Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Captain America #600

Hot damn, it's finally here!!! I've been waiting about a week and a half to get my hands on this comic book. I'm not going to bother with a long drawn out introduction because to be quite honest, I can't wait to start reading this comic. All you really need to know is that I am a huge fan of Captain America and that the main story is written by the incomparable Ed Brubaker. Now, on with the review!

-To keep things relatively simple, the bulk of this review and the analysis that will follow is going to be on the Ed Brubaker story. I'll hit on the extra material, but briefly.

-This comic takes place 1 year after the death of Captain America at the hands of his brainwashed longtime girlfriend, Sharon Carter and Crossbones. We kick things off with Sharon's story. Sharon has been slowly regaining her memories after her brainwashing at the hands of the Red Skull and Dr. Faustus prior to Cap's death. Lately Sharon has been recalling the assassination itself, and she can now remember shooting Cap point blank and then handing the gun off to another brainwashed agent of Faustus. Sharon tracks this man down and uses a device she received from Nick Fury that forces the man to remember what he was ordered to do with the gun after he took it from Sharon. Sharon finds the gun hidden away in the man's home, and upon looking at it she realizes that it isn't a normal gun... Hmmm...

-From there we head to the evil Cap(the former Grand Director)who was working for the Red Skull a couple of issues back. Evil Cap is rethinking his origin story in a little diner before he spots some punks trying to steal his costume and shield from his truck. Evil Cap launches himself into the punks and swiftly takes them down. After that, he hops in the truck and leaves, thinking to himself that he needs to find a place where the people haven't all turned into criminals... Good luck!!!

-Next up is a story about the female Bucky from the Counter-Earth Franklin Richards created after the Onslaught debacle. Huh, I totally forgot about her... Anyway, after some research, she discovers Patriot's(of the Young Avengers)secret identity and tracks him down at his home. Apparently, female Bucky wants to become the sidekick to the current Captain America. Patriot explains that Cap probably wouldn't be interested in having a sidekick, before inviting her to meet the Young Avengers instead.

-From there we head to Crossbones who is still locked in prison due to his involvement in Cap's assassination. A prison guard takes offense at the fact that Crossbones is gloating about his role in the assassination, and shoots him with a taser. The guard then gets up close and begins to beat on Crossbones, taunting CB with the fact that Sin is being held in the prison infirmary. Upon hearing this, CB shakes off the effect of the taser and snaps the guards neck, charging through the prison until he reaches Sin in the infirmary. The two Neo-Nazi's share a laugh over the fact that nobody knows what really happened the day of the assassination before the guards gas the infirmary to knock Crossbones out... Hmmm...

-Next up are the New Avengers. Bucky wants to attend the public memorial service bring held at Central Park in Cap's honor in costume, but the Black Widow manages to convince him of what a bad idea that would be. Widow reasons that Norman Osborn and his "Avengers" would launch an attack and innocent bystanders would be caught in the crossfire. Bucky and the other Avengers decide to go to the park in civvies, not wanting to soil Cap's memorial service with unnecessary fisticuffs.

-The Red Skull, stuck in one of Armin Zola's spare bodies, is also thinking back on his MANY battles with Cap. However, the Skull seems to know something nobody else does, as he states that someday everybody will see what he did, and then they'll all know the Skull was Cap's superior... Hmmm...

-This story draws to a close at the memorial service at Central Park. The Avengers have turned out(out of costume)to pay their respects, and are soon joined by the Falcon. The Sentry, Moonstone and Osborn hover over the crowd looking for the Avengers, and Osborn states his disdain for Cap to his teammates. Moonstone tells Osborn that the thousands who turned out for the service would disagree with him, and Sentry points out the Avengers to Osborn. Osborn refrains from attacking, instead landing on the stage set up in the Park and proclaiming his "respect" for Cap, deciding to use the service as an opportunity to boost his own popularity with the masses. Sharon Carter finds Falcon in the throngs of people and tells him that she believes they can still save Cap... Wha-huh!?!

-Next up is a story by Roger Stern(Cap's writer briefly in the early 80's)about Cap's old neighbors, Bernie and Josh. As a longtime fan of Cap, I quite enjoyed this story and give it a score of 8 out of 10.

-The next story was by Mark Waid(Cap's writer after Mark Gruenwald in the mid-90's). This story dealt with a collector of Cap memorabilia. For a score, I'd give it a 6 1/2 out of 10.

-Next is an article written by Joe Simon!?!? Woooo, I was overjoyed to read this! For those who don't know, Joe Simon, along with the King, Jack Kirby created Cap back in the early 1940's. That article was a real treat to read. Joe Simon... AWESOME!

-We finish this comic up with the reprint of Captain America #16 from 1942. This comic is notable because it's a VERY early Stan Lee work. As possibly the biggest Stan Lee fan out there, this was also a HUGE treat to read.

Hmmm... Where do I even begin? I'll start with the main story. That seems like a logical place to begin. I'll probably catch some flack for saying this, but this definitely wasn't one of my favorite Brubaker written comics. The story was just a bit too piecemeal for my tastes. Just when one snippet of story would get interesting, we'd hop over to another. Now before I get a mess of hateful comments, allow me to emphasise that Ed is one of my absolute favorite comic book writers today, and is a writer I regularly hand perfect scores to, so I say these words with the utmost respect. I would have preferred if this comic would have focused solely on Sharon Carter's journey. For example, when did Nick Fury give her that device? Why did she believe the gun wasn't normal before she even found it? I'd have much rather read about stuff like that instead of reading about Sin and Crossbones in prison.

Obviously this comic is the first step in bringing Steve Rogers back to life. As much as I love Steve(and I really do!), I have to say I honestly don't think he needs to come back yet. Cap's comic under Bucky has been excellent and I for one haven't missed Steve at all. I say that as someone who has amassed a very large collection of early Captain America comic books and is a Steve Rogers fan. This series hasn't missed a beat with Bucky serving as the title character.

So now the question becomes how exactly will Steve be returning and to what end? First off, the real question to ask is why would the Red Skull NOT be satisfied with the death of his longtime rival? It's obvious that the Skull did something that is going to result in the return of Steve Rogers... But what? Maybe the fake Cap isn't the Grand Director as we were led to believe, but is actually a brainwashed Steve Rogers... I really can't think of anything else off the top of my head. Cap's corpse was taken by SHIELD after his "assassination" and was seen decaying. The corpse was then given to Namor who buried it at sea. I can't wait to find out how the Skull pulled this one off! Cosmic Cube shenanigans? Cloned bodies? The old switcharoo? Who knows!

All in all, I really enjoyed this comic, and to me, it was well worth the hefty $4.99 cover price... However, there was one glaring omission here. There was nothing at all in regards to the late, great Mark Gruenwald... Mark wrote Captain America for a staggering 10(!)years, from the mid 1980's to the mid 1990's. Mark's run on Cap is my favorite, with Ed Brubaker's current work being a close second, and Steve Englehart's run being a distant third. I think it would have been appropriate if this comic had a reprint of one of the MANY great Cap comics that came out during Mark's lengthy run. The US Agent/Captain stuff, the first appearance of Crossbones, the Red Skull/John Smith stuff, the Flag Smasher-Cap battle, the AWESOME Acts of Vengeance battle between Red Skull and Magneto, Streets of Poison, Fighting Chance, the introduction of Jack Flag and Free Spirit, any of these issues would have been an excellent addition to this comic. Anyway, for this comic, I'll give an overall score of 9 1/2 out of 10. I wouldn't complain at all about Marvel jacking up their prices if all of their comics had this amount of great content in them. Very nice job here Marvel, I'm definitely impressed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

War of Kings #4(of 6)

Wow, it's WAY past time I gave this comic a read! One of the major problems with buying as many comics as I do is that sometimes a really good one will get lost in the shuffle. Case and point this comic. Interesting story, excellent writing team, great artwork, and I wind up reading a mess of comics I'm not that interested in while this book lays near the bottom of my comic pile. For shame X-Man75... This mini-series is written by the writing tandem of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, who are responsible for the stellar "Nova" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" series'.

-Reading this comic has told me two things; #1, I really should start reading the Ascension mini-series, and #2, this story has picked up BIG time after the events of the last issue!

