would like to be, thanks to family holiday stuff. Why am I saying this? What does any of this have to do with JLA #27 you ask? Well, less sleep means less time to read/post reviews. So, until the Christmas family stuff ends, probably early next week, I'll be posting less reviews. On the bright side though, I'll probably just post some pictures instead(just to stay connected to my blog and my other favorite blogs). Now with my ramblings out of the way, onto the review!

Overall- As anyone who has followed my blog with any regularity would know, I've only just begun to read DC comic books. Just this year. The rest of my life I had been a Marvel Zombie. So to say that I was thoroughly confused after I read this comic book was an understatement. Hell, I had to hit up Wikipedia just to know that there was once a Milestone Comics! Anyway, DC holds the rights to these Milestone characters, and since Dwayne McDuffie(current JLA writer)seemed to be a driving force behind Milestone Comics back in the day, it seems that Dwayne is going to bring some of his Milestone creations to the DC Universe. How's that for a quick history lesson!

First, I'm going to start with a recap of the stuff that I understood, in other words, the stuff that actually dealt with the JLA. We had a funny scene(well, not funny for Red Arrow)with Red Arrow in bed with Hawkgirl and Hawkgirl calling out for Hawkman while in the throes of passion. Needless to say, that killed the mood for Roy, who got up and got dressed, while Kendra laid there and said, "Let's talk about it.". Umm, why would Roy want to talk about Kendra calling out for another man while they were having sex?!? How would THAT conversation have gone down???

Black Canary welcomes Vixen back to the team since her powers have stabilized following the events of the last few issues. Don't ask me how, because I read those comics and STILL can't make sense of Vixen or her powers! Anyway, later on, Black Canary catches Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in their secret folding dimensional clubhouse(remember that from the earlier issues?)and verbally lays into the three of them for trying to run the team behind her back. Dinah tells them that if they want her out of the way, she'll quit and they can go back to running things however they want. Dinah informs them that the team can only have one chairperson, and she's it, so cut the s###! Well, Dinah sure laid down the law. Good for her! I think Green Arrow is starting to rub off on Dinah here! The only thing missing was for her to call them "fatcats" and quit in a huff!

As Black Canary was scolding the Big Three, a distress call comes in from Dr. Light(the female one)and Dinah sends a team out to check on her. That ends the part of this comic that I understood. Now for the confusing Milestone characters. The Shadow Cabinet breaks into Dr. Light's home and wants to ask her some questions. Dr. Light is disturbed that some costumed weirdos are standing in her house, where her children are living and goes on the offensive, but is ultimately captured, but not before sending out the before mentioned distress signal. Before the JLA team arrives, two members of the Shadow Cabinet take off and head to the Hall of Justice and wind up gaining access to the JLA Watchtower. The two Shadow Cabinet members are apparently looking for the remains of the evil male Dr. Light, who was killed by the Spectre(I'll have more to say about that later...). As the 2 Cabinet members find Light's remains, the JLA members who stayed behind approach them, and the Cabinet members manage to transport some guy named Icon and other members of the Shadow Cabinet to their side to even things up. The issue ends with the two teams at a stand off in the Watchtower.

I guess this Icon guy is supposed to mean something to me, but I haven't the foggiest notion who he is or who the rest of the Shadow Cabinet are. I enjoyed the parts dealing solely with the JLA, and kind of wished Dwayne would have stuck with just them, but that was not to be. Like I said before, I'm still getting a grip on the DC characters, introducing characters from another "world" really isn't helping me learn more about the actual DC characters. I'd rather learn more about Zatanna, John Stewart, Hawkgirl or other members of the actual DC Universe, not these Milestone interlopers.

Besides that, there was one MAJOR problem with the plot to this story, and I really hope someone can clear it up for me. I was under the impression that everything that we are reading in the DC comic books right now occurred before the events of Final Crisis. That means this issue happened before Final Crisis #1, and it's subsequent crossovers/tie-ins. My problem is that Dr. Light(the male one)died in Final Crisis:Revelations #1... Do you see the problem here? As of this issue, by DC's own decree, Dr. Light can't be dead because Final Crisis:Revelations #1 hasn't occurred yet! If anyone can shed some light on this situation, I would greatly appreciate it.

