Thursday, January 28, 2010

Avengers: The Initiative #31, Superman: World of New Krypton #11 & Blackest Night: Suicide Squad #67

I have three reviews on tap for tonight, two DC's and a Marvel. Two of these books were VERY good, while the third wasn't that bad, so all in all, this should be a rare happy post! Oh, and unless I get some new comics in the mail tomorrow, I can say for the first time in MONTHS that I've completely finished up my new comic pile! Sure I have a few recent issues of Astonishing X-Men, X-Men: Legacy and Moon Knight to read, but I doubt I'll want to read those books any time soon, if at all. Well, enough babble, here's the first review.

Avengers: The Initiative #31: Writer: Christos Gage. Pencils: Rafa Sandoval.

This issue opens with Norman "Marvel" Osborn calling Taskmaster and informing him that Osborn will be taking a trip to the Initiative compound the next day, and that if everything is on the up and up, Osborn may have some very good news for Taskmaster. Upon hanging up, Taskmaster runs around trying to get his band of villains into some semblance of order. After threatening and cajoling many Initiative members, Taskmaster runs into another long time Marvel c-list villain, Constrictor, and asks to speak to him privately. Constrictor and Taskmaster talk, and Taskmaster reveals to Constrictor that he believes Osborn is going to offer him a promotion, but he isn't sure if he should take it. You see, Taskmaster is more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy, he's happy to steal some loot and that's that. If he were to accept the promotion, he'd be throwing his lot in with the world conquering, ultra crazy villains, which is something Taskmaster wasn't sure he wanted to do. After conversing with Constrictor, Taskmaster makes up his mind and the two part. The following day, Osborn arrives at the compound, checks things out and offers Taskmaster a promotion, and a spot on the Cabal, which he graciously accepts. From there we get a recap of what happened in Siege: The Cabal where the Dr. Doom robot blasts the hell out of Taskmaster and leaves him in a pool of blood. Taskmaster awakens a few days later in a hospital bed and is greeted by Osborn. Taskmaster tells Osborn that he isn't cut out to be a member of the Cabal, and asks to leave, which infuriates Osborn. Osborn ruptures Taskmaster's oxygen tank and pulls a lighter, telling Taskmaster to rethink his request. Taskmaster tells Osborn he'll remain on board, and this issue concludes with Osborn informing Taskmaster that he was going to invade Asgard.

There were a few other secondary storylines that were advanced here as well, such as the Avengers Resistance team(basically the former New Warriors)learning of Osborn's plans to attack Asgard right before he launched his attack, Tigra continuing her one woman attack against the Hood's goons, and Justice and Ultra Girl rekindling their romance. Needless to say, this comic was packed full of stuff, and all of it was really good! The dialogue was wonderful, I especially enjoyed the conversation between Taskmaster and Constrictor, which did a great job of showing that not all super-villains were insane, out of control lunatics, but were just trying to make ends meet(albeit in an immoral way). I'll tell you, when this series goes to the big comic shop in the sky, I for one am going to be quite upset.

Score: 9 out of 10.I guess Dr. Doom didn't like the fact that Taskmaster showed up at the Cabal meeting also wearing a cape and cowl!

Superman: World of New Krypton #11: Writers: James Robinson and Greg Rucka. Pencils: Pete Woods.