-We begin with crazy Emperor Vulcan being told by his top advisers that his campaign against the Kree is beginning to stretch the Shi'ar forces thin and that he might want to consider a cease-fire. Vulcan, being crazy and all, tells his advisers he could care less, and that the war will wage on until the Shi'ar emerge victorious. At this time, one of the Inhuman's Echo-Sentry's launch an attack on Vulcan and his advisers. Before Vulcan can react, Talon(the guy who was mentoring Darkhawk)destroys the Echo-Sentry and tells Vulcan he is now under the protection of the Fraternity of Raptors(the Darkhawks).

-From there we head to the the Kree throneworld of Hala here newlyweds Crystal of the Inhumans and Ronan the Accuser of the Kree are discussing matters of war and the future of the Kree people as a whole. The Inhumans took control of the Kree with the promise of helping the Kree solve the problem of their evolutionary problems. However, it seems the Inhumans may not be able to come through on their promises. Crystal wants Ronan to back her when she confronts Black Bolt(the leader of the Inhumans)about putting more effort into the evolutionary programs and less time into the war with the Shi'ar.

-Back on Chandilar, the throneworld of the Shi'ar, the Starjammers and Gladiator take former Empress of the Shi'ar, Lilandra, to what would basically be the Shi'ar's version of the UK House of Lords. While Chancellor Araki(a Vulcan loyalist)is trying to regain the support of the angry Shi'ar Council members who are tired of Vulcan and his many wars, Gladiator walks Lilandra into the room where she announces she is reclaiming the throne of the Shi'ar and banishing Vulcan. This proclamation is met by thunderous applause by the Council members and rage by Akari.

-Back with Vulcan, Talon explains to the mad Emperor what the purpose of the Fraternity of Raptors is and tells Vulcan that he has enlisted the aid of King Blastarr of the Negative Zone to attack Kree loyalist Lord Ravenous and the worlds under his rule. Talon then reveals to Vulcan the events that have transpired on Chandilar concerning Lilandra, and Vulcan naturally flips out upon hearing this news. However, Talon ominously tells Vulcan that he will protect Vulcan no matter what before leaving the crazed Emperor.

-The whirlwind tour of the universe next heads back to Chandilar where Lilandra is marching through the streets with her protectors to officially reclaim her throne at the temple of Sharra and K'ythri(if the spelling wrong, I apologize to any offended Shi'ar), the two major gods of the Shi'ar. Lilandra is somewhat dismayed that some of the Shi'ar are angry and protesting the fact that she is trying to take the throne away from Vulcan, who she figured was universally hated by the Shi'ar.

-During the progression through the streets, Lilandra's party is attacked by the Death Commandos, Vulcan loyalists. The people in the streets begin to panic, and the situation rapidly devolves into chaos. During the battle, Talon appears and begins shooting at the Council members who were loyal to Lilandra. Before the Starjammers or Gladiator can react, Lilandra is struck down by Talon, ending this issue.

WOW!!! That comic was excellent! With Gladiator betraying Vulcan last issue, I was perplexed as to how Dan and Andy were going to be able to stretch this mini out for three more issues, but my questions were enthusiastically answered in this issue. I figured the loss of Gladiator spelt the end of Vulcan's reign, but with the Fraternity now working for Vulcan, things are looking up for my favorite psychotic mutant emperor.

Although the last page sure made it look as if Lilandra had perished, I can't really believe she's dead quite yet. I've never liked Lilandra, but I sure didn't expect her to die in this series. If Lilandra is dead(and that's a big IF)that should solidify Vulcan's powerbase once and for all among the Shi'ar. It also leaves plenty of questions regarding what the Starjammers and Gladiator are going to do, since their plans all hinged on Lilandra regaining the Shi'ar throne and banishing Vulcan.

This comic sure turned this mini-series around big time, and as should be apparent by my glowing words, I couldn't be happier. For a score, I'll give this comic a 9 1/2 out of 10. It's like this mini-series was tailor-made just for me with how much I love the Marvel alien races. This mini-series is probably not for everybody, but for those of us that can tell a Skrull from a Badoon, this is must read stuff!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

X-Men Legacy #225

To be honest, I wasn't planning on reviewing anything tonight. However, I've made sure to post something here for 7 or 8 months straight now, so I figured I'd read something I really don't care about, that way I can half-ass a review while still providing a post! Hey, if nothing else at least I'm honest right? This comic is STILL written by Mike Carey... I really don't know why! I like some of Mike's pre-X-Men Legacy work, but his run on this book has been forgettable, and that's the nicest thing I can say! Well, without further ado, here's my half-assed review of X-Men Legacy #225.

-This issue opens with Prof. X visiting Exodus' Acolytes telepathically while they slept and telling them he was there to destroy the Acolytes. The Acolytes wake up to alarms and rush to the security cameras to see Prof. X strolling through their security measures. It seems that Prof. X planted telepathic suggestions in the heads of many of the Acolytes while they slept allowing him free passage through their security systems.

-Exodus sends some of his cannon fodder after Prof. X, and he makes quick work of them. After making his way through the team, Prof. X confronts Exodus, and the two have a telepathic tete-a-tete.

-During the conversation, Prof. X convinces Exodus that the old ways of mutants battling mutants wouldn't work anymore and that he should allow his Acolytes to head to San Fran to stand with the X-Men for when the humans inevitably try to wipe out mutantkind once and for all.

-Some of the Acolytes aren't exactly pleased by this turn of events, but after Exodus destroys their headquarters, he leaves them with little choice but to head to San Fransisco. This issue closes with Norman Osborn(he's in THIS comic TOO!!!)strolling over to Prof. X and Exodus, telling Prof. X that he needs to talk to him.

So, Prof X wants the Acolytes to hang out with the X-Men in San Fran so they can battle humankind together? Wouldn't it be smarter to keep the few remaining mutants away from each other so they can't all be wiped out by a tactical nuclear strike or something along those lines? Eh, what the hell I guess, send all of the muties to San Fran!

I've always been a fan of Prof. X, but I have to say, I'm not overly fond of the new Bruce Willis from "Die Hard" Prof. X... I've always liked the Professor as the brains behind the X-Men, not as the dude on the front lines of the fight. Yeah, Prof. X has those kick-ass powers and all, but I liked him best when he would provide the X-teams with sage advice while riding around in his pimped out Shi'ar wheelchair.

I liked this issue of Legacy more than any other issue in recent memory, but with my dislike of the direction this comic has moved during the past 25 issues or so that's not exactly saying much. I wish Exodus would have come across a bit stronger(he's another character I like), but what can you do? For a score, I'll give this comic a 7 out of 10 along with a mild recommendation.

Dark Reign: Young Avengers #2(of 5)

I have a great affinity for the Young Avengers. That is the REAL Young Avengers, not the team of poseurs that we were introduced to in the first issue of this mini. With the way the last issue ended, this issue should herald the return of the real Young Avengers. Hopefully after this mini-series wraps up, Marvel will FINALLY give the Young Avengers a new series. This comic is written by Paul Cornell.

-This comic opens with the obligatory battle between the two teams calling themselves the Young Avengers. The battle turns out to be quite even(although it SHOULDN'T be...)until Enchantress flips out and halts the fighting with a massive magical blast.

-Patriot decides to try using words instead of fists and asks if these new Young Avengers were founded by Norman Osborn, similar to the way Osborn created the Dark Avengers. The leader of the new Young Avengers, Coat of Arms, says that Norman Osborn was the major influence in why she gathered her team of misfits. Apparently Coat was a fan of Norman during his Green Goblin days, and upon meeting him, he threatened to have her killed, so she put her Young Avengers together to strike back at Osborn... OOOOK...

-After that rather bizarre explanation, Patriot tells the faux Young Avengers that they can try-out to become real Young Avengers, or they can choose a new name for their team. Patriot says he'll return in 24 hours to hear what they've decided and Wiccan teleports the real Young Avengers away.

-Needless to say, the faux Young Avengers don't appreciate Patriot's ultimatum, and grouse to each other about Patriot and the Young Avengers. After the faux Young Avengers decide they won't jump through hoops for Patriot, Enchantress uses her magic to change her teammates minds, making them now want to try-out for the real Young Avengers.

-Later on, Melter(who saw what Enchantress pulled)confronts Enchantress and asks why she did what she did. Enchantress says that it is her destiny to be a Young Avenger, before she seduces Melter into dropping the topic.

-This issue ends with Executioner of the faux team talking to his mother over the phone about meeting Kate Bishop(Hawkeye of the Young Avengers). Executioner tells his mother he intends on molding Kate into a great hero like his mother, Princess Python!?!?