Other than that, even though there were some good parts to this comic, I'm not really overly interested in watching the JLA battle it out with a bunch of super-heroes from a company that went belly up about a decade ago. I'll read the next issue because it's the JLA, but I am really longing for the days when Brad Meltzer was the writer on this series... I might just pull out the comics from his run to remind myself how good this comic used to be. For a score, I'll go with a middle of the pack 5 1/2 out of 10. I really enjoyed the JLA members parts of this book, but the Dr. Light death thing and trying to figure out who all of these Shadow Cabinet members were really hurt this comic. Maybe as I get used to the Milestone characters, things will begin to pick back up again in this comic book.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all...

...and to all a good night.

Detective Comics #851

Overall- This was a strange one. My best bet is to get right into the review, and see what I can say after that.

We open several years ago, during the Cataclysm event in Gotham City. A famous movie star named Millicent Mayne is being asked to take 1.5 million dollars in diamonds from a man named Gracchus for some unmentioned deal. Millicent refuses, and before Gracchus can shoot her, the Gotham earthquake strikes, and Millicent crawls out of the rubble, leaving Gracchus behind. Gracchus survives as well, and is holding a grudge against Millicent to this day.

The media has taken to calling Millicent "The Face of Gotham", and Gracchus takes this news to Two-Face, hoping he will take offence at that title and help him take out Millicent. Two-Face refuses, and warns Gracchus not to cross his path again, or else.

Later, Millicent is at a fancy fund-raising gala, when several men crash the party, including apparently, Two-Face. "Two-Face" approaches Millicent, and throws acid in her face, before fleeing with his men. Millicent spends some time in the hospital, but leaves, changed somehow(I'll touch on that later).

Next we find Two-Face, infuriated to learn that someone had impersonated him and scarred Millicent. Two-Face figures it was Gracchus behind the frame job, and flips his coin to see what he should do to Gracchus. The coin tells Two-Face to leave the situation alone, so Two-Face takes his leave.

Upon hearing about Two-Face's supposed involvement in the crime, Alfred places a call to Nightwing in NYC, and asks him if he would come to Gotham to look into the matter, since he was the last member of the Bat-family to face Two-Face. Nightwing agrees, and arrives in Gotham, meeting up with Alfred in the Bat-Cave after getting info from Oracle concerning Two-Face's last known whereabouts in Gotham. Dick prepares to leave the Cave, but can't bring himself to take the Batmobile, even though Alfred tells him to. Dick instead takes his bike and goes to the location he was given by Oracle, an automotive chop shop. After surveilling the area, Dick crashes through the skylight and attacks the goons present. Dick has matters well in hand, until the untimely arrival of a pizza delivery man. The distraction gets Dick knocked down, and the delivery man rushes in to help Dick, but gets knocked out for his troubles. With all the car oil present, the place catches fire, and the goons make it out, leaving Dick and the delivery man trapped inside.

All throughout the issue, unless I was misreading things, after Millicent left the hospital, she seemed to acquire some kind of unnamed power. She was completely aware of Dick's actions, even during his time in the Bat-Cave. As a matter of fact, Millicent seems to be able to "see" everything going on in all of Gotham. She claims that she has no clue as to why she sees/knows these things, but then states that even if she did know how she was doing it, she would not tell anybody.

See what I mean, this was a weird comic book! But not weird bad, it was more weird good. I like a little mystery now and then, and if nothing else, Millicent is just that, a mystery. I really liked the scene in the Bat-Cave between Dick and Alfred. Dick is extremely apprehensive to be working in Gotham without Bruce, but Alfred allays these concerns by reassuring Dick that he had been fighting crime for a long time, and has had the very best of teachers.

If Batman is the soul of the Bat-family, and Oracle is the brains, Alfred has to be the heart. I don't know where the members of the Bat-family would be without Alfred's ever present optimism. It did seem to me that in his own subtle way, Alfred is trying to prepare Dick in the event that Bruce doesn't come back... Prepare, and possibly groom him to be the next Batman as well. Besides the strange happenings in this comic, I did enjoy it, and look forward to its conclusion in Batman #684. For a score, I'll go with a 7 1/2 out of 10.

Some Christmas fun with the Avengers.