We start this issue with an assassin narrowly missing Alura and killing her assistant instead. Adam Strange, Superman and his military guild investigate the crime scene and find the murder weapon laying conveniently in the open, complete with a set of fingerprints, the fingerprints of the head of the labor guild, Tam-Or. Supes meets up with the panicking Kryptonian ruling council and tells them that although Tam-Or's prints were discovered on the gun, he feels things just don't add up. The council members argue a bit, and the military council representative warns Supes to get to the bottom of the assassinations. Supes decides to check on the still healing General Zod, and proceeds to tell Zod all about the assassinations and the main suspect. Upon hearing everything, Zod tells Supes that he doesn't believe Tam-Or is guilty. Supes agrees, and decides to try to find Tam-Or to see if he can point him in the direction of the real killer. Supes and Adam head to the infirmary and find Tyr, a member of the labor guild who used to be a friend of Supes before he turned on him for Gen. Zod(it's a LONG story!). Tyr is sitting at the bedside of a dying labor guild member who had come down with a strange disease that was only affecting members of the labor guild. Supes explains that he feels Tam-Or is innocent of the murder charges that are pointing towards him, and that he needs to speak to the man. Tyr agrees to take Supes and Adam to Tam-Or's hideout, which is a secret military installment where bizarre experiments were taking place on various aliens. Supes is shocked at the existence of such a place, and Tyr is surprised that as the acting head of the military guild Supes was unaware of the installment. Supes and company find Tam-Or, and Supes convinces him to go back with him so they could clear his and the labor guild's name. Before Supes and company can go anywhere, the military council member, along with several members of the military guild show up and tell Supes they'll handle things from this point on. Supes balks at that and tells them he's the acting head of the military guild, but is shocked to learn Gen. Zod had returned to active duty mere minutes prior and that Supes was no longer the acting head of the military! This issue ends with the military members preparing to shoot and kill Supes, Adam, Tam-Or and Tyr for crimes against New Krypton.

Wow, this series sure picked up BIG TIME this issue! The interesting thing about the end of this issue is that we don't know for sure that Zod had ordered the military guild members to shoot at Supes and company. That's been my favorite thing about this series actually, the way Gen. Zod has managed to walk the line between good and evil. On Earth, you know Gen. Lane is evil. He enslaves people, kills indiscriminately and does all around villainous things. On the other hand, Zod is beloved on New Krypton and hasn't really show that he is interested in anything other then defending his homeworld. Even Superman's opinion of Zod has changed over the course of this maxi-series. Has Zod been playing puppet master since the beginning? Is he finally enacting his endgame on Superman and the labor guild, or are rogue elements in the military guild responsible for what has occurring at the conclusion of this issue? I for one can't wait to find out those answers in the next issue.

Score: 9 out of 10.Man, those Kryptonian religious guild members are just plain creepy looking...

Blackest Night: Suicide Squad #67: Writers: Gail Simone and John Ostrander. Artist: J. Calafiore.

We begin with the Fiddler coming back to life as a Black Lantern and deciding that he wanted to get revenge on Deadshot. From there the current Suicide Squad fails a mission to kill a drug lord mainly because Deadshot's replacement on the team, Yasemin, is still green. Upon learning of their failure, Waller decides that she'll get Deadshot back in her employ, whether he wants to or not. To that end, she secretly hires Deadshot's current team, the Secret Six, to break some drug lord out of Belle Reve prison. The Six arrive at the prison and break in, but instead of being met by simple prison guards, they are attacked by the Suicide Squad. Deadshot runs into Rick Flag, who informs him that Waller had set the entire situation up in order to tell Deadshot that she wanted him to rejoin the Squad. Deadshot shoots Flag in the chest as his answer(HA!)and then proceeds to shoot his replacement, Yasemin(double HA!). After shooting Yasemin, Deadshot is pistol whipped and knocked out by Flag, who was obviously wearing a bulletproof vest. This issue ends with the Black Lantern Fiddler heading to Belle Reve prison with a bunch of Black Lantern rings, which began to resurrect the fallen members of the Squad that were being kept there.

This was a pretty good comic, but it was pretty much devoid of Black Lanterns with the exception of the first two pages and the last. I was kind of hoping for a big Black Lantern Suicide Squad vs Deadshot brouhaha, but I guess that will have to wait until the next issue of the Secret Six comic. Although I was a bit let down by the lack of a Deadshot/BL Suicide Squad showdown, the rest of this comic was quite good. To be honest, I actually enjoyed the parts of this comic that featured Amanda Waller(who is woefully underutilized!)and the Suicide Squad more then the Secret Six parts. I think the reason for that is because #1, I hate Black Alice and #2, Ragdoll is becoming SO over-the-top that he's starting to irritate me. Besides those small complaints, I liked this comic and I'll be looking forward to the continuation of this story in the monthly Secret Six comic.

Score: 7 1/2 out of 10.Catman vs Bronze Tiger, let the fur fly!

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