This comic wasn't half bad. The utterly bizarre story about Norman Osborn and Coat of Arms was pretty much the only thing here that I didn't like, and judging from the expressions of the Young Avengers after hearing Coat's story, I think her story was supposed to be weird to the point of being ridiculous. This issue also began to flesh out some of the members of the faux Young Avengers, which is much needed/appreciated. Melter seems like he truly wants to be a hero, but can't due to accidentally melting that old lady last issue, Coat is obviously nuts, there seems to be a lot more to Enchantress then meets the eye and the revelation that Princess Python is the mother of Executioner was kind of welcome. It seems like Executioner believes his mother is actually a super-hero, which should lead to some interesting stuff down the road when he inevitably discovers her true identity. Big Zero and Egghead were kept in the background this issue which was fine by me since I don't like either one of them. For a score I'll give this comic a 7 1/2 out of 10. I'm not really sure where Paul is taking this series, but I'm willing to stick around to find out.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Batman and Robin #1

Alright, it's finally time for me to take a look at this bad boy. Although I haven't read any spoilers, and I don't know what happens, I have heard that many people haven't exactly been pleased with this book. Just so you know, full disclosure and all, I'm quite the fan of Dick Grayson, but I loathe Damien Wayne passionately. So don't be overly surprised if this review occasionally veers off topic and heads into a rant against Damien. I'm not saying it's going to happen, I'm just warning in advance that it COULD happen.

Before I go any farther, I want to give some major props to DC with regards to the price of this comic book. The cover price for this issue is $2.99. If this comic was released by Marvel, I guarantee the cover price would be AT LEAST $3.99. Thank you DC for not pulling Marvel's inflated prices garbage. This issue is written by the completely insane(or awesomely brilliant depending on your opinion)Grant Morrison.

-Good luck following this review! This comic begins with Batman and Robin catching a drug dealer named Toad(who looks like a toad). Batman and Robin discover that the Toad was paid in dominoes(huh?)that he's working for somebody named Pyg(wha?)and that he speaks European circus slang, whatever the hell THAT means!

-After dropping Toad off at the police station, Dick, Damien and Alfred lock up Wayne Manor and head to Batman's new base of operation, Wayne Tower. The new Dynamic Duo heads out after dinner to figure out what exactly was going on with that weird Toad guy and who Pyg is.

-A guy with a flaming head attacks the station house where Toad was being held, and Pyg, along with a bunch of cronies with creepy doll masks covering their faces, attack one of the men who was working with Toad prior to Toad's capture. This comic ends with Pyg affixing a creepy doll mask on the face of the man who was working with Toad.

What the hell??? Jeez, what can I even say here? This was... Weird. I'm going to chalk up the fact that I really didn't know what the hell was happening here to the fact that this was the first part of this storyline, and things still need to evolve somemore. Ah Grant Morrison. When it comes to Grant's work, it's either brilliant or insane. There really isn't any middle ground. You either love Grant's work or you hate it. Period. I tend to like Grant's work more than I hate it, but if I'm going to be honest here, I really haven't enjoyed his Batman run thus far. I still have high hopes that Grant will wow me, but with each passing issue, that seems less and less likely. For a score, I'll give this comic a 6 1/2 out of 10. The stuff that made sense I enjoyed. Unfortunately, there was little here that made sense!

Teen Titans #71

Ah, it's an issue of the Teen Titans... There was a time when I couldn't wait to read the new issues of this series. Unfortunately that all changed around the time Geoff Johns left this comic and Sean McKeever took over the writing duties. That's not to say I don't like Sean's writing, because I thoroughly enjoyed his work over at Marvel, I just haven't liked his run on the Teen Titans at all. The current line-up of this team is horrible, and unless Tim Drake/Wayne, Bart Allen and Superboy plan on returning to the team anytime soon, I don't expect things to improve.

-This comic was heavy on Ravager. What do I say to that? YAY!!!

-We begin with Ravager sitting on top of Titans Tower pondering what to do with her life. Naturally, Red Devil wanders over like a puppy dog and hangs out with Ravager for a while. Devil asks Ravager to return to the Titans, but Rose is undecided if she should, or more to the point, if she could rejoin the Teen Titans, especially with Wonder Girl leading the team.

-Eventually, Ravager and Wonder Girl have a conversation, and naturally it goes poorly, with Rose throwing Superboy's death in Cassie's face. Uber-pissed off at Ravager's words, Cassie walks away, and Rose decides she wants to stick around long enough to see if Bombshell is planning on betraying the team again.

-To this end, Ravager accompanies Bombshell on a prisoner transfer to Alcatraz. Rose bates Bombshell into attacking her and during the fight, Bombshell breaks the device that was dampening the powers of the villain being transferred, some mook named the Regulator, who is able to drain super-human powers. With Bombshell's powers gone, Ravager easily defeats her and after some questioning, Ravager learns that Bombshell wasn't planning on betraying the Titans again.

-By now, Wonder Girl has figured out that Ravager was plotting something, and along with the rest of the Titans, WG rushes to the scene and once again argues with Ravager over Ravager's actions. Ravager goes back to the Tower and is once again followed by Red Devil. Ravager says good-bye to Devil, explaining that she doesn't belong with the Titans anymore, before heading off alone, still looking for her place in life.

I've always liked Ravager, so for the most part I did enjoy this story. Of course I'd have been happier had Ravager decided to stick around to breathe some life into the boring members of this team, but alas, that was not to be.

Personally I found it kind of strange that Sean decided to spotlight Ravager when there were so many other characters who are actually on this team that could have used the spotlight. For example, over the past few issues, Aquagirl, Static, Miss Martian and Kid Eternity have joined the team. Any one of these characters(well, except for the Martian, she's boring no matter how you slice it)would have benefited from some extra attention. I know NOTHING about Aquagirl, save what I read in the Terror Titans mini-series, ditto for Static, and my knowledge of Kid Eternity is equally shaky. Why not dedicate an issue to these three newcomers, as opposed to a character who was just passing through? For a score, I'll give this comic a 7 out of 10. Although nothing overly exciting happened here, this was still one of the better issues of this series in quite some time. With no Ravager next month(save for the Second Feature)I expect this series to return to its normal sucky status quo.

Booster Gold #21

This is one of those Second Feature books DC is putting out over the course of the next few months. The first part of this comic will feature Booster, while the second part looks at Blue Beetle. No, not Ted Cord, the annoying Beetle, Jaime Reyes. Personally, I don't understand what DC is thinking with this whole Second Feature junk. I have to pay an extra dollar to read about a character I don't even like in the first place??? What's up with that? I'd much rather pay the regular price of $2.99 and NOT get the extra Blue Beetle story! That's more than enough complaining for now. Before we get underway, allow me to state that this comic is written by Dan Jurgens.

-This comic opens with Rip Hunter sneaking around some fancy floating building, doing whatever sneaky stuff it is Rip Hunter does. Rip is discovered by some unseen enemy who tries to fry him, but is a split second too late. After Rip's escape, the unseen enemy makes vague threats to nobody in particular. God do I love cliched super-villain dialogue!

-While Rip is doing whatever it is he's doing, Booster Gold is saving a bunch of people trapped in a high-rise fire in Coast City. Unfortunately for Booster, thanks to the thick smoke, everybody thinks it was Green Lantern who made the save. HA! Poor Booster.

-After that, Booster is summoned by Rip, and Rip tells Booster that with Batman dead, Booster is going to have to steal the pictures Batman has of him at the scene of Barbara Gordon's paralysis at the hands of the Joker.

-Booster heads to the Batcave where he runs into the new Dick Grayson Batman, who doesn't take kindly to Booster's attempted theft. The two fight, and Booster comically figures out who's under the cowl in a matter of moments. Boy, if Booster could figure out it was Dick under the cowl, what happens when Dick runs into some of the smarter Bat-villains? Eventually, Booster manages to stop the fight by showing Dick some of the pictures Batman had.

-As Booster is trying to explain why he was at the scene of Bab's shooting, the Black Beetle attacks, trying to kill Dick, explaining that he doesn't want another Batman running around with Bruce dead. Booster foils the sneak attack, and the Beetle teleports away. Soon thereafter, Dick also vanishes and Booster realizes that the Black Beetle went back in time and killed Dick off at some earlier time to prevent him from taking up Batman's cowl. This issue ends with Booster promising to fix what the Black Beetle has wrought.