Hey Cap, she's a married woman! I miss the old Tony Stark...
I REALLY miss the old Tony Stark!
Cap looks pretty smug in this picture... To much eggnog perhaps?
Ultron dressed as Santa? Yeah, this was a weird comic book...
Did I mention this was a weird comic book? I did? Well, it bears repeating.

The Christmas Tree's Revenge!

My question is why is the Tree hissing? I'm totally OK with the Tree coming to life and attacking people, but the hissing kind of freaks me out...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A very Punisher Christmas.

Aww, even Frank Castle is in the holiday spirit.

Namor Claus!

What If?: Fallen Son #1

This should be interesting...

Overall- My hatred over the end of the "Civil War" crossover is legendary. OK, maybe "legendary " is overselling it a little, but when Cap surrendered, I nearly put my fist through the wall of my apartment. I was literally too pissed off to talk about that comic for days. Think about that, ME, unable to form coherent words regarding a comic book. Yeah, I hated that ending. I can actually feel my blood pressure rising as I type about Cap's surrender even today, 2 years later! Now that I've clearly made my feelings known about the climax of "Civil War", let's see what this issue of "What if?" does for me. The concept of this comic is, "What if Tony Stark had died instead of Steve Rogers?"

Well, I liked the part where Tony Stark was pounded into hamburger meat by the nephew of the deceased Black Goliath, who had stolen the growth serum that gave his uncle his growth powers. This comic really didn't go anywhere though... Cap was locked up by S.H.I.E.L.D. for 36 months for his role in "Civil War", and we basically were shown a lot of glimpses of people who were important to Stark. War Machine becomes the head of the 50 state initiative and pushes the recruits harder then even Gauntlet, since he wants to keep Stark's dreams alive.

Aleksander Lukin(Red Skull), takes over Stark Enterprises in the wake of Stark's stock prices plummeting after his death. We later see Lukin/Skull walking through Tony Stark's armory, looking over all of the various Iron Man armors. The heroes gather for the Stark's funeral, and his body is sent into space on a space craft, as per Stark's last wishes. Cap is allowed out of prison to witness the funeral, and gives his old friend a salute as he is sent hurtling into the oblivion of space.

Meanwhile, the Skrulls decide to step up their "Secret Invasion" plans with Stark out of the way, and as Stark's coffin flies away from the planet, the Skrull armada fast approaches the Earth. That scene ends this comic.

There were some things I liked here, such as Stark getting his richly deserved just deserts, Lukin hostilely taking over Stark Enterprises, and Cap saluting Stark as he was being blasted off into space. You see, that's the difference between me and Cap. I would have saluted Stark as well, but I would have only used one finger. I'm sure you can figure out which finger I mean.

Most of this comic fell into the bad category though. Tony Stark wasn't the driving force behind the 50 states initiative, Skrull Hank Pym was. The Skrulls used Stark and his technology to instigate their attack on Earth during "Secret Invasion", so why would Stark's death have made them decide to attack Earth earlier? With Stark dead, the Skrulls would have lost out on the advantage of corrupting the Stark Tech, which was one of the most important points to their Invasion...

Besides these flagrantly wrong events, the whole comic was WAY too rushed. Every page basically dealt with a different person/event, and nothing was ever explored as much as it should/could have been. When all was said and done, I'd say this was a mediocre comic book at best. I do however have to bump the score up a little, because there is nothing better than watching Tony Stark get pounded into street pizza by an angry giant. For a score, I'll go with a 5 1/2 out of 10. I'd have gone with a 5, but seeing Stark get killed added that extra 1/2 all by itself. Yeah, in case you haven't noticed, I REALLY hate Tony Stark. Now, I think I'll go back and re-read Stark's death. I just can't get enough of that!

Secret Six #4

Overall- I've been a huge fan of the Secret Six since their first appearance as a team, in "Villains United", then in the "Secret Six" mini-series, as well as their skirmishes with the "Birds of Prey", when Gail Simone was still writing that series. With that said, I have a confession to make... I really haven't been enjoying the first 3 issues of this series as much as I though I would. Well, that sure changed this issue! This issue made me remember what I loved about the Six, as well as Gail's writing. Enough with the praise, there will be enough time for that later. Onto the review.

Now that the Six have a chance to catch their breath momentarily, they begin to bicker over the "Get out of Hell free" card they have taken from Tarantula. Catman seems especially keen on gaining possession of the card, since it would save him from eternal damnation. Scandal doesn't seem to believe the card has any power at all, but just the same, won't let it out of her sight. The team travels to Las Vegas to meet up with a contact of Scandal's , who is supposed to tell the team where to head next.