-After that was the Blue Beetle feature, which detailed Jaime fighting giant robots and stuff.

At first glance, I really liked this comic. However, after giving it some thought, I realized that nothing about this issue made a lick of sense! First off, why didn't the Black Beetle wait until Booster Gold had left the Batcave before making his move on Dick? That way, there would be no witnesses to the murder. Besides that, with the way things have been going in the Bat-Universe, would Dick's death really matter in the long run anyway? If Dick was to mysteriously die in the Batcave, wouldn't Tim of even(shudder)Damian just take up the mantle of the Bat? On top of that, why didn't the Black Beetle just kill Dick off while he was a baby, or cause him to suffer a fatal accident on the trapeze as a child, instead of confronting the adult Dick Grayson? See what I mean? Way too many holes.

Besides those obvious, glaring plot holes, there was one other big problem I had with this issue. That problem was the ease in which the Black Beetle was able to go back in time to kill off Dick Grayson. If it's that easy to alter the timestream, why the hell doesn't the Black Beetle just go back in time and kill off ALL of the heroes in the DCU? If the Beetle has access to secret identities and such(and he must if he knew where the Batcave was, as well as Dick's alter-egos)why not just kill off Batman's grandmother, Hal Jordan's great-grandfather or Booster Gold while he was still in diapers? This whole plot just seems too thrown together for me to fully enjoy it. With that said though, I'm still going to give this comic a score of 7 1/2 out of 10. Before I decided to dissect everything, I have to admit to really enjoying this comic. The moral to the story? Don't look too deeply into Booster Gold comic books!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Green Arrow and Black Canary #21

I've been pretty vocal concerning my displeasure over the way Black Canary has been mis-written in this series as of late. Since taking over as the regular writer of this title, Andrew Kreisberg has really played up Dinah as the constant damsel in distress. Anybody familiar with the recently canned "Birds of Prey" comic knows Dinah is FAR from a damsel in distress, and is actually one of the better fighters in all of the DCU. Hopefully, this issue will see Dinah return to her old ass-kicking ways as opposed to her recent descent into incompetency.

-Before I go any further, some background is probably necessary. A bunch of issues back, incompetent Dinah used her Canary Cry on some thug and wound up messing up the hearing of some innocent bystander. Said bystander(now not as innocent)has gotten a hold of some really fancy technology and has managed to take all the sound away from Star City. In layman's terms, nobody in Star City can hear anything. Upon losing the ability to hear, the citizens of Star City have decided it was the perfect time to riot... Yeah sure, that's exactly what I'd do if I lost the ability to hear!

-With that rather lengthy intro out of the way, on with the story. Ass-kicking Dinah(not incompetent Dinah)is running around the streets of Star City, dealing with would be muggers and rapists who are now permeating the streets. While Dinah is dealing with the rioting citizens, Ollie is trying to deal with his crazed stalker, Cupid, who is following him around like a lost puppy dog.

-Dinah heads to a University and finds some professors who have figured out why the city has lost its sound(boy, that sound dumb!). She receives a device from the professors that should allow her to locate the source of the disturbance.

-After a flashback sequence showing Dinah as a teenager dealing with the initial onset of her powers, Dinah manages to track down the source of the mayhem to a rooftop overlooking the city. On the rooftop is some guy with a fancy sound gun attached to his arm. Dinah lunges at the man but he fires a huge blast of sound at her feet, destroying the entire top of the building, and ending this issue.

Hey, you know what? This was my favorite issue of GA/BC since Andrew took over the writing duties! This issue actually focused on Dinah and showed her to be more than Green Arrow's bumbling wife. A few issues ago, Dinah could barely deal with one street thug, but in this issue she was able to take down 6 bozos with ease. The Dinah in this comic is the one who I became a fan of during the "Birds of Prey". Thank you for bringing her back Mr. Kreisberg!

I'm still not sure where Andrew is going with the flashbacks to Dinah's adolescence or what exactly the boy she injured with her Canary Cry means to this story, but at least the main storyline is really picking up steam. I still don't like Cupid and the fact that Ollie is allowing her to run around with him is starting to bother me. She was responsible for several murders over the last few issues, so you'd think Ollie would at least make an attempt to apprehend her... But of course Cupid IS a woman, and Ollie IS Ollie, so I guess that explains his actions there.

In this issue, Cupid thinks to herself that after six of seven archery lessons she's getting pretty good with the bow. That made me smile, because I know firsthand just how difficult it is to learn archery. Last summer I brought myself a bow and arrow, read a few books and web articles on archery and after deciding I knew what was what, I went out, set up a few targets and proceeded to play Hawkeye/Green Arrow. Instead of getting better with each shot, I inexplicably became worse and worse, developing several huge welts and bruises on my arms from the snapping of the bowstring, as well as a grotesquely swollen thumb after I somehow managed to shoot an arrow into the thumb that was holding the bow... I still can't fathom how I managed that... Needless to say, my bow hasn't seen the light of day this summer!

Anyway, back to this comic book. For a score, I'll go with an 8 1/2 out of 10, which is by far the best score I've given any comic in this series for quite some time. Hopefully Andrew can keep up the good work over the next couple of issues.

Action Comics Annual #12

I know this isn't the popular feeling among many comic fans, but I've really been enjoying both "Action Comics", which has been starring Nightwing and Flamebird and "Superman", which has been featuring Mon-El. Don't get me wrong, I still like Superman and have been enjoying the New World of Krypton series(or whatever the hell it's called!), but I like the fact that DC is trying to establish some new stars in two of its premier books. I'm especially looking forward to this annual to find out what happened to Chris Kent after he returned to the Phantom Zone at the conclusion of the stellar Last Son storyarc. This issue was written by Action's regular writer, Greg Rucka. Well, with the introduction out of the way, let's get on with the review.

-This issue jumps around a bit as it details the lives of both Chris and Thara, so for the sake of keeping this review somewhat readable, I'm going to focus on Thara's story before moving on to Chris'.

-This comic begins with Brainiac conquering and bottling the Kryptonian city of Kandor. Thara was living in Kandor at the time of the attack and her parents were soldiers serving under Gen. Zod's future lover, Ursa. The Krypyonian army attacks the forces of Brainiac, but fail miserably, with many soldiers getting killed and Ursa turning tail and running away.

-From there Thara joins the military guild of Kandor, as her parents did, and she eventually meets with citizens of Argo City, another Kryptonian city Brainiac had conquered and bottled. Among the newcomers are Alura and Zor-El, the parents of Thara's childhood friend, Supergirl. Alura and Zor-El are soon named the leaders of the bottled Kryptonian cities and they name Thara as the head of security.

-Thara begins to have bad dreams revolving around images of a flaming bird, and Zor-El sends her to the religious guild to find some answers. Upon meeting with the religious guild, Thara has a vision of the Flamebird, a Kryptonian legend, and she and the Flamebird have a telepathic meeting(or something along those lines...)

-After the vision, Thara joins the religious guild, but feels that there is something missing in her life.

-On that happy thought, I'll move on to Chris' story. After returning to the Phantom Zone, Chris experiences one of those strange growth spurts he seems to get on occasion, and decides to sneak into Fort Roz, the Kryptonian prison his parents and their lackeys are living, in order to get out of the unforgiving Phantom Zone atmosphere.

-Chris sneaks around in the ventalation shafts of Fort Roz, avoiding his parents and the other inmates, but becomes stuck in the vents, thanks to the growth spurt from earlier. Chris screams for help, but nobody comes, leaving Chris trapped for quite some time. Eventually Non, the simple-minded bruiser of Zod's group, discovers Chris and takes him to safety, making sure Zod, Ursa and the other inmates never find the youngster.

-Eventually, Chris finds Zod's secret workshop where the General was studying his two most hated foes, Superman and Brainiac. Zod had managed to collect many pieces of Brainiac's technology that had happened to enter the Phantom Zone, and Chris began to fiddle with the tech in the hope that it may be the answer to getting him out of his Phantom Zone prison.

-Chris dons some kind of strange headwear and winds up linking minds with Thara, who was still a member of the religious guild in Kandor. The two wind up sharing experiences and emotions with each other until Zod and Ursa enter the workshop and discover Chris hooked up to Brainiac's tech. Ursa violently disconnects Chris from the machines and Chris undergoes another growth spurt. Chris' parents chain him to the wall and beat the hell out of him in an effort to figure out what exactly he was doing in the workshop.