While the team is living it up in Vegas, Junior and his twin assassins discover where the Six are headed, and travel to Vegas to get the card. We discover that Junior is a sick, twisted monster, who has committed literally any crime you can think up. However, besides his criminal actions, Junior is also a devout Catholic, and doesn't want to spend all of eternity in Hell. That explains why he is willing to pay $20,000,000(!)for each dead member of the Six and the "Hell" card. Before arriving in Vegas, Junior stops off at a Catholic church and demands the father there to listen to his confession. Junior confesses his MANY sins, and then tells the father to absolve him of his sins. The priest bravely tells Junior that he can't be absolved of his sins unless he repents them. Junior refuses to repent, and then proceeds to kill the father. Upon leaving, Junior tells his twin assassins that he will be needing the "Hell" card more than ever.

While the Six are enjoying a hearty meal at the Vegas hotel they were staying at, they are attacked by practically every single thug in the DC Universe. The Six manage to hang tough against their numerous opponents, but begin to drop to the floor frothing at the mouth. At this time, former Six member, as well as the mother of Catman's child, Cheshire arrives and announces that she had poisoned the meal the Six were enjoying and that in due time they would be dead.

Oh baby, what a great issue this was! The scene between Junior and the Catholic priest was just incredibly done. It was just such a horrifying scene, especially as the priest realized that there was no way Junior was going to let him leave the confessional booth alive. Junior himself is a chilling adversary, who I can't wait to learn more about next issue. The Six themselves actually returned to their roots, with the constant mistrust/infighting that made me really fall for the team and Gail's writing in general. Hell, just for the chilling scene with Junior and the priest, I'd have recommended this comic, but with everything else really falling into place, this comic is pretty much a must read. For a score, I'm happy to give this comic a 9 1/2 out of 10. YES, this is the "Secret Six"/Gail Simone I love!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Titans #8

Overall- This issue deals with the aftermath of Jericho apparently jumping into the body of one of the Titans. The team decides that they should lock down their base, thereby not allowing any of them to leave until they figure out where Jericho has gone and why. Cyborg has all of the Titans tell their deepest secrets to a computer, which is how he plans to verify each Titan is who they say they are, since Jericho in possession of one of the Titans wouldn't know the possessed Titans secrets.

Surprisingly, all of the Titans pass the computer test, which leads Cyborg to figure that Jericho is hiding in somebody, but is not controlling them, a new talent for Jericho. Cyborg decides that the only way to force Jericho out of whoever he was hiding in would be by blasting every member of the team with a high powered blaster. When hit by the blaster, Jericho would be ejected from the Titan he was hiding in, and the Titan would be knocked out for an hour. Cyborg decides that himself and Red Arrow will be the first two blasted.

Before Donna can blast Red Arrow and Cyborg, Jericho reveals that he wasn't in any of the Titans, and proceeds to attack each of the Titans with awesome super-powers, including super-strength, and force blasts. After dispatching of the entire team, Jericho proceeds to explode, completely destroying the Titans headquarters. Afterwards, Jericho goes about pulling each member of the team out of the ruins of their headquarters. Nightwing, nearly dead, asks Jericho why he was killing everyone, and Jericho reveals that everything from the point he showed up was a hallucination that was going on in Nightwing's head. Jericho had injected Nightwing with a hallucinogenic, which made him believe Jericho had attacked everybody, in order for Jericho to completely take over Nightwing, by breaking his will. With that, we go back to the scene where Donna is about to blast Cyborg and Red Arrow with the blaster. The Jericho possessed Nightwing just stands there smiling, plotting whatever nefarious plan he has.

The next issue claims to reveal the story behind Jericho's sudden evil turn. I would hope so! Jericho's actions just don't make any sense. Why is he evil? Why did he decide to possess Nightwing? I really hope there is more to Jericho's actions than the tired old, "He's Deathstroke's son, that's why he's evil" excuse. I like Jericho, and so far am not very happy with the shoddy treatment he's been receiving in this comic. For a score, I'll go with a 6 out of 10. Until I get some answers concerning Jericho's bizarre behavior, I'm not going to be very pleased with this comic. There better be some mind control or something involved here, because I just can't see Jericho suddenly turning evil. I just can't see it.

Green Arrow and Black Canary #15

Overall- So, this was the first issue of this series written by its new writer, Andrew Kreisberg. I can't say I was filled with optimism after reading his first foray into this series.

Most of this issue was a flashback looking into the life of Oliver Queen, Green Arrow. He was a rich playboy, then he was stranded on a desert island, he decided to become a super-hero, met Dinah, cheated on her, reunited with her, and then married her. There, in a nutshell that was what encompassed most of this comic.

We also find out that Connor and Mia are leaving Ollie and Dinah. Connor is going to "find himself", and Mia is leaving to be with Dodger in London. After seeing off Mia and Connor, Ollie and Dinah go out on patrol. Dinah winds up getting herself caught by some loser, who puts a knife to her throat. Ollie shoots an arrow at said loser's face, which Dinah snatches out of the air and proceeds to stab the loser in the leg. Ollie tries to take down the goon, but he overpowers Ollie and tosses him aside. Dinah has enough, and unleashes her Canary Cry, which immediately incapacitates the goon. However, we end the issue by seeing a man laying in his destroyed apartment, with his ears bleeding, apparently due to Dinah's Canary Cry.

Um, what the hell was that? First of all, how does Dinah, who has been established as one of the better fighters in he DCU get herself caught by this goon with a knife? If Kreisberg is going to use this title to turn Dinah into a damsel in distress, then he might as well change the title back to just "Green Arrow". Besides the stupidity with Dinah(she's the chairperson of the JLA, shouldn't she be aware of collateral damage?), I was pretty upset that Connor and especially Mia left. I really hope this turn of events is temporary. Connor's character is one begging to be further developed, and Mia is Speedy, Green Arrow's sidekick! As Ollie's sidekick, shouldn't Mia of all people be sticking around? Yeah, this issue annoyed me for alot of different reasons. For a score, I'll go with a 5 out of 10. I really hope Andrew Kreisberg knows what he's doing here, because so far I am way underwhelmed by his work...

Final Crisis:Revelations #4(of 5)

Overall- This comic begins with Cain separating the Spectre from his human host, and then enslaving the Spectre itself. The Question makes a move at Cain, but he smacks her away and then complains that it was supposed to be her who presented him with the Spear of Destiny. With that, Cain unleashes a massive energy blast from the Spear, which he expects will kill the Question. The blast leaves Question unharmed, which shocks Cain momentarily. Question rebounds(even though she isn't sure why the blast didn't kill her)and attacks Cain, kicking him across the face. Unfortunately for Question, Cain doesn't move and grabs her by the throat, figuring that if the Spear couldn't kill her, he would just do it with his bare hands.

Before Cain can succeed in strangling the life out of Question, Huntress arrives on the scene and fires two crossbow bolts into Cain, one in the eye and one in the mouth. This action causes Cain to release Question, but still doesn't stop him. Radiant finally sees enough, and teleports Question, Huntress and Spectre's dead host back into the church, while setting up a impregnable force field around the church.

While in the church, Radiant reveals that the Spear of Destiny can be used for both evil or good, depending on the user. Question sees this as an opportunity to use the Spear to reunite Spectre with his host. Radiant, Huntress and Question go back outside, and confront Cain. Cain tries unsuccessfully to corrupt Radiant, and when he sees that he can not, he begins to force the Spectre to recite the anti-life equation, to the shock and horror of Radiant. With a being as powerful as the Spectre reciting the anti-life equation, most of the remaining people on Earth are corrupted by Darkseid's influence. After Spectre completes the equation, Radiant is nearly broken at Cain's feet, her faith in God nearly gone. Cain simply states triumphantly, "We win.".

I actually liked this comic alot more than its predecessors. The first few issues of Revelations left me kind of confused, but this one was very straightforward. Cain reveals that he threw his lot in with Darkseid to forsake God, which makes sense. Huntress shows up which always makes me happy, since I am a pretty big fan of hers. I also enjoyed Huntress' interaction with Radiant. Huntress was in awe of Radiant, since Radiant is an angel, and Huntress has always been a religious character. All in all, I was happy with this comic. Not blown away, but happy. For a score, I'll go with a 7 out of 10.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Final Crisis #5(of 7)

Overall- OOOOOK.... Let's see if I can make sense of what I just read. Actually, I get the feeling that I won't be able to make full sense of Final Crisis until I've read the 7th and final part.