-Back on Kandor, Thara tells Alura and Zor-El that there was an innocent boy trapped in the Phantom Zone, but Zor-El says there really isn't much that can be done to help. He does reveal that he had been working on a project that would allow the citizens of Kandor to escape the bottled city and enter the Phantom Zone. Thara quits the religious guild, reclaims her former position as head of security, steals Zor-El's work and enters the Phantom Zone to find Chris.

-After entering the Phantom Zone, Thara prays and is rewarded with a trail of fire which leads her straight to Fort Roz and Chris. After battling through the inmates, Thara manages to get near Chris and puts up a forcefield which surrounds her, Chris and Non, while keeping the rest of the inmates at bay. Upon spotting the Phantom Zone projector on Thara's belt, Zod orders Non to attack and take the projector away. Non obeys and begins to strangle to life out of Thara, until Chris pleads with Non to stop. While Zod looks on in disbelief, Non takes the projector, sends Thara and Chris back to Kandor and the proceeds to crush the projector in his hands, freeing Chris, trapping Zod and ending this comic.

I'm kind of conflicted about this comic. I enjoyed the parts of the story that dealt with Chris and his exploits in the Phantom Zone, but I have to admit that I really wasn't thrilled with the parts involving Thara. I couldn't make heads or tails of her story! Is she the reincarnated spirit of the Kryptonian god Flamebird? Is she just crazy? When the hell did she decide Chris was Nightwing, and exactly who/what IS Nightwing? Like I said, Thara's story confused me more than anything else.

While I was glad to find out what happened to Chris after the Last Son storyline, I was a bit vexed by the cop out explanation Greg gave for Chris' sudden growth spurts. Basically the explanation given for Chris' weird condition was that nobody knows why it happens. I was hoping for a little better than THAT! For a score, I'll give this comic a 7 out of 10. While I did enjoy the first half of this book, the second half just went all kinds of strange places.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New comics!

Yay, some new books arrived today, which means I get to push Dark Avengers further down in my ever growing pile of comics! Not a real huge amount of new books, but enough to provide me with a few days worth of reading. Here's what I'll be reading/reviewing over the next few nights.

X-Men Legacy #225- AKA that comic I'm not sure I love or hate.

Green Arrow & Black Canary #21- AKA that comic where Black Canary has inexplicably become an idiot.

Action Comics Annual #12- AKA that comic I'll be reading first tonight!

Green Lantern Corps: Through the Ages- AKA that comic that collects a bunch of Hal Jordan stories, including his first appearance.

REBELS #5- AKA that comic series I STILL haven't gotten around to reading yet...

War of Kings: Ascension #3- AKA that other comic series I still haven't gotten around to reading yet.

Dark Reign: Young Avengers #2- AKA that comic that is featuring the wrong YA line-up!

Booster Gold #21- AKA that series that has been slowly going downhill since Geoff Johns stopped writing it.

Teen Titans #71- AKA that comic that features my least favorite team in all of comicdom.

Batman & Robin #1- AKA that comic I can't wait to read to see if it's really as bad as most people seem to think it is.

Guardians of the Galaxy #14- AKA surprisingly one of my favorite Marvel books.

JSA vs. Kobra #1- AKA a comic I brought pretty much on a whim.

And finally Starman: Secret Files and Origins- AKA one of the very few James Robinson written Starman comics I hadn't collected yet.

That was weird... I can't really explain the way this post turned out, so I'm not even going to try. Well, let's dig into those new books!

Nothing new.

Feeling somewhat lazy(and sunburned!)I'm not going to bother reading/reviewing any new books tonight. Instead, I'll just babble about whatever comes to mind until my fingers get tired. Sounds like fun, right? Yeah, I guess it doesn't, but that's what I'm going to do anyway! Let's see, where to start...

I started the JSA series from 1999 last night, and breezed through the first 4 issues. Those comics were written by James Robinson and David Goyer. While they were good(if I were to give them a score, it would be in the 8 to 8 1/2 out of 10 range), I was sort of hoping for a bit more. The team consists of Wildcat, Old Flash and Old Green Lantern(naturally), as well as Black Canary, Hawkgirl, Sand, Atom Smasher, the Hourman from the year 1,000,000, Stargirl, Dr. Fate and the Jack Knight Starman(!). One of my favorite comic series EVER is James Robinson's "Starman", so I'm expecting near perfection here.

The first four issues detailed Mordru(the magician from the 31st century)killing off agents of chaos and order in an attempt to steal the powers of Dr. Fate. Mordru manages to kill off Fate(the one with the red highlights and tattoo over his eye)and kidnaps the baby who was to inherit the Dr. Fate mantle. Needless to say, the JSA steps in and stops Mordru, and the baby winds up aging and becoming Hawkman's son(or something along those lines). I was enjoying everything until the whole Dr. Fate/reincarnation stuff started up, then my mind kind of blanked out. And here I thought Hawkman had a confusing story... His son is just as bad! Once I finish up here and at the picture blog, I'll probably read a few more issues.

I was going to read "Dark Avengers" tonight, but my open disdain for the works of BENDIS has kept me from reading that particular comic for over a week now. If only Noh-Varr wasn't featured in that series... I almost fear reading that comic because I just know BENDIS is bound to completely ruin Noh-Varr's character like he has done to SO many others, see: Hood, The.

I'm expecting a new order of comic books to arrive tomorrow(hopefully)and I'll list what I picked up once those books arrive. Speaking of waiting on new comics, I'm still waiting for a couple of my subscription books to arrive. For Marvel, I'm waiting on Captain America #600, Mighty Avengers #26, Wolverine Origins #37 and X-Men Legacy #225. On the DC side of things, we have Green Arrow and Black Canary #21 and JSA #27(STILL!). Of course that's not counting whatever is getting released today(Wednesday).

Besides comic books, I've been spending an inordinate amount of time playing Final Fantasy VII on my PSP. That damn game is as addicting now as it was when it first came out some 10+ years ago. I'm looking to pick up one more game this summer, either Fight Night Round 4 or UFC Unleashed. I'm completely undecided on which one to buy though...

Hmm, I think that's about all for now. I'll throw up a post or 2 over at the other blog and get ready to call it a night. Come tomorrow, I should have a few new reviews up. Maybe...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Action Comics #878

Thankfully, I discovered this comic in my mailbox today. Had it not arrived, I'd have been stuck reading "Dark Avengers" tonight, and I'm just not in the mood to read through more BENDIS-ization of the Avengers. Without further ado, let's see what Greg Rucka has in store for us in the latest issue of "Action".

-This issue begins with the Kryptonians from last issue, the two who robbed a bank, breaking into a woman's house(and murdering the woman in the process)in New Mexico so they could have sex in her home. The police respond to the home after they receive reports of damage to the place and wind up interrupting the two amorous Kryptonians in the act. The Kryptonians murder the cops, finish up and move on.

-Back in Metropolis, Thara Ak-Var awakens in the apartment of Lois Lane, and the two spend some time getting to know each other while they wait for Chris to return from the Fortress of Solitude.

-Gen. Lane gets wind of the actions of the Kryptonians in New Mexico, and mistakenly believes Nightwing(Chris)and Flamebird(Thara)were responsible. Lane releases the information to the media for propaganda purposes, and tells his forces to figure out where the Kryptonians went after their fun in New Mexico.

-Chris returns to Lois apartment and is happy to find Thara awake, but the happy reunion is dampened by the reports coming out of New Mexico. Thara and Chris suit up and locate the evil Kryptonians not that far from the scene of their crimes. After a brief battle, Nightwing and Flamebird take out the Kryptonians, but are confronted by Gen. Lane's operative, Codename: Assassin and a whole mess of ogres(?)as this issue comes to a close.

Once again, Greg Rucka did a very good job producing an enjoyable comic here. It wasn't world-shattering or anything, but it was a good, fast-paced read. I like the characters of Nightwing and Flamebird, and to be perfectly honest, I really don't miss Supes at all in this series. If I had to state a negative about this comic, I guess I'd say that the battle between Nightwing, Flamebird and the Kryptonians didn't last long enough, but other than that, I had absolutely no complaints. For a score, I'll give this comic an 8 out of 10, along with a recommendation.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Avengers: The Initiative #24

As I've been saying for months now, this series is my favorite Avengers title. Mighty is OK to very good, and Dark and New are both written by BENDIS(enough said there!), so Avengers: The Initiative is where I go to get my fill of old school style Avengers action. This issue is written by Christos Gage.

-For the most part this issue focused solely on the Shadow Initiative and their mission to take Hardball, who used to be a member of Shadow Initiative, into custody. This issue begins with the Shadow Initiative(minus Komodo who was de-powered and captured last issue)battling with Wolverine's old sparring partners, Roughhouse and Bloodscream in Madipoor.

-After an extended battle, Taskmaster realizes that if the fight goes on any longer there will be a mess of Hydra agents all over the streets, and the Shadow Initiative. To prevent that from occurring Taskmaster tells Roughhouse and Bloodscream that he wants to surrender to Hardball and join Hydra.

-Hardball and Scorpion(his co-leader in Hydra)hear Taskmaster out and decide to lock the Shadow Initiative up for now in order to protect against a possible Shadow Initiative double-cross.

-Some Hydra agents take the Shadow Initiative to the armory to disarm and Taskmaster and his crew make their move, attacking and taking out the guards there. More guards arrive and Typhoid Mary(one of the Shadow Initiative members)snaps and burns all of the Hydra agents to a crisp. After warning the rest of the Shadow Initiative to leave her be, she escapes into the streets of Madipoor... Oh Mary, you so crazy!

-While this action is going on, Scorpion reveals to Hardball that she only joined Hydra in order to tear them apart from the inside. Needless to say, Hardball is stunned, but since he didn't have any real loyalty to Hydra and only joined out of necessity, he allows Scorpion to make her escape. Hardball then goes to make sure the de-powered Komodo(his ex-girlfriend)is OK.

-By this point, a whole mess of HAMMER agents have honed in on the Shadow Initiative's position and along with some help from Ant-Man of the Thunderbolts, defeat all of the remaining members of Hydra. Hardball manages to lead Constrictor to Komodo's room(to make sure she isn't left behind when HAMMER pulls out)before surrendering.

-This issue ends with Taskmaster debriefing Norman Osborn back in the US on the mission and Osborn offering Taskmaster the position of leader of the Initiative.

I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to this series, but once again, this was a very good issue. I admit that I have a soft spot for Initiative originals like Komodo and Hardball, so I was happy to see the both of them survive this storyline. I was also pleased to see Scorpion return to her heroic roots here. I've liked her since her initial appearances in Amazing Fantasy, so I'm glad to see her escape unharmed.

Taskmaster as the new leader of the Initiative program is an interesting idea. Taskmaster is another character I've always liked(yeah, I know, I'm saying that a lot...), and I've never really understood why Taskmaster hasn't received a better position in the Marvel U. He's got an awesome look, great powers and a very cool vibe about him. Hopefully this new position will be a springboard to bigger and better things for Taskmaster. Good story, good artwork, what more could I really ask for? For a score, I'll give this comic an 8 out of 10. If you want to read a good Avengers title and are tired of the BENDIS-ization of the Avengers books, I'd highly recommend giving this series a shot before it's too late.

Fantastic Four #567

This should prove to be a VERY interesting comic to read. I like(and have always liked)Mark Millar's work, but last issue really rubbed me the wrong way. I'm not going to get into it again(if you want you can check out my review for FF #566 here)but the way the last issue went down, mainly the way Mark completely mis-wrote Dr. Doom, had me practically tearing my hair out in clumps! Hopefully Doom will come back looking strong in this issue...

-This is going to be a relatively quick review. After I finish recapping the events in this book, I'll explain why...

-This issue begins with Doom finding a backbone and attacking his master, the Marquis of Death, and his Apprentice. From that point we move forward 5 years and learn that Doom defeated his master and the Apprentice, although the victory cost Reed Richards his life. After winning, Doom reformed, cured practically every ailment known to man and married(and knocked up)the Invisible Woman. So all is right with the world(well, I guess except for Reed dying), right? Not quite. We discover it was all an illusion cast by the Marquis in order to further hurt Doom.

-After Doom realizes what has happened, the Marquis completely and utterly destroys Latveria and every living being therein. From there he inflicts some more physical damage to Doom before taking him back to the Pliocene Age where really big sharks proceed to eat Doom.

-The Marquis and Apprentice return to the present and the Marquis dons Doom's burnt and tattered mask before declaring the Fantastic Four were next.

What the hell can I even say here??? That was frigging awful!!! Goddamn, Mark Millar must REALLY hate Dr. Doom or something, because he made Doom look like a little bitch here. Not even the frigging Beyonder tossed Doom around like this. I've read A LOT of FF comics in my lifetime, as a matter of fact between back issues, trades and Essentials, I'd guesstimate that I've read between 85-90% of the 567 FF comics that have been released. In other words, I'm a big fan of the FF. However, whenever anybody would ask me who my favorite member of the FF is I'd always answer Dr. Doom. But Doom isn't a member of the FF right? That may be the case, but Doom is as important to the FF comics as any of the FF members. He is now, and has always been an integral part of this series. That's why this current portrayal of Doom is so vexing to me. Like I stated last month, Dr. Doom is easily one of the best villains in the Marvel, DC or any other Universe. Doom has faced down the Beyonder, Galactus, Terrax and Mephesto and lived to tell the tale. He has stolen the powers of the Silver Surfer, Aron the Rogue Watcher, the Beyonder and others. When it comes to being a great villain, Doom takes the cake. Or did I guess.

This issue established that these two new characters are practically unbeatable(the Marquis snuffed out an entire country with no effort)so I'll be intrigued as to how Mark is going to write the next two issues of this storyline. My best guess? Dr. Doom returns from the past(he does have a personal time machine in his armor)and helps the FF defeat his master. This way the FF save the world and Doom saves a little bit of face. For me, a HUGE fan of Dr. Doom, that is the only satisfactory way this storyline CAN end. I'll give this issue a score of 6 1/2 out of 10. This was a fast, easy read with some sweet artwork(then again, when isn't Bryan Hitch's artwork gorgeous?), but it didn't really DO anything. Dr. Doom was defeated by the end of the last issue, was it really necessary to use a whole issue to continue to bury Doom?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New Avengers: The Reunion #4(of 4)

This is the last part of the mini-series starring my favorite Avengers married couple(or I guess ex-married couple now)Mockingbird and Hawkeye... Oops, I mean Ronin*rolls eyes*. DAMN that BENDIS!!! Anyway, this comic is written by Jim McCann.

-We open this comic with a showdown between Mockingbird and Monica Rappaccini(who just happens to be one of the MANY leaders of AIM). Monica offers Bobbi a spot in AIM, Bobbi turns her down and the two women fight. Bobbi manages to defeat Monica, but Monica teleports away before Bobbi can take her into custody.

-While the two women are fighting above, Clint(I REFUSE to call him Ronin!!!)regains consciousness in the hole he was blasted into at the end of the last issue. Clint wanders around the bowels of the palace, disarming small bombs as he goes. Eventually Clint makes his way to the surface and meets up with Bobbi inside the palace, where she was evacuating the scientists who were stuck inside.

-A whole load of AIM agents attack Bobbi and Clint while Monica makes her way over to the main bomb in order to set it off manually. Clint and Bobbi defeat the cannon-fodder and Clint manages to hit Monica's belt with an arrow, sending her away to who-knows-where.

-With all of the AIM bozos out of the way, Clint manages to disarm the bomb with a liquid nitrogen arrow. After finally thwarting AIM, Clint and Bobbi head back to their old home, the West Coast Avengers compound. After talking to each other for a while, Bobbi realizes that she does still have feelings for Clint and the two(FINALLY!!!)share a passionate kiss. From there they decide to give their relationship another shot and this comic ends with Clint and Bobbi going after an Eastern European dictator... Together.

The first half of this comic really didn't do much for me, but the second half was extremely good. I've already stated(several times)how much I enjoyed the old West Coast Avengers comics, and when Clint and Bobbi headed back to the compound, I was smiling from ear to ear. The kiss between Clint and Bobbi was the perfect payoff to this mini-series. Clint has always been my favorite Avenger(my favorite Avenger not named Steve Rogers that is)and I've always loved the dynamic between him and Bobbi, so to say I'm happy the two of them are back together again is an understatement. For a score, I'll give this comic a 7 1/2 out of 10, and that's mainly due to the stuff that happened after the fight with AIM. If you were a fan of the WCA like I was, then I'd definitely recommend this comic to you.