We open with the trial of Hal Jordan on the home base of the Green Lanterns, OA. Hal has been accused of killing a New God, even though Hal doesn't remember committing the murder or remembering where he was at the time of the murder. Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner arrive and accuse Alpha Lantern Kraken of fooling with Hal's mind. Kraken at first denies the accusations, but then stops the charade and attacks the Lanterns and the Guardians of the Universe. We find out that the mind of Granny Goodness is occupying the body of Kraken, and that Granny wants to take the giant power battery, which powers the rings of the Green Lantern Corps back to Darkseid. Hal and the Lanterns manage to take down Granny, and Kyle and Guy reveal that the Earth has been caught up in a tear in space/time, brought on by the arrival of Darkseid. Hal and all available Lanterns head to Earth to face down Darkseid and his forces.

Meanwhile, on Earth, things have continued to deteriorate. As Darkseid continues to gain power, his forces continue to grow. The remaining heroes who haven't been tainted by the anti-life equation continue to defend themselves against the forces of Darkseid. Some of the heavy hitters unaffected by the anti-life decide to stage a last ditch attack on Bludhaven, which is where Darkseid himself is still powering up. Darkseid's most powerful forces intercept the heroes, leading to a large scale battle.

We also see a gallows, where Libra has been publicly executing dissidents, which apparently includes the Calculator. Calculator begs for his life, and Libra reveals that someone had been coordinating the attack on Bludhaven, and that he believed that person was Calculator, while watching Lex Luthor like a hawk. The whole while, Lex Luthor stands stoically by, leading me to believe that it was possibly Lex who was coordinating the attack on Darkseid's forces in Bludhaven.

In the end though, none of it matters, as Darkseid reaches full power, and becomes, I guess for lack of a better term God. He bends space and time, and takes his place as the conqueror of the entire planet Earth. Although all seems lost at this point, the issue ends with some weird guy(possibly a New God, I'm not too sure)standing amid the chaos and destruction of the Earth stating that, "The judge of all evil is here.".

There was a lot of other things that occurred here, but I either didn't think they were important enough to write about, or(and this is more likely)I had no idea what was going on. Like I've stated numerous times on this blog, I in no way, shape or form consider myself an expert in the history/characters of the DCU. While I know every aspect of the Marvel Universe like the back of my hand, I'm still learning the DCU. I'm getting there, but alot of stuff still escapes me. I'm not really sure who Mister Miracle is, but I think he is/was a New God. He also showed up with Mr. Terrific, but like I said, his importance was lost on me.

Oh, and I was mildly pissed off at how easily Mary Marvel was able to dispatch of Captain Marvel and especially Black Adam. Come on man, Black Adam once declared war on the whole world, and it took the combined force of practically every super-hero on Earth to stop him. In my mind, Black Adam is MORE than a match for Mary freaking Marvel... Oh, and yes, I am obviously a big Black Adam fan. I was OK with Mary beating up Freddie Freeman(Captain Marvel), even though I'm a fan of his as well, due to his reluctance to strike his old friend, but COME ON, Black Adam should have squashed Mary under his boot heel!

Batman Death Watch: The only mention of Bats was when one of Darkseid's minions informed him that, "The Batman Psycho-Merge killed the clone army these fools tried to build!" Other than that there was no mention or appearance from The Batman. The blurb for the next issue simply states, "What will happen to Batman?".

I liked the scenes with Hal and the Lanterns, as well as the fight scenes(well except for Mary Marvel overpowering Black Adam and Captain Marvel...), and Darkseid finally placing himself as God was a pretty cool visual too. Unless I'm misreading the situation, and God knows I probably am, I'd love to see Lex Luthor make a power play against Libra and/or Darkseid. I just can't see Lex as anybodies lackey, not even Darkseid. Other than that, I had no idea as to what was going on in the rest of this comic book. The stuff with New Gods, Rubik's Cubes, weird guys drawing pictures and anything I neglected to mention went totally over my head(and that's no easy task, I'm 6'3"!)