Uncanny X-Men #511

This issue should be the final part of the Madelyne Pryor/Sisterhood storyline. For the most part this story has been decent(although I have to question Wolverine having a lock of Jean Grey's hair laying around...), and I'll be interested to see how writer Matt Fraction wraps this story up. Before I even crack this comic open, I'll reiterate what I said last month, there is NO WAY Marvel will allow Jean to be brought back to life in a regular issue of Uncanny. When Jean comes back it will be in a big x-over or an anniversary issue. Now, will I be eating my words? Let's find out.

-This issue begins with a team of X-Men(led by Cyclops)racing to Westchester(to the former site of X-Mansion)in an attempt to prevent Maddie from possessing the dead body of Jean Grey. Another team of X-Men(led by Emma)makes a beeline to the headquarters of the Sisterhood.

-Maddie, Chimera, Spiral and Deathstrike go to the remains of X-Mansion and are met by Domino who is standing at the tombstone of Jean Grey... Oh Jean how I miss you!!! Please come back and make the X-titles good again! Ahem... Anyway, Maddie's Sisterhood attack Domino, but Cyclops, Colossus, Wolverine and Northstar make the save.

-At the headquarters of the Sisterhood, the only thing of note to occur is Psylocke regaining control of her body in an occurrence that EVERYBODY saw coming.

-Back at the graveyard, the X-Men battle the Sisterhood to a standstill until Maddie manages to get near Jean's coffin, which was conveniently dug up before Maddie and the Sisterhood arrived. Maddie doesn't question why the coffin was already dug up, instead she proceeds to tear the lid off. Cyclops warns her not to try to possess the corpse, but Maddie doesn't listen, and begins to put her essence into the corpse. Big mistake! Apparently, Domino had replaced Jean's coffin with a different one before the Sisterhood arrived and Maddie's essence dissipates, since only Jean's body would have been powerful enough to hold Maddie's essence.

-This issue ends with Beast breaking into the bedroom of Scott and Emma and complaining about all of the secrets Scott(and Emma)are holding from the rest of the team. Hank then tells Scott that he was taking the X-Club(that's Hank's group of geniuses)on a little adventure, and that when he returned him and Scott were going to have it out.

Meh. That pretty much sums up my feelings towards this comic book. The story with Maddie has been percolating for almost a year now and all we get is the return of Psylocke? No thanks! Let's face it, Psylocke isn't now, nor has she ever been an interesting character. And I say that as someone who has followed the X-Men for over 15 years! Quite frankly, the only thing Psylocke adds is some more T&A, and that's something this series really didn't need. I guess all of the prepubescent 12 year old's will be happy, as they get to drool at images of Psylocke's ass again. Me, I would have preferred the return of a more interesting character, like say, Jean Grey.

Once again(unsurprisingly)Marvel didn't produce the long awaited return of Jean Grey. By my count, this is the third or forth time it looked like Jean would be making her return, but did not. I really wish Marvel would just bring her back already or stop beating a dead horse and stop bringing her up. I like Jean as much as the next X-Fan(I'd go so far to say Jean is my favorite female X-Man)but by this point I almost don't care if she comes back or not anymore.

I have to say I wasn't really that impressed with this comic, although I am looking forward to next issue, since it seems to be a spotlight on Beast and his motley crew. Right now, somewhat surprisingly, Beast is probably my favorite character in this series. I just can't stand the other characters and all of their secrets and lies anymore. For a score I'll give this comic a 6 out of 10 and move on.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Batman #687

I was trying to wait until I had read "Batman and Robin" #1 before reading this comic, but it looks like I won't be getting my hands on B&R until sometime early next week. Since I don't feel like waiting any longer, I'll give this comic a read. This issue is written by Judd Winick, as he takes over the Batman comic(again).

-This comic begins with a flashback showing Bruce and Dick(when he was still Robin)enjoying happier times. From there we jump ahead to the present where Dick(dressed as Nightwing)takes down some bank robbers with the Batmobile. Dick then begins to bitch about the fact that he didn't even get out of the car to take down the robbers, while Bruce would have, to which Alfred responds, why the hell didn't you get out of the car(well, that's close to what he said).

-We then get another flashback sequence to Supes and Wonder Woman meeting with Dick and Tim after the events of Final Crisis to inform them of Bruce's "death" at the hands of Darksied. After Supes and WW leave, Alfred tells Dick to prevent the other heroes from revealing that Batman is gone, fearing the galvanizing effect Batman's death would have on the crime scene in Gotham. Dick then goes to the members of the JLA and tells them that Batman is still alive, for the good of Gotham.

-Back in the present, Damien attacks Dr. Phosphorous, who was trying to break into a chemical company. Before the fight can really get underway, Dick(STILL dressed as Nightwing)blasts Phosphorous with a bunch of chemical before leaving with Damien.

-Dick heads back to the Cave and is confronted by Alfred, who basically tells Dick if he's not going to be Batman there's no reason he should be in Gotham. Ouch, harsh! Dick decides that if he's going to become Batman he has to do things his way, and as such, he sets up shop in the Wayne Foundation Building, instead of the Batcave.

-Two weeks later, we find Scarecrow holding a whole bunch of hostages on the Gotham Bay Bridge, threatening to unleash his toxic fear gas if the cops make a move on him... I've got to ask, with loons like Scarecrow and the Joker running around, why the hell would ANYBODY stay in Gotham City??? Anyway, Scarecrow continues ranting and raving(like a good villain is supposed to)until the Batman arrives on the scene, setting up the showdown for next issue.

You know what? I really liked this comic. A lot. The artwork was good, the dialogue was well done, and the story made perfect sense. Of course Dick is conflicted about taking up Batman's cowl. Once Dick becomes Batman there's no turning back. Donning the cape and cowl is basically ceding the fact that Bruce is gone and not coming back. Was Dick a bit on the whiny side? Yeah, but he's always been a bit whiny, so I can deal with it.

I also liked the dynamic between Dick and Alfred at work here. As Alfred himself stated, he can speak to Dick in a more open, free manner. It looks like Alfred will be taking a more active role as a leader/mentor now that Dick is the Batman. All in all, I'd say that Judd seems to have gotten off to a good start here. For a score I'll give this issue a 9 1/2 out of 10. I'd happily recommend this comic book to anyone.

X-Factor #44

It's time for another installment of my favorite monthly X-book, X-Factor! Last month's issue wasn't quite up to the phenomenal standards this series had been reaching as of late, but was still quite good. The writer here is one of my long-time favorites, Peter David.

-We open 80 years in the future where Jamie has wound up. After some mushy stuff with Layla, Jamie meets up with Scott and Ruby and they all decide to go to Detroit to meet... Well, we never find out. According to Jamie, it's someone "like" Reed Richards, but only half alive and totally insane.

-Back in the present, Monet seems to come out of whatever was controlling her actions at the end of the last issue and suddenly begins to flirt with Darwin... Huh, that's strange.

-Siryn, Longshot, Darwin and Monet regroup back at X-Factor's offices and decide to hide the ex-mutant who "Cortex" is after in a fancy hotel penthouse set up by Monet. The ex-mutant decides she would rather have Darwin protect her(Longshot did a pretty crappy job last issue)and before Darwin and the ex-mutant leave, Monet shows up(looking pretty provocative)and says she'll come along to support Darwin.

-At the hotel, the ex-mutant gets sloppy drunk and passes out and Monet decides to put the moves on a totally shocked Darwin. After Monet strips out of her clothes, Darwin realizes something is very wrong and he resists Monet's advances... Yeah, I can tell you right now that's not quite what I'd have done! After Darwin turns her down, Monet transforms into some kind of pink robot woman and flings Darwin into the wall. This issue ends with Monet advancing on Darwin while saying that although he wasn't on Cortex's list there is always room for one more.

That was it? Really??? But what about Rictor, Guido and Shatterstar?!? That's actually what I was looking the most forward to. As much as I love Peter's work(and I really do)this comic was very slow and plodding. Nothing of note really happened. Jamie went from Atlantic City to Detroit in the future(and didn't accomplish anything)and this issue ended nearly identically to he last issue, with Monet getting possessed and attacking a teammate. I easily could have skipped reading this comic and just read the next one without losing much of the story. For a score, I couldn't possibly give this comic any higher than a 6 out of 10. As much as it pains me to say it, I wouldn't recommend this comic. Hopefully this was just a one month hiccup, and next month will see things pick back up again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Any recommendations?