As I've always said, the work of Grant Morrison can be extremely confusing at times, but he'll usually put an, "Oh, now I get it!" moment in all of his series. He did it with Marvel Boy(which I loved by the way)and he did it with New X-Men, which I also loved. I haven't had that moment of clarity yet during this series, but I can feel it coming. Slowly, I think I am starting to put the pieces together... Maybe. For a score, I'm going to go with a 7 1/2 out of 10. I'm ever so slowly starting to see the story come together, but I'm still kind of foggy on the finer points of this story. I am confident that by the next issue and surely by the 7th issue, I'll have a full understanding of Final Crisis as a whole... Maybe!

Joker's Last Laugh TPB

This trade collected "Joker's Last Laugh" #1-6

Overall- This is one of those comic books/trade paper backs where I knew the outcome of the story(or so I thought)before I picked it up, but I wanted to actually read it myself. Trust me, that will make a lot more sense before I'm finished with this review(maybe). I read this EARLY this morning, so I may be missing specifics to the story(me brain work no good in morning).

Basically, one of the Joker's prison doctors tells Joker that he has an incurable brain tumor, and that in short order, he'll be dead. Since he only has so much time left on Earth, Joker decides he wants to go out in a bang, and he "Jokerizes" every criminal locked in the prison with him. By "Jokerize", I mean that he sprays them with his Joker gas(that sounds disgusting!), which turns them as insane, and apparently pale as Joker himself. From there, Joker breaks out, and sends his horde of super-powered Jokers out into the world to cause as much destruction as they possibly can.

Next, Joker decides he wants to leave an heir behind, so he sends some of his minions after Harley Quinn. Thankfully, Joker's hordes don't manage to capture Quinn, who isn't interested in having a kid with Joker out of wedlock(OOOOK...). Joker decides to step up his plans by creating a huge amount of his Joker gas and sending it into the atmosphere, where it begins to rain down onto the U.S.

After Joker does this, we find out the doctor who told Joker he was going to die was lying to him, and only said it to get back at the Joker for all of his evil pranks/jokes. Armed with this information, Batman decides to track down Joker and tell him he wasn't dying. Batman figured Joker would stop the mass destruction if he knew he would live to kill again another day.

Before Batman can reach Joker, who has holed himself up at a cathedral in Gotham, Nightwing discovers that thanks to Joker, Killer Croc killed and ate Robin. Nightwing decides enough is enough, and approaches the cathedral to face down Joker. Joker instructs his lackeys to allow Nightwing inside, because Joker's master plan is to have someone in the Bat-family kill him, thereby corrupting them, since Joker figured he was a dead man already. Nightwing attacks Joker, and the 2 battle for a while, with neither gaining the advantage, that is until Joker begins to push Nightwing's buttons, by proudly taking credit for killing not one but 2 Robins.

Joker begins to reference Jason Todd by name, and Nightwing snaps and begins to beat the Joker to death with his bare hands. Robin, who obviously wasn't eaten by Killer Croc, rushes over to Nightwing and tells him to stop beating on Joker. Nightwing stops, but apparently, he managed to fulfill Joker's wishes, because Joker is stone cold dead. Batman, Huntress and Spoiler arrive, and Batman(or Huntress)manages to resuscitate Joker, thereby preventing Nightwing from becoming a killer.

In the end, S.T.A.R. Labs manages to create an antidote to Joker's toxins, and everybody is cured of their "Jokerization"(wow, what a word!). Joker is locked back up, but this time he is locked away from all of the other inmates and placed in 24 hour solitary confinement, which is probably the worst possible punishment for a sociopath like the Joker.

This TPB was OK, but I really felt that I was missing ALOT of the story here. I guess that makes sense, since this storyline crossed over into practically every DC comic book at the time. Still, there were some important scenes that were left out of this TPB, including whatever happened between Killer Croc and Robin. Robin's "death" was instrumental in pushing Nightwing over the edge and really should have been shown in this TPB.

Like I said, I really felt like there were large, gaping holes in this story, which I guess were filled in in the various DC comic books that took part in this crossover. So, although I thoroughly enjoyed watching Nightwing beat Joker to death(come on, we all know he deserves a lot worse than that!), I can't really score this TPB much higher than a 6 out of 10. Reading this was kind of like only watching the second half of a movie. By the end, I knew what had happened, but I was never really sure how we got there...