The comics I review here aren't the only ones I read. For example, just recently I finished up some back issues of the "Superboy and the Ravers" series from the 90's. Considering the fact that I really didn't like the solo "Superboy" comics all that much I was kind of surprised at how much I enjoyed the "Ravers" book. If I was going to give the whole series an overall score, I'd probably give it something like a 6 1/2 or 7 out of 10.

Anyway, the reason for this post is the fact that now that I'm finished with the Ravers, I need to decide on a new series to read. I'm either going to start the "JSA"series from the late 90's, the "Robin" series that was just recently cancelled, the "Ray" or "Damage", both from the mid-90's or the "Green Lantern" series, pretty much from when Kyle Rayner takes over until the end of that series. As you can see I'm looking to expand my knowledge of DC books, I'm still way more knowledgeable about Marvel than DC so I'm trying to read as much DC stuff as possible to catch up.

I'm leaning very heavily towards starting the JSA series. The first few issues are written by James Robinson and have the Jack Knight Starman on the team(!), before Geoff Johns takes over the writing chores. Any series that was both James Robinson and Geoff Johns writing it HAS to be spectacular! So anyway, if anybody wants to throw out any recommendations, I'll gladly hear them out.

Wolverine #74

This is the last issue of Wolverine that actually stars Wolverine. Huh? What? Yeah, that's right, next month this comic becomes Dark Wolverine and stars Wolvie's evil son Daken. I'm not sure about anybody else, but I'm actually pretty psyched about Daken getting his own solo book. Anyway, I'm not expecting all that much from this lame duck issue of Wolvie. This comic contains two stories, one written by Jason Aaron, with the other one written by Wolverine Origins writer Daniel Way. And away we go!

-The first story is the one by Daniel. Wolvie heads back to the biker bar from last issue and tells his old biker buddy that his son is dead, courtesy of the canucklehead(well that's not exactly the way he said it, but it should have been!). The old biker gets pissed off, since Wolvie was supposed to HELP his kid, not KILL him and blindsides Wolvie before putting a whole slew of bullets into him.

-Thanks to the magic of the flashback, we discover that Wolvie didn't really kill the biker's son, he simply told him to leave town in order to prevent a war between two biker gangs. Wolvie also discovers that an evil biker from the old biker's gang was responsible for all the trouble brewing between the two biker gangs.

-After the flashback sequence, Wolvie awakens in a ditch where the old biker tossed his body. Wolvie pulls himself out of the ditch, hides in a men's room and kills the evil biker when he goes to the head. Wolvie then takes the evil biker's motorcycle and leaves town... Huh?

-The next story had Spider-Man meet up with Wolvie in a bar in an attempt to find out why Wolvie was pushing himself so hard lately. The two argue, stop an attempted robbery of the bar they were in and Wolvie reveals that he's pushing himself in order to make up for all of the evil acts he did back in the day. It seems now that Wolvie can remember his entire past due to the the Scarlet Witch, he is being driven by his intense guilt.

Boy, that comic stunk. I didn't like/care about the first story at all, which is sort of surprising considering the fact that I normally enjoy Daniel Way's work. Daniel's story in this comic just didn't do anything for me.

Likewise, I didn't enjoy the second story either. So the reason Wolvie is on like 1,000 teams right now is because he feels guilty now that he can remember his past? Well what the hell was his excuse before the House of M then? The second story just seemed like an excuse to get Spidey and Wolvie to hang out in a bar together.

For a score, I'll give this comic a 3 1/2 out of 10. My best advice? Skip this issue and give Dark Wolverine a try next month instead.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Titans #14

4 comics came in the mail for me today(Titans, Uncanny X-Men, Batman, and Wolverine). Since I really don't have a preference concerning which one to read first, I just turned them over, mixed them up and wound up pulling out the Titans comic. This issue is written by Eric Wallace, whose work I am completely unfamiliar with.

-This issue was a spotlight on Cyborg, so expect a lot of Cyborg and that little green pain in the ass.

-We begin this issue with Cyborg trying to repair some computer systems in the Titans headquarters, while being pestered by Beast Boy. Goddamn is Beast Boy annoying! Anyway, Cyborg and BB go out on a date(and the bromance continues!)which ends with BB giving Cyborg a card to a dating service.

-From there Cyborg heads to his ex-girlfriend Sarah who tells Cyborg to get himself a life away from the Titans.

-Next Cyborg finds himself at a church in Harlem run by some guy named Ron Evers. Rev. Evers has decided that technology is evil, and has his entire congregation following his beliefs. Cyborg tries to talk some sense into Evers, but winds up getting called away by STAR Labs.

-Upon arriving at STAR, Cyborg is forced to deal with some wacky scientist who has donned a suit of nano tech and is running amok. Eventually Cyborg defeats the guy by remembering that the crazy scientist loved a parakeet named Josephine.

-This issue ends with Cyborg deciding to go out on a date with a doctor who happens to be confined to a wheelchair.

What the bloody hell was THAT??? Why did I even bother to read this comic? The entire thing just kind of went nowhere. I could have done this review a lot faster if I just typed out, Cyborg went to lunch, then he saw his ex, then he went to church, then to STAR Labs, then he had dinner. Boring!

For a score, I'll give this comic a 4 out of 10. I guess if you're a huge Cyborg fan you'll dig this comic, but I for one just found it meaningless and boring.

Remembering the Age of Apocalypse.

After finishing up New Mutants #2, my mind began to drift back to the fabulous Age of Apocalypse storyline. I stopped collecting comic books right before the AOA storyline got underway back in the mid 90's and when I decided to start collecting again 6 years ago I began to collect the back issues of the titles I used to collect as a kid. As a HUGE X-fan, some of the first back issues I brought as I re-started my comic collection were a part of the AOA story. Since I'm a big fan of alternate dimension stories I was immediately drawn to the AOA.

What exactly was the Age of Apocalypse? The AOA story detailed Prof. X's crazy son, Legion, travelling back in time to kill Magneto in an attempt to make his father's life easier. The X-Men got wind of Legion's plan and followed him into the past in order to stop him from altering things. Well, the X-Men screw up, Legion accidentally kills Prof. X(WHOOPS!!!)and Apocalypse decides to attack humanity several years earlier than he originally did. With no Prof. X around, there were no X-Men/X-Factor, so Apocalypse was able to easily conquer most of the world. The AOA storyline then focused on familiar faces in VERY unfamiliar places. Magneto was the leader of the rebel X-Men, Rogue was his wife(and the two had a child named Charles), Cyclops was a member of Apocalypse's forces and only had one eye due to a fight with Wolverine, Wolverine only had one hand due to that same battle, as well as several other very cool tweaks to X-history. In the end, Bishop, who was the only person to remember the "correct" way things were supposed to be, was able to travel back to the moment where Legion kills Prof. X and stops him, setting things right and preventing the AOA from ever occurring... Well, sort of. For the 10 year anniversary of the AOA Marvel put out a terrible mini-series that was supposed to celebrate that wonderful storyline. The AOA mini was truly one of the worst things I had ever read, and I refuse to comment on it, even to this day.

The AOA was a groundbreaking comic book crossover for several reasons, such as the way all of the X-characters were changed, the cohesiveness of the overall story(something you rarely see in a x-over of that magnitude), as well as the appearance of several new characters, such as Blink and my all-time favorite character, Nate Grey. The AOA was also different in that for the 4 months it ran, all of the X-titles were re-started with a different cast of characters and brand new titles. Uncanny X-Men became Astonishing X-Men, Wolverine became Weapon X, Cable became X-Man, X-Factor became Factor X and so on and so forth. Marvel tried to repeat the AOA storyline with the House of M x-over, which was pretty much a direct rip-off of the AOA, but for me nothing has ever come close to matching the sheer ambitiousness of the AOA story. The AOA storyline also spawned the great X-Men Legends 2 video game(the only video game where you can play as both Nate Grey AND Cable!).

After typing up this post, I'm really close to pulling out the entire AOA story and giving it another read... Well, I guess I'll end this post by saying if anybody has any thoughts or comments on the Age of Apocalypse I'd be very happy to read them. With the AOA being my favorite comic book story, I'd be overjoyed to spend some more time talking about it.